collective voice

Thanks for dropping by our blog page. Our team of over 60 full-time experts use the latest thinking in behavioural design and enablement via our people-shaped methodology to Make Better Happen for individuals, organisations and communities. Our specialisms of applied behavioural insights, design through co-creation and leading-edge social marketing and engagement are at the core of all that we do. Our mission is to be part of a society that is well, confident and resilient. If we can help you take a journey to be your best self, please call us on 0845 5193 423 - our promise to you is that we never settle for second best.

Culture really does eat strategy for breakfast

April 11, 2018 15:19

Recently, I have been struck with the famous saying by the late and globally revered management and organisational development expert Peter Drucker – ‘Culture eats strategy for breakfast.’ At ICE, our clients often ask us to support the development of leaders’ capability, as well as supporting teams to be more effective, and to implement new ways of working. Once we understand the initial presenting problems or requirements, we then start to explore the organisational culture – essential in ensuring that all organisational change is effective and sustained.

After a long intake of breath and a slow sigh, more often than not, leaders will then start to describe a reality that is very different from the values that are proudly displayed on their walls and banners. We come across situations where there are legacies of previous organisations, which are integrated only in name. Often, staff will still describe belonging to one tribe or the other. Other common situations include a lack of confidence to act, with staff referring-up and permission seeking for fear of ‘getting it wrong’, managers describing a lack of accountability and staff speaking of forever changing goalposts, staff not feeling safe to speak out when there are serious problems. Without the security to speak up safely, serious problems that are affecting staff, customers or patients – that are not right and should not be tolerated – can lay dormant until they manifest in disastrous ways. You may recognise some of these situations in your own organisation or team.

We work with managers, leaders and organisations to be able to safely and clearly describe what is going on with their culture, to find a common language to describe and value the different perspectives that create the culture, and to envisage in a practical way what the desired future culture could and should be. This co-creation process - engaging and involving a wide range of staff groups, including those who may be finding the culture most challenging - helps to develop commitment and ownership in shaping a different future. By exploring what is needed, what is getting in the way, current behaviours and the behaviours that are required, we are then able to begin developing a cultural road map. This map includes milestones that people will be able to measure progress against, as well as the resources that will be required, or obstacles or roadblocks that need to be overcome. This can be described in a written report, but using facilitated graphic visualisation means that the image created gives everyone a clear road map; they can check, hold others to account and measure their own personal culture change in line with their map.


Energy for change is key, both at personal and organisational levels. People often notice energy by its absence, where people may be willing, prepared to commit to doing things differently, but describe ‘not having capacity or bandwidth’ to engage, feeling exhausted or burnt out, or where people for whatever reason do not want to engage, full stop! For some, they are more preoccupied with survival, dealing with challenging rather than functional relationships and uncertainly in their self-esteem each day. This lack of energy or deficit inevitably gets in the way, stopping people being able to engage in thinking about ‘doing things differently’ or organisational transformation.

Being able to measure available energy at personal, team and organisational level helps to ‘name it’ in an objective way – one which enables the safe conversations including ‘what do we need to do next to address and support a positive culture?’ To enable this, we use a simple and effective tool – Culture Map. Developed based on Barrett's work on levels of consciousness, Culture Map takes less than 10 minutes to complete. It asks 3 questions, choosing 10 words to best describe three scenarios – your personal preferences, your current experienced culture and your desired future culture. Each of the chosen words translates to an energy level, and helps to quickly pinpoint where energy is within individuals. There may be limiting or negative energy or entropy that gets in the way of change, or there may be higher level positive energy, with less energy deficit creating a more positive environment for change – both at personal and organisational levels.

Understanding the energy - both negative and positive - at a granular level enables and opens up a different conversation about ‘what we need to do to address, support and enable change.’  It pinpoints and identifies specific issues, enabling more targeted and impactful interventions. When combined with the future culture road map, this creates engagement and ownership with staff, teams, managers and leaders and clear direction.

It is often said that ‘Cultural change is a journey’ - often long and demanding, full of surprises and unexpected twists and turns. In our ‘real lives’, we wouldn’t set out on a journey without having some sense of our destination, and possible options on routes (even if reliant on Sat Nav and Google Maps!), and we would know why we were venturing out and the benefits of travelling, if only to see our world from a different place.

Surely then, it is vital that when leading our people and organisations through cultural change, we must be equipped with a known or co-created destination. We must always understand ‘why’ and ‘what’ we want to be different as a result of any change, and we must have the stamina and energy to sustain the trip – with surplus energy created to enjoy the change along the way!

So it is true, culture does eat strategy for breakfast – make sure you have had your breakfast!

As behavioural change specialists, we work with a number of NHS organisations, local authorities and place-based systems and organisations to support organisational and culture change. If you would like to know more about what makes the difference and how ICE can help your organisational and culture change to be relevant, effective and sustained, please do get in touch with me on 0794 1289 999

We’d be happy to share the insight from our experience and understand what matters to you. Our approach is innovative, engaging, evidence-based and effective. You will feel like you’ve had 3 Wheetabix - energised and equipped to lead your cultural change journey.

