Board support 

Governance | Leadership | Effectiveness

 

Boards are coming under more scrutiny and pressure than ever before from multiple stakeholders - regulators, investors, wider society - to be effective, and to set the right tone from the top. 

 

Pressures include:

 

  • calls for greater accountability and transparency, whilst faced with both an increasingly complex, diverse and growing oversight responsibility, and an uncertain and fluid external context

  • an expectation for boards to play an increasing role in shaping strategy and talent, and to spend the right amount of time addressing corporate culture issues, including its alignment with strategy, and its consideration as part of formal risk assessment

  • a heightened need for boards to ensure that they and their organisations are taking a longer-term view over their corporate sustainability strategies, whilst balancing this effectively with both shorter-term and shareholder priorities to create and protect value.

 

​A board’s ability to navigate and respond effectively to these demands is a clear measure of how well it is operating as a true strategic asset to the business. 

Our approach

Our support to boards includes expert facilitation, advice and guidance on strategic and forward-looking agendas, the preparation and embedding of corporate governance frameworks and governance operating models, undertaking board effectiveness reviews, board team and board member development and coaching, as well as more general troubleshooting to explore and resolve specific problems and issues.

 

In summary, our review of board effectiveness includes:

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  • how well the board, individually and collectively, is delivering on its strategic purpose and mandate to ensure the long-term success of the organisation and build stakeholder confidence

  • how well the board is demonstrating effective governance and strategic leadership by discharging key roles, including: strategy and policy making; stewardship and oversight; advising and supporting management; external relations and accountability; and, more broadly, sustainably managing the longer-term interests of the business, its stakeholders and wider society

  • the level to which key enablers to board effectiveness are present, including: board composition, diversity and succession; how the board is focused, organised and run; the information architecture enabling an "intelligent, information-led board" to be fully informed on context; intra-board relationships and group dynamics; and engagement with both management and wider stakeholders  

  • the changes that can be made for the board to be even more effective and to fulfil its potential. 

 

We can help with annual self-evaluations, rapid reviews and full board effectiveness reviews in line with the principles, standards and guidelines recognised as a code of good practice, including the FRC UK Corporate Governance and Stewardship Codes for both listed and large private companies, and HM Treasury's corporate governance code of good practice for central government departments.  For our health sector clients, this includes the Well-Led Framework for Governance reviews.

At all times, our support is delivered with the sensitivity, candour and absolute confidentially expected for work at this level.

Case studies

 

Executive and senior team support

Governance | Leadership | Effectiveness

 

CEOs and their executive teams face a mandate of unparalleled complexity compared with other teams within an organisational entity.  They are uniquely influenced and challenged by external demands and forces, as well as by organisational complexity.  Their role in delivering effective institutional leadership is also carried out with heightened visibility.    

The team’s success in producing business results, maintaining organisational performance in the face of strategic and environmental challenges and change, and achieving long-term sustainable outcomes and value creation for the business, its stakeholders and wider society, is the remit against which a CEO and the executive team are judged and rewarded. 

 

Optimising top team performance to excel against this remit requires a priority to be placed by the CEO and the executive on managing the top team environment and leveraging the enablers to do so.  This includes having access to, and support from, a wide range of internal and external resources and specialist services.  

         

Our approach

 

Our support to CEOs, executive and senior teams includes expert facilitation, advice and guidance on agendas concerned with formulating strategy, designing new operating models, mobilising for change, building organisational and management capabilities, and driving successful execution.  

 

We also provide support with undertaking effectiveness reviews, including in-depth reviews, rapid reviews and health checks, capability assessments, team and individual member development and coaching, as well as troubleshooting.  

 

In summary, our review of executive and senior team effectiveness includes:

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  • the extent to which the team is operating in accordance with its terms of reference

  • team design, composition and structure, and alignment within a wider group structure

  • how the team organises and manages itself to perform work, team member interactions, and how the team manages its external context and boundaries

  • team dynamics and how this promotes, for example, insightful debate, constructive challenge, conflict resolution, the giving and receiving of feedback, as well as wider co-operation and mutual support  

  • the impact of leader interactions on group dynamics and on individual team member engagement  

  • team performance, including the delivery of results, as well as performance in key areas of responsibility, such as strategic management, financial and operational control, employee engagement and, more broadly, the quality of institutional leadership provided by the executive   

  • how the team maintains both its effectiveness and team member wellbeing over time

  • the changes that can be made for the executive and/or senior management team to be even more effective and to fulfil its potential. 

