Decisions and Results
Trevor Gregory was frustrated. A senior executive of ABB UK, the British division of the Swiss power technology and automation company, he was racing to put together several critical bids for clients, including the Channel Islands electricity grid, the London Underground, and the National Grid. The opportunities played to all of ABB’s strengths as a global engineering giantthey required technologies, project delivery, and services from several parts of the company. Few competitors could match these soup-to-nuts offerings. Winning the contracts would mean hundreds of millions of dollars in revenues for ABB over many years.
But instead of cruising through, Gregory was bumping up against one organizational obstacle after another. The company seemed to reinvent the process for submitting major bids every time one came up, even though multimillion-dollar bids like these were regular events. Worse, each of ABB’s units had its own profit targets and set its own transfer prices, including a margin acceptable to that unit. By the time a bid got through the chain of ABB units, the end price was often too high to be competitive. Gregory and other managers then faced an exasperating choice. They could go in high and lose the business. They could walk away without bidding. Or they could invest blood, sweat, and tears in trying to pull the bid together, piece by laborious piece.
These opportunities are really important, Gregory thought to himself. We’ve got to make them happen. But he dreaded the arduous internal negotiations that assembling the bids would require. He wondered why on earth his company didn’t work better. Why wasn’t it set up to make good decisions on a routine basis for the benefit of the whole business?
This book is about how to fix decision failures like the ones that plagued ABB. It’s about how to create an organization that humsone that can make and execute good decisions, do so faster than the competition, and do it all without too much (or too little) time and trouble.