The Client: Danone Waters division accounts for around 18% of Danone Group sales and is growing at a rate of 11% per year. We worked with Christophe Perthuisot the global R&D director for the Waters Division based in Palaiseau near Paris.
Q1: Christophe, you used sensei to work with you and your executive leadership team, what were your hopes and expectations from this support at the start?
I chose to work with sensei as I had worked with them in the past and they have done great work for me. I started our work together with high hopes and high expectations. When we started to work together I had a new global R&D Leadership team that needed a clear vision, strategy and a battle plan to deliver a much improved innovation pipeline for the Waters Division. I knew the importance of the human element in delivering this increased performance was well understood by sensei. They link improved results, through improved actions; improved ideas to improved relationships and this linkage resonated well with my team. I know one of the critical performance levers any team leader has at his disposal is team performance. Once you have the right people in the team and the right organisation structure then the team need to gel and I knew we needed help with this. I could have managed the vision, strategy and planning process alone but I knew I needed Sensei support with the team as I was part of the team. The team dynamic gels faster if the challenge and help comes from the outside and the leader is seen to be part of the process rather than trying to lead it. It is a fact that people listen better to someone from the outside.
Q2: To what extent were these hopes and expectations met?
Very well! At the end of the day the team now has moved a lot from the forming stage to a high performing team. We were an average team at the start, we did not have any real problems in the team dynamic but we are in a great place now. The team functions really well together their capacity to work together, challenge each other, help each other and give constructive feedback is a really important feature of our team and makes us one of the highest performing leadership teams in Danone.
Q3: This support sensei gave was a significant investment in your time, your leadership teams’ time and the company’s’ money. What value did you place on the outcome from this support for both yourself and for the business?
Our work with Sensei was a great return on investment. The team has moved to be a high performing team and the individuals have developed as leaders as well. The tangible benefits are embedded in the innovation pipeline for the business we are well armed to deliver new products now and we are launching twice as many products this year than last year and this is a direct result of the way we are working together as a team and within the business. The other thing we have is that we are now considered one of the best teams to work in within Danone so we attract others and we have retained our talent. The leadership team work has also cascaded to the teams below and that has produced much more engagement from our scientists and technologists who are the engine room of our innovation machine. I feel this by walking around and I get this feedback from HR and the local businesses leaders in the regions. This is intangible benefits and helps us innovate more effectively across the world.
Q4: If a leader approached you who was considering using sensei in a trusted adviser capacity and asked for a comment on what it was like working with sensei what would you say?
Be prepared to be challenged and you better have a sense of humour! The challenge can come wrapped in humour but it is challenge nonetheless so you had better be prepared and be ready to change….