Rapid Recovery Demands That U.S. Companies Mobilize the 'Informal Organization'

In successful turnarounds, energizing the cultural "soft" side of the organization drives impressive "hard" results in financial and operational performance, authors argue


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Booz & Company Leading Outside the Lines: How to Mobilize the Informal Organization, Energize Your Team, and Get Better Results



No Time to Wait





Fighting Back from the Brink







Balancing the Formal and the Informal



  • Formal: efficient, scalable, predictable, controlling, clear, disciplined, hierarchical, rational
  • Informal: adaptive, local, innovative, motivating, ambiguous, spontaneous, collaborative, emotional



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"Soft" Initiatives, "Hard" Results



  • Aetna, where a "pride movement," combined with employee councils advising management, drove a historic turnaround: from losing $1 million in a day to making $5 million a day; and increasing return to shareholders by more than 700 percent.
  • Bell Canada, where informal peer-to-peer sharing of best practices increased call center customer satisfaction by 23 percent and improved first-call problem resolution by 11 percent.
  • Campbell's StockPot, where bottom-up development of core values, combined with new performance metrics, improved profitability by 50 percent, increased plant efficiency by 23 percent and increased employee engagement scores by 14 percent.

Leaders Must Mobilize the Informal



  • Deeply embedded cultures often resist new initiatives or actively undermine them.
  • Even if positive change does happen, without buy-in from the informal organization, it often doesn't happen fast enough.





  • "Top down" programs alone fail because they don't take into account emotional motivators.
  • Prescribed behaviors can dampen individual initiative and emotional commitment.
  • Motivation seldom happens without a personal, emotional connection to the work itself, which only the informal organization can provide.



Turning Survivors into Winners





  • Sustainable Cost Cutting
  • Sustainable Competitive Advantage
  • Breakthrough Innovation
  • Superior Customer Service
  • Collaboration in a Flattening World



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