Siemens: Building A "B School" In Its Own Backyard

The company's execs are solving problems that would have required high-priced consultants

For Siemens, it bordered on the embarrassing. The $65 billion German conglomerate makes 12 million mobile phones a year, but its own use of mobile-phone service was stuck in the wireless Stone Age. Managers in different units in Britain were acting like the Lone Ranger, buying phone service for their thousands of employees from a bevy of far-flung suppliers instead of huddling like a team to negotiate a cut-rate contract from one source. Co-workers were dialing each other up over costly wireless networks when they could have been patching calls through Siemens' own, less expensive network. One of the mobile-phone use manuals was prehistoric--it hadn't been updated since 1991. No surprise then that all this was wasting $4 million a year.

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