Embedding Collaboration into a Company’s Genes

With a tailored learning & development program we supported uniQure to successfully maneuver through it’s growth phase and embrace change by enhancing collaboration and activating a growth mindset.

Client Profile

Company Name: uniQure

Company type: Biotechnology company, delivering on the promise of gene therapy

Company Size: Medium-sized enterprise

Industry: Biotechnology

Location: Amsterdam (NL), Lexington (U.S.)

Website: www.uniqure.com 

The uniQure Story

When uniQure’s research division wanted to increase efficiencies in driving products through the pipeline into the clinic, it felt straightforward enough. The idea of the incoming VP of Research was to create an efficient speed-to-market pathway, by promoting collaboration in an agile workplace.

Trusted to make this happen, Lilly Burggraaf, VP of Global Human Resources worked with Seuss+ to design a learning and development program to deliver on this. With the right approach and trusted partner, the results were stimulating and profound.


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“I chose to work with Seuss+ because their proposal was flexible and adaptable to what was needed in a rapidly evolving organization” – Lilly succinctly summarized their decision.


The Value of a Partner is Empathy

Prior to the decision to work with Seuss+, Lilly and her management peers parsed and folded different aspects for consideration. They looked between the micro to the macro, from business needs to clinical expectations. They felt the need to be thorough to make this initiative work.

The very essence of the task was about changing attitudes and behaviors. As there were many technical unknowns and human reluctance to account for, a bespoke and adaptable program was key to what Lilly and her team were after.

“I chose to work with Seuss+ because their proposal was flexible and adaptable to what was needed in a rapidly evolving organization.” Lilly succinctly summarized their decision.

Seuss+ designed a comprehensive learning and development program that shifted minds and drove ownership. From inspirational and educational events to co-creation workshops, from feedback sessions to self-learning modules, they factored each department’s pace and needs differentials into the mix. They also combined pedagogy with ludic by seamlessly integrated tactile gameplay and interactivity into strategy and planning.

They made the human factor the heart of their proposal. “They listened to us…and they know the biotech space very well.” concluded Lilly.

“They listened to us… and they know the biotech space very well.”

Carefully Craft the Start for Better Adoption

The kick-off event was the first opportunity to reveal the program to the entire department. Getting it right would make the difference between mediocre acceptance and full embrace. Lilly naturally had trepidations given the pragmatic and technical mindset that prevailed.

Her reservations were quickly laid to rest.

“You can see that people really getting enthusiastic about the program because of this [event]…because it was not so standardized,” as she recounts the lively engagement of the participants. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive – “warm and learning environment” and “eye-opening” were among some of the qualitative responses that accompanied scores of 5 out of 6.

A key contributor to the success occurred before the event. Parallel to the planning for the day was the preparation of the audience leading up to it. The Seuss+ team together with Lilly cultured an environment of engagement prior to the reveal with thought-leadership articles on agile, personal surveys and event teasers. This created an expectorant atmosphere.

“You can see that people really getting enthusiastic about the program because of this event.”

Center the Program Around People, Not the Other Way Around

The subsequent sessions of the program rolled out in earnest to maintain momentum and minimize wane in enthusiasm. Design workshops, coaching and team building sessions to enhance collaboration and communication across departments were meticulously sequenced and deployed.

An initiative of note was the Seuss+ Bite-Sized Training. These were 45–90-minute single topic/skill set modules crafted to be easily integrated into busy work schedules. At their own pace and convenience, members of the research team, managers, and executives, learnt about active listening, giving and receiving feedback, communicating with listeners in mind and many other topics. These learning modules helped clear some of change management bottlenecks typically observed in the life sciences industry.

Additionally, using the Predictive Index oiled the path for better collaboration between individuals and teams. This tool provides a snapshot of the way colleagues think and work. It lowers barriers to communication due to its predictive capabilities of personal styles and behaviors. Within the division, this created powerful interpersonal effects. It drastically reduced individualistic thinking and generated spontaneous capabilities to see other points of view. It facilitated a heightened sense of knowledge sharing, even among those who are not accustomed to it. This demonstrated that by increasing cognitive empathy between individuals, it encouraged collaboration and generated an agile (and even growth) mindset.

Bite-sized training: 45-90 minute single topic or skill set modules crafted to be easily integrated into busy work schedules.

Transform a Program Into Company Culture

“We are a new company with a purpose… also honest and genuine among ourselves.” Lilly continued describing the impact with a sense of satisfaction and pride. “They are ready to talk about the elephant in the room. They want to improve; they want to grow and commit to actions.”

The resounding success cemented Seuss+’s role as a changemaker in uniQure. Seuss+ has since been asked to develop other programs such as growth mindset across multiple teams. Other departments and functions within the company witnessed the impact and has requested for similar learning and development programs to be designed and rolled out.

The concept of collaboration that started out as an initiative within the research division has fast become embedded in the culture of the company. uniQure’s leadership continues to invest in and embed the culture of learning, collaboration and innovation. The benefits of which will undoubtedly drive meaningful impact for all who come in contact with uniQure, be it talent, stakeholders, partners, physicians, or patients.

“We are a new company with a purpose… also honest and genuine among ourselves.”

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