#CIPDOD15 Aligning Teams and Building Collaboration for Performance

Final piece goes to Rob Jones from Crossrail and Ally Salisbury from Sheppard Moscow.

Building a sustainable culture of collaboration in Europe’s largest infrastructure project and creating alignment across boundaries and conflicting agendas.

Focus for last 3 years has been creating space for new tracks and stations – finished tunnelling in June this year!


Have an integrated client delivery team – 1600 people needing to be aligned to 1 set of objectives.  Those 1600 people work for 3 different partners who work for 9 different employers.  Different bonuses, different performance mgmt. processes, etc.  Our aim isn’t to align systems and processes.  It is a challenge and it continues to be a challenge.  And then we have 27 contractors and 10,000 people working for them!

It is complex.  We talk about the United States of Crossrail.  The CEO is the President.  Helpful to have an analogy to make this size of challenge real and understandable.


Needed people in the OD team, needed someone to help Rob make sense of it for himself.  Found support in Ally from Sheppard Moscow.


Investing time and energy in understanding the context before trying to be understood – spending time finding out what the questions were.  What help is required and what will success look like?

There’s an overwhelming complexity of politics and power.  Some want a safe railway, some want to make money.


The big milestones were really clear but the smaller milestones are where conflict and misunderstanding have come.  They’ve worked on trying to build trust and unlock entrenchment.  Helping people focus on what they have in common rather than on their differences.  Tried to use simple interventions to allow vulnerabilities to be shown and trust to grow.

If you talk to the engineers about what we do they’ll acknowledge that the soft stuff is hard to do.  Have asked questions like what do you care about and why to get them out of their trenches.

The Audible Gasp

Didn’t tell people their issues & challenges – they discovered they were very similar but at different ends of it.  Took 2 project teams, working at different ends of the same hotel, 2 independent facilitators – very important especially for the Joint Venture team.  Did an exercise around looking to ourselves first – what do we need to do to get better at what we’re doing?, what are we doing as a team to get in the way of our partners?, what would we like them to do differently to improve their team effectiveness?

Brought the teams together for the afternoon and each team read the other flipcharts and they were amazed – an audible gasp – that what they’d said in Q2 was the answer for Q3 of the other team.


No one party can solve an issue – it needs 2 or more every time.  Their aim was to get common understanding of the issues and to give permission to ask for help.  Engineers’ natural position is to be right and to assert for their position.

Safe to Fail Environment

These people understand how to deliver, everything is a to-do list.  Getting them to take themselves out of that to take time, courage, be vulnerable and share things is a big challenge.  Rob realised he was taking the risk in it failing so they didn’t have to.  He needed to give them permission to not be right first time.  Creating a place where they can explore and have space to do that.

Elephant in the Room

Helping teams t admit there is an elephant was one of the biggest things – the need to be right was very prevalent.  To see it and decide together what they were going to do about it.  Less comfortable with climate & relationship – taking it away from process and task.  Goal to get this stuff out rather than being talked about at the coffee machine or down the pub.

Used pre-interviews in one to one or small focus group to identify elephants safely and confidentiality ahead of the group interventions.  Accelerated the openness and diagnosis felt shared.

Wicket Rolling

The background work was essential to success and included helping leaders to take responsibility for the effectiveness for their teams – they had to be the driver even if we were in the car with them.

Know When to Fold

Takes courage to realise the hand you’ve been dealt with isn’t right and you need to step away to take a different angle and come back in.  Sometimes it was hard to get the right people in the room.  Sometimes sponsorship was patchy.  Some leadership capability was low.  Rob had to go back to the business to challenge whether the right people were on the bus.

Scar Tissue

We were new, they all knew each other – worked together for years, if not decades.  Huge consistency in the contracting industry.  Often the issues dealing with were from 5-10 years ago, nothing to do with Crossrail, issues of corporate reputation rather than individual – they did this to me.  Had to clear the crap out of the wounds to allow them to close over and start healing.


