Every business can go through highs and lows. We've worked with businesses who have faced catastrophic external shocks. In this case study we look at how we helped one firm recover from a £35m cut in funding.

Problem: Our client – a large public sector body, faced a significant economic shock with external funding slashed by 40% with little leeway in terms of statutory commitment or in public expectations for service delivery. Following a change in political power executives were under pressure to identify and deliver change fast.

With a diverse workforce operating across a number of sites and a strong hierarchical structure in place senior executives were in a mindset that evolution and small scale cuts couldn’t add up – revolution was needed to find the £35m funding gap.

Similarly, with levels of employee engagement sinking fast, executives had to rebuild worker loyalty and productivity at a time of threat.

Solution: Working alongside political leaders we identified a desire to emphasise creativity and collaboration. This approach mimicked that deployed in other areas and would require a cultural shift to capitalise on assets –within the organisation, within the community in terms of social assets and among partners. Working with the client we redesigned the corporate planning approach with a heavier emphasis on communication and engagement events being held across sites. This was critical in underlining that the threat was significant and that, without a shift, job losses would be inevitable; the approach pushed executives out of central offices to re-engage workers with the core values and social purpose of the organisation.

The new corporate planning framework was developed with heavy involvement of corporate finance and OD leads and encouraged teams to identify areas for cash savings, income generation through outsourcing or selling own services, and developing a shared services approach with key partners who could assist. Working alongside key employees we provide robust support and challenge sessions with managers across the departments.

The budget cuts would be politically sensitive with little margin for error. To support the shift we also redesigned the political governance process to provide both additional critical challenge and public accountability. This process, for the first time in the body’s history, also engaged key partners including other statutory bodies, local businesses and community advocates. Their involvement had a double benefit – again as a critical friend but also to secure political buy in for the negative and positive consequences.

The new corporate plan was developed over a period of 7 months. The public body had a clear organisation strategy and having attained high levels of commitment from staff and stakeholders were able to embark on an ambitious, at times controversial transformation programme that would reshape its organisation design without compromising on core values.

Corporate planning can often be seen as an impotent activity - carried out once, made glossy for investors and then put on the shelf. This approach elongated the process but engaged teams beyond the C-suite securing greater buy-in and automatically increasing chances of success. We are available to steer your firm through this process and can work on a freelance basis to provide coaching and challenge sessions to make sure you get the very best results.

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