PeopleAssets Case Study
Management Development and IT Alignment

"Turnaround Challenge"

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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