We’re not doing it for them but they get used to having us around as a sounding board to help them frame their problems.  Been vital to stick to terms of engagement – the eyeball agreement about what we’re here to do – and when that’s done – get out!  Unles it’s a fresh problem the ‘client’ needs to face up to this for themselves.  We aren’t there as a sticky plaster, they need to feel capable to take this forward.


The people who need the most help are the ones least likely to ask for it.  Important to ensure not just the needy to get the help and important to differentiate between needs and wants – what’s at the root of this?  Get the reality before intervening.  Go out and find where the issues are.


Rob and Ally have become effective partners by communicating openly and frequently.  Ally’s previous experience is that the internal partner gets the inside track.  Can create a dynamic about vulnerability, side-lined.  Got round that with lots of coffees, lots of trust both ways, feeding back to each other – work by Proceed Until Apprehended! (Stolen with pride from Doug Shaw).

The Long Run

It’s not a sprint, it feels like a hard slog, it’s not easy to train for – felt like this in the early days.  Lots of emotional energy and investment and not getting much back.  Kept just putting one foot in front of the other.  Small successes build more success and credibility.  People now call on them to go to other teams.


Versatile toolkit – team coaching, conflict resolution, goal alignment – we don’t lead with any of the theories.  Sometimes because when you get in there it’s not what you’ve planned for anyway.


Key to achieving has been sponsorship – if you haven’t got it – pull stumps and get some

Keep it Simple Stupid

This project isn’t about OD – it’s about clear vision and leaders that can engage people and manage the environment and system – step back and keep it simple.

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDOD15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.


#CIPDOD15 Doing Digital OD

Karen Dumain from the NHS Leadership Academy.

Talking about achieving cultural shift through tech – how can practitioners make use of tech?

Karen’s background in Behavioural Science and feels like OD is coming home.  Joined the NHS a bit over 2 years ago.  Karen and Paul Taylor lead ‘Do OD’.  They link with the Leadership Academy to spread OD capability across and above the system of the organisation.  Focus on Dialogic OD.

Context for NHS – the world is complex, decreasing resources, higher expectations of patients, changing demographics, a need to shift to prevention rather than cure – how do we respond to these and to the need to change?  Digital is just a constant for the young people coming into the workforce now and in the coming years.  If you’re talking about ‘getting online’ then you’re behind the curve!

NHS – worlds largest publicly funded health system, provides for 54 million people, a patient every 36 hours.

Do OD focus on putting theory into practice – Connect > Share > Learn > Grow.  Paul and Karen hold the frame, they’re the container.  They work with the NHS OD community – the system – to understand their challenges to create new solutions & resources together.  They enable conversations at all different places and levels.

7 challenges came back from the OD Community with Culture, Values and Behaviours as the top 3 – what do we do with these, how do we measure the difference, how will it impact patients?  Looking ahead to 2015-16 they’re focusing on Systems Thinking, Building OD Capability, Integration, Culture Change, Evaluating OD.

Now a focus on Culture…..What can we do to evolve culture?

At the same time that the NHS was being celebrated in the Olympics opening ceremony, the Mid Staffs investigation was coming out.  There was a call to action about changing culture.  Conversations about the culture wanted in the NHS – Happy, Caring, Compassion…as a few key words.

When they started Do OD they asked for people to put their trusts forward to share what they’d already done (with acknowledgement that it was a beginning rather than a ‘job done’ situation), and others who wanted to be pilots for new stuff.

People thought they’d get a magic tool or solution but quickly realised it wasn’t that.  The dialogic OD approach used was underpinned by Appreciative Inquiry. A move away from Diagnostic, linear OD.  Also used Bushe – What we think > leads to Decisions and Actions > that evoke Shared attitudes & assumptions > which forms Culture.

Digital came out in an emergent way from the conversations and they started to develop an app (launched in Nov 14).  Anybody can download the app and it allows you to dip in and out because everyone’s starting point will be different.  You can go in at level of You, Team, Org, Partners & Stakeholders.  When you go into one of these areas there are questions to prompt thinking and conversations.  Based on your answers it summarises where you’ve made progress and where there might be more to do.  Recent update – Space to Think cards to enable creative thinking.

