Millions of dollars in manufacturing process improvements had fallen short of expectations in improving the performance of a consumer goods company’s primary manufacturing facility. Higher employee performance was the missing ingredient but how could the company get manufacturing employees to up their game?
A well-known New England institution was seeking significant reductions in instructional and non-instructional costs in order to improve its financial health and enhance its value proposition to students, parents and employers. The President asked Axiom to work with the senior leadership team on this effort.
Implementing strategic change at colleges and universities is hard enough. To ensure that change initiatives are actually creating value, institutions call on Axiom Consulting Partners to measure the success of various initiatives, including strategy implementation, employee engagement, and pay equity. Thumbnail sketches of three such projects are below.
The Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of Faculty of a top ranked liberal arts college retained us to improve how his organization could best support the needs of approximately 50 academic departments.
The Vice President of Academic Affairs and Dean of the College retained us to assess the organization structure and associated staff capacity of the Academic Affairs Division and to provide recommendations to ensure it is organized and managed optimally for success in the future. In addition to the Dean, we worked closely with the Associate Deans for Academic Affairs, CFO, President, Department Chairs and the Strategic Planning Advisory Group (ten faculty members) throughout the project.
As a result of the impact on negative investment returns in the endowment, along with decreased grants for research, there was an urgent need to review a world-renowned research university’s current cost structure in order for it to remain competitive.
While this headline depicts the situation faced by one of our clients when its Board of Trustees issued the decree, this situation could apply to almost any college or university in the United States today. The immediate key question to be addressed, however, is not what do you do? Rather, the very first question is to figure out what you should NOT do.
From our experience, what leaders should NOT do is to make any knee jerk decisions such as immediate cuts or indiscriminate across-the-board percentage reductions in budgets. Leadership moments and challenges like this call for a thoughtful, coherent and integrated approach to the problem that does not fall prey to the ever present “death by a thousand cuts” syndrome.
Ironically yet fortunately, this gauntlet thrown down by the Trustees provided one highly regarded university with the burning platform to stand back and determine a way to invest in its future while simultaneously developing a sustainable long-term financial model. We worked with this university to identify tens of millions of dollars in cost reduction and net revenue enhancement opportunities in a manner that enabled them to strategically reallocate resources across their schools, colleges and institutes to ensure highest and best use.
A small premier research university had developed a solid strategic plan under the stewardship of its Senior Staff. The central question addressed by this team was: “What strategy will provide the university with the greatest likelihood of achieving long-term success given the increasingly intense competition for high-quality students and faculty, along with the university’s s continuing inability to match the budgetary resources of many of its peer and aspirant universities?”
Their strategic plan, which was strongly informed by insightful empirical analyses and comparative external benchmarking, called for the university to evolve from a platform that emphasized enrollment and programmatic growth to a platform that emphasized strategic focus on programs and offerings where the university could truly excel. The Senior Staff strongly believed they had crafted a winning strategy and that the strategic plan would be widely embraced by the campus community. Despite having labored mightily for over a year to implement the new strategy, the senior team found itself completely stymied.
- What happened?
- Why did they confront such significant difficulty moving the plan forward?
- Was the strategic plan itself fundamentally flawed?
The President and senior team determined they needed expert help to break through the logjam and move the university’s strategic agenda forward and at this juncture invited us to work with them.
Poaching high performers is a common – and costly -- occurrence on Wall Street. A global investment banking and advisory firm seeking to grow significantly and sustainably needed to reduce turnover of its experienced professionals and strengthen its unique high-performance culture.
A $9 billion pharmaceutical company’s major investment in improving distribution operations wasn't paying off. The impact of new technology was less than 50% of what management had expected. Employee productivity remained low. Workforce scheduling wasn’t aligned with market demand. The goals of reducing costs and improving customer service appeared out of reach despite all the effort and investment.