Listen, Learning, Leading

This weekend, I was at Regents University, studying towards an accreditation in transformational coaching.

In a nutshell, transformational coaching is the empowering and enabling of individuals to make the behavioural shifts required to achieve personal goals.

It’s pretty cool. It’s predicated on the humanistic approach; a rebellious innovation born in the 60s, in response to the limitations of good old Freud’s psychoanalytic theory.

It controversially states that ALL people are innately good (which is nice). It suggests we are all continually looking for new ways to grow, to become better, to learn new things, and to experience psychological growth and self-actualization.

A lovely concept, isn’t it? I thought so.

As the engaging and inspiring trainer introduced us to the value of listening, silence and being non-judgemental, my over-active mind wandered. I was curious…

Could we apply these principles to managing change within organisations? Not just to individuals, but to teams? What would happen? Could we look upon teams as things that are eager to learn and grow, preparing to take their final steps to the top of a shared Maslow’s pyramid?

What would that look like? What would it feel like?

In a coaching relationship, the first and foremost actions are building trust and building rapport.

Meanwhile, in many organisations, the induction process for ‘change programme of strategic importance’ goes something like: Toilets. Tea. Fire. And sorry-I’ve-got-to-go-to-a-meeting. Read-this.

Then there are the change communications. A 90s style brief cascaded via management, who, all too often, shrug their shoulders, shirking all responsibility if they’re met with their team’s disapproval. (If they haven’t forgotten to share it altogether that is.) Workshops are often tellshops, whilst anyone that disagrees with the approach/vision/benefits from Above is labelled a ‘Resistor’.

Then. Sometimes. The MAGIC happens! We harness and promote collaboration, we break-down barriers, we decide we believe in and trust our people, we take bold steps, and we create


These hives of activity see people making friends, becoming as ‘one’, and investing hours, days, weeks, months, into fantastic solutions that will make waves! Finally! There’s excitement. Feel that energy!! Huge, shiny smiles all round.

Then, shit happens.

The next day, carrying hints of a hangover, the Director of Transformation announces that the Director of Something Important (mates with the CEO), came up with an ingenious idea the night before. *Takes bite of bacon roll*

And could you all just do that instead, please. Thanks.

No one sees trust as it chases rapport out of the room, but they all feel it leave.

I’ve been perpetrator and victim of the above, many a time. Sometimes at the same time! I’m in no position to judge, accuse, or preach, but I am in a position to notice.

Now, I wonder if there’s an alternative?

What if change leadership was more about empowerment, listening, learning and nurturing, and less about directing, convincing, teaching and (let’s face it) preaching.

Sounds fun, doesn’t it?

How about if we considered how our own actions feel for others, would we think twice? If we recognised, and continued to remind ourselves, that rapport and trust are the most important (and effective) ingredients for successful change, would we behave differently?

Surely we would.

Marketing Transformation at Cancer Research UK

The Challenge:

On this multi-million pound marketing transformation, Kivo was responsible for business change, engagement and training. When we joined the programme was already underway. We knew that the programme was going to impact at lot of people, but we didn’t know who or how. With £80m of identified benefits at stake, there was a lot counting on the programme’s success.

The first step was to develop a strategy for engaging disparate groups across multiple locations, with complex and different needs, in order to understand how we could manage impact, improve productivity, and minimising unplanned attrition.

What we did:

Working with the programme director, we mapped out the leads of each operational area and, through interviews and existing insight, assessed how they were responding to change so far. We developed relationships with each of the key stakeholders and worked them to understand how their respective teams were likely to be impacted by the change and how we could expect them to react.

Analysis showed that circa 200 people would need to change how they worked across 20 different teams. Furthermore, no two teams would be impacted in the same way!

Next step was to design and recruit a programme change team. Kivo brought in an amazing team full of energy, who took on responsibility for the management of a network of change champions, each taking ‘ownership’ of up to five key relationships and working with teams to identify opportunities to increase efficiency and effectiveness as well as adding new capabilities.

