Organizational Transitions
Case Study

A national health care enterprise had enjoyed a long standing relationship with a CEO who had grown it from infancy to become a major player in their niche market. As conditions changed and new competitors emerged, their dominant market position changed. Considering this situation the longstanding CEO decides to take early retirement.

The Board, who has enjoyed the strength and dependability of the tenured CEO and has counted on him to “take care of things” were shaken. Following his announcement they moved quickly to search for a successor. Not surprisingly, no planning had been done in anticipation of this announcement and everyone was caught a little “flatfooted”.

How we work- We were invited into this conversation and met the Board. They were thinking about their options. Since the departing CEO was anxious to move on we were asked to step into an interim leadership position. The engagement would last nearly a year. During that time-frame the following was accomplished:

  • An organizational assessment was conducted to evaluate capacity and test the relevance of the mission
  • A complete strategic planning process was undertaken (they had not had one in six years)
  • Financial and legal analyses were conducted
  • Board training and onboarding of new Board members was completed
  • Significant revisions to the publications department were made
  • A comprehensive review of the consultants, vendors, and suppliers was completed
  • Financial processes and procedures were reviewed and revised
  • A succession planning process was designed and documents produced
  • Outreach and collaborative working relationship were developed with allied organizations and companies
  • Coaching and bench strengthening was conducted with key executives
  • Support was provided in the search process by identifying CEO critical skills/attributes
  • On-boarding was performed with the new CEO

When organizations or companies experience a transition, whether planned or spontaneous, every effort should be made to skillfully manage the change, calm the system, and work closely with the key stakeholders. Close attention needs to be paid to communications and messaging, delegation of key responsibilities, identifying reporting relationships and decision-making processes. Intentional steps need to be taken to ensure predictability and stability. Initially these are periods of stress and vulnerability for staff members, so any “safety” that can be introduced should be announced and carried out in very clear and understandable terms.

Ancora has several sweet spots. One of them is transitions. We have worked with a number of organizations and individuals who are entering or are in the midst of a transition. Our services range from conducting an organizational assessment to evaluate operational and financial conditions, assessing the human capital capacity, and the relevance of mission - to stepping in to serve for a period of time as the interim CEO. The benefits of this type of engagement are numerous and include an opportunity to have objective “expert eyes” assess the situation, to introduce highly experienced leaders in the interim role to oversee operations and work with the governing body. They might conduct an organizational needs assessment that focuses on capacity and aspirations. When these events and activities occur prior to the search for the next executive they can inform the process and increase the probability of selecting the right new leader.

Within the area of organizational transitions we also work in the area of culture change, succession planning and strategic and execution initiatives.