Creating a culture of confidence, cooperation and co-creation

As indicated earlier, AkzoNobel has historically been successful on the basis of having a strong entrepreneurial, customer-centric approach. However, this has had a downside in terms of creating an independent, fragmented culture which has been exacerbated by the large number of acquisitions over time. As we move beyond our restructuring and integration agenda into our accelerated and sustainable growth agenda, we recognize that this culture will not allow us to achieve our aspirations.

To facilitate the creation of a culture of confidence, cooperation and co-creation, we announced in 2010 that we will change our managerial approach and run the business through an Executive Committee. By having representatives of four of the key functional areas, the Executive Committee will drive common agendas and build capabilities while allowing the businesses to capture growth. Below the level of the Executive Committee, in each Business Area, we will take a much more operational management team approach to ensure that we are able to make good decisions with regard to prioritization of different activities.

The Executive Committee is not the only initiative in terms of culture change. In 2010, we also took a substantial step forward in terms of employee engagement. We fully rolled out our first ViewPoint Employee Engagement survey (in conjunction with Gallup), which allows us to benchmark our performance against a large number of other major business organizations. The results of our first survey indicated that we have significant room for improvement to get to a top quartile performance level. We are fully committed to improving and are in the process of carrying out meetings at all levels in the organization to determine what our next steps will be.

An additional important step in terms of cultural development is our Diversity and Inclusion initiative. We recognize that with our growth aspirations, we must have more executives who are female, and who come from the high growth economies. This will be important to us going forward. We have set improvement targets in this area and have held our first series of workshops to develop action plans to achieve these targets.

We also recognize that in order to deliver the best of AkzoNobel all day every day, we must create an environment which is inclusive. We have therefore developed an online training program which will be rolled out to everyone in the organization in 2011. This course makes it clear that we have set targets in terms of executive representation, but it will not deliver the required cultural change. To do that, we have to ensure that the environment brings out different points of view and ideas, and that we work collaboratively to deliver on these.

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