Leadership Connections

Leadership Connections is a leadership consultancy also offering HR training, large scale change, leadership safari and mentoring

Case Studies

This case study concerns the approaches used to try and rectify the problems faced during a period of large scale change.

If you find this case study useful you may wish to check out our other case studies which can be accessed below.


Appreciative Inquiry in the US Navy

Leadership Team Coaching at a major financial services company



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Supporting leaders to overcome their obstacles and develop themselves - through coaching and mentoring

Increasing the effectiveness of management teams through leadership team development

Identifying and improving leadership across the organisation through talent management and leadership development

Mobilising large groups for change through creating inspiring conferences and motivational speaking

Increasing the effectiveness of the Human Resources function through HR strategy and skills development


Transformation and culture change at Boots Properties

(click here to download as a .pdf file)

Business context

In 1989 Boots Properties PLC (BPP) was set up as a separate company within the Boots Group to exploit the company’s huge portfolio of property as a money making opportunity. For the next 7 years the company used the poor conditions in the property market to aggressively buy property using the cash that it’s successful parent company was generating.

Well over half a billion pounds was invested and the company grew rapidly. The number of staff trebled as the need to find property professionals to buy, develop and manage the assets grew. BPP was one of the Boots Groups most successful divisions, was the talk of the market and was an exciting and successful place to work.

In the mid 1990’s however, the market turned. Interest rates fell and property prices increased rapidly. Suddenly it was difficult to find new assets that could be bought for attractive prices. What everyone knew, but few talked about openly, was that now was clearly the time to sell a large number of the cheaply bought assets to take advantage of the high prices and make some big profits.

A change at the top

The Managing Director through the period of expansion was one of the members of the Boots Board. Recognising that the venture into what amounted to property speculation was risky the Board had wanted a safe pair of hands and to keep a close eye on BPP. In 1995, however, he moved over to make way for a new MD. The new man was promoted from within and he knew what needed to be done.

The company was going to have to sell a large number of assets, reduce the size of the teams acquiring and developing new properties and to refocus itself on being a provider of property solutions to the property problems of the retailers in the Boots Group.

Easier said than done

The simple truth was that no-one in the company really wanted this future. Most of the property professionals had joined because they were attracted by the excitement and glamour of big purchase and development deals. They had spent several years being wined and dined as members of one of the few companies spending money in a troubled market. What was more it was also clear that there would be a lot fewer people needed to manage the smaller portfolio and that jobs would have to go.

Already those in the development and acquisition teams were working incredibly hard to create deals to prove that they could still be done. What the MD desperately needed was for them to focus on moving into the future rather than trying to recreate the past.

The Approach

It was clear that the changes needed to give emphasis to internal customers and to the staff – particularly the property professionals, without whom, the company could not succeed. We selected the Balanced Scorecard to focus the change since it gave emphasis to customer, process and people issues as well as the financials.

We began by interviewing all of the members of the senior team about what they thought would be the key things that would drive success over the next three years. This output was consolidated and the senior team then spent two days in a facilitated debate to agree objectives for financials, customer, process and people.

Next, groups of people from across the business were tasked with creating measures for each of the objectives. These were brought back to the senior team and the objectives and measures were all agreed through a further facilitated debate.

Finally, every manager in the business was tasked with creating performance contracts for their teams which aligned with the new objectives.

What happened

Many of the debates in the senior team were heated, sometimes because there were different facts that had to be reconciled and sometimes because of the strength of feeling.

By the end of those debates, however, the logic of the change was accepted and everyone knew that the outcome represented the best collective view of the way forward.

The alignment in the senior team was extended much wider in the company by the fact that about half of the company was involved in creating the measures and so had been exposed to the thinking behind the objectives. By the end of the annual performance management cycle the new company priorities had been socialised with every member of the company and every one had an understanding of the part they could play in achieving them.

The outcomes

At the end of the process it was apparent that there needed to be a reorganisation to meet the new company priorities. Through the conversations about objectives and measures it had become apparent to most people what the right organisation would be and what skills and knowledge would be needed for the new roles.

As a result a number of people made their own decision to leave and there were, in the end, only three compulsory redundancies. More importantly, there were no regretted losses.

There was concern at the outset that the change might set the organisations performance back considerably. The organisation had been through considerable trauma – and its success was absolutely dependent on the property professionals saying motivated. However, people responded to being involved rather than ‘done to’. This, combined with the increase in collective clarity about the priorities, meant that BPP enjoyed its most successful financial year ever in the year immediately following the creation of the Scorecard.

Not only was the short term performance strong but over the next couple of years the measures for customer, process and people increased rapidly – laying a powerful foundation for the future.

The Group Headquarters were so impressed that a succession of visitors from other parts of the Group and elsewhere came to visit to hear about the change. And the MD was asked to take on a much larger strategic change.

Whilst that Scorecard has long since been superseded, the balanced scorecard approach remains in BPP to this day.


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Leadership Connections

Leadership Connections is a leadership consultancy also offering HR training, large scale change, leadership safari and mentoring