A lesson in radical collaboration

    July 15, 2019


    Signify COO talks about business transformation and delivering operational change.


    Business transformation was the topic on many people’s lips at the Leader’s Forum, of industry analyst firm Gartner, in London this week. Giving the keynote speech to chief executives and chief operations officers (COOs) was Signify’s own COO, Daniel Sebillaut. Speaking on the weighty topic of Business Model Transformation in the Service Economy, Daniel dispensed a potent mixture of Gallic common sense and practical experience, which the audience lapped up.


    Sebillaut, is no stranger to business transformation, with 30 years’ business experience, he has lived in the US as well as in five European countries. The automotive industry has featured prominently in his career with senior posts at Inalfa Roof Systems, one of the world's biggest providers of vehicle roof systems, WABCO the leader in vehicle control systems and Delphi to name but a few. ‘’It’s a sector built upon managing change and operational excellence,” said Sebillaut, “and definitely not for the faint hearted. I see a lot of similarity with the technology sector.”

    Sound advice

    Sebillaut has brought this experience to Signify where he’s responsible for the Quality and Business Transformation functions as well as Global Supply Chain, Manufacturing and Procurement. So what advice did he give his fellow COOs?


    Yes, it’s about having the right tools and processes but it’s also about the culture of the company and encouraging a mindset that is able to adapt...”

    Daniel Sebillaut

    COO Signify

    “As a COO I need senses to respond to constant changes and opportunities, while ensuring robust fundamental practices,” said Sebillaut discussing the pace of transformation at Signify. “Yes, it’s about having the right tools and processes but it’s also about the culture of the company and encouraging a mindset that is able to adapt to and address new business challenges.”


    Talking about the progress made in 2018, he highlighted improvements in shipping, the optimization of portals, touchless ordering and streamlining online buying with key partners. Another area of progress was getting the manufacturing footprint right for now and tomorrow as the company transitions its portfolio.


    We faced numerous challenges to optimize our manufacturing and warehousing footprint, while simultaneously reducing office space by 12%. On top of that we overhauled vital support functions, offshoring certain parts of our Finance, HR and IT operations. That all amounts to a heap of change.”

    Secret sauce for accelerating transformation


    It’s a revolution of the mind, enabled through radical collaboration.”

    Daniel Sebillaut

    COO Signify

    So what was the secret to making this happen?  “It’s a revolution of the mind, enabled through radical collaboration. We’ve gone from working in silos to connecting as teams, from functional strategies to end-to-end operational strategies. It less about applying tools but asking ourselves what is the right approach?  We’ve gone from reviewing performance to engaging new collaborative processes. A shift from standard performance levels to new peaks and from processes to digital operating systems. The golden thread running through it all is collaboration.  When each oarsman in the boat pulls together and in time, the boat moves faster in the water,” explained Sebillaut.

    Of course, creative changes were needed such as Innovation to Market, Market to Contract, Order to Cash. These are fundamental disciplines, as is adopting an EFQM model where metrics can be compared and issues highlighted, tracked and dealt with.


    So what makes a successful COO?  The recipe for success suggested by Sebillaut is simple. “Be prepared to dive deep. You can’t do your job properly without a thorough knowledge and understanding of the business and issues. At the same time go wide so that you explore the global opportunities and risks. Finally, take time to think and allow yourself time to reflect. So go high, take that helicopter view to stay ahead of the curve.”


    Finally, he added, “Supportive leadership starts with ways to create enthusiasm and passion. These are vital for implementing changes that will generate differentiation and success.”   

    About the author:

    Neil Pattie

    For further information, please contact:

    Head of Corporate Content, Signify
    Neil Pattie
    Tel: + 31 6 15 08 48 17

    About Signify


    Signify (Euronext: LIGHT) is the world leader in lighting for professionals, consumers and the Internet of Things. Our Philips products, Interact systems and data-enabled services, deliver business value and transform life in homes, buildings and public spaces. In 2023, we had sales of EUR 6.7 billion, approximately 32,000 employees and a presence in over 70 countries. We unlock the extraordinary potential of light for brighter lives and a better world. We have been in the Dow Jones Sustainability World Index since our IPO for seven consecutive years and have achieved the EcoVadis Platinum rating for four consecutive years, placing Signify in the top one percent of companies assessed. News from Signify can be found in the Newsroom, on X, LinkedIn and Instagram. Information for investors is located on the Investor Relations page.

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