Action Learning Leadership Development: Telecom

Using Action Learning to Develop Technology Leaders in a Growing Telecom Company

Client Case Study

Situation

This regional Telecom Company developed a new market strategy and began the transition from a utility to a high-tech, communication service organization.  In preparation for this strategic shift, IT leaders wanted to prepare their mid-level managers to take on a leading role in executing a new strategy that would double the size of the company and put it on a national scale.

The goal for this initiative was to provide mid-level IT managers with executive management skills, greater leadership perspective, and core capabilities needed to take on critical new responsibilities, change initiatives, and new technologies. Specific goals for emerging leaders included:

  • Managing technology expansion programs with high levels of efficiency, effectiveness, and quality in a cost effective manner.
  • Identifying non-IT opportunities that impact the company’s bottom line and increase managers’ enterprise-wide understanding.
  • Balancing strategy execution with tactical challenges.
  • Communicating IT’s value proposition at all levels and roles within the organization.

Complications

  • Change: Managers had little reason to change the way they worked for a very long time; now they needed to innovate and drive value.
  • Learning Expectations: Participants were only used to traditional training with little accountability to learn. Now they would be on the hook to not only apply their learning, but also to produce tangible business impact.
  • Relevance: Provide a learning experience that was relevant to participants’ current and future roles within the company.
  • Executive Sponsorship: Get significant levels of senior executives’ participation to link action learning experiences to current and future IT initiatives.
  • Risk-Taking: The company’s hierarchical organization structure discouraged mid-level managers from taking risks and innovating.  This made it difficult to balance IT innovation with the rest of the company’s desire for IT to remain consistent and conservative.

Approach

The program combined traditional executive and leadership development approaches with an action learning format. Once a month for 4-hours, we provided targeted training on topics such as communication skills, problem solving, conflict management, motivating employees, risk management, and others. For the remainder of that day, and in between sessions, participants worked in cross-functional teams, with a goal of providing a significant contribution to the company’s bottom line or competitive position.

Teams progressed through the phases of a major project while they received just-in-time training, coaching, mentoring, and the tools necessary to succeed. Four teams of 4 participants went through the following steps over a twelve-month timeframe:

  1. Identify opportunities to either drive new revenue or decrease operational costs.
  2. Select one high potential opportunity and create a business case to present to senior executives for implementation approval.
  3. Lead the project implementation, engaging and influencing targeted areas within the company.
  4. Measure results from the project.

During the course of the project, each team received the following just-in-time support:

  • An executive mentor who provided knowledge and input on project focus, company politics, and how to keep on track.
  • A shared Executive Sponsor, the Chief Technology Officer, who met with teams between sessions to provide strategic guidance.
  • A senior operations manager who helped provide subject matter expertise to the program, the facilitators, and the teams.

Results
In twelve to twenty four months:

  • $150,000 in bottom line impact was realized in Year 1
  • $500,000 in bottom line impact was realized in Year 2
  • 25% of participants were promoted immediately following the program as a result of their performance and executive visibility.
  • 12.5% of participants made lateral moves as a result of interest, performance, and new relationships with non-IT executives.
  • The development of new critical processes and identification of marketing opportunities.

Related Information

It was a challenge to find a consultant with an approach to performance improvement that fit our unique culture and style. We were pleasantly surprised to discover LSA’s depth of expertise in the fields of motivation, developmental coaching and performance management and measurement.

LSA seamlessly integrated those components without our folks feeling like the intervention was forced. They understood what we were trying to accomplish, helped us clarify our objectives, and created a solid, refreshing approach that quickly got us moving and engage at all levels across the organization.Overall, I couldn’t be happier that we found a true strategy and implementation partner in LSA.

Doug Hansen
President and Director

Redwood Trust

We recently hired LSA to help us take our client delivery methodology to the next level as we continue to grow and help our clients succeed. The custom strategy and design session exceeded our expectations. They really understood our business and delivered within tight time frames.  They were the best I have seen for this type of complex, visible and strategic work. LSA’s ability to get a group of 20+ executives from around the globe on the same page, push their thinking to new heights, and ensure an executable plan was excellent. I would recommend LSA to anyone looking to take their strategy and strategic execution to the next level.

Rob Sturgeon
EVP Client Delivery

Service Source

We have had a very beneficial partnership with LSA for over 2 years. The recent Leadership Development Program that they designed and customized with us to help us identify, develop, and retain top leaders in the organization was a huge success. It was instrumental in helping take our company and our key people to the next level. I would recommend their training and consulting services to anyone looking to develop and retain top talent.

