Executing Coke’s Roadmap for Growth

Coke® is more than just a drink. It is the definitive global brand, at home everywhere — a cherished symbol of constancy that cuts across cultures like a universal friendly face. But while the secret recipe for the taste of Coke has remained unchanged for decades, the Coca-Cola Company is transforming to meet future needs.

That transformation is reflected in the company’s 2020 Vision, a “roadmap for growth” for the business and bottling partners. In unveiling the vision, Coca-Cola Chairman and CEO, Muhtar Kent, said “We know that winning…is going to require new capabilities, new models and new innovations.” Through this bold initiative, Coke is transforming its management model to fit evolving markets and new competition, without compromising one of the strongest product identities on earth.

The Business Challenge: Thinking Beyond Volume to Value

To meet the goals embodied in the 2020 Vision, top executives at Coca-Cola understood that new tools for building management capabilities would be necessary. Chasing several lead business indicators, Coca-Cola’s success factors are numerous, complex, and variable from one country to the next, ranging from individual hires to capital investments. “A seemingly simple update, such as changing an SKU, could lead to downtime in the plant, leading to breakage, damage and loss,” notes Coca-Cola EVP Irial Finan.

How could Coca-Cola’s managers bring modern solutions to these problems? To switch the focus to profitable growth, Coca-Cola developed Revenue Growth Management (RGM), a fully integrated business model identifying the complete range of long-term growth opportunities. BTS worked with more than 470 of Coca-Cola’s most senior managers to create a program designed to change management culture from the top down.

The more realistic the simulation, the easier it is for people to activate and go back to the business to apply their new capabilities and knowledge.

Terry Hildebrand, Global Director of Learning and Development, Coca-Cola
Customized Simulation and a Total System

At the heart of the program, a customized business simulation enabled leaders from Coca-Cola owned bottling groups to lead a Revenue Growth Management system. Through the immersive experience, the participants were challenged to execute a “total system” strategy including building market share without aggressive price-cutting. While executing the strategy, leaders also focused on identifying and developing future growth opportunities.

The experience proved to be a wake-up call for participants. Building more than just a new way of thinking, they developed the management techniques and capabilities needed to manage controlled growth in an environment of change. “The more realistic the simulation,” confirms Coca-Cola’s global director of learning and development, Terry Hildebrand, “the easier it is for people to activate and go back to the business to apply their new capabilities and knowledge.”

Results: Time to Break Out the Bubbly

Holding more than 60 sessions of the strategy execution program around the world, the results achieved are striking. When rated on key elements of program content, participants scored between 4.7 and 5.0 on a scale of 1 to 5. The strengthened leadership of Coca-Cola’s most senior executives created an immediate, deep impact.

Six months after participating in the program, an impact survey revealed more than three-fourths of the program participants agreed they had achieved results on the job that would not have been possible without BTS training. Many participants cited specific instances of cost-savings or realized profits amounting to millions of dollars. Others spoke more broadly of the changes in their abilities as managers. “I am more self-aware and able to manage up, down and across more effectively because I am not only able to see how my ‘style’ works with others’, but am able to recognize theirs and adjust.” Another leader summarized his experience: “I entered the course a believer in the direction of the strategy for the CocaCola Company; I left with a strong and active conviction and sense of personal ownership to make it happen.”