Case 15: Who’s Who in the Zoo


The Story

A 10,000 strong manufacturing company has recently decided to “install” its very own Safety Management System. This system is aimed at integrating the safety of the person, the product and the processes used for manufacturing in the context of new and aggressive regulatory requirements. An implementation team was put in place to “grease the wheels” of the implementation. The senior management team of the company all nodded their heads sagely when presented with the initial business case for proceeding.

Within a month of the kick-off of implementation, symptoms of a complex system of internal politics began appearing:

  • Customer processes were divided among three competing Vice-Presidents: sales, customer service and marketing, who never met to work out a joint strategy;
  • Manufacturing and Quality Management, each led by its very own VP, were constantly fighting over who was accountable for “quality escapes”;
  • Staff VP’s were intent on controlling the line functions of the organization: Finance wouldn’t let managers spend their budgets and HR “suggested” to line managers who they should fire and hire; Legal even suggested that they couldn’t have an SMS because it would expose the organization to legal challenge on the safety of its products; Communications would only communicate what was good news.
  • There was a planning VP who, since he had arrived a year earlier, had not been able to figure out what his job was.
  • The CEO had a total of 15 direct reports, each competing for attention that he had no time to give.

The Intervention

There are way too many drones in this organization, each drawing a staggering rate of pay, complete with year-end bonuses that have nothing to do with performance. The CEO needs to:

  • Re-think the functions of the organization;
  • Simplify and re-align the corporate structure;
  • Do away with duplicate functions and people;
  • Make each senior manager accountable for one process;
  • Mentor the remaining senior managers in performance expectations;
  • Test the maturity of the organization to undertake the proposed change;
  • Plan the change in detail, including the role of the corporate senior team.

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