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Novozymes put collaboration and responsibility on the agenda and sent around 900 employees through a training course at Maestro Business. The result is a common language and a defined critical behavior, which daily supports all employees in challenging each other and being sharp on the fulfillment of the common goals.  

Danish Novozymes is the world's largest producer of enzymes and  microorganisms. With production facilities in seven countries, sales offices  in 30 countries as well as a mission to be at the forefront of the work for social and environmental change, there is a constant focus on making things a little better. Steen Skærbæk is the Director with responsibility for the production plant in  Kalundborg and was the prime mover when it was decided that the culture of cooperation should have a boost.  

- I have an ongoing dialogue with our shop stewards about how we best strengthen the employees' competencies and motivate them to take extra responsibility. Novozymes has for many years worked with self-governing teams in production and with good results. But when you have worked autonomously for many years, a hierarchy easily arises in the team, where you are locked in and where it is difficult to change habits. We did well but at the same time had a feeling that we could do even better - that we could lift  the collaboration and the results to an even higher level, says  Steen Skærbæk. 

Steen Skærbæk


“If you really WANT to change

corporate culture, Maestro are the only ones

I have met who can. They are hugely competent

and experienced  within their area and understood that

challenge us  on our self-image.  

Steen Skærbæk,

Director - Novozymes A / S 

- We put together a steering group consisting of 12 employees, shop stewards and managers. The group decided to contact Maestro Business, which had previously completed a successful training course in our maintenance culture around improvement culture. If one really WANTS to change corporate culture, then  Maestro are the only ones I've met who can do that. They are hugely competent and experienced in their field and know how to challenge us. We had confidence that they too could lead us safely through  this process across operators and management teams.  


Responsibility is something you are 

The steering group was initially gathered on a two-day course  with Maestro as facilitator. In-depth work was done here  the basis for delegating more responsibility to the individual teams. Critical behavior for both managers and employees was jointly defined and formed the foundation of what is now the focal point of the entire process. The key words were cooperation and performance - and that "responsibility is something you are". Colloquially  now called the "collaboration engine" of Novozymes.  

Most modern companies often have many and very spacious value concepts. Values like that are practically impossible  to disagree with - but where it can also be difficult for the individual manager and employee to translate the values into concrete behavior. For example, what should I do? quite specifically begin to do in order to  become more customer-oriented, trust-building or responsible?  Maestro has helped Novozymes create behavioral design, where Novozymes' values have been translated into a specific desired behavior  for all employees and managers. This "critical behavior" helps  the individual teams at Novozymes to be able to ascertain and  articulate daily collaboration in a down-to-earth, concrete and tangible way - and in this way collaborate to develop  cooperation. This strengthens team spirit, well-being and performance at Novozymes.  


All experience shows that when you really work together to perform,  then it automatically provides increased well-being. Everyone wants to be a part of one  true community of values and help accomplish something. For us was  it is a huge strength to develop our own model and rhetoric,  which suited our very reality. It is rare that “one  size fits all ”, says Steen Skærbæk. 


Anders Knudsen

Novozymes Collaborative Engine® 

The collaboration engine is illustrated by a self-explanatory model,  which physically hangs in hallways and offices around  Novozymes. This is to constantly focus on the critical behavior for good cooperation among managers and other employees, respectively. Specifically, it's about critical behavior within  five overarching categories: Common Objectives, Trust, Responsibility, Accountability and Community of Values.  

Anders H. Knudsen is a Senior Operator and 3F shop steward and has been part of the planning process from the start. For him, it was crucial that there was one common and transparent agenda on  across the entire organization.  

- In large companies like ours, many good projects are typically launched. But it is also no secret that new initiatives often go hand in hand with new leadership and therefore do not always succeed  to be anchored properly before something new comes along. This  course has been different because it has been so extensive. Everyone has been through the same training sessions. It is my clear position that if such a comprehensive project as this is to succeed, it is absolutely crucial that management, shop stewards and employees are together about it from the start. Otherwise it will not work, says Anders H. Knudsen.   

Common language gives confidence 

In all teams and organizations, there are both formal and informal leaders who shape the culture in their own way. It requires  a great deal of confidence to dare to challenge each other constructively  eg. performance and collaboration. Initially, 60 leaders  from Novozymes therefore introduced to the ideas behind the collaboration model and not least the rhetoric and behavior that should carry the upcoming process.

Then came approx. 900 employees and managers from across the organization through a course with Maestro, which aimed to  create a common language, mindset and not least a change of behavior in  all. Whole shift teams were sent on training along with theirs  team leader, and since the focus is on collaboration, part of the training also took place cross-organizationally between different professional functions and  teams.  

- This is the first time we have talked so much behavior with the employees. It was all served on a liberating and non-academic
mical way, which resonated among the employees. Through  my many years as a manager, I have experienced that employee days with a focus on improved collaboration sometimes ended in mutual  accusations of who was responsible for poor performance.  This time, Maestro has given us a common understanding and rhetoric,  where people actually dare to open up and say "OK, there are also some things that we ourselves can get better at", says Steen Skærbæk. 


