Teaming Up to Win the Rail Deal at GE (A)
In 2012, Nalin Jain, then head of GE aviation for South Asia, was given the added responsibility for GE's transportation business in India, including bidding for a $2.5 billion contract to manufacture, service and maintain 1,000 diesel locomotives for state owned Indian Railways (IR). The deal, which would have been "the largest deal on the planet" for the transportation business, had been under discussion for six years, and many within GE had given up hope that it would materialize, but Jain persisted. In February 2015, when IR requested companies to submit a financial bid in six months, Jain quickly built an autonomous team, sequestered from the rest of GE, with people from multiple businesses and functions. His team overcame internal resistance from people at headquarters and stiff competition to help GE win the deal by a narrow margin. Jain was then tasked with executing the deal. As many of his earlier team members had moved on, Jain hired new people and built a new diverse yet integrated team for execution, with members able to put aside their many differences, look beyond their functional silos, and focus on the project deliverables. However, 2017 brought a series of challenges. GE changed India's organization structure, making India business leaders report only to their respective global business leaders instead of reporting to both their business leaders and the India country leader. Jain's mandate was expanded to include the entire international operations of GE's transportation business. And, sub-optimal company performance forced GE to announce cost cuts of $2 billion. In the face of this turmoil, Jain wonders, "Have I created an agile team that can succeed in GE's matrix environment and deal with the internal challenges? Do the team members have the maturity and motivation required for the project to succeed?"