Case Study: Managing Cultural Change


First Central Group (FCG) is a successful and increasingly influential Guernsey-based UK motor insurance provider.  Established in 2008, with an ambition to out-compete established brands through technology-based agility, it sold its millionth policy in 2013.  It currently employs over 500 people.

In early 2014, FCG’s Group Technology Services division (GTS) completed the implementation of Focus, an award-winning new insurance management platform.  This enabled FCG to significantly cut operational overheads, and offer better-targeted products to customers, faster than its competitors.

FCG’s Chief Information Officer commissioned CBO to define and support the implementation of a new operating model which included ways of working that allowed for parallel development of and delivery of incremental improvements, and the prioritisation of support of the day-to-day issues experienced by Focus’ 500 users.

CBO’s Work:

Our role was to develop and embed a new organisational culture within GTS, CBO needed to deliver effective change management.  To do this, we focussed on:

  • capturing the voice of the customer
  • involving all stakeholders
  • skill transfer
  • cultural change.

The Voice of the Customer

To build the ability to respond to customer’s requirements and prioritise their needs, whilst ensuring that customers were appropriately engaged in the change, CBO used a number of techniques.

First, we interviewed key customer representatives at the beginning of the project, and presented their opinions back to management.  By doing this in a controlled and ‘safe’ environment, we allowed GTS to absorb positive and negative responses in a considered manner, without feeling any requirement to immediately respond or justify their actions.  This helped place the voice of the customer at the centre of the change.

Second, we brought customer representatives into the design of GTS’ new operating model.  Selected representatives were actively involved in design workshops, and then attended 3-monthly review meetings to confirm that the changes they had specified were being implemented as they had envisaged.  This helped ensure that the change continued to focus on their requirements.

Involving all Stakeholders

For the change to be successful, it was necessary to ensure that all voices were heard.  To do this CBO used a number of techniques.

First, we interviewed representatives of every team in GTS at the start of the project, capturing their honest feedback about what worked and did not work within GTS, their views on the organisational culture, and their motivation for working for the company.  As with customer feedback, we presented this back to managers in a safe and controlled environment to increase their openness to the messages we had collected.

Second, we ensured that all GTS managers were actively involved in the development of GTS’ new operating model.  This was essential, as it helped them understand and ‘buy in’ to the changes that were to be introduced.

Finally, we involved staff in every aspect of the roll out of the new way of working.  This work, for example contributing to new policies and processes, helped build their understanding of the model that was being introduced.

Skill Transfer

We recognised early in the project that the strength of GTS’ management team was fundamental to their successful adoption and embedding of the desired changes.  To support this, we mentored less experienced managers on a 1:1 basis, helping them to reflect on, and address, the challenges of managing change.

Cultural Change

We recognised that many of the changes required by FCG were ‘cultural’, rather than ‘practical’. By this, we mean that the main thing that needed to change was an individual’s behaviour, not the processes or tools that they worked with.

To support this, we ran an away-day for all GTS staff.  This focussed on the behaviours that sat at the core of FCG’s new operating model, and provided them with simple tools and aide memoires to help them adopt and embed such behaviours.

Complementing this, we ran information and training sessions for customer representatives.  At this, we explained not only the practical changes that GTS were undergoing, but explained the culture they were seeking to adopt and advised on how best to engage positively with that culture.

Finally, we worked with an organisational psychologist to run a series of away-days for FCG’s management team.  These were designed to focus on and resolve some specific group dynamics that had been defined as impacting on the effectiveness of their work.

CBO’s Impact:

GTS’ new operating model has now been successfully implemented, underpinned by significant changes to its organisational culture.  This has been proven to support First Central Group to deliver system improvements quickly, without compromising the day-to-day support of Focus’ 500 users.

Pete Johnson, FCG’s Chief Information Officer, says of CBO’s work that

“1st Central has, in our first 6 years, built an incredibly successful technology enabled insurance business.  To build on this success we very quickly realised that our approach to technical development and change needed to mature at a faster rate than the rest of the business.  We approached CBO both for professional advice on our future operating model, and also to bring some discipline to the implementation of this new model.  I can honestly say that we wouldn’t have achieved what we have over the last 12 months without their continued guidance, and I now view them as an essential part of my management team.”

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