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Hubbell Taps TRI to Build Business Acumen and Cohesion

Founded in 1888, Hubbell Incorporated had grown into a successful international business with 3,000 employees and facilities on four continents. Key to its success were new product development and, since 1958, an ambitious acquisitions effort that brought dozens of companies into the fold under the Hubbell Electrical Systems, Hubbell Lighting Products and Hubbell Power Systems brands. The diversified nature of that growth created a lack of cohesion across regions and brands. Realizing that future success would require a more cohesive organization, leadership laid out a “One Hubbell” vision.

Hubbell selected TRI
® to design, develop and facilitate an intensive business simulation as the core of a new leadership program initially intended to boost the business acumen of its finance managers. “TRI already enjoyed a strong reputation among members of our finance team, several of whom had attended graduate university programs by its founder, Tom Conine,” explained Heidi Sandling, Director of Organizational Development.

When Sandling joined Hubbell in 2010, plans were well underway for an Improving Business Acumen (IBA) program for finance managers, adapted from an off-the-shelf TRI simulation. “I came on board in August,” she reported. “Within my first two weeks with Hubbell, the scope of the program expanded to include non-financial managers, and our first session ran that November.” The first IBA saw 40 participants, from high-level managers to first-tier executives, converge on Hubbell headquarters from locations in the U.S., Canada, Mexico, the U.K. and China. Each year after, another 40 or so participants were hand-selected from all Hubbell brands and functions: finance, operations, manufacturing, engineering, sales, marketing, human resources, IT, legal, and more.

Over the program’s four days, participants gain insights from senior leadership, including Hubbell’s CFO and CEO plus top executives from legal, IT, operations, finance, and more. “What sets TRI apart from other simulations I’ve experienced is the real interaction with the senior executive team, which is incredibly involved and engaged in the program,” Sandling said. While TRI faculty run the simulation, role play and handle the analytics, Hubbell executives conduct operating reviews customized to their internal processes and hold plenaries on topics from operations to enterprise risk management.

Participants form six cross-platform, cross-functional, competitive teams of 6-7 members, which are then grouped into two worlds. Each team includes one person from finance to keep the simulation moving smoothly while non-finance people concentrate on grasping the bigger concept. Each team is tasked with real-world business decisions on behalf of a hypothetical company. The simulation spans six quarters, with two operating reviews and a debrief and AAR process at the end.

As they run their enterprises, teams are presented with issues specific to Hubbell’s business. They create strategy, make decisions each quarter and gather information from TRI faculty playing the role of customers and suppliers, all while dealing with leadership challenges thrown their way just as a real-world business faces constantly changing circumstances. In doing so, they learn to create a vision, set strategy and communicate it effectively; take decisive actions to execute on a business strategy; make decisions under uncertainty; develop, coach and motivate members; understand the competitive and customer landscapes; react quickly to all types of environmental changes; manage interdependencies across functions; understand the financial impact of decisions; and grow and accelerate the business.

Simulation activities are conducted in rounds interspersed with review/preview sessions led by TRI and plenary sessions by Hubbell leadership. The program ends with a world operational review conducted by Hubbell executives, who then meet with each team to glean feedback and discuss lessons learned. Participants evaluate each other in a confidential peer review process using the TRI-Leskin 360 Assessment and assess the simulation’s value in ROI surveys.

“Participants tell us through the ROI surveys that they have gained a much greater appreciation for other functional areas of Hubbell’s business, for its processes, and for how their individual piece fits into the bigger picture,” said Sandling. “Feedback up the line is that this is an extremely well-run, well-organized, and very sophisticated simulation, and that TRI really understands the intricacies of finance.”

Hubbell has benefited from the honed business acumen of financial and non-financial talent alike. Said Stephen Mais, Vice President of Human Resources, “From the start, Tom Conine and his team have exhibited a grasp of our business and culture that has made TRI an invaluable partner not only in developing our people but also in energizing and aligning them around the idea of One Hubbell."


Hubbell Incorporated Taps TRI to Build Business Acumen and “One Hubbell”

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