What are the 5 paths for metamorphosis?
SOL France researchers’ work ended up with five possible paths for metamorphosis in organizations. To facilitate an animation that gathers hundreds of participants of different nationalities at the Forum, to simplify the « mental » access to this complex issue, we have presented the « summary » in 5 great paths.
  1. Long-term shared vision

    To release from short-term pressure (including financial one) and develop / share a medium and long term vision (involving all levels of the organization, introducing long-term criteria in systems of objective fastening, in assessment of managers).

  2. Innovation by empathy of future clients

    Listen more carefully to customers and markets to bring them real gains and develop with them a relationship of trust over time. Learn to understand the value between the proposal of the company and its customers and invent new ways to respond to their changing needs / uses that are potentially threatening the current supply model (see the tremendous development of crowdsourcing and of open innovation, new business models).

  3. The company as a living system, new forms of leadership and governance

    Introducing in organizations an increasing share of « healthy self-organized living » at the expense of  the « living pathological » (issue of well-being at work , concept of biomimicry …) and the « rationally organized from above » (procedures with living processes : learning networks, collective intelligence, collaborative processes, new models of leadership, of decision-making and governance etc.).

  4. Create an alliance between the company and its eco-system

    (environment – stakeholders). It is about creating an alliance with the evolving society, do not heurt, accompany its healthy developments, help heal his pain and related diseases, enrich the specific eco-system in which we act (thereby fueling the pride of belonging). At the macro level, it is important to help maintain or regenerate the planetary ecology, rethink uses of energy and natural resources, join collective systems that work in this direction

  5. Global AND Local Act, subsidiarity

    Whatsoever to find the best way to take advantage of the restructuring / globalization process in the world, or more « humble » of our territory intervention it is important to think « glocal« , not to separate / hierarchy levels, but work on their more complex but potentially fertile, effective interrelations …

Transversely to these 5 great paths, the latest Sol research reveals a key factor in transformation, a kind of « condition » of success: the ability to create a real collusion between the leaders, the « top » and those acting on the ground, primarily those that we call « agents of change ».
Perhaps paradoxically, this necessary  « metamorphosis », even vital, covers essentially the big old companies, not the « green shoots » … And according to their own stories, their own identities and issues that raise environment mutations, these paths for metamorphosis combine in different ways. They suggest long-term visions and different immediate plans of action in accordance with organizations and what they inherited from their past.
Application in 4 large companies

Written thanks to Anne-Carole Delhommeau precious notes

The full text will be published in Cahiers de Sol France

Thus, the four large companies called to testify at the Forum focused on some of them.

5 speakers are presenting major ways for transforming their organizations. Each speaker has a focus for his speech.

  1. La Poste by Xavier Querat-Hément, Director of Quality of La Poste Group, about global co-creation / innovation by local and empathy with customers
We will not think for the customer but with them on what they need to be satisfied. First we measured irritation of customers, which destroys trust. For instance queues in post offices. Translation of the principle of public system: equal treatment, each in turn, and therefore the tail. Everyone had built this kind of fatality. The challenge of the project team: we will not leave our values ​​(everyone is welcome), but can it be done differently? Pilot group with 40 dysfunctional post offices. There are various operations that take different times, so we opened spaces according to time operations, and rethink the relationship. Instead of sitting behind his desk and glass, the clerk goes with a smile in the room to the clients: huge job of coaching, conviction that this is for the best. The clerk was also in pain to see customers waiting and finally receive incivility. Then they are more valued and proud of what they do, and in addition there will be fewer incivilities. What counts in these projects is proof measurement to know where we are on the path of progress. No sanction measure, but a accompaniment measure. Management and organization is there to go further. To accept the ideas of robots, remote channels: it is an expectation of society, this is not to take off jobs. Explain all these things constantly: management, training, internal valuation: find the solution locally. Today is very special moment: finding work for postmen: 90 000 people, and they have less and less mail to deliver. They meet all the people who trust in them. Collaborative participation to find these new services. They become the first sensor information of the needs of the company. Problem with business identity as the postman had not chosen it out.
2. Engineering SNCF (French train engineering service) by Bernard Schaer and Frédéric Delorme, about new leadership / inner transformation.
Act I « Issues » (2003-2008) Bernard Schaer

