Technology & Innovation

Organisational Dev: Values-based Leadership & Cultural Change Program
Building a Self-sustaining Learning Community @Microsoft (across Asia Pacific Region)

SG - Clients - Microsoft - 22 Jul 2015


Microsoft Asia Pacific Operations Centre (APOC) is part of Microsoft Corporation’s worldwide business strategy to consolidate its manufacturing & sales operations. APOC manages the manufacturing, licensing & accounting for Asia Pacific’s 14 sales subsidiaries – APOC now operates in 17 diverse countries across the Asia Pacific Region. Their success depends on the efficient/effective delivery of product & services from suppliers to customers in multiple markets.


APOC were looking for an integrated, cost-effective OD & Leadership Development solution as part of their HR/OD Strategy to move away from a ‘command & control culture’ to a more effective ‘coaching culture’. They wanted a comprehensive learning solution to complement their MS Management Excellence Career (MEC) Events, & action learning that provided a robust platform for lifelong development (individually & teams), which focused on workplace initiatives to create business impact. A solution that transferred both the methodology & facilitation skills from the external providers to the program teams, in order to become self-managed in their journey to achieve the Microsoft Aspire-To-Culture.

Program Design

SG applied our experience as a successful virtual team to role-model effective remote coaching & working. The 7mth program was designed using 6 large groups drawn from Execs & Senior Managers. We combined workshops based on the principles of Peter Senge’s Learning Organisation; SG’s unique Action Learning Teams (ALTs); underpinned by 4 sessions each of 1:1 Executive Coaching – facilitated face-to-face & virtually using phone & MS Teams.
We created fun learning experiences to develop Microsoft Manager Competences, using the Core Coaching Competences of the International Coach Federation (best practice), to build an innovative, flexible solution to leading Microsoft’s high performing virtual teams, operating in a matrix structure during continual change. The program elicited from participants best practices & key actions/behaviours that drive impact & identified potential barriers. Using the MS Management Excellence Practices, we linked these to 3 key areas: Action Learning Teams (ALTs); Engagement & Inclusion; & Developing a Culture – moving towards a Learning Community. During the program, our ‘pulse checks’ elicited participant’s feelings & ideas for co-creation/design, which helped us flex the program by clarifying expectations. HR/OD provided onsite support & helped with our robust evaluation. The program has since continued internally.


SG always agrees metrics with clients in advance. Microsoft has sophisticated measurement metrics, so we were able to use & build on a number of these to design robust & objective metrics evaluate the program’s impact.
Our competence matrix was based on 12 areas of personal & management competencies, with a total of 26 skills identified by Microsoft as being particularly relevant. These were self-assessed by participants at the beginning, middle & end of the program & verified with their Line Managers as part of their 360 feedbacks & performance appraisals.


There was an increase of 25% in levels of competency for Execs & 26% for Senior Managers.
e.g. For ‘Facilitating Learning using Coaching’ – 32% & 33% improvement for the Execs & Senior Managers, respectively. The Senior Managers reflected that they were finding it more natural to use their new coaching skills with direct reports, particularly in 1:1s & felt more comfortable managing staff performance. The Execs also reported using coaching in their day to day work & with their own reports, with several ‘early wins’ which increased commitment to the program. The 12 Execs commented that they found the 1:1 coaching sessions effective in supporting them in their ALT facilitation & moving their teams forward; addressing challenges around their management roles & leadership styles; as well as taking MEC forward as a Learning Community. During their coaching sessions they stated the program had a clear impact on the APOC culture & Senior Managers said their ALTs had developed a safe environment with trust & member commitment. They commented that it was noticeable that the wider organisation outside MEC@APOC, still reflected a less collaborative & open style. Several participants asked how to spread the new culture, as they felt that the wider organisation would greatly benefit from this change. SG then advised the MS Internal Team on a roll-out of this project to other geog. areas.

CEO Quote at the End of the Program:

“This program has been an overwhelming success in my eyes – we have brought together diverse people (onsite & offsite), who despite workload, have obviously got a lot of ‘Aha’s!’ Thanks to your coaching skills,
MEC is now having a positive influence & we have better People Managers today than before.
Behavioural/cultural change starts with each & every one of us. Well done!”

Steve Thomson, Executive Sponsor & General Manager, Microsoft APOC

Microsoft APOC V-based Leadership Cultural Change Large Fun Group - 2009
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