Wednesday, May 20, 2009
The CMO Club May Summit, NYC: “Leading Company Wide Change”
Keynote given by Leo Tokar, CMO of Kaiser Permanente
Leo told the story of aligning all the elements of his brand to create a company culture that future strategies could be built upon.
Analyzing the structure of Kaiser Permanente, Leo realized only a handful of departments actually had contact with the customer, while the rest had a number of differing priorities. It’s a competency-based organization where the range of responsibilities made it impossible to simply align every department around the marketing goals.
Persuasion alone was not going to do the trick. Instead, departments would need to rally around a common value proposition.
Leo met with the CEO and asked her three questions Leo asked the CEO:- Do you feel everyone on the executive team has the same view of what’s important?
- Do you think everyone has a common view of the business we’re in?
- How confident are you that if set growth and financial goals out there, that we’d meet both?
He also had to rethink the role of marketing. The marketing department’s job needed to be about putting customers, and not the marketing agenda, at the center of the business.
The resulting strategic plan for alignment turned out to be less important than the process for bringing change about. Leo needed to define accountability in very specific ways, so he created executive scorecards to move everyone through the pipeline together. Bringing together the heads of each department, he was able to ascertain what they felt were their main goals and work from there to find out how to make customers the central priority within these goals.
Each department head was now faced with bringing these newly aligned goals back to their management team and help them to understand how these initiatives would benefit business an their departments directly.
The next level down was getting buy-in from staffs. An incentive plan that tied the new goals to compensation ensured everyone would know what they needed to do to achieve company, department and personal missions.
In the end, the CEO was able to be removed from the role as “enforcer” as executives began communicating across departments to meet the common goals of the organization. In total the alignment process took 3 years.