Case: The art of being number one – and deserving it
The wind power producer Vestas was market leading, but in decline. New competitors emerged in the market, and it was no longer a matter of course to choose Vestas. Change was necessary, but how? Time was a factor – the change had to happen fast.
Vestas hired PlanB to bring about the change program:
– It was important for us that the change implementation team did not only consist of consultants. We wanted to achieve a profound and permanent change, so it had to be anchored and come from within the organization, says Kristine Mørch, Strategic Portfolio Manager at the time and responsible for implementation of the strategy.
Key stakeholder employees at Vestas led the process the whole time and were also points of contact. PlanB acted as a firm but active support along the way. Change agents were appointed within the line organization and they were project managers with performance accountability.
Together with the executive management they came to the conclusion that they were operating too many projects and other initiatives simultaneously. The effect was a blurred strategic focus. Kristine explains:
– Strategy is about making choices, but most importantly about choosing what you should not do. With PlanB:s help we managed to cut down the number of projects from 270 to 12. The majority of the projects were closed down and the remaining ones were focusing on customer satisfaction and were given new key performance indicators. We worked across the entire Vestas organization and not by departments as we had done in the past.
The team also found that the company lacked good reporting structures, relating the projects to the overall strategy. Vestas also appeared to be underestimating the change process and the need for communication. Project management skills were insufficient and many projects had unclear objectives as well as time frames. No wonder that many of the projects were competing for resources!
- PlanB helped us to develop our competence in project management. We created a project portfolio and a procedure for guarantee of quality through reviews, says Kristine.
Communication and strong support within the company was essential. A communicator was recruited for each project. A magazine and intranet was created. Meetings with top executives and workshops created solidarity and stronger attachment within the organization.
During one period the equivalent of 250 full-time employees worked with the change process. “Skip Christmas, be one of the team!” was a slogan and our employees really struggled to get our new strategy in place, Kristine remembers and she continues:
– All twelve projects had to be successful. During one early meeting our CEO said:
“- By the way; failure is not an option”
And Vestas could see the difference in actual figures. The twelve projects had created savings and synergy effects and the company was now working more closely together towards the same goal.
Finally Vestas worked actively with process documentation, exchange of knowledge and business intelligence. Besides having performed a change program, the organization had improved their capabilities to implement strategies – now ready and prepared for new changes.
In 2009 PlanB received the Consultant award, Strategy and organizational development category, from the Danish employers’ association Dansk Industri for the achievement with “supporting implementation of group strategy in Vestas Windsystem A/S”.