We fostered positive, open and energetic relationships and we worked hard to break down the barriers between the programme and stakeholders, and we soon considered ourselves on cross-functional team. It was by no means an easy ride, with resistance, complexities and challenges along the way. However, the strategy proved successful and teams took full ownership of the changes and did a fantastic job.

The Outcome / Results

The programme delivered its benefits smashing its targets in the following years. Adoption was a success and the people changes stuck, with fundraisers utilising the new tools to maximise and optimise relationships. The programme itself was applauded as the one of the smoothest CRM change programmes that the sponsors had seen thanks to the accurate and tailored communications that helped address resistance and deliver the programme successfully.

Re-framing prioritisation and delivery at Cancer Research UK

Cancer Research UK: Prioritisation framework and change management function

The challenge:

As the increased demand for digital and data rich solutions across the organisation, specialist teams across technology, digital and data were struggling to meet growing needs. Support costs were increasing, whilst a culture of fire-fighting was leading to mismanaged expectations and fractured relationships. There was also duplication and waste, where multiple disconnected solutions were being developed for similar products and campaigns.

What we did:

Working with the executive leadership team, we supported CRUK in taking a fresh approach to planning, building a cross-functional leadership team that ensured a shared understanding of strategic priorities and the types of in-year support required. By designing and building a virtual support hub, we were able to identify opportunities to combine and consolidate activities, to maximise effectiveness and build in extra capability for innovation.

The outcome / results:

We saw tangible results within weeks, and these continued for years after our departure. By improving focus on shared goals, leading to improved collaboration and reduced waste, CRUK saw increased space for innovation and increased speed to market for the delivery of new digital technology. By identifying where there were similar requirements across projects, we were able to develop one solution to meet multiple needs, saving money and time, and increasing our ability to test efficiently.

As Sponsor for the three significant change programmes supported by the Kivo team here at CRUK, I can highly recommend the team.

The first time I worked with Kelly was when she played a key role in the delivery of our Supporter Relationship Management Programme, including the move to a brand new structure and the successful transition of legacy databases to a centralised system. The programme was a bumpy ride that Kelly kept on track and saw through to a successful delivery, keeping many reluctant stakeholders engaged and inspired.

Kelly and Roma went on to bravely challenge leadership and cut through legacy ways of working to deliver the near-impossible and transform the way we prioritise, plan and deliver our Fundraising and Marketing products, ensuring minimal operational costs for delivery of products like Dryathalon and Stand Up to Cancer.

Last but not least, Kelly and Vicky led the delivery of our Digital Transformation, which resulted in a significant uplift in visitors and online donations, whilst stretching the way we think about digital, user experience and targeted content.

Kivo come with the rare ability to see the bigger picture without falling into the typical role of ‘consultancy’. They stand by their ethos of putting people before their own profit and will do all they can to ensure you maximise your investments into organisational change.

Anthony Newman

Director of Brand, Marketing & Communications, Cancer Research UK

Digital Fundraising Vision, British Red Cross

The challenge:

Driven by an urgent need to modernise the digital experience, British Red Cross was embarking on a Change Programme with an implementation partner, involving the redesign and rebuild of the website. Fundraising needed to build their own understanding and awareness of opportunities so they could contribute to the direction of the programme, so they sought the support of Kivo to define their supporter vision and business goals.

What we did:

We carried out an internal insight piece to develop the digital fundraising vision. Through a series of interviews with the senior leadership team, we identified opportunities to transition to an audience-driven approach and optimise the fundraising digital experience. We developed a number of high level vision statements covering key themes, including the use of insight and building on supporter motivations, through to innovation, scalability, speed to market and a sector leading retail experience.

Through ideation workshops with the fundraising, retail and innovation teams, we then defined possible supporter journeys and known priority changes. We also identified some core organisational decisions and changes that would be required to enable a holistic experience.

The outcome/results:

Our recommendations were passed on to the implementation partner and used in further organisational strategy and planning work.