Organisational development and diversity from a practitioner perspective

Organisational development and diversity from a practitioner perspective

Organisational development

Organisational development is a complex and interlinked series of activities, thinking and strategies. In this podcast, David talks with Jo Franco-Wheeler who is the Director of Organisational Development and Diversity at Inmarsat about the issues high tech organisations are facing especially around organisational development and inclusion and why these are interlinked.

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Jo Franco-Wheeler – Organisational Development at Inmarsat

Jo Franco-Wheeler is the director of Organisational Development and diversity at Inmarsat which is a world leader in global, mobile satellite communications and provides telephone and data services to users worldwide, via portable or mobile terminals which communicate with ground stations through fourteen geostationary telecommunications satellites. Inmarsat’s network provides communications services to a range of governments, aid agencies, media outlets and businesses (especially in the shipping, airline and mining industries) with a need to communicate in remote regions or where there is no reliable terrestrial network.

In November 2021 Inmarsat announced a merger with Viasat. Viasat is communications company based in Carlsbad, California and  is a leading provider of high-speed satellite broadband services and secure networking systems covering military and commercial markets.


Jo Has worked in a whole range of roles from HR, sales and business transformation, and as a management and change consultant  in several companies including Axa, Rolls Royce and EY. She has a BA honours in Philosophy from Durham University and an MBA from Cranfield University, where I used to run a department. Jo a big cricket fan and a Non-Exec Director of Derbyshire County Cricket Club.

Contact Jo

Transcript – Organisational development

[00:00:00] [00:00:35] David: Welcome back. Today, I’m talking to Jo Franco- Wheeler, who’s the Director of Organisational Development and Diversity at Inmarsat, which is a world leader in Global mobile satellite communications and provides telephone and data services to users worldwide, portable or mobile terminals, which communicate with down ground stations through, I think it’s 14 geostationary, [00:01:00] telecommunication satellites. Inmarsat is a British company and their network provides communication services to a range of aid agencies, media outlets and businesses, especially in the shipping airline and mining industries where they’d need to communicate, particularly in remote regions where there’s no reliable or terrestrial network. Two months ago, that’s November, 2021 Inmarsat announced a merger with Viasat and Viasat is a similar company, a communications company based in California, and is also a leading provider of high-speed satellite broadband services. So you can see the similarities there and secure network systems covering military commercial market. Now Jo’s worked in a whole range of roles from HR, Sales and Business transformation and as a Management and Change consultant in several companies, including AXA Rolls- Royce, and E Y. She’s got a BA Honors in Philosophy from Durham University, which is a Russell group University in the UK and an MBA from [00:02:00] Cranfield University, where I actually used to run a depart, quite a long time before she went there. And I also believe that you’re a big Cricket fan and one of the board at Derbyshire Cricket Club, I think it is 

[00:02:11] Jo: Correct. Yes. I’m on the board of the non-exec director of the cricket club. Hello 

[00:02:14] David: Cool. Yeah. Welcome, and it’s great to have you on the podcast. So just to kind of get an idea of Inmarsat, big is Inmarsat in terms of staff. 

[00:02:24] Jo: So Inmarsat has just under 2000 people. 

[00:02:26] David: Okay. So it’s not like….

[00:02:27] Jo: We are a very global organization. So we’ve got about, we’re in about 20 different countries. We run, you know, from ground stations where we’d only employ 6 to 10 people to Head Office in London, which has got about 800 people, and we’re very geographically dispersed. 

[00:02:40] David: Okay. All right. That must present all sorts of kind of challenges, particularly given your role. So would you just like to start by explaining what your role actually is and what your responsibilities are and what kind of areas you cover and your team. 

[00:02:53] Jo: Yeah, absolutely. So, I lead a center of excellence in HR basically. And organizational development really is a [00:03:00] portfolio of different activities that we look after. So amongst that portfolio is learning and development, leadership development, organization design, change management, performance management, culture and values, diversity and inclusion and engagement matters. So it’s a big portfolio of things, but obviously we’re not doing everything to the same volume every year. We kind of flex and we run projects and to deliver different things depending on the business need for that particular year. And we are quite small team of organizational development project managers and consultants and advisors. We’re 5 people in… 

[00:03:32] David: 5, for a while. 

