Second Crack — The Leadership Podcast

Strategy that Works: Insights from a 12-Month People-Centered Project

October 27, 2023 Gerrit Pelzer, Martin Aldergard Episode 27
Second Crack — The Leadership Podcast
Strategy that Works: Insights from a 12-Month People-Centered Project
Show Notes Transcript

In this episode, we share insights from a 12-month project where we involved all executives, managers and employees in shaping and implementing a new vision and strategy for growth. The project resulted in re-energizing and motivating 700 people at a large chemical manufacturing plant, fostering not only business expansion but also fortifying a sense of ownership and teamwork across the site.

Key takeaways

  • Approach vision and strategy as a process, implementation included
  • Involve people in co-creating the vision & strategy to cultivate a sense of ownership and use the collective intelligence of the organisation
  • While the process requires more time upfront, the investment pays off rapidly during the implementation phase

Key moments

01:28 - Introduction to the case

A brief overview of the case company and the overall approach to the project. 

05:02 - Phase 1: Gathering input

We delve into how we engaged numerous individuals right from the project's inception, seeking their perspectives on the future direction. Our emphasis was on understanding people, their ideas, motivations, hopes, and concerns. Unlike conventional strategy planning, there was minimal focus on data collection and SWOT analysis in this phase.

08:43 - Phase 2: Shaping the initial vision and strategy

We discuss how, through guided conversations, we transformed initially diverse opinions into a shared vision and strategy by the end of the process. Our focus was on creating opportunities for dialogue, ensuring a shared context, and facilitating co-creation.

16:18 - Phase 3: Defining a clear and concise vision & strategy

We address the most challenging phase of the project: transitioning from 'brainstorming' to making decisive choices to arrive at a clear and concise strategy ready for implementation. We share the four pillars of the strategy that were developed, highlighting how it was laser-focused on making the growth vision a reality.

28:02 - Phase 4: Supporting implementation

We explore the structure we established to facilitate follow-up, learning, and adaptation during the project's implementation phase. This included monthly leadership workshops, individual executive coaching, and effective communication and involvement of all employees.

Reflection Questions

  • What would I need to consider when designing my strategy process?
  • For instance, how long time do I have? Who needs to be involved? What role does my leadership team play in the process? Who owns the process and how are decisions made? How can I engage managers and employees? What role will they assume? How prepared are managers and employees to be involved? How prepared am I and the leadership team for increased involvement in the strategy process?
  • Based on this, how can I create the conditions that everybody can be involved? How do I make sure everyone's voice is heard?
  • Additionally, how can I, as a leader of a local entity or unit within a larger organization, approach the strategy process differently? How can I drive a growth vision and strategy that doesn't necessarily have to originate from the headquarters?


More info about us and our work is also on our website: secondcrackleadership.com.

Do you have any questions, feedback, or suggestions for us? Would you like to explore how we can help you to drive results in your organisations through a company-wide initiative or individual executive coaching? Then email us at hello@secondcrackleadership.com.

To connect with us on LinkedIn:
Martin Aldergård
Gerrit Pelzer 

Second Crack – The Leadership Podcast (Episode 27)

This transcript is AI-generated and may contain typos and errors.

[00:00:11] Gerrit: A warm welcome to Second Crack, The Leadership Podcast. In this show, we explore everyday leadership dilemmas and paradoxes, and we invite you as our listener to self reflect. I am Gerrit Pelzer, I work as an executive coach, and I bring to my coaching a combination of Western science and Asian wisdom. I'm joined today, as always, by my dear friend and business partner, Martin Aldergard.

[00:00:37] Martin works as a leadership consultant who focuses on change and transformation in organizations. And what we both have in common is that we always put people at the center of the work. And I think in today's episode, we have a wonderful example for this. And Martin, I've been away for a couple of weeks, traveling, been in Europe, and it's wonderful to be recording with you again today. Hi, how are you?

[00:01:05] Martin: Hi, Gerrit. I'm very good. And thank you for this introduction and for the opportunity to record a conversation with you again. And I'm calling in from a sunny but cold Sweden with beautiful frost just outside the windows on the roofs here, I, I spent the whole day yesterday in the garden picking nice red apples.

