American Century Investments

Building Skills for Big Picture Thinking

The Challenge

The Organizational Development Department of a multi-disciplined, global asset management firm employing more than 3,000 people, discovered through manager surveys and departmental feedback that big picture thinking skills were a core competency required of their employees. This competency was needed to enable managers and their teams to be more effective when analyzing situations, anticipating the implications and implementing successful decisions. They wanted a curriculum that prepared employees to:

  • Understand corporate decisions from a big picture perspective;
  • Communicate more effectively the implications of those decisions to their departments and teams;
  • Make decisions using a “systems thinking” approach; and
  • Plan and coordinate change efforts with a greater understanding of all the dynamics involved.

The Solution

TeamTech, in partnership with the Organizational Development Department, customized a curriculum that gives employees the skills and tools to:

  • Understand the major systems and structural forces at work in the organization and how outside forces (economy, competition, technology, etc.) create pressure to change;
  • Utilize this learning to interpret how the company has changed over the last 10 years and develop a broader understanding of corporate decision-making;
  • Analyze their department, team or a particular situation from a systems perspective and identify strengths, weaknesses and next steps;
  • Communicate clearly with employees and involve them in deciding and implementing change; and
  • Review and plan a comprehensive approach to addressing an immediate problem or issue the employee is currently facing.
    The Payoff

Since 1996, this customized curriculum has been successful and is currently being taught four times per year. In addition, Team Tech certified three internal trainers to deliver this curriculum. Feedback from participants on the benefits of this curriculum follows:

  • “It gives me a better understanding as to why my department is making some of the decisions it is in a bear market.”
  • “This will help me communicate my ideas and develop new ones that are more thought out.”
  • “I will take a broader approach to making decisions.”
  • “I am now able to better identify my role within the organization and more effectively communicate with management.”
  • “This provides me with a structure to use when approaching problems.”
  • “In trying to help my team through difficult times, all aspects of this class will help. It’s a great tool for dealing with change.”