[00:03:34] Jo: Yeah, absolutely. 

[00:03:35] David: Wow! How do you manage to do all that with 5 people? 

[00:03:38] Jo: Well, we have to be really selective about what activity is going to give us the most bang for buck in terms of, you know, what the priorities are for this year. So, you know, we’ve got an amount, business as usual that we’re always running, you know, there’s always a learning and development portfolio. There’s always a leadership development portfolio and we always run an engagement survey, et cetera, but apart from that, you know, we go, what are the [00:04:00] business strategy for this year, what are the business priorities for this year and therefore which projects that we need to support in order to help deliver that? So, you know, one year we might do, quite a lot of org design and another year there might not be very much at all or the business facing HR team would manage it, you know, with us just providing sort of tools and templates. And whereas another time there might be a huge, big transformation program that we’re running for on behalf of the business. So it really, really fab 

[00:04:24] David: Wow! That’s amazing, and so is all of that done? In-house do you bring in outside consultants? 

[00:04:30] Jo: Yes. If we had to need, we’d bring in outside consultants. So typically it would be more for capacity than, or specialist’s capability that we would bring one in. But, yeah, for example, we worked with a small boutique consultancy last year because we were doing quite a lot of organization restructuring and we needed more capacity in the area. So, yes, we were not averse to doing that, but we do do a lot in house. I call a vast sort of internal communication with Germany do in-house. Although again, we sometimes use a copywriter externally. So we try and be really flexible, I think with resourcing [00:05:00] models and look at, you know, what can we do and what should we be doing? What would be good use of our time versus we could actually get somebody else doing it. 

[00:05:07] David: Yeah. Compared to a lot of organizations, that’s a really diverse set of activities for just small people.

[00:05:12] Jo: Yeah, absolutely. If we were a bigger organization, it wouldn’t all be done by one team. That’d be sort of several different teams would do that.

[00:05:19] David: Yeah. Interesting. So, and who do you report to within the organization? 

[00:05:23] Jo: So my teams enter the Chief People Officer, so into our H. Department and I’m part of the HR leadership team. 

[00:05:30] David: Okay. Got you. Great. Okay. So, given that Inmarsat’s kind of highly tech based organization, what are the biggest challenges that you face you and your team?

[00:05:40] Jo: Oh, this is such, could be such a long list of thing or which direction could we go in really with this question? So, I’ll pick out a couple, but I’m sure they’re not the, you know, the only ones I think. First of all, I think it’s something to do with the need to balance respecting our traditions and our expertise, but with all always keeping an eye on, you know, what’s happening and being innovative [00:06:00] and following, you know, external trends and that sort of, that need to be flexible and agile and, anything technical, it just moves so quickly. And any thing technology based, and you know, we’re not a fast moving consumer goods company, we are a satellite company, what we do, has to be very de-risked and very long term, you know, we launch a satellite, our satellites are the size of a double-decker bus. They’re in geostationary orbit. They last for 15 plus years. So we’ve got to be, you know, very safe and risk averse, but also open to what technology needs could be required that we could be delivering that we don’t even know about yet, within the lifespan of their satellites. So I think it’s always a challenge to balance that sort of tradition versus innovation, that safety versus innovation and you know, that kind of, I think it’s a difficult one to do.

[00:06:50] David: Yeah. That’s quite a paradox to be managing and certainly in terms of organizational development and change as well. So you’re actually trying to manage that balance, [00:07:00] I suppose. And I can, well imagine there’s a very kind of exciting dynamic and yet exacting industry to work in and to serve. What are the key foundations or principles that you apply in terms of learning and organizational dev…..? 

