PeopleAssets Case Study
Management Development and IT
In the mid 1990's, CIGNA Corporation had one very big problem, and its name was
"Property and Casualty". In one
momentous year, the business had actually managed to lose one billion
dollars. Bad underwriting decisions and sloppy management could be blamed. Cigna's stock price was depressed in a reflection of Wall Streetís
recognition of that problem. Cigna's CEO recruited a former TransAmerica P&C executive, Gerry Isom, to solve the
problem. Isom determined that
information technology [ IT ] could play a key role in the turnaround and
brought in two consulting firms to help him. PeopleAssets* was charged with responsibility for changing
organizational behavior practices in the IT group.
PeopleAssets launched a multi-pronged strategy to support the overall turnaround
effort. First, key managers in the IT group initiated a management development effort to determine how IT managers
could improve their effectiveness. Second, PeopleAssets set out to align IT resources more closely with end-user business
priorities, collecting feedback from business partners and end users to gauge the impact of IT applications.
The management development project began with a self-assessment activity. Each manager and team leader responded to a
series of management style questionnaires to map their own behavior. Next, each manager collected systematic
feedback from colleagues, subordinates and, in some cases, business partners to contrast what others perceived vs. their own opinion.
PeopleAssets psychologists reviewed the data with each manager in a confidential setting to help reach appropriate conclusions and set
improvement goals. Training resources were identified. PeopleAssets provided regular coaching support to ensure that managers followed through.
PeopleAssets also launched an ambitious campaign to make sure IT resources were closely
aligned to business partner needs. Visits with field-based users and business managers were made across the
country to clarify what users really thought of IT applications and IT
support. Results were analyzed and reported graphically to different parts of the IT organization. Group meetings were held to discuss the
feedback and organizational tactics were adjusted to meet the expressed
needs of the end users.
Working closely with new management and other consulting partners who addressed
technology issues, PeopleAssets helped turn Cigna Property and Casualty around
into a profitable position over a four-year period. Cigna Corp. eventually moved decisively into a health care market
specialization and in January 1999 sold their Property & Casualty division
for $3.45 billion.
*PeopleAssets' predecessor was Organizational Transformation Systems (OTS).
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