Supporting organizations going through change
Who is Medicago?
Since its founding in 1999, Medicago has been a pharmaceutical leader in plant-based vaccines and therapies. For the first 14 years of its existence, much of the organization’s funding came directly from the Quebec government. However, after the opening of its manufacturing plant in North Carolina, the CEO and board began seeking commercial partners that would transform the business from predominantly public funded to a profitable business.
With innovation and excellence at the core of everything that Medicago does, they sought partners that would allow them to scale their efforts and disrupt the market. In 2013, this led to Mitsubishi Tanabe Pharmaceutical becoming the major stakeholder and the beginning of their journey to consistent growth and commercialization.
What was the challenge?
As a result of Mitsubishi’s investment, Medicago has undergone massive cultural, technological, and commercial changes. All of these changes led to an internal disruption for Medicago’s people and processes.
A large part of this disruption came in the form of Medicago’s outdated system for data entry, whereby all financial activities being done manually through ACCPAC and Excel. At the time of our initial engagement with Medicago, the leadership team had made the decision to implement a new ERP system, Microsoft Dynamics 365. For many Medicago employees, this meant a huge change to their day-to-day work.
Although a successful implementation would modernize the business, we were also conscious of how managing this change as Medicago moved toward their ambitious commercial targets. With a company of 400 people and hiring consistently, the task at hand was to equip new and existing employees with the tools and information required to understand the effects, challenges, and benefits of change, as well as the requirements needed to become a commercial enterprise.
What did we do?
Our team embedded itself within the client’s team to identify problem areas and moments of confusion for employees. Discovering that the understanding of new processes and clear communication were the major issues, we started by distributing a business readiness survey to all of their employees to gather insights. These were used to devise a communication strategy and a change and learning methodology that could be shared across the organization — with 63% of the workforce completing the survey. In addition, we worked to gain the complete trust of all executives and key stakeholders within Medicago, leading to us being one of the first points of contact to address challenges and define the overall strategic direction related to the ERP system and change management program.
This trust gave us the necessary buy- in to extend our work to Medicago’s internal communications team in order to develop and execute a holistic communications strategy that would increase employee buy-in and understanding of the implementation of the ERP system and the change management work. This involved key messaging, executive messages, employee events, and intranet stories.
With the thought structure of change in place, we set about creating tangible avenues for people to educate and empower themselves through the change. This meant writing 80 e-learning courses in French and English that were completed in partnership with 17 internal super users, 40% of which were supported by classroom learning. We also completed more than 90 different pieces of ERP documentation including work instructions, business process maps, and standard operating procedures.
To ensure ongoing impact, we also established the Change Champions Program. The program was made up of 50 people from different departments and at different levels within the organization. They were given high level details about the new systems, learned about Harbinger’s Foresight© change methodology, and were given previews on upcoming enterprise-wide internal communications activities. These individuals became the face of change at Medicago; the senior leadership relayed the company’s strategic plans to the Change Champions and they would disperse this information throughout the rest of the organization and answer everyday, more granular questions.
This approach has helped move Medicago toward being a culture that is change resilient, adaptable, and attracts innovators. By creating a tailored methodology and structure for handling change at Medicago, Harbinger has transformed Medicago’s culture, people, and processes to help it achieve its purpose of creating and delivering effective responses to global health challenges.