A tough challenge: Developing one vision with 140 people!

Wednesday 21st of March 2018

We asked Carole Richardson, Director of People and Culture at North Star Housing Group to tell us more about agreeing goals with over 140 people. 


For our strategy to 2023 we wanted to involve more people from across the business and further develop our culture of shared/distributed leadership. Board kick-started the process by agreeing what, for the Board was important and must not be overlooked, the board "givens" as we call them.

These became the strategic headings or the key ingredients of the strategy: Customers, Growth, Profile and Reputation, Culture, Digitisation, Partnerships and Resources.

In March 2017 we ran our annual staff event as an open space event. Anyone who knew of an issue / opportunity that could impact on North Star to 2023 was invited to share it, then host a workshop for interested folk to attend. The host would summarise the discussion, and gather recommendations.

My heart was in my mouth when the facilitator said "Ok, those with ideas come forward and get your papers and pens"..... There was a pause.....then 50 people ran to the papers. (Evidence of our journey over the past five years!) The rest of the day passed in a blur but by the close of the day, the walls were covered in ideas.

Everything was collated and shared with everyone. Great start so far, and then we hosted an event for our customers to get their givens ( more of this to come in another blog). A call went out for Discoverers and Visioneers to work with all the givens/recommendations and shape the future..... 30% of the organisation stepped forward.


Together we took a leap into the unknown. Staff organised themselves into Discoverers or Visioneers . They agreed to work as peers, in the best interests of North Star, consensually make decisions and support and challenge each other. Facilitated sessions, held each month enabled staff to crack on. The givens were used as a helping framework, providing just enough detail to focus the work. Discoverers researched the key issues that North Star needed to pay attention to.

They visited other businesses, talked to customers, analysed internal/external data, and customer insight, read, attended conferences and talked to their peers. Throughout the process they kept the customer close. Within four months, the work was summarised into key points and handed to the Visioneers. Using creativity, imagination and realism, a compelling vision was developed.

Following CEO and Discoverers sign off, staff presented their work to the Board. The way they did this was creative, risky, challenging and amazing.

Take a look for yourself here.

Board and the Senior Team then reviewed the vision, made a few tweaks and formally presented it back to staff. This process felt like you were handing over your baby to be looked after by someone else. However, we realised that after each “ handover” not only did we all still recognise the baby, more people were now responsible for its health! Fast forward to the staff event of March 2018.

Designed and delivered by staff, the discovery and vision was shared. Workshops enabled people to ask questions and deepen their understanding. At the end of the day everyone was asked “What’s your level of commitment to making the vision to 2023 happen?? We used an anonymised, electronic voting system to display real time results, in front of everyone (gulp)...


….100% of the organisation are committed to this vision, what a mandate for change!!!

Along the way, we have learnt tonnes, taken risks, developed ourselves and staff, done things differently and most importantly 140 people have developed one vision that will keep North Star strong to 2023

More information about North Star Housing Group