Insight article

Turning a business’s fortunes on its head: delivering meaningful change through stories

The challenge

Standards at one packaging business were already highly competitive. But the new CEO believed he could raise them even further. His big ambition was to improve operational performance at manufacturing sites in order to secure new partnerships and achieve a higher return on capital. But for that to work, everyone had to be invested in his vision.

The programme

That’s where we came in. We created OWNIT!, a company-wide programme of strategy engagement and operational improvement.

Working with the Executive Committee, we crafted a narrative that laid out in clear terms what the business’ ambitions were, aka the OWNIT! Story. This offered a structure that fed through to events, workshops and toolkits. It motivated managers and teams, and showed them how each individual can play their part. In many cases, that meant local initiatives encouraging people to come up with meaningful solutions to operational problems. The results were genuinely extraordinary. At the Bristol plant alone, defective parts per million dropped from 3,200 to an incredible 500 in just four months.

Stories were shared via a Champions’ network, connecting people to the wider narrative through their individual experiences. 

One such story told was of two operators who worked on the box line. For years, the boxes had been fed into the machine lengthways. But these two women saw a way to boost efficiency. By standing the boxes upright, twice as many could be fed through the machine, transforming productivity. This simple story showed the role each team member can play. It showed how every individual can be part of, and connect to, the broader narrative of raising standards.

The impact

Defect levels at the Bristol plant reduced by 73% in three months. Higher standards ultimately led to the acquisition of global customers such as Amazon, as well as a 460% increase in share price. In other words, our programme achieved exactly what it set out to do.

And as well as engaging 95% of employees, OWNIT! became the internal identity for cultural improvement. It allowed us to create a culture of shared ownership. One machine operator said, “OWNIT! dramatically changed my life and the lives of people around me.” 

Our programme had impact because it tapped into the experiences of people like him, connecting them to the wider narrative through the power of stories and moving them to do great things. To discover how storytelling can transform your business, download our e-book, Storytelling: how to reset an organisation’s narrative to inspire change

Chris Spencer

Chris Spencer

Chief Executive

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