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Client Case 2: Driving Organizational Transformation in a Global FMCG in Asia

The Challenge

A global fast moving consumer goods company had a scattered history of many joint ventures in one of its key overseas markets since the 1980’s. As a result, the business was a fragmented one rather than an integrated and strategically aligned whole. In order to turn the company from a Market Player to a Market Winner, a concerted effort needed to be made by the top leadership team to translate its mission into a meaningful, binding, and motivating culture.

The CEO’s mandate was to “create a clearer sense of company values and a strong alignment of behaviors behind it.” This was a challenge given the existence of many hybrid cultures within the organization, e.g. Expats vs Non-Expats; Mid-Career Hires vs In-house Trained Executives; Positive Thinkers vs Cynics; Gen X vs Gen Y. With a tough and extremely competitive business environment and high turnover the norm, it was a matter of critical importance and urgency to build and maintain an effective and sustainable workforce. The top leadership in the organization therefore had to first recognize the challenge they faced and subsequently persevere in their efforts to achieve a successful transformation.

Linkage Asia’s Solution

Linkage Asia worked closely with the CEO and HR Director to craft a detailed, multi-pronged approach to tackle the challenge of transforming the organization. Several key principles were followed in order to drive the transformation process successfully e.g.:

  • While the goal was to unify and integrate the entire organization, there could be no single solution or approach to do this. Different initiatives and styles were essential to address different employee groups and their needs.
  • Top leadership involvement would be absolutely critical to the success of the transformation. Not only would top buy-in be a given, but full commitment, support, and effort had to be observed by the organization.
  • The focus of the organizational transformation must be closely aligned with business goals and objectives.
  • Transformation champions need to be identified at every level

Having worked with many organizations on organizational and cultural transformations, Linkage Asia understood how critical top leadership involvement was. Significant time and energy was devoted to working with the top leadership team to enhance their effectiveness, address their dysfunctions, and re-align their goals and values before engaging each and every leader in the transformation process. Linkage Asia consultants facilitated management meetings, conducted off-site retreats, coached top leaders individually, and elicited full ownership and involvement from them to drive every transformation initiative. The top leadership team was the driving force and heartbeat of the organizational transformation, and a large part of the transformation was effected by a cascading approach via regular team meetings as a vehicle. Team meetings were recognized as the most effective, practical, and pervasive means for culture and work transformation in the organization.

A Steering Committee made up of the brightest and the best talent in the organization was also set up early to be the second driving force of the transformation process. Two members of the top leadership team sat on the committee to ensure that it had full authority and resources to make and implement critical decisions. At least five strategic streams were mapped out to address the most important organs of the organization including human resources, the physical work environment, and organizational rites and rituals.

Results

Due to top leadership’s high level of commitment and involvement in the transformation process from the beginning, the initial scepticism of many employees towards the transformation effort was significantly lessened. With Linkage Asia’s help, the CEO was able to successfully articulate and express his firm belief and conviction that a transformation could revitalize the organization and propel them to become market leader. As a result, many others started to believe in the transformation effort as well. The multi-pronged approach, top leadership involvement, team meeting cascades, and a dedicated Steering Committee proficient in execution, also led to a more integrated organizational culture, efficient work processes, aligned leadership team, and greater trust in management overall.