The current economic climate is the toughest in living memory and has resulted in painful reform for many governments around the globe. Pressures on public finances build temptation to put long-term investments on hold; however major infrastructure programs are of such strategic importance for future economic prosperity that ill-considered cuts could stifle growth.
If governments learned anything from prior recessions, it was that transportation networks cannot withstand the strain of disinvestment. Transportation infrastructure and modernization programs still need to deliver on investment commitments to increase capacity, reliability and efficiencies while providing clear value for tax and fare payers.
One of the world’s largest rapid transit systems has refused to watch its infrastructure crumble. Thanks to its perseverance and the legislature in place in its country, it has created an investment roadmap that is guiding it through a remarkable revitalization.
“In a tough financial environment, we had to be confident that any learning initiative would trigger behavioral change leading to measurable improvements in interdepartmental collaboration, and better commercial decisions being made for the organization at large.”
The Challenge: Breaking Down Silos and Building Organizational Unity
The senior leadership team of this prestigious rapid transit system recognized that executing on its infrastructure and modernization program would require a new approach. Its managers had the power to transform the organizational culture to adopt a more innovative and collaborative way of working, but lacked the alignment, mindset and capability to execute a vision that delivered a truly outstanding transit system.
The mindset envisioned required leaders to develop closer working relationships across functional areas. This would ultimately create a clearer view to the interdependencies of operational complexities and often competing trade-offs.
To help them meet this challenge, the organization partnered with BTS, a leading strategy implementation firm, to develop an experiential learning initiative that strengthened commercial acumen and drove effective decision-making skills.
“In a tough financial environment, we had to be confident that any learning initiative would trigger behavioral change leading to measurable improvements in interdepartmental collaboration, and better commercial decisions being made for the organization at large,” says its Head of Learning and Development.
Engagement became a core element of the program as the organization set out to reaffirm ts direction. Tied to a clear and compelling vision, the learning journey created by BTS started building the leadership capability needed to deal with the challenges that transformation brings.
The goals were to:
- Embed a culture of collaborative and cross-functional working that broke down silos and galvanized people around a common operating purpose
- Develop visible, inspiring leaders of high performing and effective teams who were engaged and motivated
- Build a performance culture across the organization by unlocking organizational flexibility and reaffirming the need for consistency and efficiency
A Business Simulation Builds Execution Capabilities
The one-day business simulation developed by BTS challenged senior leaders across the organization— from diverse functional areas and with varied responsibilities—to collaborate in new ways and work together to build business execution skills.
Organized into teams, the senior leaders participated in a competitive simulation that tested their ability to execute a strategy over six accelerated years in a complex yet familiar environment. Leaders were challenged to set strategic goals, tactically navigate operational challenges, and implement their plan while drawing insights from the experience. They experienced the cause and effects of their decisions on the organization, as well as a multitude of internal and external stakeholders.
Leaders came to the realization that they needed to focus on value creation at an organizational level. Collaboration across functional areas, and not solely trying to optimize separate functional pieces, was a key to success.
A Route to Success
The program yielded tangible results. The initiative inspired leaders from various functional areas to improve collaboration and build the skills to achieve exceptional strategy execution at the organizational level.
The internal and external factors brought to life in the simulation were reflective of the critical issues the organization faces today—and those that are on the horizon. Within this context, the teams were able to make decisions from the vantage points of senior leaders and reflect on the trade-offs the organization grapples with on a daily basis. Leaders were able to make decisions that served the best interests of the wider organization while balancing business results against that of its stakeholders. Seventy-five percent of all program participants said that the program helped them deliver the “measurable and concrete results” that the organization desired.
While the traditional view of transport is of how easily passengers can get from A to B, the simulation emphasized how integral transport is to everyone’s lives and the crucial role rapid transit systems play in the fabric of urban life. To that end, leaders attending the program made commitments back to the organization that would help ensure that they worked together more efficiently and effectively. Ultimately, the simulation ensured the successful execution of one of the largest infrastructure and modernization programs ever undertaken by a rapid transit system.
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and Business Execution