Vifor Pharma is a fully integrated pharmaceutical company specialising in iron deficiency products marketed in over 100 countries. Their CEO commissioned Leading Change to design and implement radical improvements to management engagement with, and alignment to, the company’s strategy.


Vifor Pharma grew to current scale by integrating a successful speciality pharmaceuticals business and tight management control from the top of the organisation, although plans for Vifor’s further growth in international markets depended on developing a leadership culture that balanced clear direction with empowerment. Their global staff engagement survey revealed weak alignment between staff and the company’s strategic goals.

In common with many fast-growing companies Vifor had developed tight control mechanisms necessary in a complex growing business. Vifor realised the need to develop and embed leadership capability that enabled managers to take timely and effective decisions at the lowest appropriate level but in line with the company’s intent, making the organisation more coherent and agile.


Working with Dr Stephen Bungay (author of ‘The Art of Action’) we designed and implemented a strategic alignment programme for leaders throughout Vifor Pharma. We helped the CEO develop a concise narrative to explain his high-level intent then delivered facilitated strategic alignment workshops to each functional management team followed by a progressive handover to trained facilitators. Our support enabled implementation to a further 160 managers in functional, regional and country management teams.


All managers reporting to the executive and large international business organisation were briefed on the strategic intent and used our proprietary ‘strategy briefing’ tool to develop ways to implement the intent in their own areas of business.

The bulk of the programme was delivered by an internal facilitation team creating significant capability and expertise within the business as the programme transitioned to full scale implementation.

Two years later a staff survey prior to Vifor’s leadership conference survey revealed that 88% of senior managers ‘understood the company’s strategy’, whilst managers below this level improved to a score of 73%.

Vifor’s CEO commented: “The latest Opinio survey demonstrated a massive impact on the motivation and understanding of the participants and a successful start to the development of an effective operating model within Vifor”.

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