We were called in to help John Lewis in the middle of the 2018 British High Street retail crisis. They were playing catch up, trying to develop an online offering to compete with the likes of Amazon and ASOS. Trying to fuse new online approaches into their traditional marketing had created a schism between two subcultures – each using altogether different methods, metrics and mantras.

The conflict had bubbled away for months and had resulted in a team in name only, with two distinct and conflicting factions. Worse still, everyone knew the overall business goals, but no one was exactly sure who should be doing what or how to get it done. The net result was paralysis.

Our remedy was a relatively simple one. We started by presenting the team members with quotes of people’s words after allowing them to share their thoughts anonymously. Realising what was being said behind each other’s backs, a transformation began then and there. Coaching them to listen to each other effectively allowed them to address their dysfunctions candidly. We also helped the team members to see when they were being rigidly positional in their thinking. By assisting them to see when they were getting ‘hooked’ into a fixed perspective, people could develop more agile thinking, making it easier for them to discover new paths forward.

This enabled the participants to leverage their own natural problem-solving abilities. As a result of this intervention, they resolved their structural issues and began to work as a “human-to-human” team.

We’re now speaking more openly, and we’re together as a leadership team; it’s so much better!

Lisa Garwood
Head of Customer Insight & Analytics