WE NEED TO BUILD ENGAGEMENT AND A SHARED SENSE OF PURPOSE FOR CREATING FAST CHANGE IN THE COMPANY. HOW DO WE MAKE IT HAPPEN?
How do you create engagement and a shared sense of purpose for fast change in a large organisation? This was the question that the City of Helsinki, the single largest employer in Finland, approached us with. Seven, previously separate, organisations were merging together to form a new Urban Environment Division. This new division would work as one organisation, with the goal of developing, building and maintaining the largest urban center in Finland. Needless to say, creating common guidelines and ways of working was paramount for the new, 1700 person strong organisation to have a chance at succeeding with its tasks.
Understandably, the Urban Environment Division was in for a rocky start, as all seven organisations had to go through changes of their internal processes, organisation of work and even physically relocate. Once the first wave of the merger was completed, we could get started on the question at hand. The challenge was in helping all of the seven original organisations to find a common language, a shared understanding of their purpose and a common leadership culture.
Getting the critical mass in motion
The problem with the traditional top-down approach to leading change in an organisation is that it requires a lot of energy to keep it going. Cascading new strategies and ways of working through the organisation is often inefficient, as a lot of the information and sense of purpose is lost somewhere along the way. The key to creating real and effective change is to start in the middle, with middle managers causing ripple effect throughout the organisation. In this way, we can get the critical mass on board and moving in the same direction quickly.
To start creating these ripples across the new Urban Environment Division, we created a joint Leadership Path for all 180 managers in the new organisation. The path included missions to involve their teams in co-creating the story of the new organisation, in creating shared purpose and to forge new, shared principles for leadership. As a result, we could see the previously separate organisations aligning, starting to find the same story and creating a new way of working.
Digitalisation causing twofold benefits
What made this large scale engagement possible was the TalentMiles App. The Leadership Path was facilitated through the app, bringing all 180 managers to same virtual space, even when they didn’t occupy the same physical space. Being part of a shared journey and seeing it visualised in the app, helped build and boost the new division’s identity and presence. The app also made progress measurable and visible, as the participants could see the activity level of all other managers in the organisation.
As an added bonus, working with the TalentMiles App was a way of introducing new digital tools into the organisation. The method therefore had a twofold effect, as it both built shared vision and sense of purpose after the merger, and supported the digitalisation of the organisation’s work culture.
What we saw in the case of the City of Helsinki was that starting in the middle makes for faster change. No energy is lost convincing anyone and no one will feel left behind. Instead the organisation can move forwards and a unified entity towards shared goals.