OECM: Transforming Public-Sector Culture and Scaffolding for Growth
In March 2018, Ontario Education Collaborative Marketplace (OECM) was an unlikely high-growth company. From its humble origins as a collaborative experiment to create efficiencies for the education sector-an experiment that had lost money and had to be financially supported by the government-the organization had adopted the culture of a high-growth start-up. OECM facilitated the procurement by universities, colleges, and school boards of everything from pencils to computers. By pooling orders, OECM was able to provide better prices from suppliers, thereby saving taxpayer dollars. OECM aimed to become "the Amazon of education sector" procurement. The total education sector procurement market in Ontario was CA$4 billion. OECM currently facilitated CA$255 million in transactions, but it was looking to control CA$2 billion of the market. Having become profitable under the leadership of a new chief executive officer, and newly independent of government support, OECM's management was now challenged to continue to transform the organization's public-sector culture in order to achieve high growth. What strategy should OECM use to achieve its aggressive growth targets? How should OECM scale up? Farzad H. Alvi is affiliated with Instituto Tecnologico y de Estudios Superiores de Monterrey (ITESM).