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Client Story

Global Retail Organization Builds Senior Team Effectiveness for a Digital Future

How one large global retail organization developed leaders to rapidly shift mindsets and actions to help the company achieve its digital transformation.

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The Need

Senior team needed to adopt the habits, and model the skills required to drive a digital transformation.

The Solution

Assessment of individual and team capability, team-based development to develop stronger communication skills.

The Result

Improved engagement and adoption of change initiatives through all levels of leadership.

Shifting Mindsets to Shift the Organization

A global retail organization faced multiple complexities brought on by several years of mergers, acquisitions, and divestures. While these organic transformations placed the organization in a very positive position commercially, sustaining that position would require another transformation—one focused on a more digital future. As customer needs and market dynamics were undergoing seismic shifts brought on by technological change and innovation, this organization needed to rethink the way its business was structured, and how leaders could rapidly shift the mindsets and actions of a large, global organization.

What’s more, all this needed to happen in an organization where recent change and instability had left its culture exhausted from continuous integration and restructuring.

Starting Change at the Top

While the company’s culture had made some foundational shifts toward becoming more agile, the senior team came to realize that they too needed to make concerted and rapid changes if the organization was to successfully achieve its digital transformation. They also knew that to ensure adoption, the path to digital transformation had to be simple, straightforward, and modeled by top leadership. This meant starting in the C-suite.

The first step involved a partnership with DDI to get a clear picture of both individual and group strengths and development areas for the senior leadership team. With assessments, including 360-degree feedback surveys and personality assessment, the team gathered both individual and group-based insights about their leadership tendencies and dispositions. With this information, the team moved ahead with simplicity in mind, forgoing traditional individual development plans in favor of a team-based approach to development.

Their approach began with asking senior leaders to individually identify just one habit that they believed would be crucial to their own transformation, but they were also asked to make sure this habit would be noticeable to others in the areas of the company they were leading. After each team member had selected one individual habit, DDI worked side-by-side with the team to look for high-level patterns in the habit selections of the group, while also analyzing the group assessment data to identify key actions that senior leadership might struggle to display amid their digital transformation (e.g., providing timely, candid feedback). Based on this analysis, the team was able to identify a small cluster of collective habits on which the team, as a whole, could focus.

Shaping New Futures Through New Habits

Assessment data showed clearly that senior management, while highly commercially savvy and experienced, was not effective at transformation. Most were not inclined to value or display many of the most fundamental leadership actions required to lead transformation: coaching and developing others, thoughtfully addressing resistance to change, and painting a positive picture of a different future. While the team was effective at driving strategy execution, it lacked the ability to build energy for new strategies.

With a full understanding of these assets and liabilities, the team chose to focus their collective effort on communication, particularly how they were communicating the need for and value of strategic change. A common approach to presenting, sharing, and discussing planned changes was adopted, with each leader adopting a common core to their approach, while making appropriate adaptations in their respective organizations.

Each senior team member committed to identifying several upcoming opportunities to communicate their goals in this new way, and with the help of a coach, carried out the planned communications. Only after applying the communication approach numerous times did they come back as a team to take stock of progress, process what they had learned, and refresh plans to take on the next phase of their leadership of this critical transformation.

This straightforward leadership development intervention proved to be instrumental in helping the organization advance its digital transformation goals. Results were swift and striking, and included improvement in engagement among the senior leadership team members, as well as improved engagement and adoption of change initiatives through all levels of leadership in the organization.

In partnership with DDI to build a senior team to lead its transformation efforts, this organization was able to:

  • Use survey and assessment data to gather both individual and group-based insights about leadership tendencies.
  • Analyze group assessment data to identify fundamental leadership actions required to lead transformation.
  • Improve engagement and adoption of change initiatives through all levels of leadership.