© BASICS 3 2013

SUMMARY: We’ve worked with International Truck and Engine (Navistar) for more than 15 years, providing support for major changes in strategic direction, improving the company’s relationship with union-represented employees, designing and building a high-performance culture, delivering on the company’s brand promise, providing change management support for large-scale systems and process changes, launching an internal change management capability, transitioning through three CEOs, and providing ongoing counsel to SVP of Human Resources.

HIGHLIGHTS: We could tout an hour-long highlight reel, but offer the following three examples in summary:

  1. A major manufacturing plant was not performing as needed (first-time quality hovered at less than 20-percent).  To help, we conducted an assessment of the plant’s management and culture and identified causal relationships between key metrics (defect rates and labor costs) and management’s style and information flow. We worked with plant management to develop and pilot an action plan based on the assessment, and in nine months drove quantifiable improvement in both metrics.  Based on those results, the plant manager embraced a new management philosophy (open and inclusive versus command and control), and led a complete turnaround in the plant’s performance.

  1. The VP of manufacturing needed to significantly reduce costs, and determined that if he could get lower performing operations to adopt methods used in top-performing plants, he could hit his goal.  The challenge, however, was convincing managers to share best practices.  We explored the problem and found the group’s competitive culture precluded the transfer of knowledge (managers kept good ideas to themselves to get ahead).  With this insight in hand, we worked with the VP to change how he managed and promoted plant managers, stressing collaboration over other measures.  Within months, plant managers where sharing ideas and people, thereby delivering reduced costs and improved quality.

  1. The company was launching a new product and a new brand, but engineers were uncertain about the parameters demanded by the new promise that underscored both.  Since they were designing the new product, their contributions were critical.  To build their understanding we conducted a line-led series of interactive seminars on the brand.  To feed the dialogue, we captured customer insights, and had key members of the engineering team engage in “Ride & Drive.”  This tactic assigned trucks to key engineers as their day-to-day vehicles.  By driving them around town and to work, they they experienced the product in ways that enabled them to see the brand, or not.  As a result, the engineers took product development in new directions, and delivered “Beyond the Expected” – as the brand promised.