Technology Innovator and Developer

Transforming an Operating Culture to Support Growth


Operating Culture Hampers Efficiency, Growth, and Vision 

A $2 billion technology company knew its operating culture had to change significantly and quickly when its previously consistent year-over-year growth plateaued over a five-year period due to shifting customer expectations. 

The new CEO, hired externally for his fresh perspective, knew an immediate cultural change was mandatory when he found out how the company’s long-time employees defined their operating culture. “Getting along like family” is anything but effective when trying to recognize market opportunities and drive the quality and efficiency its customers demand in place of the company’s uninspired product add-ons and extensions. 

Evidently, the company had lost sight of its valued customers’ true priorities and the need to keep pace in a rapidly evolving business environment. 

In view of the status quo that lingered after the long-time CEO’s resignation, the new CEO also recognized the company’s existing leaders and their teams would have to approach their work very differently to have a tangible, measurable impact on product quality, operating efficiency, customer expectations, and, subsequently, topline sales and bottom-line margins.


Operating Culture Survey Uncovers Gaps and Challenges Assumptions

The new CEO relied on RHR International’s expertise, experience, and third-party objectivity to help assess the existing operating culture and reshape it after identifying the gaps that slowed change, detracted from the sense of urgency, and kept the focus on what the company had always done rather than on what customers wanted today.

RHR International’s Operating Culture Survey was deployed to find out exactly how executives and their teams viewed the key dimensions affecting strategy development and execution. The Operating Culture Survey posed approximately 90 questions designed to uncover how work actually gets done—which is the heart of an operating culture—and how leaders’ actions affected the operating culture. The actions measured impact leaders’ ability to create, shape, deliver, and grow the company. 

The behavior, decisions, and actions of leaders ultimately affects how employees operate on a day-to-day basis. An effective operating culture creates innovation and customer focus; shapes the way in which the company strategizes, plans, and prioritizes; allows the company to deliver on its plans to execute and adapt; and, finally, grows the company while developing people over time. 

In fact, RHR International’s Operating Culture Survey indicated the company really did understand its customers, although customers might not realize it as the company was invariably “late to the game” with lower-cost products. Because product development teams operated in a bubble, their progress bringing the “right” innovations to market was delayed further and additional distance opened up between the company and its customers. 

As the CEO’s talent advisor, RHR International was asked to define what was expected of every leader to ensure current and future leaders had the capabilities and skills needed to affect urgent change and develop an unprecedented customer and market focus. RHR International then objectively assessed both the internal candidates and external prospects being considered for critical roles within the organization against the newly defined requirements.


Employee Accountability and Engagement to Develop Adjacent Markets

To fully embody and represent the new operational culture, RHR International recommended the creation of a new decision-making body comprised of key commercial and product development leaders. RHR International suggested they meet at least monthly to maintain the focus and momentum on customer priorities and new markets. The decision-making body’s regular meetings keep new markets top-of-mind, support open dialogue, and ensure product development and related resources are directly linked to customer expectations.

Cross-functional director-level teams with the authority and ability to affect and act on new initiatives were carefully selected to oversee and support them. As a result, the company has successfully entered an adjacent market, which is forecast to grow at twice the rate of the company’s traditional markets. 

By giving cross-functional teams the power to develop and implement new strategies, then holding them accountable, they’re very aware of the role they play in the ultimate success or failure of every initiative. It also ensures they do whatever is required to avoid and minimize conflicts and delays around everything from decision-making to pricing and product launches. 

Targeting this new industry vertical together fostered a true sense of urgency and ultimately enhanced collaboration and coordination that will serve the company well into the future.

Contact Us