Case study

Team Development with AbbVie


The Rheumatoid Arthritis (RA) team had been on a change journey in the year prior to beginning its work with YSC Consulting. There had been turnover at the top as well as integration with another pharmaceutical company, Solvay. At the direction of the Head of RA, YSC set out to strengthen the relationships and bonds between the RA leadership team members, enhance overall team function and productivity, and embed collaboration and trust as the team’s core values. As part of this, YSC was tasked with helping each individual on the senior team to develop as a leader and to better understand the impact their behaviors had on fellow team members, direct reports, and cross-functional partners. In short, the ultimate goal was to develop the RA Executive Team into a high performing team.


Over the course of one-year process, we took a phased approach to team development.

  1. Diagnosis/assessment of the leaders and team effectiveness
  2. Goal-setting and defining the future state
  3. Action learning and development.

These phases often overlapped and even ran in parallel, as the team had to perform and manage the day-to-day concurrent with the transformation.

YSC began by gathering confidential stakeholder feedback on each individual to gain a richer understanding of each leader’s abilities and effectiveness within the organization. Using the feedback, we conducted an in-depth psychological assessment of each leader to better understand their unique strengths, development opportunities, and motivators. Because the RA team was leading a significant transformational change effort, we also examined each leader’s strengths and gaps as change leaders. This not only informed each person’s personal development, but it also highlighted key areas of strength to leverage as the leaders helped their own groups navigate the impending split of the organisation into AbbVie.

In parallel, YSC’s Effective Teams Survey was deployed on behalf of the RA team to gather quantitative and qualitative data to establish a baseline on the team’s effectiveness in such areas as focus, internal dynamics, and relationships with external stakeholders. These findings were used to create specific and measurable leadership development plans with each team member. To help ensure leaders are modelling the behaviors identified in their development plans, each leader participated in three months of coaching aimed at addressing weaknesses identified in the assessment and to help sharpen their individual leadership capabilities. After the initial work aimed at enhancing individual leadership effectiveness, the next step involved programs and initiatives focused on team collaboration and trust. YSC facilitated a 2-day team event where the senior team was introduced to the YSC High Performing Team Model and had the opportunity to explore how individual preferences and drivers impact team functioning. YSC facilitated a peer-to-peer feedback process that afforded the leaders a better understanding of how they were viewed by the other members of the RA team. In order to accelerate the team’s progress, YSC utilised a digital behavior coding process. Based in behavioural science, it is an innovative, impactful approach to improvement which combines quantitative and qualitative data with digital video playback to inform coaching and development for individuals and teams. More specifically, YSC consultants videod team meetings and, using a robust system of behavioral coding, analysed the extent to which leaders exhibited effective or ineffective team behaviours. Leveraging behavioural data and video playback, the members of the senior leadership team received 1:1 feedback and coaching to inform collaborative team behaviours going forward. The unique process enables an accelerated understanding of each team member’s individual impact on one another and the team as a whole.


The depth of self-awareness gained and subsequent behavior change was clearly evident, with follow up behavioral coding occurring at the three and six month mark indicating improvements across team members.

In addition, a second launch of the Team Effectiveness Survey indicated an improvement in the team’s internal dynamics and functioning as reported by those inside and outside of the team. The survey also revealed that these senior leaders reported improved focus as a team, ability to execute, and improved relationships with external stakeholders.

In addition to the quantitative findings, qualitative results were also realized. YSC consultants and AbbVie leaders noticed distinct and observable behavioral change in every team member that improved their levels of effectiveness. Team dynamics were also improved, as was the sense of collaboration and trust felt amongst members. Lastly, the team’s ability to operate as an effective unit was recognized by the larger organization and as a result, the behavioral coding methodology has been recommended to other departments within the organization.

“The prospect of being recorded and coded was initially both intriguing and associated with a fair degree of apprehension. The experience however was profound. The chance to see yourself as others do can make even the most seasoned and hardened professional modify their behaviour and recognise that the little things we do and say along with the expressions on our face collectively tell a story. The experience was rich in opportunities to help each of us refine our “stories” and collaborate in a more positive and authentic way.”

Divisional Vice President of Area & Affiliate Strategy, RA