Hierarchical management at SNCF and exploded on multiple sites. Consolidate all sites in St Denis, hope that the energy would be found. Work on 3 topics: work background with the Executive Committee to establish a group of managers and non-managers and make proposals toward transformation, bringing its opinion on future Executive Committee decisions.They highlighted support, trust, innovation. The assertions of these 150 people have a strong legitimacy. Strategic plan, axis developed over 3 years with 3 indicators: measure of economic efficiency, customer satisfaction and commitment of employees through managerial barometers. Means: Training, business circles, seminars on collective intelligence.This period was frustrating, disappointing, because the transformations that were taking place at that time were not very visible. No formal action plan. A posteriori: it was a necessary period of incubation, the emergence of agents of change within a larger entity.Frédéric then took over and turned the test.


Act II (2008-2012) Frédéric Delorme

2 points: we did not go directly to the action plan. 9 months working with 120 people on the transformations that we want to do. Directions was clear, we had to work on the process, the how. Solutions were built with employees proposals, found on the field level. As a manager focused on solution and workaholic, I had to change change: accept uncertainty, how to trust. But at the end, what an experience which harvest after accepting the risk. Trust the players who will get in a convergence position.

2 principles: ensure alignment of demand as well as ritual feedback end of each meeting, regardless of the hierarchical level.

Finally: creation of a dialogue group, co-construction of a managerial policy. Work on management and behavioral practices.

Act III (2012) Bernard Schaer again

I could see the change while coming back. And a huge new challenge: merging entity with RFF. Master-slave relationships between people. A lot of tension out. 1 year later: path to success. We used what the organization had already learned. We expanded the group of managers including some of RFF. We asked for their proposals for successful change. They first asked what was common and different. Sources of conflict not as individuals but collective structures. We wanted to help people. We used learning networks, and has created new. We asked them how they came to listen. I just finished a tour of France in recent weeks, attended by 1000 people: the climate of distrust was completely overwhelmed, and that one is faced with envy, although there are still questions.

2 courses:

• transformation takes time, requires perseverance. Need key people (Pierre Goirand, Sylvie Caruso-Cahn, Pascale Blanchet)

• Confidence in collective intelligence: spiral of progress. Real engine. Human and demanding that it wants to set up culture, it is not a luxury, it is simply a requirement for the company to succeed.


3. Solvay (by Albert Kruft) is mainly about shared vision focusing on global sustainability involving all staff. Interview by Etienne Collignon.
Etienne:How did you live that change?

Albert: At the beginning : very hard. No trust. Bad organisation. we need 10 years to come together with our management. Every year we organized seminars, and at the beginning we were alone, without management. 2008, change. Seminar with managers and employee representatives. Etienne was a co-animator of the seminar. Topics: what do we want to implement. What is the role of the employees? How can they be helped in the daily life?

We built learning expeditions, groups. Ideas about objectives and ways how we can deal with that. Forum: this objective could be realized on the floor.  We defined 7 objectives we wanted to bring to the floor. We made forums and presented them to employees. They could bring ideas: how could they reduce CO2 consumption for example.

We changed from information to relation in the daily life : Solvay way. Measurement, how we can measure our score, where we are. Every side of the company can measure that. The management defines also how we can improve these scores.

Etienne: How did you evolve ?

Albert: Before information, now they listen to us. If a CEO doesn’t know what the people want, he is alone. Solvay life was eclectic during these 5 years, how did you cope with it ? We bought Rhodia group for example. In the beginning employees were frustrated… The way of working together is remaining.  Yes, right balance. We need trust to each other.


4. Sodexo by Gilles Poirieux, General Manager Corporate Segment France, about building alliance with society and stakeholders for sustainability
80 countries, 400 000 persons. Wide range of services. The top management of the company had a vision.  We believe that to create lasting value, we must place people at the center of the thinking. We have made it our business and raison d’être.

