Change - Strategic Facilitation

by Tony Mann

Economic versus values imperative

It is important to note that at the top of the iceberg are strategic focus and values. Up to now we have been primarily focusing all of our attention on the strategy. However, the ‘strategic focus’ alone has the potential to cause a disjointed and unbalanced culture. To counteract this and to ensure that the organisation is in harmony with itself, the values need to be embedded.

This exercise will usually take place with the senior members of the organisation, who need to set the tone of change.

How to apply

  1. This means taking the values and identifying what kind of structure and high-level processes are required to make them real. It means ensuring that the systems and procedures that are in place are the right ones to make the values meaningful.
  2. Ideally this activity would be done in conjunction with and alongside the strategic (economic) implementation (see implementing strategy). In this way, any imbalance between the (economic) strategic focus and the values will be identified and hopefully resolved.



Once the values have been agreed and confirmed, only the senior management team can change them. They would do this if there were an irreconcilable conflict between the values and the economic imperatives which meant that the value could not be ‘lived-out’. In such a case, the responsibility for not having such a value would lie with the senior management. It should never happen that the value is merely represented at a behavioural (RSAK) level.

  1. Embedding the values means making sure that everyone can live out the values. So the strategic facilitator should invite the group to work either in all to one way, taking each value at a time, or in sub-groups, with each taking a value and brain-dumping the
  • Structure and high-level processes
  • Systems and processes
  • Roles, skills, attributes and knowledge

that need to be in place to make the values real and that are being lived-out within the organisation.


  1. Where there is a conflict between the economic and values imperatives this must be flagged up and dealt with by senior management. The strategic facilitator should therefore ensure that a member of the senior management team is present in any workshop where this exercise is taking place to either resolve any issues or take them back to the SMT for a resolution. Issues cannot be allowed to go unresolved because the consequences will manifest themselves lower down the Process Iceberg®. This will probably result in staff having to deal with the consequences at the level of roles, skills, attributes and knowledge.



The BBC has been oscillating between economic and values imperatives with each successive Director General (DG). The threat of the removal or reduction of the licence fee has driven DGs to cut costs, reduce services and rely on re-runs of old programmes and well-known formats (such as Strictly Come Dancing and Eastenders). The latest review by the newly-invigorated Trustees has criticised the BBC management for lack of imagination, creativity and risk taking (with new programmes and new talent).

This shows a classic conflict between economic and values imperatives – in this case between financial austerity and creativity.