[00:07:13] Jo: Yeah. So, I mean, I think it’s all about prioritization based on business needs. And I think that has to be fundamentally our, asset of bedrock, because as you’ve said, we’re a small team, you know, we don’t have unlimited resources. So I think we have to be really targeted and really clear what it is that we are going to focus on and making sure that focus is really laser. And, I think there’s a need to really understand the challenges of the business and the business strategy and to work really closely with you know, our business facing HR colleagues. So the people who’ve got, you know, a portfolio, the business partners, the bits, the HR directors to really understand exactly what the challenges are facing their business at. And make sure that when we plan our activity, which we’re doing, you know, we’re in the process of doing now for [00:08:00] 2022, that what we’re planning to deliver is going to meet their needs and make a measurable difference to the organization and I think that has to be the bedrock of everything that we do, that kind of ability to say, you know, this is where you were, and this is what you need. And it’s also the balance of giving them what they want and what they need as well, because you know, sometimes they’d be, a desire for a, I’ll give you an example, so, historically my team were asked if we could deliver some sales training, some of the business that, because there was a belief that there was a capability gap in sales. And actually what might he need to do is say, what is the organizational problem that you’re trying to solve? Because actually, if sales isn’t performing, as you think sales should be performing, let’s look at how is the team structured? What is the capability? How is the team rewarded? Are the incentives in line with the behavior and the activity that you want to see, how are the processes? Are they getting in the way? What’s the capability of the management team? Are they coaching? You know, directing, are you getting what you need? And that there might well be a capability gap identified [00:09:00] as part of that, but just sending people on some training, isn’t going to address making the team work better. It’s almost trying to outsource, managing the team better to somebody else, if all you do is a sales training course, and you know, there are some brilliant sales training providers in the market, but they won’t make a difference to your organizational sales performance, unless you are really clear about where you are now and where you need to get to and what their sales training will do and what it won’t do. So for example, we delivered a program last year, that’s ongoing and continuing into this year called sales excellence, which was capability development, but also alongside my colleagues in the reward team, looking at the sales incentive scheme, also looking at the structure, also looking at the account manager module, the processes. And that was part of the big developing program that we took part in. 

[00:09:46] David: Yeah, it’s that bigger contextual piece, isn’t it? Because quite often you see an organization’s kind of training thrown at things without the infrastructure around it being examined at the same time. Yeah. And I think that’s really important and I [00:10:00] think it’s also missed in a lot of organizations that do just throw training at problems. 

[00:10:04] Jo: Yeah. And I think for me, that’s what organizational development is. It’s a portfolio and sure, if we were a bigger organization, maybe learning and development and leadership development, wouldn’t be part of organizational development. However, there’s a fundamental link between the two. And when you’re looking at projects, which fundamentally make parts of the business work better, which is what I think organizational development is, it’s optimizing the way the organization works. Capability development is one answer, but actually it’s looking at the whole piece. It’s make taking that holistic view of what is working and what isn’t and what projects need it and I think for me, that’s the importance, it’s that integration. And I think the other thing that’s really key is making sure that you’ve got absolute, support top down. So, you know, making sure that actually you’re not saying, well, I’m going to do this because this is the right answer, but that you’ve got a leader or a sponsor who’s bought in and understands why you’re doing what you’re doing and is [00:11:00] ready to sort of support it because we could have the best sales excellence program in the world but unless account managers are being told, this is important that you attend and you get something out of this, you know, you’re just not going to get the same impact and the same buy-in and you might not even get people showing up without that. So it’s that kind of starting from a really good understanding of the way things are now having done that, you know, forensically, and also making sure that you’ve got leaders who are supporting everything that you’re doing. You’ve got that kind of back. 

[00:11:28] David: Yeah, it needs to be up and down the chain, and there’s an awful lot of research to show that a leadership management support is essential, both for organizational development and learning and development and that those things are tightly integrated. And quite often within organizations, they get separated out and they don’t actually talk to each other as functioned. So, interesting, really interesting, and I can also imagine, I kind of give them the highly technical and specialized background of many of your staff. And the fact that you’re going to have a quite, I would think quite a range of stuff in terms [00:12:00] of qualifications, experience and roles. Can you just give us an idea of that range and diversity that you have in Inmarsat?

