Strategic HR professionals

As the world increasingly moves towards being knowledge based, the importance of people continues to grow. If you're a strategic HR professional, of course, you would argue that people have always been important and that true competitive advantage lies in the people, the culture, or their organization.

You also know that the path to creating competitive advantage through people is not an easy one. That solutions that create effective and lasting change may not be immediately obvious.

Case Study


An alcoholic beverages company operating in Thailand had a problem. Opportunities in the marketplace were obvious to the managing director, but to realize these the company had to be more flexible, creative, and responsive. No matter how often this was said, however, nothing seemed to change.

The managing director was getting increasingly frustrated with the situation, but couldn't find a way to change things. The HR manager, however, understood that the managing director's approach was ONE of a number of important factors that were preventing the necessary changes from taking place. He needed a way to influence the managing director and start changing the company culture.

At this point, Chris Lonsdale & Associates was brought into the picture. We had done basic training with the company and the results had been good. On the basis of our track record we were asked to advise on how to change the company's culture so it could compete more effectively.

The Process

Initially we did a simple diagnosis of the situation. We concluded that the biggest issue was the way senior managers were thinking. They thought in a linear, mechanistic fashion. As we analyzed specific problems they faced in the market, it became clear that the actions they were taking were actually contributing to the creation of those problems.

Based on these conclusions we set out to develop Systems Thinking skills within the senior team. This was done using real business issues, and the senior managers were tasked with working on these real business issues, with Chris Lonsdale leading and facilitating the sessions. Systemic thinking tools were introduced step-by-step when they were deemed to be of use in moving the discussion forward. Intensive simulation exercises were also employed to sensitize the management team to the thinking patterns that they were using on a day-to-day basis.

At the same time, feedback on communication, behavior, and thinking patterns was being delivered to the group in real time. Special opportunities were created to give direct feedback to the managing director about his own style. This was done in such a way that the feedback could be received and then acted upon.

A number of confidential, one-on-one sessions with the managing director were also used to explore his style and give feedback that he could use to modify his style and release the power of his management team.

The Results

The results of this process were powerful and exciting. Very early on, the managing director made significant changes in his own style, and became a passionate advocate of the tools and approaches being offered.

The team began to address problems that, for months, they had been unable to solve. Some of these related to their supply chain. Others to the relationships between their different types of customer in the market. Using the tools they were learning they were able to change their relationship with all their key customers, and create new business agreements that benefited their customers, and themselves, while avoiding the problems previously been created in the market.

The bottom line results also exceeded expectation. From a loss making situation near the beginning of the process, the company was generating US$10 million in annual profit at the end of the third year.

Are you an HR professional who knows that people and culture are the keys to success in your company? Do you need support to create programs that will make a real difference and create real change in your company? If you are looking for new ideas on how to make these possible then sign up as FREE member today. or e-mail Chris Lonsdale to explore what is possible for your company.