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University of Derby uses powerful tools to achieve a high-performance culture

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University of Derby uses powerful tools to achieve a high-performance culture

Nous worked hard, with a healthy mix of energy and challenge, to build a deep understanding of our current culture and create a real sense of collective purpose in what we were seeking to achieve.
Russ Langley Director of Corporate Planning and Performance, University of Derby

The University of Derby is home to more than 34,000 students. Derby is rated Gold for teaching excellence (TEF 2017) and Top 10 for student welfare in The Times Higher Education Student Experience Survey 2017.

Derby needed a high-performance culture to deliver its new strategy

Derby’s new 2030 strategic framework built on Derby’s existing success but recognised that a step change was needed given an increasingly competitive market. To deliver the framework, Derby needed to align all its members with a high-performance organisational culture. Derby asked Nous Group to help it understand how its current culture aligned with the strategy, and then to develop a blueprint for the future culture.

Insights empowered Derby to embark on a cultural transformation

We collaborated closely with Derby staff to discover staff attitudes about Derby's current culture and identify an ideal future culture. We:

  1. ran workshops with staff and students and used the Barrett Cultural Values Assessment, a survey tool, to gain a deeper quantitative understanding of the whole university and specific departments and staff types
  2. worked with Derby to develop a future culture blueprint, which included outcomes linked to Derby’s organisational values and strategic framework
  3. ran a half-day workshop bringing staff together to prioritise reforms, achieve buy-in for the cultural transformation and ensured the recommended changes were realistic, grounded in staff’s everyday experience and readily implementable.

Derby’s culture experienced a step change

Nous' work set Derby on the path to transform its organisational culture, as the university implemented its new strategy. Staff at the university saw mindsets begin to change. This will be embedded as Derby embarks on a staged reform.

What you can learn from the University of Derby

  • Engaging with staff from across the university, including through workshops and the Barrett Cultural Values Assessment, creates a rich picture of the current culture and can guide action plans that stick.
  • Change champions can promote cultural reform and provide a powerful feedback loop during implementation.
  • A focused blueprint with a path to implementation distils the desired cultural outcomes into clear tasks.

Key people in this project

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