[00:12:07] Jo: Yeah, so I mean, we literally employ rocket scientists, so, it’s really willing and, you know, I worked with some brilliant people here. You know, the leading people in the world, in their field and so we’ve got lots of PhDs. We’ve got people with the coolest job titles in the world, eight controller who work in our operations center because that’s what a satellite is and they are flying it in geostationary orbit and keeping it there. So we’ve got that huge sort of technical core, but, you know, just like any other organization, we’ve also got a head office staff, you know, finance, HR, procurement regulatory and we’ve also got a huge operations area. So our chief operations office includes our satellite controllers, our network operations. There’s also IT and a huge customer services team as well. So, you know, there’s a real range of capability but definitely more on the sort of technical end, you know, we don’t have many entry level roles with that don’t have any experience. You know, we have worked really hard to [00:13:00] kind of develop our early careers path, but it’s not traditionally been a big part of our organization because, we generally have very highly qualified people in all of our technical.

[00:13:09] David: Yeah. And there’s so having worked Cranfield work also, in fact, I was told once by Professor who pulled his glasses down and looked peered at me over them and said, “dear boy, this is rocket science, this is what I teach, is rocket science.” 

[00:13:23] Jo: I know, I didn’t realize until I went to him, I said, how often I used to say, you know, it’s not rocket science and you can’t get away with that there, because people will literally say, yes, it is.

[00:13:31] David: It is 

[00:13:31] Jo: …you can’t say that anymore. 

[00:13:33] David: Yeah. And what I found was that there’s a, and this is the diversity piece is getting that range, talking to each other because they come from very different kind of mindsets and frames and they’re thinking about very different things and yet in an organizational parts of the organization need to be talking to each other and how’d you go about that? 

[00:13:54] Jo: Yeah. Well, we actually ran a very specific culture change program that started in [00:14:00] 2017 and is still going now because it, you know, you don’t change culture overnight. When I was hired, I joined the chief operations officer, I worked for the CO and he hired me to do two things, one was to set up a change capability because he was running all the big transformation projects at the time, but they were all very technically lad and he didn’t think we’d really got a handle on the people elements of it, so that was one part of my role. And the other part of my role was to do a culture change process. Originally just for his area, but when I looked at it and I looked into it, everybody I spoke to who were leading the big projects and the big transformation piece of work, when I asked them about what was keeping them awake at night and what their biggest challenges were, they were all talking about culture. They weren’t using the word culture, but they were all talking about the way they interact with other departments, lack of accountability in the organization, unclear accountabilities and sort of conflicting goals across teams, and fundamentally, we had really good people who were really capable, but spent most of their career learning about what their technical capabilities were and that expertise, [00:15:00] rather than about how to manage relationships externally or internally and get things done. And obviously they had a lot of skills in that area, but there were also some gaps and people didn’t really know how to talk about how we work together. So we partnered with an external company who have done nothing but culture change for 20 years and therefore were able to help us baseline the culture of the organization, because culture, often people think it’s some sort of intangible X factor that you can’t really define, and it’s not at all. It’s exactly the way you share information, the extent to which people are clear of their own accountabilities and how they linked to the goals of the organization. You know, there are all these tangible factors. So, they have distilled the attributes that are present in a healthy high-performing culture and we’re able to measure ourselves against it and fundamentally what that told us was that our culture was getting in the way of what we were trying to do. So we needed to invest in it and that wasn’t just within the COO, it was across the organization. [00:16:00] So, myself and the COO went to the chief people officer and said, you know, can we talk to you about this culture change program we think would benefit the whole organization and the stars aligned because that’s something she was looking at doing anyway and three months into my new role, I was in front of the executive committee pitching the new program we were going to run and we ran it as a jointly sponsored initiative between the two of them, and rolled it out to the senior leadership team from October, 2017. So what that gave her was a shared language and a shared experience that we could then use to talk about how we work together. So we introduced various different concepts, various language, everybody took part in a two day session where they were steeped in that and they all had the same experience globally. So now our teams have this sort of shortcut, shorthand language that they could use to talk about how we work together and with way to go. We’re not perfect on everything, but we’ve improved on everything. And you know, we’re still embedding the culture that we’re trying to be and it’s made a significant difference in how well [00:17:00] people interact across the organization. 

[00:17:02] David: I was going to ask that, you know, are you actually seeing some results? Are you seeing changes in people’s behavior, in the way that they’re interacting?

