“Re-invent internal communications”

Autogrill business transformation using the ViCre “9 and 6 model”

During the We Invite For You session on 26 November, we welcomed Fred Hegt, Head of Operations at Autogrill. He explained how his company was transformed from a cumbersome monopolist into an agile – and profitable – organisation. “We had to re-invent our internal communications: every support service is now a business partner of Operations.”

Autogrill, with its corporate headquarters in Milan, Italy, is the world’s leading provider of catering services for travellers. In 2006 a combination of transformation drivers reached a peak at Autogrill Belgium. In the aftermath of a merger and financial distress, the company embarked on a business transformation journey that extended from Belgium to the Netherlands and France. The process was closely guided by ViCre, a business transformation consultancy that is currently a Prime Foundation Partner in the Centre for Excellence in Business Transformation.

In the video below, Professor Stijn Viaene, Fred Hegt and Eddy Helsen (ViCre) share their views on the business transformation process that Autogrill went through.


Fred Hegt recalls the first workshop with ViCre: “We went along with a small group of directors. The ViCre consultants were being quite provocative, asking what our vision for the company was and how many employees were aware of that vision. With hindsight I must admit our answers to those questions were embarrassing: ‘Of course we have a vision – it’s even on placards in every restaurant so everyone must be aware of it!’ (smiles) It was clear that we needed to turn the organisation and its people around.

“Through workshops with employees from different locations and departments, through individual coaching sessions and by taking the directors to restaurants and shops, ViCre established a smoother decision-making process across the organisation. They also introduced the perspective of internal customers and internal suppliers based on ‘the 9 and 6’, which results in a personal contract between employees. Every support service is now a business partner of Operations.

“The key element in our transformation process was the communication between our internal customers and internal suppliers.”

“Example for corporate”

Eddy Helsen, Managing Director of ViCre: “We’re particularly proud of the Autogrill project for three reasons. First of all, because of the scope: we started in Belgium with 1,000 employees; then came the Netherlands and finally we rolled out the project in France as well, for 5,000 Autogrill employees in total. There’s also the fact that Autogrill became very profitable. And – most important, I think – the people we worked with set an example in leadership for the corporate organisation in Milan.”

“Pragmatic leadership”

Stijn Viaene, Professor of ICT & Business Process Management: “The Autogrill case study is a nice example of how business transformation can work in practice. It shows that business transformation is not only a matter of business process management, but also – and even more so – a matter of people management and pragmatic leadership.”

A detailed report on the business transformation process at Autogrill and the techniques that ViCre introduced can be found in the Autogrill case study “Fast fish eat slow fish”.