get in touch

Raising the STAKES: Building Consensus for Organizational Growth


Meagan Symes

Date Published

Nov 01, 2023
6 minute read
Organizational Transformation

Oftentimes the most difficult aspect of organizational transformation is making the case for and facilitating alignment on the proposed transformation within an organization. Here’s how The Clearing did just that, helping a division of one of the world’s largest defense contractors create alignment around the need to expand beyond their current location to ensure future organizational health.

The Situation

A division of one of the world’s largest defense contractors knew that to keep growing it needed to expand its presence into an emerging talent hotbed. Recognizing potential stagnation as their STAKE – or what they risked if they didn’t act – organizational leadership completed extensive market research, identifying a tech hub in the American southwest as the best location to fuel growth and provide access to emerging talent. Key to this expansion was creating a “borderless” culture, wherein the new location wouldn’t be seen as a satellite campus by existing talent, but as a fully integrated piece of the legacy organization.

As plans were being made, organizational leadership recognized potential challenges in translating their culture and values across thousands of miles to a new generation of talent, along with uncertainty from the workforce about the need for and impact of the proposed expansion. This forward-thinking led them to The Clearing for assistance in creating a transformation plan that would ensure a smooth transition, drive stakeholder alignment and buy-in, and effectively transfer organizational culture and values across time zones.

How We Did It

The client organization had been operating in their existing location for decades, with some stakeholders boasting 30 years of experience. This had incubated a tight-knit community and strong culture. It also meant there was a specific way of operating that posed challenges to change. The Clearing’s first step was exploring these dynamics, understanding the culture, and examining employee thoughts and feelings around the proposed expansion.

The Clearing team started with a period of discovery, speaking with a diverse group of employees from leadership to management to line-level team members. Here’s what they discovered:

  • A sense of uncertainty about the expansion, with employees asking “What does it mean for me?” and “Who will it affect?”
  • A similar expansion had been proposed previously but not gone through, seeding doubt this initiative would succeed or have the desired impact.
  • Leadership was in agreement on the case for expansion and chosen location, but a lack of accountability for pushing it through outside of The Clearing’s core client was creating roadblocks.

To counter these headwinds, The Clearing and client leadership embarked on creating a shared vision and language around the expansion. First, the group facilitated a leadership alignment session to rally around specific goals and objectives, drive stakeholder buy-in, and set clear expectations around expansion timelines. This shared language and vision allowed leadership to clearly communicate why the expansion was important (i.e., the STAKE), the shared benefits of growth, and their vision for how a “borderless” culture would join old and new together – all in a time bound manner that instilled confidence across the organization.

Now, let’s revisit the STAKE discussed earlier, which ties this exercise together. This newfound alignment enabled leaders to more powerfully state their STAKE. Through research and experience, The Clearing has identified that when making the case for a new vision, one must speak to the Heart, the Head, and the Wallet, addressing the negative aspects of staying put (the risk) as well as the benefits of moving ahead (the reward). A strongly stated STAKE does just that, catering to the three basic ways people listen.

  • Analytical people listen with their Heads.
  • Emotional people listen with their Hearts.
  • Financially motivated people listen with their Wallets.

Engaging all types of people with the vision is critical, and a powerfully stated STAKE understood by all is the first step in making change and transformation – in this case, expansion to drive growth – possible. To put it all together, The Clearing created a Case for Change one-pager – laying out the STAKE and using the new shared language to eliminate employee uncertainty and drive critical points home.

With stakeholders aligned on expansion, The Clearing helped leadership identify the elements that must be in place to ensure success, ideate on the most effective operating model, and create a plan for how to transfer their existing culture while allowing the new location to add to it.

The Impact

Client leadership knew their organization was at an inflection point and that expansion was key to growth. What they needed help with was aligning stakeholders and employees on the case for expansion and easing the uncertainties that accompany change. In other words, creating CONSENSUS. In the Clearing’s follow-on interviews with employees in both the legacy and new locations, the organization has reported that the alignment session, case for change documents, and planning sessions have been invaluable in facilitating the smooth transformation they envisioned.

The biggest endorsement, however, is that the client has brought The Clearing back to facilitate the transformation ramp-up, including helping ensure the long-term health of the “borderless” culture concept, implementing the planned culture mentorship program to strengthen the bond between the two locations and bringing their employee onboarding process to life.

If you’re thinking about strategic change or organizational transformation, The Clearing can help. Reach out anytime – we would love to hear what’s on your mind.