Baldrige Winner Continues To Grow
Events: Two Weeks To Dramatic Process Improvement
When Cultures Collide...
When Cultures Collide...
Hotels, utilities, banks and bagel shops - the chaos of merging companies does not discriminate. Everybody's doing it. According to Securities Data Company, of Newark, New Jersey, the value of domestic mergers and acquisitions totaled $659 billion in 1996. So if your organization was not one of those 10,257 transactions, don't get too comfortable - it could happen to you. With the nature of business changing so rapidly, how are businesses coping and making change that is positive? How do you retain the best and unique aspects of each? Where is the customer in all of this change? The story of two paper companies helps shed some light. By identifying their individual strengths and listening to their customers, both companies have made the merger a success.
The spring of 1996 saw the birth of a new organization in the bleached paper board industry. International Paper (IP) and Federal Paper Board merged their two organizations into a single entity. The new organization, IP, faced the challenge of combining the two different, yet successful, corporate cultures without disrupting the loyal customer base.
IP had a strong foundation of customer knowledge and supplied information about the key drivers of customer satisfaction. "We had a solid platform to build on and we knew the benefits," says Darryl B. Flamer, marketing manager, Bleached Board Division. "It was easy, then, to take it to the next level." The next level was to use the learning from this program to help facilitate the merger.
What the "new" company needed to know was how Federal Paper Board's customers perceived them, and on a comparative basis how customers who bought products from both companies felt about the services provided.
The company faced the challenge of combining the cultures of two highly successful, independent, and different organizations without disrupting the loyal customer base. This need led the company to develop a research program to uncover the "Best Practices" as perceived by customers of both companies and incorporate them into the changing organization.
IP had already been working with Walker Information, Indianapolis,
Ind., to measure and manage stakeholder relations. Walker designed a "Best
Practices" survey so customers who purchased from both International
Paper and Federal Paper Board could identify who was best on key measures
of product and service, determine the degree to which one company was better,
and explain why they had that perception. The survey was very qualitative
in nature. It gave respondents freedom to outline both what they liked about
each organization and what they felt were improvement opportunities.
The analysis incorporated previous performance, trends
and key driver analysis to help develop the story. The informational tool
that evolved as a springboard helped International Paper develop its action
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