Janssen Leadership Lab, a partnership to train healthcare managers


If complexity is a major key word to understand contemporary times, leaders who want to leverage the future of their strategies and organizations need to explore and articulate complexity in its multiple aspects and take advantage of it. Such a shared belief underlies the cooperation which has started between SDA Bocconi and Janssen Cilag Italia, a drug manufacturer of the global healthcare and wellbeing giant Johnson & Johnson.

Massimo Scaccabarozzi, President and CEO of Janssen Italia, highlights that developing “the competences to understand the complex times we are living in, and face the challenges of a rapidly evolving environment” is at the heart of Janssen Leadership Lab, the educational initiative in partnership with Politecnico di Milano’s business school and PoliHub, and the consulting firm OpenSky, and directed, for SDA Bocconi, by Enzo Baglieri. Hundreds of Janssen Cilag employees will participate in the Lab – “Investing in our people has always been a priority at Janssen,” says Scaccabarozzi. “In present hard times, some companies are forced to headcount reductions. We want to reskill our people, instead, and rely on increasing their competences."

The project aims at creating “distributed” leadership across corporate roles and positions. This vision informs the goals of the project:

  • Broadening the set of competences available to all corporate functions.
  • Aligning culture and managerial style in the company.
  • Further increasing employee engagement and sense of belonging.
  • Engaging participants by using dynamic and appealing training methods.

Four groups of employees are targeted by a same amount of staggered programs: Proactive Program, Executive Program (which started in October last), People Leader Program (beginning in 2021), Individual Leader Program (differentiated in headquarters and field force, planned in the second phase of the project). There are three learning clusters for each target group: Learning (through face-to-face classes and the discussion of cases), Leading (focusing on simulations, guest speakers, company visits, and so on) and Grounding.

SDA Bocconi has a key role in the whole process. As well as contributing to overall program design, the School is in charge of the following modules:

  • Setting goals and objectives in line with corporate and individual strategies; defining monitoring, performance management, and the feedback and motivating role of managers.
  • Project & time management: Agile project management and Multi-project management, as well as a Project management module for the People Leader Program.
  • Negotiations: focusing on influence and power, and leveraging SDA Bocconi proprietary simulation tools.
  • Innovation: from technology to processes, from innovative actions to corporate entrepreneurship.

A long-term training investment
– there will be several editions of the project up to 2024 – can appear to be easy for pharma companies, who enjoy countertrend financials. But Janssen’s care for lifelong learning does not depend on the contingent situation: “We are working at a new way of working. Not just an agile one, which was already in place in our company, but a different approach,” says Scaccabarozzi. “That is why we have decided to invest in the most important asset we have, our people.”

SDA Bocconi School of Management 

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