The Culture Builders

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July 9, 2020  

The Culture Builders Deep Dive – Curating a unique culture during rapid growth

How do you capture and maintain what makes your company culture fantastic when your growth trajectory brings in a slew of new people who have the potential to dilute that culture? This was the problem faced by Paul Knight when he joined the People Function in the rapidly-growing Perform Media Group seven years ago.

Under his guidance, the organisation went from 750 people to more than 3,000 in less than four years, culminating in a necessary de-merger of the two parts (into Perform and DAZN) of the company to allow future growth. Throughout this time, Paul and the team were highly aware of the unique culture that had made Perform successful, and how their work should help curate it rather than remove it.

Necessary systems and processes had to be ‘tuned’ to the right tone and levels of control to ensure they supported a highly commercial, casual and progressive organisation. In his own words, it wasn’t easy but, for Paul, it was the journey of a lifetime. Take a listen into that story.

June 26, 2020  

The Culture Builders Deep Dive - Cultures and AI - a complex relationship

“The current situation is only accelerating what’s been happening for a while with AI,” believes Greg Orme, award-winning author of The Human Edge. He joins Chris on this podcast to discuss how this now-pervasive technology is changing the landscape of work for everyone, and how we should positively use the opportunity to ‘remove tasks, not jobs’ as part of its implementation.

Greg brings a fascinating insight into how we, as a professional society, are responding to AI – where it’s being harnessed to help improve lives and where it’s disrupting traditional approaches for those less comfortable with its emergence. It’s a powerful tool, as Greg states, but one that we have full control over and, if we are mindful, can positively shape the impact it has on our organisational cultures. Ultimately, it’s down to the trust we place in both it and the leadership that encourages us to innovate around it. Right now, with the urgent need for new tools to help build the as-yet unclear future of work, AI is one tool we would do well to plan for. Sit back and enjoy a front-row seat as Greg and Chris muse about the ‘mess’ that will save us and the happy-loss of video recorders. It all makes sense upon listening!

June 12, 2020  

The Culture Builders Deep Dive – Leading BBC Studioworks through a crisis

Just a few short months into his tenure as CEO of BBC Studioworks, Andrew Moultrie faced the prospect of leading his organisation through the COVID19 crisis and resultant restrictions for broadcasters. The company, a subsidiary of the BBC, provides facilities for the filming and production of some of the most popular TV shows in this country and beyond – Eastenders and Strictly being just two of a wide range of outputs. 

The first tool he reached for? Emotional intelligence. Andrew credits any success of his leadership to this factor – far more so than models, process or structure. As he says himself:  “Being an emotional kid in the 80s and 90s did not work for me – but now it’s a superpower.”

Jane and the rest of the team have been working closely with Andrew and the wider BBC Studioworks team to implement a new approach to values and behaviours – fuelled by his desire to focus on creating a strong culture within the organisation. You can hear more of his initial leadership journey, how he approached being a ‘lockdown leader’, and his view on he importance of emotions for senior leaders on this podcast episode.

May 31, 2020  

The Culture Builders Burst - Wellbeing becoming a critical part of business during the pandemic

Wellbeing has long been on the fringes of business - yes, it's important, but it's long been sat in the corner, adding value 'as and when'. But now, with the new landscape of a pandemic-hit world, we are seeing it rise to the top of the list of priorities.

Jane and Chris share their thoughts on this, and talk about how the 'permission' to take advantage of wellbeing offerings and to be more open about using them are some of the unexpected benefits of the current lockdown situation. More than ever, we need people to be focused, sustainable and well.

May 28, 2020  

The Culture Builders Deep Dive – Lessons from COVID19 and the opportunities it offers

Back for part two, Andrew Keith, President of Lane Crawford, builds on his views around how the virus has been a catalyst for necessary but also desired change in the fashion industry. Since the 23rd of January his organisation has been surviving in a lockdown world, and he shares his views on how they have coped, the things he has done as a leader to ensure he remains a visible, connected leader, and the impact that the values and culture work has had in preparing them for this situation.

He shares examples of where his retail team has become far more inventive in solving the blockers that lockdown presented – Zooming customers to show products and creating new routes to the communities that they work with. With Hong Kong now emerging from lockdown, he also talks about the excitement and uncertainty that he is seeing as people come back to work physically. He recognises the staggered nature of the return, and the importance of including everyone in this process. But most of all, he talks about the renewed sense of purpose, and how people in the company are looking ahead at the positive changes that the virus has encouraged and enabled them to make.

