Defining Purpose with the help of a wee dram or two

Business Therapy is defining purpose

Recognising the challenges of a major reorganisation

We like working with all our clients; it helps if they’re long-standing ones and helps even more if they happen to be in the whisky business. Like this one.

The client had made a strategic decision to introduce a category approach to their extensive brand portfolio under a new Category Leader. The announcements were made and the reorganisation put in place. Problem was that until now, the Senior Brand Directors had been solely responsible for the direction of their brands. There were some big egos floating around, many of whom have been around for some time. Their new boss needed to tread carefully, but firmly, to inspire and motivate them to the benefits of the new strategy.

The first Group meeting was therefore going to be critical and we were tasked to design, support and facilitate it.

First the heart, then the mind

We knew an emotional commitment and understanding to the new strategy was needed first before any discussions on how to actually implement it could occur. Why? Because if it’s just an intellectual commitment, it will be considerably harder to drive forward the new approach within their teams as there are bound to be ‘issues’ and trade-offs to make the category approach successful. In short, the managers needed to be happy with the principle – and from there, everything else will flow.

We have ways of making you talk (honestly)

In any solution to any problem, honesty is the bedrock. Without it, whatever is built is likely to be fragile at best, possibly dangerous at worst. But it’s not always easy being honest: fear and politics tend to be the main inhibitors in a business environment, but there are plenty more. So in order to allow freedom to explore and land on a shared Purpose, we designed a ‘visioning’ session for a member of the team to run with our support. We came up with two great ideas:
• The Diary Room: A familiar concept if you’ve ever watched Big Brother, but we wanted everyone to input into the discussion and debate about what the vision should be, but we did not want their views to be influenced by those that spoke before them. To solve this we set up a camera booth that each person visited to give their thoughts in a 2 minute burst. We then played the whole video to everyone so they could hear others’ views.

• The Saloon Bar: Once we had heard everyone’s views and concerns we needed to set up an honest discussion in order to land on a shared vision. Everyone agrees that people are probably at their most open chatting in a pub so we set up a bar environment in an adjacent room and moved everyone in there to discuss what they had just heard. We then moved back into the main room and very quickly landed on a shared, compelling vision that everyone felt good about.

What we learnt

There are some key learnings from this work:
• By agreeing a shared purpose BEFORE rushing in to set objectives and actions there is a much higher likelihood of success.
• Engaging on an emotional level requires innovative design in order to get results quickly.