With over 1000 downloads, just starting to do formal evaluation but informal has been very positive – Practitioners have said very helpful.

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDOD15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.

#CIPDOD15 Aligning Org Capability and Culture to the Org Plan

Inji Duducu, Group People Director of Benenden.

Talking about using Appreciative Inquiry to identify the org’s true values, and developing engagement and comms strategy to sustain commitment across the org.

Benenden is a healthcare provider (mutual, not-for-profit) – they’re a single product, single price healthcare provider.  80% of spending member funds is finding a fast route to diagnosis via private.  Do lots of cataracts, varicose veins,… and offer helplines at a single flat rate at £8.45 a month with no restrictions – the most under-priced product ever!  And available for corporate schemes 🙂

Their challenge?  Used to only be able to join if in public sector or civil service (started for the Post Office originally) people would sign up and they easily got to a million members.  More recently had a decline in members so now about 900k – and aging.  First answer was that anyone could join Benenden.  Concern at the time was that they’d be swamped with interest.  But of course nobody had heard of them and their product was unusual.

2 years ago, new CEO, acknowledgement that open access hasn’t worked.  Talked about partnerships, new channels, new products…. In 10 years time we’ll be unrecognisable.

Inji joined for that reason – 108 year old business, average length of service 25 years  how do you take that org through that level of change?

When started, the strategy had been put in a bullet point list & left on people’s desks – it didn’t work! (Building blocks, New IT system, New product launch underway, First acquisition strategy underway, Hospital redevelopment signed off, Digital channel being built).

All this started or happening – and no thought to the people and how they fitted into this plan!

When Inji joined her challenge was to do 12 mths change in 6 – with an org that had never really changed.

Split the change into 3 buckets – 1 bucket of ‘how we do stuff’, shared services, structure.  1 of capability, roadmap (what you’ll need for your team in next 3-5 yrs), behaviours & l’ship capability (much more needed than technical knowledge).  And 1 of culture, values, action plan.

A very friendly helpful culture.  If in 2024 we’ve become just another insurance company then we’ve failed.  Our culture is special.  Understanding what really makes us special was essential to future success.

There was low leadership visibility – e.g. the leadership team hadn’t been involved at all in the launch of new insurance at the time when Inji joined.  They’re now front & centre, quarterly update on progress from CEO, any chance to get them visible & approachable – servant leadership e.g. a summer party with leaders welcoming people, handing out drinks, etc.  Recognised & appreciated by the team.

Big focus on celebrating successes – much to celebrate.  They’ve won Most Trusted Healthcare Provider 5 years in a row!  Entirely down to the people.  Don’t take it for granted.  Really want to be that & strive for it.

These things don’t have to take a lot of money – the symbolism of directors handing out pizza and saying thank you to people face to face has a big impact.

Values has always been evident as the heart of the business.  But they didn’t feel special – Integrity, Respect, Professional Service Excellence, Respond flexibly and positively to change, Fair & supportive employer of staff.

To capture the ‘specialness’ they did workshops with volunteers to explore the future culture they want – and the values that are fixed in their heritage.  Used Appreciative Inquiry to understand the values – talked about why people joined, what their high points have been, what their most audacious dreams are for the org.  Never fail to be surprised at the power of focussing on the positive.

AI – a change methodology used to focus on the positive rather than problem solve.  And believing the system has the knowledge, insights, resources needed to create what’s needed.

AI > Discovery – Dream – Design – Destiny.

Their values are now – Care, Mutuality, Sustainability, Wellbeing.

Nobody needs to be convinced of these.  They recognise them as what Benenden stand for.  They don’t need ‘selling in’.

As part of review of Performance Mgmt they’ve created a Behavioural Framework – How we work with each other, How we honour our heritage, How we work through change, How we deliver results.  Each has a summary statement e.g. We respect, trust & value the contribution from everyone and we inspire others through great leadership.  Then 4 statements below that e.g. We communicate openly & honestly & have a positive impact on others.

