Client Story

Danish Diabetes Association

Putting people at the heart of a new strategy

To be effective, organisations must put the people they serve at the centre of operations.

This was one of the challenges for Diabetesforeningen (the Danish Diabetes Association), Denmark’s leading diabetes Association. They wanted to harness the efforts of the whole organisation to deliver their strategy which has patients at its heart. The strategy is built around four main ambitions: to raise diabetes’ profile, be a leading partner in preventing diabetes, make an active contribution to research, and attract support for the organisation from the public. 

Our experts in strategy execution, operating models and change management worked with the Association to bring a fresh perspective to their challenge. Our deep sector knowledge in life sciences meant we understood relevant trends and were familiar with many organisations the Association collaborates with to support diabetes research and development.

To get started, we ran a survey across the organisation to find out how things were working. Sharing our findings with the senior team sparked new ideas and agreement on practical changes that would allow the Association to deliver their strategy more effectively. We recommended ways to boost collaboration between departments and new approaches for measuring and reporting on progress. And we advised the senior team on leading a shift in culture. The Association is in a better position than ever to improve life for people with diabetes and their families.

Key successes

  • Empowered a leading Danish association to do even more for people with diabetes, by sharing expertise in executing strategy and managing change
  • Provided tools and insights to help departments collaborate to enhance the support the Association provides
  • Developed a roadmap and forward planning processes to drive more effective activities, working closely with the senior management team

Understanding the sector and the culture

The Danish Diabetes Association supports and campaigns on behalf of the 280,000+ people in Denmark affected by diabetes. The organisation’s strategy puts people living with diabetes and their families at the centre. The leadership team believes every employee has a role to play in achieving that. The Association was already making good progress in bringing this strategy to life. But it had the potential to be more effective. On a pro bono basis, we shared our expertise to enable the organisation to make faster progress and deliver even better support for people with diabetes.

We have deep sector knowledge in life sciences. And our experts were already familiar with the pharmaceutical and medical device organisations Diabetesforeningen collaborates with to support them to develop new diabetes drugs and technologies. We also understood the drive in this sector to put people’s needs at the heart of research and development efforts.

For the Association, we brought together a mix of expertise in strategy execution and change management. Working closely with the organisation to understand the culture and challenges, we tailored our strategy execution and change management frameworks to match its needs precisely.

“We prescribed our usual medicine for managing change,” says Katarina Bottelet, organisational change management, expert, PA. “In other words, don’t impose a preformulated approach. Take time to understand culture, behaviours and needs, and work within these parameters to achieve the best results and have a lasting

Uncovering opportunities

The Association’s strategy is built around four ambitions: to raise diabetes’ profile, be a leading partner in preventing diabetes, make an active contribution to research, and attract support for the organisation from the public. To get started, we wanted to understand how different departments contributed to these goals. We also wanted to uncover the best opportunities to deliver the strategy more effectively. We carried out a survey among the senior leadership team and middle managers to find out more.

The responses revealed ways the Association could create even tighter links between departmental plans and the organisation’s strategic goals. There was also potential to improve the way the organisation measured, tracked and communicated progress against plans. Increasing collaboration between departments would have a positive impact too.

We shared our findings with the senior management team in a collaborative workshop. We explored the extent to which their perspective resonated with our insights into how the organisation worked.

It was incredibly useful to get an outside perspective on the way we run things. PA showed an impressive ability to get under the skin of our organisation and real skill in engaging with our teams in a short time.”
Strategy and Organisational Development Lead, Danish Diabetes Association

Highlighting the role of culture

We put forward ideas for bringing about a shift in culture to improve the way departments work together. For example, we recommended using online options for supporting collaboration across departments and enabling better knowledge sharing. Bringing the whole organisation together more often and creating opportunities for employees to share their work at these events will improve cohesion. And the leadership team has a role in modelling behaviours that emphasise collaboration and putting people living with diabetes ahead of departmental focus.

“To bring about change in the way organisations run, it’s vital to win hearts and minds,” says Katarina Bottelet, organisational change management expert, PA. “We highlighted the way shifting employees’ behaviours and mindset would be essential for improving collaboration among departments. And better collaboration will be key to centring the whole organisation on the people it supports.”

Planning for action

We shared practical proposals for taking advantage of some of the opportunities we’d uncovered. These included getting all departments to identify and record the strategic goal(s) each of their planned activities supported. We also suggested using a common approach to tracking progress on these goals and reporting this to the executive board. These changes would make key strategic initiatives more visible across the organisation and provide the board with a clearer picture of progress.

We also recommended establishing a more structured programme for meetings – introducing a timetable of regular departmental meetings to feed into senior leadership team meetings, feeding in turn to board meetings. That would improve communication and sharpen focus on strategic goals.

“Strategy starts with a vision,” says Søren Ameland Bligaard, operating model expert, PA “but paying attention to the way progress is measured and communicated through the organisation is key to making sure operations are supporting that vision effectively.”

Recognising potential

We wrapped up the engagement with a session on portfolio management for the Association’s leaders. Here, we explored ways to understand which projects have the most potential to add strategic value and so merit greater attention and investment.

“PA’s session on portfolio management was inspiring. We have following implemented a new portfolio management tool in the organization” says Ane Eggert, Strategy and Organisational Development Lead, Danish Diabetes Association. “We need to get every ounce of impact from our funds. Managing and prioritising projects effectively is key to this.”

From ideas to action - in four weeks

In just four weeks, together we identified practical initiatives and new perspectives that will have a real and lasting impact for the Association. Bringing the strategy to life more effectively will bring concrete changes that improve the lives of people with diabetes sooner and more powerfully.

PA great expertise and unique competence and deep knowledge of organizations and management will enable our organisation to become even more effective, and more focused on creating strategic results. With better collaboration among departments and a clearer structure for monitoring and understanding our progress, we’re optimistic about delivering even more with the resources we have. That will have a powerful impact on our ability to fulfil our purpose.”
CEO, Danish Diabetes Association

“We're delighted to have shared our expertise with Diabetesforeningen,” says Johanne Rønnow Olsen, operating model expert, PA. “Our work is always about building a positive human future. So, our purpose fitted perfectly with the Association’s own ambition to make life better for people with diabetes.”

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