Reigniting Innovation With a Focused Strategy

By Billy Don Farris & Rich Daum

An aerospace and defense manufacturer long considered an industry leader and innovator had lost market share to competitors and was experiencing multi-year declining revenue from its primary customer base.

A new CEO brought a bold vision for the future of the organization and partnered with McChrystal Group to reinvigorate the organization’s performance and return it to its culture of innovation by developing a comprehensive strategy and aligning all teams around it. As a result, the organization was able to competitively pursue and ultimately win a multi-billion-dollar contract that would return the company to a position of growth and market leadership for years to come. 


The organization had a legacy of innovation that it was no longer leveraging to its full potential and was provided with a moment-in-time inflection point to regain its place as the dominant industry leader. A relatively new CEO entered with a bold vision, yet the strategy to achieve it, along with the necessary objectives, and priorities, were not clearly understood nor uniformly supported by all at the senior executive level. Business and functional units often worked on competing, siloed efforts rather than toward the collective goals of the enterprise, thus creating a misalignment of resources and effort needed to pursue the company’s strategic objectives.

The misalignment among the executive team around strategic objectives and priorities cascaded down through the entire organization, creating confusion and hindering progress toward tangible results. There was insufficient vertical and horizontal communication regarding the execution of strategic initiatives, which snowballed into a lack of collaboration and coordination between different departments that prevented the company from optimizing critical resources. Another prominent obstacle was the lack of an effective decision making process, which caused delays and inefficiencies in the organization. Further, the company did not have an effective way to assess its performance against its strategic objectives and make necessary course corrections.


Working closely with top leaders, McChrystal Group helped the organization craft a new strategy that brought the CEO’s vision to life and set the organization on a path that led them to seize on the new opportunities and be selected for a highly competitive contract that ensures long-term viability and growth. By fully understanding both the internal way of working as well as the desired goal, McChrystal Group was able to support the leadership team in communicating a clear strategic narrative and implementing a new purpose-built operating model designed for speed and scale. The new model became the backbone of the organization’s operating cadence and ensured the team adhered to a comprehensive operational strategy that featured an operations forum, a decision-making forum, and a quarterly rolling operations plan review.  

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McChrystal Group worked closely with the leadership team to provide top-down guidance while also allowing for bottom-up refinement of the enterprise-wide strategic plan. With the goal of winning the contract and orienting the entire enterprise around that goal, all levels of the organization became involved in the planning process so the team was able to develop a shared understanding of their objectives and priorities. This approach fostered a sense of ownership and buy-in among team members and ultimately led to focused alignment and collaboration throughout the organization. As a result, the team executed its strategic plan more effectively, improving performance and increasing revenue.

The organization needed not only a more effective approach to communication and decision making, but even more so, the leadership team was able to further develop behaviors that underscored sound decision making and effective communication. One important leader behavior that was developed through coaching centered on accountability and transparency so shortcomings could be identified and discussed openly to seek continuous improvements and solutions.

These behaviors were reinforced by processes that were deeply embedded in the organization’s way of working. In order to have the organization communicate regularly and leverage its collective knowledge to solve problems, McChrystal Group implemented an organization-wide forum to bring leaders from across the organization together to better understand the context of their actions and connect cross-functionally. This approach enabled the organization to identify and address issues more quickly and effectively. This forum then led to a more disciplined and accountable decision making process with assessments and quarterly reviews serving as opportunities to review and reflect on key decisions.


Through partnering with McChrystal Group, the organization was able to:

  • Develop a shared understanding of its objectives and priorities, in turn fostering a sense of ownership and buy-in among team members.
  • Quarterly business reviews ensured accountability and visibility into the progress made toward meeting objectives and priorities.
  • Implementation of an organization-wide forum brought leaders from across the organization together to connect and better understand the context of their actions.
  • Our strategic work with the organization set the foundations for pursuing the multi-billion-dollar contract, ultimately resulting in the organization being awarded the new R&D contract that ensured long-term stability and growth.

The new strategy and its adoption throughout the organization, along with the implementation of an operating rhythm and necessary leader behavior changes, served as the underpinnings for the transformation to position it for long-term success. The organization’s leadership and employees embraced the new strategy and mission-focused pursuit of winning the contract, charting the course for the year’s long proposal build and ensuing selection.

Billy Don Farris is a Partner at McChrystal Group, leading engagements with technology, retail, financial services, healthcare, and defense industry companies.

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Rich Daum

Senior Principal

Rich Daum is a Senior Principal and leads client engagements in the industrial and manufacturing, aerospace, and financial services sectors. He is an expert in strategy formation and translating strategy to action to realize corporate objectives.

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