A not-for-profit, market operator has supported retailers and wholesalers since the highly regulated market was created in 2017: serving 1.2 million businesses, public sector bodies and voluntary organisations. The scale and complexities of the market demands a simple and effective way of enabling retail suppliers and wholesalers to perform their roles of supplying and selling.
As 2020 started, the CEO and Senior Leadership Team recognised it was time to evolve the role the company plays and re-clarify its purpose (why it exists), vision (where it wants to get to) and strategy (how it will get there) – all in service of maintaining a successful market with value and choice for customers.
At that point, posing as an extra challenge, the UK went into COVID-19 lockdown.
The SLT asked us to help bring together their views alongside those of Board members, all employees and key stakeholder groups to help them co-create a clear purpose, vision and 3 year strategy. The SLT themselves were new (half of them having joined in the last 5 months) so this was the first time they had collaborated together, needed to do the work 100% virtually and at pace to coincide with business planning cycles.
The approach to our work remained consistent with our ‘diagnose, analyse, design and act’ OD principles, drawing on theories and visualisation , whilst creating ‘safety’ to help the SLT create their best work. The difference here is that it was 100% virtual.
As part of the diagnostic phase, 1:1 video-interviews with Board members and the SLT helped create a deeper understanding of the internal and external landscape this work fitted within. Facilitated workshops for up to 20 employees at a time brought the views, expertise and insight from across the company to identify the dilemmas that would need working through.
We progressed the programme of work with the SLT through 2 hour sprint sessions, twice weekly across 8 weeks, providing sufficient safety and space to explore, discuss, filter and conclude each unit of work. Creating this rhythm of interventions helped the new team strengthen their own ‘muscle memory’ of how to effectively connect and collaborate virtually and not just ‘operate’. It also allowed them to keep ongoing conversations with their employees through all-hands calls, share, test and validate the work as it progressed.
The programme culminated in a virtual Springboard Event™, bringing together 60 employees to launch the purpose, vision and strategy, using virtual breakout spaces and varying sessions to create equal voice, curiosity and understanding.
To enable us to bring our OD expertise ‘to the table’ and create the best experience in each session, we utilised polling, live graphic capture, an online platform for users to ‘post it’ their inputs and views and 5 cameras across the 2 Up! offices. Our principles remain the same: create the right sessions that bring ease, clarity and pace to the work that needed to be done.
Within just 8 weeks, and whilst leading the business during the COVID-19 lockdown, the SLT were able to successfully co-create their purpose, vision and strategy, with a consistent and agreed narrative that brings each strategic priority and initiative to life. The Board unanimously approved the strategy by week 7, the SLT were impressed that so much thorough progress and alignment had been achieved at pace and they felt much closer as a leadership team.