Through good times and bad, Thomas & Betts has remained a leader in electrical, HVAC, emergency lighting and power transmission markets by focusing on continuous improvement. Today is no exception. As T&B heads into what is certain to be a bumpy macro-economic ride in 2009, the company is moving forward by taking decisive and definitive action to improve strategic planning and create a culture of inclusiveness.
"We need to create a culture of 'WE' to better leverage our resources and capabilities,"
"We've got great brands, great service and great people," said Dominic Pileggi, T&B chairman and chief executive officer. "But to really deliver on our promise, we need to ensure that everybody on our team understands the role they play in helping us achieve our goals. In other words, we need to build a culture of "We" and really get our employees engaged in the business."
What exactly is a culture of "We"? According to Pileggi, it's where every employee understands where the company is going, how it will get there and how they fit. A "We" culture is an environment where all members of the T&B team feel like they can contribute; where they are comfortable sharing their insights with each other and with management.
"We have lots of great examples where we have created a "We" culture within a small group or facility," said Pileggi. "What we need to do now is broaden that experience across our entire global organization so we can leverage our resources and capabilities effectively."
Beginning by Understanding
To start the process of aligning T&B's culture and its strategies, Pileggi asked for initial input from about 60 individuals throughout the organization regarding T&B's Strengths, Weaknesses, Opportunities and Threats (also known as aSWOT analysis). The analysis took a look at the "Five Key Elements of Strategy:"
To make sure that the participants were able to speak freely, J.C. Jones & Associates, an organizational consultant, was brought in to lead the initial assessment. All responses were kept strictly confidential with only aggregated information given to Pileggi and his core team.
The SWOT survey showed that the T&B's historical legacy of strong brands and strong focus on customer service and relationships were the top strengths of the organization. The lack of accountability and sense of complacency as well as poor internal communications were cited as the greatest weaknesses.
"It was clear from the results that considerable time and thought went into the SWOT process," noted Pileggi. "While we may not have liked everything we heard, we needed to get an honest assessment of our business and strategy before we could begin to move forward and make effective changes."
Eight Key Initiatives Underway
Based on the findings of the SWOT process, eight high-level, company-wide projects have been initiated. The issues being addressed include: organizational capacity, the acquisition process, global growth, internal communications, global supply chain management and procurement, continuous improvement and lean, information technology superiority and working capital management.
George Wright, T&B's Byhalia, Miss., facility manager, talks to a group of employees to discuss safety, winning or losing in areas of quality, productivity and if resources need to be shared.
According to Jones, these are all major initiatives that are far reaching in scope and potential impact.
"To make each of these initiatives manageable, we needed to identify individuals who would 'own' the process and work with a small team to identify the primary goals and develop specific time-phased action plans to achieve the goals," said Jones. "We've done that and the teams are off and running."
Initially, the teams' goal is to scope out the problems/ barriers to improvement, define realistic goals, and outline short- and long-term actions that should be considered to move T&B to the next level in each key area.
"The effort of these teams is just the beginning," said Pileggi. "The real progress won't begin until the plans are finalized, resources are defined and the initiatives are rolled out to the entire T&B global community."
"We are asking all of our employees to adopt an attitude that says 'this is never as good as it gets'," continued Pileggi. "We aren't looking for a Big Bang to fix our issues; we're looking for process improvements and cultural changes that will allow us to get little wins day after day."
Guiding Principles Reintroduced
Part of the drive to transform T&B includes reintroducing the company's Mission, Vision and Guiding Principles and defining the type of behaviors that support the Guiding Principles.
Employees at T&B's Jonesboro, Ark., facility discuss open/new action items toensure necessary resources and support are in place for the Carlon operation.
"Our Guiding Principles are meant to be "guides" that define the type of behavior we value as an organization," said Pileggi. "They are not meant to be a proclamation of what we want to be; they are meant to be a written illustration of who we are. We are reintroducing them now in conjunction with the launch of these eight strategic initiatives in order to drive the message home that our strategies and our culture cannot be separated if we want to remain an industry leader."
Employees throughout Thomas & Betts can expect to hear much more about the company's goals, strategies and initiatives as we move forward into 2009. Employees with questions, comments or information to share should feel free to talk to their manager or email the editorial staff at email@example.com or Jeff Jones at firstname.lastname@example.org.