Case Studies

A Story of Extraordinary Lives

The BRIDGE Institute is our not-for-profit arm of our business.

The mission of the Institute is to take our work to the most pressing issues in the world, including conflict and post-conflict contexts.  We go into places others rarely tread.

We broker the key stakeholders (political leaders, civil leaders, youth leaders, etc.) and build their capacity to lead in partnership, collaborate and problem-solve together to address their shared societal challenge. We bring in the world’s leading experts to contribute to thinking and problem solving.

A Story of Extraordinary Lives


A bridge to the future
Post-conflict Sri Lanka is looking to its young people to shape its future. The 2014 BRIDGE Asia Pacific Fellowship project engaged Sri Lanka’s youth in a unique and inspiring leadership programme. The project brought together 33 young Sri Lankans from different social backgrounds and religious beliefs, all united by a desire to build a more inclusive and connected society.

Unleashing potential
The project also brought 55 BRIDGE employees, associates and clients to Sri Lanka to immerse themselves in a crucial challenge: how to unleash the extraordinary leadership potential of young Sri Lankans. By sharing experiences, skills and leadership methods, the visitors left the country’s future leaders better equipped to face challenges and bring out the best in themselves and others.

Common purpose
BRIDGE facilitated five days of immersive, provocative and disruptive experiences that strengthened friendships, trust and understanding between all participants. The sessions generated real discourse, genuinely transformative insights and increased young people’s sense of common purpose. The Sri Lankan youth became empowered ambassadors for change, while BRIDGE associates and clients were able to make a positive difference both for Sri Lanka and for themselves.

A lasting legacy
At the end of the programme the Sri Lankan youth participants presented their insights to government officials and a selected group of business and community leaders in Colombo. To ensure a deep and lasting impact, BRIDGE and the Consortium of Humanitarian Agencies have set up a post-workshop programme to provide continued professional coaching and mentoring support for each individual’s leadership development journey.

A Story of Extraordinary Business

Geoff McDonald, head of Bridge’s Purposeful Business Practice, spent his last 5 years of a 25 year career at Unilever working with Paul Polman  (CEO and prime architect of Unilever’s purpose and strategy) and Keith Weed (the Head of Marketing, Sustainability and Communications) leading the refining and embedding of  Unilever’s Purpose – Making Sustainable Living Commonplace – into the heart of the business.

Arguably Unilever is the first global, publicly listed company to take such a direct stance on how its future profitability and growth is intimately linked with delivering its higher order purpose, manifested in the sustainable living plan. In this context Geoff McDonald was at the center of Unilever delivering some extraordinary early results from a social, environmental and business performance perspective. Understanding what it takes to build a truly audacious purpose that totally integrates purpose and performance has helped Geoff appreciate just how disconnected most organisational purposes are from their core commercial strategies. Brands like Dove and Lifebouy have become remarkable movements for change, with a very specific role in driving the outcomes of the Sustainable Living Plan. Doing this whilst helping to grow the business in an ever more competitive landscape is where much of Unilever’s breakthrough thinking has taken root.

The challenge of building wider leadership advocacy beyond the architects of the purpose has been a fascinating and vital element of the journey and is another area that is generally either under invested in, or done in a way that creates intellectual buy-in rather than deep conviction and a preparedness to change how we think about what it means to run a truly purposeful business.

The heavy lifting of embedding purpose into all aspects of organizational life is the unglamorous but essential element of the change that takes time, planning and resilience. The need for some significant business process re engineering; the importance of enhanced governance structures to measure and monitor progress; and much more radical and balanced ways of developing leaders and measuring organisational performance all required new solutions that often flew in the face of contemporary wisdom.

The Unilever business is well on its way to this transformation and a number of measures show that this has been of benefit to Unilever. The share price has almost doubled since 2009, engagement scores are up from 55% to mid eighties and Unilever is now the third most in demand employer, behind Google and Apple globally (Linkedin 2014). A huge transformation with improved business performance in 4 years.

Geoff McDonald wanted to take this insight and experience and apply it to show organisations how they could be a powerful force for good, become amazing places to work that attract the very best people and deliver radical success.

A Story of Extraordinary Business

Purpose-led transformation
BRIDGE co-created ‘Project Diamond’ with Lindt UK in order to inspire a purpose-led business step change. Project Diamond challenged the leadership talent at every level to unlock the commercial and cultural value of ‘Making People Feel Special’ – a truly game-changing organisational purpose.

