The Culture Builders

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November 26, 2020  

The Culture Builders Deep Dive – Energising a magnetic culture

Libby Townsend – Group People Director at OVO Group – joins Jane Sparrow to discuss her experiences in a range of corporates, and what she sees as the deeper factors that create a ‘magnetic culture’ for organisations – drawing in and keeping bright people as we enter the new year and a range of new challenges and possibilities

She shares her journey and learning points around the creation and maintenance of strong cultures - such as her tent-in-a-field induction with Virgin Mobile and how it demonstrated the power of fun in an organisation. Libby also talks about the difficulty of ‘retro-fitting’ purpose in organisations, and the challenge of trying to motivate a ‘stale’ culture.

Currently, Libby feels that the organisations weathering the current situation most successfully are those that have a clear, lived purpose, and are actively encouraging dialogue and communication that is based on it. She sees managers as the vital success factor, and believes that organisations should be placing a great deal of emphasis and support on this group – something based on her own experience of being a mentor and remaining connected to those she has supported as they have grown.

November 13, 2020  

The Culture Builders Burst – There’s something funny about culture

From March 2020 to today we have all been living and working on a rollercoaster – the initial stages filled us with fear and trepidation, but also with a keen sense of humour and shared laughter. Over time, fear has become resignation and humour has faded. But, with the change in seasons, steps ‘back’ around lockdown and people feeling at a low ebb, we need it more than ever.

In this quick burst episode, Chris takes a dip into this surprisingly complex subject and highlights its importance (and risk) in creating a strong team culture. He also lays down the challenge of bringing it back – dialling back up the ‘funnies’ and finding ways to share humour. We all need to smile right now, and it’s not something we should leave to chance.

October 15, 2020  

The Culture Builders Burst – Unplug to recharge

With statistics right now indicating that two thirds of us are facing issues with burn-out, it’s vital that we start taking on board the idea that ‘unplugging’ is a critical factor for sustainable working, and to give use a fighting change of making it through this most difficult, prolonged period of uncertainty. No one is taking the right amount of time off at the moment, and people are working longer and harder than ever. But it will end badly if we don’t make some changes now.

Jane and Chris, on this Burst podcast, share some very practical ways of building in the ‘pauses’ and the permission to stop – even short moments that give us back the energy and focus that we need. They encourage listeners to think about ‘structured’ and ‘unstructured’ unplugging – either things we plan for and implement in a planned way, or those ‘happy interruptions’ that give us a pause and a change of pace. Their tips, as ever, range from the easy to the extreme – this time, it’s dogs and broken legs.

September 3, 2020  

The Culture Builders Burst – How to make September the start of the next chapter

September will be a significant turning point for many of us – as the critical situation created by COVID19 will become a chronic situation that we are learning to live with. The change of the season and the return to school/work for many is a signal that a change is hopefully coming. We have an opportunity to define the next stage of our strange 2020 world, and it’s important that we don’t sleepwalk through it and miss the opportunity. Cultures are fluid, people are looking for change and, with the right pace, great things can happen.

Jane and Chris share three areas of focus and consideration for anyone thinking about how to tackle the next few months – how to take ownership of the direction of travel and use the situation to move the culture of your organisation forwards. There’s a reminder of just how far we’ve come, how much new ‘muscle’ people have developed over the last few months – and how we harness this growth-under-pressure. As Chris says, there’s no blueprint for the future of work, so we either sit and wait for it to appear, or we create it ourselves.


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.

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