Guest Blog: 3 stories from 3 different worlds by Kurt Lindley

Last week we hosted 60 clients and colleagues at the headquarters of the British Olympic Association in central London, to explore together ‘Building Successful Brands through Culture’


Attendees included Technical Directors from the Football Association, two sporting MBEs, four England internationals across multiple disciplines and clients from businesses as diverse as M&S, Miele and MARS; B&Q, Go-Ahead Travel and Countrywide.


Kurt Lindley joined us, and has reflected on his perspective in a blog which we’re pleased to be able to share here

3 stories from 3 different worlds

An invitation from Leading Edge to build something great…

Bill Sweeney (CEO at the British Olympic Association) sets he scene with a provoking life story – some insights and my reflections below…

“If you are the same person now as you were 20 years ago then you have missed a trick”

Success is about ‘always learning’, seeing change as the only constant and change as a healthy part of growth (personally and organisationally). The room seemed to concur with this.

“If you believe enough and visualise, it will happen”

Bill clearly ‘saw’ what he wanted and what he wanted for the organisations he worked with. The need to be able to visualise success or an outcome was a standout part of this talk (not withstanding the need for hard work).

“If you cant see it no one else can”

You have to find your ‘thing’, look within. The essence here seemed to be affirming that it is our individual responsibility to find our chosen destiny and often this comes from listening to your inner voice(s).

“Go where your heart is”

Whilst some of this session related to bland loyalty, Bill was strong in his opinions related to personal loyalty. You can be replaced by an organisation but can you replace what you feel for an organisation?

Eliminate what can go wrong”

Reflecting on preparation for the Rio Olympics, the key seemed to be balancing if not biasing efforts toward ‘eliminating what could go wrong’ over ‘what we must do to get things right’. It may be semantics to some but it meant success for ‘team GB’.

“Our mission is to unite

23 Sports with their own culture under one banner. That is a success by anyone’s measure. One approach, multiple sporting cultures under the ‘ONE TEAM GB’ banner.

“This lifted us…”

“Like and welcome pressure”

Relish it and you will grow in this environment. This manner of work is not for the faint hearted but if you can lean toward the belief shared here you will definitely increase your odds of ‘doing well’.

The Panel Chat

The collective thoughts of Bill Sweeney (CEO at the British Olympic Association), Ciran Stapleton (Head Teacher St Joseph’s and Exec Head Teacher Thomas Beckett) and Arthur Pugh (Project and Change Lead, Global Culture at Mars).

Question to Ciran

Q. How important is brand and culture to the kids and parents in the school?

“Very….it was all about pride for them”

Ciran shared that he worked with pupils and parents to identify what was important to them and the single most significant item that kept being referenced was a need to pride. A need to feel proud of of ‘their school’.

Q.What turned the schools around?

“You have got to love the children and the children have got to know you love them”

It was clear that Ciran saw the need for teacher to ‘love’ the space they worked in and ‘love’ the people they worked with. Accountability for outcomes and taking responsibility for these featured high on the list of criteria for success and drove the change in culture.

Questions to Arthur

Q. What makes Mars successful?

“Positive culture = productivity”

Arthur shared the existence of the Mars ‘Core Values’ and that these were lived on a daily basis in the language of the workforce. They are a common currency.

Employees are not seen as employees but as associates, increasing their personal value for their own role and leaders let people lead too. There is freedom to play (innovate) and mutualality..

“Whats good for you is good for me”

Questions to Bill

Q. What makes a good culture work?

“Set standards and apply this to your work”

Sounds simple and maybe it is this simple in terms of a want. Bill shared this worked well in his time at adidas. They set standards for the way they designed and manufactured their trainers and then applied this in all areas of work. How they worked with others, how they went about their day, how they interacted with team members. They applied across all of what adidas did.

Workshopping some themes

Some explorations to continue which fell out of these sessions – snapshot captured below…

The output of our conversations

Giving a language to culture…

Noticing the broken glass…

Visualising change…

Sustaining high performance…

Closing message

During the panel sharing – the ‘broken widow theory’ was mentioned and connected to/paralleled to people and culture…have a watch of this video and ask… how do you notice and them positively deal with the broken glass in your organisation?


Kurt Ewald Lindley – privileged to have been invited

Feedback seem to be good too….

My group selfie – thanks team