Time to wear your mutual heart on your sleeve
UK financial mutual, Newcastle Building Society, is the first financial mutual outside Australia to implement Mutual Value Measurement©. It’s an exciting milestone in the take-up of the measurement framework for co-ops and mutuals developed in partnership with Monash University. Newcastle Building Society boss, Andrew Haigh, will be in Australia next week for the 2022 BCCM Leaders’ Summit to share how the framework is helping his organisation discover even more ways to be impactful in the communities and region where it operates, and deliver more and better benefit for members.
In this guest post, Andrew outlines the recent Mutual Value Measurement© journey that the Society has taken, and the value MVM© is adding to its corporate strategy. Andrew is a keynote speaker at this month’s BCCM Leaders’ Summit.
When I saw Mutuo’s presentation on MVM© at last year’s Building Societies Association conference, it was clear that it could be a timely solution to a challenge we were facing. The Society has been pursuing a purpose-led strategy since 2017, embracing the spirit of what the Society has always stood for in a modern, commercially sustainable context. Not a straightforward transition to make, but what I would say is that we now have real traction, with many proof points, and can state with conviction that as a business, we are ‘powered by purpose’.
What we don’t have is a systematic method to connect the conventional metrics we use to plan, measure progress and most importantly, set our ambition at board level, with our purpose journey. That is not to say that we don’t understand the connection between our purpose-led approach and a successful banking model, but that we simply don’t yet have a mechanism to link purpose measurement to the ambition of the business.
Instead we still tend to talk about purpose but measure, and then focus, our reporting and goal setting on the commercial end result (scale, profit etc) rather than the true end result, which is the difference we make and value we create for our members. We talk about member and community impact, but not with the rigour we would like.
The commercial outcome is of course vitally important, but it is the means to an end, not the end itself. Therefore we need an expanded view of where the organisation is heading and how the organisation is performing. We were looking for a tool that would enable us to document a forward aspiration for member value – all too often we see member value expressed as a retrospective view of achievement rather than a forward view of ambition.
From our perspective, we see purpose and mutual value measurement as closely and vitally linked. In the first instance, I did wonder if they were competing models of the same thing, but I am now clear that they are not – purpose is very much driving cause and MVM© is measuring effect.
Our Purpose statement is that we “Connect our Communities with a Better Financial Future”’ which is then supported by five pillars relating to:
- the products and services we offer;
- the lasting, authentic relationships we build;
- our role as an employer in enabling talent;
- fostering inclusion, diversity and positive change at work and in our communities; and
- caring for the environment and sustainability for future generations.
We are a highly social business, delivering a service in a part of the world that is also highly social – in the north-east of England, community and one-to-one relationships really do matter. The region is a unique and wonderful place, full of character! Our business is built on a closeness to members and a commitment to face to face relationships – things that are increasingly perceived as less important and are less treasured in our sector.
We choose to take a different view and have set about finding a path that values and celebrates person to person interaction; applies technology to bring people together rather than push them apart; and finds a route to keep our business in the heart of the communities we serve. Our approach from day one of delivering a purpose-led strategy has been to involve the whole organisation in our vision and our journey. The very best, most impactful and most inspiring things we have done have bubbled up through the organisation more than they have been directed from the top! So, we have set out on our MVM© journey with the same intent.
What have we done so far?
Peter and Mark (Mutuo) have completed their audit. It has been good to see an objective view and to hear where we have strength and where we need to build if we are to fulfil the true potential of what we are aiming to do.
Peter then shared those findings in a facilitated session involving our board and the executive within our strategy day, looking at the next iteration of our five-year plan. That session was warmly received and there was both positive endorsement for working with the MVM© model and encouragement to be ambitious in our outlook as to how we might change the world, albeit quite appropriately tempered with the need to keep in step with the delivery of a long-term sustainable financial model.
Our next step was to involve the entire colleague base in the conversation.
Over 1,360 individuals have contributed (that’s over 90% of the employee base) across five events of between 200 and 400 at a time; sessions were recorded so that we can sweep up the rest. We gathered ten word clouds, over 150 flipchart inputs from the table sessions and over 600 questions (on all manner of things in addition to the MVM© discussion).
The final step will be to work out how we include the voice of our members in the debate, which we haven’t quite decided but will probably happen in the lead up to the AGM in quarter one next year.
We are well underway with what is proving to be a thought provoking, inspiring and exciting journey for the whole business. I am sure once we have completed it, we will have something very powerful that has made a material impact on the ambition of the organisation.