Best Managed Companies

CEDA: Canada’s Best Managed Companies 2019

When it comes to setting strategy, simplicity sells

Canada’s Best Managed Companies

Kevin Fleury, who was named president and CEO of CEDA in 2012, likes to say he came up “through the dirty-fingernail side” of the oil field services business. For more than 40 years, Fleury has worked with multiple facets of the industry, gaining experience in everything from equipment rentals to pipeline construction, and he acknowledges that his early experience as a tradesman has influenced his management style. “I have a real affinity for the folks who toil in the fields,” Fleury says. “The guy in the corner office sets the tone, but it’s really the people who work here who get me excited about being here every day.” And it’s fuelled a desire to keep everyone in the organization, regardless of position, on the same page—in this case, literally a single page.

CEDA, a Calgary-based company that provides maintenance, construction and other project services for oil and gas and other industrial clients, works from a series of five-year strategic plans, all contained in a single document hundreds of pages long. Fleury’s job is to take that massive file and distill it into a single page for all to absorb. That single page is then enlarged and plastered onto a massive placard, which hangs in the organization’s executive offices, boardrooms and other prominent locations.

Fleury was prompted to try this tactic when he realized that in most years, the senior team put together a massive strategy document that ended up at the bottom of desk drawers. A board member mentioned, after reviewing one 180-page plan, that a truly great company would be able to reduce their mission to a single page. “I think I said under my breath, ‘You’ve got to be crazy,’ ” says Fleury.

But he did it anyway, and is pleased with the results. Sharing strategic plans in easily digestible and easily reinforced formats helps to clarify which goals need to be prioritized. “People want to be part of a winner,” says Fleury. “Right down through all levels of the organization, you have a role to play in the execution of the strategy. And this way, there’s a constant reminder and dialogue around it.” It’s something, adds Fleury, that he would have found useful back when he was still getting his nails dirty. “It would have been beneficial to know what my obligations were, and to be able to set goals for myself that aligned with the strategy.”

CEDA’s single-page strategy is just one part of the company’s continuing commitment to improving business practices after 45 years in operation. Now, that once-ignored strategic plan is omnipresent in the CEDA offices. “It’s incredibly important that we return again and again to review the path we set out,” says Fleury. “I tell people now that I want to see it on the corner of your desk, dog-eared.”

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