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A sea-change in team culture

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It’s probably fair to say that you’ve not heard of La Palette Rouge – but the chances are that something you’ve eaten or drunk today has been delivered to the shop you bought it from by La Palette Rouge (LPR). It’s a simple concept that works. By delivering and collecting over 12 million pallets to FMCG customers, LPR has battled its way to over 10% market share in just 11 years in a fiercely competitive market.

Setting Business Goals – The Challenge:

But what of the next phase in LPR’s growth? Jane Gorick, Managing Director of LPR UK, met Ben when she heard him speak at a supplier event for Weetabix, where she was also speaking.

The “Will It Make The Boat Go Faster?” message delivered by Ben, immediately resonated with her. Borne out of their recent success, a number of questions were being raised in the LPR boardroom – “Where do we want to grow next? What’s possible? What’s not possible? What do our current and future customers want from us? How can we build on our customer focus and logistics efficiency?”

Whilst listening to Ben, Jane was able to crystallise their challenge – “How do we frame our Crazy goal in a way that will bring us all on board?”

The senior leadership at LPR is a group of competitive managers and team leaders – it made sense to make use of a sporting analogy and a great story of how Olympic winning strategies could help transform business performance. The business is growing fast – they are recruiting large numbers of new employees, and Jane wanted to understand how the management would get the best out of them, encourage them to share their ideas and their input – and how they would let them know they had a voice.

Setting Business Goals – The Process

The specifics of our process are different for each client we work with – but they share a common framework, much of which we used with the LPR team:

  • Preparation and research – We interview every member of the leadership team to understand each person’s perspective of the current and future ‘drivers’ and ‘blockers’.
  • Launch dinner – Ben Hunt-Davis speaks with the leadership team, detailing the process that his Olympic Gold crew developed to create their Crazy goal. We explore initial options with the leadership team as to how they could achieve their own Crazy goal.
  • Full day intensive workshops to crystallise and understand how the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? principles will enable LPR to realise their Crazy goal as one aligned team.

What do we commit to in this Setting Business Goals Process?

  • Defining the Crazy goal, Concrete goals and everyday objectives – we facilitate a process to define, agree and implement the key elements.
  • We prepare a leadership team to communicate a clear and compelling plan to the rest of their organisation.
  • We help crystallise and answer key questions about the next stage of growth for that organisation, and, if required, we help the wider team play their part in making the boat go faster in the months and years ahead.

Setting Business Goals – The outcome


Jane Gorick, Managing Director, La Palette Rouge gives her view on the outcomes:

For me, it was key that we engaged the management team – the 5 key players – in the way we approached our Crazy goal, to ensure we had a chance of achieving it.

I wanted us to come out of this process aligned behind one strategy and a common vision. Our Crazy goal was one that had been externally set, and it’s a big one. Our target is to double the UK turnover to £50million by 2018.

We therefore had to find a way to really take ownership of the goal and a route to achieving it.

One of the really useful outcomes of working with the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? team was that they gave us a language that allowed us to challenge ourselves. As a result we’re making better quality decisions, and challenging each other on a daily basis. It gave me a real insight into the personal drivers of my team. It seems we are all task-oriented individuals, and that the task itself becomes the priority over and above the people who have to deliver for us on the front line.

Realising that was a real Eureka moment – we have to move out of our comfort zone and engage our employees. That for us was the tipping point of the process.
Our first objective was to understand “What could we do better?” We identified the need to improve internal communications and have implemented new ways of helping every employee to understand how they contribute to the company Crazy goal – KPI’s on our notice boards in R&R areas, and communication feeds throughout the organisation. The senior leadership team own these ideas and how they are implemented.

Customer engagement was something we felt we had done well historically, but as we grow fast, we have to maintain existing customer engagement as well as develop new business. What the Will It? programme has prompted us to recognise is that sustainable engagement has to be worked at – as a whole organisation. Everyone has a role to play in that customer experience. We are increasingly confident that we are aligned as we grow, to deliver our Crazy goal.

Measuring Progress

Reflection on whether we are engaging our people with the vision we have for the business will be part of measuring our progress. We know we need to nurture our internal culture now that we understand and agree what it should be. For us, it’s not only about winning new business – it’s about creating customer experience that keeps customers loyal and reduces churn. That will be a real measure of progress.

We want to prove to our teams that this is not a fad, but a new way of working, and our review in September will include the questions that will allow our employees to tell us if we are succeeding.

We’re in the process of pitching for a large £7million contract from a major FMCG manufacturer and when we win it, we’ll be able to say that our new culture, resulting from our work with the Will It Make The Boat Go Faster? team, has played a real part in that success.

A sea-change in culture

I found working with Tom and Ben a really interesting experience – as a combination it’s great! Tom brings a calmness and a logical business brain to everything we worked on, and, of course, Ben brings inspiration and a great story! Between them, they enabled the transference of their strategies based on their Olympic success story to our business – and that’s been fantastic.

There’s been a sea-change in our culture. That somewhat remote Crazy goal – externally set – of doubling the UK business turnover to £50million by 2018 isn’t looking so crazy anymore!

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