"Culture eats strategy for breakfast"
FedEx leaders hired Senn Delaney to help them recapture the original spirit of the business as founded by Fred Smith. I led the engagement to imbue the PSP (People Service Product) leadership philosophy into what had grown into a global, 300,000-strong Fortune 500 company.
As FedEx grew and diversified its offerings, it became more difficult to maintain the PSP philosophy. Acquisitions further complicated the company-wide practice of this core philosophy, because the acquired companies all had their own cultures. By the time Senn Delaney was hired, there were 5 separate businesses, all under the FedEx umbrella but unified by little else.
I spearheaded the development and global rollout of the Living PSP program in 4 of the 5 businesses. Using the classic Senn Delaney approach, I guided the leadership and executive teams of those 5 businesses to define the core DNA of their founding philosophy in today’s FedEx. Then each team applied it specifically to their own business. Much of my work involved coaching the CEO and Presidents of the divisions, helping them apply the philosophy to their work, and develop mechanisms for cascading PSP throughout their organizations.
Senn Delaney continues to work with FedEx to unite all its businesses through a common purpose and a common language.
Uniting a Global Business
The result of the merger of Bristol Myers-Squibb and Smith-Kline Beecham, Glaxo Smith Kline hired Senn Delaney to help them build a unified culture.
Over 8 years, I led The Leadership Edge program to integrate the two companies around a common set of values. My role was multidimensional: initiative architect, coach for the Change Management Group, leader of early prototypes and culture integration session, and director of the SD team that helped it roll out as a corporate program.
GSK counts it as one of the most successful programs it has ever run.
Blending the best of two companies
A huge challenge faced New York Life: how to compete for software engineers and developers with the Googles, Amazons, and Facebooks of the world. The CIO knew he had to do whatever it took to attract top talent because New York Life’s business was now almost completely digital. That meant everything from moving his organization to Hoboken and building a radically different workspace, to changing the existing culture.
As his coach, I worked closely with this visionary CIO to transform his 3000 person organization’s culture into one that was creative, forward-looking, Millennial-friendly, and agile. A major element was helping him change his mindset. I coached him to shift his department from its focus simply on bits and bytes to seeing it as the major engine of New York Life’s business model and growth.
I guided the CIO and executive team to create a picture of the ideal culture they wanted and to articulate a core set of values and principles underpinning that culture. They created Elevate Technology (Elevate Tech), the ideal culture aligned with their strategy, and rolled it out throughout the technology organization. The CIO’s vision and enthusiasm was critical because it accelerated implementation of both the culture and the strategy and structure needed to achieve New York Life’s business goals.
New York Life
Transforming a culture to attract digital natives
For 11 years, I’ve advised the now-CEO of Indivior, the manufacturer of life-saving suboxone that reverses opioid overdoses.
When I began working with him, Indivior was a small subsidiary of Rekitt Benckiser that didn’t know what to do with suboxone. Today it has billions in sales, is publicly-traded, and saves hundreds of thousands of lives each year. I’ve been privileged to help him navigate the road to the company going public and move from Director of Marketing to CEO.
Part of going public meant describing Indivior’s desired culture. I worked with the CEO and a team of 30-40 people who articulated a set of principles that to this day underpin and inform the company culture. The CEO is its champion and keeper, as now is every person employed. People credit the patient-centric culture as a key factor in attracting top talent from Big Pharma.
As a coach, I’ve supported his growth into becoming a CEO, not simply taking the title but inhabiting the role and understanding its functional, cultural and emotional components. Part of being a coach means being a thought partner in many areas.
For example, the CEO had the insight that doctors don’t know how to treat drug addicts who also are functioning members of society. With my questions and suggestions, Indivior was able to create a unique approach to working with physicians that gives them greater access than other pharma companies get.
Now that’s purpose and culture in action.
From private and unused, to public and purposeful
Loblaw Companies Ltd
Integrating purpose and performance
When a new CEO took over this legendary Canadian food company, he wanted to create a healthier culture that would foster top performance.
The company’s previous leadership had implemented a command and control structure replete with the “rough and tough” management practices of old-style retail and supermarket businesses. That may have worked in earlier times but performance was down, and the new CEO recognized the need for a better culture in order to produce better results.
I advised the management board in the creation and implementation of the B3 program: Better Me, Better We, Better Loblaw. The B3 program focuses everyone’s attention on Loblaw’s purpose: to help Canadians live healthier, happier lives, not just for today but for generations to come. It incorporated human-centric principles of communication, learning, accountability, collaboration and cooperation.
Not only has the company performed better, it was named to Canada’s 10 Most Admired Corporate Cultures list in 2011.
Implementing a management philosophy and system
The Chairman of this South Korean conglomerate created the Sunkyoung management system (SKMS), which is the basis of SK’s culture. As head of Administration, I led the implementation of SKMS across the network of companies. To this day, SKMS system is in use and is the foundation for SK’s purpose, values, business model, and human resources operations.
(SKMS is focused on pursuing SUPEX* in order to grow stakeholder happiness. Members of the company Voluntarily and Willingly contribute to top performance through maximum Brain Engagement (VWBE). * super excellent level of human achievement)
Chase Manhattan Bank
Gaining a cross-cultural lens
Based in Asia for much of my time with Chase, I got two first-hand opportunities to shape culture, and was instrumental in establishing talent and organizational development functions in 13 different countries.
As Country Manager of Consumer Banking for Chase Thailand, I built a team, developed strategic plans, and forged a culture that led to highly successful operations.
Chase hired a cross-cultural coach for me, someone who advised me and my American colleagues on how to work effectively with Thai staff. I credit him for a lot of my success there, because I a) avoided possible culture clashes, and b) gained immense appreciation for the contributions of my Thai staff because I saw through a new lens.
While Director of Talent and OD for the Asia-Pacific Region, I developed staff planning and structure in 13 different countries. In addition, I created strategic plans for Chase Consumer Banking in Japan, Thailand, and Malaysia. And I had my second culture-shaping opportunity when I helped establish, structure and staff up the Chase-AMP Bank of Australia.
In 2010, our Executive/Partner team decided to seek a merger to achieve two goals: expand SD’s distribution/sales reach and thereby grow business more effectively, and provide each of us with an individual exit strategy while ensuring that our highly effective model survived.
We created a 3 year plan to stage the company for sale. The plan encompassed reconfiguring and freshening our brand, codifying and standardizing the SD work process, hiring an investment banking advisor, and creating an outreach program to target companies with same global brand identity, a broad network of C-suite contacts, and a compatible culture.
When we zeroed in on Heidrick & Struggles as our preferred partner, I participated in negotiations. Our goal was to preserve the SD brand and offerings for at least the first 3 years. During those years, we met earn-out goals, laying the groundwork for SD to be further integrated into H&S. With M&A projects, I helped clients decide what approach they wanted to take: 1) subsume the acquisition under the dominant culture; 2) maintain the acquisition’s original culture; 3) come together and create a new culture; or 4) some combination of the above.
Now I had the chance to put that methodology to work at H&S. I led H&S’s culture initiative, facilitating the process for leadership to identify and embrace H&S’s Purpose, Vision and Values.
I took over as SD’s CEO in 2016 to shepherd it into a new relationship with H&S through the creation of a new division, Heidrick Consulting. We combined SD’s culture-shaping offerings with other services that strengthen organizations, their leadership, and performance. Heidrick Consulting is estimated to result in $75-100 mm business because it is a fairly unique to bring culture and performance together into one offering in the marketplace.
Now Heidrick & Struggles is a unified entity that has the capability to address all elements of organization transformation, including search.