When your challenge is to revitalise a 350 year-old company, there’s a lot of history to borrow from… and a lot of bad habits that need to be jettisoned.
As Aviva’s new CEO in 2013, Mark Wilson knew that nothing short of a cultural revolution would do. This was a company where senior executives would take a different elevator from the rest of the staff. Employee engagement was just 56% and trust in executive leadership 48%. It’s hard to re-organise around the customer when your employees are disengaged.
“In the first year, we spent a lot of time working out what we stood for – we had to reconnect with customers and employees. We listened to them, gathered feedback on Mark, the group executive and the organisation, so we could understand how people saw us and our decisions”, said Group HR Director Christine Deputy in a 2015 interview. Wilson and Deputy worked with Aviva’s leaders to co-create a new strategy, a new Mission/Purpose for the organisation, and (later) a set of Values as an anchor for culture change.
The brilliance of their work lies in its choicefulness and simplicity. Aviva’s purpose: to ‘help people defy uncertainty’ (see film). They’re attempting to bring a human touch to a sector known for – at best – opaque practices.
Aviva’s four Values: Never Rest; Care More; Kill Complexity; Create Legacy. The last of these refers to sustainability: ‘being good ancestors’. Does anyone else have their company values expressed in eight powerful words?
Read more: Aviva website