The CEO of a $10B life insurance company realized that despite steady growth, industry disruptions could create headwinds for their longer-term growth if they didn’t develop a stronger strategic position. Their next generation strategy focused on targeting a larger addressable market and reimagining how they provided value to customers in their ecosystem. This was a departure from their roots in selling life insurance, and required the organization to innovate and shift focus towards the customer.
At its core, the evolved strategy was a transition from a product-driven to a purpose-driven organization. As they began this transformation, the purpose and strategy weren’t adopted as quickly as they’d hoped. Through further examination, they uncovered resistance across the organization. It became clear that they did not have the right tenets in place for people to understand how to shift their behaviors. Employees did not understand the implications of this evolution, and thus it was left unadopted into daily roles. Interpretations of the new purpose varied. Employees were unclear on which actions to take. This was stymying their ability to get work done and collaborate effectively across silos. Stalled in their progress, they turned to BTS to help them make this critical culture change shift real.
The solution was multi-phased. BTS partnered with the client on a series of engagement sessions. We started by building their understanding of what it means to be purpose-driven. We then assessed and re-articulated their 160-year-old values and culture to support their future direction. We concluded with a plan to activate the new values and culture.
Over a three-month period, we worked with their top 250 leaders to help them to internalize the purpose and understand the critical shifts required to live it. We conducted a series of 90-minute engagement sessions to assess for change readiness and created a shared vision about what was possible for the organization in their new purpose. This enabled the leaders to translate the words on the page into tangible and real actions they would take to drive the new strategy forward.
In working with the top 250 leaders on embedding the purpose, it quickly became clear the company’s values and culture needed to evolve to support their future. They needed to understand:
Given the breadth of change, they chose to engage the broader organization in a thoughtful conversation to build collective ownership. We partnered with them to co-create the next iteration of values that would transform the organization’s culture, through 3 key elements.
This phase enabled the leadership team – which was relatively new-to-role and looking to make a big impact – to finalize their unifying vision for the company’s future and determine together how they would model and activate the new values for their teams and the enterprise. This phase included 3 components.
As a result of the work, the CEO and the Executive Leadership Team translated their purpose into action for the enterprise. This resulted in their ability to accelerate the execution of their initiatives to access and grow new addressable target markets. The team took focused action to collaborate on new “customer-first” initiatives, bringing expanded offerings and new innovations to their existing multi-million-dollar relationships. The momentum allowed them to successfully deliver on their supporting digital transformation to make their “customer-first” promise real in the eyes of their clients.
Alignment & Ownership
They have aligned on and published new values that create clarity on what is expected from all people in the organization to live the new purpose. Because they engaged the whole organization, they created excitement and broad-based buy-in. Teams now seek out ways to live the new values, and report that their teams and peers’ accountability for living the purpose in personal and team actions is notably increased.
Embedding Values into Leadership and Talent Lifecycle
To continue to make the culture change real, they have taken the alignment to the next level. They started to embed these values across the talent lifecycle to create the new behaviors in their performance management system. They linked those behaviors to the changes that will deliver on innovation, client-centricity, and new market growth that is core to the strategy. This is an organizational milestone in creating the talent they need to execute, now and longer term, on the new strategic direction.
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