Background - How Dan Ciampa's Brand of Advice & Counsel took Shape
Dan Ciampa's career began with deep involvement in the foundations of culture change and participation in some of its most formative efforts.
Trained at NTL Institute, he first applied organization & management development principles as managing director of a social service agency and as a community organizer. He then became a program manager and a consultant to government agencies and non-governmental organizations and a director of a not-for-profit combining university and corporate resources to place high-tech manufacturing plants in inner cities. Then, Dan worked with or for people who had helped create organization & management development and culture diagnosis. As part of a pioneering organization research & development firm (Sterling Institute/McBer & Co), he implemented these approaches in management & economic development projects in the United States and in developing countries.
In 1972, he joined one of the oldest and most highly-regarded manufacturing engineering research, software, and consulting companies (Rath & Strong, Inc.). It was a time when "organization culture" was an unknown concept to most corporate leaders and when operations improvement techniques were mired in old assumptions about what constituted a successful company. As the era of globalization began, Rath & Strong was the first group of operations experts to realize that existing ways of improving companies, some of which it had invented decades before, were not enough.
While a trendsetter in cost effectiveness, distribution, information systems, and quality & reliability engineering, it set out to redefine itself by merging its technical problem-solving techniques with a new organization culture/leadership practice. Dan developed the first successful multidisciplinary approach that bridged both of these forms of help, directing its application and refinement as it helped hundreds of companies over the next 25 years.
During this period, Dan learned new manufacturing techniques that were being used by the Japanese (from two long-time friends of the firm: Edwards Demming & Joe Juran)...and also strategy formulation (from another: Bruce Henderson, founder of the Boston Consulting Group). He recognized that while both had been carefully thought through and well designed, something was lacking that kept them from contributing all they could ... problem solving techniques frequently didn't last and many strategies were never successfully implemented. And also that while organization development techniques held great promise, they rarely had big, lasting impact because they lacked a strong link to strategy and operational problem solving.
Dan realized that the multidisciplinary approach he had developed was the key to producing longer-lasting benefits.
Up to that time, culture change was attempted only through management or small group training and organization development (OD) ... there was no recognition among OD experts of operational forces that have powerful effects on behavior. Also, operations improvement meant various ways to install new systems, become more efficient, or produce products of higher quality ... but among operations experts there was little recognition that ensuring they lasted over time required as much work on the culture as on systems & processes. The multidisciplinary approach that Dan and his colleagues created answered the question of how to ensure lasting efficiency, but also, the age old question of how to get culture to change to sustain success. Dan was unique in having deep knowledge and experience in each area.
By the late 1970s, he had created one of the first Total Quality approaches in America and in 1981 oversaw the development of one the first Just-in-Time practices (precursors of today's versions of Six Sigma and of the collection of techniques known as Lean Enterprise).
In the early 1980s, Dan participated in the early stages of manufacturing automation (through work with clients and as chairman of the Automation Forum) and also in the transition of the computer industry from closed, vertical development to an open-systems approach. He directed the firm's manufacturing strategy, industrial engineering, quality & reliability, organization culture, and leadership practices. He also became an Associate of the British Institute of Management, represented the firm with the Japanese Management Association, and was an adjudicating judge of the American Arbitration Association.
Because his company spearheaded new operational techniques and processes, Dan saw firsthand the effects of different leadership styles as CEOs and senior managers tried to adjust to new competitive realities and new technologies. Because the pace of improvement often accelerated during the transition from one leader to a new one, Dan's interest turned to research on first-term political leaders, (particularly US Presidents), and military leaders during times of intense change. This interest in the leader's role in directing change and shaping a new organizational culture has informed Dan's career, including his own 12 years as a CEO. He became Chairman & CEO of Rath & Strong in the mid-1980s. In 1994, he hired his successor and in 1996 turned the firm over to him.
Upon leaving his company, Dan joined four not-for-profit boards (including National Public Radio and a National Cancer Institute research center) and two corporate boards (an industrial manufacturer and a reinsurance company). In the summer of 2001, he became special adviser to the Office of the Secretary of the United States Treasury. Since mid-2002, he has been an adviser to new or in-place chairmen & CEOs leading their organizations through periods of fundamental change and to boards of directors managing CEO successions.
He has been a guest lecturer at Harvard's Graduate School of Business & Kennedy School of Government, Duke's Sanford Institute of Public Policy, Vanderbilt's Owen Graduate Business School, Boston College, and Boston University.
Dan's experience in shaping and implementing operations improvements combined with his expertise in organization culture and leadership during times of change give him a unique perspective on the demands facing leaders challenged with improving or sustaining performance. He has firsthand experience with the effects of various leadership styles on the cultures necessary for financial success and has himself gone through the changes he helps others navigate.
Through the years, his wise counsel and practical strategies have helped people in top spots become more effective leaders and to use new technology and operational techniques to improve both the cultures & the performance of their organizations.
His varied background enables Dan to quickly grasp the challenges facing those who seek his help, their strengths & shortcomings, the capacity of their organizations to step up, and the steps necessary for the most direct and easiest path to success given the hand they've been dealt.