Created by Carolin Peinecke

Organisational Development – setting the course for a new era

Companies can sometimes start veering between extremes – because they are growing. They suddenly become an attractive potential portfolio addition proposition for 'the big guns’ and turn from being owner-led companies to subsidiaries of a large Group.

The founders and figureheads of the company gradually withdraw and management is taken on by a newly-created team. Work structures and lines of responsibility are changed around and the way of working together is somehow different. Such scenarios can result in turbulent times for organisations and can seriously shake up many long-standing employees and their attitude towards the company. The danger in these periods of change is that valuable know-how is lost and that previous success cannot be maintained. This is especially true when the expected growth in the organisation’s value cannot be achieved but the business is instead crippled with internal growth pains. The solution in such change and transformative phases is a consultancy support system to help the organisation develop holistically as a new system.

We were able to do this for one of our clients in the engineering sector.
After a ‘garage’ start-up, the company was taken over by an American company after twenty years’ successful growth. Shortly afterwards, the company founder left the company management and the company was left in the hands of a young team who had only been with the company for a maximum of two years. Being one of the new external appointments, the new managing director soon noticed the friction between the old culture and new company culture. He approached Movendo Consulting to support and facilitate the company’s realignment to its changed context. The primary goal was to work out the basic strategic direction of the company for the coming 3-5 years within the management team responsible.

In a new company context, a new self-concept doesn’t just happen out of the blue.
A two-day team workshop with the small management team was set up to work on the shared vision of the organisation’s future. Extensive preparation meant that the leadership team was able to take a wide range of information into consideration:

  •  the expectations of the American parent company of the German management.
  •  a detailed picture of how the leadership team is seen on the basis of a telephone survey of 10% of employees of different levels and from different departments.
  • structured self-evaluation of all members of the management team about cooperation within their team.
  •  a written appraisal of the challenges the organisation faces from the point of view of the members of the management team.
  • analysis of the individual peculiarities of the management team – facilitated by a personality test taken by all participants in the run-up to the workshop

On the basis of this extensive self-assessment and external assessment, the workshop succeeded in evaluating the strengths and weaknesses of different areas within the organisation. It was also possible to understand the individuality of team members and see them as having a valuable role in cooperation. The core of the workshop was on developing a strategy house where the goals and direction of the organisation were established – for both internal and external audiences. Concrete rules for cooperation were laid down as well and the basic pillars for a shared self-concept were set up. This resulted in a preliminary fixed point for a new way of working together within the organisation which was to be translated into how people interact on a daily basis in the next step of the working process. This initial workshop with the leadership team helped to pave the way for the necessary, far-reaching internal discussions about the organisation’s goals, values and self-concept.

Corporate culture is defined by actions and behaviour.
The second phase of organisational development – the (continued) development of the corporate culture – was designed as a bottom-up process and thus actively involved the workforce in the moulding of a comprehensible corporate self-conception. The active involvement of the organisation is a key success factor because corporate culture can hardly be pre-ordained detached from reality but can only be defined and made tangible in a process consisting of the real actions and communication of its members. In more than 20 workshops on a total of seven major topics aimed at the internal and external image of the company, a maximum of 15 participants from mixed hierarchies and functions grappled with how these topics were to be anchored in the organisation’s culture. When the results of the workshops were collated, a multiple perspective desired image of the new organisational culture emerged. In the next steps of the process carried out by a working party, these results were finalised into a compendium of valid corporate values with their derived behaviours and agreements ready for an agreement phase in the management team.

Supporting leaders at the interface of developing values and leadership quality is key to success.
The way in which the results of culture-forming activities are translated in a leadership behaviour and cooperation is the key to the success of the new self-conception contributing to the value-added of the company. This requires a conscious and sustained procedure. Therefore a further process step to support organisational development was installed at the interface between development of values and leadership quality in the company: a leadership development program consisting of three modules to make dealing with the corporate values more concrete based on the topics of communication, team performance and change management. Flanked by telephone coaching sessions and a concluding review workshop, this program ensures the transfer of the results of the development of values into day-to-day leadership reality. This development program is first being run with the top management and will then be cascaded down to the levels below.

Movendo Consulting trainers take on the role of process experts in this program based on systemic methods and procedures by actively organizing the learning, reflection and group processes. The participants are the experts in their own context and relate things to their own workplace reality. The object of the training is therefore mainly focused on real questions and examples from the participants themselves and these are then addressed with the appropriate methods during the training. Experiential exercises are also used which allow participants to experience concrete challenges whilst simultaneously realising how the learning can be used in their day-to-day working lives. Finally, individual tasks and group work support the first step of learning transfer, create commitment and provide a basis for participants to support each other in their day-to-day work.

To make sure that the exchange between participants – for example in peer coaching groups - didn’t peter out during the transfer phase at the workplace, Movendo Consulting’s internet-based learning platform myMovendo was also integrated in the training program. This tool, which has been optimised for mobile devices, brings together all elements of the training content (preparation exercises, photo-documentation, hand-outs, reflection sheets, etc.) together with all outputs from the training (including personal objectives and individual transfer steps) and made available to participants as a support that is independent of time and place.