[00:01:28] And in this setting now, I'm so want to dive into an interesting topic. Today's episode, we will discuss a project that we did together in the past, a 12 months project, helping a large manufacturing site develop a new vision and strategy. And we really want to discuss this and see what we can learn, because the outcomes I think were amazing. The MD said, guys, I think in 12 months, I thought we would never come this far in far months. And we, we didn't really approach this project as a traditional top down way for vision and strategy, like planning and then cascading and executing. But rather the question was how can we involve everyone from the beginning, how, so to say, can strategy and visioning become everybody's job on this site.

[00:02:23] Gerrit: Yes, and I'm really looking forward to this. I still have good memories of this project. Maybe before we go into all the details, a quick reminder. If you like our podcast, you can help us grow the show. And one of the best ways to do so is by telling a friend or colleague about it. And if you haven't subscribed yet, you can do so on your favorite podcast platform, Spotify, Apple podcast, whatever. Subscribing is completely free and it helps you not to miss any new episode. And for us, it's also a great sign of recognition for our work. 

[00:03:01] Yeah, Martin, I was thinking, how can we lead into this complex project? Maybe by restating who we worked with without mentioning the company's name. It's a large multinational chemical company. And we were working with the affiliate in Asia. The headquarters of the company is in Europe. And as you said rightly, we were mostly involved there with the manufacturing part. This organization was very successful in growing, had become actually a benchmark manufacturing site for this organization. And at some point in time, they got a new managing director. And while everything seemed to be running well and everything was stable, this managing director felt that... maybe we need a new vision. And he was actually the one who was smart enough not to impose a vision on the team. Even not, you know, taking the leadership team on an offside and then after an extended weekend they come up with the, fully established new vision and then everybody else only has to, to execute. And so he approached us, because he also felt we probably need some external facilitators and external support. And, this is how we started this whole project. Martin, where, where do we start?

[00:04:31] Martin: Yeah, I think when we look at the structure of the project, we had four main phases in the whole approach, and I think we can go through these four quickly and then see what are the key success factors, what were the insights looking at this project. And, we can also add totally there were 650 to 700 people in total on the site, that were included during these 12 months.

[00:05:00] Gerrit: mm,

[00:05:02] Martin: As in most visioning and strategy process, the first step is to really gather input. I think here we took a different approach. In the typical, traditional strategic planning, input is gathered by crunching numbers and looking at past performance and bringing in consumer research and all this data. Of course, data is important. But people is more important. So of course, then we designed the first step to really, based on gathering focus group, interviews, inviting external stakeholders to conversations about the future. To understand, to gather peoples' input and their perspective of where, what does the future hold? Where do we want to move? What are opportunities? What has been challenges in the past? What do we see as strength of this manufacturing site? How do we see the role of this manufacturing site in the future, in our industry? So for me, that this first key success was already in the first step by involving people and bringing peoples' input to the process.

[00:06:22] Gerrit: And if I can jump in here, it was because you started by saying we asked them about the future, but I think what was also important was to add this, this human side to things like: how do you actually feel about the current situation? Because there was a lot going on. We don't want to go into all the details, but some people felt a little bit disturbed. And then also asking, as you rightfully said, what is this team actually very good at? But then also anticipating the future, what eventually needs to change? Because there is this classic that we're saying, you know, everything is working well. Um, we just keep doing what we're doing. And then you, one day you wake up to a, to an unpleasant surprise.

[00:07:11] Martin: I think your point is really important. I strongly remember there were people that say, you know, why do we want to change anything, actually? I mean, it's working well, and that's a valid point. And at this step, we didn't put any validation, every input here, every opinion, every perspective, was a very useful input because it helped us to gather what do people want, what motivates them, what scares them, where do they see they want to drive this.

[00:07:43] And my main point again is that the typical data analysis here, they already had all the data. But gathering, so to say, the people perspective and not only from employees, but also from the sales team in the different part of the organization, from customers, from government, from the local communities, all these conversations were important input to this visioning work. 

[00:08:13] And, and then I want to add something. You know, in, in this particular project, we didn't have to rely on digital tools, because the scale was not that huge. But of course, today we also have for this type of processes, digital tools that we can use, so you can very effectively involve thousands of people in gathering input and really high quality input. And that becomes also a key enabler for this type of processes. 

