Nigel Hunton – Testimonial For Footdown's F1.1 HPW Diagnostic Suite
Chairman – Edwards Group Ltd
Nigel Hunton and his team run Edwards Group Ltd, a UK company with a billion dollar turnover with about 98 per cent of its business concentrated in exports of high-tech products. It has a workforce of about 3,000.
Why did you buy into iFootdown®?
I came across the F1.1 diagnostic tool through the Footdown group a couple of years ago and I was looking for a way to get my senior management team engaged and challenged to become even more productive. The business was in good shape but Footdown, with its unique F1.1 diagnostic tool, offered a way for the executive team to very quickly identify and engage around the priorities of the business. I realised the process would generate some “fierce” conversations and I wasn’t disappointed.
Couldn’t this be considered a risk for a Chairman like yourself?
You have to accept that, at times, you can improve what you are doing and if we aspire to be Level Five leaders (Jim Collins “Good to Great”) then we have to be able to embrace this sort of activity. Aspiring leaders of the future have to recognise that there will be criticisms and sometimes blind spots on the business. Those tough conversations are needed for the long-term health of the business. I was well aware that F1.1 would shine a light on all aspects of the Edwards business, including my personal leadership and style. It is not something for the faint hearted, but the rewards for the business are incalculable.
What level of commitment does Footdown's F1.1 require?
It’s total commitment. The difficult bit for me, and it was a challenge, was the reality that across the business there were a lot of initiatives going on at the same time. F1.1 was given a high priority and other initiatives did have to be dropped to allow it to flourish. We realised though that Insight provided a way to make sure that we integrated the needs of the individual with the purpose and direction of the business. Key people have been given responsibility for ensuring that Insight is developed and embedded across the global business. I also recognise that my leadership is crucial to not only making it happen, but to keep it happening.
How have you used Footdown's F1.1?
We started by running an F1.1 workshop with the executive team in the summer of 2009. The result of that three hour session was remarkable and I quickly realised the power and the potential of Insight for the organisation. We decided to buy the whole Insight programme, which provided us with the capability and freedom to use the tool across the whole business, the UK, Asia and the US. In our business, whilst our products are key to our success, so are our people. Insight is helping us to transform the organisation’s thinking and putting the individual at the heart of the business. This is different from organisations telling individuals what their role is. We have subsequently used the Insight model to develop a series of intense leadership development programmes for our senior managers. We are now cascading it down to the top 30 managers in Asia, starting in Korea in August. Insight is going global.
Have there been any benefits?
On the benefits side it really opened my eyes to the fact we had some senior managers who were feeling frustrated and wanted to be more deeply engaged in leading the company forward. They challenged our values and we revisited and refocused them. This has evolved into something we now call the 3Ts – one T being Teamwork which was a great output from the F1.1 workshop. The other Ts are Trust and Technology. Overall I believe it has allowed us to: provide greater focus and rigour to our purpose; enrich and unite the team; inspire and develop the people in the company and provide confidence to our customers.
What, if anything, has it taught you personally?
I think for any leader there is the need to invest time in working on the business and not always in it! My time with like-minded CEOs and leaders in the Bath Footdown group has frequently provided challenge and inspiration for me. Footdown's F1.1 has been an extension of this support and allowed me to really engage and empower my team. It also gave me the opportunity to think very clearly about the make up of the senior team and the priorities for Edwards in a challenging and exciting phase for the company. It gave me the confidence and courage to reshape the executive team, appoint a new CEO with the skills to push for even greater growth and to take on the role of Chairman. The Insight framework will be a key part of my armoury as I seek to develop and lead the strategic opportunities for Edwards.