Case Study 2

What’s the most effective way to align decision makers around new ideas when corporate politics, egos and conflict get in the way?

Every industry is experiencing the impact of technology, especially the universal presence of digital. For studios, the need for digital transformation came early, as huge volumes of audiovisual assets had to be prepped for digital distribution.  Switching from an analog world to a digital world required far more than just digitizing film and tapes.  It required a full-scale digital supply chain.


In the film and tape world, each studio division operated effectively as an independent silo, individually creating and servicing materials to its customers, and the process for creating physical film reels and tapes was relatively efficient.  With the advent of digital, however, the industry discovered two realities: customers frequently required digital files in different formats; and very few standards existed. Were each studio division permitted to develop its own digital supply chain, tremendous redundancy and inefficiency would be created.  Each studio had the opportunity to essentially create a single, enterprise-wide digital supply chain that would start with a digital master in a high enough resolution that it could be used to generate materials in all required digital formats. Yet, while the technology concept and potential efficiency seemed very straightforward, this area was a political hotbed.  Seeing this as a great streamlining opportunity, Dean took the lead in driving the design and development of the digital supply chain. But how was one to navigate the politics, the egos and the “my way or the highway” attitudes?


Using his leadership training skills and understanding of different personality styles to gain the trust of stakeholders, Dean engaged key representatives from each division, including executives from sales, sales servicing, engineering, IT and finance. There was no mandate from top studio management, so he knew he needed to understand the needs of the stakeholders and sufficiently address their concerns to create alignment around an acceptable solutionHe framed the digital challenge by asking several key questions, and used the answers to identify guiding principles for establishing the digital supply chain. Dean also purposely deferred addressing the organizational structure and supply-chain leadership candidates, allowing ideas for the optimal approach to flow without raising levels of concern over job opportunity and security.  Every stakeholder group had the opportunity to voice its position and identify its “must haves,” an essential part of creating alignment.  As a result, each stakeholder felt engaged in the process of authoring the eventual approach­ – an in-house solution where master materials would be created only once and then used for all downstream digital formats.  Once those principles were unanimously supported and established, Dean sensed that each group would still want to control the new process, so he then asked each area to present its vision for the organizational structure and leadership of the supply chain team.  Again, the inclusive process allowed each division to have a voice, which reinforced alignment around the solution even further.


The studio created a single, centralized group to service the entire digital supply chain.  On day one, Dean shifted the responsibility for all servicing to the centralized group to remove the desire to maintain the status quo, and to begin merging the disparate processes into a single fine-tuned machine. Once implemented, the digital supply chain saved tens of millions of dollars per year for the studio.  These savings were driven by the elimination of tape and film stock, the reduction to a single master file that could be utilized for all downstream applications, and the reduction in vendor rates on outsourced work. The supply chain design also facilitated the transmission of film reels digitally across international borders, generating millions of dollars in additional distribution cost savings.


Fresh thinking around the digital supply chain solution identified opportunities for efficiency and also allowed for additional benefits and innovation. These new opportunities validated that seeking alignment around a centralized approach was the right way to go. One of Dean’s core teachings in his workshops, ALP or in one-on-one coaching is to use elements of each group’s ideas to create the final vision and proposal, generating high levels of engagement, ownership and acceptance at every level.

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