Change Management Consulting

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Turn-arounds, Mergers, and Restructures

Corporate Therapist - Turn-Around, Mergers, and Restructures

“It’s always easiest to get a loan when you don’t need the money.

The same thing applies to organizational development — it’s always easier to make organizational changes when you don’t need to. In the real world, organizational fine-tuning usually occurs at the worst of times. It is usually driven by problems within the organization itself or a turbulent operating environment. The changes require creating a space and the time within this environment to take stock of an organization’s strengths and weaknesses, to clear up any communication issues and to refocus everyone on the issues that need to be tackled immediately.

By approaching this process in a well-thought-out manner, the organization not only meets the immediate crisis but comes out much stronger and operating like a finely-tuned machine. Unfortunately, this process is very difficult to tackle while the organization is in a firefighting mode. It often requires an outside guide to walk through the steps required without the blinders which restrict the vision of those who feel like they are under fire.

Internal Business Solutions provided just this service to the Facilities and Maintenance Departments of the Chico Unified School District, at a time when the challenges were great and the available resources were very thin. Kelly’s guidance helped build the sense of being a team, eliminate communication issues, and facilitate planning for one of the biggest structural changes CUSD has undertaken — the closure of two of its elementary campuses. The end result is that we are working together far more efficiently and effectively.”

Michael Weissenborn
Facilities Planning/Construction Manager
Chico Unified School District


For a project to end successfully, it must begin successfully and this statement could not be more true and the stakes higher then when it comes to Turn-arounds, Mergers & Restructures. All of these processes are costly and time consuming, but more important than either of those is that they involve the redirecting of peoples individual and group self-image, communication, trust, and behaviors. The financial success does not hinge so much on contracts, strategic plans or even the leadership team, but rather on how the people within these organizations can re-direct their thoughts, actions, beliefs and self-image and learn to trust and understand one another. In essence, for a Turn-around, merger or restructure to be financially successful it must be approached systemically and from a cultural standpoint or an expensive train wreck will happen. The historical research is very clear on this.

Culture is the product of social learning. Ways of thinking, behaving and working together that have proven to be successful over time. You cannot, therefore, “create” a new culture overnight. You can demand or stimulate a new way of working and thinking; you can monitor it to make sure that it is done; but members of the organization do not personally internalize it, and outwardly make it part of the new culture unless, over time, it actually works better.

Therefore, the quickest way to create a new hybrid culture in such a situation is to give the people a compelling, common task so that together they can build a new set of assumptions.

I start by gaining a deep understanding of the people and their cultural assumptions. First, these questions are designed to gather information, reveal mental and business challenges as well as solutions and buy-in. Second, they are designed to introduce possibilities and “solution oriented” thinking. The type of questions and depth will obviously change given the people, the business structure, and current cultural assumptions so these are just examples:

  • What has made them and their organization or department successful?
  • What are their fears? What is not going well?
  • What are their solutions to bridge this gap?
  • If this turn-around, merger or restructure is successful what will this department and/or organization look like in 12, 24, or 36 months?
  • How will your personal and professional life be improved?

From this information natural “themes” will start to take place which will guide next steps.

This value based approach has proven to be a good investment for my clients because:

  • Proactive identification of organizational overt and covert influences
  • This process inspires awareness and innovation for the future
  • Improved cross-functional communication and collaboration among and between people, departments and organizations
  • Proactive identification of micro and macro successes.
  • Rapid identification of obstacles
  • Refocused priorities toward improved communication, trust and increased participation toward new business objectives