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AbbVie increases combat power with Allied Forces

16 June 2021

How do you make an organization resilient and more agile in times of change? Biopharmaceutical company AbbVie, together with Allied Forces, developed a way of working that fits the challenge facing the organization. It is now standing practice in all sections of the Dutch branch.

“The healthcare landscape is constantly changing. Innovative solutions are needed to continue doing what matters: adding value for all people who rely on our medicines. This requires more cooperation and making clear choices”, says Lennaert Rijken, General Manager Netherlands. Inspired by the book “Extreme Ownership” (about the working methods of the American Navy Seals), AbbVie started looking for a partner who could help to increase effectiveness and create the right conditions. That’s where Allied Forces came into the picture.

High Performing Team

Founder and director Armand van Velzen: “Ownership is one of the pillars of our philosophy. You achieve success and results together, with a high performance team that uses trust, commitment and ownership as the foundation for cooperation. That requires a specific mindset, which we know very well from our education at the Marine Corps and which we now project onto the business community. With proven success.

Together with AbbVie, we started working on a tailor-made leadership and competencies program. We took teams offsite to experience for themselves what a high performance culture is all about. The participants gained in-depth self-understanding and learned the value of reflection and evaluation, steps that are essential for an optimal learning and improvement culture.”

Unforgettable experience

Lennaert: “The strength of the program lies in the three-stage rocket: 1) the theory of the Navy Seals book including a self-assessment per participant, 2) the simulation during an offsite meeting lasting several days and 3) the embedding of the Extreme Ownership philosophy in the daily work by means of a concrete business assignment. This is how we really get it into the DNA of the organization.”

Public relations manager Femke Sanders about the programme: “Especially the shared experience during the external days in Limburg will always stay with me. It was essential to make the ideas their own, for everyone. First you experience what you intuitively do and forget in exciting challenges, as a person and as a team. Together you go through a journey that changes your way of thinking. You let go of the ego, learn to use each other’s qualities and you set a clear goal. This works so well that eventually every participant is an enthusiastic ambassador for this way of working. We speak the same language and work from an unambiguous methodology”

More years trajectory

The program has proven itself on the shop floor and has now been rolled out throughout the entire organisation. Lennaert: “When I took office in 2017, I saw many motivated colleagues working passionately on various initiatives, but sometimes we lacked structure and focus. What I like to see now is that people allow themselves to be challenged more and that good discussions are being held. You can always ask each other about the ultimate goal: to what extent does what we do contribute to improving patient care. Why questions help us further, creating a learning organization with an innovative attitude.”

The success of the program stands or falls with continuity. “The majority of our employees have followed the programme. As a result, we have a lot of expertise in-house. In addition, we are in constant dialogue with Allied Forces to renew and enrich the program. It continues to require maintenance. That is why it is now also part of our onboarding program for new employees, our planning cycle and AbbVie team building programs. As an organization we like to invest energy in continuity. Ultimately, it leads to a decisive organization!”

About AbbVie

AbbVie is a global biopharmaceutical company that discovers, develops and introduces innovative medicines for diseases where medical advances are still possible. The disease areas in which the company operates are immunology, virology, neurology, eye care and haematological oncology. AbbVie employs people with diverse backgrounds, expertise and perspectives. They are committed to helping people to be fit for work and private life. In an open culture, everyone can use their own unique ideas, approaches and experiences to improve care. This happens worldwide with 47,000 employees in more than 175 countries. In the Netherlands, 300 people work for the company at the offices in Hoofddorp and Zwolle.


Read the article about our collaboration on the website of Abbvie: