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CASE STUDY: THE HUNGER PROJECT’S LEADERSHIP PROGRAMME FOR COMMONWEALTH BANK

CULTURAL CHANGE INITIATIVE – PARTNERSHIP WITH THE HUNGER PROJECT AUSTRALIA

In October 2011, CBA and The Hunger Project Australia entered into a partnership to create an ‘out of the box’ approach to cultural change within Corporate Financial Services (CFS) that is both long-term and sustainable. With the assistance of McKinsey, a program was built to drive the cultural change and shifting of mindsets.

Specifically, the goal of the programme was to recalibrate the group’s management style and to instill ground-breaking behavioural change not previously achieved in the banking industry. The programme was based on the key CBA goals and has three-levels of success-measurement including bank-wide longitudinal metrics.

The programme started with the THPA/McKinsey team gaining an in-depth understanding of CBA’s goals and current benchmark measurements. McKinsey identified key shifts in skills, behaviours and mindsets needed to accomplish the goals. A multi-stepped plan was created including: pre-trip preparation of the participants, 5-day immersion design, post-trip embedding sessions and short and long-term measurement milestones.

The key outcome areas were:

  • Talent Development and Retention,
  • Oganisational Culture Improvement
  • Business improvement.
  • McKinsey identified key shifts in skills, behaviours and mindsets needed to accomplish CFS goals.
  • A multi-stepped plan was created including:
  • Program Design aligned to outcomes
  • Five day Immersion trip to India design (including pre trip preparation)
  • Post trip embedding sessions
  • Short and long term measurement milestones

By seeing grassroots cultural change in action in some of the most difficult circumstances allowed the Change Leaders to draw important leadership lessons. This became the spark for them to become the catalyst for change amongst the broader executive population within CFS.

LEADERSHIP LESSONS – WHAT DID THEY WITNESS IN INDIA?

The immersion allowed the Change Leaders to witness the transformation of village women from non-literate, soft-spoken, subjugated individuals to powerful leaders who come to understand that they are the answer to ending poverty and hunger for their villages. The women leaders, whom The Hunger Project empowers, have shown phenomenal leadership against all odds.

This vivid and personally confronting trip allowed the Change Leaders to draw important leadership lessons as they observed these women stand up and take action to bring water, health and education to their villages, in the face of violence, brutality and social ostracisation. The barriers to making important changes in the bank that seemed insurmountable became quite viable, in comparison, after seeing what the courageous rural women had overcome. Change Leaders learned how The Hunger Project’s unique leadership training and mobilisation methods were structured and administered.

In India the team met woman leaders who face enormous challenges and yet have found ways to speak up, be heard and make change happen for their villages. From these leaders, the team identified three key Leadership Foundations. These Foundations give quite specific ways to best achieve the goals that underpin the overall vision.

Following the immersion trip the team has rolled out a series of workshops designed to cascade the key learnings. At these workshops commitments were made by all to drive the behavioural shifts.

Executive Managers have created their own working groups to share best practice, coach and support one another and hold each other accountable to deliver on their commitments.