Though its roots extend back to 1885, today’s AT&T is a global leader in an industry that did not even exist through most of its history: integrated digital communications. Starting in 1983, successful joint ventures and acquisitions brought the new AT&T a wide array of complementary assets spanning mobile telephony, wired telephony and cable television. By 2008, it was time to shift from assembling assets to executing on them. Only unified, future-focused management could ensure AT&T’s performance and continued leadership in competitive telecommunications markets…and in a highly competitive industry changing at the speed of thought.
The Challenge: Breaking Down Silos…Building Organizational Unity
AT&T’s senior leadership team recognized that executing the company’s three-year plan would require breaking through boundaries, changing the internal culture and adopting more innovative, collaborative thinking. They knew it couldn’t happen without transforming the corporate culture to reflect AT&T’s position as a market leader. The new One AT&T mindset would draw strength from the company’s position as one of the largest integrated communications companies on the planet, with a clearer focus on operational complexities and trade-offs across the organization.
With more than 10 years’ experience with AT&T and its predecessor companies, BTS collaborated with AT&T at the highest levels of management to incorporate these changes through AT&T University, the company’s international learning and development resource. Interviews with more than 25 senior executives, including the COO, CFO and CMO, led to a customized program. Entitled Leading with Distinction, the complete program — including curriculum and implementation plan — was ready within 16 weeks.
Success Drivers: Case Study Experience and Scalability
Leading with Distinction launched in 2009. To reach AT&T’s entire management population of 105,000 front-line managers, the program focused on key leaders across the business and was structured as a cascading strategic initiative, with five-, three- and two-day workshops. Online exercises and post-session follow-up were part of the curriculum. Its key goals:
- Alignment with One AT&T
- Global strategic perspective
- Leading change and innovation
- Collaboration and employee engagement
- Cultural transformation
- Financial and business skill-building
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