How Large Organizations Respond to Change With Agility: Teaching Elephants to Dance
By Trenegy Staff/
August 11, 2011

Imagine teaching a four-ton elephant to dance. The agility required for the movement is not natural to the animal’s physical structure. This parallels a large organization’s ability to respond immediately to change and new challenges. The challenges can include both lingering and urgent issues such as: mergers, acquisitions, spin-offs, system transitions, or major events. With large corporations divided into departments and multiple reporting layers, communications can be stymied. The stymied communications delay and inhibit idea generation, prioritization of ideas and ultimately, execution.

Lack of collaboration between departments leads to uninformed or conflicting decisions. Although good ideas may be developed in organization silos, the idea’s originator may not be able to organize an action plan to ensure successful execution. Organizations having ingrained reporting structures experience difficulties when trying to actualize change, as shown in Diagram A. The waiting game for approval leads to delays and ultimately, status quo results.

How can large organizations rapidly solve problems spanning multiple departments? Many organizations hesitate or give up in their attempts to teach the elephant how to dance. However, when great organizations face the challenge, they don’t hesitate or stop.

Great organizations Accelerate. Collaborate. Execute. Organizations need a defined and collaborative method for rapidly addressing complex issues. Trenegy has established the ACE (Accelerate. Collaborate. Execute.) Method, allowing organizations to pull together and to respond to complex challenges in a matter of days instead of the months or years associated with traditional problem solving.


The ACE Method was developed by Trenegy to assist the larger corporations in quickly finding an effective solution for urgent problems, offering both speed and skill in responding to the clients’ needs. The duration of an ACE Method initiative is typically two weeks, including the preparation, workshop, and the presentation phase. The core of the Ace Method is the Two-Day workshop, geared towards bringing the organization’s experts together to define a roadmap for action. The workshop starts with a simple concept challenge and ends when idea synergy is reached with the development of final action plans.

diagbEach concept challenge follows an iterative process flow, as shown in Diagram B. During the brainstorming phase, the individual teams work together to generate ideas. Each feedback session is used to gain ideas from the other groups and to eliminate ideas that are infeasible. For each chosen idea, the team develops a charter. This allows the participants to weigh the practicality of the initiative and the overall effect it will have on the organization. After repeating the brainstorm and feedback sessions, the final charter prototypes are ready to be presented, discussed and developed further into a roadmap for implementation. Charters present action steps to be taken, while roadmaps prioritize the initiatives and set the timing of implementation. The final concept challenge is important, as it considers all dependencies across charters and gives a realistic timeline of action steps to execute.

Ace-Method-Diagram-CThe ACE Method protects good ideas from being stifled by functional barriers and from being denied action, as illustrated in Diagram C. The versatility of the ACE workshop allows for addressing diverse issues rapidly. For instance, in a merger of two companies, each with strong independent silos, the new, single company would need to unify its departments and processes. The ACE Method workshop allows the companies to brainstorm all the structural, procedural, and cultural changes that will need to be made as a result of the merger. Once the main action steps are identified, they can be developed in action plans via the charters to include the recommended steps, benefits, costs, risks and so forth that are associated with each one. After completion of the charters, roadmaps would be created to include dependencies, such as overlaps in the charters and the order in which to execute the steps.

The Trenegy ACE Method workshop can be held at an off-site location or at the place of business. An off-site environment separates the participants from the everyday work environment, providing freedom from the normal constraints of the office, including distraction and stifled creativity caused by daily routine. Trenegy also offers the ACE workshop solutions center in Northwest Harris County where the workshop can be held off-site, allowing for accelerated results.

Whether teaching an elephant to dance or trying to consolidate departments and visions following a merger, the ACE Method ensures effective and rapid solutions. Delayed action serves only to stunt future growth. Clarifying the present issues and clearly laying out an action plan gives organizations the freedom to move forward quickly and confidently.

If you are leery of an elephant’s ability to learn how to dance, see below for living proof:

You may also like the following articles:
Making a Move: Change Management One Step at a Time
Leading Change: No Guts, No Glory
An ERP Strategy that works or another round of Mournful Optimism