[00:17:09] Jo: Yes. Yes. So, I think the biggest change is there’s probably two things. So one is the people are more likely to interact across boundaries, so, before it people, some were great, some were not so good at even interacting with other teams, it was almost a bit if they don’t report to me, I have no control over what they do. So what can I do? Like if it’s not command and control, it isn’t anything type thing, and therefore I need, you know, there was very little matrix sort of working, and that doesn’t work well for a company Inmarsat because we have a shared asset base, you know, we’re not, we haven’t, we might have different business units that focus on different customers, but they’re all selling the same thing, which is capacity on our satellites and a network. So we can’t have, you know, different teams doing completely different things and not interacting with each other in a helpful way, because we’ve got, you know, a team that do capacity planning for all of the organizations, so we have to do that [00:18:00] interaction better. So that’s made a real difference. There’s a better quality conversation likely and more likely to be a conversation and then I think the second thing is that, people are more likely to call it when things get stuck. So, we developed this concept that we call the accountability paradox, which is where everybody sort of thought that there’s not enough accountability in the organization, but everybody also thought that their own team and themselves are very accountable and we flagged that both things can’t be true. So when we really looked into that and explored it, it was all about context and perception, so it was not the case that there were people who were just not getting on with it and not doing their job. It was more that people weren’t understanding what other people’s expectations of them were. They weren’t having, there was an assumption that you were getting on with that, and then you didn’t, and I was annoyed about it, but I, this was never voiced, it was that kind of thing, that was the challenge. So having the ability to sort of say, now this hasn’t moved forward and I thought that it would have moved forward. What, I thought you were going to do that? Have you not, did you [00:19:00] not think that that was your job? Let’s talk about it rather than let’s just sort of shrug our shoulders and go, it’s not working. So it was, I think a million improved conversations makes a massive difference to the organization and fundamentally at grassroots level, that’s what the culture change enabled. 

[00:19:13] David: I think that’s really interesting. And, I think you’ve kind of highlighted two things that within the Oxford Review, we’ve been kind of exploring with the members, particularly, this idea of quite often organizations are perceived as a whole series of teams, but when you start to perceive it as a team with a series of sub-teams, it becomes a different construct in people’s minds. And then this idea of exploring paradoxes is becoming a big thing, both within the research and, within some of the conversations that we’re having within the membership around recognizing paradoxes and once you recognize those paradoxes, you can start to have conversations about them and starting to do something with them. And I like this idea about the accountability paradox. I think that’s, yeah, that’s really insightful. 

[00:19:58] Jo: Yeah. And it’s at, and what’s [00:20:00] good is, you know, we trained our own internal facilitators and you know, so we’ve got that capability to sort of get a team together and bang their heads together and say, right, that’s what’s actually going on here and let’s talk about it and, you know, get that out in the open and dealt with, so that they can move forward. And it, you know, it, didn’t used to be normal to talk about how we work together and now it is, and, you know, I would get quite a lot of emails every week. I’ll get one or two, could somebody, could you put us in touch with somebody to help with this? Is there a culture program concept we could use for this problem? You know, it’s become normal to use it, to solve business problems. You know, there’s more to do, but it’s made a huge difference already. 

[00:20:35] David: Yeah. It’s those process conversations that are so critical within, well within teams, but within organizations about how we’re going to work together, what the problems of communications problems and perceptions and things that are critical within organizations. And unfortunately, very few organizations have those types of conversations. That’s really interesting. One of the other aspects that I was interested, particularly in terms of the TAC technical staff, clearly, [00:21:00] you know, compared to a lot of organizations, you’ve got a high proportion of very technical people, PhD level staff, who in their work on a day-to-day basis are essentially data and evidence driven roles and people, you know, cause they’re trying to get satellites into space and keep them there. So, and that must be quite an exacting population to do change and learning development with because their expectations of evidence and things are going to be quite high. I would have thought, how do you manage being evidence and research based in your and your team’s practices and what sort of sources are you drawing on in order to do that?