Ragnhild Korfits Frank

Ragnhild Korfits Frank is head of Novozymes' fermentation department and has been part of Novozymes for more than 18 years. She 
is pleased with the Collaboration Engine and the new tools that have followed  with.  

- When I first heard about the concept, I thought it sounded mega cool! This is exactly the way I intuitively think management-
see, and I think it's very valuable that we're all trained and working on this. Although I work in a well-functioning  department, then I have not always managed to get my messages clear. My communication of Leader's Intent has simply not been clear enough. I have gained more practice in the course  to communicate clearly what I expect and it yields results in  everyday life. Because we have all been on the same course and have trained the same things, we have got a common language and have become very  more aware of our common goals and our common behaviors. It is  the virtually impossible to disagree with the purpose of the Maestro course and  contents. There is no one who can claim that it is too far out, because we ourselves have helped to define the content. The common course and common language have strengthened trust across employees and  management team and has made us better at aligning expectations and articulating conflicts, says Ragnhild Korfits Frank.   

Anders H. Knudsen agrees that some seeds have been sown, as now  is on its way under the skin of the staff.  

- My impression is that the process has provided some long-lasting  conditions for cooperation and understanding in the various teams. It has been difficult for some and especially for those who have been here  For many years. But overall it has been well received and I quickly noticed that Maestro was good at adapting the concept to  our needs. There is no doubt that Maestro's coaches know theirs  Hug. They are very competent and set the level so everyone can be  with.


Silas Belling

"Now get right back into the circle" 

As a team leader, Silas Belling is one of those who feels the change up close. His team has adopted the Collaboration Engine, and the tools are used daily. For example, it has become easier to talk about a bad handover between teams  and departments, most often due to misunderstandings or lack thereof  expectations polls.  

- The common terminologies from Samarbejdsmotoren have clearly been an eye opener. Where some in the past might have a tendency to patch up otherwise good arguments into a lot of bile and hernia, today we have become good at talking from the Collaboration Engine. It has been enormously powerful in combination with the After Action Review® tools that Maestro has come up with. I experience that the teams have started to say: Arh, now come right into the circle again, to  each other, and then everyone knows what it means. You are forced to show where you have taken responsibility in a given situation, and which ones  expectations one has for each other. I also use it in one-on-one conversations, where it provides the basis for some really good talks, which also gives me a lot of return. It clearly creates some bonds and a different trust between the employees - and between employees and management, says Silas Belling.  

- I already think that human behavior is wildly exciting and has always sucked knowledge about the subject to me. During the training sessions, Maestro was e.g. exceptionally good at cracking down on “smart  remarks ”and dig a little into them to focus on misunderstandings and subcultures. Therefore, if I hear something in my team, then I also react quickly to it. Is everyone now agreeing on whether it was irony,  or could it be misunderstood? Do we treat each other with respect? There should definitely be room for humor and fun, but it should be  at a proper level and without bad intentions. Criticism must  addressed directly to the person who is to hear it and not to everyone else. It has been really good for the cooperation and for the dialogue among the operators. And it has helped myself not to push the responsibility away from me but to help the employees to think about how they can change things themselves. It is my view that employees take more ownership and responsibility to achieve the common goals.   

The feeling is good 

A cultural work like the one Novozymes has been through is difficult  to put into a spreadsheet and measure on. What is e.g. the cost of low confidence, missed deadlines or untapped potential? The management  has deliberately chosen not to set goals or KPIs on the process.  

- We have chosen to send a strong signal that we are investing in the culture all the way down through the organization. As an engineering company, we must learn that most of all, management's sense is that our people have evolved in their jobs and in their teams.  - and that not everything can be measured in spreadsheets. And our feeling is that our employees have taken it to heart. We've cracked the code this time. Leaders say they find it easier to work constructively with challenges. We begin to think inward and can  sense a good culture. Our culture as we want to see it. The collaboration engine is the way we work at Novozymes. We have 12-13 new managers and many new employees this year  races, and they must all be sent on Maestro courses and introduced to  the same language and mindset. We have also planned follow-up days with Maestro for those who have already left, to "massage them in their collaboration", so to speak. We do not want to risk diluting the good process we are in. We must insist that it is OK to tell the sidekick that this, we can  do a little better, concludes Steen Skærbæk.  

About Novozymes 

Novozymes is the world's leading biotechnology company in enzymes and microorganisms with a market share of over 40%. The company has Danish headquarters and offices in more than 30 countries and employs more than 5,000 employees, of which more than 2,000 in Denmark. Novozymes' factories are located in Denmark, the USA, China and Brazil. Novozymes has the world's largest enzyme factory, which is located in Kalundborg. The company produces a total of more than 700 different products and sells its products in more than 130 countries worldwide. The products and technical solutions sold are based on nature's own technology, and the company actively supports a global sustainable development in its production methods. 

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