CEO James Murdoch wanted to raise Sky’s strategic aspirations and ability to deliver, from his Executive Team to the top 300 leaders through to the performance culture.

Synonymous with satellite television in the UK and a world leader in digital television entertainment, Sky has been a revolution leader from the start. The company exploded the choice of channels available to us, first with the analogue signal, then digital. Now we have the technology in our living rooms to pause, record and replay live TV. Getting there has been an epic series of campaigns, and tales abound of how teams of staff who love what they do have repeatedly beaten down the doors of conformity and refused to bow to constraints of imagination.

With twenty years of phenomenal success behind them and a strong culture of getting things done, the time came when the company knew that the next cannon in its arsenal would have to be something quite different. The need they identified was for a more thorough and strategic planning process, and at the same time they knew their greatest cultural challenge was not just more of the same, but to adapt to a new style, to develop its staff and their ability to engage differently with each other and with different sorts of customers.

Leading this change – a revolution in itself and not one Sky had ever tackled before – was James Murdoch – combining the definitive media family name with unstoppable passion and vision as one of the youngest CEOs in the FTSE 100. James knew that huge challenges lay before him, that the company needed to think ahead and that to support it the strategy and culture would have to move together. One without the other was not an option. Just the sort of situation on which Sky thrives!

So – time for a cultural and strategic revolution. After a short series of initial meetings, we quickly set to work with the executive committee at Sky – organisations are shadows of their leaders and until they agreed a way forward it was clear that the considerable energy of the business would be left pointing in several different directions.

From our point of view this was a great opportunity to apply our revitalising brand of consultancy, based on close client relationships, a fantastic strategic planning process, powerful leadership development and energetic and collaborative cultural change.

We introduced the Executive Team to Goal Deployment – a process for keeping strategic activity within easy reach day-to-day. After detailed work with each area of the business this process has become part of Sky’s operations and we now provide a supportive role.

We then embarked on a series of workshops to enable the top 300 managers to debate and engage with the vision and the details of the strategy. These also provided a welcome opportunity for personal, leadership and team development. As part of this we set up ongoing processes for managers to continue learning and keep a grip on the implementation of all the strategic activity.

Soon the Executive Team was working together like never before, and within weeks senior managers were coming out of workshops saying “we’ve never done anything like this” and “that’s the best thing we’ve ever done.”

As facilitators, we had the pleasure of catalysing all the great things Sky wanted to achieve: teams across the business are collaborating  more effectively. The culture has started shifting to be more inviting – of different sports, different channels, different types of employees and of different customers.

The workshops have enabled people across the business to understand the company’s purpose and values, and to figure out what they really mean – to go beyond the words and get excited about new possibilities of experience and achievement. Fears about losing the best of the past have been transformed into a renewed energy to create a yet more exciting future.

Where other growing companies have been swamped by regulation, formalisation and the challenges of culture change, people at Sky now know they are leading yet another revolution in entertainment – and they’re loving it.