Preparing for Cross-Organisational Transformation: CRISIS

The challenge: 

Crisis has grown exponentially and ongoing success has meant a lack of time and focus on internal capabilities, technology and data. Like many charities, it’s fallen behind and become limited in the personalised and relevant experiences it can offer to its audiences, with the largely off-line product offering means they are missing opportunities to engage more effectively for a greater impact. With outdated technology and processes, and increasing expectations from stakeholders, staff were becoming overwhelmed, stuck in a loop of expectation management and underdelivering.

Enter COVID, and many beneficiaries and a wealth of volunteers expect to engage digitally, meaning the need to strategically align on how the Charity needs to change and invest in the digital, data and technology increased in urgency. 

What we did:

Embedded ourselves within the organisation, driving a team of change-leaders to shift the mind-set to audience-led, setting out audience visions, change roadmaps and a strategy for change rooted in organisational priorities and needs. We did this by facilitating face to face and virtual workshop events, bringing together board members, managers and subject matter experts, to identify how thinking differently about digital, data, technology could accelerate impact and growth. 

Working with the Director of Corporate Services, we are leading business planning workshops to build new capabilities and initiatives into organisational plans to ensure deliverable and sustainable improvements. 

We designed a refreshed target operating model that put future-facing capabilities at the heart of delivery and ensured the right space and capacity for strategy, new thinking and innovation. 

We designed a change programme leadership and model which builds dedicated capacity into the organisation and reduces the reliance on short term, external, consultancy support (including ourselves!)

The outcome / results:

We helped to shift the organisation to a strategic focus, and Crisis is now working towards a shared vision and goals, with full commitment and support from the leadership team. A shared cross-organisational prioritisation approach, means we are able to ensure the right focus on fixing the foundations, day to day support, delivering projects, innovation and change, and cultural transformation.

By investing in digital products and services, strategic and digital marketing, our data strategy and management and technology evolution, Crisis are on track to revolutionising the experience they offer audiences.

With people actively and energetically working towards a shared vision and collaborating across teams to drive change, leaders and change-makers are better able to articulate how digital, data and technology – when done properly – will add value to the organisation and ultimately end homelessness sooner. 

They are currently recruiting a Programme Director, who will lead the charge in embedding the new Target Operating Model, enabling more effective, scalable expert teams to respond, whilst driving empowered cross-functional teams with an increased ability to self-serve and co-design solutions with users.

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.

Team vision and coaching, Kings College

The new Head of Supporter Operations brought us in to facilitate the design of a shared vision across services, an operating model and change plan, all aimed at ensuring supporters and internal consumers were at the heart of data operations and decision-making.

Kelly interviewed each of the team members for get an understanding of the current state and how people were feeling after a recent restructure. Using these insights, which highlighted the great work the Head had already done, Kelly made recommendations on teams design and how best to engage the team going forwards.

Finally, Kelly worked with the Head of Service on an improvement plan for ways of working, calling out the elements of the vision that would require the most focus and suggesting interventions and approaches to get the most out of the team capabilities.

When I first took on leadership of the Data Support Operations here at King’s College, Kivo worked with us to build a vision, create an operating model and design a roadmap for change. They carried out interviews with all members, facilitated well received collaborative workshops, and built accurate individual and team profiles that helped me to both design the future operating model and identify areas that needed extra focus. Kivo’s recommendations proved to be effective and helped me to embed the positive changes needed to transition us from a good team to a high performing team, with minimal impact on our ability to deliver business as usual through the change.

Jennifer Wills

Associate Director of Finance, King’s College London