Food, medical care, employment, etc : people well-being is our focus, the aim is no longer to produce a service. A new time in humanity has come with a better life. For instance: co-elaborate a solution with an hospital director who has a problem with a lack of nurses. We grow our business this way : we look at the complete services range to help our clients. Improve quality of life is good for everyone.

Empathy : partner, EVH – Change in society : a lot of leaders consider listening to their people as a key for success.

I have launched a Social network for all facilities managers : look to initiatives they provide to their client. In Sodexo : a quiet metamorphosis. It brings quality of life, much more sense for our people. We are moving to a qualitative company.

Reflexions about the 5 branch of the star in groups
1) A shared long term vision

Getting together : challenge because of the diversity. 2 key ideas

  • we are facing a short term culture : money pressure, daily life, work, we don’t dare to dream of future. How many of you have a personal long term vision ? We don’t have the power to achieve it so we prefer to do nothing
  • sharing with ordinary people is not part of my vocabulary as a high rank top leader. How companies are owned has an influence on the way vision is shared.

Frédéric Delorme, SNCF: we need a broader vision than just a business vision. And now that I’m in a subsidiary with strong growth, this is beginning very operational. And if there is no time for management discipline, time spent preparing the future, it will fall by the wayside. Shared calendar for a shared vision question. Sustainability: you need a long-term vision Otherwise you loose. We want to implement a profit share for all employed.

2) Enterprise as a living system, new governances, new leadership

  • fear of the unknown, of what we have no experience of already, to jump
  • disconnection : within oneself,  between values, with each other (no empathy, sense of true relationship, not only ideas, but also heart and body)

Xavier Querat-Hément, La Poste: life is adaptation. Th major project at the moment: the spirit of service. Its characteristic say for successful customer relationship it must succeed internally. With other people in the company. Everything is cooperation. The change is because everyone starts. Patterns of post offices: he can not tell his clerk to be in good relationship with his client if he knows at the same time the driver or the postman did not do his job and therefore the irate customer will see his anger on the teller.

3) Acting globally and locally, subsidiarity

  • intercultural language: built at local level, synchronize, harmonize local and then at global level difficult to find this level of precision in the language
  • question of the relationship: how to build a global level? the network is not the relationship, and trust associated with it.
  • individuals, and the belongings of the individuals: what they want to do
  • language is the solution of the problem
  • global/local : you need skills

Frédéric Delorme about global and local: return permanently on the common project. Practices left to local initiative must be able to stay connected and consistent with the strategy. Sharing practices, such world café forever to link the local and the global. Take pause to do that.

4) Innovation brought by client empathy

  • mental models
  • how to deepen relationships inside company and with our customers : who are our clients? internal? external?
  • Without a deep sense of valuing : listening, empathy,  it doesn’t work

Frederic Delorme SNCF: take risk to build something which is not clear. Innovation: how we can have an impact on our clients it’s the same with our people, especially in services.

Gilles Poirieux, Sodexo : I love creating new solutions with clients. The power of putting in the same room clients, company, and outside people that inspirate us. Somebody has a passion, and when he links it with innovation it will work. Whoever he is . Power for generating ideas, wherever you come from, any age, etc. R&D : half of good ideas are coming from France and half from outside. Connect the 2.

Xavier Quérat-Hément, La Poste: client standard requires normalization. If you want to get enchantment of the customer, you need something more. It is up to you to know what you can get out of the frame to be in something close to demand. Participatory innovation: beware psycho-social risks,  precisely for getting out of frames which can be then reproached.

5) To enter into an alliance with the emerging society its environment & its stakeholders

  • Communication

o   intercultural communication could be a major address. Those who involve different rules, cultures. We can not minimize that.

o   We have the need within our domestic society to create equality in voices : share with the population what their true needs are.

  • Leadership

o   For instance in South America and Asia: autocratic leadership, governments, NGO, companies : how they brought up these leaders? education? schools are like that. France, Germany: it’s also critic. You need to backtrack : how were they educated in schools? you need to start from scratch, from the young, from schools.

Albert Kruft, Solvay: if companies implement their rules, how they deal with people: they have to study people.