At Oliver Wyman, we work with clients to design, activate, and embed winning cultures, hand-in-hand with their people. Recently, we decided it was time to take some of our own medicine by refreshing our values. Below are some key insights from our journey so far.
Why we refreshed our company values
Oliver Wyman has evolved significantly over the years, growing from multiple legacy organizations and as part of the Marsh McLennan family. We have always aimed to place our values at the core of how we operate. Given this ongoing commitment, and recognizing that culture is a critical driver of sustainable performance, our Global Leadership Team initiated a journey to refresh our values, ensuring our values continue to reflect who we are and the business we want to build.
Launching these values has already had an amazing impact on our business. We created clarity and understanding of where we need to go, and conviction and energy on how to get there
The journey behind Oliver Wyman’s values and what we learned so far
From the outset, we sought to involve our people in re-articulating our values. More than a third of our employees, at all levels, provided input in the design phase, where we explored and converged on the values we exhibit at our best and aspire to continue to uphold. Once we had aligned on a shared definition of our core values, we launched and activated them globally, over a couple of months. As a result, our values are now surfacing across all facets of how we do business. Here’s what we have learned along the way.
Strong ownership and commitment amongst senior leaders is critical
It is obvious to everyone that our values are close to our CEO, Nick Studer’s heart. Deep conviction and commitment to the values at the top of the organization is critical to success. But it can’t stop there. Leaders across our offices and functions have their fingerprints on the values we developed and have been equipped to share the values authentically with their own stories and passion — facilitating meaningful conversations with their teams.
Building a movement across the organization ensures the change will land
People support what they help to create. Therefore, we wanted our colleagues to have the opportunity to provide input early in the process. We iterated the values with around 3,000 colleagues across 52 offices globally. Once the values were developed, we established a community of more than 350 ambassadors to support and guide the launch of our values across the broader organization. At every stage, we created optionality for different teams and offices to tailor the movement — one size doesn’t fit all. Maintaining genuine openness to engage different points of view along the way was key to success.
Slowing down to bring people with us opened the floor to questions that were at times challenging. But as a result, it helped us become more aligned and stronger in our messaging, building trust and creating something that we all love.
Investing time in immersive experiences can shift mindsets
Instead of a typical communications campaign, we focused on immersing and inspiring people. We carefully curated a variety of experiences for colleagues to explore the values together — all while having fun. The events, coffee connections, videos, open conversations, and photo challenges held during our launch and five Values Spotlight Weeks created space to challenge and interrogate our values, explore what they really mean with others, and share personal stories. This active, human-centered two-way engagement is leading to mindset shifts from awareness to understanding, belief and action. As a result, over 90% of our people agree that they know and believe in our values following the values launch.
Changes to how you operate must be considered from the start
Hardwiring the values into how we run our business has been important from the outset, in terms of our processes and systems as well as our culture — what it feels like to work with us. Once we established our values, we set the expectation that everything we do should be centered around them. When you walk into an Oliver Wyman office, anywhere in the world, you will see our people holding a Work As One values moment, drinking a coffee from a Lead With Heart mug, discussing our values with intern interviewees, or celebrating success with a Be Brave KudOW for someone who is going above and beyond in living our values. This takes careful planning and engagement with teams in all parts of the business and can’t be left as an afterthought.
Deeply embedding our values will be marathon, not a sprint
Let’s be honest, deeply embedding our values into our DNA, and ensuring our clients and colleagues experience them consistently day-to-day, will take time and continuous effort. This is where the rubber hits the road, and our commitment to living the values will be tested.
Together, we have shaped the culture we can all be proud of. And together, we will work out how to make it happen. For us, the next chapter involves creating space for honest conversations where people can shine a light on areas where we could be doing more. We are listening to and working with our people at scale, to identify bold changes that will positively impact our culture. We will measure our performance in living our values with our colleagues and clients so that we can celebrate successes and course correct as we go.
From our CEO to some of our new joiners, refreshing our values has been a big moment for us, and a valuable opportunity to explore and learn new ways to ignite people-led change. We will continue learning and stay curious and open to ideas on how we can better live our values to achieve the amazing.