Oil Change: Perspectives on Corporate Transformation

By Art Kleiner; George Roth et al. | Go to book overview

CHAPTER 3

THE QUEST
FOR FINANCIAL LITERACY

The OilCo "Improving Our Economic Value" project is probably one of the largest-scale "open-book management" projects in history. [See Box 3-1, page 44.] It spearheaded the implementation of OilCo's two newly defined goals of business survival (10 percent annual return on investment) and growth (10 percent annual revenue growth). A set of consultants (first external, then internal) translated those goals into operations throughout the company, working with managers to specify critical indicators and metrics that would help each part of the business keep on track. Training in financial literacy was meant to give people a visceral sense of the links between their own day-to-day choices and the performance of the enterprise as a whole.

It was understood that it would take time to achieve a high level of competence; OilCo's managers were technologically gifted, but had rarely been required to bring bottom-line consideration to their decisions and implementations, especially in terms of boosting the company's share price. Yet the company's future depended on this new kind of awareness. This meant, in effect, that OilCo's people had embarked upon a quest: a journey toward a necessary but difficult result. Some saw the result as unattainable; others thought it could be reached. Clearly, the journey would be significant in itself.

The fundamental function of any quest is the development of the quester. Encounters and experiences inevitably change people, in unexpected and unalterable ways. As people move closer to their goals, their sophistication grows. Their understanding of the goals is altered, and they move into phases that they never planned or expected at the outset.

-41-

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