In March of 2012, Patrick Davidson was hired to be the General Manager of an $12 million division of the Implant Group of Orchid Orthopedics Solutions, a worldwide leader of medical device outsourcing services from design and development through finished goods manufacturing.The Executive Vice President had warned Patrick that the senior managers were the most dysfunctional team he had ever seen, and the work environment on the floor was bordering on hostile.
The new Orchid Orthopedic Solutions GM’s charge was clear: grow the business with an entrepreneurial approach and change the culture, meeting both bottom line and top line projections. Great leaders know that the first quarter of their tenure is about watching and learning. The second quarter is about aligning people to the Core Values and getting the right people on the right position.
Patrick did both masterfully. At the outset, no one in the facility knew or had heard of the Orchid Core Values. After placing them prominently in the conference room, Patrick repeatedly communicated them and aligned people to them through discussions, accountability conversations, quarterly Town Hall meetings, and letters of recognition for those who practiced them.
At the same time, he made a clear distinction of function between managers and leaders. When in a management mindset, one would delegate tasks, being more directive and reactive; thinking short-term. On the other hand, when in a leader mindset, one would delegate results, being more proactive and having a coaching mindset; thinking long-term. Not so subtly, he began to refer to the senior managers as the Leadership Team while beginning to raise the bar that every individual at the facility was a person of influence, thereby, making them a leader. Everyone had a role in leading the way into the future.
It was at this point that Patrick introduced his Leadership Team to Nexecute® and the principles of building a healthy organization. Collectively, we introduced the equation to build a successful organization: SMARTER + STRONGER = FASTER.
While many organizations seek to be smart, the long-term competitive advantage comes in the area of being STRONGER. Ironically, this is often ignored. The intentionality of the senior executive is essential as it takes every ounce of perseverance and courage to stay the course to become STRONGER. What are the dynamics of a STRONGER organization? Engagement, productivity, job satisfaction, conflict management, accountability, awareness, excelling with strengths, personal and professional development, etc.
In Orchid-Chelsea’s case Patrick quickly started applying SMARTER principles. Clear cut objectives, quarterly priorities, along with dedicated effort, and laser-focus business practices, all grounded in accountability, eventually moved the facility from a 50% on-time delivery to 100% on-time delivery in the first six months. But that was only a start, a STRONGER foundation needed to be laid.
Nexecute® encourages leaders to take the first step by building a cohesive leadership team. The principles are based on Patrick Lencioni’s pyramid from The Five Dysfunctions of a Team. We also decided to name each rung of the pyramid with a positive statement that would not only identify the intent, it would also be the goal and therefore, influence the processes:
Building a Culture of Trust
Committing to one another
Embracing Mutual Accountability
Achieving World-Class Results
Phase 1 of The Results Optimizer™ is The Elephant Conversation™ – a frank, honest, and fully transparent conversations between Patrick and Nexecute®. Patrick authentically shared his perceptions and had uncanny awareness of his strengths and weaknesses. This type of vulnerability allowed Nexecute® to move seamlessly into Phase 2 of our approach, The Momentum Accelerator™.
Nexecute® continued to support Patrick as he continued to develop and build the SMARTER habits that are essential to better execution.
However, the best plan and process fails with the wrong people. Getting the right people on the right seat on the bus takes courage and discipline from the senior leader. It is not a rash decision. Rather it is made with thoughtfulness, discernment, and compassion. After all, even if someone needs to be ushered off the bus, they are still a human being of value that needs to be treated with respect and dignity. Patrick did just that by working with Nexecute® to implement the last toolset in this phase of our unique process. Based on the concept of Top Grading by Brad Smart, Nexecute® helped him implement a system for identifying A, B and C players. Upon reflection, Patrick stated his only regret, “I wish I would have listened to my gut and the counsel of others and made critical personal decisions more quickly.” Any type of delay leaves residual damage that needs to be addressed.
The Leadership Team was now ready for Phase 3, The Leadership Demonstrator™. While Nexecute® had started laying the foundation for Transformational Leadership and building a healthy team at the outset of our work, we now entered the process with earnest. Nexecute® implemented training and coaching segments with Nexecute®’s unique tools to achieve the following outcome objectives; even on-boarding new members to the leadership team so that they could fully engage in the process. Each member of the Leadership Team would:
Learn to be proficient in living and leading the introductory principles of building a stronger culture
Know and engage with the Top Five Talents Themes
Implement the foundational principles of Transformational Leadership
The team and coaching conversations were focused around confronting the truth with honesty and kindness. Individuals were asked to move out of their comfort zones. Space was graciously granted for those who aligned to the Core Values. After all, team cohesion is deliberate, painful, intentional, dynamic, and fluid. Patrick’s leadership provided a container – a boundary – for the transformation.
The results were palpable. One ROI can be described by the quality of the organization: trust was being established, people were becoming more vulnerable, hard conversations were more frequent, and rather than sabotaging each other they began working toward alignment. The culture was becoming healthy. The other ROI was quantifiable: 30% growth in revenue in year one and 60% growth in revenue in year two (over the already much larger year 1).
What took the growth to 150% over three years? Patrick would tell you and the executives at Orchid Orthopedics Solutions that building a healthy culture and leadership development were a major key.
As the employee base grew so did the need for development of more leaders. While developing the senior leaders it was time to develop the next level of leaders, called LEADS: cell leads, team leads, group leads, etc. They entered a year-long process of training and coaching of personal and professional development.
One of the LEADS, who had worked at this facility for over two decades had difficulty talking about how demoralizing it was to work on the floor prior to 2012. After experiencing the impact of being a part of a healthy culture and months of leadership development, she exclaims,
“Sometimes the hardest parts of memories are remembering where you were yesterday, and where you are today. I always compensated for the weaknesses I saw in myself; I tried to gain the ability to overcome any lacking. What I learned changed me as a leader, a parent and a friend. I learned I have five strengths unique to me, and with those I can focus on what I excel at, and in turn share with my team.”
One of Nexecute®’s professional and team development tools is to have leaders know and engage with their top five Talent Themes (StrengthsFinder). The words of one of the LEADS gives insight into this approach,
“I understand all of us have strength’s and we can build a connection with each other and work towards the positives. When we align to our Core Values we’re able to problem solve as a team, and more importantly listen as one. We are reminded that to function as a team words like ‘they’ and ‘them’ are eliminated from our vocabulary, and we become an ‘us’ and ‘we’ – a team. Service before self had been the hardest value for me to answer. Now it’s the easiest. We stand together in our successes and we learn from our failures. We are a team. Orchid is such an exciting place to be, we evolve and change and we believe. Our core values are who we are.”
Her words are poignant.
While the LEADS continued with The Leadership Demonstrator™, the Leadership Team entered Nexecute®’s Phase 4, The Dynamic Advantage™. Each quarter Nexecute® guided the Leadership Team through unique tools designed to build at a greater depth on the principles of being a transformational team aligned and focused on getting excellent results. Some of the tools include: The Path to Delegation, Navigating Emotions™, and The Conflict Intensifier™.
To this day, Orchid-Chelsea continues to be a beacon of execution and organizational health for their sister facilities in the Implant Group. Beyond that, when vendors and customers tour the facility it sparks affirmation and compliments, summarized with the laud, “The energy here is positive and engaging. It feels good to be here!”
Nexecute® continues to work with Orchid-Chelsea, as well as three other facilities in the Implant Group using The Results Optimizer™as a template.