The executive team of a leading Australian and New Zealand retailer reached out to Interchange following some dedicated and focused work on establishing a clear set of strategic objectives.
With the strategy in place, the leadership team felt that it was the right time to create a clear and compelling purpose to galvanise the organisation.
The objective was to have the executive team work together and arrive at an organisational purpose statement that all team members would be able to feel genuinely connected to. The purpose statement was to be used as an internal tool, a lens through which the organisation makes a number of critical decisions. It would help ‘ring fence’ strategic thinking, choices around investment in system and product assortment and also provide a connection back to the operating model.
Interchange has considerable experience in helping organisations with their purpose, strategy and culture. However, to achieve the results that we do, it is important to create an approach that is specific to each organisation that we work with – there’s no one size fits all.
That is why our initial approach was one that involved engaging with a cross-section of the retailers’ stakeholders including team members, store managers, board members and more. We wanted to dive in deep and learn more about the people and the culture of the organisation.
A number of employees were also interviewed and recorded via video. These interviews would go on to provide insight to the executive team and further guide their purpose development process.
Based upon these findings, we were able to construct a solution that would engage and appeal to the participants, allowing them to better understand what drives them, their teams and the organisation. By the end of the sessions, participants were able to fully realise their purpose statements and incorporate them into the operating rhythm.
The solution took the form of 10, 3-hour workshops that the executive team would attend weekly. As the leadership team were spread throughout Australia and New Zealand, the sessions were held online. Over the 10 weeks, the leaders moved through a myriad of activities that allowed them to hold a magnifying glass to their personal purpose and their team’s purpose, ultimately leading them to better understand the organisation’s purpose. The process iterated, the brainstorming was fast and the prototyping was rapid.
This endeavour wasn’t just about the leader’s perspectives. Between each session, we challenged the group to venture out on their own and complete a series of tasks. Some of which required them to question the broader workforce and learn more about their views. It is an organisational-wide purpose statement after all, so it is imperative to gather input from a larger cross-section of the company. Each week, the findings were integrated back into the session to help evolve the work and build a deeper connection with the task at hand.
Pop culture pizazz
This project wouldn’t be an Interchange project if there wasn’t a creative element involved now, would it? We look at every session as an opportunity to produce not only quality outcomes but to also foster deeper team connections, facilitate personal reflection and of course – bring the fun.
Considering that all 22 leaders were from a similar age group and were from the same two neighbouring countries, we decided to use parts of Australia and New Zealand’s popular culture to take them on a journey of transition and change.
Each of the 10 sessions referenced music and films from the 80’s and 90’s, transporting the leaders back to a time when they were open to change and creativity.
When you tap into a memory centre, where people feel a strong and positive connection to something in particular, they’re going to feel more receptive and be more engaged. This mindset is what fuelled the leaders to do their best uninhibited, creative work.
We also used the popular culture references to tell a story. Each song, movie or piece of art presented a narrative that supported the purpose of each session. The creative media inspired the participants to write statements that were courageous and authentic to the organisation, breaking free of the expectations held by the corporate world.
Apart from references to the arts, we also threw a number of other atypical activities into the mix, some of which included:
- Walking discussions
- Tinder profiles
- Elevator pitches
- Musical performances
Once the executive team had come to the end of their purpose journey and had shared their ideas with the broader business, the statements were finalised. All 22 leaders felt strongly connected to the newly established organisational purpose and had a solid understanding of their own personal motivation, as well as that of their respective teams.
Moving forward, the executive team are keen to use their position to lead the implementation of the new organisational purpose statement.