Broadening Reach for Success
A leader in the energy industry was seeking a strategy with quick results. The first step was garnering insights from both employees and experts. The outcome: plans that led quickly to action and results.
Our client — a Fortune 1000 energy industry holding company — was pursuing a comprehensive, long-term strategy development initiative, seeking knowledge from recognized experts about the evolution of the energy industry. At the same time, they wanted to inform their employees about critical issues facing the industry and solicit staff input on the strategy process.
Given the company’s size and public status, accomplishing all of these goals in a short amount of time presented a challenge.
Avoiding common pitfalls: acting quickly
Two of the most critical flaws we see in most strategy development efforts are: 1) limiting employee involvement and buy-in; and 2) failing to solicit a wide range of external points of view. With our client’s cooperation, Bridge sought to address both potential pitfalls head-on.
Our client made it clear that we needed to move the ball forward quickly. To address the time-sensitive nature of the process, Bridge structured and managed seven half-day seminars that addressed topics ranging from distribution technologies to energy markets to engaging employees in their jobs.
Hundreds of employees (executives to bargaining unit members), board members, and select customers, community members, regulators, and media attended each of the seminars. The diverse audience served to inform multiple stakeholders and surface concerns of all participants.
Encouraging diversity in viewpoints
The seminars were constructed to address key issues and provide a diversity of views through facilitated panel discussions. Panelists were Bridge consultants or client contacts considered to be subject-matter experts on the seminar topic. Company viewpoints were excluded as inputs to the panel’s process.
During the discussion, employees were given the opportunity to ask questions during an interactive Q&A segment with panelists. The questions and panelist responses provided a wealth of information as well as a window on employee and external constituent concerns. Informal small group breakout sessions gave audience members an additional opportunity to react and provide input to the strategy process.
Seminars were videotaped and distributed to interested employees and Board members. Bridge later used video summaries of the seminars during a Board meeting to present a snapshot of expert opinion on the future of the utility industry and to demonstrate employee enthusiasm and involvement.
Outcomes from our seminars
Reaction to the seminars — from employees, executives, and external stakeholders — was overwhelmingly positive. The seminar format achieved our goal: bringing together employees, Board members, regulators, customers, and community members to educate them about the challenges facing the industry.
Points of view espoused by panelists inspired the discussions of the strategy teams. Panelists were also unexpectedly generous with their time in follow up discussions and supporting information.
Benefits of Engaged Employees
Surveyed employees cited higher engagement after the strategy development process including:
- More positive attitudes towards our client
- Enhanced trust
- Higher levels of organizational commitment
- Intrinsic enjoyment of their work
Buy-in was also far beyond expectations. Employees, particularly at the lower levels of the company, appreciated the opportunity to participate alongside executives and receive direct responses to their questions. Board members increased their awareness of issues and witnessed employee, customer, and regulatory feedback.
The process and discussion topics also received favorable and extensive coverage in a variety of local and industry publications. The client considered the entire exercise an unqualified success.