When thinking about alignment, not sure you can get everything absolutely aligned, but can gradually shift one part at a time.  Inji’s experience is that it takes about a year to have people realise things have shifted.  And that at the point you are so bored hearing yourself say the same thing, is about the time that it’s really filtered out into the org.

There’s been huge change in nearly all people practices & policies in the last 18 months including making the call centre like an actual call centre – knowing when calls are coming in, flexing staff, knowing how much cover you need & have at any time… etc.  Rather than drip feed they waited and packaged it up into a picture (co-created by people, not briefed by Inji) to communicate it – people respond better to images than words.  Gave facilitators of the story some training (just an hour) so they could take others through it.  Part of that role was about listening to what these things meant to them, to ask questions, to share concerns.

Achieved a 5% uplift in survey results like understanding the business plan and where I fit in it.

In the CEOs ‘town hall meetings’ people now ask how we’re doing in certain areas rather than waiting to be told.

Learnings > Communication + Co-creation + Celebration = More capacity for change than you might ever have thought!

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDOD15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.

#CIPDOD15 Beyond OD Orthordoxy: dialogic and networked change approaches

This is with Prof Cliff Oswick of Cass Business School at City Uni London.

It’s going to be a fairly quick look at moving away from problem-centred change and to discursive approaches to OD.  Shifting from top-down to emergent, network forms of change.

Traditional vs Dialogic vs Emergent OD

1900s to present – orgs as machines.  1960’s to present – orgs as systems.  1980s to present – interpretive meaning-making systems, 1990s to present – complex adaptive systems.  The last 2 acknowledge the complexity, subjectivity, emergent, chaotic nature of OD.

We’ve come to realise that it’s the discursive construction and context of something that frames what we think of it.  It’s how we frame the problem that matters.

New dialogic OD is solutions-driven, proactive & rhizomatic (that means non-linear!), generative, complex & emergent, abstract & intangible, multi-directional (not constrained by hierarchy).  In the past OD took a problem-centred, concrete & tangible, reactive, linear approach.

All new CEOs come into an org and restructure within 6 mths.  Even though they won’t really know enough about the best structure to create.  All you do is move the pieces around.  Mark their territory.  Prove to the shareholders that they’re ‘doing’ something.  We still like to hold onto tangible.  But who you report to doesn’t really matter.  The power isn’t located in the hierarchy.  However people are structured won’t change the culture.

If interested in OD practices – book recommendation – Dialogic OD: a theory of practice (G. R. Bushe)

Traditional OD – change as a scentific process, great for linear, tangible problems and solutions, top-down e.g. job design, teamwork and structural intervention

Dialogic / Diagnostic / Contemporary OD – change as a discursive process, emergent, fluid, focus on positive and future – always trying to create better e.g. AI, Future Search, World Café

Emerging OD – change as a political process, a neutral focus on change – what will be different now rather than what will be better in the future, turbulent & socially connected, change with employees e.g. Employee activism, Constructive deviance

Talking about a play where the audience can choose to follow different characters acting out different scenes which shows the characters for who they really are.  Doesn’t work now because people tweet it / text it / fb message it so the other audience members find out about the back story they’d never have found out about before.  Just like in work.  There’s nowhere to hide your true self!

Bottom-up is the way forward!  Hierarchy will become less important and leaders will emerge at all levels – they’ve always been there but they’ll now be overt.  Internal crowdsourcing with leaders facilitating the conversations (not heroically leading) will increase into the future.  Decisions made outside of the boardroom – engages and brings people with you. Co-creating change.  Viral change – start by infecting one or two until everyone’s caught the bug!

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDOD15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.

#CIPDOD15 Creating an Enabling Mindset to Become Agile & Future-Focused

Steve Morton Head of People and OD at Virgin Money.

The VUCA got a mention!  *klaxon*  But yes, change is happening all the time, it’s just that it feels a lot faster these days.

We all have a different response to the word ‘change’.  As we do to most things in life.  We all have different baggage we bring based on previous experiences.

