Leaders in a large plant knew they were going to face significant new competition from extremely low cost providers over the next few years.

The Challenge

Leaders of a manufacturing company realized that they were going to face significant new competition over the next few years, from low cost providers located outside the US. When this happened, they could go out of business.

The bigger problem was that very few people in the company understood this threat. The machines ran 24 hours a day – every day of the week. People were happy. Except for the small executive team, few saw a need to change.

The Opportunity

My client realized that he needed to get lots of people to be as worried as he was about this possible threat.

Helping clients make a compelling case for change is the primary reason why we get invited into organizations. And there is good reason for that. Making a compelling case for change is the single most important thing you can do to build support for major new initiatives, and is how creating successful change is possible. And, sadly, this critical step is often ignored or glossed over.

The Results

I worked closely with him and his senior team to help them make a compelling case that major change was needed. Once managers, supervisors, and hourly employees saw that there was a crisis on the horizon, they were able to begin to develop strategies to counter this threat.

I conducted a survey to find out how big the gap was between the need that the executives saw and what the rest of the organization saw. We found that the gap was quite wide.

I advised the team on ways to describe their vision clearly and then we came up with ways to communicate the need for change as well as the vision.

The head foremen were the natural leaders in the organization. If they saw the need for change and talked about it, literally hundreds of others would probably come around as well.

We began by designing a meeting for the head foremen. The day was a mix of presentation and conversation. For example, instead of the ubiquitous PowerPoint shows, management found creative ways to get the message across – and engage the foremen in lively conversation. By the end of the session, most of the head foremen were on board and championing the need for change.

These actions helped build a strong foundation for change inside the company. As a result, management has taken significant actions to begin to simplify manufacturing processes, cut waste, reduce costs, and position the company for the coming challenges.

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