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This column is co-written by Sebastiaan Laurijsse, Senior Director IT & Digital Transformation Manager at NXP and Ilse Kerling, Founder of Global Business Academy.

Missed Part 4 of the series? Read it here.

In the previous article we outlined the complexities that service providers add to transformations.

In this article we examine the key question: do you know your stakeholders well enough? Do you understand the culture? To do this, we draw on the examples of Dutch manufacturing giant NXP. Sebastiaan Laurijsse, NXP’s Senior Director of IT & Digital Transformation Manager provides the insights in this article, and shares NXP’s journey to realising the true potential of transformation through analyses of employee skillsets.

No compromise

On the one hand, we need to understand the stakeholder and create a better connection, and on the other hand we must show that NXP is prepared to look at the cultural differences and collaboration – but we should not be prepared to compromise on the operating model in the DevOps and agile culture we want to create.

Excuses, excuses

On top of that, we’re fortunate to have really great Indian talent, but also to run into the phenomena culture. It is not okay to use culture as an excuse to delay driving collaboration. That conflicts with the principle of unlocking the true intrinsic motivation! You can only do that when you understand your international workforce. That’s why we entered into a long-term partnership with Global Business Academy, who are specialised in 21st century intercultural skills.

Skillset of the future

21st century intercultural skills are in the top 10 skillsets of the future. It’s not just about the knowledge that there are differences – everyone knows that – but how are they different and how do you close the gaps. How do you influence, give pushback effectively, and lead in a globalised world? Thàt’s when you achieve the intercultural skillset of the future. First time rights, rolling planning, giving and receiving feedback, influencing decisions, driving efficiency: it’s just a sample out of Global Business Academy’s offering that really appealed to us. They add the global context to our curriculum.

 Integrated into DevOps and Agile

Within NXP, this is being integrated with our Agile and DevOps curriculum. Phenomena like failing fast, transparency, self-management and accountability all have a different meaning in Indian, Dutch, American and Romanian cultures. This program enables us to look at these phenomena with a global mindset. On top of that, the teams at NXP create their own common ground culture in which they turn assumptions and expectations into team agreements, and create a strategy to enhance kaizen.

 Knowledge and assumptions

The quick reaction is: I don’t have a problem. But it’s not just about growing your global mindset and learning how practical skills can help you work more efficiently; it’s also about seeing yourself through the eyes of the other person. Dutch people find it fairly easy to be vulnerable – “Brainstorm and put it on Yammer so that we can react”. But that doesn’t always work across other cultures who may not be comfortable with that level of vulnerability. By gaining insights into your own culturally-influenced expectations, you become much more effective outside of your country’s borders.


But perhaps even more important is to challenge your own assumptions. Is it my bias, the other person’s bias, the cultural difference, or the individual? The behaviours are the same, but the foundation of behaviour really is different. This also includes challenging your opinions:

  • Am I judging this person on the basis of their work or on their style?
  • Do I create the safety that is needed for people to deliver good work?

It’s not just about expanding your viewpoints on the outside world, but also on the inside.  

Leadership capabilities

And that brings us back to the beginning: the value of transformations not yet realised. The singular most important aspect in transformation is leadership. The product owner manages teams of 12 – 14 people. This person must know everyone – truly know everyone. Know your people. What would be possible if you were able to unlock their intrinsic motivation? Because when you embrace change, you are the one who has the knowledge and knows the value.

In the next article, all components of article 1 to 5 come together and we will show how Sebastiaan completes successful transformations at NXP.