We were about to do something we had never done before. I invited the group of leaders – 36 top executives from RWE, a 100-year-old energy company with 65,000 employees — to stand and walk slowly in silence through a physical map of their organisation and its dramatically changing context.
There was a lot at stake. RWE was facing unprecedented and disruptive change. There could be no revival of the business model that had built its success. It must change or die.
A few moments earlier, their CEO, Peter Terium, had picked up 30 white cubes and placed them one by one on the ground in the middle of the circle of participants. Each of the cubes represented either an internal element of RWE, such as one of the business units, its leadership culture, or the Board, or, they represented an external influencing element, such as climate change, politicians, customers and the media.
The CEO’s task had been to place the cubes on the ground in relationship to each other, as a representation of the complex interconnected energy system he and his top leaders needed to transition to. The goal of the new leadership programme was to allow the most senior 360 leaders to really see, touch and feel the dynamic complexity of the system they needed to lead into a radically new future.