INSEAD Participant Interview

Finding the strength in diversity to manage change

Daniel Giroud

Vice President
Retail Division, Bridgestone EMEA

Advanced Strategy for Directors

Finding the strength in diversity to manage change

Daniel Giroud, VP at Bridgestone and non-executive director explains how the Advanced Strategy for Directors programme is a unique opportunity to listen, to explore new approaches and to find new solutions in changing times.

Change management is as multi-faceted as it is complex. And it’s always challenging.

Whatever your industry, whatever your sector and whatever the pace of change that is reshaping your market, as a senior director or decision-maker you need to build the broadened perspective, the insights and the tools to educate, mobilise and align your people if you want to leverage the opportunities and avoid the pitfalls.

So says Daniel Giroud. And he should know.

Vice President of Retail Operations EMEA at multinational automobile parts manufacturer, Bridgestone, Giroud has enjoyed a long career in senior leadership that spans diverse sectors and has seen him take on executive and non-executive directorships at different organisations. Managing change, whether it’s updating your organisation’s digital capacities or implementing a new strategy, is always a challenge. And it’s one that is characterised by risk.

“If you’re bringing in new technology, your job doesn’t end at technical implementation. You need to educate your people to use it. And ensure they understand how to use it within the context of what your customers want. And it’s risky. Technology and business move faster than people tend to. As a VP, CEO or director, the onus is on you – whatever change you need to manage, be it digitisation or a change of strategy – to educate, motivate and empower your people to anticipate and adapt. Get it wrong, and for all your investment in resources or in building a new strategy, you’re likely to end up less efficient and less competitive than before.”

This is the understanding that brought Giroud to INSEAD. Already a graduate of the school’s Corporate Governance and International Directors programmes, he most recently completed the Advanced Strategy for Directors programme. An experience he wanted in order to build better calibration between strategy and execution in his own change management.

“We talk a lot about strategy, but what about execution? It really does hinge on educating your people. If they don’t understand your strategy, it’s only ever going to be a theory, so you need to get the execution piece absolutely right. You need to prioritise good roll out.”

The Advanced Strategy for Directors programme addresses a critical issue, says Giroud: it’s a unique opportunity to challenge your own perspectives and to see things from different angles and points of view. Get this right, he says, and you’re well positioned to leverage the diversity within your organisation, find new approaches and new solutions to navigate change.

“Diversity is crucial. In strong companies with strong ecosystems, diversity enriches the conversation and paves the way to new answers. But it’s hard to manage diversity. You have to be conscious of your own perspectives, biases or approaches and work hard to see the whole story. Otherwise you risk becoming negative or worse: disconnected from your people.”

These issues were addressed at INSEAD through open exchange with peers and faculty, role playing, lectures and real-world case studies – an element that Giroud particularly appreciates.

“The special case studies are designed so that you explore these concepts in a concrete context. You see how the different players from the executive team to the board to the partner ecosystem approach things differently, and the importance of listening to what people say and what they don’t say – and learning to decode that.”

A core function of the learning that Giroud has taken from the experience is the importance of listening.

“Listening is really more important than talking when you’re looking for the right solution to manage change in complex settings. I’ve learnt to be a better listener. And to prepare more thoroughly ahead of board meetings, to be more informed about others and open to their approaches. What I am finding now, after taking the programme at INSEAD, is that quite often I will go into a meeting with a decision semi-taken, but because of my enhanced capacity to listen and explore what others are saying, we often come out with a decision or a plan of action that is quite different and unexpected. I’m better at leveraging diversity to find new paths forward. And that is a real step forward in creating value for the organisations I work for and with.”

Giroud found the INSEAD experience so transformative that he has invited Bridgestone EMEA’s CFO to take the Advanced Strategy for Directors programme too.

“You know in operations we are obsessed with decisions. Our colleagues in finance focus on figures. But the truth is always somewhere in between. As a VP, it’s really important to me that my CFO also knows how to listen, how to see things differently and how to really leverage diversity. The programme is an opportunity to do this, and to grow. The more you grow, the more powerful you are as an individual and as a team. And that’s the opportunity INSEAD offers.”

 

Find out more about the Advanced Strategy for Directors programme.

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