Bold leaders dared to halt the transformation and challenge their gut feelings after receiving the results from the engagement survey. This way they were able to calibrate the way they worked and get back on the right track together.

Sticky Legacy Collaboration Harms Transformation

A pharma affiliate underwent a major structural transformation to become more customer-centric. Almost everyone got a new job description, team, and leader.
Six months after the transformation, the annual engagement survey did not show the results leadership had hoped for. The transformation was clearly not on track.

Two issues stood out. Both were linked to collaboration. The issues were:

  1. Teams across the pharma affiliate did not collaborate effectively to get things done
  2. The pharma affiliate was not adapting to the changing needs of customers.

The Engagement Survey Pointed To The Problem; Innovisor To The Solution!

Instead of jumping into conclusion by using gut, the leadership team agreed that they only could navigate the right way forward if the invisible collaboration was made visible. It is one thing to make decision on the commitment and sentiment of collaboration as delivered by the engagement survey, but to fully understand the collaborative relationships and potentials they decided to uncover the organizational networks. They asked Innovisor for help based on recommendations from colleagues in other affiliates. They got answers to following key questions:

  1. How do people collaborate with each other in the affiliate?
  2. Where are the gaps and opportunities for collaboration? Does there exist a collaborative relationship between the people who see the potential for increased collaboration with each other? – especially around customers.
  3. Who should be engaged to succeed with the transformation towards more customer centricity?
    The organizational network diagnostic provided a level of detail and concrete actions to be taken with a speed the leadership team never had seen before from the engagement survey, and they were grateful:

“The engagement survey pointed us to a problem. Innovisor pointed to the solution!”

The Legacy Collaborative Connections Were Very Sticky

Roles and responsibilities were not clear-cut. The word most used by employees to describe their transformation towards customer-centricity was ‘challenge’ – followed by the word ‘confused’.

As a result, people were over-collaborating left and right. It turned out that the collaborative relationships formed under the old legacy structure were very sticky and almost all still intact. On top people were slowly forming bonds with their new team colleagues. As if that was not plenty already, leadership also actively encouraged everyone to collaborate even more across the organization.

Collaboration is sticky. This network visualization shows that the new structure didn't reflect the current collaboration. Legacy collaboration was still in place

The Collaboration Potential Was Huge

The organizational network diagnostic asked people, who could make them more effective if they could collaborate more with them. Innovisor could therefore identify people who saw an effectiveness potential in increased collaboration, while not yet collaborating. This is what we at Innovisor call a collaboration potential!

This collaboration potential was huge. It turned out that 62% of the desired collaborative relationships did not yet exist. The detail of the Innovisor data pointed also to where this potential was. Who needed to connect to whom? – on what topics? – At individual level and at departmental level.

Case insight - Even though the legacy collaboration was sticky, people identified a collaboration potential outside their current collaboration

3% Help 90% Gain Clarity

People were still confused about the objective of the transformation after what had been a mainly top-down push of the new restructuring. To improve success probability of the transformation, Innovisor also uncovered, who leadership needed to engage with across the organization.

Some people have more social capital, or trust, than others. This is what is known is the #ThreePercentRule. The 3% of people who shape the commitment of up to 90% of their colleagues.

Knowing these informal influencers allowed the affiliate to create a sensemaking mechanism, where the 3% could help the rest of the pharma affiliate gain clarity on the transformation.

Halt, Calibrate, Get Back On Track

As a result of the transformation, people had stretched themselves to collaborate on too many things and with too many people in different teams. Spending time and effort on tasks and projects outside their own area of responsibility resulted in less time to focus on the actual customers. They were drowning in internal collaboration. That was counterproductive to the whole purpose of the transformation, which was about putting the customers at the center of attention!

Thanks to its bold leaders that dared to halt the transformation and challenge their gut feelings after receiving the results from the engagement survey, the pharma affiliate was able to calibrate the way they worked and get back on the right track together.

Author: Sanne Qvarfordh

Case written by

Sanne Qvarfordh

Connect directly with Sanne via one of her social platforms.

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