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Western Union Are “Getting Everyone To Speak the Same Language” But What The F*ck Are They Talking About?

By Matthew Dove (Digital Editor)

Like those brave souls at the Big Four and on Cheapside, Western Union know that they need to move with the times or face getting proper jobs.

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Dan Nordlander, senior vice president of WU Way Operations at Western Union

With that less than edifying prospect in mind, Dan Nordlander, senior vice president of Western Union Way Operations at Western Union (shortened to WU Way for the sake of clarity) has come up with a deft new approach for dragging a company whose, “roots lie in the era of the telegraph” into the digital age.

Digital transformation” is this season’s must have corporate accessory after all and bragging rights will go to those who get there first.

So, what’s the plan, Dan?

Well, the process “involves more than just lean deployments and agile methodologies”. Glad to hear it! What else?

“It requires a change in process and culture, the adoption of a common lingo, executive buy-in, and a centre of excellence to ensure enterprise-wide success.”

Okay, I think I’m still with you. Do you mean clear and concise instruction for guiding employees and partners through new technological challenges? Or is it that you have no idea how you’re going to navigate the choppy waters ahead and have decided to hide behind a fog of corporate twaddle?

“The primary reason we decided to go through with this transformation is that we saw an opportunity to positively impact revenue through our daily operations and behaviours.”

I see, that settles it…

The WU Way, it appears, is little more than making money by doing a good job. Surely, it can’t be that simple?

Au contraire! Mr Nordlander’s strategy is multi-facetted. First on the list is communication or “Getting Everyone to Speak the Same Language.”

Next up is the “Floor Walk”, which “entails a leader or a manager being on the floor with people doing their day-to-day jobs, just observing the way they work.”

When they’re not wandering around, speaking English (whilst not explicitly stated, I assume this is the language being referred to) and watching people work, Western Union’s C-Suite will be “accessing success” with “market-shaper practices.”

To the layman, that might just sound like a reiteration of the do-a-good-job-make-money philosophy espoused earlier but it’s actually a foolproof way, or “WU Way”, to “implement lean.” It’s not obvious whether the leanness has anything to do with all the floor walking but it couldn’t hurt, right?

So far so good, we’re talking, we’re walking, we’re even “going to huddles.”

“Top-down innovation” never felt so good but “how do you start there and end up with a fully embedded transformation across a company of 12,000 people?”

Well, with “capability building” as complex as this, you’re gonna need some serious “executive buy-in” which, I’m assured, has nothing to do with the entertainment budget.

Executive buy-in involves the aforementioned C-Suite religiously quaffing the CoolAid as EB-I “will drive topline revenue growth” if, and only if, it’s adopted with “real commitment.”   

“You’re expected to find ways to optimise your processes and drive value. You’re expected to come up with new ways of innovation to drive revenue growth across the organisation.”

For anyone still unconvinced by this uber-waffle, Dan suggests “creating strategy placemats (one-page strategy overviews that are easily shared)” which presumably double as actual placemats for employees munching lean cuisine at their desks.

As a new convert to the WU Way, I’ve spotted a couple of “further opportunities for continuous improvement” myself…

With digital transformation being the order of the day, might it be an idea to spend less time wandering around the floor and instead try sitting in front of a computer for a bit?

Furthermore, with “speaking the same language” proving increasingly important, perhaps Western Union will consider making their “common lingo” Esperanto or Pig Latin, thus sparing the rest of us from enduring this abject piffle.


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