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Organisational Change

PPP healthcare (AXA group)

The Challenge

The programme began during a period of considerable organisational change. Self Managed Learning (SML) was specifically chosen as a leadership development strategy for 120 senior managers to facilitate that change.  Its specific aims were:

  • To promote continuous development 

  • To link personal development to the needs of the business 

  • To encourage individual ownership of personal development 

  • To facilitate cross functional support and networking 

  • To promote a cost-effective approach to development throughout PPP healthcare

Evaluation Methods

  • In-depth interviews with senior managers 

  • Focus groups with participants 

  • Interviews with key stakeholders including the Chief Executive Officer 

  • Questionnaire based survey of participants 

  • Documentary evidence

The research was conducted by Rosie Serpis, HR Manager within PPP healthcare, for her Masters degree in Employment Strategy.

The Results

  • Increase in confidence of senior managers to take action 

  • Created culture of working collaboratively and inclusively 

  • Many measurable improvements to business performance – e.g. new product development; fresh approach to market research; radical new way of creating and documenting Customer Service processes 

  • Leadership development now business focussed, flexible, able to meet the changing needs of individuals and the organisation, fun, innovative and cost effective 

  • Created a life-long capability of managing own learning

In addition, Peter Owen, (Chief Executive Officer of PPP healthcare at the time of the programme), when asked what he felt the benefits to the organisation had been, stated:

"I think there are six:

  1. The obvious networking benefit of people finding out what's going on elsewhere. 

  2. This may not be an obvious one, but I think it's apparent from where I sit, I think there's been a huge increase in self-confidence in the managers who take part in it. It may be a bit unconscious for them...but I think it's quite important. 

  3. As a way of, a method of, working. So not just the networking benefits of simply knowing what's going on in other parts of the business, but of understanding that where we ultimately want to get to is that you don't need a dictat coming down from the Policy Group, that, actually, managers see that we need to do this, to get together and get things done...there's no sitting back as a spectator and waiting to be told... They [leaders] see from that the power of just getting on and doing things. 

  4. Another important benefit is the challenging side of it. This sort of process also gives people confidence in understanding that, in terms of our values, they have the right to be heard as managers, to say what they think, openly and not subversively. 

  5. In terms of an organisation that is in an environment where change is going to be a constant bedfellow, then, clearly, this type of working is also conducive to that fresh approach all the time. 

  6. There is the hard learning bit, what it enables people to do through the Strategic Learning Contract...where they need to learn new skills or gain a new qualification.

These are the things I see and applaud from it and I don't really see any negatives: the ‘talking shop’ was a potential negative, but I haven't seen any evidence."

Culture Change - HR 


The Challenge

Nigel Broome, the then Director HR - Operations in J Sainsbury and Judith Evans, the HR Director for Homebase set the context:

‘As a company we needed to move away from a rather over directive style of management which had inhibited creativity and innovation.  With over 120,000 employees HR was (and is) a vitally important activity in the company. ... it was apparent that the function had not responded adequately to the needs of the business in a number of areas. When we surveyed managers around the business they told us a number of important things about the changes they wanted to see.’

The programme was designed to facilitate a major shift in the way the function and all 700 HR professionals worked. Nine aims (success criteria) were identified. 

Evaluation methods 

Internal evaluation study which included 

• questionnaires to participants,

• interviews with a sample of participants 

• interviews and focus groups with line managers of participants. 

Quantitative measures were devised against all nine aims of the programme. A ten-point scale was created. Starting mean scores prior to the programme were around 5. 

The Results

In addition to the individual learning for each participant that had been evidenced, all scores against the nine business aims had improved significantly with a positive 2.5 average shift to 7.5. 

Nigel Broome and Judith Evans summarised their own conclusions as follows:

‘The value of the programme has been enormous to the company in times of change and turbulence in our markets. The principles of Self Managed Learning, such as using real work as a basis of learning, have underpinned a major change management programme for Directors. Without the success of the Personnel Development Programme we would not have been able to pursue that and other new projects.’ 

Personalised, Lifelong Learning 

Ericsson Limited

The Challenge

The approach was chosen to facilitate a change of culture to lifelong learning in line with the organisation’s strategic direction and local business strategy. It was initiated and run by senior line managers with 114 participants across two divisions.

Within the Ericsson Group strategic goals of :

  • ‘We have an environment of continuous learning and development that fosters lifelong learning for our employees 

  • We have people who proactively take initiatives 

Ericsson UK aims were were:

  • ‘To encourage people to take charge of their own development so that we avoid the situation where people are waiting passively for others to organise courses or learning activities 

  • To get the most out of the time that people are investing in learning activities 

  • To provide an approach to learning that people will enjoy, is collaborative, highly visible and where people will take a creative approach to identifying sources of learning.’ 

Evaluation Methods

Internal evaluation research study conducted by Robert Lines, a Senior Line Manager within Ericsson, for his MBA.

  • Focus groups with participants 

  • Questionnaire based survey of participants

The Results

People working with others to pursue learning goals: 88% of respondents stated that learning group members had helped to generate ideas and solutions to problems they had encountered in their learning goals. 

  • People viewing their careers in terms of learning and development. 

  • People taking a proactive approach to their future direction.

Evidence of a change in approach to responsibility for learning. 

  • People focussing on longer-tem goals and objectives as well as ‘day to day’ fire-fighting. 

  • Increased networking, coaching and support between people.

Example quotes, firstly from a Project Manager:

"… it (SML) will build a different type of culture where people are responsible for their own futures as opposed to thinking ‘My manager knows what I need to learn – I’ll just wait for him or her to let me know’. ‘Empowerment’, that’s the word I was looking for."

and from a Software Designer:

"I was surprised it worked. In the early days I couldn’t see how a bunch of people from different areas would be able to help other people learning different things. But I guess with SML you don’t always need to be told the answer. Sometimes people suggest something that leads you to the solution indirectly. Often just the opportunity to discuss an issue makes you realise that you knew the answer all the time."

Curious, lets talk... 

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