[00:21:36] Jo: Yeah, so, I mean, absolutely. I mean, luckily it’s a characteristic I’m familiar with because not only, you know, I worked at Rolls Royce where you’ve got lots of engineers and lots of very bright left-brain people as well and also when I was in management consultancy, I worked with lots of energy companies, utilities, very technical manufacturing, engineering type things. So, I think first of all, that sort of left brain, right brain [00:22:00] concept really. So obviously I’m not a psychologist, my understanding of it is rudimentary, but the idea that, you know, left brain is evidence-based fact rational things we can demonstrate things, we can count, if you’ve got lots of people who are naturally going to focus on that kind of think, rather than the right brain, which is more relational, more conceptual, more about, you know, relationships and how people kind of get on with each other and interact and, you know, less tangible and measurable, more abstract. You’re going to need to make sure that your culture change program isn’t a right-brain program. So, you know, we did have some challenges at that beginning because when we started to look at changing the culture, you know, there were big swathe of people at Immarsat that would’ve liked to see the said, well, you know, in February we’ll implement counts ability and that will be done by the end of February and in March, we’ll focus on you know, cultural boundaries and so on. And obviously that’s not how it works when you changing culture, but what we did have to do with much more visibility of what the program plan was than we would normally do. So, you know, we had a [00:23:00]methodology for the culture change that had five different phases. Typically in an organization, we probably would have kept that to the project team and people who were experiencing it would have just experienced it as they went along, but actually, you know, we had people who were very inquisitive and if they were going to engage in this culture change program, they wanted to understand. Why was it happening the way it was happening? How was it going to work? What were you measuring, et cetera and for example, the first stage we did was a diagnostic of the current culture and in the, when we started to roll out, the program, the original content had sort of 10 minutes on the diagnostic and then we carried on but people wanted to understand a lot more than that, so to satisfy that desire, quest for knowledge, you know, I offered to run, a 19 minute in-depth session on the diagnostic for those who wanted to, and a lot of people came along to that because they wanted to understand it. So once we were able to say, this is the program, this is what will take you through, and this is what the result will be. And also, you know, this is, I’ve done this before, this is [00:24:00] my job, I am a culture change person. Here’s the companies I’ve done it out before. Here’s where we were, where, and that’s how we got to, people just went okay. And they sort of accepted that, the acceptable foresee and evidence-based so, you know, when somebody was saying, I’m not sure this is going to work, well, what can I show you that will make you feel like it’s going to work and then we can have a good conversation about it and then, you know, and then we can move forward. So, I think it was, for me, it just a lot more detail and a lot more grounding and evidence and fact and research and proof of, you know, this is where it’s worked before, this is the impact it’s had before was needed. And that’s fine, you know, that’s what people need to engage with it. Then we’re happy to do it. We’ve got to be flexible. 

[00:24:37] David: Hmm. Interesting. Just given the time I’m just going to skip ahead. What do you think are the biggest challenges facing organizations today in terms of organisational development change and learning and diversity?

[00:24:48] Jo: Yeah, so I think again, what a big question. I think there’s so many different things we could talk about and I’ll pick one on change. So I think that generally businesses [00:25:00] under-invest in change as a capability, as an activity. So there is still, again, it’s back to that left brain, right brain thing. If we do the perfect project, that develops the perfect solution and then we roll it out, it will work, but actually I think underestimating the amount of stakeholder engagement, the amount of hearts and minds communication, the amount of even just the technical change impact analysis, have we really thought about what’s changing for people and what we’re going to need to do about it to unblock it? You know, typically I think people invest in change management only after it failed. So it didn’t work, why didn’t it work? Or we need more change management rather than just accepting that it’s part of good delivery of change of transformation is to invest in the people elements of it upfront. I mean then there are companies that are really mature at this, but so many companies under-invest until it fails and then do the bare minimum for it, not to fail rather than, you know, really kind of go let’s get this right and make it fundamentally part of it, so that’s why. I think the other is [00:26:00] not wasting the gains that we’ve had due to the pandemic. So really early on, when we all started to work from home in March, 2020, I was attending sort of, you know, different networking events, where there were people from different companies and really early on, you could see there were those who were sort of saying, wow, this is such a springboard, we’ve been trying to do this for years. So for example, in that we’ve done projects to change. We’d done a whole campaign called Flextember in September, 2019 to encourage more flexible working. And you know, for us, this was a springboard because we’d got real, you know, we’d got a few people who really didn’t fundamentally believe it works. If people worked at home and they didn’t, they wanted to see them and you know, we were able to demonstrate, look what you can get done when people are working remotely, it still works. So there were people who used it as a springboard, and then there were other people who were immediately even then saying, how are we going to get back to normal? As in the desire is everyone back in the office and now you can see that, you know, some of the big banks have come out and said, our special sauce is everyone in the office together. That’s our culture and there’s going to [00:27:00] be a real divide and people are going to vote with their feet around the kind of company they want to work for. So I think, it’s giving people that flexibility and recognizing that they want to have a life and work from home a lot, but equally, you’ve got to feel like you’re part of something. So, you know, that worked for us, cause we’d all work together for a number of years, but in 5 years, 10 years when there’s a, you know, a churn of people, there’ll be 50% of people who’ve never worked with everyone in the office and they’ve barely met most of their colleagues. How do you still have a culture and a sense of belonging when you’re not together physically all the time. And then also, how do you create an environment in your office where people want to come in? Because we don’t want to be forcing people to come in and say today, I have to do that work, that they could do at home. We want them to want to come in to collaborate with their colleagues. So it’s creating that workplace environment that will stimulate and enable collaboration and engagement. That’s what we’re looking for. 

