Lara Vanden Eynden
Global Knowledge & Learning Director

"As a result of rapid growth through acquisition together with a new strategy moving from a product-led to a services led organisation, we needed to refresh and realign the organisation culture at Novell.

Each of Novell’s acquired organisations brought a different culture with them. Each organisation was fiercely loyal to its roots. Legacy Novell staff were rigorously resisting the shift towards a consultative, services-led approach, and what it represented about what we considered important and valuable.

We already had some change fatigue in the organisation, and had already experienced some false starts with the culture change agenda. We had previously imported an approach that worked successfully elsewhere – it didn’t work for us. Our situation was subtly but critically different.

Under a new leadership we had a second shot at getting it right. This time the emphasis moved away from preaching the benefits of the “promised land” and focused instead on encouraging meaningful dialogue with key players. This was intended to help us get to the root of what was getting in the way of executing our strategy. And to be better placed to do something about it.

We realised that when people said “what’s the strategy again?” it wasn’t because they’d missed the first explanation, but that what they were hearing didn’t make sense to them. It meant they were giving us another chance to tell them something in a way they could wrap their heads and hearts around.

We invested heavily in training and developing our managers and leaders to live and breathe a communication-led approach to leadership, whatever their particular role.

We developed a global curriculum of tailored leadership development that was adapted for different levels of seniority but embraced these core messages. 100% attendance was mandated for anyone in a managerial role. The programme was comprehensively well received and we heard consistently excellent feedback.

We taught the difference between discussion and true dialogue. We coached leaders on how to listen better, how to listen for commitment and to listen for opportunities to connect with people. We had them practise using the language of leadership rather than the language of management, and helped them to develop the skills to coach and enable their teams to do the same.

We used joint external/internal delivery teams. The external consultants coached and developed internal staff on the fly so that our own people were confident to deliver the programme themselves, fluently and with impact, to help sustain the culture change. This approach provided a good blend of objectivity and insight. It allowed us to share best practice and new ideas while building a robust feedback loop back to senior decision makers."