Norton Crumlin Case Study # 001
THE CHALLENGE: Helping two executive teams see the future, instead of past history.
Norton , Crumlin & Asociates have a long history of Playing the role of 'honest broker' in key business negotiations. Thier skills and experience meant that a major state government department found success in a multi-billion dollar project.
With two teams unable to move a major project forward in two years, Norton Crumlin & Associates were called in to find a way forward. Finding common ground, getting executive buy-in and setting hard targets all cotributed to making the engagement a success.
"This was a big project," said Roger Norton. "Our client was rolling out a massive Customer Relationship Management system, a one-stop shop for all manner of government transactions. They'd had some success in recruiting other departments to implement the new system with them, but were struggling to get one of the largest across the line. If they didn't succeed, there'd be a big hole in this new system, and it would be considered a failure. Our job was to make sure they succeeded." The first step was to talk to everyone involved. "We had over a dozen one on one interviews with all the important players," said Norton. We wanted to find out what the problems were, what was causing them and how the key personalities felt about the project." On the surface, it looked like the other department were the ones dragging their feet. They had their own transaction system and weren't sure they needed a different one and, as a self funded government entity, they couldn't be forced to. "There was certainly some delaying on their part," says Norton. "But after the one on ones, the bigger issue seemed to be our client had been very aggressive in their dealings with the other team. There seemed to be a fair bit of "you will do this," instead of taking a more softly softly approach. Too much stick and not enough carrot."
With the interviews out of the way, it was onto a one-day workshop session, facilitated by Roger and attended by the key figures in both project teams, including the heads of both departments. That's where it got interesting. "Basically, both executives said that the project was a valuable one and needed to be implemented for the good of both organisations. " With that, the two heads left their teams to thrash out the details. If only though, it was that simple. "You have to remember, that this project had been going on for two years already, with very little progress," said Norton. "There was a fair amount of animosity between the two teams that had nothing to implementing the CRM and everything to do with strong personalities clashing. In a case like this, you really need someone to come in from outside and play that honest broker role, which is exactly what we did." When facilitating a session like this one, it's Roger's job to ask why and why not, press gently where needed and push harder when that doesn't work. "It took us a while, but we thrashed out a way ahead. Having the key decision makers in the same room meant that we could develop an objective for the partnership, the key principles under which everyone would conduct themselves and the specific tasks that would
need to be completed." The end result was a partnering agreement plan, under which the other department would agree to test the CRM for six months. In other words, a good result, but not the complete sign-off that NCA's client had been hoping for. "We were closer," says Roger, "but still not completely there. The workshop was a great move forward though, as both teams found the common ground they needed to get back on track." Three months later, the mid-process review meeting revealed some mixed results. "There was no doubt that the teams were working better together," said Norton. "Our client was more attentive to what the other department was saying and In turn, they, with the six month deadline in place, had become much more focused in their efforts to evaluate the system." There were still some personality differences though that were causing problems, and during the one-day workshop, Roger helped the team work though these and refocus on the task.
projects get derailed because of the strong personalities involved. In cases like this, you really do need someone from outside the organisation to step in and help everyone find the common ground. It's also critical to get buy-in from the absolute senior levels of an organisation. We got the result we did here because both the bosses came in and laid down the law. Without that, we'd still be talking about what to do, rather then ticking off the to-do list."
Are personality issues putting your major projects at stake? Contact Roger Norton and find out what the team at Norton Crumlin can do to help.
For the other department's CEO though, he'd seen enough. "After watching the teams work together cohesively for three months, and hearing from his team that the CRM system would bring massive advantages to his organisation, he gave it the green light." Mission accomplished for Norton Crumlin. "Our job was to achieve a result for our client," says Norton, "but it really was a win-win for both sides." Our client got the other agency's buy-in in a very timely manner and they got access to the CRM on partnership instead of takeover terms." For Norton, the principles applied to this job would apply equally to many other companies. "All too often, good
Jack Crumlin:Â 0404 830 552 || Roger Norton:Â 0418 252 313 Office:Â 02 9964 9700 3/188 Pacific Highway, North Sydney, NSW, 2060