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Accenture helped the United States Transportation Command (USTRANSCOM) lead the organization through broad change management, moving it from a top-down command-and-control environment, to a high-performance, customer-centric culture, marked by transparency and operated by an empowered workforce.
Using social media as a key enabler, USTRANSCOM leaders have clearly communicated their vision and listened to employees in real-time, to spark collaboration and innovation.
In a 2012 questionnaire, 89 percent of USTRANSCOM staff said leadership communication efforts were effective, while 95 percent of USTRANSCOM’s partners and customers agreed that USTRANSCOM met its customers’ needs.
USTRANSCOM is responsible for the movement of all troops and material for the US military. It employs 2,200 people and contractors at its headquarters at Scott Air Force Base, Illinois, and oversees over another 149,000 people at its subordinate and component commands across the globe. Its operating budget for 2012 is $14 billion. As manager of America’s defense transportation system, USTRANSCOM coordinates the country’s transportation assets to allow the nation to deploy and sustain forces whenever they are needed, wherever they are needed, for as long as they are needed. The Command provides support for a wide range of initiatives, from humanitarian operations to contingencies. Recent missions include the response to the devastating earthquake in Haiti and tsunami in Japan, and ongoing support to Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan.
In 2003, Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld significantly expanded USTRANSCOM’s mission, designating it as the Department of Defense’s “Distribution Process Owner” and ordering it to oversee the effectiveness, efficiency and alignment of all the Department’s distribution activities. These new responsibilities required a workforce with the knowledge, skills and abilities to execute a very complex supply chain, and an organizational culture marked by innovation, trust, collaboration, and empowerment.
To offer its workforce the tools to manage this new mission and drive culture change, USTRANSCOM engaged Accenture (via a prime contractor) to lead organization-wide change management. Accenture was selected because of its proven track record in delivering change transformations for other top-tier government and private-sector organizations.
To lead this transformation, Accenture provided a broad range of talent and organization capabilities: senior leader engagement with employees, executive communications, customized education plans for employees, education opportunities at top-ranked supply chain programs, a communications strategy which leveraged social media, all supported by rigorous measurement, including an annual questionnaire of more than 5,000 USTRANSCOM customers, partners, and employees.
Working closely with USTRANSCOM c-suite leaders including the Commander, Deputy Commander, and Chief of Staff, Accenture led a comprehensive five-year culture transformation effort with three significant areas of concentration:
Accenture helped USTRANSCOM develop and implement initiatives to drive change in each area–including using social media to inform, align, and engage stakeholders at each step.
Customer Focus: Over the past five years, USTRANSCOM has developed a suite of tools to keep its focus squarely on its customers.
With Accenture’s assistance, the organization polls more than 5,000 customers, partners, employees, and other stakeholders annually to measure perceptions customer-centricity, and commitment to strategic priorities. Accenture manages the annual polling process, and report results back to USTRANSCOM executive leaders, its workforce, and its customers. Together, specific action steps are formulated to address highlighted problem areas. Accenture meets with more than 25 USTRANSCOM teams annually to discuss questionnaire results and action steps necessary to improve performance and customer-centricity.
USTRANSCOM launched a campaign to ensure the customer’s perspective is always top of mind. This includes featuring customer biographies in email newsletters, placing large white-boards with written customer comments etc. To ensure customers are heard and understood, USTRANSCOM employees are encouraged to build face to face or telephonic relationships with customers instead of relying solely on email.
To ensure customers clearly understand USTRANSCOM’s role, the Command recently re-branded itself with a new tagline, “Together, we deliver.” The re-branding process, led by Accenture, included focus groups, brainstorm sessions, and questionnaires to gauge stakeholder perception of the USTRANSCOM brand and the best way to proactively communicate its essence.
Transparency: USTRANSCOM executives have aggressively worked to increase transparent, two-way communication with staff and spark innovation. This was achieved, in part, through the formulation and execution of a coordinated social media strategy and execution:
USTRANSCOM’s top four executives launched an internally-facing blog in November 2009. The blog drastically increased two way communication between leaders and their staff, allowing posting of short notes, videos etc. Readers also vote on all content, ensuring executive leaders get insight into most popular and unpopular topics. A third of all staff accesses the blog monthly, in the first three years; it enabled more than 4,000 online interactions between employees and their top four executive leaders. An internal online question-and-answer site was launched, enabling all 2,200 employees to ask questions of any of the organization’s top 20 senior leaders. According to business rules, leaders need to respond within 48 hours. Accenture designed the site and helps USTRANSCOM executives manage traffic flow. In its first year, the question-and-answer site enabled 7,500 interactions between employees and their top 20 executive leaders.
Accenture worked closely with the USTRANSCOM Chief of Staff to launch Facebook and Twitter sites in March 2010. These tools, operated by Accenture on behalf of USTRANSCOM, enable the organization to communicate its message in real time and engage key stakeholder groups at all levels, including family members of USTRANSCOM staff, senior members of the U.S. military, and members of Congress. The Command’s Facebook presence was recognized by Facebook, Inc.’s “Government on Facebook”—which highlights best-practice use of Facebook by government organizations—for its coverage marking the 10th anniversary of the 9/11 attacks in the United States.
Workforce Empowerment: USTRANSCOM’s executive leaders consistently communicate their trust in their workforce, helping build a culture of empowerment.
USTRANSCOM leaders believe their employees must have the hard skills needed to do their jobs. Using an industry-proven approach, Accenture analyzed the knowledge, skills and abilities required to operate the world’s most complex supply chain. Where there were gaps between the existing state and the desired state, Accenture found best-in-class learning opportunities for USTRANSCOM’s employees and made arrangements for staff to participate. Hundreds of USTRANSCOM employees have now attended supply chain courses at universities like the Massachusetts Institute of Technology, Carnegie Mellon University, and Washington University.
USTRANSCOM’s human resources office and Accenture have worked side-by-side to recognize innovation and appropriate risk-taking by employees. Remarkably innovative teams have been invited quarterly into the executive leadership team’s office for one-on-one recognition and their innovative efforts were detailed in written communication to the entire workforce via the leadership blog.
USTRANSCOM’s top four executive leaders sit down for meals with groups of 12- 15 employees each month to create opportunities for honest conversation in an informal setting. Accenture facilitates the meetings, inviting the targeted personnel and coaching leaders with regard to discussion topics that may be most salient. Hundreds of USTRANSCOM employees have had a meal with a leader.
By focusing on its customers, operating transparently, and empowering its workforce, USTRANSCOM has seen measurable culture change in just five years. The Command now actively listens to customers, polling them each year, and recognizing employees who deliver innovative solutions. The leaders at USTRANSCOM operate with greater transparency, meeting with employees in small groups for informal meals and promising a response within 48 hours to questions submitted via social media by any employee on any topic. And the workforce is empowered with tools they need: education opportunities at leading universities and the unwavering trust and support of leadership.
In a 2012 questionnaire, 89 percent of USTRANSCOM employees said leadership communication efforts are effective, and 96 percent of employees report believing that USTRANSCOM has a culture that emphasizes customer focus. But most importantly, 95 percent of USTRANSCOM’s partners and customers report believing that USTRANSCOM met its customers’ needs. USTRANSCOM is not simply fulfilling its mission of delivery, it is delivering high performance.
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