Two million special moments
We set the audacious objective of creating 2 million special family moments, inspiring 2 million acts of kindness and encouraging 2 million ‘minutes for ourselves’. This sense of purpose made the entire business feel like part of a movement for lasting change. In short, Project Diamond helped Lindt’s leaders understand the transformational power of making people feel special again.

Closer to what special really means
BRIDGE took Lindt’s people out of the workplace and introduced them to a cocktail of extraordinary real life experiences, bringing them closer to what special could really mean. Just one example of this was NACRO’s education programme, where Lindt’s leaders mentored young people from difficult backgrounds to help them see themselves and the world in a new way.

Commercial advantage
Since Project Diamond, Lindt has spotted more talent from within and promoted people faster (30% uplift). Lindt is an even better place to work (0% leadership attrition) and has driven its business forward by illuminating the link between its purpose and its future commercial success.

A Story of Extraordinary Culture

Connecting Culture to Commercial Advantage
BRIDGE is working with a global bank to inspire real competitive advantages through the power of culture. Partnering with them on a landmark cultural change programme, we are helping them connect culture and values to their current big business challenges: improving customer-centricity, simplifying business and enhancing conduct and protection.

A programme of near-unprecedented scope
The bank faces significant threats in its external environment. To address this, the senior leadership has enacted a global culture change programme that is near unprecedented in scope within the sector. BRIDGE has already supported the first two phases of the cascade of the programme to over 20,000 leaders and is currently supporting the roll out to over 200,000 employees over the next two years.

Seizing the opportunities out of a necessity
The culture change programme uses the requirement to ‘fix’ the culture and harnesses it to inspire the creation of a genuine high performance culture underpinned by values. Employees face intense performance pressures in an environment where ‘doing business’ has become harder and harder. We show how attitude determines behaviour, how behaviour drives success, and how leaders can leverage this.

Making a simple choice – being at our best
BRIDGE helped identify three simple ‘attitudes’ that describe the culture when it is not at its best, when employees get caught in their fear of putting their heads above the parapet and lose sight of their values and what’s important to them. Instead, employees are challenged to become more mindful of when they are operating at their best and when they are not – and when they are not, make a conscious choice to live their values, make considered decisions, and speak up.


A Story of Extraordinary Culture


Bringing service to life
BRIDGE worked with a major global retailer to build a culture of ‘living service’ based on the power of positive and mindful employee attitudes. ‘Living service’ means employees are empowered to deliver natural and responsive service using their own drive and resourcefulness – a ‘win-win’ situation that benefits staff, company and customer. This resulted in dramatic improvements to morale and customer experience.

“I have a choice”
A centralisation drive had realised economies of scale but sapped employee motivation. We put motivation at the centre of the service programme and showed employees that they have the power to ‘choose their attitude’. This focus on ‘attitude’ put the soul and human essence back into service and helped staff to tap into the extraordinary version of themselves.

A Peer-to-Peer Cascade
The programme started in five ‘hot house’ stores and quickly spread across the firm’s global operations. Rather than rely on outside trainers, we empowered 25,000 staff to act as change champions. The work of these trained ‘fire lighters’ sent a strong signal that it was the retailer’s own people who were creating positive change and opening up possibility and potential.

Tangible results
The retailer experienced a 6% improvement in morale across all stores. ‘Living Service’ stores consistently outperformed the other stores in terms of overall customer service (+8%), warmth and friendliness (+18%) and helpfulness (+45%).  Staff absences and attrition both decreased and the retailer’s contact centre operations achieved a 45% improvement in service levels during the busiest period of the year.

A Story of Extraordinary Leadership

Yum! is a Fortune 500 corporation, operating the brands Taco Bell, KFC and Pizza Hut worldwide. It is one of the world’s largest fast food restaurant companies in terms of system units—with more than 41,000 restaurants around the world in over 125 countries, global sales totalling more than US$13 billion and 1.5 million global employees.

Yum! embarked on a journey with BRIDGE to build the next generation of leaders. Yum! has evolved a unique culture that is the glue for its employees, which is fast paced and values getting things done while taking people with you. The brief was to design an integrated leadership development journey that would be aligned with the Yum! culture; create a transformative shift in leaders to be Step Change Thinkers and People Growers; and be cost effective to Yum! and the franchises globally.

