Becoming A Learning Organisation

Leadership transition to support an expanding multi-national operation.

Atlas Copco is a world leading provider of compressors, vacuum and air treatment systems, construction and mining equipment, power tools and assembly systems. Headquartered in Sweden, it is listed on the NASDAQ OMX Stockholm exchange. With the sharing of ideas and good practice not being as efficient as required for a planned expansion, the added difficulty of the leader of the Central Europe team being asked to take up a position at HQ called for careful preparation. Primeast designed a programme to support this crucial transition of leadership in Eastern Europe, strengthening the internal knowledge sharing practices and transforming the culture towards a learning organisation. The programme has had a significant impact on all levels of leadership and performance.

The Brief

The international management team invited Primeast to design a programme to support a crucial transition of leadership in Eastern Europe, taking into account the following factors. Firstly, Atlas Copco Industrial EE operates in all Eastern European countries from Poland to Bulgaria, which meant that the challenges of dealing with such a large area were severe. Secondly, the team worked virtually most of the time, communicating mainly via phone and email. Whilst the difficulties of this type of working are well known, the success of the operation depended on the efficient sharing of ideas and skills across the team. A third factor involved the make-up of the management team, which consisted of 15 very experienced managers with a variety market sector responsibilities, with some covering segments of the market in as many as four countries, whilst others focused on just one country. All of these factors meant that the sharing of ideas and good practice was not as efficient as required for the planned expansion. At the same time, the leader of the Central Europe team was asked to take a position in HQ, which necessarily lead to some instability and uncertainty. The situation therefore called for careful preparation.

Our Solution

Primeast was asked to support the team at this critical time of expansion, where it became clear that there was a need to strengthen the internal knowledge sharing practices and transform the culture towards becoming a learning organisation. In cooperation with the departing leader in Eastern Europe and the HR manager, Primeast designed a half-year programme comprising three two-day seminars. The first seminar engaged all managers in a thorough discussion on the requirements for future success.  Once the external factors were removed, it was clear to everybody that the internal work should be focused on creating a learning organisation, an organisation better able to adapt to the changing environment and achieving this by specific communication practices. The second seminar focused on how leadership style could support the practices of a learning organisationThird seminar focused on coaching as one of the responsibilities of leaders in building a true learning organisation by supporting and building on the knowledge of everybody in their teams.

The Result

The programme had a significant impact on leadership and performance at all levels, not simply by asking the team to learn about learning organisations, but rather more to give the team space and guidance to start a serious conversation about how they could contribute to creating a learning organisation themselves. Indeed, the success was such that Atlas Copco Industrial EE is now considering a scaled down version of the programme for all their employees to create alignment in their efforts.

Wojciech Wroblewski, VP F&M Atlas Copco Industrial Technique AB

I was amazed to see the change in the way the team members interacted during the course of the programme implementation. In fact I wish I had done this earlier, since it would have made mine and my team’s job far, far easier.