PeopleAssets Case Study
Management & Organization Development

"Competitive Advantage through People"

A Fortune 500 firm with a distinguished track record of success confronted new competitive threats from overseas. The new C.E.O. understood that to thrive in the future, Norton Company would have to do a number of things differently and much better. New product development cycles, customer support systems and product innovation were top priorities among a list of business processes that Norton would have to approach with creativity, speed and competence. To succeed in meeting the new competitive threats, the C.E.O. realized that the top managers in all of his businesses would have to behave differently.

A comprehensive management development initiative was launched world wide. PeopleAssets* was chosen as the prime contractor to conduct a management style education program for one thousand top managers internationally. Based on an analysis of business conditions, we reached several conclusions that shaped the nature of the program. 1.) To break old habits, managers would need to have compelling data to target specific needs for change in their behavior. 2.) Where possible, colleague feedback would be incorporated into the data collection process in order to strengthen conclusions and recommendations for change. 3.) Diagnostic reports should be customized to highlight the specific behaviors that company experts considered essential to meet the competitive challenge.

Every week for fourteen months, PeopleAssets psychologists traveled to a different corporate location to meet with twenty five top managers at that site. Managers completed a self-assessment profile of their management style prior to their arrival. Where possible, colleague feedback had either been collected prior to the program or managers attended the program with colleagues who knew them, in order to generate the feedback real time. Colleague feedback was used to validate the self-assessment profile analysis.

In a morning presentation, the issue of motivation in behavior change was addressed. Selective attention and defensive mechanisms were also reviewed in the context of changing vs. maintaining old behaviors. Business reasons for needed changes were discussed also. In the afternoon sessions, managers met in small groups to discuss results derived from the self-assessment and from colleague feedback. Each manager was expected to identify two or three development or improvement goals that he /she would work on over the next ninety days.

The management development program was so popular that Norton decided to fund the translation of the entire system into Portuguese for use by all of its Brazilian subsidiaries.

*PeopleAssets' predecessor was Organizational Transformation Systems (OTS).

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