Managing a Big Change in a Large Organization.

Sofia is a veteran in the field of medical devices. She has spent a lot of time leading different verticals within a leading multinational corporation for the last 29 years. As part of the finance domain which reported to her, she oversaw a large successful change process within the unit. She has now been promoted to head a different vertical from the business. In this conversation she reflects on her learnings, and what she would advise anyone who is attempting to make big change happen in large organizations.

So what has changed?

“What has changed is that the operating role is far more complex now. In the past we were organized in a way that you were steering a team that would have very direct reporting line, (like how a local company or business does) on probably everything.

We have now moved into what I would call a multi-matrix setup wherein people report not just above, but also left and right (across the organization structure) whether that be IT, finance, you name it. I always tell my team, that it is absolutely essential that we make the organizational matrix work. For me, it is about having the ability to try and set an example for your team, by collaborating with different parts of the organization, and making sure that different parts of the organization collaborate successfully.

Internally, clearly the reporting structure of the organization has changed. Externally, of course what has changed incidentally is the pace of change really. And the technology!”

What did you specifically do, that helped you with this transition?

“In my leadership team, according to the new setup, certain parts of the team were no longer reporting directly to me. The financial transactions department for instance were now reporting to a different part of the organization. However, I still kept them as members of my leadership team team, even though they were not directly involved, because I wanted to make this organizational matrix work. I needed them to know that “even if the reporting structure has changed, you are still part of my leadership team.”

“It is all about making the model work. It is about trying to make people collaborate better in a multi matrix environment where people report differently. It is not always easy to make this possible, but it is possible.”

In this entire scenario, what would be the role of an external coach?

“Three things that an external coach can do. Crystallizing very clearly, within the leadership team, what we wanted to stand for. Then helping us prepare to do it and communicate it. Helping us work through challenges with our teams from a leadership point of view. They also helped to translate our internal vision to the larger group of leaders across the organization and co-facilitating that. I stressed on co-facilitation very intently. Because I wanted very clearly to ensure that these meetings are owned very strongly by me and my leadership team. The approach that the coaches brought, particularly with the co-facilitation worked perfectly in our case.”

“I think Merv and his team has done an amazing job in helping us prepare and have been critical at facilitating and co-facilitating the face-to-face meetings.”