A Financial Services Organisation: Supporting the Development of Purpose and Vision through Culture

Senior leadership alignment workshop

Supporting the development of purpose and vision.

Established in 2003, our client offers credit cards for UK residents with a limited or uneven credit history, as well as a fixed rate bond service for savers. Our client has been highly successful at building a vibrant and growing customer base, with over 3 million credit card customers being accepted by December 2015. With its central functions based in London and operational activities located in Yorkshire and Kent, our client currently has around 1,400 employees. In the face of both the exit of several long-serving senior executives, and the integration of new members onto the Senior Leadership Team, our client needed support in developing a Purpose and Vision statement. The work that our client has done to develop a new, exciting and credible strategy has been strongly supported by the values work done by Primeast.

The Brief

Primeast’s challenge was to support the development of a Purpose and Vision statement for the Senior Leadership Team (SLT), at a time when both several long-serving senior executives were leaving the business, and new members of the team needed to be integrated. Added to this, the CEO was a recent appointment himself, so Primeast was invited to facilitate a SLT workshop, in order to introduce the concepts of Purpose, Vision, Corporate Values and Culture to the team.

Because the executive team was new, we recommended the use of the Barrett Values Centre Cultural Transformation Tools (CTT®) as an accessible way into the subject of purpose and vision. The subsequent diagnostic output gave remarkably consistent responses about the strengths of the team and the business, as well as providing several signposts to areas for operational and cultural improvement.

Our Solution

As a result of this work with the CTT results, the team were able to hold some powerful and revealing discussions about their business, its development and its future. A fundamental element of this was the realisation that the organisation serves its customers in a uniquely important way: this gave the SLT a real insight into the company’s purpose from the customers’ perspective.

Due to the success of this initial CTT-based consultancy, the project was extended to include members of the senior management and strategic management teams, as well as a selection of junior managers deemed to be of high potential (this latter group was used as a control group to offset the expected consistency norms that might arise from the other segments). A number of data-cuts were then analysed, before being debriefed with the client and shared with a sample of respondents from each of the three groups. This final activity was carried out via a series of 3-hour workshops, facilitated by one of Primeast’s highly experienced consultants.

The Result

The work that our client has done to develop a new, exciting and credible strategy has been strongly supported by the values work done by Primeast. Our involvement directly influenced a subsequent management conference led by the CEO and his SLT, at which the corporate culture was described, co-created and agreed, and action plans were developed. All of this activity worked to drive the organisation forward into a new and exciting phase in its development, at a time when competitively the credit market was becoming more difficult, and a newly invigorated spirit was required to achieve its ambitious aims.

Respondents to the CTT survey and workshops have appreciated being involved in the development of the Purpose, Vision and Values, and there is a recognition that the organisation’s leaders are firmly in ‘listen’ mode. For everyone involved, it is clear that the results of the values survey seemed to accurately reflect the current culture, as well as fostering a recognition that future success relies on addressing current culture issues. An appetite for change has been identified throughout the management cohort, with individuals effectively being given ‘permission’ to both participate in co-creating the organisation’s future, and to set an agenda for the way that they wish things to be done within the organisation. There is also an acceptance that the ‘how’ and the ‘why’ of what goes on at work are at least as important as what gets done.