PODCAST: Brave New Work — Transformation at Scale

As well as the Brave New Work book (see earlier thread), I love their podcast.

Each week, Aaron Dignan talks with Rodney Evans who is a delightfully sweary (yet knowledgeable and articulate) co-host. This episode is called Transformation at Scale, which seems particularly appropriate here.

This episode is with Bill Anderson, CEO of Roche Pharmaceuticals.

[I more or less pasted in my notes from Roam. Don’t have more time to edit, so this is an experiment. Is this helpful to read the notes? Or not?]

Why listen? If your company (or clients) are so large that their reaction to change (or TameFlow!) is to say, ‘We can’t do that here!’ This is for you, as Bill says you can.

Who is Roche Pharmaceuticals?

  • 100,000 people in 100 countries. As a research firm they have a scientifically minded culture and putting the customer first. And they’ve been on a transformative journey.

They tried many improvement projects (bureaucracy busting) that didn’t work. The message they kept hearing around the company was: “We need help. Can’t get anything done!”
- Previous system was still about command and control
- They were stuck, so they killed budgeting
- How to create a budgeting process that doesn’t encourage gaming, cost-centre managers to hoard their budget, sandbagging, static?
- How to do resource allocation?
- “Go spend what you need and see how it goes and we’ll talk about it later”
- Anderson has thoughts on how to balance good ideas from within and good from outside
- Listen to how he talks about how the transformation team worked in tandem with the leadership team
- They have “a network of transformation work going on around the world”
- Go and find a great way to do something, then adopt it (eg, resource allocation)
- “There’s now a remarkable degree of harmony - may not be all in unison, but in harmony”
- The VITAL model
- Vision - ruthlessly prioritising progress towards the vision
- Improvement - next year should be fewer people or less money
- Talent flow - empower people to move to the most impactful work
- Accountability (to peers) - you can fool your boss, but not your peers
- Lucidity - everyone deserves to know what’s going on
- Anderson compares work to cooking. “I like to cook but I don’t like to do dishes. We’re not saying we won’t have any dishes to do.”
- “We have a lot of practice to do” (interesting to hear him say this…I’m thinking Senge’s personal mastery and team learning)
- “What are the things that make a working life special? The relationship between the person, their work and the company” - Bill Anderson
- The conversation touch on Haier and their 10,000 micro-enterprises
- “What if you found that in order to have the biggest impact in the world you need people who know each other really well and have a deep relationship of trust?” - Bill Anderson
- Companies need to be mindful of walking the talk. “Don’t talk to me about empowerment,” says Rodney Evans, “if I’m just a cog in the system”
- And, as Aaron says, “Now go change something!”