Vertu Case Study: Executive Board Development


Client Profile

Industry sector: Manufacturing & Retail

Location: UK


Vertu approached a&dc at the end of 2012 to help with some significant challenges. The separation from Nokia had created a new imperative for Vertu to establish itself as an independent company with a clear vision, strategy and objectives for change. The new equity owner had set an ambitious commercial target of €½ billion. Having operated safely in the bosom of Nokia, Vertu now had to prove itself as an independent company with a stronger commercial focus.

There was a new board of 7 members (including the CEO) from different cultural backgrounds eg. Italy, France, Spain and the UK. Cultural differences and conflicting values were causing a lack of cohesiveness at Board level. It was noted that these conflicts also manifested themselves further down the organisation where different departments such as R&D, Sales and Marketing often were at odds with each other, rather than working seamlessly as one team.

Although the scale of the challenge was understood by the Board, there was a concern that this “burning platform” for change was not understood much beyond this in the wider population.

The key challenges as outlined by the Board were as follows:

  • To agree a well-defined strategy and set of objectives including how to diversify the brand and how to be more customer/
    market led rather than product led.
  • To galvanise 1,000 people to achieve the objective of €½ billion.
  • To break down silo mentality and collaborate more cross functionally, encourage more ownership for joint problem solving, rather than continual upward referral.

a&dc were engaged to work with the Board of 7 to create a unified, cohesive team, who were clear on the strategy, could speak with one voice to the company, engage the wider organisation in the change agenda and lead cultural change in the business.


The a&dc solution formed several parts:

1. Scoping
Each member of the Board was interviewed on a 1-1 basis, including the CEO to establish what changes they felt were needed, what part they saw themselves playing in the change journey and what success would look like. This data was analysed to determine areas of alignment and also potential conflict, and to form the design of the intervention.

2. Programme Design
Informed by the data gathered in the scoping phase, a&dc proposed a 6-9 month programme for the Board to include a deep dive into some of the styles and profiles of the Board members.

The programme was designed to reflect the classic stages of team development: forming, storming, norming, performing (Tuckman) and also the pyramid of team derailers: absence of trust, fear of conflict, lack of commitment, avoidance of accountability and inattention to results (Lenzioni). The sessions were rebranded to reflect Vertu language as Trust, Governance, Team Brand and Performance.

3. Programme Delivery

Deep dive
Each Board member took part in a verbal 360 exercise where the lead a&dc facilitator collected behavioural feedback on each Board member from their respective Board colleagues. The Board members were also asked for their own reflections on what their colleagues might say about their strengths and weaknesses. Behavioural data was also collected from a series of psychometrics – Strengthscope, Hogan and MBTI. This was collated and built into individual profiles which were fed back in a 1-1 “deep dive” type session to each Board member. The implications for their leadership style in the context of the Vertu challenges was discussed and explored.

Executive team session 1 – TRUST
The objective of this session was to raise awareness and build trust among Board members. Collective team preferences informed by the diagnostics were shared and discussed in terms of thought leadership, people leadership and task leadership. The implications of these preferences and behaviours were discussed in the light of broader Vertu challenges. Strategy tools such as P.A.D.I. were used to help facilitate discussions around the strategic direction of the business and core objectives.

Executive team session 2 – GOVERNANCE
The objective of this session was to surface, explore and resolve conflict within the team and in particular examine cultural differences which may be at play. The team were introduced to a number of lenses with which to view cultural difference, such as Hofstede, Schwarz and Hidalgo. Individuals were encouraged to examine the circles of their multi-cultural selves and compare these to the Vertu culture to look at what could possibly go wrong. The team were encouraged through the use of the Johari window to disclose and give feedback to other team members.

Executive team session 3 – TEAM BRAND
The objective of this session was to help the team create a sense of a leadership team brand and explore the Vertu values of Integrity, Confidence and Desire. Team members were encouraged to explore these values in terms of themselves as individuals, the Board as a whole, and finally the organisation as a whole. The team were helped to form a sense of a leadership team brand to help them promote a sense of unity within the business and externally.

Executive team session 4 – PERFORMANCE
The objective of this session was to help the team explore how they could become a high performing team and sustain this through understanding areas such as resilience, decision making and risk management. Using compelling real life case studies to bring the challenges alive, the team members were helped to set out healthy practices for themselves and the wider business, to help create a high performing culture.


The Executive team were delighted with the results of this intervention and feedback from the sponsor of the project has confirmed that the Board are now operating much more effectively as a unified team and have even managed to successfully address the financial shortfall in budget that was one of the key drivers for engaging in the work.

a&dc Perspective

“We were delighted to have the opportunity to work with Vertu at such a critical stage in their organisational development. I believe that the bold decision to focus directly on the Executive team and offer some strong challenge and support at that level has really paid off. The benefits of greater alignment and engagement are now being experienced all the way down the organisation and the culture change journey is well underway.” Seren Trewavas, Principal Consultant, a&dc