How do you reinvent a successful, 125-year-old company without wrecking what’s made it great? That’s a big question — and one Roche Pharmaceuticals is asking itself as it moves away from traditional hierarchy and towards autonomous, self-organizing teams.

To investigate the company’s ongoing transformation, we interviewed Eva McLellan, a member of the leadership team for Roche Pharmaceutical’s Belgium/Luxembourg (BeLux) branch and its Head of Business Strategy, Transformation, and Innovation. Eva sat down with Jurriaan Kamer, a partner at The Ready.

Jurriaan Kamer: The BeLux branch has been undergoing a transformation for about two years. What was its initial driver?


Photo by Girl with red hat on Unsplash

You might tell your friends you want to “start running.” But how far? When will you do it? What do you hope to achieve? How will you evaluate if it’s working? When setting up an effective experiment, having a structure is essential. When it comes to changing the work practices, habits, and mindsets of a whole organization, we need to take a similar approach.

In this article, we share what we’ve learned about experimentation, after helping almost a hundred clients adopt a more adaptive and human way of working. …

Photo by Maximilian Meyer on Unsplash

More and more, we hear leaders talking about empowering the people in their organization. The idea is to have people take ownership and responsibility of roles and tasks, and take initiative to advance the organization and improve its outcomes. Despite good intentions, often the impact of these ambitions is limited.

The problem is, the vast majority of teams don’t actually feel that they have ownership over their ways of working. Everything has always been dictated to them: from the roles they play, to the meetings they attend, to the tools they use.

How can we have an empowered organization if…

You’re ready to transform your organization. You sit down with your team and create a vision of what good looks like. It takes a few rounds of wordsmithing, but eventually you agree. “We want an organization that is customer centric, faster, more innovative, where people are empowered and where we value transparency.”

Sounds good right? Well, no, not really.

Don’t get me wrong. These are good things to strive for. In fact, everyone can get behind this vision. And that’s exactly the problem. Those words aren’t actionable and specific enough when it comes to driving new behavior. …

Photo by Elena Mozhvilo on Unsplash

If we asked you what your current work priorities were, could you answer quickly and confidently? What about the priorities of the company at large? If you’re struggling, you’re not alone. It’s difficult to rank to-dos, projects, initiatives, and KPI’s when everything seems vital and pressing.

Prior to the 1940s, the plural term priorities was rarely used. It wouldn’t have made sense; there can only be one priority. However, as having all of the things all of the time became more and more seductive, the notion of the singular priority faded. However, if everything is a priority, nothing is priority…

How to make your team as fast as Red Bull Racing’s mechanics

When talking about motor racing, we often focus on the driver. But with 500–1,500 people per team, Formula 1 is the largest team sport in the world. That became very clear this weekend. Because even before the race, the mechanics of Red Bull Racing had to win a race against the clock.

Thirty minutes hour before the start, the cars leave the pit box across the track towards the starting grid. The track is soaking wet. Max Verstappen uses the lap to collect crucial information about where on the racing track there is and isn’t grip.

But then disaster strikes…

Newsletter #24

“The days of office-centricity are over”, said Shopify’s CEO. Often triggered by a surprising increase in productivity, many companies (including Twitter and Facebook) have announced that they will allow employees to permanently work from home.

We will likely never fully return to the old situation. But I’m not sad about it. Instead, I believe this is a really good moment to start adopting participatory leadership and a more adaptive, human way of working.

In this episode of my newsletter, I have collected 10 articles that will help you navigate and embrace the new reality. …

The global pandemic has forced many organizations to change the way they work overnight. But this opportunity is bigger than mastering remote work and new tools. We have the chance to adopt a way of working that will make us faster, more resilient and ready for anything.

Right now, we need to be able to continuously steer and act on what is unfolding in front of us. We want to leverage everyone’s brainpower in the organization to stay afloat and became better and faster. …

Learning from race marshals: a team of teams

I have been focusing on Formula 1 racing teams as inspiration, a metaphor for businesses that are trying to accelerate and be more agile. So far, I have been focusing mostly on the race teams and how they organize and innovate. But recently I was invited by Stéphane Tartière, a race marshal who has read our book (Formula X), to take a look at what happens trackside.

What does a race marshal do?

Race marshals are stationed at various points around the race track to ensure safety. Marshals use flags and signs to tell drivers what is going on. And in case of an accident…

Newsletter issue #13

I find myself in an airplane, on the runway, waiting for take-off. I check my messages one more time and then put my phone in flight mode. Just a moment later, I feel the G-forces in my gut when the pilot pulls the throttle. I get treated on a magical view of the skyline of Amsterdam, since there are almost no clouds.

I have flown a lot this year, all across the planet. But this flight feels different. Today I am not on my way to deliver a speech at a conference or corporate boardroom, nor am I on my…

Jurriaan Kamer

Org design & transformation | Author of ‘Formula X’ | Speaker | Future of Work. Partner at The Ready

Get the Medium app

A button that says 'Download on the App Store', and if clicked it will lead you to the iOS App store
A button that says 'Get it on, Google Play', and if clicked it will lead you to the Google Play store