Ultra is a specialist electrical and electronics engineering company operating mainly in defence and other highly regulated markets. With a staff of around 4,500 working across the UK, North America and Australia, Ultra focuses on providing mission-specific bespoke solutions and capabilities with an annual revenue of £850M.
To support future growth and continue Ultra’s positive market trajectory, key leaders worked together to create an inspiring new corporate strategy. But they needed a credible partner with a proven process to establish an organisation design that put strategy at its core.
In the past, Ultra had consisted of 19 individual business units with very little corporate strategy or parenting advantage. But in 2019, following the appointment of a new CEO, a review concluded that Ultra needed to make substantial organisational changes to deliver on the ‘Fix, Focus, Grow’ strategy recently approved by the Board.
This strategy was developed in a collaborative way and the executive team were keen to continue in this vein for the organisation design. They were also conscious that the organisation’s structure was where the rubber would hit the road for many of the senior leaders. So a key element to our partnership with Ultra was making sure we harnessed a rigorous process that prioritised alignment to strategy.
Working alongside the CEO and a small team of senior stakeholders, we helped create a new corporate organisational design. The initial design phase took three months and resulted in a clear view of what activities were held at Group, Divisional and Business level.
Despite concerns at the start about decision making and alignment around strategy, everyone who took part told us that the process had enabled further clarification of the business strategy, which helped strengthen relationships between stakeholders.
In a second phase, we worked to redesign the next level units, maintaining a sense of consistency and alignment to corporate and divisional strategy throughout.
In all cases, our team provided individual role consultations to new leaders along with support for forming new team to help bring the design to life in a way that adhered to the original design principles.
In 2019, the new design was successfully presented to the top 50 with a strong sense of ownership from the leadership team. Complete implementation took 12–18 months and was central to unifying ‘One Ultra’.
Since then, the Metalogue methodology has become a standard in many parts of the business with internal resources being trained to co-facilitate design processes.
The value created by the ‘Fix, Focus, Grow’ strategy was recognised by the external markets too. In June 2021, Advent made a bid to acquire Ultra, valuing it at £35 a share versus £16 a share in June 2018. The organisational design changes we helped Ultra establish were recognised as a critical enabler of the delivery of that strategy.