What Executives Say
I made the decision to bring in this group to work with our senior management and to design a process where we could create and deliver on goals that were stretch goals — world records. Our objective was to take incredibly good managers and turn them into exceptional leaders who could produce another world record.
The outcomes were incredible. We not only met what we considered stretch budgets, we exceeded them. We have set world records for many months in monthly production as well as setting a world record in annual production. Our costs are lower than they were when we started the program, and we were able to improve safety by 50%. All of this is from the leadership that’s in place speaking from a vision and a set of values that the organization is aligned on.
I have been a union leader for almost 30 years and a site official for the last 10 years. It was never considered to be in our interest to work cooperatively with management. We fought them, we had long protracted strikes and we never even considered the possibility of any kind of a real working relationship. With the work of Vanto, we are now in a partnership with management. We have the opportunity to have input into business decisions and all relevant information is shared with us. Our membership now understands that as a union we benefit from this being the best business in the world, both in terms of job security and satisfaction in our accomplishments.
This new union/management partnership was reflected in our recent contract negotiations. The negotiation period was shortened from two-and-a-half to three years to an unprecedented three-month process. We are committed to continuing in this high performing partnership to deliver the changes required to meet the needs of all stakeholders.
With Vanto, we have created a new dimension, having both labor and management sit down together and ask ourselves: Who are we, who do we want to be in the 21st century, and how are we going to get there. This provided an opportunity for people not only to look at themselves but to look at the corporation differently and to dream the dreams that they never thought possible. The productivity gains that we have made so far are marvelous but the things that we have really gained are self-worth, self-confidence, and knowing that we are enhancing our employment security.
In the high-tech industry, remaining successful and being competitive require real agility and the ability to constantly innovate and come out with new technology in a timely way. We asked Vanto to work with us to develop a new kind of dedicated project team to greatly accelerate the product development cycle. In addition to reducing product development time, shortening the cycle, and producing incremental improvements, we wanted something new, fresh — really a breakthrough result. Vanto’s process was designed to revitalize the culture to refocus employees on driving results, welcoming and even initiating change and creating a new leadership role in our company. It successfully incorporates employees in the company’s future, gaining wide-spread commitment to growth and change.
As president and CEO, I thought it was great to experience the outstanding business results and share price, but equally important to me was to witness the enthusiasm of the people to contribute to the organization as well as to each other, regardless of rank. It was a great thrill to see the increasing numbers of official visitors from other, diverse companies, coming to study the process and talk to our people.”
“Looking back on the whole process, [Vanto’s] partnership and their coaching and facilitation were critical ingredients in the mobilization and alignment of our diverse workforce, and without them it would have been difficult, maybe impossible, to create such a transformation.
The acquisition of Empresa Minera Especial de Tintaya, a copper mining corporation formerly owned by the Peruvian government, presented a complex management challenge. The operation had a history of under-performing, a hierarchical culture, and ineffective union/management relationships. The urgency of our situation forced us to focus on something that is crucial to the success of any merger or acquisition — bringing people together as quickly as possible to find effective ways to run the organization. With Vanto Group as our partner, we rapidly built one new company, one that is thriving today.
The work we did with Vanto was part of a large-scale change effort to transform the business. When we brought this opportunity to the whole workforce, the buy-in to it, and the power that it unlocked in the organization was extraordinary. People started to see that there was a future; that it was positive; that they could play a part in it and that it was going to make things more powerful for them and for the organization.
As a whole, some of the hard measures that demonstrate the change are that we were able to take $50 million of cost out of the business in less than six months. Also, in the past 12 months 400 people have left the organization — all voluntarily — and we’ve been able to do that without any major difficulty.
Running a business is a complex matter, and at the heart of any business is people. I have yet to see anything that has such a positive impact on people’s ability to relate, communicate, and perform as Vanto has. Our experience resulted in the alignment of our people around a common vision for the future, along with a powerful set of commitments and accountabilities.
During the work Northern Indiana Public Service Company (NIPSCO) did with [Vanto], we tore down a lot of the old traditional barriers between union and management, the stuff that kept us from achieving the company’s goals.
The cost of producing megawatts has so far dropped 18%. Our grievances dropped more than 50%. The incentive program we developed is probably paying the largest incentive payouts in the country for utility workers. Instead of a very difficult and untrusting environment, there is a new attitude and new level of productivity that reap benefits for the company and the workers.
Vanto Group helped us see the things that were in the way of achieving the goals that we set for ourselves. Several years ago, when we started a significant change effort, we saw that we needed to build a culture preparing people to always be changing. To be successful longer term, to be a leader in the marketplace, we have to always change. There is not going to be an end to it. Vanto Group has helped us build into our culture an ability for resilience; for people to help create and even generate change and not see change as the enemy.
I hired Vanto to consult with my company regarding raising our communications to a new level and maximizing overall performance across multiple business units. I was impressed from the beginning with the subtlety and skill the Vanto team used to work with our top management. They surfaced entrepreneurial thinking and brought a fresh perspective to how our goals could be accomplished. It takes a great deal of skill to accomplish results like this with veteran executives who are very knowledgeable in their field. I have since expanded the consulting efforts to a broader base throughout my company and am looking forward to my continued work with this excellent group.
In 33 years as a union official, I saw just about everything one could see: strikes, negotiations, slow-downs, speed-ups, bombs, bullets, guards, thugs, cops, and even the National Guard. In all those years, nothing compared to the success we had with Vanto helping us to turn it all around. With their help, we became the showplace of American industry. Successful Labor/management partnership, bottom-line improvement in reduced costs, improved productivity, and shareholder value and profits — in a few short years we changed history and 4,000 lives. I see my experience in this effort as the most rewarding achievement I ever participated in at work. I would highly recommend Vanto to anyone interested in a powerful and positive turnaround of their enterprise and its people.