We have worked with more than 100 clients and tens of thousands of leaders on five continents. Below are several clients for whom we added extreme value and learned lessons that helped us build our performance improvement model.
Banco de Credito del Peru
Since 2009, SWA has advised senior executives at Peru’s largest financial services company, an organization with approximately 20,000 employees.
We have worked with BCP to:
- Define roles based on teachable activities and restructure performance management to support role clarity
- Transform Learning and Development priorities to accelerate the speed at which new hires reach full productivity
- Establish a compelling CEO-led employment brand with strategic initiatives connected to the slogan Somos BCP (We are BCP)
- Introduce an Ambassador Program to prepare BCP employees to describe BCP careers favorably to university and MBA graduates
- Develop a companywide leadership development system that prepares BCP’s 2,000 leaders to be effective people-managers
In 2009, external research described BCP as a bureaucratic and a below-average employer. By 2016, BCP earned the distinction of “top employer” in Peru, a position it maintains. Over the past several years, BCP has also enjoyed its most profitable period in the company’s long history.
We learned that even a large organization can make role clarity the foundation for effective people-management. In communications, we learned that making the CEO the spokesperson for the employment brand and conducting regular adult-to-adult communications dramatically improves the workplace.
Since 2010, SWA has been advising senior executives at Huawei, a Chinese technology firm employing nearly 200,000 people worldwide. We have addressed Huawei’s operations in places like Shenzhen, Tokyo, Duesseldorf, London, Rome, Ottawa, and Silicon Valley.
We have worked with Huawei to:
- Develop “models of team execution” (MOTEs) to describe thoroughly how key account teams in Western Europe are to serve the region’s 24 largest accounts
- Reengineer the role of nearly 2,500 Human Resource Business Partners (HRBPs) worldwide
- Develop role-based training for HRBPs
- Develop an HR operating model for nine overseas research and development organizations
Western Europe has been Huawei’s most successful region over the past several years – mainly due to its success with its key accounts. Our work with HRBP’s earned Huawei’s “President’s Award” as a top companywide project in 2014. The HR model we established in Huawei’s research and development centers serves as a model for locations worldwide.
As key account teams in Western Europe proved, a vivid MOTE is the ideal foundation for precise execution and consistent execution. As business managers learn to perform people-management activities independently, the daily need for HR Business Partners diminishes. Huawei now deploys fewer HR Business Partners, and those remaining perform truly strategic roles.
From 2015 to 2017, SWA advised senior executives from Nuclear Canada, a nuclear engineering and analysis consulting firm and division of Amec Foster Wheeler. Nuclear Canada was spun off from Ontario Power Generation, and we guided the senior executive team in launching a new strategy and leading the change management process.
We worked with Nuclear Canada to:
- Engage 125 team members in conveying strategy as vivid models of team execution (MOTEs) coordinated among leaders
- Define key project roles, selection criteria, and spans of control for three types of projects
- Establish priorities required to make the new strategy effective
- Prepare communications to employees, customers, and candidates
- Lead a change management process toward the new strategy
By including many people in developing the model, employees executed the model effectively from the start. Nuclear Canada saw immediate and substantial gains in revenue, schedule, quality, and safety.
We learned that inviting 125 people to provide input on strategy not only improved the strategy, but also ensured seamless implementation.
From 2008 to 2012, SWA worked with senior executives at Wardrop Engineering, a consulting firm headquartered in Winnipeg and now a division of Tetra Tech, to:
- Develop a strategy for expanding from 1,000 to 4,000 professionals in four years
- Strengthen Wardrop’s relationship with three at-risk clients responsible for nearly $60 million in annual fees
- Define a model of team execution (MOTE) for serving Wardrop’s largest clients
- Define key project roles
- Develop people-management systems to support the MOTE and key project roles
Wardrop first stabilized and then increased sales to its three largest clients. Tetra-Tech acquired Wardrop at a price made more favorable because of Wardrop’s earned loyalty from its largest accounts.
We learned the extreme power of involving large-account customers in developing a MOTE. By partnering with customer decision-makers, Wardrop gained a significant and sustainable advantage over its competitors.
ESAB Welding & Cutting Products
From 1998 to 2016, SWA advised sales executives from ESAB, a $1 billion welding and cutting products company, on improving sales effectiveness.
With the Senior Vice President of Sales and his team, we helped ESAB:
- Construct a clear model of team execution (MOTE) describing how ESAB would sell indirectly through distributors and directly to large end-users
- Define and maintain clear roles for all customer-facing positions
- Imagine, design, and construct Inside Sales to complement outside sales and customer service
- Develop recruitment, selection, training, performance management, compensation, and succession planning systems for Sales
ESAB achieved consistent growth from 1998 through 2016 when ESAB merged with Miller Electric. Adding Inside Sales to ESAB’s selling process has been particularly successful in increasing company sales and building customer loyalty.
