We’re delighted to host a guest opinion blog from our good partners Egremont Group. In this article Natalie Gordon gives great insight into shifting culture in an organisation, based on her deep experience of making breakthroughs in transformation at many major companies and organisations.

 

Moving from ‘I know’ to ‘I care’

For a strategy to take hold, your employees have to really understand the consequences of implementing it – or not – and care about their role in bringing it to life. Perhaps you have already run communication events telling people about your new strategy, so that everyone knows what to expect. That is the first step on the three-step engagement curve. If you stop at this point, leaving implementation to a trusted few, you have no effective way of sowing the seeds for full-scale adaptation and change. Your task is to collectively move the organisation from KNOWING what needs to change to UNDERSTANDING what needs to change and why – step two.

To truly understand it, it has to be personal, answering the question, ‘what’s in it for me?’ At this point, your strategy is moving beyond an idealistic intent to something tangible, that can be felt and experienced. Understanding is a step up from knowing, but it still doesn’t mean an individual will change their ways of working. To do that, they need to keep moving to the third and final step of the engagement curve – CARING about the change. When they care, they actively want to make it happen and will proactively look for ways in which they can accelerate the changes required to not only benefit them, but also the whole organisation. It’s at that point that your strategy becomes reality.

 

Shift your climate to change your culture

The good news is that there are tangible, practical steps you can take to move individuals, teams and the organisation from knowing about your strategy to caring about it and proactively helping to implement it. It starts with understanding and influencing your organisational climate. This in turn drives your organisational culture. It’s worth spending a little time to understand the difference between the two.

CLIMATE is about the mood of the organisation and how that manifests in thinking, decisions, actions, management style and communication. We can influence it in practical ways and measure the impact of our actions. CULTURE is about the deep values and beliefs of an organisation – the more intangible elements of an organisation. It’s the unwritten code of how things happen and it’s hard to change. The climate we create enables the culture to evolve over time.

 

Diagnosing your organisational climate

To understand how best to land a strategy and implement it, you need to first understand your current climate and which aspects may help or hinder the realisation of your strategy. Key diagnostic tools you will be using at this point include stakeholder mapping, decision making process reviews, role and accountability reviews. The intent is to find out how work gets done, what the appetite for change is, what the barriers and enablers to change are, and which roles will have most impact in supporting the new strategy. The outcome is the story of the problem you have to solve and the opportunities available. This can then be shared to reinforce knowledge and start to build understanding and buy-in for the journey ahead.

 

Shifting your organisational climate

Armed with this insight into the climate of the organisation and the key challenges and opportunities, you can then focus on what needs to change and how, i.e. identifying how to shift your climate to embrace your strategy. You’ll start with building a strategy map to identify the key outcomes required and the levers which enable them. This will be cascaded down and across the organisation, supported by departmental KPIs and individual performance objectives which all align back up to your strategic intent. The performance measures will likely be more balanced than before, accommodating the 3 Ps of the triple bottom line: people, performance and planet.

With the strategy now clearly broken down into actionable segments and articulated via the strategy map, you will be involving groups and individuals in solution development across the organisation, getting to grips with how things need to change. You might consider training and mobilising a network of change champions to assist with this. You will probably be piloting new ways of working, equipping teams across the organisation with problem solving skills to take ownership and action at a local level. Your objective is to help people understand practically what they can do on a day-to-day basis to contribute to the new sustainability strategy. What is in their power to influence? This is critical to define in order to build the transition from ‘I know’ to ‘I care.’

 

Turning strategy into reality

It is always easier to engage others in change when they see and feel the need for change themselves and the best way to do this, is to get them involved within a managed and organised framework. If you really believe in your strategy, you need to invest resources in bringing it to life. Don’t let it languish in a board pack. Empower your organisation to care and take action.

 

Want to find out more?

You can contact us to find out more about our work and Egremont Group’s work in this area

 

Photo credit: Photo by 愚木混株 cdd20 on Unsplash 

Jennifer Decker/

I enable businesses to reduce their business and product impacts from setting out a sustainability strategy to supporting the delivery of circular business models. Businesses I have supported include High Speed 1 Ltd, Cotton Incorporated, Argent, Heathrow Expansion, Northern Trust Bank, EDF New Nuclear Build, EY, Ministry of Justice, Ministry of Defence.

