Lake District National Park is responsible for the stewardship of England’s biggest national park spanning 2,362 square kilometres.
Like many public sector organisations, they are affected by government funding making it crucial to find ways to manage resources well, while making sure the park continues to flourish as a haven for millions of tourists and its residents.
With an audacious vision to half carbon emissions across the park by 2025, the park’s senior leadership team committed to a major change programme to provide space to innovate, improve efficiency and capability, working smarter to make the most of their income and resources.
Their aim was to encourage a high-performance culture, with positive, flexible, commercially driven staff who can facilitate the change needed to make a real difference to secure an exciting future for this special place.
More than half of their annual budget was already being generated through various commercial offers, but the true transition they wanted to realise was to adopt a commercial mindset across all aspects of the organisation.
This was no mean feat for the 150 plus employees because there was now a need to balance the virtues, intention, and values of what a national park stands for to protect the vital landscapes and wildlife habitats, while being more commercial and self-sufficient.
A major restructure and reconfiguration of roles to bring in new skillsets began to make a difference, although the level of change called for a fresh focus on organisational development to support people and develop a vibrant-commercial focused culture.
The park had tried initiatives, they generated buzz but never fully embedded to evoke the culture shift required to drive the energy needed to make change stick.
Ice Creates insight driven people-centred approach provided a fresh perspective and depth to engaging with people throughout the park at all levels. A culture map of key leaders was conducted to provide rich insights and metrics to understand how they could be become more aligned and efficient.
Leadership and strong clear communications were key to modelling what was expected from the organisation and number of employees took part in a Natural Leaders session. Blending the behavioural science with the ancient practice of shepherding proved to be a breakthrough for the team.
Working with the sheep dogs brought to life how all forms of leadership require good communication, and leaders can learn a great deal about the ways in which they communicate in business by learning to communicate well with the dogs.
People had to really think about the way they act and the impact this has on others. For some people, it was a real eye opener and quite a shock. Achieving rapport with a dog so that a relationship of mutual trust is established is not being clever or dominance; it is about establishing ground rules and boundaries and communicating constantly well.
The key takeaways for the team including learning the dogs are only interested in three things; trust, respect and clarity. They must be totally clear about what they want them to do otherwise they won’t follow, very similar to the workplace. Authentic leadership requires empathetic, getting your message across non-verbally and using positive reinforcement. Getting a sheep dog to obey a series of commands requires strong and consistent direction – it is the same in business.
The experience led to a programme employee engagement and support with organisational development to evoke the culture shift needed to become more commercial.
This included conducted a series of workshops across the organisation to gain employee insight to shape their organisational plan create a visual interpretation of the following:
- Analysis of current state to assess the present, current team perceptions, barriers and pain points, their values and support needs to make the shift required.
- What Lake District National Park will be like in the future and next steps required.
Team leaders were deemed the linchpin to unlocking the potential across their teams. Ice worked with team leaders to enhance their presentation and communications skills to make them stronger at delivering important and sometimes tough messages. They were armed with tools and practices to help them overcome obstacles to be effective listeners and communicators.