Steve likes to move away from ‘change’ and more into thinking about what you want to become – Virgin Money wants, and Steve says sincerely wants, to be a bank where everyone’s better off.  Steve has the CEO on his side, she really cares about what they do.

There was a key criteria to keep the language the same as change began – the language in Virgin Money is simple and transparent and that needed to be maintained.  Doing that helps maintain trust.

Monumental moment when Virgin Money and Northern Rock combined.  When Steve joined the language was still ‘heritage Northern Rock’ or ‘heritage Virgin Money’.  You can’t move forward until you accept those two things need to be something different in the future.

To support change requires consistency of words and actions to build trust and belief that this is really happening and that people believe in it.

At a big event with CEO announced that only 51% felt they got what they needed to do their job.  This was Steve’s challenge.  He took a standback, big approach to reflect a strategy that says everyone’s better off (EBO).

For leadership development they’ve got a social media platform to manage learning, invitations sent through the post, creating an experience for colleagues to make it feel EBO.  Role modelling what’s needed because creating an experience is what managers and their teams need to do for their customers – creating advocates of the brand in employees and customers.

Next step was thinking about developing talent.  The 9 box doesn’t fit with EBO.  He wanted a story to show an EBO approach that would include every single colleague and help them wherever they are.  They’ve got a 4 box and a circle model! – Core Performers – help them be the best they can be, Protect & Grow – key players, Honest Action – it’s just not working, Square Peg Round Hole – help back on track, Future Business Leaders – development stretch.  Whatever type of box-model you want to use, for me the key is the attitude towards the people in the boxes.  Respect for them and their needs.

They’ve brought in apprenticeships to help local and younger community.

Steve’s key – don’t talk up change – the word scares people.  Talk up the things that are most important to your org.  Talk about the reality in real language.

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDOD15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.

#CIPDOD15 Delivering and Embedding Organisational Transformation

This is Transport for London with Alexandra Bode-Tunji who’s Programme Lead Skills & Capabilities.  It’s going to look at some of the obstacles, engaging sponsors, stakeholders and employees, and the transition process.

Didn’t know TFL was the 7th most recognised brand!

Context for change – rising customer expectations, pressure on costs, new technology and changes in regulatory.  This will be a familiar story in many organisations – private and public.  And the change to an improved experience at lower cost had to be done while taking employees on the journey.

Aim to embed customer-focussed behaviours through leadership, ticket hall transformation (people and tech) and a new staffing model.  We all know about this part from the strikes!

The roster changes will lead to 4000 people moving their station!  A huge change.

The work started with development of leaders.  Without that nothing changes.  This was based on the McKinsey 7s Model to diagnose – Structure, Systems, Style, Staff, Skills, Strategy, Shared Values.

And to put it in place Alexandra used the Naomi Stanford (2005) model of Discover – Design – Deliver – Transition – Integrate.

There’s a huge mindset shift needed from safety and asset management to managing people.  Plus there are a lot of families and relationships within teams in TFL so there’s a big challenge for people in, and stepping into, supervisor roles.

To support this, they’re adopting coaching into their leadership approach.

Some of the challenges Alexandra’s had are – 1) Complex Trade Union envmt and no major change in 25 years, 2) No compulsory redundancies allowed, no selection into roles allowed – mapped people in – some don’t want to be in there or might not be capable, with average 25 years length of service and 1.5% turnover, 3) 4 COO’s in 2 years – each needing to be engaged in the change – Alexandra has faith in the new guy!, 4) Critical people issues and learning on the job – low priority  Much more focused on safety and assets, 5) Inconsistent change leadership and local ownership, 6) 100 different stakeholder groups!

They’re taking a strategic approach to sustain and embed the changes – considering blended learning, performance management, recognising and celebrating success, recruitment and selection, change network groups, coaching/team effectiveness.

Alexandra’s biggest learning is to use simple English to describe what you want to do – get away from HR speak!  And my build, if you don’t know if you’re an HR-speaker – ask people!  She’s also learnt the power of having insights and information to show and track how things are progressing.  She’s now got people asking HER how things are going and what they can do to improve.

