Case Studies

Transformation of the Technology function of a high street and digital retailer

Our client, a leading gaming organisation with operations in multiple countries and a large retail and digital business, was facing a number of key challenges. This included the need to reduce costs in a highly competitive and challenging environment, largely due to a declining share price, new regulations and a large high street presence.

They were also facing the challenge of having to innovate to keep up with the competition, expand their digital business and improve their technology infrastructure.

Internally, the business was also experiencing severe change fatigue having undertaken multiple strategic and change initiatives to differing levels of success. At the same time a change in leadership behaviours and culture was also required.

Gate One were engaged to help design and implement a new Technology Target Operating Model to help drive improvements in their Technology and Digital business, as well as to support their overall objective of reducing costs.

The new Technology Operating Model supports the long-term strategy of the business, delivering:
• A new scaled agile framework to drive efficiencies and promote greater and quicker product development
• New innovation and design thinking processes which will now be rolled out firmwide
• A new organisational structure with greater clarity and alignment of roles and greater collaboration between Technology and the Business leading to future cost savings
• A roadmap to get to the desired culture, including the plan to drive key cultural interventions such as improved performance management processes and greater levels of communications
• A new governance framework and refreshed terms of reference which will lead to a more efficient and streamlined process
Gate One were subsequently engaged to support the implementation phase of the programme, working with the client in a ‘line led’ approach, providing programme management and subject matter expertise.

Designing the Business of Tomorrow : Exploring the design and enablers in a financial services organisation

MMI is a multi-national financial services organisation with its core operations in South Africa and a footprint across Africa, the United Kingdom and India. The organisation focuses on a range of products within the insurance value chain ranging from short term, corporate, life insurance and investments lines of business. The organisation currently has 15600 employees and an annual turnover of between R2bn and R3bn per annum. The organisation has seen declining performance due to tough market conditions and various internal challenges over the past 5 years. Given this context, the business is currently focused on a 3 year Reset and Grow tactical strategy that drives 5 strategic themes; client growth, improving profitability; diversity and inclusion; becoming digitally advanced and enabling a culture of high performance.

As part of a broader operating model review, the business made the strategic decision to design and create a blue sky business of tomorrow division with the goal and intent of fast tracking the development of new business lines within the digital context; implementing agile ways of working and developing “T-shaped” skills that could be applied to a variety of contexts and intentionally design for an employee experience that would drive innovation.

This case study will provide an overview of the design process and share some lessons learnt along this journey.

• The role of defining purpose as part of the organisational design process
• Importance of understanding vantage points and mandates between role players that form part of the design
• Clarity on decision-making models and how to make them practically relevant
• Potholes to avoid in the change navigation process
• The need to assess Leadership capacity at the beginning of the journey of transition
• The dark side behaviours that emerge in a model of this nature

The Pensions Regulator Future - Agile Organisation Design for increasing our regulatory grip

The Pensions Regulator (TPR) is an arms length public body that regulates and protects the UK’s work based pensions. The pensions landscape has radically changed over the last decade and The Pensions Regulator remit has expanded in a number of areas around the business. For example, the roll out of Automatic Enrolment (AE) means that more there are now more members in DC schemes and DB schemes, this means more of a risk to employees in DC schemes, whereas employers retain more of the risk for DB pensions. We also regulate Public Services schemes now so our stakeholders and staff think that we need to:
• Improve alignment of regulatory activity to risks
• Be more proactive in our identification and mitigation of risks
• Improve our oversight of regulated entities
• Expand our range of regulatory initiatives
• Make stronger use of standards-based regulation
• Have a clearer visual identity and clarify our relationship with FCA.
The TPR Future programme was set up as an Agile Programme of work to fulfil these expectations.