The programme brings together challenging and memorable learning experiences: innovative tools and content enabling insights on how to make the leadership shifts; a custom-made strategic simulation of running a business real time; and six sessions with a professional coach (with our strategic partner Coach in a Box) to create a uniquely personalised experience.  Each of the two workshops that anchor the six month learning journey are quite distinct from each other with a mix of experiences that unlock passion, develop heartfelt connections, and build confidence to lead with authenticity and resourcefulness. The programme is in its third year and has a created a network of alumni grateful for a pivotal experience in their lives that has helped many take on larger leadership roles and eager to develop the next generation of talent.

A Story of Extraordinary Leadership

‘Creating a team around a business agenda, not a campfire.’  The original brief was to support the Global Retail Bank Leadership Team be seen to operate more as ‘one team’.  We were clear that the way to do this was to reframe the brief to focus specifically on their business agenda, identify the three critical changes that they needed to truly collaborate on, and to use this refreshed ‘leadership agenda’ as the vehicle for getting them to explore how they needed to lead differently together.

Through a mix of interviews, workshop meetings, and 1:1s we got the senior leaders to share what they honestly thought about both the critical problems facing the business, the mixed effectiveness of their current leadership approach, and to share what was really important to each of them personally.  Their honesty exposed the real points of tension in the business – lack of customer centricity, weak partnering between the centre and the country operations, significant lag in their digital strategy – as well as gaps in their ability to lead these agendas together.

The approach of using the focus on the business agenda as the vehicle for developing their ability to lead together had instant results.  Their approach to the road show that they subsequently took to their key markets was a significant departure from the way they had been seen to lead previously.  Unsolicited feedback both about the clarity and credibility of the direction and priorities they were setting, and their coherence and alignment as a team mirrored the step change they felt themselves in their confidence to lead together.  Significantly, this has set them up to lead one of the biggest infrastructure investments in the banks history in a way that they would not otherwise have done.

MSL Group
A Story of Extraordinary Leadership

In response to the changing landscape of the communications and public relations (PR) industry, MSLGROUP has grown its presence steadily in Asia through strategically acquiring best-in-class local agencies with capabilities beyond traditional PR as well as attracting and developing a diverse set of talents.

BRIDGE has partnered with MSLGROUP since 2012 to develop and deliver its flagship leadership programmes for directors and managers across Asia. These programmes have been instrumental in bringing leaders from various agencies within the group together and creating a shared culture that is centred on the group’s ‘Have Heart’ philosophy.

In 2014, BRIDGE worked with its regional leadership team to help challenge them to think differently and co-create a new future for MSLGROUP’s business in Asia among themselves. Senior leaders examined the emerging trends, made sense of data collected from interviews with various stakeholders including clients, colleagues and industry players, and faced its strengths, weaknesses, opportunities and threats.

Through the power of collective genius and honest conversations, deep insights emerged which inspired a new vision and strategy that the leadership team felt proud and committed to lead for in Asia. This bold vision also translated into rigorous actions to drive the changes that helped the organisation stay ahead of the curve with truly insights-led and integrated solutions that deliver a measurable impact on their clients’ business

A Story of Extraordinary Leadership

Empowering leaders across the globe
How do you build an extraordinary leadership ethos across a global business? BRIDGE partnered with Lenovo to create ‘Managing@Lenovo’, a global leadership programme that inspired the Chinese tech giant’s 1800 managers worldwide to discover more about their own potential and how they can make an impact in the business. Put simply, how to bring out the extraordinary version of themselves at work.

Strengthening culture at the roots
Working in local languages and drawing upon the inherent strength of Lenovo’s blend of Eastern and Western culture, the two-day ‘Managing@Lenovo’ empowered Lenovo’s global managers across China, Japan, the US and Europe. As a result, managers are better equipped to take the next step forward in their careers, and Lenovo’s unique corporate culture is stronger at the roots.

Addressing the challenges of growth
Lenovo’s 2005 acquisition of IBM’s worldwide PC division super-charged the Chinese firm’s growth and helped propel it to the top of the global PC market. But ‘going global’ brings special challenges. Lenovo’s remarkable growth created a pressing need to build a common leadership ethos within its budding corporate culture. ‘Managing@Lenovo’ addressed this need, drawing on the cultural strengths of both Lenovo and IBM.

Bringing people with you
The workshop gave Lenovo’s managers the skills and perspectives needed to ‘translate strategy to execution’ and to ‘bring people with you’. Managers were able to go deeper into their own self-development and discover new approaches to achieving excellence in business. ‘Managing@Lenovo’ has achieved simply outstanding results, measured both by the overall management capability index and by specific performance indicators.