|Success Case - Tab Products Inc.|
Strategy Partners International
Remember the paperless office? Predictions in the early 80’s said by now we’d have a clean desk with nothing but a computer on it. Needless to say that didn’t happen. More paper than ever is being generated. In all that paper lies the future of TAB, Inc. They are in the business of managing documents and making the information in them accessible quickly, on paper, electronically or otherwise. The external situation was: 1) they were in a very interesting space called Information Management; 2) outsourcing is a key trend and 3) globalization in which large companies like to deal with large companies. The internal situation was: 1) they were a fifty-year old company 2) had a well-known-known brand (seen in every doctor’s & lawyer’s office); 3) had no growth for 3 years in a row (sales were flat at $150 million) and 4) they saw themselves as a product focused business. When the new CEO came on board he asked a number of people what the strategy was and they said “sell, sell, sell”. In other words, no strategy. But he was not interested in doing a “turnaround”. He wanted to “transform” the company. That is when he called Rudy Champa and Strategy Partners International in to assist him.
APPROACH AND SOLUTION RATIONALE
In a turnaround, you change form by tweaking things, cutting costs, fixing things. In a transformation you make much more basic changes in what the company actually does, and how it views itself. We applied our proven process of strategic thinking to this challenge. It provided a framework for contextualizing the transformation, a process that other people could grab onto. The CEO knew that you could be really good at this as a leader but if you also try to be the one who imposes the process and be the facilitator, it doesn’t work. What happens is the very silos you’re trying to overcome are exacerbated. The people that have been around a while take everything personally. All the things they did you are going to change so, by definition, they must be wrong. All the new people feel they’re on the good team and older people feel they’re on the wrong team. A process was needed to provide the framework and facilitation to bring disparate groups together without any bias or categorization. We provided neutrality to an intensive debate that we lead with a unique, proven strategic thinking process. Our process also helped level the playing field. People didn’t need an MBA from Stanford to feel like they were contributing to this important strategic change.
There was a dramatic shift in the strategic driver behind the company – from a product-focused organization (colored tab folders) to a technology-focused company (know-how in document management). This required significant change in the organization structure, the sales methodology, the core competency and the channel partner strategies. The focus also changed resource allocation. For example, one part of the company no longer fit the new strategy. It had been around 20 years. It met all the return-profit metrics. But it didn’t fit. And everyone saw that and agreed with that as a direct result of being part of the strategy development. Peter Drucker once said: “You can’t be a good leader unless you have a good follower”. Our process made sure the “followers” were on board behind the CEO. They knew why he was doing it, what their role is, what’s in it for them, what’s in it for the Company and shareholders, and what’s in it for the customer. All of this was articulated clearly in 3 days. The individual work groups were surprised to find that they unanimously agreed that they should not be Product-Driven. And they came away knowing the products, services, markets and customers they would pursue in the future – and those they would not. The CEO says it best: “The determination of your strategic driver (your heartbeat of the enterprise) is not intuitive, oddly enough. We might have picked something else without the help of Rudy Champa and SPI’s strategic thinking process, and over the next two or three years, sooner or later would have found by trial and error that we were wrong and the strategic capabilities were what we decided they were out of the SPI process, during those intensive 3-days”.
Contact: Phil Kantz, former CEO, currently Chairman, Search Systems Corp., 910-256-5857, firstname.lastname@example.org
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