Skip to content

Abbvie increases strength with Allied Forces

How do you make an organisation resilient and more agile in times of change? In cooperation with Allied Forces the biofarmaceutical company AbbVie developed a way of working which matches the challenge the organisation faces. Meanwhile this has become common practice in all segments of the Dutch branch.

“The care industry is continuously in motion. Innovative solutions are necessary to be able to do what it is all about: add value for all people who trust our medicines. That requires more cooperation and the making of clear choices”, according to Lennaert Rijken, General Manager the Netherlands. Inspired by the book “Extreme Ownership” (about the working method of the American Navy Seals) AbbVie conducted a search for a partner who could help to enlarge the decisiveness and to create the right conditions. This is when Allied Forces got in the picture.


High Performing Team

Founder and director Armand van Velzen:“Ownership is one of the pillars under our philosophy. Success and result are created together, with a high performance team that uses trust, commitment and ownership as a foundation for cooperation. That requires a specific mindset, that we are very familiar with from our training at the Dutch Marine Corps and which we now project on the business community. With proven success.

Together with AbbVie we have set out a tailored programme for leadership and competences. We have taken teams offsite to experience for themself what a high performance culture implies. The participants got profound self-insight and learned what the value is of reflection and evaluation, essential steps for an optimal learning and improvement culture.”

Unforgettable experience

Lennaert: “The strength of the programme lies in the three stages: 1) the theory of the Navy Seals book inclusive a self-assessment per participant, 2) the simulation during a multy-day offsite meeting and 3) the pawl of the Extreme Ownership philosophy in the daily practice by means of a concrete business assignment. This way we truly get into the DNA of the organisation.”

Manager public relations Femke Sanders about the programme:  “Especially the joint experience during the external days in Limburg will always stick with me. This was essential for mastering the philosophy, for everybody. First you experience what you do intuitively in tense challenges and forget, as human being and as a team. Together you go on a journey, which changes your thinking. You let go of your ego, learn to use each other’s qualities and you set a clear goal. This works so well that eventually every participant becomes an enthusiastic ambassador for this way of working. We speak the same language and work from a uniform methodology”

Multiannual path

The programme has proven itself in the workplace and meanwhile it has been unrolled in the whole organisation. Lennaert: “On taking up office in 2017 I saw a lot of motivated colleagues full of passion working on varying initiatives, but sometimes we missed structure and focus. What is wonderful to notice now, is that people are willing to be challenged more and that there are great discussions. You can always question each other about the end goal: in what way does what we do contribute to the improvement of the patient’s care. Why-questions help us further, this is how a learning organisation comes about with an innovative mindset.”

The success of the programme stands or falls with its continuity. “The majority of our employees has followed the programme. As a result we have a lot of expertise within the organisation. In addition we continuously stay in contact with Allied Forces to renew and enrich the programme. It needs maintenance all the time. This is why it is now part of our introduction programme for new employees, our planning cyclus and AbbVie teambuilding courses. As an organisation we like putting energy in continuity. Eventually this will lead to a decisive organisation!”