Case study Archives
Some specific results in working with clients:
For KWA Construction, a Dallas-based company specializing in apartment construction, Conbrio Principal Bill Bancroft led a team of consultants to do both a succession planning and Lean/Six Sigma process improvement project. An assessment of the company’s culture was one element of the succession planning project as was strategic planning, an assessment of corporate leaders’ skills and leadership qualities and suggested actions leaders could take to improve their management abilities. Both projects were the beginning of change from an entrepreneurial and clannish set of behaviors to a more hierarchical and market-driven culture. Conbrio continues to work with KWA on a variety of projects, from team building to process improvement.
For the newly formed Energy Institute at Texas A&M University, Conbrio led a scenario planning project to help the institute discover how it could thrive in a world of declining grant dollars for research. A key element of the project was assessing the traditional culture of the university and the very different culture needed by the institute. The project also helped participants including vice chancellors, other A&M institute representatives and engineering school department heads process organizational issues around the basic building blocks of starting an institute.
For two national companies in the real estate sector, Conbrio designed and led full-blown scenario planning projects. One was to stress-test the company’s current strategy; the other was to find new offerings the company might add to its services list. In both instances, the Conbrio team guided participants in interacting with leading experts it had invited from across the country in areas including energy, transportation, green issues, the office of the future, demographics and regional economics. Participants used knowledge from the experts along with their own experience to create realistic, plausible, alternative worlds their companies might find themselves operating in – some good, some bad – in the next 10 years. Using the scenarios as a guide, they decided where to focus their resources, and where to hedge their resources to best prosper no matter which future becomes the reality.
For the Executive Committee of the Annual Fund at Duke University, Conbrio led a team of consultants to help the committee analyze the results of an in-depth study of the giving potential of different categories of alumni and then develop strategies to capitalize on the potential. When the project began, committee staff members were thoroughly frustrated because after receiving the study results, they couldn’t envision and agree on a common way forward. Conbrio worked with the committee to help them agree on a vision, develop alternative directions and settle on a plan of action. The heart of the action plan was to hold facilitated focus groups where committee members would interact with the different targeted audiences to ask questions and understand motivations for giving. Conbrio designed and led the facilitated focus groups, using a process which relied heavily on visuals so participants could both see and hear in words and images what best moved the different targeted audiences. At the project’s conclusion, staff members used the input to successfully redesign the pitch and materials for the different target groups. Both staff and committee members were excited with the results, saying the discussions gave them better-than-before insights.
For the North Texas Tollway Authority, Conbrio and Bill Bancroft led a multi-pronged project including strategic planning, change management, culture assessment and team performance. Because board members and staff believed they were left out of the process to write the previous strategic plan, they had little time or interest in a new strategic planning initiative. However, because state statues require the NTTA to produce a plan every two year, they were obliged to come to the table. Using a graphic approach to strategic planning, Bill led the board through three sessions to write the current plan. He then led cross-enterprise staff teams and 11 department leader teams to flesh out plan details, plans for action and with some teams, team performance. He also led department teams in creating performance metrics and the senior staff in putting together a balanced scorecard. Concurrently, Bill and a Conbrio joint venture partner conducted a thorough assessment of NTTA’s culture, working with the board and the senior staff to identify a new, desired culture. Bill also worked with the NTTA senior staff, including the interim executive director, on change management process, especially focusing on communications to ensure changes envisioned in the strategic plan and the culture would be successfully implemented. Because of the thoroughness of the project work, the board chairman asked Conbrio to work with the board as part of its search for a new executive director. In addition, the agency was poised to move forward to implement its plan and make significant changes.