[00:08:43] Should we move to the, to the second step, which I think everybody can anticipate, which is really how did we shape the initial vision, the initial strategy. And imagine now we have been listening and having conversations as input with so many diverse opinions coming in and diverse perspective from different stakeholders. How can we really bring this together to something concise?

[00:09:07] And the second point here, how can we make sure that everybody still feels heard throughout this process, So of course, we had to initiate a lot of in depth conversations. So those were typically run in workshops, like everybody has seen. To really guide those conversations, to help a group of diverse employees or diverse leaders coming together. And one of the key things here was always how do we build dialogue? How do we let people listen to each other? I think here is again, it's not like data speaking for itself. We can put any data on the table and people still have different opinions, but we need to help and facilitate good dialogue so people together can make sense of the data they have, make sense, for instance, of customer trends, make sense of, of the trends of the industry, and then together find where can we be in this picture, in the industry. Because chemical industry is very complex, so it, it needed a lot of conversations. 

[00:10:18] Gerrit: If I can add here, most listeners will know this, some may not. I was actually in manufacturing myself, in chemicals manufacturing, in fact, right? So I could relate to this situation very well. And what I often see when you look at, you could even say, a function like manufacturing, there is often a decision taken, maybe at headquarters far away, and there is a decision to invest in maybe an expansion project, and then the sole role of manufacturing is to execute this project. But here it was a completely different way. It was manufacturing, a local manufacturing entity, actually driving this vision project forward. And again, I can only congratulate, especially the managing director and the team, to be very proactive here. And not waiting for a decision that is taken elsewhere, which would then impact them in one way or another, but really driving this project forward. I found that rather, smart and fascinating.

[00:11:28] Martin: And And this leads me to one of the important insights. When we bring this team together with diverse backgrounds, it might be leaders from across the business or a mix of employees and managers that might not always have worked with vision and strategy. They are more operational focus. When we bring them together to talk about vision and strategy, it was so critical to prepare them, so that they had a common language, so they had a shared context.

[00:11:59] Gerrit: Yeah.

[00:12:00] Martin: Else, it becomes so easy that we speak across each other, or that we speak at different levels, we don't meet each other in the dialogue. But we spent a lot of time to build up, to set the scene, for conversations. And this could take the shape of, we had, you remember, we had one conversation where they looked back to the future. So they engaged in a conversation about the past. What have we done? Where do we come from? What has driven change in the past? How did we become successful? Where are we today?

[00:12:36] Gerrit: Yes.

[00:12:37] Martin: where, where are we going? So that was a typical example of how to shape context, not jump straight ahead and talk about what should our vision be? What should our strategy be? But really provide a context for a good conversation

[00:12:51] Gerrit: And I would say, what I often talk about in my individual executive coaching is this importance of self reflection. And here we did self reflection on a group level. Again, imagine there is an expansion project and generally engineering, manufacturing, they're very good at executing this, these projects. But here you, you started, I think, by talking about, uh, putting us manufacturing people into the shoes of the customer, of the market, looking at the external trends. But here's also like, you know, where are we coming from? And it comes back to while we interviewed people first one-to-one and ask them about their strengths and how they feel. Here they could do this in a group discussion. And then also share their concerns, and I think that was really, for me, one of the key success factors. 

[00:13:45] Martin: Hmm, I think you beautifully connect the dots here. And by bringing also the individual hopes and fears, their concerns, their passion together then with the group and then start to find what do we have in common here? and for me, this then resonates to one other point, which is the importance of this co-creation, creating vision and strategy together, When we involve many people here across the organization in shaping this and sharing their ideas, the felt ownership.

[00:14:16] Gerrit: Mm.

[00:14:17] Martin: Is so important, because of course, all of this takes time initially. We are not talking about what is actually the strategy going to be, we're all talking about setting the scene. So are we wasting time? No, I don't think so. We are creating the foundation of ownership and we earn back the time later because we need ownership when we implement. 

[00:14:36] Gerrit: Yeah.

