From Surviving Corporate Meltdown to a Thriving Business

A senior Fortune 100 team in a global corporation invited me to help them address an impossible task. The company's stock was at an all-time low. Many of them had lost a great deal of their personal wealth in the preceding four years, and with it their trust in corporate leadership. Layoffs and cutbacks had been deep, resource was scarce, and morale low and slipping.

In this environment, with 18 people, they were handed the challenge of developing new solutions to meet ambitious sales quotas in two global sectors. On top of all that, they believed they had irreversible internal conflicts. And worse, even if we did succeed, they believed they would be busted up as a team at the end of the year, as was the company's practice at the time - so they wouldn't get to enjoy the fruits fo their labor.

We used Game Theory to invent a winnable game. We designed a playing field, metrics for winning, roles, and rules of play. Then we designed strategies to win this game. Every one of them had solid MBA's and a substantial track record. Their criteria for success were demanding.

I insisted that each facet of the new game delight every one of them, refusing to accept any aspect that was merely satisfactory. When they proposed 'ok' or 'making do' kinds of results, I yawned. Nor would I let them 'convince' each other to agree. When they proposed new measures that captured each others' fascination, the quickening in the room was unmistakable.

They soon began listening for - and fulfilling - each others' highest standards for design and delivery. Early in the day, unnoticed by them, their orientation changed. Rather than being at the effect of [what they viewed as lame senior leadership, they became authors: they took authority to create a business game whose results would delight all of them. Their posture and their mood shifted at about 10:30 am, when they identified their new playing field.

One of the strategies was how to keep their morale up in a negative corporate environment. We used the Master Moves™ to address those concerns. I promised continued support for any remaining internal conflicts - few arose. In hindsight, the team believes they created their own private world and a private language, which provided 'respite' from the 'insanity' of the rest of the company.

This group of top performers had strong allies in the sales force as well as in development and operations. With new ears for the concerns of customers and field partners, they didn't stop exploring until proposed new solutions delighted ALL participants. They collaborated with other company teams to bundle products and services. People were thrilled at the chance to work with a group that was in a good mood, focused on new value rather than avoiding risk.

That year, the team invented four new solutions, two of which are still generating substantial profitable global revenue. They were the only team in the Company to meet its numbers that year. And they got to stay together for a second year.

Are You Fit to Thrive in Any Economy?