[00:27:53] David: Yeah. Amazing that you were doing that just before the pandemic. That was so fortuitous 

[00:27:57] Jo: Well, it really was because it meant that we [00:28:00] were ready because you know, it’s not just about telling everybody to go home. We’d got all the policy set up, we’d got all the guidance, we’d got all the, I mean, we actually also, we’d invested in expanding our virtual IT because we didn’t have the capacity before 2019, we didn’t have the capacity for everybody to suddenly work at home. So, you know, we’d already done that expansion because our, you know, I’d worked with our IT team and lobbied them sort of going, you know, we want more people working at home. Can we expand the capabilities to do that? So it meant that in March 2020, we were able to just say everybody remote. I mean, not everybody, you know, we did have small number of operational roles who needed to be in the office or in the satellite operation center or the network operation center, but you know, 80% of our roles, everybody could go home and we were ready to just sort of click our fingers and that happened and that, you know, saved us a whole lot of pain. So yeah, my team were very popular in March having done that, I mean it was fortuitous, obviously we didn’t know it was coming. 

[00:28:53] David: Yeah. And that’s not just the technical side. It was also the kind of mindset side of some of the managers and leaders. Wasn’t it? 

[00:28:59] Jo: [00:29:00] It was, yes. We were really punchy actually with that because you know, in my view, pretty much every flexible working policy says the same thing, which is you can, if your manager says you can, and it’s not detrimental to the business. So fundamentally you could have two teams led by different managers doing exactly the same thing, and one manager says, yeah, sure, you know, work wherever you work, not interested, as long as you’re getting everything done, I’m interested in output and another manager who go, yeah, I prefer to see you. I think people shirk when they work from home and they’ve got a completely different working environment because of that and the policy would support both of those managers. So we took that one step beyond and we had, you know, really quite punchy FAQ’s that said things like, oh my team’s quite junior so, is it okay if I opt out of Flextember? No, you know, the issue here is that you don’t trust your team, then being mad, doesn’t make them any more productive, you know, have you thought about, how are you actually monitoring what they’re doing? Because presenteeism isn’t monitoring it, you know, maybe speak to your HR manager about helping you manage your team better, you know, or questioning what [00:30:00] it is about them that you’re not trusting, like what’s the problem here. We’re expecting you to support this and you can’t just go with my personal preference and opt-out so, you know, we were really empowering employees to say, you know, I’ve read these FAQ’s and it says here that I should be allowed to work from home because you haven’t got any good reason why not to, so I want to, can we talk about it? So, that hearts and minds bit was great, but also, you know, we did have a few people who just fundamentally were resistant and it’s been demonstrated to them through the pandemic that there things they were worried about were to pickable. 

[00:30:29] David: Yes. I was seeing that in a lot of organizations now. That’s brilliant.

[00:30:32] Jo: Yeah. 

