Establishing a “winning culture” to drive business transformation and growth

The client’s challenge

In 2011, ABBOTT Laboratories established a new division to help achieve immense growth on so called “established products”. An early success of ABBOTT Laboratories Establish Product Divisions (EPD) throughout countries such as China, Russia, Ukraine and India relied highly on the creation of a specific culture marked by key behaviours such as winning mentality, customer focus, flexible and dynamic and cross-functional teamwork. For management, developing this culture did require personal investment to build understanding, engagement, capability and support systems. Achieving this culture did indeed require a significant change. To kick-start the change process ABBOTT launched an Accelerating Leadership Development Program targeting functional leaders reporting to the Country Manager’s across the region. For the design, implementation and continues support of the program, ABBOTT partnered, as many time before, with Future Leaders International.

The process

Based on the ABBOTT core leadership competencies as well as the so called “Winning Ways” describing the behaviour required to develop and maintain the specific EPD culture, FLI designed in close cooperation with the Regional CEO and VP HR a program spanning over several years.

The FLI Solution

ABBOTT and FLI were determined to not just offer a development program as a one off intervention only. Instead the program should support the leaders with their development strategy over a longer period of time. Therefore the program came to consist of several support activities over a period of 2 years. This kind of “Case Management”, proved to be very successful.

  • A Development Centre along with feedback to each individual on their strengths and scope for development in the light of ABBOTT core leadership competencies as well as the so called “Winning Ways” describing the desirable EPD culture.
  • Training & Coaching on how to develop an impactful IDP – Individual Development Plan.
  • Workshops on “Leadership and Change challenges” along with group action learning.
  • Coaching on the individual’s IDP content and development progress.
  • Monitoring the individual’s development progress
  • Evaluation of the individual’s development progress
  • Reunion of the participants to share their learning’s and to take their development progress to the next level.
  • Coaching on “resetting” the individuals IDP.

The participants were initially invited to a so called “Leadership Retreat” consisting of a Development Centre (DC) followed by three days of workshops.  During the DC each individual was put through a number of simulations relevant to the challenges they could expect to encounter as the new division was growing. In conjunction with the DC each person received in-depth feedback from their consultant/coach on their scope for development as well as how they could leverage their strengths. The participants were then supported throughout the process of defining their IDP.

Back-to-back with the DC, the participant went through three days of workshops on leadership and change challenges. During these days a number of executives within ABBOTT shared strategies with the group. The participant were also given opportunities to try out new approaches to business challenges in action learning projects facilitated by FLI in conjunction with ABBOTT.

Soon after the “Leadership Retreat” the participants had to send their IDP to FLI for an initial quality check. FLI was particularly keen to support the participants in defining tangible and measurable actions points with a clear connection to business challenges. A couple of months after the retreat each participant met with a coach to further discuss their development progress and their need for support moving forward. After the first eight months each participant was invited to evaluate their progress and what impact their development activities had had on the business. This self-assessment was later reviewed by their General Manager and HR Director. Before resetting their IDP the participants had another coaching session.

It is also worthwhile mentioning that FLI provided support to the local HR Directors and General Managers throughout the program.

The outcome and success of the program

The program has been hugely successful for ABBOTT Laboratories. The so called Winning Ways was firmly embedded in the business culture and now lived, guarded and supported by managers across the region. A second group of managers embarked on the program a year after the first group and as the first and second group’s result was evaluated the impact on the business result was found to be fundamental. Development records showed at least a 25% improvement on all development goals set by each individual. Some improvements were measured to 80%. In competence areas such as capacity to anticipating and contingency planning it was for example evident how extremely impactful the behavioural changes were to the business, saving millions of US dollars.  The third group of managers are now nominated to go through the program. This time it will be  extended to other regions.