A case study of change at Philips illustrates the importance of the “soft stuff.”
Pieter Nota: For [many] reasons, the [top] team was insecure and couldn’t understand why things were going so badly. The top-team survey we did in May 2011, in preparation for our first off-site meeting, exposed some of the challenges—...how misaligned we were on the direction of the business, the poor quality of our discussions, the lack of trust, the lack of confidence in our ability to implement strategy, and the perception that we were ineffective at making change happen.
...everyone got to the point where they could decide whether they wanted to be in or not...a pivotal moment.
The Quarterly: How and when did you go about starting to rebuild the team?
Pieter Nota: I...I think our first big off-site meeting—in May 2011, at Huizen, in the Netherlands—was significant. ...we put the issues on the table. Two things remain clearly etched in my memory.
- One is a no-holds-barred conversation on team loyalty, which emphasized the importance of our values, our core purpose, and the essential notion of trust.
- The second is the introduction of some critical new thinking on how to improve the quality of our operations and implementation capabilities.
...I knew that I did not have all my team members on board and that this needed to be addressed. Even after my predecessor had gone, some who had been in his very close circle were continuing to have conversations with him. During the opening of the off-site meeting, this topic had already come up. We ended up spending three hours talking about the past, clearing the air, and gaining a better understanding of each other. At the end, everyone got to the point where they could decide whether they wanted to be in or not. That was a pivotal moment.
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