[00:30:32] David: Okay. Just to finish off, if you had three pieces of advice for a new head or director of organisational development, diversity and all learning, what would they be? 

[00:30:41] Jo: Three pieces of advice. So I think the first one would be, understand how you can best add value to the business. So there’s a temptation to kind of go, oh, you know, I know what best practice in HR is and therefore I’ll introduce that. So what, we don’t have a, leadership development program and introduced one of those, or we don’t have a performance management program that I think [00:31:00] works, I’ll introduce those, actually, what is it that the business needs and what are the things that are going to make the biggest difference? I think that will be the first one, understanding, you know, the business challenges and how you can best meet those and prioritizing what you do according to that. I think the second one would be to build your credibility and your relationships. I was given a really good piece of advice by a partner I worked for at E Y who told me that you need to match the size of the conversation with the size of the relationship. So, if you have a really small relationship, you can only have a really small conversation. If you have a big relationship, you can have a big conversation. So I think me and my team are most effective when we’ve got really good relationships with the business. So that when like going back to my sales training example, when somebody says, can you do some sales training for my team? We actually need a relationship big enough that if we need to, we can say, the issue isn’t capability, the issue is the way that they’re being managed or, you know, actually it’s this behavior that you’re exhibiting that is causing that. So I think build that big relationship. So you can have those meaningful, big [00:32:00] conversations, because actually we can create an environment where we’ve got permission to talk about how we work and the culture and how that works and that’s fundamental to me making a difference Inmarsat and my team making a difference 

[00:32:12] David: Like that, I think that idea of credibility is so important in organizations that gets forgotten. 

[00:32:18] Jo: Yeah. And it really is important, and I think as well, understanding where credibility comes from. It comes from, you know, doing a really good job and being honest. But for most people demonstrating, you’ve actually heard and understood them and understood the business. You know, what they want from us is, I understand what makes this business work and I think, this will make it work better and this is what, you know, and because then they know we’re on their side and we want to work with them shared goal and so on. And then I think the third thing…

[00:32:41] David: is listening yup….

[00:32:42] Jo: Yeah, absolutely. That listening piece is so important. And then the third thing I think has to be you know, org development is a huge portfolio of different things. So it’s about being focused, you know, we can’t do everything and neither should we try and actually, if I had a team of 30 right now we’d be doing too many [00:33:00] initiatives and there would be too much being thrown at the organization and their capacity to receive that and to change is limited. So actually being focused and saying right this year, these are the things we’ll focus on and we’ll do them really well. Is it incredibly important? Not just for management of resources, but for impact. 

[00:33:15] David: Yeah, I think that gets forgotten, and a lot of organizations there’s so much change. People get changed fatigue and sort of it isn’t organisational development and change externally, it’s stuff that’s being generated by internal departments.

[00:33:28] Jo: Yeah! 

[00:33:28] David: Jo, I know you’ve got to go. Thank you so much for giving us an insight into your world and the world of space and satellite communications industry. Thank you so much. 

[00:33:37] Jo: Thank you. I’ve really enjoyed it. It’s been really interesting. 

[00:33:39] [00:34:00]

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David Wilkinson

David Wilkinson is the Editor-in-Chief of the Oxford Review. He is also acknowledged to be one of the world's leading experts in dealing with ambiguity and uncertainty and developing emotional resilience. David teaches and conducts research at a number of universities including the University of Oxford, Medical Sciences Division, Cardiff University, Oxford Brookes University School of Business and many more. He has worked with many organisations as a consultant and executive coach including Schroders, where he coaches and runs their leadership and management programmes, Royal Mail, Aimia, Hyundai, The RAF, The Pentagon, the governments of the UK, US, Saudi, Oman and the Yemen for example. In 2010 he developed the world's first and only model and programme for developing emotional resilience across entire populations and organisations which has since become known as the Fear to Flow model which is the subject of his next book. In 2012 he drove a 1973 VW across six countries in Southern Africa whilst collecting money for charity and conducting on the ground charity work including developing emotional literature in children and orphans in Africa and a number of other activities. He is the author of The Ambiguity Advanatage: What great leaders are great at, published by Palgrave Macmillian. See more: About: About David Wikipedia: David's Wikipedia Page