Annual evaluations, rapid reviews and health checks, and support to address a specific agenda can all be tailored and co-created to maximise a fit with a client's needs.  They can also be designed as part of wider strategic planning exercises or to support the design of a future-state group operating model(s). 

 

At all times, our support is delivered with the sensitivity, candour and absolute confidentiality expected for work at this level.   

Case studies

 

Leadership and management development

 

In environments characterised by increasing uncertainty, complexity and unprecedented levels of disruption and change, the importance of effective leadership and management cannot be overstated; it is a critical success factor in successfully navigating through the above, and to improving organisational performance and delivering results through successful change. 

 

Change is most effective when strategy, culture and leadership are aligned.  It also needs clear governance and the right choice of approach, underpinned by effective, confident and, at times, courageous leadership.

Our approach

Our support to clients is focused at executive and senior levels of management and most often involves the provision of tailored or bespoke support, often linked to a change agenda, an organisational capability need, or a strategic development.

 

We can provide expert support to senior leaders and their management teams when confronted with a complex and challenging agenda for change.  We can help build high-performance teams who are confident, make an impact and are not afraid to take risks to achieve results.  We can help senior teams to work more collaboratively and focus on strategic issues rather than on process and procedures.  And we can accelerate the development of individuals likely to become future leaders.  All of the above support, bespoke and tailored to a client’s needs.

 

The process most often starts with a comprehensive diagnosis of organisational need, covering both the strategic and operational context, and including the external environment and internal organisational situation. 

 

Our solutions include leadership development workshops and programmes, coaching-based interventions, as well as psychometric analysis, capability audits and other complementary services based on a client’s specific needs.    

Case studies

 

Corporate strategic planning

 

Today, more than ever, companies are having to improve their strategic focus and develop more dynamic, flexible and agile strategies in order to respond to environments increasing characterised by unprecedented levels of change and disruption. 

 

Many companies, however, will be incapable of implementing these strategies simply because their strategic planning and the resultant strategic plans have not sufficiently appraised and defined how they plan to build the organisational and management capabilities required to deliver future strategy.

Our approach

Our support to clients is built on a tried and tested process and methodology for delivering strategic plans that ensure that the organisational and management capabilities required to deliver future strategy have been fully defined, and that strategy execution has been fully appraised, including levels of change readiness.  Further, how management are then to be held to account for the delivery of approved plans and how board-level assurance will be provided. 

 

Working with the CEO and senior team, and potentially, the board, we can facilitate the development of a comprehensive strategic plan setting out:

  • a clear purpose and vision

  • an overall strategy and direction, including strategic goals

  • a statement of risk appetite

  • critical success factors, performance indicators and targets

  • a blueprint for the required organisational and management capabilities, and desired risk culture

  • the transformation and change necessary to deliver the strategy

  • the resource implications of the strategy, including investment

  • the management implications of the strategy

  • an assessment of the level of organisational readiness for this change

  • a delivery plan covering key tasks, responsibilities, timescales and execution risks

  • how management are to be held to account and how board-level assurance is to be provided. 

 

We can also assist with cascading corporate strategic plans to individual business streams/units, and facilitate the development of operational business plans to achieve strategic focus and alignment throughout the organisation, as well as clear lines of accountability and responsibility for delivery.

Case studies

 

Organisational design & development, transformation and change

 

In today’s environment, very few private, public or professional services organisations are able to develop strategic plans that do not require them to undertake and control a programme of significant change or transformation. 

 

The fashion and grocery retail sectors, as well as retail banking, are prime examples of this.  Transformational change is central to the strategic plans of all firms within these sectors as they re-engineer service models and adapt their organisational designs in response to the online retailing revolution.  The NHS and central and local government are examples of this in the public sector.  Each has an imperative to deliver transformational change if they are to meet the public’s expectations for enhanced service delivery at a time of an unprecedented increase in the demand for public sector services, and when the UK government is faced with one of the most challenging agendas to achieve a fiscal balance. 

 

The ability of senior leaders to adapt their organisation, build new organisational capabilities, and successfully manage and deliver this change has become even more critical to successful strategy execution. 

