During the 1990s, Magma Copper Company had become one of the great turnaround stories in corporate history transforming itself from a Fortune 500 company fighting for survival to a high performing Wall Street wonder. Magma was unique in many ways including its much-heralded union-management partnership, unbelievably strong culture of employee engagement and self-directed work, and, of course, its storybook turnaround known as the “Magma Miracle.”
During its heyday, Magma’s fame resulted in requests for tours and interviews from many seeking to discover the “secret” to Magma’s success. Contributing to the fanfare was Harvard Business School, which produced a video featuring a Magma Copper Company refinery process redesign. That redesign resulted in the division creating high performance work teams that repeatedly set new industry records for efficiency and productivity.
During his tenure at Magma, our founder, Kevin Herring, combined his knowledge of high impact leadership with his experience in process redesign and began experimenting with ways to more quickly obtain performance breakthroughs that had historically taken several years to achieve. He applied many of these ideas in the management and work process design of a new operation at Magma that soon set new cost and productivity records for similar operations in the copper industry.
Kevin, who had previously worked for a management consulting firm, soon began developing plans for another foray into consulting this time to apply his new knowledge to creating rapid performance improvements to many more business units both large and small.