 - Jane Cryer

Purpose driven STPs will be the strongest - how to mobilise your partnership to ensure your STP will sustain and deliver the outcomes

November 22, 2016 16:57

As the STPs for the whole of England start to emerge, the real work now begins. The work to be done has to be different, because we need different outcomes from the journeys that have gone before.  One thing is clear, however, whichever your area: this is the last chance to get things right.

You are going to have to DO things differently, BE different and give some things up – but where do you start? You will need lots of different players and everyone has a role to play. How do you enable and align your players to be integrated teams, to put your STP into reality?

Did you know: values-driven organisations are the most successful organisations on the planet and while your leaders set the vision and mission, your values and culture belong to everyone? How can you engage everyone in defining, living and breathing those essential values that will drive your new journey of successful transformation?

A good place to start is here at ICE. Our tried and tested approach uses the latest in behavioural design, working with individuals’ rational and emotional self, to create purpose and impact. Don’t be scared by the science – in practice the approach is very simple and straightforward and, with our help, you will:

  • Define the culture and values you will be working with as a system
  • Define the role of each player in your system
  • Realise and value the differences of all your players
  • Define what is important to your system and the people in it
  • Ensure all activity is aligned
  • Decide what to do more of and what you can gain by giving some things up.

ICE’s unique, cost effective and proven methodology has helped numerous organisations and multi-sector partnerships to successfully deliver culture and leadership transformations – delivering efficiencies and cost savings, increasing quality and morale, satisfaction and outcomes on behalf of staff, customers and patients.

We are currently working with a number of Vanguard sites, STPs, NHS, local authorities, charities, and private sector organisations, using our bespoke and tailor made platform to engage all players as one team with many players. Through true co-creation, we will enable you to harness all players in your system and together determine why, how and what to do things differently, mobilising your teams in a united approach, with all players empowered, valued and driven to achieve whole system change and better experiences and outcomes for patients.

We use techniques and ways of working which support the limbic and rational system for leaders and teams alike. Better still, this approach works equally well for patients, clinicians, social care and elected members. Our foundations for engaging are strengths based asset building systems. So, we always start with ‘What matters?’ and ‘What’s important to you?’  We work with people’s emotional self and their rational self, using metaphor and story-telling to create social epidemics of tipping point transformation.

Call ICE today on 0845 5193 423 to arrange an informal conversation over tea or coffee. Starting with the simple question “What’s important to you?” you share, we listen and together we embark upon a new and exciting journey towards successful and sustainable transformation.

How can we quickly introduce transformative systems thinking that leads to continuous improvement to our organisation, whilst also improving cultures?

April 22, 2016 14:59

The need for continuous improvement and lean system approaches is often wrongly attributed to the faults of individuals, rather than systems and processes.

It's no surprise that this mindset can lead to negative attitudes towards the subject when teams or departments are put under the microscope.

Our experience tells us that when it comes to looking at ways of improving how they work, organisations sometimes forget about:

  • What the customer really wants, as well as their needs and what is of value to them
  • How the processes and performance impact upon those who work alongside them in other teams/departments - the holistic system
  • Making sure that their ideas or changes are affordable, scalable and repeatable
  • "But we don't have any time!" - often, there is a struggle to make the time for lengthy programmes, training or meetings, but there is another way...

Our experience in delivering lean systems thinking across the government sector and multiple industries has shown that people are more able to adopt, adapt and become adept when the focus on improvement is based on a mutual subject.

We all want easy, fun and participative experiences that are part of everyday life to help us digest and work out what this change will mean to me.

The ICE team has designed a simple and highly effective experience to introduce holistic systems thinking to any organisation with the want or need to implement improved, more effective ways of working. 

With no more than two hours, we will deliver a dynamic experience to any part of your organisation.

With easily transferable insights, participants will leave with strong foundations laid to build upon, as well as approaches to transformation and change that can be applied into 'business as usual.'

We would love to meet with you and better understand what matters to you.

ICE's 7Es transformation experience creates real, sustainable change that really does become business as usual. Together, we can #MakeBetterHappen

How do you baseline your organisation's culture and strengthen its future?

April 5, 2016 15:55

Measuring the culture of your organisation can be a difficult challenge. How can you define such a multifaceted subject that spans the whole of your organisation?

Standard staff surveys offer a certain degree of insight into how individuals perceive your organisation or what they’d like to see done differently, but their offer does not stretch much further than this. By their nature, they are unable to give you a sense of whether people are aligned to or believe in your values.

From delivering culture and leadership transformations, ICE knows that a culture’s DNA consists of underlying beliefs, values and behaviours. It is essential that we dive deep into these factors to explore how they shape the current culture.

As well as unpacking and understanding the positive values and behaviours an individual exhibits, it is essential that you also discover any potentially limiting factors.

Through continuous learning, ICE has developed a simple, cost-effective starting point which enables organisations to explore and capture their culture – both in a current state and a desirable future state.

Using a model framed around Maslow’s ‘Hierarchy of Need’, we are able to differentiate positive and any potentially negative elements of your culture, while also establishing how your staff sit within the 7 levels of need.

Supported by our organisational development experts, our complete organisation overview will provide you with the professional guidance and support to address concerns and enhance strengths. This gives you the best chance of establishing a truly values-driven organisation.

To talk through how we can work with your organisation or for more information on our culture mapping offer, contact Simon Platt on 07583 049 603 or at