We are so lucky to have Pippa Hutchinson on our team here at the Amplified Group. We’ve delved into our podcast archive to listen to our conversation from December 2020. The topic is so topical right now that it’s worth sharing again.
If you want some cheer as well as great business practice insights, this is an episode not to be missed!
Listen to the podcast here.
The early years
Pippa started her career with Tesco’s in the 1990’s starting out as a graduate trainee and working up through the ranks to Strategic Marketing Controller for food in the UK. Pippa went on to work for BBC Worldwide as Head of Marketing for children’s publishing. The new brands of CBeebies and CBBC were born during her time there (who doesn’t love the Teletubbies!)
Following some time out to raise a family, Pippa moved into business consultancy where she adapted the most successful approaches and disciplines of the corporate world to help smaller businesses to operate in a more structured, planned and ‘grown up’ way.
Fun fact: Before starting at the Amplified Group, Pippa helped interpret the data from our first Tech Leader Survey in 2019. She did such a good job, we asked for her help with our 2022 report which you can find here.
Learnings from Tesco
Pippa talks about her time at Tesco with such passion. There is a great lesson for us all in how Tesco transformed itself in the 1990’s to be the UK’s biggest supermarket by the end of the decade, and now the world’s third largest retailer. Pip tells us, “That’s in the main down to the CEOship of Terry Leahy who became their CEO in 1997 and is regarded as one of the UKs most admired business leaders.”
Pip saw first-hand how Terry cascaded some fundamental guiding principles down through the business. If you’re interested to know more, he has since written the book “Management in 10 Words.”
The Importance of Business Values
The words that stood out to Pip during this time were:
What Pippa liked about Terry’s approach was that he gave everyone in the organisation a sense of belonging. He said,
“I can be your CEO and I can give you top-down values. But if I dictate how we behave we will lose traction. I want to understand what our customers say about our business and what you, who work in the business, believe we should stand for. I want you to have a sense of belonging.”
Terry approached this by organising a road trip around the country to deep dive into every single department, store, and every tier of management. Pip tells us how he garnered the business together in groups of 30-40 people to produce a wealth of valuable insights. He said,
“I have two key questions. What do you think Tesco stands for currently? And what should it stand for?”
Some core themes began to emerge and Terry distilled those down to some key principles to take forward:
- Nobody tries harder than Tesco for its’ customers.
- We’re going to be energetic!
- We‘re going to understand our customers better than anyone else.
- All of us should treat people how we like to be treated.
Tesco turned the business around through their simplicity of strategy. Terry wanted Tesco to be the best it could be and to help with this, some basic tenets were put in place.
Sam whole heartedly agrees.
“Simplicity is massively underrated as the chief tenant of strategy.” As Pip points out, “Strategy is a recipe.”
Vic & Sam agree that this has so many parallels with their conversation with Colin Brown at Softcat. The only difference is what you’re selling.
The discussion moves on that we need to demystify strategy. In fact, Pip says,
“Don’t’ call it strategy. Call it ‘what’s our intention to be successful?’”
We love the Patrick Lencioni methodology because of its simplicity. If you haven’t come across the 6 critical questions, take a look here. It’s so simple it’s almost embarrassing but so effective when trying to ensure alignment in a management team.
Every time we lose our way, these questions can help remind ourselves why we’re doing something.
The conversation continues, but to keep this blog (relatively) short, I’ll move on to the key takeaways or as Pippa likes to call them, “A recipe to success with 4 key words.”
Key Takeaways – A Recipe to Success!
Think about the values you want to engender in your business that everyone lives and breathes. They should be reflective of a genuine, authentic reason for launching a business. They are not a strap line, they come from the people in the organisation.
Values are instrumental to the success of your business.
Give people in the organisation that latitude and freedom to make mistakes and learn as they go along. They should not be dictated to by more experienced people.
- Ambition and enthusiasm count for a lot.
- Be able to carve your own role.
- Trust the people around you.
- Debate and resolve issues together so that, as a team, you are all moving in the same direction.
Have a strategy or an intention of how you want to succeed but keep it simple. Don’t over complicate what it is that you’re trying to achieve as a business. Strategy comes from listening to the customer.
Balance is the antidote to silos. It’s about ensuring that you don’t have silos appearing where departments are vying against each other. Let the objectives for people’s learning and growth be as valid as objectives for financial success.
Final Wise Words
Pippa isn’t short of these!
A KPI for profitability is a lagging indicator of success
“If you’re only looking at profit KPI then you’re not getting it about what defines the success of your business. It’s not a success factor in its own right.”
“Recruit and retain the best people. Stand out from the crowd in terms of your customers. Those are real KPIs. It’s important to have a balance of KPIs across the business.”
“Measuring innovation and morale. They are crucial as part of the recipe of success.”
And here is the end of the lesson. There was so much great content in this conversation.
Please go back and have a listen here
Thank you, Pippa! We’ve been putting in to practice all the good things you’ve taught us around business strategy – of course, we’re keeping it simple while having a laugh along the way. 😊