At ESAB, we exposed the traditional model of splitting responsibility for sales into individual pieces as logical – but inferior. By building sales teams that combined inside sales, customer service, and territory sales, ESAB made the whole greater than the sum of parts, so to speak, by increasing sales, building customer loyalty, and improving employee morale.
In the early 2000s, SWA helped Alliant Foodservice develop a compensation structure for the five top warehouse leadership positions: General Manager – and Vice Presidents of Finance, Sales, Operations, and Human Resources.
Beginning the project by defining market compensation, we quickly learned that because the foodservice industry was intensely competitive, industry leaders were unwilling to participate in a standard compensation survey. Since a thorough understanding of market compensation was necessary for our work, we gathered market compensation data while conducting a recruiting assignment. Our consultants:
- Contacted nearly 200 people working in the target positions at other large foodservice companies
- Introduced ourselves as recruiters, offering legitimate open positions
- While gathering information for recruiting, collected personal and company compensation information
- Reported base salary and total compensation data for each position, delineated by size of warehouse and location
- Presented thirty-four candidates for selection
Though we took an unorthodox approach to gathering data, our market compensation study was as precise as any we have conducted. We developed a compensation structure that was competitive with the market and that varied by size of warehouse and location. As a byproduct of the compensation assignment, Alliant hired four of the candidates we presented.
Alliant Foodservice is the first client for whom we explicitly combined recruitment and compensation. Since the Alliant assignment, we guide our clients’ recruiters to gather market intelligence and share it with departments such as Compensation, Sales, and Marketing.
Raytheon Appliance Group
In the mid-to late 1990s, SWA advised the senior executive team of Speed Queen, a manufacturer of commercial washing machines in Ripon, Wisconsin.
We worked with company managers and officials of the Local International Brotherhood of Electrical Workers to:
- Transition the 900-employee plant from a piece-rate to a team-oriented production process
- Pilot – and then roll out – team-oriented manufacturing
- Reduce the number of job classifications from over 100 to fewer than 20
- Reach contractual agreement on a “base pay plus team bonus” compensation system
- Maintain substantial gains in quality and productivity
Speed Queen advanced from “worst to first” among Raytheon’s manufacturing facilities within one year. Raytheon’s board of directors visited the Ripon plant and produced an inspiring video describing Speed Queen’s transformation as an example for all Raytheon facilities. (Copy available)
We learned that extensive union/management collaboration and consistent communications can enable a company to transform itself. We have built on these principles in all of our future work.
AT&T Global Services
From 1998 to 2002, SWA worked with the AT&T’s Vice President of Global Services and his team to provide innovative sales management training and to establish customer-friendly career paths in Sales.
We worked with Global Services to:
- Define the role of Sales Manager as a set of six major activities
- Design and develop practical training around major activities
- Deliver training first to 110 Sales Managers in the Eastern Division
- Based on the success in the Eastern Division, deliver training to the remaining 180 Sales Managers in the Western and Southern Divisions
- Reconstruct career paths within Sales by establishing “levels” within roles for Sales Executives and Account Managers
The sales management training, considered highly innovative by senior executives, was also “best rated” by the sales organization. And by establishing career paths so Sales Executives could remain with a set of customers through several promotions, Global Services enjoyed increased customer loyalty and satisfaction among its largest clients.
We learned that defining roles as sets of major activities – and then structuring training around roles is a practical and powerful model. We also advanced our methodology for structuring career advancement within roles to support a flat organization, serve customers better, and guide continual skill development.
The Green Bay Packers
From 1991 to 1992, I worked on a project titled “Rebuilding the Dynasty” for the Green Bay Packers. I was assigned to the project because of my experience as a college quarterback.
- Conducted in-person interviews with experts such as Bill Walsh, Paul Tagliabue, Pete Roselle, Gene Upshaw, Will McDonough, Walter Payton, John Hannah, and Lou Holtz
- Formulated recommendations on organizational structure and roles in the franchise
- Advised replacing the General Manager
- Drafted a detailed report with suggestions for improving the Packers organization
The Packers restructured its board of directors, separated responsibilities for football operations from business functions, and selected Ron Wolf as General Manager. Both the team and the franchise steadily improved, winning the Super Bowl in 1997 and again in 2011. After an unprecedented 20-year slump from 1971 to 1991, the Packers became – and remain – one of the strongest franchises in professional sports.
Mostly by studying the success of Bill Walsh and the San Francisco 49ers, we developed our methodology for connecting strategy from senior executives to front-line employees in the form of models of team execution (MOTEs). Since the Green Bay Packers assignment, we place MOTEs at the center of our strategy work.