Why you should involve your whole organisation in the transformation journey

by David Lancefield Partner, Strategy&


Here we bring you the highlights from the fourth podcast in our Transformation Talks series, where I talk with Tim Davie, CBE, CEO of BBC Studios, a global content company and a commercial subsidiary of the BBC Group. You can listen to the full interview on Soundcloud, iTunes or Acast.

It was particularly fascinating speaking with Tim because he is that rare breed: someone who has had a stellar career in the for-profit corporate world - having worked at Procter & Gamble and PepsiCo for many years - and is now a leader of a commercial business in a public service organisation. While the challenges may seem different, Tim was clear on the learnings from both worlds, especially when it comes to the “how to” aspects of a transformation.

If you don’t have time to listen to the podcast now, here are a few of the main themes that emerged from the conversation.

1. Tackle scepticism by ensuring your people are personally invested in a transformation.
There may be some scepticism - even fatigue - among some people in your organisation because of previous transformations, but you can tackle this by helping them get personally invested in what you are doing. Learn about them, as a good starting point. Indeed, the first thing Tim does with his senior team is not talk about business, but talk with them about themselves.

Tim explains: “Unless your top team is committed personally not just professionally, they truly see their personal fulfilment linked to what you want to do in the next 3-5 years, I think you are in real trouble”

2. Make a transformation meaningful by sharing your plans and progress at every layer
If you have made a good speech and you have recorded it in a video, you might think that this is “job done”. But this will risk coming off as disconnected from your employees and team, and you can’t guarantee that your message really has got through, or that you have even related to your team in the right way. One of the biggest things you can do is involve people in the story before you communicate it - and work the layers in the organisation, empowering as you go along.

According to Tim: “I would say the people [in the next layers down] are people who have to carry the message on their own... I think they need involvement in the story before you communicate it more widely. They need to feel a level of involvement in it.”

3. Help others see transformation as an opportunity by being very clear about what needs to change - tell the truth.
There is often an underlying - and perfectly natural - fear of change in organisations. It may not be obvious, but it is there. As a leader you - equally naturally - don’t want to be the person who comes in and says that things that have been working well for years are actually broken and need to be fixed - and a transformation is required. But honesty and openness are key.

“It’s very profound, this,” says Tim. “You know how many corporate presentations and you just feel, in the worst cases, the information is sliced to give you a positive story. It’s fatal, it’s utterly fatal to culture. I just think you need to say to people ‘Just relax, tell me the truth, tell me how it is, warts and all, what you really think’. And it’s difficult, it’s really difficult for people.”

For the full conversation where Tim Davie tells us about his transformation journey, click here.


If you’d like to see more of the series you can find links to each episode below:

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by David Lancefield Partner, Strategy&