Video at the end showing about customer service development – that story you so often hear – ‘it’s great to know it’s not just me / us who have these challenges day to day’ – people get great benefits from feeling part of something bigger by coming together, both for the good stuff that goes on, the human connection and to voice challenges.

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDOD15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.

#CIPDOD15 Transitioning Target Culture into Behavioural Expectation

This session is from Zurich Life – James Sutherland (Interim Business Consultant) and Kirsty Knight (HR Business Consultant) – they’re going to be talking about embedding change through employee involvement and centrally organised initiatives.  These two sound opposing positions so I’m intrigued to learn how they’ve made this work. I’m wondering if this is Polarity Thinking in play where it can’t be one or the other and success comes from balancing both.

Context – 2 parts – general and life insurance.  2012, major change structural programme that split Life into Retail, Corporate and …..sorry missed the last one!  They play a role as responsibility for our futures and being financially OK through that has been increasingly shifted to the individual from the state.  Since 2009 they’ve had a lot of change in the top team (especially CEOs and COOs).  They’ve also had a lot of change in regulatory, pension legislation and industry overall.

They appointed PACE Champions to facilitate change (Passion, Agile, Collaboration, Externally focussed – they worked together on what their role needed of them.  Brought to the role – purposefully – from different ages, genders, grades in the org.  She was looking for people who would be bold enough to hold their own with influencing senior leaders and directors.  Was tough at the start but they’re on it now!

They meet monthly to agree what their next focus needs to be.  They link responses rom the employee survey back into the actions / initiatives being taken.

  1. One initiative – PACE Awards to recognise those whose behaviour matches the culture.  Anyone can nominate themselves to be on the judging panel for the quarter.  £75 of vouchers for an individual or £250 for a team.  Used to be 4 individuals and 2 teams that would be recognised.  Feedback was that people wanted more ‘winners’ and that was more important than retaining level of reward.  It’s not the financial reward that’s the key driver – it’s the recognition in front of their friends and peers.  At the end of the year there’s an awards dinner for all winners.

2. Another initiative – A whole week focused on change.  Monday was called Disturbed Monday – anything to break the patterns and routines we follow.  Put your watch on the other wrist.  Walk a different way round the office.  Prizes for people who found the most novel ways to break habits.

Tuesday was about identifying areas to change – what do they like, what don’t they. what would they change

Wednesday – recognise the triggers for change

Thursday – supporting them with info on change curve and supporting them through change

Friday – celebrating changes being made

3. Next one was That’s Life – with a challenge of silo working, each dept could go and showcase what they did using a stand or stall – ran at lunchtime and at the Start of Year event.  e.g. Legal & Compliance talking about what a career in that area looks like.

4. Learning Week – plays into Passion and Collaboration.  Involves all levels.  One week we ran 60 sessions and encouraged everyone to take one hour to undertake some development.  They had some interns delivering something on Prezzi.  The COO delivering on Introverted Leadership.

5. Ride the Subway – big disconnect between regional and head office teams.  Initiative to get office people out into the field to see the impact of what the office creates.  People brought things back to the office that could be changed to improve things for the regional teams and customers.  Loads of process improvements, ditched a lot of things, and most importantly build collaboration between field and office.

6. Strictly Come Dancing to encourage beliefs that trying new things and making mistakes is OK.  Did a dance show for charity with outfits, makeup everything!  Was a showcase to staff that it’s OK to be human and to make mistakes.

They’ve learnt – champions are very valuable, people need shoulder-tapping to avoid it always being the same people involved.  they need the support of their manager to see this as a valuable part of their role.

Recognition has been great to help people hear how the values can be lived in real life.  Diverse and transparent judging panel helps to get fair outcomes and help people value other’s perspectives.

Use the approach of ‘Tone from the Top’ and ‘Noise from the Bottom’ – the top sets the overall intent and direction – and they must listen to the people who are ‘on the ground’.

The majority of this has been done on little budget.  Time and desire are much more important.

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDOD15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.