Sunday, March 25, 2012

Key Characteristics of the Chrysler Reorganization

I just caught some of a 60 Minutes story on Sergio Marchionne, CEO of Fiat-Chrysler, and was intrigued with his approach and early success with their reorganization. I'm a little envious of the business world, so different than the church in terms of the bottom line & how quickly they can move in leadership, yet there may be some elements similar in any reorganization.

I found a good article about the Marchionne Strategy.I'm lifting out a number of quotes as it's also a nice look at some major issues in a strategy for reorganization. Much of the material is based on Wall Street Journal's Jennifer Clark intriguing book "Mondo Agnelli: Fiat, Chrysler, and the Power of a Dynasty." With many denominations and churches considering how to be efficient in this generation and with the new world economy it is interesting to consider how other large institutions have reorganized.

"With his lightning-quick mind, boundless energy, and utter self-confidence, he took over the company, selected a management team, created a product plan, and established a set of performance targets." Now I'm thinking about a church and denomination. Wouldn't it be nice sometimes to have that sort of authority and ability as a CEO?! So, it doesn't all transfer, but some of these characteristics sound good for a clergy profile. Do we know what we are looking for in a management team? What is our "product plan?" What are the performance targets? I think that some of the UMC discussions at General Conference and in Annual Conferences are addressing some of these matters.

"He selected his own management team after months of walking around at the company, looking for energetic risk-takers and evaluating them on the spot. After picking his team, he sent 2,000 of his rejects off to early retirement." Are energetic risk takers valued in a congregation or denomination? What do we do with such folk? Do we know our clergy in a denomination well enough to be able to evaluate them?

"...Marchionne's next step was to put all of his executives together in one room to come up with a business plan. Having wiped out several layers of management, he now eliminated time-killing committees..." Got bureaucracy in your church or denomination?! Got any time killing committees? What would happen if we eliminated those meetings?

He also consolidated leadership, rather than running separate business units, as "The idea was to make Fiat quicker and more efficient by getting all parts of the company to talk to one another." Note speed/responsiveness, efficiency, and communication as a key organizational value.

"Just as deadly was Fiat's practice of putting car development entirely in the hands of engineers. When the engineers were done, they would throw the car "over the wall" to sales and marketing teams with instructions on how many to sell and at what price, Clark notes. It was a process that was guaranteed to be inefficient and to create disputes between different parts of the company." Is the work in the right hands?! What practices are inefficient, or by design create misunderstanding/controversy/friction?

"After one manager patted himself on the back for turning a big loss into a smaller one, Marchionne went after him. 'I don't need people in here who are happy to lose money,' Clark quotes him as saying. 'I want people who culturally are all about making money. You are free to go.'" Hmmm, what should the church be "all about?"

Of Marchionne it is said, "Perhaps his most defining characteristic is his unwillingness to sugarcoat reality." Who does this in a church or denomination? How do we best do supervision and accountability that tells the truth?

Now compare the various UMC reorganization plans. The IOT/CT plan, if adopted, would need to be wisely implemented and the very best personnel would need to be in those few crucial positions. It is a bold move, but then isn't that what we need?

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