Case Study: SmartWool
SmartWool is a hugely popular and hip brand famous for its socks. SmartWool has experienced paramount growth in the past 10 years, and the natural ripple that accompanies that kind of expansion has resulted in fluxes in management — causing disorganization in many departments and logistical challenges for effective leadership and communication.
Growing tremendously fast, SmartWool found itself with many new people on board struggling with the expanding growth of the organization. The CEO of SmartWool wanted employees fully engaged in a vision and understanding of how they contribute to the mission of the company. But how could SmartWood, owned by Timberland, maintain its identity and focus in a global corporate marketplace?
idea360 began a facilitation process to roll out the company’s new mission statement and organizational story-map. Idea-360’s graphic recording process uncovered the big picture about the time lines and the ebb and flow of the workflow itself.
“The process that idea360 provided got us more involved in each other’s jobs. We had come to this point where people at the company were doing several jobs and we learned we needed more people, more manpower,” explained Jenn Bucker of SmartWool.
idea360 created a 16-foot storytelling map that held the history and vision of SmartWool and depicted how they were going to get there — because the best way to communicate is through storytelling.
idea360 facilitated a direction for the meeting. This allowed the CEO to form the questions that he thought were most important. Janine’s role was to ask questions and then listen for emerging metaphors, meta-concepts, and strategies. Then she translates her discovery into a visual form, the map. In real time, the entire group is able to see the rebuilding of the company’s new direction.
The end result was a reminder that “we can’t all do what we’re doing, that we have to divide and conquer,” explained Jenn Bucker.
A complete restructuring and reorganization of the marketing department was needed.
The Aha! moment for SmartWool was in realizing the work patterns of others — what each person did and why they did it — and when they should delegate or remain focused on their job objectives.
SmartWool executives stopped sending out their own FedEx packages (they were doing that because they didn’t know who was in charge of things like the mailroom). idea360 ensured that marketing and management expertise remained focused on task, and that the allocation of support and other jobs was well-coordinated to help those who needed it most.
The idea360 map still hangs in the SmartWool main offices, as a living organizational tool. idea360 allowed SmartWool’s guard to come down.
“It was a fun process. The drawings from idea360 still live on everyone’s desks. They serve to constantly retell the story of SmartWool, and tell the future story of SmartWool.”