[00:14:37] I actually, it reminds me of a coaching case where I was coaching a senior person and then he proudly presented me with their vision which really only a small team of a handful of people, the top management of the company, decided what this would be and this is in such a stark contrast. I mean, again, not that they did anything, what should I say, wrong. But I was thinking, goodness, you know, what may you be missing if, let's say, this handful of people decides, instead of listening, to maybe a couple of thousand, at least some of these thousands. And exactly as you said, they're then also talking about the buy in, So it forces almost employees in a passive role, ah, our leadership team has decided, so we execute. And then also imagine something goes wrong along the way. How can we expect employees to then go the extra mile and solve it? Because there was a, yeah, you know, our top management decided, now it's going wrong, it's not my fault.

[00:15:43] But if you involve people in this creation of the vision, everybody also wants to make it work, Because it's also my personal vision, I contributed to it.

[00:15:55] Martin: This is so important because I mean, we know every strategy is just a plan. It's already out of date when you kind of put the final letter to it. So of course the actual strategy that needs to adopt and evolve during the implementation and of course there, employees, line managers are the key to drive that. 

[00:16:18] I, I wanted to come to the third step now in, in this project, when we really need to clarify and decide what is vision going to be, what is our strategy? I think in most companies, there is a lot of brainstorming. It's easy to involve people in this vision creation, you know, the brainstorming part, everybody want to brainstorm and have good ideas. But then the trouble comes at a step where you need to start to decide and make tough choices. And I remember in our project, we had a workshop where there were big disagreement between basically two parts of the extended leadership team. And I think the trust in the team and the step by step process that we had applied helped the team to keep on this conversation, to sort out and really discuss in depth, and finally arrive at an agreeable strategy, without compromising. And as contrast, I've seen in other companies where strategy, vision and strategy, is kept very high level, very abstract, everybody can agree very quickly. But we know, behind the words is deep disagreement, or there is fake agreement.  we need to spend the time to really clarify what we mean, make tough decisions, make tough choices and clear decisions. And this is helped again by dialogue, by conversation and trusting the process.

[00:17:56] I think key to the success also of the implementation was that we had a very high degree of clarity and a very high degree of consistency in the strategy. And you remember, we were able to formulate four pillars, in the strategy, that each one was very concise and precise. Had a lot of details inside where specific choices had been made on how to execute and how to reach the vision, and that of course, was really helpful during the implementation phase. 

[00:18:33] Gerrit: when we talk about these four pillars, it sounds a little bit abstract to people. Maybe we can spend a few minutes in talking about what these pillars were. But I think before we go there, maybe I make a comment about the process.

[00:18:45] So we are talking here about a case study. And, of course, the idea here is that you as our listener, um, some ideas if you are in a similar situation, if you want to drive vision strategy, what you can do. And Martin, I think based on what you said, I think for me, the foundation to it all is how do you create this environment where people feel safe to speak up. And then you could eventually say either how do you create the environment or even what techniques do you use to make sure everybody's voice is really heard.

[00:19:25] Martin: I think this is beautiful point again, this, how do we make this safe? I remember when these conversation, we really had, so to say, some troublemakers, in the best possible interpretation of the word, And the whole team didn't take them as bad troublemakers. But then there was trust in the process so these divergent opinions were actually, in the end, really, really valuable input. And without the, so to say, troublemakers not giving up and not saying, Oh, okay, whatever you say, I can agree to that strategy. No, they were persistent and actually it led to the breakthrough. And I think how could we create that environment was because we had laid the foundation of a common context in term of we sharing the same purpose, we share the same overall vision, we had the same goal in mind. And I think there actually, it was nothing really rational, it was emotional.

[00:20:29] Gerrit: Hmm.

[00:20:30] Martin: People were emotional because they cared so much about the company, what they wanted to achieve. They were passionate and everybody could sense that.

[00:20:40] Gerrit: Yes. 

[00:20:40] Martin: So even if there were heated argument, there was a deep foundation of trust and which led to also to listening.

[00:20:48] Gerrit: Yeah. And so, you know, again, as an encouragement to listeners who were not in this project, next time you encounter one of those troublemakers, when you encounter those people who just complain about everything, ask also, why do they do this? And it's rarely that they have bad intentions. Often it is the opposite.

[00:21:10] People care a lot and they want the best for the organization. And from their perspective, what others or the organization is doing is not the right thing. So, you know, there's something that is really important that is underlying this complaining troublemaking.

[00:21:28] Yeah. So, shall we go into the pillars?

[00:21:31] Martin: Let's do that. 

[00:21:33] Gerrit: Maybe I start with the first one, which is so close to my heart.

[00:21:36] So again, when I think of manufacturing, engineering, these people are usually fantastic in project management. They know, for instance, in one year, we need to be able to produce another, whatever, 100, 000 tons of a certain product or product segment. And, they, they just make it happen. But the step before is usually somebody at headquarter decides where an investment is made. And then if you, let's say for instance again, from a manufacturing perspective, you want to drive this project, then you need to understand who are actually the people making this decision. Based on what will they make the decision? Part of it may seem so obvious, of course, when you can argue that you have the best, let's say you have the lowest, production costs, yeah, it will make it more likely. But this alone is not, the only aspect that top management will base their decision on. There are also what I would call softer factors, and I think that was in this project quite a big insight. For instance, the decision makers will not only look at the figures. They will also think, do I trust this local team that they will be able to handle this.

[00:23:05] And that means, first of all, you need to understand how do other people actually see you, for instance, as a manufacturing unit. And do they actually know objectively what's going on, because again, from my own experience, I can say that sometimes people talk behind the scenes. And if you're not very careful, your organization, your department can develop a reputation that you have no idea that this is happening. So, you know, in other words, understanding who are our key stakeholders, what will they pay attention to, how can I influence them, and I mean influence not in a way of manipulating, but how can I give them what they need, how can I make sure they see reality as it is, and if sometimes if I can't access them directly, who do they listen to? And then can I influence these other, uh, influencers? So that was for me one thing I still vividly remember that was very, important in this process.

[00:24:13] Martin: And this pillar was called basically "getting to yes". And I think this was such an interesting idea, incorporating execution into your strategy, because the numbers they put into their growth vision are great numbers, including the growth in people, including the growth in capacity. But one of the foundation pillars then was actually, how do we get to yes, exactly in line with what you're saying, including the top management, including employees, including local authorities, everybody involved. And that was already part of the strategy process. And I think why did this happen is because they involved broad perspective as input to this whole process. So all these important questions came into the strategic planning at an early stage. How do we get yes? How do we involve authorities? How do we involve top management? So if, if we would have done the strategy purely based on all the numbers, these questions would never have surfaced until much, much later.

[00:25:27] Gerrit: Right. 

[00:25:27] Martin: So I think this was a beautiful example of how the whole process from the beginning then led to really relevant content of the strategic pillars. And we have this different example as well when it comes to people, right, you had, you wanted to share something there.

[00:25:44] Gerrit: Yeah, I mean obviously people must be an integral part of any such capacity expansion projects. But I think again they took a very smart approach. So of course you can simply look at the numbers and say if we want to increase capacity by X, then this, this is the number of additional people we need. But they looked far beyond this.

[00:26:11] We called it, looking back into the future. So they not only looked at the manpower in terms of how many additional people do we need, but also in the capacity of people and made an assessment, what's working well in our team and what, what isn't? What in terms of people skills do we still need to develop? And then not only looking at, once we have the actual startup of a new plant, then we need more people. No, no, they all said, you know, this is not enough. We also need to make sure that people are trained, and not just in operating machines, but also trained on,people skills.

[00:26:51] And, I think that was another smart move, and smart to make this one separate pillar. And, while it may sound a bit trivial, I think it is again something that in this, comprehensiveness can be easily overlooked.

[00:27:09]  Maybe since we spoke about four pillars, we should just quickly mention what the other others were. So one was based on how do we relate to the market, to other departments within the organization, because again, what we see in many organizations today still is kind of silo thinking. People are just in charge of whatever they are in charge of. And then the connection with other teams, other silos are sometimes missing, so that was one other aspect. And then of course, there was the, what I would call the actual project. And I think we don't touch too much on this.  when I say actual project, I mean the investment into capacity expansion. So that is just their day to day business in engineering and project management.

[00:28:02] Martin: So from now having clarified the vision and the strategy, they have done tough choices. They had extensive conversation with the whole team, with managers. They had kind of tested and validated with the teams and they decided we will go. Now we come to the last step, which is obviously then implementation and adapting during implementation. So of course we think that strategy work is not done until it is implemented, it's an endless loop actually, it's not producing a piece of paper and the PowerPoint and saying, that's it. Now, actually the hard work really starts.

