To assess these characteristics, I
pulled together a company cross-functional team of 40 people, assigned them specific tasks, and divided them into four teams. Each
team has to develop their project
charter to address the “problem
or the challenge” we were facing.
Leaders of each team, nominated
by their respective teams, would
report back to a steering team
that coordinated the definition
of the problem, resolution and
plan of action. We kept the teams
together for 3 months, sprinting
to milestones to remain focused.
The results were significant: we
defined the plans, implemented
them, but above all we determined
the players we needed to run the
company. This was the basis for
the initial organizational design.
Further work was done to develop
a team to deliver the objectives and
Another benefit of this approach
is that you build team rapport,
empower people and set up accountability. We developed a competitive spirit with the four teams.
This was a stark contrast to the
previous leadership approach. In
some ways, you have to do something left field to stimulate change
and encourage a sense of urgency.
No one can hide, and others in the
company saw that the teams were
achieving and above all having
fun. Engagement drives results.
The organizational behavioral science of these dynamics needs to be
I also made changes to the sales
and marketing team. There were
two VP slots: I eliminated the po-
needs to engage 24/7 and be real.
Employee engagement programs
encourage ownership and enable
delegation and empowerment.
When you feel you belong, you
tend to own the task and mission.
Communication frequency is critical. Make
it concise and understandable, but do it
often: accessible but
It is essential you define, design
and build a team to execute the
plan. So often in distressed organizations the existing team does
not have the skills or experience to
execute the plan. After all, the distress was likely caused by the current team not being able to detect
or assess market force changes, etc.
One company that I was asked to
lead was experiencing a rapid declining growth rate. Their heyday
was long gone, the rapid growth of
the past had deteriorated and the
old leadership had not detected the
impact of the Affordable Care Act,
the pressure to provide proof of
health economic value. They were
also structured in silos: each head
operated independently, coming
together at the president. I found I
had 12 direct reports. The communication was through me!
I had to determine what we were
trying to achieve, or could. The
skills and the aptitude of the
leadership clearly plays a big part.
sitions and hired a VP S&M with
more transitional and stronger
leadership experience. I promoted
a Director of Sales to a VP Sales,
someone who had respect in the
organization and the right intelligence and passion to lead the
next phase of change. We had to
restructure a sales force that had
not changed its delivery model for
I hired a Health Economist from
a biotech company to lead a new
department and build a field HE
team to support the team in selling
to C-suite executives the VP we
had for our product.
I changed the R&D, RA and Operations functions to be more in
line with the goals for the company with some promotions and
terminations. I also invested in
business intelligence functions to
ensure our commercial execution
was on strategy with data focused
COMMUNICATION, AND HOW
TO DELIVER IT AT ALL LEVELS
I have spent the best part of 20
years working with EU and international leadership organizations
during my leadership tenure as a
M&A leader. I am British and have
worked in the US for over 20 years.
During that time, I have realized
that we tend to believe we communicate but we don’t either listen
or observe the reaction to what
we say or do. We should invest
more intellectual capital in understanding cultural norms before we
assume everyone will behave like
In the case of Swedish parent com-