For the City of Mesquite, Texas, Conbrio worked with senior leaders to change the city’s development review process and capture the new process on a visual storymap. City Manager Ted Barron, assistant city managers, department heads, planners and engineers involved in the development review process were frustrated and angry because the process was broken. Members of the development community complained loudly to the mayor and council members who brought their complaints to the city manager. The mayor bluntly told Barron to fix the problems. Conbrio worked with a team of 17 senior staff people in several meetings so all involved could understand the current process (it was clear at the beginning of discussions that no one knew what it was), use the current process as a springboard to design a new process, layer in communications approaches and utilize change management process to implement the new process. Conbrio worked with the implementation team over a six-month period as it drew up new forms, planned training, and put the specifics of the roll-out together. As part of communicating the new plan, Conbrio created a storymap explaining the new process. The storymap was widely distributed to the developer community and inside city hall. At a presentation a year later to the annual meeting of the Texas Municipal League, Mayor John Monaco said, “What has occurred is that the majority of the council has stopped getting complaints entirely…it’s just amazing. Our charge to the city manager was ‘Fix it, and fix it forthwith!’ …it was to do something that would actually work. And it’s a marvel. It’s been working. I don’t get emails anymore with this being reported as a problem. And I don’t get telephone calls anymore. And more importantly, the development in our community goes forward.”
Also for the City of Mesquite, Texas, Conbrio designed and led a three-month project to change the culture at the city’s animal control program. The program operated out of a new, state-of-the-art shelter designed to foster adoption of abandoned animals. However, many of the overall program activities with their emphasis on enforcement remained unchanged from previous years and a number of actions by animal control officers precipitated discord in the community and angry letters to the editor of The Dallas Morning News. All members of the control program team helped to articulate a new culture, resolve issues of trust, and create a vision to increase community outreach and education which would increase adoptions and significantly reduce the number of euthanized animals. Employees wrote an action plan, including updating the animal control ordinance. As part of resolving trust issues, program employees took behavioral assessments to better understand how to communicate with each other and the public.
For The Staubach Company, Conbrio designed and led a project to bring Staubach closer to DTZ, its partner in Europe and Asia. The project culminated in a three-day, café-style meeting where 80 people sitting at small tables each equipped with a computer mulled over a series of questions and then answered them on the computer so the rest of the people in the room could see the answers. As they worked through the questions, as well as participating in other exercises, participants from around the world were able to make a strong case for a variety of initiatives. They ended by writing suggested action plans. Conbrio designed and led a similar project for Habitat for Humanity International, including 140 participants from affiliates across the U.S. and senior leaders from headquarters.
Also for The Staubach Company, Conbrio advised and collaborated on creation of company-wide marketing strategies, including conceiving the idea of a 12-touch program. Work included implementation of some elements. The strategies helped the company better organize its marketing effort, more effectively communicate its problem-solving expertise and, ultimately, strengthen its position among real estate firms as the company of choice to provide full service answers to complex real estate problems.
For the City of College Station, Texas, Conbrio designed and led a workshop for the mayor, city council and senior staff to resolve issues of trust among council members and to write a bold strategic vision for the next ten years for the city. The College Station work is one of several visioning retreats for cities the Conbrio team has designed and led in recent years. As part of dealing with the trust issues, the council unanimously agreed to a common purpose and high ground on council service; it acknowledged areas which could lead to hot debate; and wrote a charter to guide members’ behavior during such debate. The council synthesized past history, trends, strengths and over-the-top brainstorming before unanimously agreeing on long-term goals and objectives. A senior city staff member who called the session an overwhelming success said the output would guide the staff in formulating detailed programming.
For an Arlington, Texas-based consumer products company integrating eight recently acquired companies, Conbrio led a project to decide the merged company’s values. Conbrio led sessions where each of the acquired companies reviewed their histories and the genesis of their values, then suggested which values to keep in the merged company. The sessions were especially difficult because of hard feelings generated during the acquisition. As a result of the sessions, wounds began to heal and participants began to come together as one team.
For St. Philip’s School and Community Center in Dallas, Conbrio led a strategic visioning project for the organization’s executive director and staff to set direction for the next five years, including specific implementation steps for the first year. The staff was concerned about moving off a plateau.The result was an exciting new direction building on St. Philip’s past success to make it a national model. In addition, staff members agreed on implementation plans they are already accomplishing.
For dozens of successful PricewaterhouseCoopers projects, Conbrio Principal Bill Bancroft provided a range of services, including strategy and facilitation, to partners, including the firm’s Senior Partner, pursuing the audits, tax or special work at Fortune 500 companies. Conbrio worked with teams in all-day goal-setting sessions and in one-on-one meetings to plot strategy and draw implementation plans. Conbrio Principal Bill Bancroft orchestrated more than 100 goal sessions over 14 years.