Action Learning to address market presence

The production facility of an international large transformer manufacturer for electric power supply in Europe was facing increasing competition from countries with lower wage levels. Large customers were migrating to the cheaper competition. Even quality excellence could not compensate for the cheaper priced manufacturers.

In the senior team various strategies were discussed. They agreed to set up a pilot project based on a new marketing concept – Marketing 3.0 for a large customer. The goal was to secure a long-term framework contract for the supply of transformers.

The project started by creating a systemic mission statement for the division of transformers. From the comparison between desired and actual state we identified the key challenges for an Action Learning programme.

The main objectives were

  1. Total costs of ownership had to be reduced
  2. Increased performance and environmental compatibility had to be acheived.
  3. A new client relationship to be developed on the basis of shared values .

Two action learning sets and a control group were formed. One action learning group consisted of technicians of the various areas of product management, the other action learning set consisted of management, marketing, sales, product management and key account managers.

The sets worked for about 3 months at their challenges and set a variety of methods, such as 5 steps, gossip, and learning from success. Finally, the entire customer relationship was explored with the method of Constellations

Within this period, the products were substantially developed internally, from the many details a comprehensive environmentally sustainable overall concept was created.

The departments concerned have through the action learning process more understanding and insight into their work and in their technical knowledge. The cooperation between development, sales and product management has been improved.

The negotiations with the pilot customers are not yet finalized, but the company was able to develop a new combination of technical improvement and value-based approach for all of its market presence and found in this way a new market position with increased ethical attitude and also a new internal identification which leads in more motivation for employees.