Cultural Transformation in the Railroad Industry

Client Success Story: Changing the way one of the world’s largest railroad companies does business

The Client Need

Changes in the competitive and regulatory environment required Union Pacific to make significant changes in the way it does business. In order to support this effort the executive team recognized the need for a sustained focus on changing the mindset of its leaders and managers so that they would begin to think globally and to act locally.

Union Pacific engaged Executive Perspectives to change the behaviors and decision making at UP so that all decisions would be made with the understanding that their railroad is a network and as such it abides by the principles of networks, including connectivity, shared resources and cascading failures.

In addition to the challenge of communicating such a significant change to over 5000 leaders, Union Pacific had a unique challenge in that the average tenure of UP managers is 30+ years. The need for a game changing solution that would break long held habits was recognized, and Executive Perspectives was chosen to build and deliver the simulation based solution.

The EP Solution

Executive Perspectives was asked to design and build a simulation which would change the minds and behaviors of UP’s leaders and managers by getting them understand the need for Network Thinking and more importantly, would bring about a cultural change at Union Pacific where everyone considers the global needs of the railroad rather than their individual metrics and rewards.

EPs solution included a detailed model of railroad business operations, combined with leadership scenarios which presented participants with actual scenarios experienced by the firm in the past. These leadership scenarios created a line of sight between leadership decisions and business results in a very impactful manner.

In addition to the simulation based content EP also integrated leadership modules which explored Union Pacific’s values; key leadership competencies and personal conflict styles to ensure participants linked their lessons learned to their day to day actions back on the job.

Benefits / Outcomes

Union Pacific improved a key KPI by 23 ½% as a result of NetThink, cut costs by hundreds of millions of dollars and in addition changed the mindsets, attitudes and behaviors of managers and leaders with 30+ years of service at their company.

Bypassing (sending a train on to another yard in order to preserve your yard’s metrics), once prevalent, is not only a thing of the past but it’s an action that is no longer tolerated by managers regardless of their tenure with the company.

In order to ensure long lasting impact and to continue to drive Return on Investment, UP is now offering it to all remaining bands of leaders and managers to increase their improvement in key cost-cutting metrics.

Client Testimonial

Union Pacific’s Vice Chairman and Executive Vice President of Operations stated ““The Executive Perspectives’ simulation-linked NetThink course was foundational to saving this company hundreds of millions of dollars.

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