The Rwanda Biomedical Centre (RBC) was established on 25 January 2011, following a merger of 14 organisations and agencies. Implementation of the merger was initiated in June 2011, with most of the senior leadership appointed in July of the same year. While the first few months post-integration proceeded smoothly, the complexity of the endeavour was considerable, with the fourteen merged organisations and agencies bringing with them a diversity of mind-sets, cultures, systems, values and processes.

In order to capitalise on the opportunities presented by this ambitious and complex venture, the RBC’s senior leadership determined to accelerate the transition, proposing that a senior leadership retreat be held in December, 2011. The leadership felt that this programme warranted support from an external consulting organisation specialised in facilitating complex change processes and developing high-performance leadership teams. Wasafiri was called in to perform that role.

Our team carried out an organisational analysis, comprising a set of perception surveys of leaders and staff, as well as face-to-face interviews. Although widespread dissatisfaction emerged with the RBC’s present state, so too did optimism for the organisation’s future and commitment to overcoming present obstacles.

The leadership retreat, conducted immediately following the organisational analysis, was geared to accelerating this transition, and to building stronger synergies across the RBC’s constituent entities and their leaders under a common mission, vision and plan of action. The programme was facilitated in such a way as to generate concerted, strategic action by this leadership group – so fundamental to the success of this bold undertaking.

The response from participants indicated that the retreat was extremely successful in achieving its ambitious aims and outcomes. Though much hard work still lies ahead, solid foundations have been laid for effectively managing the change process.