More power to a Danish power plant
DONG Energy is the largest energy provider in Denmark. Notwithstanding a successful record of power generation, DONG’s leaders wanted to push the company’s production “from good to great.” In December 2007, DONG asked a partnership of two consultancies in Denmark -Trivium & FranklinCovey —to custom design a training program for its leaders.
The program included a strategy based on the methodolody LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY® combined with FranklinCovey’s results-oriented 7 Habits for Managers training and the 4 Disciplines of Execution process. In preparation for a company-wide roll-out, the training team selected to do a pilot project at one of DONG’s production sites, “Studstrupvaerket” near Århus. Studstrupvaerket employees 130 people with five managers.
The plan was to deliver training in such a seamless way that the trainees would not notice any gap between the Trivium and FranklinCovey concepts and methodologies. As part of the pre-work, the employees took the xQ Survey so they could establish a benchmark for their execution abilities. Training began in December 2007 and continued for six months. The concepts were taught in three modules:
- Prework: xQ Survey
- Module 1: “Real Time Strategy” training from Trivium using LEGO® SERIOUS PLAY®
- Module 2: The 4 Disciplines of Execution by FranklinCovey
- Module 3: The 7 Habits for Managers by FranklinCovey
- Postwork: xQ Survey
In between modules, the two consultants provided coaching as needed to sustain the process, and one year after the training ended the employees re-took the xQ Survey. The company evaluated the process and the results about six months after the end of the final training.
DONG is responsible for delivering electricity to the power grid of Denmark on demand. Prior to the FranklinCovey-Trivium intervention, they had not been delivering the amount of power they had been expected to deliver. During the training process, the Studstrupvaerket plant set a goal to deliver 96 percent of demand by the end of 2008.
After six months, they had actually reached 99 percent—a significant gain because every 1 percent increase equals an improvement in EBIT of 2-4 million Danish Kroners (approximately US$500,000 to $1 million depending on the market prices of electricity at any given moment).
It is sometimes said in consulting circles that the impressive results a company achieves after taking management training are only temporary and ephemeral; that once the consultants leave the premises, the company’s performance returns to pre-training levels. Was that the case for DONG Energy?
As we saw, DONG surpassed its production goal, and they did so while the Trivium-FranklinCovey consultants were directly involved with the company. But one year after the consultants left, the company was pleased to announce that it had continued to improve, raising production to 99.5 and 99.6 percent of demand in each of its two production blocks.
Furthermore, DONG employees took a follow-up xQ Survey in April 2009, long after the FranklinCovey-Trivium consultants had finished the training. The xQ Survey attempts to measure, among other things, how well an organization executes its goals. In January 2007, when DONG’s Studstrupvaerket plant took its first xQ Survey, its overall execution score was a low 51, and 6 out of 20 of the survey’s subcategories (e.g., whether or not success measures were tracked accurately and openly) were far below Danish and global industry standards. However, in 2009, Studstrupvaerket’s overall xQ score had risen to a substantial 61—an improvement of 20 percent. No subcategories were “low” in the second survey, and three categories were so high that they were considered to be scores that only outstanding companies would achieve.
Whenever a company increases production, there is always a concern for the safety of the workers. But in May 2009, DONG was pleased to report that the company had maintained an accident-free workplace for over 500 days.
These impressive results were achieved many months after the Trivium-FranklinCovey consultants had finished their work, thus showing that the training had become an integral part of the company culture.
DONG leaders were very positive about the program, including the production numbers, the process, and the co-company training plan. But what really pleased them was the return on investment numbers. DONG had an ROI of a factor of 30, earning back 1600 percent of their total, fully-loaded investment in the program compared to the financial gain reflected in the bottom line.
Two unexpected results were that one of the partnering consultancies, Trivium, was named the Best Global Partner in 2008 by LEGO group, making it number one out of 53 companies in 27 countries. Further, the joint work at DONG was nominated for an award by the 2009 Danish Consultancy Award program for the best consulting work in the category of leadership.