06/05/2010 - 00:00

Facilitating major change

06/05/2010 - 00:00

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THE change management program implemented during John Akehurst’s time as Woodside Petroleum chief executive broke new ground both inside the company and for McKinsey as a consulting firm.

Facilitating major change

THE change management program implemented during John Akehurst’s time as Woodside Petroleum chief executive broke new ground both inside the company and for McKinsey as a consulting firm.

The behavioural transformation program was in its pilot-testing phase when McKinsey partner Michael Rennie introduced it to Woodside, but it has since become widely used by the management-consulting firm.

“Michael came to us and said, ‘We would like to try a whole behavioural transformation program on you, it’s a first for McKinsey and we would like to do it with Woodside’,” Mr Akehurst said.

The program focused on changing individual’s language, mindset and increasing confidence and respect within the company.

“A change of mindset to believe we can do really great things and to a large extent to love ourselves more than we have been taught to do, to appreciate ourselves for what we are and to be open and authentic,” Mr Akehurst said.

It also led to a change in dialogue at the company.

“We got ideas like having the passionate intention to achieve something. Saying we have an intention to do something doesn’t mean we are definitely going to do it, but it means we are hugely committed to it,” Mr Akehurst said of the shift in language used at the company.

At the time, the program attracted criticism from some company insiders for its focus on people’s deeper nature, but Mr Akehurst said it was largely celebrated for its immediate effects on the company, improving Woodside’s infrastructure, management and ultimately its performance.

A decade after the program was implemented, Mr Akehurst said he recognised its fundamental principles were being utilised across all sectors.

“It is interesting to see at a corporate side and at a very different level these same things,” he said, of recognising elements of the behavioural transformation program being used by global poverty activist organisation The Hunger Project.

Mr Akehurst said while the program may have made waves with some people at the time, is had subsequently been rolled out with large corporations, albeit with a tighter framework.

“It was an experimental period and I understand that some of the material which has been modified now by McKinsey has become more business-like,” he said.

“This is now being run all around the world by McKinsey. It has been a huge program, most companies don’t make as much of a fuss about it but some massive corporations have now been through this.”

 

 

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