Steve Janowsky
Vice President of Operations

Proxicom

LSA helped us design and deliver a blended learning solution for our leaders to help drive our growth plans in a way that aligned with our specific culture and values. LSA understood our business, had deep expertise in the content areas, tailored the programs to fit our specific needs, and delivered great results. They constantly strive to deliver business impact and align their solutions with our business initiates, culture, and performance management systems. I highly recommend them to anyone looking to take their leaders to the next level.”

Beth A. Taylor
Vice President of Human Resources

Thoratec

Hyperion has a commitment to lifelong learning. LSA helps us provide the right business sales training, management training programs, and leadership development programs at the right time to meet the needs of both individuals and departments. I especially appreciate their ability to listen to my needs and recommend the appropriate facilitators, solutions and content.

Sarah Parks
Senior Project Manager

Hyperion

As a high growth digital marketing agency with cutting edge talent, we hired LSA Global to help clarify our strategy and work with our executive leadership team to help implement strategic changes in a way that made sense for our unique culture. The work was so successful that we also hired them to coach our key leaders. LSA has been instrumental in helping us transition to a new leadership team and triple revenue. In this age of useless consultants, I highly recommend their practical and business-oriented approach to strategy, culture and talent.

David Bentley
General Manager

AKQA

The customized leadership program was very practical and achieved our goals. LSA adapted very well to our group and the situation and helped us build trust and awareness of successful leadership styles. We look forward to the next steps.

Erik Okholm
Director of Software Development

LSA is an excellent training outsource partner! They listen to our needs, are responsive and work at a pace that keeps up with ours. We have found LSA to bring strategic and innovative solutions to meet our business problems by partnering effectively with our staff. I consider them to be an external extension of our team.

Wendy Chinn
Sr. Director, Global Sales Enablement

The action-learning leadership project has been very beneficial to me, our leadership team, and the entire organization. The balance of development and results has been excellent. We have made huge progress, and I was also able to identify 2-3 high potentials while having the extra benefit of people stepping up to carry strategic projects forward. The Staff is very appreciative and has become very comfortable with both the program and the process. It is still going better than anticipated, and I have been very pleased.

Heather Feltman
President & CEO

LSS

We selected LSA Global over 5 other companies to help our key executives improve their overall communication and executive presentation capabilities. LSA exceeded our expectations. Everyone had a great experience and are now incorporating the lessons into their teams. I highly recommend LSA to any executive team looking to better organize and more effectively deliver key executive-level messages when the stakes are high.

Todd Power
Office of the CEO

Over the years, both at 3Com and now at Redback, I’ve found LSA Global to be a valuable resource. The recent compliance program that they delivered for Redback’s executive and management team was the right solution, of the highest of quality, and customized to our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA to any company looking for top quality solutions.

Gina Fulton
Vice President of Human Resources

We signed up with LSA early on–as their 22nd Member! Since then, our organization’s learning needs have increased and decreased and increased again with the changing times. The beauty of the LSA business model is its flexibility…when we needed to supplement our own internal resources, we used LSA services knowing that we could depend on the outstanding quality of the leadership development and management training programs they provide.

Margie Bunting
HR Manager

We value our relationship with LSA Global. They focus on understanding our business situation and helping us succeed. LSA continues to deliver top quality consulting and leadership solutions that are highly customized for our business and culture. I would highly recommend LSA Global as a top quality resource to anyone looking to greatly improve the skills of their leadership, management, and project teams.

Bonnie S. Olson
Vice President of Human Resources

LSS

LSA demonstrated the criticality for executives to look beyond current ethics topics and focus on applying fundamental values in everything they do to demonstrate true leadership. They successfully delivered in two hours what most leadership development presenters would spend an entire day trying to communicate.

Nick Voyvodich, SPHR
HR Manager

Fujitsu

LSA Global has been a great partner in helping ServiceSource move toward its Vision of being “the leading developer of talent in the service performance management industry.” I have engaged LSA’s services to help develop best-in-class programs in the areas of: Executive On-boarding, Manager Training, Sales Training, Employee Engagement and Instructional Design. They have consistently met or exceeded my (very) high expectations and are always responsive to my needs.

Mike Normant
Senior Director, Training & Development

Service Source

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