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© 2024 N. Dean Meyer and Associates Inc.
Excerpt from www.NDMA.COM, © 2024 N. Dean Meyer and Associates Inc.

Book: How Organizations Should Work

Case Study: Transforming a Human Resources Department

what it felt like to go through the process of developing a vision and transformation road-map

by Deborah Percy, vice president, Human Resources Development, Blockbuster

In today's leadership climate, learning and experiencing something really new is seldom felt to be fun, and rarely recognized as rewarding. But we had fun and found many rewards in planning the transformation of my Human Resources Development department.

Book: How Organizations Should Work

In August, 1998, I was challenged with establishing and leading a new department. I was determined we would be successful. To me, that meant we would think and operate like business entrepreneurs, and create our own vision and style of operation.

And so, we embarked on building a business within a business. We started with Dean's transformation road-map planning process.

We have learned a great deal in that process:

  • We learned how to create a vision of where we were heading, how to articulate what we were unhappy with, and why we had to act now.

  • We learned how to articulate the way we would work (our culture) in terms of behaviors, rather than preaching values.

  • We learned a new budgeting process which changed the ownership of HR programs to our internal customers. It also gave us an opportunity to realize just how many hours per annum were spent in meetings, training, handling emails and paperwork, etc.

  • We learned about how our department's checkbook (budget) is filled up, why internal customers should defend spending on us, and when a service is an enterprise cost versus a deliverable to a specific business unit.

  • We learned the value of clear contracting with our internal customers.

  • We learned to define our products and services, and then translate that into a price list and charters for services.

  • We now know who does what, and who needs help from whom and for what (teamwork>.

  • We walked away with a new business language.

  • We learned how to continue the desire and effort entailed in striving to bring about change, and the personal time we had to invest in our own leadership.

Just experiencing this transformation planning process made us face up to many challenges. We learned how to be champions of change while communicating a clear sense of identity and stability. And we learned how to foster a diversity of ideas and creative conflict while facilitating alignment and collaboration.

Each of us had to be decisive while empowering others, and to produce short-term results while acting in the long-term interests of the department.

As the leader of the team, I got to see the many different learning styles within my staff. I watched 12 individuals buy into the process at different times, quickly becoming one team but without losing their differences as individuals.

Ultimately, each of us realized a level of understanding [of the vision and principles of organizational design] such that complex concepts were grasped with relative ease, and they were immediately implemented.

"When we started the N. Dean Meyer 'RoadMap' process, we were individuals struggling to find a way to improve the working environment. At the end of the process, we were an optimistic team, seeking converts, looking for a way to spread the message.

Whatever personal road you follow, you can look back on this process and know it dramatically changed the way you think, act and manage your business. It is my sincere hope that this process will remain a part of your vocabulary, no matter how difficult, unresponsive or clueless your surrounding work environment may be. Be the spark that lights the candle of change!"
Mike Werner

Never in my wildest dreams did I realize the risk I was taking by being different from the rest of the HR department, and by doing something so unusual. This created moments of doubt that we were doing the right thing, and concern and unease amongst my team.

Despite our concerns, in so many ways, we found ourselves to be stronger for the experience and the new-found knowledge, and often able to bring that new learning to bear in daily interactions with others in HR. The phrase, "the sum of the parts is greater than the whole," has rung true on many occasions. We have been able to influence our colleagues and peers just by practicing our new methodologies and idealogies.

For us, this was a passage from no clear future to a state of believing, understanding, and being able to shape the journey we want to take.

The benefits of working on these challenges is something I wish every professional could take the time to experience in their careers.

I encourage each of us to constantly ask of ourselves how much time we want to invest in leadership of this caliber. And in return, I expect those who do invest the time will reap the associated benefits as we did, for both the business and themselves.

I want to thank the team for their leap of faith, and Dean who helped us understand where it was we were jumping.


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