Why should large groups prepare themselves for “mutation” now?

Big corporations’ transformation will accelerate their growth, their efficiency and the development of human potential in the coming years

By Sandra Martins Managing Consultant Business Agility


In an ultra-fast, increasingly connected economy, where evolutions are constantly multiplying, large groups are preparing for internal and external changes. We offer here some concrete examples of the changes to explore.


Break the silos that hold back collective creativity, innovation and adaptability in the 21st century business model

Why break “silos” and revisit the ways of working?

Simply to discuss new modes of operation and management, emerging cultures, needs for adaptability and flexibility, or new organizations more adapted to the business of tomorrow.

These levers are increasingly being watched by large groups such as L’Oréal, Société Générale, Engie or Orange who regularly meet around events to talk about and act in this direction.

A simple observation: the axes of progress are huge to cross in the companies organized by “silos”. Silos often deprive these companies of the collective creativity to advance inter-directional programs or changes of organization. One of the levers to explore is to create collective goals / bonuses on a transformation program that embeds all directions. This avoids internal “wars” of power or the sidelining of some directors. According to Jean Michel AZZI, Managing Partner at Bilton Consulting “the collective variable is proving to be an effective lever. It helps to motivate all employees around the objectives of the company, to create a dynamic and develop a team spirit.”


Rethink the “leader” / “executing” pyramid model that blocks the new ideas that make progress

Fewer and fewer employees adhere to the orientations, a program or a change of organization imposed by the leaders.

The essence of a change within the company is the involvement of employees. Creating work groups by mixing generations and positions (junior and experienced staff members). Their active participation around the same theme brings to light innovative ideas, cohesion and collaboration.

This new way of working “in collective, inter-direction groups” makes it possible to involve the staff members at the heart of the company and boosts  motivation. More than managers, employees need more coach-oriented managers to help them explore their talents and highlight their strengths.

Employees must be “actors” of change and not spectators!

For example, the Danone Group launched its program “Octave 2018” which illustrates the conduct of organizational changes with multi-generation teams. (Transforming organizations by relying on all generations: this is the successful bet of Octave, a program initiated by Anne Thévenet-Abitbol, Director of Prospective and new concepts at Danone).


Refocus on the human to develop performance

One of the major challenges: “to refocus quickly on the human”. This is the heart of the business, the vital organ that “pumps” the business, makes it grow, as can be observed for the GAFA companies.

One possible lever is to change the ways of working and organize oneself by developing collaborative, interactive workspaces that promote exchanges and ideation. Companies need to insert more modern “Open Space” workspaces.

FlexOffice is for example a new way of working more efficiently, promoting exchanges by mixing teams and different profiles. The principle is quite simple: more dedicated spaces but self-service workstations in shared office spaces, flexible and connected without “papers” and having a personal locker. This concept of development came from the 1990s, from big American consulting companies. With FlexOffice, companies would make real savings on the costs of furniture and moving work.

To go further: the alliance of FlexOffice and HomeOffice for eligible employees is possible. The work done is more efficient, the employee works from home 1 to 2 days a week, and reduces his transport time.

In short, acting for a better comfort of the staff members in their modes of work, retains employees and promotes the growth of the company.

More and more companies are immersing themselves in this new way of working, such as Personal Finance at BNP Paribas.


Act effectively: freedom to express oneself, to organize oneself, to self-manage and to defend collective projects

Its key areas of “change” lead large groups to organize and work differently, by combining collective intelligence with corporate values, accepting the sharing of ideas rather than imposing group orientations, proposing real career opportunities.

Some companies are starting to initiate a “talent management” program. This approach focuses on the skills and ambition of employees and less on the “paths defined” upstream by companies according to their objectives.

Today, large groups lack attractiveness in three main areas:

  1. To let employees express themselves and really focus on their strengths is a business choice that pays. A satisfied employee in his position, in his mission invests twice as much and becomes effective quickly. Employees should define their own goals.

L’Oréal’s example: Employees and managers are the “designers” of their changes in work methods. Catherine Mabileau, Senior Vice President, HR for Western Europe at L’Oréal: “It is essential not to focus solely on the collaborator but rather to work on the triptych manager, collaborator, HR. The idea is to strengthen the empowerment of the collaborator, but also that of the manager. If you want the manager to become a talent developer manager, you have to give him the keys.”

In addition, why not set up “Sharing & Involvement” interviews rather than “Career” interviews, where visibility and transparency in the presence of the employee would be the watchwords? The idea is to “share” around the skills and assets of the employee and then visualize with HR how to put the employee’s know-how at the disposal of a co-responsible company and get fully involved.

Beyond the career, employees want above all “to be listened to, to have a place in the company and a mission where they will feel useful”.

The goal: to make the employees want to invest and project themselves. Think of receiving each employee, share with them the vision of the company, the organization chart and exchange around their own desires.

The gain is considerable: it limits the loss of talent and allows companies to finally invest in recruited profiles.

  1. The empowerment associated with the sharing of experience allows the emergence of ideation, of reflection of groups. It is about giving employees more autonomy and freedom, to enable them to be responsible thanks to clear objectives. To let them work on the “how”, participate in the construction of “what”, ceasing to control them permanently. Give priority to regular and informal feedback.
  2. Digitization is less well perceived by the younger generations. Human resources are especially the least digitalised, while this is the biggest challenge. As a result, we often talk about “Customer Experience” even before “Employee Experience”. Wouldn’t it be logical to take care of employees in order to meet a customer quality demand?



The mutation, or “soft” transformation, of large groups will accelerate their growth, their efficiency and the development of human potential in the coming years. It is certain that the changes will take place gradually and “softly”, to allow each individual to adapt to changing work patterns, the FlexOffice, the HomeOffice, the digitization of operational tasks, and to a new form of collaboration. In short, adopting the policy of “small steps” rather than the “Big leap into the unknown” allows companies to move forward without unbalancing their staff.

By Sandra Martins Managing Consultant Business Agility
Business Agility
Human Resources


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