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tandemA Director’s role is to decide what direction the company should take and then to define what changes need to be made in terms of strategy or organization in order to keep on track towards this goal. However, because they are not sufficiently aware of what really goes on at grass roots level, directors tend to have difficulty in handling the operational implementation of the required changes. First-line managers on the other hand, are able to put their finger on what is working and what is not working, but are often somewhat clumsy about presenting this information to their directors, if there are opportunities to do so. They find it difficult to distance themselves from the issue and are unable to grasp the complexity of the constraints that the directors have to work within. To successfully implement change, practical answers are needed to find ways of helping the directors and the people out in the field to interact. Let’s take a look at a concrete example, inspired by missions that we have recently accomplished. Read more

2You are at the head of a business entity with a workforce of several hundreds or thousands of people, all of whom have to constantly adapt to changes in the market. Your entity is in a state of continuous transformation. It has become almost a routine. However, you have recently been getting the impression that the involvement of people out in the field, at the grass roots, is beginning to wane…

When faced with a situation of this kind, experts in change management and psycho-social risks will advise you to implement a process of “consultation” and “dialogue” with the staff members in question, so as to enable them to get back on track by becoming “actors of change”. All well and good, but you already know that you have to do this; indeed, you have already done it, without achieving any tangible results. So, what exactly is going wrong? Read more

Gouvernail Continuation and conclusion of our discussions with Marc Deluzet (1), around the subject of his collaborative work on “Large-scale corporate transformation” (2). [Read the first part of the article: On work people do…] [Read the second part of the article: On participation…] 3. On governance… AM+DA: The prosperity of a company depends, and will depend more and more, on its ability to take into account the expectations of its different stakeholders when making strategic choices. Both you and we agree on this point, but we do not propose the same way of achieving this aim. Our position as consultants leads us to consider the question of governance from a management angle, producing answers that must be immediately applicable, i.e. within the framework of existing legislation. As consultants, we invent with our clients new ways of working with their stakeholders, solutions that will ultimately be a source of wealth for the company. For example, we will sit down with the General Manager of a chemicals company or a commercial fishing corporation in order to look at new ways of working with local environmental protection NGOs, exploring all possible avenues together: ranging from simple, regular meetings over lunch with a view to “getting to know one another better” to the implementation of co-development projects that meet the common interest and strategic aims of both parties. Once again, you opt here for an institutional approach, placing an emphasis on the need to promote a model of governance based on a format with a supervisory committee and a board of directors. In this model, you state that the board of directors governs and that the purpose of the supervisory committee is “to ensure respect for interests other than those of the company”. To this end, you state that it is necessary to “set up a supervisory committee that is open to all of the company’s stakeholders”. In practical terms, how do you envisage this openness? MD: What we say does not go against your approach, because once again our viewpoints complement one another. We get the feeling that in companies today, strategic discussions are held solely at executive level, and with small numbers of stakeholders. Opening up these discussions, at least to staff representatives and if possible to certain other stakeholders who are important in terms of the company’s missions and its role within the community (customers, territories, suppliers, NGOs), is absolutely essential for competitiveness. There must be an open, organized debate on the company strategy, as is already the case in the major companies of Northern Europe and in the Germanic countries. From this point of view, the system of dual governance that distinguishes strategy elaboration from strategy implementation offers an advantage. If we want the leading figures of a company to take an interest in the work and activities of its employees, then the latter must be represented in the committee that draws up and decrees the strategy. However, we acknowledge that institutionalization is not sufficient: everyone involved must be mobilized in order to buy in to the institutional changes. As well as the internal company stakeholders (i.e. shareholders, management and employees), who are by nature closely linked to the corporate project, external stakeholders who may be invited to sit on the supervisory committee must clearly buy into the company strategy and see the corporate project as an element that takes its interests into account, enriching them, rather than as a harmful initiative that needs to be blocked. It is for this reason that opening up the Supervisory Council to external stakeholders can only occur when there is a state of mutual respect and recognition, developed gradually over time. In our book, we talk about setting a destination and mapping out the course to take to reach it, a process that requires a profound change within the people who are going to make the journey. The institutional approach can help to a certain extent, but ultimate success will depend upon the level of maturity of these stakeholders. The initiatives that you have mentioned certainly contribute to this. An initial institutional approach could be to more widely deploy the idea of “stakeholder committees” that have been established in several major companies. An annual meeting devoted to the presentation and discussion of an integrated report comprising financial, social and environmental data would constitute a useful starting point on the institutional path that we propose… (1) Marc Deluzet is a specialist in social policies, corporate social responsibility and globalization. Former confederal secretary of the CFDT trade union, he is currently the  Delegate General of the International Social Observatory, a hotbed of ideas and initiatives bringing together corporate players from several continents. (2) “La grande transformation de l’entreprise : Travail, sens et compétitivité”, co-written by David Chopin, Marc Deluzet and Roger Godino, published by Les Editions de l’Atelier, 2012

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ImplicationContinuation of our discussions with Marc Deluzet (1), around the subject of his collaborative work on “Large-scale corporate transformation” (2). [Read the first part : 1. On work people do…] 2.  On participation… AM+DA: Sustainable change cannot happen without participatory processes. Because if people cannot participate, they cannot understand and they cannot learn, and therefore their willingness to commit themselves is diminished. On this principle, we are once again on the same wavelength with you.

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Marc DeluzetMarc Deluzet (1), co-author of a collective publication on the subject of “Large-scale corporate transformation” (2), has agreed to compare his viewpoint on how to tackle difficult transformation projects with our own. What follows is a transcript of the first part of the interview.

AM+DA: In your book La grande transformation de l’entreprise, you formulate a series of proposals for transformations to perform within a company in order to enable it to “sustainably combine the quest for competiveness, ecological concern and social welfare”.  In your opinion these are the key conditions required, in the 21st century, for a company to enjoy long-lasting prosperity.

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“What are our values?” “How can we change and still maintain our values?” Or, conversely, “How can we change our values in order to be better placed to transform our company?”

These are questions that we are often asked. Indeed, they are often presented to us as being an absolute prerequisite for successfully completing what may be seen as a “complicated” transformation. However, we’ve got good news for you: don’t bother asking yourself such questions anymore. They won’t provide you with any guidance. Or not much anyhow. Read more

Imagine this situation: you are the director of a business in an environment that is constantly changing, thus compelling you take key decisions for the future of the business several times a year. You used to have to do this just once a year, and not so long ago once every 3 years! To do this you have to step back in order to take a sufficiently high-level view for strategic decision-making. At the same time however, in order to maintain the profitability of your business, it is essential to monitor all processes extremely closely and to immediately correct any deviation from the norm, which therefore means that you have to have your finger constantly on the pulse. Read more

Two companies, two departments or two teams merge. The objective of this merger was to raise performance levels but in reality, it is the opposite that has happened.  The new combined structure performs less well than before. The two component entities had different codes of conduct, their own rituals and habits and did not always give the same meaning to the same words. As a result, relations between people who work in this new structure are riddled with misunderstandings and mutual incomprehension. The good reflexes and “clever tricks” of before are now counter-productive. Decision-making processes have slowed down, lead times have lengthened and costs have increased. Read more

 
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