A mid-sized engineering design and construction company based in the outskirts of Chennai approached us with a problem of stagnating growth despite bringing in lateral leadership talent. The employees, largely drawn from small towns of Tamil Nadu, were mostly engineers and diploma holders. They were competent and passionate but functioned in siloes. The operations were largely ad-hoc. Leadership bandwidth was mostly consumed in coordinating tasks between departments and solving transactional issues. Cash flow issues caused by delayed collections from clients and wrong deliveries by suppliers resulted in daily escalation calls and firefights. The new leader hired to drive growth soon found himself embroiled in day-to-day execution at the head office with little time to focus elsewhere.

As part of our engagement to drive business growth, we did an intense discovery phase to map out the current state of the company from an operational and cultural perspective. One of the several interventions conducted based on the findings was a value stream mapping exercise for the functional leaders in the organisation. Not only did this exercise build cross functional awareness but also brought to light glaring gaps in the chain.

Some of the practices implemented were the clear definition of KPIs, the design of dashboards so that everyone had visibility of the numbers, clarity in roles and responsibilities to fix gaps in the value chain, establishing a rhythm of governance that included daily standups among and across functions, and weekly reviews. All of these interventions were co-created with the employees, and representatives from the functions managed implementation with minimal requirement of leadership presence in the forums.

A few months of coaching enabled the employees to internalize the practices introduced and make it a habit. This gave the newly hired leader enough confidence to shift his workspace to a remote office in Chennai away from the headquarters leaving the team to manage operations themselves. Soon enough this resulted in winning the largest deal in the company’s history enabling a quantum jump in its revenue!

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