• Getting the programme to accept our workstream focus and the practice of OD – the perception was drawing a structure and the programme could not accept why this could not be done on day 1
• Using a traditionally waterfall methodology in an agile programme where you are expected to deliver “products” every two weeks
• Working out what a minimum viable product is in OD when you are designing an organisation
• Creating a product backlog – what is an OD product in the agile world
• Getting our workstream focus right – calling out and separating the work and deliverables within the categories of OD, Culture & Change, Transition, Learning and Development and being clear on the MVP and deliverables for each
• Designing with a tiny subset of the business – each workstream with the exception of People and Culture had a number of consultants delivering the work rather than using the actual people who do the work – leading to some designing “in theory or in isolation” so testing was an essential part of our role
• Getting the programme to design enough detail for us to use to have a meaningful platform to design with

Redesigning an IT company to address structural changes in it’s business environment

This case involved a software company (co. A). It was at the smaller end of the “large” classification of company size with a few hundred staff. It had been very successful with an excellent reputation for product quality, service, strong history of innovation, exceptional reputation as a good place to work and an extremely strong company culture. It had a relatively tight market focus, selling software both as product and service to the software industry, but doing that globally.
Less positively, the business had flat-lined in terms of revenue for three years and had “lost its mojo” – some staff were starting to become disaffected.

There was also a strategic threat to the business. Strategically, the business was dependent on supporting customers for an industry leading product supplied by another much larger company (co. B) and there was a strategic risk that co. B might decide more seriously to service this customer base more adequately themselves. Co. B was already offering a suite of products for free that mostly matched A’s products in terms of coverage, but not in terms of quality.

In addition to the risk posed by co. B, there was also a risk to co. B in this particular market and a risk that co. B’s competitors could erode market share to the point where it tipped over from being a product that most corporations used into a minor player in the market. So there was a real need to diversify the business to spread risk. How pressing these risks are was debatable, but after some research, the event horizon – the least time likely to be available to execute a business manoeuvre to position the company for a market shift – was thought to be five years and probably closer to ten. The consulting team thought this prognosis was unduly optimistic and were proved right as the strategic environment changed structurally within three years.

In business terms, the design was successful and worked as intended. Division one – delivering existing services – increased productivity by around 40%, so even with less resource (which had been siphoned off to form the other 2 divisions) it put up returns for the company as a whole by 20% – after 3 years of stagnant growth. Division two developed and market tested two new products and selected one to move forward with. Better coordination mechanisms within the design saved the CEO around 40 hours per week of meetings.

As always, VSM proved itself a flexible, scalable rigorous and extremely fast approach to organisation design.
One of the biggest anticipated challenges of the design was incorporating the huge differences required between the divisions in terms of working practices, management styles, culture and ethos. This turned out to be much less of a problem than we thought and actually played into natural differences between individuals – who were able to choose the division that best suited their personal preferences. We believe that being able to describe in some detail what the different regimes would be within each division made choosing much easier.

The implementation process was dramatically quick and relatively painless.

Over the next year some interesting unintended consequences emerged, some good some less welcome.

Digital Operating Model Redesign in a Global Charity

Oxfam is a major international agency working to end poverty and suffering around the world. Oxfam GB engages
with the UK public to raise money to directly support Oxfam’s life-saving and life changing work and to campaign for
change on the issues that keep people poor like, inequality, climate change and hunger.
Over the past 10 years there’s been a fundamental shift in supporters expectations toward personalised experiences
together with a desire to have a closer, more active relationship with Oxfam and assurance over how their
donations are being spent plus in the impact it is having. Competition has increased in the charity sector with a rise
in single issue/single beneficiary charities, this has lead to a decrease in funding to larger charities. Recent scandals
splashed over the worlds media have further impacted funding from institutions and donations from supporters.
Key Learning Points:
• Get the right people in the room, those who hold information, have influence and interest in the work
• Agree what the roles are in the design team and who will be in each role
• Engage, engage, engage, design work is about the people affected
• Invest for success, get the right people involved in the programming work, those who have influence
• Understand the “red line” constraints, in this case, 2 directors had to be designed into 1 directorate
• Roll with the punches, the messy middle of design work can lead to frustration and energetic conversations.