Sanitarium’s gluten-free culture transformation

Posted by AFN Staff Writers on 3rd December 2014
Sanitarium’s gluten-free culture transformation
Sanitarium’s gluten-free culture transformation

With consumption of breakfast cereal falling after 100 years and commodity prices rising, market leader Sanitarium, innovated and produced Gluten Free Weet-Bix from concept to shelf, in record time – six months. The company said it was the first time product development at this scale had taken less than two years.

Gluten Free Weet-Bix has been a phenomenally successful product for Sanitarium. It has performed way beyond expectations and is the world’s first gluten free breakfast biscuit.

“This speed-to-market was absolutely revolutionary for us and it could not have been done without the investment in culture we made in the preceding five years,” said Todd Saunders, Sanitarium’s Australian General Manager.

Beginning in 2009 when business was booming, Sanitarium began a journey to change its approach to risk and leadership. The Company  invested in its people when times were good. When the market inevitably turned, putting the business under real competitive pressures, staff stepped up and put in extra effort.

Matthew Croxford, a consultant from Human Synergistics, who continues to work with Sanitarium said, this kind of strategy could make all the difference.

“Culture is like an emotional bank account – it pays to be in credit when the tough times come,” Mr Croxford said. “What’s wonderful here is that you have a company who had nearly 100 per cent of the market for some of its products, and who had enjoyed a century of consistent growth in their product, who decided, nevertheless, to make a big investment in their culture and their people,” he said.

“What they understood was that their 1,000 staff made a decision every day about how much of themselves they would bring to work,” Mr  Croxford said. “They also realised the impact those decisions had on long-term company performance,” he said.

Peter Hartnett, Head of People and Culture at Sanitarium, said the Company was serious about culture change and altering its status quo.

“We worked with Human Synergistics and with Mandy Holloway of Courageous Leaders,” Mr Hartnett said. “The changes we made with Mandy & Human Synergistics as partners have altered the way people speak to each other, develop skills sets and work in teams. Over time we’ve become a more constructive, adaptive, risk-comfortable, motivated and satisfied workforce.

We’ve learned how important it is to keep measuring and improving our culture: it’s ongoing work but the rewards are huge,” he said.

Matthew Croxford explains that Human Synergistics’ tools are unique in their capacity to tell organisations what’s happening, why it’s happening and what to do to fix it.

“They are a valid and reliable robust measure of how people behave,” Mr Croxford said. “As well as diagnosing internal problems they can test what changes are working and so guide an organisation, step by step, towards a more highly performing culture,” he said.

To find out more about Human Synergistics’ world-leading culture change tools or to speak to Matthew Croxford at Human Synergistics, please contact James McLeod on 02 9271 5900 or at