Recognizing that one of its healthcare solutions divisions would have better growth potential as a stand-alone company, a global life sciences firm sold the division to a private equity firm with synergistic holdings in the industry. As the official launch of the new company drew near, a new name was chosen, the corporate identity was developed, and a new Board of Directors and senior leadership team (SLT) were formed. With the exceptions of a few open positions, the leadership team remained largely intact as the company transitioned over. The existing head of the division was appointed Chief Executive Officer. As the new company emerged from the old, the CEO recognized the opportunity — and the need — to consider which legacy ways of working should be preserved and which would need to change in order to meet aggressive targets for value creation.
Objectives for the program were to secure buy-in from the top 50 leaders to perform their role as drivers of the cultural evolution and to equip leaders and managers to lead the change in order to ensure that all employees would understand and participate in the new culture.
As a starting point, FTI Consulting developed a program to help the NewCo leadership team identify and challenge their own deeply entrenched cultural beliefs and behaviors and consider new ways of working that would foster an agile, entrepreneurial culture. Following a series of leadership interviews, FTI designed an agenda for the first official strategy meeting of NewCo’s SLT. The agenda followed the progression companies typically move through when they are faced with change, helping the leaders better understand the “journey” through which they would need to lead their teams. The theme of culture evolution was integrated into every discussion, underscoring that the way to effect true culture change is in the context of both strategic planning and day-to-day work. Further, we encouraged the CEO to emphasize and model the need for personal reflection and a commitment to change.
The CEO and members of his senior leadership team emerged from the meeting energized and clear about the vision for NewCo and the strategy for achieving the vision. The highlight of the meeting was a discussion of the personal changes each member of the SLT would need to make, which the CEO led by sharing his own plan for personal growth and change. His level of frankness and the personal behavior changes he demonstrated during the meeting earned him a spontaneous standing ovation. In the weeks that followed, SLT members began to flag legacy behaviors for one another as they worked to bring their learning into their daily interactions.