Case Study – The Story of Our Business

Driving Cultural Change

The Relationship
John and Jeff met when Jeff was contracted to Coach a key member in John’s organization. Later, and subsequent to performing John’s 360 degree feedback coaching session, John decided to participate in Jeff’s Foundations Coaching Program himself. Toward the end of this work together, John was promoted into another part of his organization. Within a year he was promoted again and was now leading those once his leadership peers. With this announcement, he reached out and engaged with Jeff again for one-on-one coaching, this time to assist him in this important transition. He also asked Jeff to engage with his leadership team with Jeff’s methodology of Strategic Story (Driving Cultural Change).

Business Issue
The Client is a successful, highly technical, and respected collective of knowledge workers serving a unique medical community and market. As VP & General Manager, John saw the short and long-term value in the dialogic process of Strategy Work; a process he believed could begin to translate collective leadership strategy to the larger organizational, business, and brand strategies.

The following objectives summarize the desires of the General Manager and the team he assembled to work with Jeff Brunson:

Clarity (Why)                                        Interest

  • Intentionally come together around the ‘why’
  • Build on our tactical expertise around specific objectives
  • Build a vision story that fulfills ‘why’ in work both personally and professionally

Engagement (What)                              Interest to Energy

  • Leverage the timing for this work & find motivation to be bigger and better together
  • Be better at knowing why we come to work as individuals: having a personal connection to the work is more engaging for the person
  • Be driven more by a larger picture than one restricted by a certain set of numbers

Connection (How)                                 Energy to Results

  • Building on great functional expertise, better connect all the dots in our Story
  • With a more cohesive view of the world we are better served individually and together; we more fully involve others in order to serve all our developmental and business efforts
  • We take advantage of opportunity to grow through risk, innovation, and creativity; continue to functionally go in the right direction while consciously assuring we travel together in the Story

This joint desire was centered around a vision for all in the organization: “That we build stronger departmental collaboration while honing individualized skills; increase a taste for risk while establishing, by conscious practice, a cohesive system of collaboration and strategic thinking that moves fluidly across functions; and all leaders facilitate an atmosphere for powerful learning that creates opportunity (for risk, growth, and results).”

Applied Methodology
Create a full-focused experience where we leverage individuality and the power of collective energy in designing our future; a strategic, balanced view that brings the future into the present with Clarity, Engagement, & Connection while also connecting deeply with the Brand Strategy−the creation of the building blocks that clearly identify who we are, what we do and why we do it. It identifies the elements of what makes us unique and why customers like doing business with us, including what their preferences and expectations of us are.

Prep: Communication & Pre-work
As leaders these are 2 jobs among many: The budgetary/business planning process that helps manage today’s operations and to engage our strategic mind to confront our future. The budgeting process is the art and science of allocating/aligning resources to the right actions that have come into better view because of effort given to the Strategic Story; as we Discover, Design, and Deliver.

Discover the Story
A dialogue resulting in a simple, clear understanding of the Story we desire to tell: a story that encompasses (and honors) the past, present, and future−an evolving vision.

Design the Story
In the understanding of−and alignment with−the Story, we establish a strategic balance. This framework guides us to focus strategically on the areas that allow us to lead, manage, and deliver results objectively & subjectively as we ensure the telling of our story.

Deliver on the Story
We build tactically on the framework; collaborating in a new, centered manner to design actions across functions for the overall success of the organizational story. We challenge priorities, observations, measurements, and align around a “connection plan” throughout the organization.

Five Month Frame: Strategy should be exciting. Strategy draws in interest that creates energy. This is the rationale behind reframing strategy as a Story. Jeff Brunson worked closely with the internal Brand expert to ensure that the Strategic Story work was connected as a layer of support to the Brand Strategy. The months leading up to the actual strategy sessions included the gathering of data via interviews and surveys. This blended the Brand expert’s data gathering efforts and Jeff’s preparation for the strategy sessions. This preparatory work helped confirm perspectives and set the stage for alignment.

In this Prep phase Jeff Brunson worked with the designated Strategy Team to specifically:

Prepare data gathered in branding work for correlation to the strategy work and the   story process.
Prepare for the 3 days of strategy work; in order for the team to be connected up front and prepare for a role in post sessions follow-thru.
Develop the pre-work questions that were asked of the executive team members, and the   interview questions that the executives used to interact with their managers as part of session preparation.
Coach each executive in the designated process of connecting with the rationale for the interviews and how to go about the process of gathering this important feedback (possible customization of questions asked for their functional area while allowing data collected to serve the whole (cross-functional collaboration; learning from the data collected and applying appropriately).

From the Strategy Sessions:
Day 1
Collaboratively created the Story to drive deeper engagement and connection throughout the organization.
Day 2
Committed to 3 strategy driven action areas on which to focus in order to tell the Story of Our Business.
Committed to 4 strategic leading behaviors; creating a formula for the cross-functional collaboration necessary for success in the Story.
Day 3
Outlined the commitment to business actions for each of the 3 strategy driven actions.
Developed strategic actions in alignment with each leading behavior.

Post Strategy Sessions (6 months in) Note-these were compiled by John:

  • Strategy used in the performance process to clearly align goals for individuals and teams; as a result, trust and transparency are improving.
  • 7 Cross-Functional and organizationally deep strategic teams formed to address strategic opportunities; resulting in high level of engagement in the teams and deepening understanding of the business across functions.
  • Strategy has served as a foundation in a rapidly changing market; without this clarity of direction, there would be a real risk that we would stray far off course.
  • A growing sense of ownership in the business; as we have engaged at more and deeper levels there is a growing sentiment that we all have the power to move the business forward.
  • Strategic clarity is helping to further test our preexisting business models and processes; we are evolving our significant processes to reinforce the behaviors we require and are focusing them more on the tight business objectives we seek to achieve.

Thank you for reading this brief case study.

In this 21st Century, strategic behavior is more important than ever throughout the organization. It is time for individuals to be energized by a common story of interest, and to collectively align energy in the strategic clarity of which John speaks. This is essential in order to tell the story of who we are together.