Strategy, Culture and The Wisdom of a King







An ancient king once said in an address to his people, “…see that these things are done in wisdom and order; for it is not requisite that a man should run faster than he has strength.” The premise here is to prioritize correctly and not try and do everything at once. True and sustainable success is a long game.

Organizational Change Management (OCM) is usually a shift in strategy that requires a change throughout the organization. The best and lasting change considers all the stakeholders of the change, and the potential risk to those stakeholders. A plan for the change is then developed and executed, much like any other project.

Organizations are tempted to jump in to wholesale change because the perceived results of the change are financially seductive. However, wholesale change often has unintended consequences that will frequently swallow expected benefits.

I recently read an article in APICS Magazine entitled “Award Winning Responsiveness”. The article was about Mallinckrodt Pharmaceuticals and the OCM process they went through to become more nimble and responsive to the customer.

There were two significant statements in the article. First was by the senior director of supply chain for Mallinckrodt, David Widder, CPIM, who stated: “As I look back on what we have accomplished, the biggest challenge was this change of culture” (italics added).

For any organizational change to take place, the culture must be changed. Ken Snyder, Executive Director of the Shingo Institute, defines culture as “the accumulation of behaviors of the people within the organization.” Because people are involved real change takes time. Where wholesale change takes place, people tend to resist, often thwarting the effort to change. This activity becomes non-value add (NVA).

The second statement was by the author of the article, stating, “The strategy [at Mallinckrodt] began with small changes and realistic, aligned goals.” Again, this speaks of thoughtful, deliberate and well-planned change within an organization and of setting the appropriate priorities for that change to make the strategy effective.

Who would have thought a king of more than two millennia ago would have understood culture and strategy in business today? Perhaps the idea is timeless. An interesting notion.

Einstein, Cotton Fields and Sweatshops

Not long ago, I was reading an article in Fortune Magazine, entitled, “The Desperate Search for the Next Great American Idea”, when I stumbled on a quote that resonated deeply with me and is as follows:


I am, somehow, less interested in the weight and convolutions of Einstein’s brain, than in the near certainty that people of equal talent have lived and died in cotton fields and sweat shops.”

– Stephen Jay Gould, Evolutionary Biologist

 I got to thinking about this statement and the power of it in terms of operational excellence. If it is true, by Stephen Jay Gould’s estimation, that people of equal talent to that of Einstein have lived and died in cotton fields and sweatshops, what latent talent of that caliber exists on the shop floors and front lines of our manufacturing and service industries? How do we tap into that talent in the individual plants, call centers and kitchens? What value can tapping into that talent bring to the businesses where it exists?

At Leg Up Solutions, we are passionate about this very subject.

We believe the BRILLIANCE of today’s WORK FORCE is the key to unlocking UNREALIZED BUSINESS VALUE.

If you’d like to explore how this may work for your firm, feel free to contact us.

Relationships Are Important

Just had lunch with Abby Tedell-Berg of FreemanXP.

Abby and I had the opportunity to work together over the last couple of years. She is one of the most focused people I know at satisfying, nay, delighting the customer and process improvement. Frankly, she is passionate about it. She also has the backing of an excellent organization, FreemanXP, behind her.

Wishing Abby and FreemanXP well in their future endeavors and look forward to our crossing paths again sometime in the future!