Our approach

Whether as part of a strategic planning process or a more specific and targeted change agenda, we can assist clients with a best practice approach to both organisational design & development (OD&D) and the planning and implementing of organisational transformation and change.

More often than not this involves facilitating an executive or senior management team through a structured series of workshops designed to work through with rigour the key steps of an OD&D process and/or a change management process - each step being supported by an appropriate level of data gathering and analysis.   

 

Working alongside senior leaders and their management teams, we will ensure a comprehensive diagnosis of organisational need, covering both the strategic and operational context, and including the external environment and internal organisational situation.  We will assess how to optimise future services outputs and then determine the organisational and resource capabilities needed to achieve this - before seeking to agree both a high-level and detailed organisation design(s).         

 

We can then assist with setting direction and developing plans for change, and support implementation. 

 

With our experience and approach to programme management, we will add value by managing the direction and pace of change during implementation, and substantially reduce the risk of improvement efforts stalling or drifting off course. 

We will also ensure that strong programme governance is central to the above and aligned with corporate governance.

Case studies

 

Re-thinking service delivery and service delivery models

There has never been a greater need for business leaders to ensure their strategic management and innovation and creativity processes provide the means through which to constantly appraise and re-think service delivery.

 

The reform agenda within local government; the need for greater integration within the health and social care sectors; the online retail revolution - from fashion to groceries to banking - and the resultant re-engineering of global supply chains; and the continuous evolution of the low cost or budget air travel sector are all prime examples of where service delivery models are having to be continuously re-designed to address either public service imperatives, or to create and sustain competitive advantage.

Our approach

We can provide expert support to assist clients with the challenge of re-thinking service delivery and with creating alternative and more integrated service delivery models.

 

Our support - from strategic analysis to service visioning, through to process design and measurement - can be provided either as part of a strategic management process or through a dedicated project or programme of work.  We can assist both existing or newly forming executive/senior management teams, including partnerships.  Delivery can be through a facilitated process and/or a workshop programme, or other.  All of the above, bespoke and tailored to a client’s needs.

Case studies

 

Partnership working

 

Partnership working has been used as a means to address a wide range of complex issues and challenges within the UK public sector.  It is also an imperative to the current public services reform agenda, as achieving more integrated, affordable, sustainable, and responsive citizen-centric public services will require increased collaboration between public sector organisations, as well as between public sector organisations and organisations from within the third and private sectors.  These collaborations or partnerships – increasingly mandated through legislation - will have to be forged across established, traditional and deeply-embedded and engrained organisation boundaries and power structures.   

 

Within the private and professional services sectors, partnerships are increasingly a key enabler to the achievement of both strategic and operational-level goals and objectives, and to the securing of growth agendas, either organically or through strategic alliances or merger, both in-country and cross border.  At a strategic level, they are also increasingly critical to the ability of senior leaders to successfully re-engineer local and global supply chains, gain access to complimentary resources, and to adapt to changing markets and take advantage of technological innovation.  At an operational level, partnership working is also critical to project-style working and execution, as well as to transactional and expert-service types of delivery.

 

Accompanying the above is an extensive body of literature that documents the difficulties senior leaders are having in establishing and maintaining effective partnerships due to structural, cultural and social factors, chief amongst these being a ‘collaborative inertia’ which restricts ‘collaborative advantage’.  And because these challenges are only set to amplify as the demand for effective partnership increases within public, private and professional services firms, this will present a significant challenge to senior leaders. 

Our approach     

Through our experience of supporting senior leaders with establishing and maintaining effective partnerships, as well as trouble shooting on underperforming or problematic partnerships, we have a detailed understanding of the features that need to be present to create effective partnerships.  We also have a deep understanding of the factors influencing partnership effectiveness.

We have a tried and tested methodology for supporting clients with either an existing, newly constituted or a future planned partnership(s), and our methodology and approach is regularly updated based upon the latest empirical research on partnership working.

 

Our support can be delivered as part of a bespoke and tailored service, including undertaking an audit on the effectiveness of an existing partnership, or through a facilitated workshop process to design and plan a future partnership(s).  It can also be delivered as part of an existing strategic planning process or exercise, or a change or transformation programme.

