Chapter 13. Smooth the Path through Change

With Pam Altizer, Eric Carter, and Mitali Sharma

A North American-based $18 billionplus publicly traded company had established a traditional corporate structure, but with very autonomous business units. The C-level was reluctant to drive top-down initiatives, preferring to leave major initiatives up to the business units. By and large, the company was successful, so no one in the C-suite felt any particular need for change.

At one business unit, however, a midlevel visionary felt strongly that the company would need to use Lean Six Sigma (LSS) if it hoped to achieve an aggressive growth target in five years. Lacking support from the corporate office, this VP decided to pilot LSS in his area and use it as a launching pad from which to achieve short-term cost objectives and hit future growth targets.

Since the VP owned the deployment in his area, he had control over the outcomes. But once he made plans for replicating throughout the rest of the organization, he had to choose wisely which area would be next, because going forward he would have limited direct influence. A common approach would be to deploy next to the area with the greatest financial opportunity or, conversely, to the area experiencing the greatest "pain" in the organization. While not a bad approach, the VP knew that strong leadership would be the key to success, so he looked for areas led by other early adopters and risk takers. He targeted leaders who had successfully led ...

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