Inji Duducu, Group People Director of Benenden.
Talking about using Appreciative Inquiry to identify the org’s true values, and developing engagement and comms strategy to sustain commitment across the org.
Benenden is a healthcare provider (mutual, not-for-profit) – they’re a single product, single price healthcare provider. 80% of spending member funds is finding a fast route to diagnosis via private. Do lots of cataracts, varicose veins,… and offer helplines at a single flat rate at £8.45 a month with no restrictions – the most under-priced product ever! And available for corporate schemes 🙂
Their challenge? Used to only be able to join if in public sector or civil service (started for the Post Office originally) people would sign up and they easily got to a million members. More recently had a decline in members so now about 900k – and aging. First answer was that anyone could join Benenden. Concern at the time was that they’d be swamped with interest. But of course nobody had heard of them and their product was unusual.
2 years ago, new CEO, acknowledgement that open access hasn’t worked. Talked about partnerships, new channels, new products…. In 10 years time we’ll be unrecognisable.
Inji joined for that reason – 108 year old business, average length of service 25 years how do you take that org through that level of change?
When started, the strategy had been put in a bullet point list & left on people’s desks – it didn’t work! (Building blocks, New IT system, New product launch underway, First acquisition strategy underway, Hospital redevelopment signed off, Digital channel being built).
All this started or happening – and no thought to the people and how they fitted into this plan!
When Inji joined her challenge was to do 12 mths change in 6 – with an org that had never really changed.
Split the change into 3 buckets – 1 bucket of ‘how we do stuff’, shared services, structure. 1 of capability, roadmap (what you’ll need for your team in next 3-5 yrs), behaviours & l’ship capability (much more needed than technical knowledge). And 1 of culture, values, action plan.
A very friendly helpful culture. If in 2024 we’ve become just another insurance company then we’ve failed. Our culture is special. Understanding what really makes us special was essential to future success.
There was low leadership visibility – e.g. the leadership team hadn’t been involved at all in the launch of new insurance at the time when Inji joined. They’re now front & centre, quarterly update on progress from CEO, any chance to get them visible & approachable – servant leadership e.g. a summer party with leaders welcoming people, handing out drinks, etc. Recognised & appreciated by the team.
Big focus on celebrating successes – much to celebrate. They’ve won Most Trusted Healthcare Provider 5 years in a row! Entirely down to the people. Don’t take it for granted. Really want to be that & strive for it.
These things don’t have to take a lot of money – the symbolism of directors handing out pizza and saying thank you to people face to face has a big impact.
Values has always been evident as the heart of the business. But they didn’t feel special – Integrity, Respect, Professional Service Excellence, Respond flexibly and positively to change, Fair & supportive employer of staff.
To capture the ‘specialness’ they did workshops with volunteers to explore the future culture they want – and the values that are fixed in their heritage. Used Appreciative Inquiry to understand the values – talked about why people joined, what their high points have been, what their most audacious dreams are for the org. Never fail to be surprised at the power of focussing on the positive.
AI – a change methodology used to focus on the positive rather than problem solve. And believing the system has the knowledge, insights, resources needed to create what’s needed.
AI > Discovery – Dream – Design – Destiny.
Their values are now – Care, Mutuality, Sustainability, Wellbeing.
Nobody needs to be convinced of these. They recognise them as what Benenden stand for. They don’t need ‘selling in’.
As part of review of Performance Mgmt they’ve created a Behavioural Framework – How we work with each other, How we honour our heritage, How we work through change, How we deliver results. Each has a summary statement e.g. We respect, trust & value the contribution from everyone and we inspire others through great leadership. Then 4 statements below that e.g. We communicate openly & honestly & have a positive impact on others.
When thinking about alignment, not sure you can get everything absolutely aligned, but can gradually shift one part at a time. Inji’s experience is that it takes about a year to have people realise things have shifted. And that at the point you are so bored hearing yourself say the same thing, is about the time that it’s really filtered out into the org.
There’s been huge change in nearly all people practices & policies in the last 18 months including making the call centre like an actual call centre – knowing when calls are coming in, flexing staff, knowing how much cover you need & have at any time… etc. Rather than drip feed they waited and packaged it up into a picture (co-created by people, not briefed by Inji) to communicate it – people respond better to images than words. Gave facilitators of the story some training (just an hour) so they could take others through it. Part of that role was about listening to what these things meant to them, to ask questions, to share concerns.
Achieved a 5% uplift in survey results like understanding the business plan and where I fit in it.
In the CEOs ‘town hall meetings’ people now ask how we’re doing in certain areas rather than waiting to be told.
Learnings > Communication + Co-creation + Celebration = More capacity for change than you might ever have thought!
This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDOD15. I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist. Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.