The Success Case Method
where it had not proved very useful or had not been seen to achieve
positive outcomes. The evaluation of this program showed that the
detractors were to some extent right; indeed, there were a number of
instances in which the emotional intelligence program was not very
useful or productive. But the program supporters were also proven cor-
rect; there were many cases as well where the program was being very
productively used and was leading to quite valuable outcomes. The
evaluation was helpful in sorting out and describing those most useful
and productive applications of emotional intelligence training and
helped American Express identify as well the elements of the program
that were not working as planned. As a result, program leaders were
able to make revisions to the program to target it on the most produc-
tive outcomes and remove or revise those parts that were not working.
Further, by identifying the more specific valuable applications of the
program, the leaders were able to create more efficient interventions
with a tighter and more specific focus. This enabled participants to
choose elements that were most relevant to their needs and reduced
overall costs while improving impact.
Salvaging Valuable Parts from
a Doomed Program
This is a similar scenario where there may be gems to be mined from a
program. In this case, however, the larger program has been mostly
unsuccessful and is slated to be terminated. Almost always, even
though the majority of opinion may rightfully believe that a program is
a failure, there will often be some small minority that believes in its
value. In these cases, the SCM can be quickly and efficiently deployed
to see if the few program supporters have a valid case. It is simply a
matter of finding these few supporters and asking them to identify the
outcomes that the program is achieving for them. If successes can
indeed be identified, they can be described, documented, and analyzed
to see if there is anything worth keeping from, or learning about, the
program despite its larger and more general failure. In the best-case
scenario, there will be a few program applications that are found to be
worthwhile, and these can be salvaged and built on.
In one study, for example, we evaluated how well an individual
development planning system and tool was working in a large oil com-
pany. The development planning process was supposed to be used to
create an individual development plan for each employee in the com-
pany. All managers at all levels had been provided with the system tools
and had received training in their use, but the evaluation showed
almost no success at all. Only a very small percentage (less than 8%) of
employees had completed the process with their managers and actually
completed a development plan. One step in the system process, a meet-
ing to discuss the employees’ growth goals, however, had been more
broadly applied, though that too was at levels far lower than program
leaders had hoped for. Forty percent of employees reported they had
initiated a discussion with their manager about their future growth, and
they further reported they found this of some value. In interviews we
were able to document that these meetings had indeed taken place with
some managers and employees, and we were further able to document
some valuable outcomes. In some cases, for instance, the meetings
resulted in greater understanding of and commitment to unit produc-
tion goals. In other cases, the manager and the employee identified and
resolved misunderstandings that were depressing performance. In yet
other cases, the meeting led to mutual decisions about a job reassign-
ment that, if not addressed, would have led to the loss of an employee.
In short, the overall program was a failure, but it did provide a tool and
method for encouraging and increasing dialogue between managers
and their employees, something that was clearly a vital need in this
organization. The program leaders gave up on their mission to install a
full-blown development planning system but were able (based on
Puttting the Success Case Method to Work: Strategic Applications

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