People matter. In business, you’d think this would be obvious. And, surely we all know it to be true. But it’s surprising how quickly companies will forget how much people matter when they undertake a major transition.

One of our clients didn’t want to make that mistake. This firm, a 50-year-old generic drug maker, was moving out of its old business and into specialty drug manufacturing. That meant moving away from a business that valued volume and into one that was focused on a smaller production of unique products.

It was a big change, but the company was off to a good start. When they asked us for help getting “The People” piece right, they already had two important elements of the transition, “The Purpose” and “The Process,” down pat.

The Purpose

This is the company’s new mission. It has to be clearly stated and communicated to employees and customers during a change. Our client had done a good job of doing just that.

The Process

This consists of the systems and procedures of the organization. The infrastructure. And that infrastructure has to be aligned directly with the new corporate goal  — The Purpose — during a major overhaul.

The People

Many companies today assume that if they get The Purpose clear and The Process aligned, The People will take care of themselves. They won’t. Sure, leadership might be okay. But will the rest of the workers buy into this new vision for the company? Will they even understand how to do their new jobs? Consider our client’s case:  Some of the employees had been there for decades making a product that would be vastly different from the new products the company wanted to develop. You can probably imagine how concerned those workers might have been.

So here’s how our client dealt with that. They involved their people — everyone from the senior executives to the folks working in the labs and on the production lines — in the company’s reinvention. Working in dozens of different groups, these people got an opportunity to create and directly develop what the future of the company would be — what their future would be.

The results: The company made a smooth transition and soon after released a very successful product. It was so successful, in fact, that our client, which had been a family-owned business for five decades, was acquired by a major, global drugmaker. Do people matter? You bet they do.

 

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