Unipart Case Study
February 15, 2010
Table of Contents
Unipart Case Study
In today’s highly competitive business environment, leadership usually has some level of appreciation for the situational use of various organizational models designed to maximize productivity and profit; hopefully without sacrificing established corporate values and ethics. Like many of today’s organizational leaders, John Neill’s organization, Unipart Group of Companies (UGC) experienced a conscious shift from a focus on excellence to seeking continuous learning. Pedler (1997) states that it is not only important to achieve excellence, but to stay that way through being flexible, intelligent, and responsive.
Change is a constant occurrence in the business environment; there is no such thing as status quo and your organization is moving forward or it is being left behind. As changes happen in the environment, organizations must also learn to adapt its operations and processes in order to survive and remain competitive in the future. Organizations also need to be flexible and not rigid in terms of its structure, continuous learning, learning to learn, and proactively responsive to changes that take place in the environment that affect its operations. John Neill was able to see that Unipart’s confrontational atmosphere was a barrier to realizing efficiency and achieving improvement in quality and innovation.
When John Neill joined the British Leyland (BL) group he noticed the business was “locked into decline.” He and another partner decided to carry out a transformational plan to change the climate. John and his colleague’s focus were to convince the dealers of the mutual benefits of working together in order to reach potential gains.
In organizational analysis, strategic planning is a critical factor in a logical approach to running an organization. It is a methodology that translated into Unipart’s mission, goals, and operational tactics. A fundamental step in the process is situational analysis, and is essentially a review of external and internal factors impacting the organization. Grant (2008, p.12) describes a process that includes defining an organization’s strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats (SWOT). In this case study, the methodology of analysis includes a review of strengths and weaknesses that are internally focused, and opportunities and threats that are essentially externally focused.
John Neill’s innovative thinking and motivating personality was in many ways one of Unipart’s strengths. John was able to envision and through research was able to deduce that only 5% of the efforts in the company were truly adding value to the organization. Through his transformational plan he was able to convince dealers to work together in order to stretch their gains. When Unipart was split and sold to the six investors John was able to influence the investors to designate a percentage of the share for the employees. John was on the right track as he placed employees at the top of his priorities. According to Isaac, Zerbe, and Pitt (2001), successful leaders develop realistic relationships with their followers by:
• Building strong chains of mutual influence
• Aligning personal goals with those of the organization • Supporting their followers
• Paying attention to detail
• Lighting the way
• Tolerating mistakes made in pursuit of excellence
When John realized that Japan and Germany had achieved considerable levels of improvement when compared to Unipart, he was determined to begin a true transformation...
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