Adrian Waite

    • Head of Talent, Leadership & Organizational Effectiveness (Middle East, Turkey & Africa)

    • Boehringer Ingelheim


    Adrian Waite is a seasoned in-house Talent leader & consultant who has established and evolved functions local, regionally and globally, presently for Boehringer-Ingelheim and formally for brands such as Cleveland Clinic, APM Maersk, ADNOC, BAE Systems, Virgin Group and Sky Television.

    He specializes in Learning through Continuous Performance, In addition to a full suite of talent and development solutions, he is particularly focused on the specialisms of Communities of Practice (CoP’s) Leadership Implementation Support Frameworks (LISF), Leadership Coaching Cultures (LCC) and in the flow of work (ITFOW) solutions.

    Adrian will be part of the expert speaker line-up at the ATD 2021 Middle East Conference and Exhibition taking place in June 2021, both online and at the Address Dubai Marina, sharing his insights on “Is Training Always the Right Answer”.

    Question and Answer

    It’s been a catalyst for change that honestly was already coming: Namely an audit of the value that LTD as a function actually brings, and what I believe will be a major shift from learning to performance in our industry.

    When lockdown hit, organisations had to prioritise what was most impactful, and many of the low impact, topic led trainings which were primarily measured through learning outcomes, and not task effectiveness and have been casualties. I would suggest rightly so, and perhaps long overdue.

    Unless many functions adapt their core purpose towards being performance partners, I’m afraid they won’t be steering their organisations at all. I might even go so far as questioning whether some remaining 20th century topic led learning functions may finally be absent in org structures in the not so distant future.

    That would be a great loss, as we can offer so much more than instructional design, facilitating topic led learning, managing UXS and mapping talent and career paths & curating e-learning content. The next generation of practitioners in our space have to leave this behind and bring a purpose, performance and task orientation, where learning is a protected by-product, but not the goal in itself. If this is achieved, then we are in great shape and a unique position to help our organisations succeed.

    We have to start by adapting our own shop, in what we focus on and how we operate. We need to be the fastest and most agile function in our orgs, where currently the data clearly demonstrates we were among the slowest pre-covid. When the business needs to adapt and change direction, either subtly or significantly, we have to be set up to be ready, able and willing to immediately prioritise that with the minimum viable solution to deliver the results required.

    Covid showed that HR can be innovative. We can rise to the occasion and we have great people in our ranks that can deliver IF we unshackle them from the sub optimal cadence of the Annual HR Cycle & calendar of famous HR initiatives.

    The mission now (should we choose to accept it..) is to avoid slipping back, but rather build on that innovative agile support we demonstrated through the first Covid lockdowns, and make Agile our “Business as Usual” rather than our emergency reaction.

    Certainly. Flexible working is already in policy for Boehringer-Ingelheim and many organisations, along with the technical, collaborative, engagement, wellness and team considerations this requires, but I feel this is a side- line to the real debate.

    If we look at how best to operate our businesses now, would we design the workflow and operating models the way we were set up two years ago? Rather we come at it from our actual problem statements today & a “how might we” prospective, organisations can take a fresh look at what is the most effective model for them & their diverse employee group.

    An important insight though is there is no “one size fits all”, even within the same organisation, the same department, or even the same individual at different points in their role lifecycle & personal life, so key features for optimal performance, collaboration, engagement and wellness will be flexibility and opportunity for whatever is optimal for each person and situation.

    The key learnings showed that we, like many multinationals already used to some degree of flexible working and virtual multinational teams were well placed in many of the considerations above, but we continue to shift to a more purpose driven agile model of working, that allows us to redirect efforts and resources quickly as required.

    Purpose is the key word.

    There is the “Big P” purpose that aligns with the organisational mission – for us at Boehringer Ingelheim, “Making more health” is something we are all proud to contribute to globally, but in addition, teams, remote or physical, the “Small p”- purpose, is the value you personally add and contribute to others in your teams and customers on a daily basis. This “small p” purpose is the area of focus in remote teams on a day to day basis.

    Building organizational culture, has to have these North Stars, that allow the myriad of national, social and business cultures found in large multinationals operating all over the world, to align behind, and find (P) / (p) purpose and “ways of doing” that both represent and are recognisable in the business in any of our operational locations.

    Demonstrating this in practice, along with being intolerant of anything less, has always been key to building organizational cultures with purpose that matters. I am proud to say this is an area that Boehringer Ingelheim absolutely excels, but it never stands still. Culture is, after all, a continuous journey, never a final destination.