A good week’s work

  • Client: Ada
  • Sector: Tech
  • Year: 2018
  • Project Length: 6 months

The quick read

What do you do when rapid business expansion is depleting morale? First you diagnose the political, structural, cultural and operational barriers that are in the way. Then you identify the type of leadership needed to dismantle them, putting in place a change process that goes deep and tackles each issue in turn. Finally you support, nurture and challenge leaders to drive all this.

“We have got further with Corporate Punk in a single day than we have ever done with a Management Consultancy in weeks or even months.”

Daniel Nathrath, CEO, Ada
The whole story >

What we did

  • Organisational psychology
  • Goal setting
  • Strategic planning and roadmapping
  • Organisational vision setting
  • Change vision setting
  • Process engineering
  • Internal communications planning
  • Change management coaching
  • Leadership development

Impact

  • Improved investor relations
  • New, approved strategy for growth
  • Realigned global team
  • On track to achieve investment KPIs (unlocking next portion of funding)
“If we can’t make progress in one week, fire us.”

The whole story

Over the last decade Ada’s brilliant medics, scientists and programmers have developed the best AI-powered diagnostics engine in the world. The engine reduces the average lead-time for the diagnosis of rare diseases from 14 weeks to 14 minutes.

But the business was facing problems. The journey to turn the “engine” into a viable consumer product was faltering – perhaps understandably, given the complexity of the challenge. People disagreed over direction. Key staff had left. What should have been an exciting, happy and productive time had turned into anything but.

Ada’s leaders are both visionary and hard working. They were doing everything they could resolve the problems. They ran strategy workshops. They tried to set OKRs across the business. They hired in yet more talented, senior people. But progress was slow, investors were complaining, and tiredness was setting in.

We took them for coffee and, having listened to the issues, offered to help. The team was cynical that we could. One of the leaders is an ex-management consultant, and knows that game. Plus any number of advisors had already been and gone. So we said: give us one week, and access to ten of your people for just 40 minutes each. If we don’t come back with some new insights and a helpful plan, fire us.

Seven days later, our WorkForces toolkit had completed its own diagnosis. In one simple table, we set out the hidden structural, operational, political and cultural bridges and barriers ahead. We then ranked them, and drafted a 6-month change roadmap that prioritised the highest impact, lowest cost fixes.

In partnership with Ada’s leaders, we set to work. First, we went deep on leadership itself. We coached the senior team to understand their natural preferences and biases. We supported them on communication and how to embed organisation-wide accountability. Next, we consulted on strategic planning. We supported the leaders through the difficult process of agreeing direction between themselves. We also helped them to manage investor expectations. Finally, we trained in new behaviours around the use of technology. This helped develop better organisation-wide collaboration and communication.

This wasn’t easy. Change is hard at the best of times. But it can be even harder in long-term working relationships. This is because behaviour has often become habit. There were times when change felt impossible. But, to their credit, the leaders pressed on.

Six months later, it was all change. A new strategy was forming. Investors were happier with progress. Leaders were better connected and more insightful about their and others’ behaviour. And the numbers were up.

The key insights

  • The value of change work depends on good diagnosis.  It’s easy to try solving the wrong problem.
  • Diagnosis doesn’t need to take months if you have the right tools.
  • When committing to a change programme, don’t be afraid to start small.