How purposeful collaboration led to a change in mindset and surprising resultsChoice, Community, Surprising Results
Vitality grows through cycles of surprise. When people produce valuable results beyond their own expectations, there is widespread, energizing delight. If those cycles are short, valuable, and consistently repeating, great performance improves exponentially.
Below, we share an example of a recent project that delivered surprising results. We hope it will inspire and invigorate your own 90-day efforts.
Global aerospace, defense, security and advanced technologies company
“No one thought anything could change—and then the team exceeded their own expectations.”
Purpose of the work
A global aerospace, defense, security, and advanced technologies company and the US Navy had to collaborate to reduce strategic weapon systems costs while providing performance excellence. The program leadership team’s largest challenge was believing that change was possible. They had a history of affordability and change efforts that had not had support, had performance issues, or had not achieved desired results. Some believed that they had too much invested in the current state to risk changing how they did business.
The Conversant team partnered with the program team to identify two parallel 90-day projects focused on the most important issues.
In collaboration with an internal project manager, two project teams, and an executive committee, the Conversant team guided the team in making incremental changes, reviewing results and lessons learned, and leveraging those lessons to other key processes. The Conversant team also equipped the program team with skills needed for high quality conversation, many of which they still use today. When conversations would break down, the Conversant team would remind them of their higher purpose—their incredible commitment to national security; doing so helped them reach deeper alignment. The Conversant team helped them improve how they listened to learn and how to continuously improve how they collaborated.
Due to the highly bureaucratic and silo-ed nature of their organization, when they faced an opportunity to address a challenge, some project team members tended to dismiss it, saying: “No, that won’t be possible because (person in authority) would never allow it.” Using a neutral and objective point of view as well as the relationships they built across the organization, the Conversant team connected with key decision makers, brought them into the process, and decision makers provided their support. The program leadership team was surprised and encouraged when this happened, and this created additional momentum.
The team saved over $1,000,000 USD annually, reduced an 82-day process to 19 days, and increased their program management flexibility. Problems became more easily visible and identifiable.
Following the completion of the work, a program sponsor reports:
“We were in a situation that mandated a change to our business processes to achieve revolution in our efficiency. As a legacy program with many years of success and high achievements, changing that which was perceived as “not broken” was not a popular concept. Yet the world had changed around us, and we needed to either adapt or face certain peril in our marketplace.
The team from Conversant said they could help, but nobody expected the results that we actually experienced. They changed the way we thought and the way we worked with each other. Much to our amazement, the Conversant method and practices transformed our fundamental cultural attitude toward change. That was the key. Once people decide they want to do something, they will find a way to do it because the work comes from the heart. And that is what happened. People who were once reluctant to participate in change activities were suddenly excited to be a part of the new way to approach continuous improvement. We had people on waiting lists for project participation. This was true transformation. The net result was 20% improvement on financial goals in the first year.”
—Vice President, Aerospace and Defense