“The important thing isn’t which adjectives you choose to describe your culture - it’s taking the steps to cultivate it by involving and inspiring the whole of the organisation.”

-Torben Rick

Everyone knows what they do, but how many people know WHY they do it?

At Bromford we help people to be the very best that they can be.

That’s our WHY. It’s in our DNA. It’s what makes us who we are and it informs what we do and how we do it. In all, there are four strands to our DNA; Be Good, Be Brave, Be Different and Be Commercial. Our culture has been cultivated over time and is based on the underlying beliefs, values and behaviours that underpin our organisational DNA.

To me, culture is organic, like a unique patina that develops as those beliefs, values and behaviours slowly play out. Culture is arguably more than those constituent parts, but they do perhaps form the vital components from which cultural patinas are cultivated, so it feels important to spend time getting them right.

TimMalbon - Culture.png

At Bromford we are about to embark upon an exciting new partnership with Merlin and a subsequent merger with Severn Vale, so in terms of cultivating our culture, it’s important for the new organisation to unify behind a shared WHY that respects our combined heritage.

Yesterday, Michelle, Katie and I joined other colleagues in one of the first of around 40 workshops set-up to revisit our beliefs, values and behaviours. The workshops are being facilitated by all three organisations for all colleagues to take part in. I have to admit that at first, I was a little cautious. I joined Bromford because I was attracted to the culture I knew existed here. I was inspired by the freedom to ‘do the right thing, not the rule thing’. Was that all about to change? Having taken part, I don’t think it is.

The workshops are giving us all the opportunity to talk about our own version of WHY and that feels like a great opportunity to build a strong new organisation which will ultimately lead to great outcomes for colleagues and most importantly customers.   

There was a lot of discussion around specific words during the workshop, particularly around the use of adjectives like ‘authentic’. It’s one of those words that you can easily accept without stopping to think about what it actually means within the context of corporate culture. The process of pulling together this short post gave me the space to think about that for a while. Coming back to that notion of culture as a patina, perhaps authenticity is about being more like a Rat Rod than a Lamborghini. As Tim Malbon said at an event I spoke at recently on the topic of creating a culture of experimentation, “real culture builds over time, it’s a patina, not the gloss you paint over the top”.

Rat Rod.png

One thing that struck me during the workshop was just how much of the Lab work we do links directly to our DNA; our beliefs and values. An overarching theme that emerged from our recent discovery sessions was around the clarity of our service offer. It’s something that we feel is a really important bedrock for some of the tests we want to run, so we need to spend some time getting it right. When you start asking yourself questions like. . .

  • What if we built on offer based on trust and accountability rather around a legal contract?
  • What would it look like if we designed an offer that supported aspiration rather than provided disincentives?

. . . It’s pretty easy to see how our people-centric, strengths-based beliefs, values and behaviours shape the services we design and how our cultural DNA translates directly into customer outcomes. I’m looking forward to the journey that lies ahead, and for Michelle, Katie and I it’s great to know that we can be a part of shaping the future of our new organisation, both as colleagues and designers.

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@simon_penny

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