Getting L&D to work harder

  • Client: Sony Music
  • Sector: Broadcast, Media & Entertainment
  • Year: 2017-18
  • Project Length: 6 months

The quick read

You’re a legendary entertainment firm, but what do you do when you want to see your own development initiatives rocket up the charts? Go back to basics. Interrogate your organisation’s culture, your employee’s attitudes to learning, and the role of technology in developing capabilities in different markets around the world. Using this psychological insight, redesign both platform and content for impact. Use the process of implementation itself to develop and embed better habits across the business.

“One of the most enjoyable and insightful pieces of work I have done in years. Phil and the team are diligent, challenge us constructively and give deep insight. A refreshing and valuable partner to solve organisational conundrums.”

David Reay, Senior VP of Global HR, Sony Music
The whole story >

What we did

  • Goal setting
  • Strategic planning and roadmapping
  • Change vision setting
  • Process engineering
  • Transition planning
  • Internal communications planning


  • Radically improved alignment of L&D and technology agendas
  • Global, technology-led strategy for performance improvement
  • Improved alignment across the senior client team
  • Ongoing, targeted investment into technology
“Talking left and voting right is not just a problem for politicians.”

The whole story

Talking left and voting right is not confined to politics.

Our client had built a number of technology-driven initiatives to help develop its teams around the world. But, despite apparent demand for such initiatives, adoption and engagement were lower than expected.

The team was puzzled and paralysed. Why would people say they wanted something then reject it?

We got the call. The leaders at Sony Music proved open-minded and innovative. When we suggested bringing in specialist diagnostic tools they didn’t blink. Instead, their attitude was ‘if we don’t know the problems, we can’t solve them’.

We set to work. Within The Change Index is a tool called The Culture Index. It uncovered significant insights that ran contrary to received wisdom. We found that some challenging perceptions existed about the role of technology in a relationship-driven culture. We assessed the impact of digital disruption on employee attitudes and behaviour. And we identified various ways that organisational narratives were influencing people’s willingness and ability to change, for better and worse.

We then identified three core success drivers for all development initiatives. Practical ways that the team could connect its engagement activity to deeper wants, needs and goal values within different global markets.

We helped mobilise the team around two key projects, reworking their traditional approach to deliver agile, technology-led L&D and employee engagement programmes.

Finally, we embedded strategic and coaching frameworks to help the core team facilitate senior-level discussions about their cultural challenges.

This took time. Both the diagnosis and the action plan posed threats to existing initiatives in which people were invested. But the client team remained open-minded, accepting that they had always done their best based on the information they had at the time. And that new insights meant different actions.

Six months later, the first of these new projects entered Beta. Internal engagement has already been significantly stronger than before. People are no longer just talking left – they’re voting left as well.

The key insights

  • What your people say about your plans might differ from what they really think and feel. Trusting only what is stated can predict failure.
  • When initiatives fail, there may be fundamental, underlying causes – it may not be because the initiative itself was wrong.
  • Changing course on established projects can feel threatening to those involved in their development. This is a big potential barrier to success and needs addressing early.