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Building a specialty pharma business defined by craftsmanship

Working with a CEO determined to achieve what may seem totally out of bounds: growing the business tenfold in a few years, building a global supply chain, diversifying the portfolio to serve clients with specialty pharma solutions while building a cult-like culture deeply founded in craftsmanship... 

At first this may seem like any mid-size biotech company turnaround. A vulnerable, small company that is in the topical business, mostly serving as a contract manufacturing organization (CMO), is forced to change when the board appoints a new CEO. What makes this a truly remarkable journey is the distinctive approach to transformation. 

 

It starts by dreaming big and building a strategy that can grow the business tenfold in a few years. The strategy includes entering new businesses that require expansion of manufacturing capacity, competence for new areas such as sterile injectables, working with partners across the globe, acquisitions and more. To break away from the past and put a stake in the ground, the company is rebranded. This was an effort that involved all of the staff at the time, marking a truly new beginning. It also brought to surface one of the anchors of the company culture: craftsmanship.

Ripples has been a partner in the growth journey of this new company for more than 18 months. The initial focus has been on building the shared vision and alignment of the top team around the strategy, followed by focus on managing rapid growth while building a cult-like culture similar to the guild of craftsmen, and developing the leadership capacity throughout the organization.

Ripples led multiple workshops and retreats to develop the top team. In the leadership journey that took them to a remote island in Estonia, they connected with each other and to the business as they shared their life stories and passion for the business. And this was just a beginning, as the leadership team still invests time in both personal and professional development, increasing their self awareness through tools like DiSC or 360 as well as executive coaching. But perhaps what has most contributed to the development of these leaders has been them serving as coaches and subject matter expert faculty in the so called "craftsmanship program". 

A uniquely designed program with the goal to develop people who excel in leading self, leading others, and leading the business (and form the guild of craftsman in the organization over time), the craftsmanship program has already had a dramatic impact in the company. The program has 3 consecutive stages over the course of 18 months - apprentice, journeyman, master craftsman - where in each of the stages there is a deepening of expertise and refinement of skills at an individual level. What is truly remarkable, is the evolution of the group into a tight-knit community crossing all boundaries and silos within the organization - titles, functions, location, background, and education. Not only is the group highly effective, creative, and self-managing when it comes to any project or challenging assignment at work, but is also highly trusting and caring, with close friendships and relationships that extend beyond work. The craftsmen serve as cultural ambassadors as the company continues to grow and lead the journey alongside the top team.

 

To date, the company has exceeded its already aggressive targets, and it has doubled in size as well. The leadership team is ready to take on the new cohort of craftsmen to keep building the leadership capacity and sustain its culture in this chaotic and challenging time of rapid growth.