In short, Andrew paints a blueprint for the future that we can all start to follow.

May 22, 2020  

The Culture Builders Deep Dive – A sea change in the fashion industry

A number of leading figures in the fashion industry have taken the bold step of challenging the traditional seasonal model that dominates the market currently. It’s wasteful, frustrating and unnecessary. But it takes a brave voice to rock the boat so drastically. But that’s exactly what our guest this week, Andrew Keith – President, Lane Crawford – did recently. He, and a number of leading industry figures joined forces to call out the current situation and lay the groundwork for a new way of retailing.

But the story starts three years earlier, when Lane Crawford (Asia’s leading luxury fashion retailer) undertook a root and branch re-think of its culture – defining a new purpose and ‘reason for being’ and working intensely to re-engineer the core tenets of the organisation. It was, as Andrew explains, the foundation for the change and challenge to the industry. He joins Jane Sparrow to talk about the drivers behind his challenge to the industry and how (with our help!) he moved a 170-year-old culture forward one big step.

May 15, 2020  

The Culture Builders Deep Dive – managing emotions at 400 mph

Mike Ling is one of the flying team with the Blades Aerobatic Team – a place earnt through a spectacular military flying career, that concluded with him taking one of the lead pilot roles in the world renowned Red Arrows. He spoke to us recently to share more of his story and put into context some of our work and thinking around areas such as emotional management during stressful situations and the criticality of physiological management.

His story is nothing short of heart-stopping, in the interview he talks about a near-fatal crash that nearly ended his flying career, and how he found new depths of resilience and determination during his long road to recovery. We’ve always had the utmost admiration for the Red Arrows pilots, and Mike demonstrates exactly why – calm, humble and a total professional. There’s a great deal of his story and thinking that translates into the wider business culture – flying has taught him a great deal, and he’s very happy to share his wisdom.

May 6, 2020  

The Culture Builders Deep Dive – Culture lessons from a global team

"The necessity of presence is over-rated – I’m far more focused on output and productivity, rather than the number of hours you’re sat in the office,” states Joel Krutz, former CFO of Viacom CBS International and this episode’s guest. He has, for many years worked with a team that spans the globe, so when he talks about remote working and remote teams, you sit back and listen!

You’ll need your notepads ready for this one, as Jane and Joel chat about the reality of a workforce upon which the sun never sets and how to both deliver your best and get the same out of others when time and distance are major factors. Joel talks passionately about the importance of ‘knowing the reality of the individual’ in order to work with them effectively. The factor that comes across strongly during the interview is his view that working with an international team requires a great deal of proactivity – success doesn’t come by chance.  If you want some clear, practical thinking on how remote working can impact your talent pool, help you build a different approach to judging how people add value and the ways in which communication can be used with dispersed teams, Joel is your man.

May 1, 2020  

The Culture Builders Deep Dive - What does three years of home working teach you?

Our guest this episode describes the current (April 2020) remote working situation as ‘taking off one pair of slippers and putting on different ones. Since 2016, when a leukemia diagnosis forced Frank Cunnane to re-think his work patterns, he’s been re-shaping his working patterns to take into account the new reality for him.

We asked him to share his learnings from this experience, to talk about the changes he made and the new attitudes he developed to enable him to still be an effective leader. His role as Vice President & Regional CIO EMEA for Sony Pictures Entertainment requires a great deal of him, which he sustainably delivers from his home base. Jane worked with Frank for many years, and it’s with a real delight that she got some time with him on the line to share his story and his growth during that tough time.

April 28, 2020  

The Culture Builders Deep Dive – Remote working – it’s about trust & talent

James Skinner, Director of Digital Technology for Specsavers has a number of keen perspectives on how an organisation can develop its remote working culture. James joins Jane Sparrow to talk about what it means to build a remote-working focused culture and the attitudes that leaders need to foster authentically if they are to make the transition to a more fluid working approach a success. 

His experience in companies such as Dyson and Specsavers and the different ways they approach this area are highly illuminating. One area he raises on the podcast is the link between flexible work patterns and talent attraction – the first has to be on offer to attract the second. Trust is also high on his list – James sees it as the cornerstone of success when leading a team. Ultimately, it’s about what people do and the output they create, rather than the way they do this.

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