CASE STUDY

Utility Successfully Realigns Thirty Districts into Six Regions and Strengthens its Culture

“This complex effort would never have succeeded if we senior leaders hadn’t learned what it was going to take to keep this effort going, supporting its conditions for success, and striving for the cultural changes it required.”
Transformational Leader of the effort

Challenge

The leaders of a large electric utility recognized the value of streamlining its structure from thirty independent districts into six better-managed and aligned regions. They sought to create common systems, work practices, technology and policies across the regions.

The structural change was transformational for the organization, since it required the new regional leaders to build cooperative relationships with all district managers and simultaneously do all the alignment work with each other and the corporate offices. They were challenged by the historical culture of field autonomy and the prevalence of command-and-control leadership. The corporate leaders were taking the company into new directions that would optimize costs, better serve customers, and reduce competitive differences among its districts. They sought Being First out to support their strategy and implementation plans.


Solution

We scoped the change work to include not only the structural, system and process changes, but the required changes in culture, leadership behavior, and relationships.

The manager of the largest district volunteered to be the leader of the three-year transformation. We coached and supported him to create a change strategy, build his change leadership and project teams, and embed conditions for success from the point of launch. We strengthened the senior leaders’ understanding of the requirements of leading a transformational change and engaged them in defining incentive-based standards for becoming successful change leaders that the CEO held them to.

To test the new configuration and mobilize the new cultural aspirations, we ran two year-long pilots of the new structure and systems in regions whose leaders had very different leadership styles and assessed the impact of the leaders and their regional results. Following the pilots, the regional and system realignment rolled out across the entire organization, along with the new cultural and leadership expectations.


Results

  • The most successful pilot, led by the more conscious and engaging leader, drove higher standards as the model and motivator for the leadership style and desired culture for the rest of the organization
  • Core organizational systems and processes were redesigned to better serve enterprise needs
  • The new standard for leadership became co-creative and collaborative, overcoming the historical command-and-control style
  • The regions were better able to serve their customers in more cost-effective ways
  • Thirty districts were successfully realigned into six regions, led by leaders with a more inclusive style
  • Cost efficiencies were achieved through consolidated and shared services and processes
  • The senior executives became effective transformational leaders by learning to model the criteria they set for themselves
  • A new leadership culture was created

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