[00:28:39] Gerrit: Yeah, and it, it sounds so obvious. I cannot remember the, the numbers, I saw some research and saying like so many strategies fail, not because the strategy is not good, simply because it's not properly executed. And that is something that we always need to keep in mind. It's not good enough just to have the strategy. And I think the, the key aspect here is that people are so busy with their day-to-day work that everything that comes on top of it, that can be, let's say, related to a long-term strategy, long-term vision realization, can easily, I would say not, not be forgotten, but it gets lost in the many other number one priorities in the day-to-day work.

[00:29:25] Martin: Yeah, but here it didn't get lost.

[00:29:26] Gerrit: No, it didn't. 

[00:29:27] Martin: I think this is so interesting because when, when especially middle managers had been involved in this for a very long time, this was exactly what they also wanted to see happen.

[00:29:40] But, you're totally right in, in terms of helping the organization to implement and keep implementing, in a structured way is so important, and then when people are getting busy and things happening. And what we set up was actually a very structured follow up process.

[00:29:58] So first of all, the whole leadership team gathered a full day every month as a retrospective. So we had 15 to 18 people gathering one day every month to only talk about the vision and strategy, as a retrospective. And we had a fixed agenda for these monthly meetings, and we talked about, the progress since last month, we focused in on one or two of the pillars that needed extra attention, and then we looked at what needs to change. Because when we implement strategy, I think it's a lot about challenging your assumptions, strategy is based on your assumptions. And then when reality starts to hit and you get feedback, you need to start to learn what works, what doesn't work.

[00:30:46] Gerrit: Martin, I think what we have not explained yet is that also for each of these strategic pillars, we had a smaller team assigned, and each one was actually led by somebody from the senior management team.

[00:31:01] Martin: Mm-hmm.

[00:31:01] There were resources allocated to each of these pillars, that worked on, on very clear action plans for every month, and then every month, the whole leadership team plus these teams around each pillar gathered for a full day. The leadership team was really hands on involved. It was not just so that they were there passively listening and there were reports, but there were real learning, there were insights, there were group work. So the whole day was a workshop. It was not a one day of PowerPoint presentation. It was one day of workshopping, problem solving, learning together, uh, coming up with new ideas. And of course, in parallel to this, there was a lot of work done with the rest of the company in term of middle management. Middle management continuously got updates, they got FAQs. so they could keep the rest of the team involved. There were also town halls arranged, obviously most companies doing town halls today, but these town halls became really important because operation level people, they wanted to see things happening and they wanted to know what is the progress. For instance, on this pillar, getting to yes, operations they wanted to know how did the board meeting go? How do we do? What's happening? So town halls became very well visited.

[00:32:31] And, and you also did coaching. You did individual coaching of the executives 

[00:32:36] Gerrit: I thought you were about to forget this. I'm glad you didn't.

[00:32:42] Martin: And, and why was this so important?

[00:32:44] Gerrit: I think it was important for a number of ways. So I think what we did with this follow up was partly also just to keep momentum. I'll get it started and keep the momentum. And so if you had, let's say, this leadership team meetings were in the first week of the month. Partly, I want to say also to avoid that then after that there is a kind of slack and then people start increasing the momentum again a week before the next workshop. So then in the third week, we had follow up coaching sessions. So the leaders of these pillars, other key people would receive coaching from me. And one aspect of this is just being an accountability partner, So if people are very busy and they know, oh, next week I'm talking with my coach, I want to make sure I have something positive to report. But then also you get this external, neutral confident, with whom you can also share what is not working so well, which maybe if you are in a senior position, you don't want to share with others in the organization. So typically people would report happily what has been working well, but then also discuss with me what wasn't working so well. And then they would have me as the external partner to support them and also maybe be a sparring partner to discuss, what else can you do? What other approaches can you use?

[00:34:19] And then, of course, also to utilize this session for normal coaching to help them overcome limiting patterns and beliefs and become more, what should I say, not only effective and efficient in the process, but also enjoying the process.

[00:34:37] Martin: Right, which is so important.My reflection here is how you and me worked great as a team where I mainly manage the group processes and, and you then manage these individual processes and both aspects are important because of course, at the end it's each individual that does the job. So both aspects need support. 