Case studies

 

Employee engagement

 

Many UK manufacturing firms have significantly improved productivity through engaging staff in cultures of continuous improvement.  In almost all cases, this has been developed alongside partnerships with trade unions. Within retail, there has been a clear recognition of the benefits of staff engagement and its potential impact on the customer experience.  Within media and technology, these sectors unsurprisingly put a great deal of emphasis on employee engagement to tap into the creativity of their largely young workforce. 

 

Staff engagement is also heavily focused on within the public sector, as part of its commitment to best practice, and as a strategy to help manage the impact of change on staff, including job losses and restructuring in response to major reform programmes.  Within the NHS, employee engagement is now recognised by leaders as a critical success factor to safe, high-quality compassionate care, as well as to staff wellbeing. 

 

The importance for leaders to increasingly prioritise employee engagement as a strategy for maintaining a high-performing workforce and culture, and for managing change, cannot be overstated.  

Our approach

We can provide expert support to assist clients with the challenge of creating or maintaining an engaged workforce.  We can also assist in situations where there is a lack of employee engagement and a turnaround is required.

 

We understand in detail the drivers of employee engagement and how there influence and impact differs - individually and collectively - in different organisational settings and situations.  We are also very attuned to the gap that often exists - or is shown up through measurement - between the views of executive managers and middle and front-line managers on the level(s) of workforce engagement within the current culture.  Top executives, more often than not, are much more optimistic about the level(s) of employee engagement in their organisation.

 

Our support to senior leaders starts with a comprehensive scoping and diagnosis of the organisational situation and wider strategic context, including reviewing any existing measurement of employee engagement levels and/or through undertaking our own primary research.  Following feedback, we would then plan a highly bespoke and tailored forward programme of support to address the issues and to meet your specific needs - be it a maintain, improve or turnaround requirement.

Case studies

 

Troubleshooting

Senior leaders are continuously faced with problems that need to be solved, challenges that need to be met, and risks that need to be mitigated.  Very often these are known about, but for a range of reasons - conscious and unconscious – they are not addressed in either a timely or appropriate manner, or with the right 'fix-it' attitude.  In a worst-case scenario they snowball, become much bigger, and have a level of impact that would not have been the case if addressed in a timely or in the right manner. 

 

Even at the most senior level in organisations, boards, executive and senior managers can and do make the mistake of repeatedly taking updates on things or situations that show no sign of improvement.  The snowball effect then occurs, and this behaviour then becomes the norm, with senior leaders having become conditioned by (or a captive of) the organisation’s culture. 

 

Troubleshooting is described as a systematic approach to problem solving that is often used to explore, find and correct issues within organisations or within an organisation’s value chain.  These issues can relate to: performance and/or capability; they can be strategic or operational; they can be enterprise-wide or concerned with a particular function of the organisation; they can be process-related and/or behaviourally-based; they can be conscious or unconscious; and they can also be concerned with the effectiveness of organisational leadership and management.

Our approach

We have been engaged by senior leaders over a twenty-year period to troubleshoot on problems concerned with strategy, management and organisation.  This includes on many occasions addressing problems associated with the effectiveness and alignment of boards, executive and senior management teams - both as a collective entity and/or on an individual basis with team members. 

 

The decision to engage our support is often for very different reasons.  At times it is because a particular problem, challenge or risk requires a level of specialism or level of expertise that is not available or accessible internally.  On other occasions, it is because an independent or impartial input is required.  In other situations, it is because a problem would benefit from a “fresh pair of eyes”.    

 

In all situations, we have proven ourselves to be a highly trusted and valued external advisor to our senior-level client when engaged on troubleshooting.

At all times, our support is delivered with the sensitivity, candour and absolute confidentially expected for work at this level.

Case studies

 

Organisational culture audit​

Senior leaders are increasingly recognising that their organisation’s culture is the most powerful enabler in creating an engaged and highly productive workforce - where innovation, creativity and/or continuous improvement will flourish, and a readiness for achieving change is present.  They also recognise the debilitating impact that the wrong type of culture can have on their organisation’s ability to implement its strategy, and transformation and change plans. 

 

Shaping the culture of an organisation is one of the key responsibilities of boards and senior leaders, a responsibility that is well understood by leaders at many of the world’s most successful organisations, and, arguably, less understood and/or overlooked by leaders of many underperforming organisations.   

