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Business Issue:

In the late 1990s, Matthias Bellmann, head of Management Learning at Siemens AG, a global conglomerate that makes everything from mobile phones to gas turbines, wanted to build real business achievements into its leadership development program that needed to foster internal cooperation, inventiveness, and assertiveness essential to compete successfully in today's fast-moving, global economy. Though headquarters had already been preaching this message, not enough was actually happening because few people felt bold enough to venture out of their own safe havens. With help from Schaffer Consulting, he re-designed the company's leadership development program to have participants actually achieve some tough business goals.

Consulting Action:

Schaffer Consulting helped him design a leadership development program that was launched with an initial one-week seminar. The participants, all from different Siemens' businesses, identified core business issues that would provide opportunities for creative work and contribution to corporate progress. Each team defined a specific measurable goal it would commit itself to achieving in the following four months.

Teams chose issues such as expansion into Central Asia, reducing telecommunications costs, and mobilizing the best of Siemens' regional capability to serve customer needs in neighboring countries (Sweden and Norway). Specific goals of those teams included, respectively, making operative a fiber optic linkage that ran through more than 15 countries, reducing telecommunications costs by about 30% in England and Germany, and generating new business with a potential customer operating in both Scandinavian countries.

Illustrative Results:

Four months later, a second workshop was held where participants reported project results and recommended plans for expansion. Results included:

  • The fiber optic cable project in Central Asia was successfully implemented and began earning revenues immediately.
  • The telecommunications project developed savings worth over $1 million a year, and set the stage for a number of similar gains following in the pattern of the team's project. Moreover, new ways to administer the telecommunications operations were designed to make sure the benefits endured.
  • The Scandinavian team succeeded in stimulating interest in both the Swedish and Norwegian companies which joined in responding to some tenders that might not have been available otherwise.

These are results from just three of the initial 30 or 40 teams. Since then, hundreds of teams have participated in the program, and have delivered tremendous benefits to the company.

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