I specialise on working within an organisation which has included my tenure as sustainability specialist at EDF New Nuclear Build and at WRAP developing their Textiles 2030 agreement and produced their 2030 circular textiles pathway working with the major retailers, reuse & recycling businesses and charities.

Prior to QSA, I was an associate director at Mace Group where I enabled built environment clients to deliver their carbon reduction programmes and sustainable construction strategies by setting measurable KPIs and targets; creating tools to monitor; embed performance standards in procurement and communication.

Previously, I led the Sustainable Clothing Action Plan at WRAP setting the 2020 targets, strategy and implementation for the UK clothing industry.

Kristina Bull /

I led our project with Laudes Foundation and ReLondon on the Circular Fashion Fast Forward project that saw us develop circular models with adidas; FW and Farfetch as well as lay the foundations for Ted Baker’s work in this area.

I am leading the development of a fibre specific recycling programme within Europe which will be launched in early 2022.

I am an apparel durability expert with track record of change implementation at Whistles, ASOS, COS and worked with WRAP and John Lewis to produce a durability and quality guide for brands.

I have advised low carbon, resource efficiency and sustainability strategy development at Heathrow and High Speed 1 Ltd, and continue to lead the support work for HS1 through to their participation at COP26 in November 2021.

Before QSA at WRAP I delivered the market engagement and recruitment drive for the WRAP Halving Waste to Landfill agreement in the built environment sector.

Gerrard Fisher /

I have a strong track record in sustainability with a wide range of clients. My original background is in process and chemical engineering so I’ve been in to process and resource efficiency since graduating a long time ago!

I’ve supported circular business model transformation in companies such as adidas, Argos, ASOS, B&Q (Kingfisher), FARFETCH, FW, Samsung, MuJo Fitness and more: I led a team that created WRAP’s original circular business model project called REBus.

I have extensive experience working with electrical and electronic products, and I worked with many major global brands on improving design for durabiltiy and repairabilitly. Examples of projects I led include:

  • Groundbreaking research into the nature of mercury hazards in flat-panel TVs (leading to industry voluntary labelling)
  • Creation of design guides for retail buyers so they could improve the durability (and reduce warranty costs) of their own-brand products.
  • Delivery of communication campaigns that increased e-waste recycling collections by over 40% in target areas.

Through my past work at WRAP and beyond, I’ve also advised a range of governmental and NGO organisations on resource efficiency, ecodesign and circular economy including Defra, BEIS, Zero Waste Scotland, ReLondon and Oxfordshire County Council. I provide technical advisory and independent expert advice to UKRI, the European Commission, the US Government’s Department of Energy.

I get a kick out of helping businesses understand and meet their customers’ needs better - whether that’s through better business models, better product design or better communication and transparency.

This has also led me to take an interest in privacy and data management - which can be a big barrier to people reusing and recycling some of their old electrical stuff. As a result, I set up a business called Astrid to provide cost-effective privacy advice to small businesses so they can better protect their customer information.

Mark Hodgson /

I specialise in the innovation and proposition development of new customer orientated, commercially driven circular and sharing business models to market. I have a particular experience of working on circular models with sectors that are impacted by the change in lifestyles, consumption, digital mobility, electric infrastructure and NetZero, have on place. Examples range from retail; IKEA, adidas, B&Q, ASOS, FarFetch, developers and OEM’s; Landsec & Samsung, mobility; Riversimple, HS1 & Co Cars and authorities; Oxford County Council and Exeter Velocities/Exeter City Council. Across all of these, I have helped deliver the propositions, services, operations and infrastructure to enable deployment.

As a founder and ex-director of a multi-modal shared e-mobility provider of EV cars, e-bikes and e-cargo bikes, I have first-hand experience of the impact and change these business models can have on people and place, through working with clients, local authorities and housing developers.

I understand what processes and techniques to apply, how to encourage growth and change mindsets, and how to build a customer-focused, commercially viable business model that delivers circular and environmental benefits. My background is business development, technology and markets having worked for international companies to local SMEs. I've worked in a wide range of projects from global business propositions, sales as a service, sharing and circular business models, ‘low carbon’ LEP economic strategies, climate change adaptation, renewable energy, clean tech sector development and public sector partnerships to technical research, international development and project delivery management.

Being a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society and geographer at heart I've worked on sustainable development projects and film productions in locations in Africa, Asia and Europe.