 

Organisational culture, like many other elements of organisation, has to be proactively and carefully managed and nurtured hence the importance for senior leaders to ensure a regular audit of their organisation’s culture by measuring all of the dimensions of culture that they wish to influence and change.

Our approach

We can provide expert support to assist clients with the undertaking of an organisational culture audit.  This can be undertaken as either a standalone activity, including, for example, an annual health check on an institution's organisational culture, or to address a specific problem(s) with the culture that has been identified.  It can also be undertaken as part of a wider strategic appraisal of the organisation, including a strategic planning exercise, an organisational design study, change management planning, M&A due diligence etc.  All of the above, bespoke and tailored to a client’s needs.

Case studies

 

Public to private sector transformation

With an unprecedented level of transformational change now required under the UK Government’s public sector reform agenda, the need for public service organisations to be able to recruit, retain and incentivise top talent from outside the public sector has never been greater; nor has the need for public service organisation to engage effectively and efficiently in an increasing number of public-private sector partnership. 

 

These are just two examples of the importance of a need for a public sector body to have a constitutional status that will enables it to operate with a level of commercial freedom and flexibility that can best serve its mission or purpose and strategic aims, as well as to meet the needs of its stakeholders.  This challenge applies to an executive agency of a department, a trading fund agency, a government-owned company, or any other form of non-departmental public body or arms-length agency.

Our approach

 

We provide advice and assistance to our public sector clients on all aspects of "public to private" transformation, including: the process involved with the creation of a new arm's length public body (ALB); a change in constitutional status of an existing ALB, including, for example, to enable greater commercial freedoms; and the organisational and management change required to deliver the above transformations.

 

We have been involved in the creation of a number of new executive agencies and trading funds over a twenty year period, and we have worked extensively in other ALB's, including with non departmental public bodies and non ministerial departments on commercialisation agendas.  We are also experienced in the market testing of government assets with a view to their divestment. 

 

We have managed numerous major projects involving public to private transformation, including planning the project, preparing a business case, engaging with HM Treasury and other central government departments on the case for change, and managing implementation.

Case studies

 

HM Treasury approved business case preparation

More than ever, public sector projects or spending proposals must justify their need through a robust business case, argued in terms of cost–benefit analysis, and which clearly sets out a comprehensive understanding of economic and societal impacts.

 

A key reference source for the preparation of an HM Treasury (HMT) compliant business case is the HMT Green Book.  It is essential that this format is followed in order to produce a submission that is compliant with what is expected by both internal and external scrutiny communities, and which could include an internal board of directors, a department policy unit, Ministers, as well as the Cabinet Office and HMT representatives.  

Our approach

 

Through our work within the public sector, covering central government departments and arm’s length public bodies, we have a wealth of experience in producing HM Treasury compliant business cases.

 

This experience includes a significant number of business cases to support investment decisions and spending proposals for major projects and programmes, as well as for: merging government organisations; setting up new public bodies/public companies as part of public to private sector transformation; and implementing new business and service models for public service organisations, including to support public-private sector partnerships.

Case studies

 

Economic renewal and enterprise services for SME's 

The importance of small businesses to the UK economy cannot be overstated.  They represent ninety nine percent of the five million plus businesses in the UK and are the backbone of the UK economy, driving growth, opening new markets and creating jobs.  Their contribution is significant.  As seedbeds for innovation, they encourage competition and bring fresh ideas and stimulus that challenge the status quo.  This in turn incentivises others to adapt and follow.  Simply put, small businesses are good for UK plc and it is vital that they should be encouraged to flourish.

Our approach 

We have a wealth of experience, built over a twenty year period, of working with small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs), covering a wide range of industry and commerce sectors.  This support has most often been provided through government enterprise agencies and delivered for SME's within the UK and the Channel Islands. 

 

We help owner-managers and their management teams to "work on" as opposed to "work in" their businesses, more often than not, assisting them with the planning for how to manage and deal with the increasing complexity of their organisations as a result of business growth and/or future plans for grow and development.  Further, with developing strategies and plans to achieve an increased penetration of their domestic markets.  We also assist with either internationalising for the first time or securing increased penetration of international markets.  Our work also focuses extensively on building the organisational and management capabilities necessary to achieve a chosen business strategy.

 

We have a suite of tried and tested products and services, including both workshop programmes and 1:1 in-company support that can be bespoke or tailored to suit a particular enterprise growth need or initiative.

Case studies