Our client, a US car manufacturer, was planning to merge multiple business teams, focus on a new strategy and reallocate budgets. As one piece of the planning, they wanted to know how their competitors had organized themselves for similar purposes.

Specifically, the client approached Aqute with three questions:

  • How many employees worked in each business team?

  • What did the organizational chart look like?

  • How did the competitor’s processes for R&D innovation work?

Secondary data gathering

The initial phase of the project involved trawling through thousands of LinkedIn profiles, publicly available resumes, job listings and social media bios to create a database of employee names, titles, expertise and other details.

This data allowed us to create an impressionistic organization chart, showing key executives, layers of management, broad team structures and approximate headcount for each business area.

The partial organization chart also pointed to research areas that needed further investigation via primary research: how did the different teams connect to each other, what were the reporting lines, who were the middle managers?

Primary research in six countries

Having exhausted the secondary sources and extracted the names of key employees that might help us fill in some of the gaps in the organization chart, Aqute turned to the primary research phase. We identified over 100 employees that we wanted to talk to, as well as recruitment agencies that the competitor used.

Conversations with these sources would allow us to flesh out the organization chart, and drill down into how the organizational structure enabled innovation.

We also carried out parking lot drive-bys of key locations, to provide additional data on how employees were distributed across key locations – particularly useful for manufacturing sites where employees are less likely to use LinkedIn or have an online footprint. 

The initial secondary research had uncovered that the competitor was structured more globally than our client suspected, and the primary research allowed us to investigate how the competitor synchronized activities across the US, Canada, Mexico, Brazil, China and Romania.

Leaner and more agile

The automotive manufacturer used Aqute’s findings to support its reorganization and streamline its operations. In the short term, that delivered significant cost savings. More permanently, our client was able to respond more nimbly to market developments than it could previously, and more rapidly than the competitor.