Insightful Partnering

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Case Study

Sheppard Moscow was invited to work with Unilever to improve collaboration between two teams.

The Challenge

We were tasked to improve collaboration between the Insight Team and Marketing (their principle internal customer), in order to enhance business impact. This would position the Insight Team as a strategic partner in the business rather than purely as a provider of market research services. The functional community incorporated a leadership team of 5 directors, 70 senior managers and 200 managers and analysts.

The Solution

There was no ‘one size fits all’ approach to strategic business partnering, so the starting point was to understand the specific organisational context in which we were working. We, therefore, conducted a diagnosis process with senior managers, the leadership team and marketing colleagues.  As a result, five key themes emerged:

  1. The need for greater Commercial Mindset and business acumen
  2. The importance of building Robust Relationships
  3. A mindset and behavioural capability that created a Willingness to Challenge
  4. The desire to identify Insights that would create Business Opportunities
  5. A sense of accountability for Driving Change on the back of insights, not just delivering research

These themes formed the backbone of the Strategic Business Partnering intervention.

Given that the initial requirement was for a culture change, it was clear that the whole function needed to be included in this development, and it had to be led from the top – this wasn’t an intervention for a discrete population.  Therefore we started with an engagement and launch event for the senior management population.  Then we ran 2 programmes

  • A short single-module programme for senior managers, which offered key content on mindset change, behaviour change and thinking and planning tools, as well as additional support on helping these senior managers lead their own staff through the change
  • A more comprehensive, 2-module programme for the wider population focusing on development around the 5 key themes

The Results

Formal feedback from programme participants, senior managers and internal customers demonstrated that the programme had achieved its objectives and that relationships had not only significantly improved across the business but that the Insights function were now seen as more accountable and focussed on delivering business-relevant insights.  The culture change had enabled more effective and commercially-focused insights and recommendations from the market research function, which in turn drove positive changes in marketing practice.  This ultimately enabled better decision-making to achieve more profitable marketing interventions.