[00:35:00] Let's look a little bit at the result now. And I think we cannot say so much about the specific business outcomes.  But what I think as one of the most important results here is the people side. How this site that used to be very successful, but starting to fall into the trap of status quo, how these 12 months re-energized, motivated 700 people at this site tremendously. 

[00:35:32] Gerrit: Mm.

[00:35:33] Martin: And how they defined, you know, what's next and everybody got excited, the buzzing, the teamwork, the sense of belonging that came out of this project, I think is tremendous. And I think having fun and feeling energized, that is what makes people go to work. 

[00:35:51] Gerrit: I think that's also a beautiful example of what it really means when we say we put always people at the center of our work. And I think the result is really shown. I mean, I want to repeat what you said initially because I've never heard anything like this, when the managing director after this about one year said, you know, in the beginning, I didn't really believe that we would be really able to achieve all this in just one year, and, and you can't do this if you don't have the right people and if people are not doing the right thing. So, that was really, I think that was also for me the most rewarding thing to see in this project.

[00:36:34] Martin: If we thinking a little bit about now some key takeaways, or if you can put that rather into a reflection question. Are you ready for a reflection question, Gerrit?

[00:36:47] Gerrit: Oh, I'm still thinking, but I think what comes up spontaneously, I see it still from this perspective, not this huge global strategy, but here from, we can either say, a local affiliate of a large multinational company, or even a function, in this case manufacturing. If you are in charge of a smaller local entity or a function, maybe start thinking about how can you drive strategy? How can you drive a new vision? It does not always have to come from headquarters. I think that is still in the year 2023, I still think that is a quite common approach doing it the other way around.

[00:37:37] Martin: And building on that, my reflection question is, how would I want to plan? What do I need to consider, when I design the process, the approach? For instance, how long time would I have? Who needs to be involved? What role does me and my leadership team take here in this process? And who owns the process and who makes decisions?

[00:38:04] And a lot of the answers to these questions comes from the question about how would I like to involve managers and employees, what role would they play in the process? And and a lot of the answer to that question comes of how ready are managers and employees to get involved? So, and I think here we should not underestimate their readiness.

[00:38:34] 

[00:38:35] Gerrit: Yeah, and it comes back to my favorite expression, how can I create the conditions? No matter what your starting point is, how can you create the conditions that everybody gets involved or as many people as possible? And how do you make sure everybody's voice is heard?

[00:38:55] Martin: Yes, 

[00:38:56] Gerrit: that is again both, that is like the conditions, how do I create a safe environment where people feel they can speak up, but also in terms of what process, what tools can I use?

[00:39:09] Martin: And I think that beautifully sums up our conversation, Gerrit. It was great talking with you about this sometime very dry topic of strategy, but we have a very human and people centric view on it, I think.

[00:39:26] Gerrit: Yeah, and Martin, I also want to add here, maybe to share with our listeners, when we discussed what should the next episode be, and you suggested, let's say something around strategy. When I hear strategy you know always my alarm bells go off because it's often this idea of being able to control things. So we are here today and in five years we want to be exactly there. And then we make a plan and simply execute the plan. So it ends up with this old idea of looking at an organization as a machine, everything is predictable, everything can be planned. And in fact, I recall some research that says, you know, there's actually little evidence that strategy is really helpful for organizations.

[00:40:15] And I think here we talked more about strategy as a process. We talked about visioning, and that is maybe a deviation from the often still classic approach that is used today. And I hope it inspires you as our listener to do something differently.

[00:40:35] Martin: Super. Thank you, Gerrit.

[00:40:37] Gerrit: Thank you, Martin. So, this concludes today's episode. If you like the podcast, remember to subscribe on your favorite platform so you don't miss out on the latest episodes. And if you would like to help us grow the show, remember that we will really appreciate it if you tell a friend about it, post on social media, and if you leave a positive comment or rating on your favorite platform.

[00:41:02] More info about Martin, myself and our work is also on our website, that is secondcrackleadership.com, all in one word. And we would be very happy to hear from you, your feedback, your questions or comments. And the address for that is hello@secondcrackleadership.com.

[00:41:26] Bye for now and until next time.