A Canadian-based global telecommunications company.
Although senior executives regularly saw business improvements happening around the world, the company wanted all employees to view, first-hand, improvements in quality, customer service, ISO certification, manufacturing and marketing. Yet many unionized employees did not believe that global changes were real, or that they would affect the company and them personally.
We showed management it could accomplish its goal of infusing the company with a change culture if it adopted a three-pronged program:
- Develop a change management program that was high profile in the company, long-lasting, and sufficiently funded to last several years.
- Have the change message delivered by employees rather than management.
- Have employees experience change rather than be lectured about it.
The solution was a unique program, The President’s Council on Competition. It consisted of three-week study tours that sent up to 50 employees each year to different parts of the world so they could see for themselves the changes occurring in business.
A selection process was put in place where all employees were eligible to apply, other than directors and vice presidents. Between 25 and 45 employees participated in each tour.
We established the tour parameters. Each group visited between five and nine companies around the world, touring plants, hearing presentations from management, and talking with employees, typically over lunch or dinner.
Each study tour had a 12-month planning cycle. We prepared marketing materials, selected a theme for each tour, selected participating companies, conducted negotiations with each participating company, and did an advance site tour. We managed the tour itself and processed information from participants after each tour.
The most critical piece was post-study tour communication. Each employee was responsible for multiple presentations at their home plant or office, supported by a 20-minute video documenting the entire tour and its findings.
The message of “We must change to compete” was heard and discussion about change went from zero to full-speed very quickly. After each tour, the participating employees wrote a report to management that captured “best practices” from other corporations that could be implemented at their location specifically and throughout the company.