Andy Young & Ben Flannery are setting the right plan to achieve the Co-op Food strategy

We’re the Strategic Planning team, which is part of Governance & Assurance in the Transformation & Retail Support Centre. We’ve just kicked off the annual Strategic Planning Cycle (SPC) and we’re gearing up for a busy few months. The SPC process is used by Co-op Food to do two things:

  • Firstly, to confirm we’re heading in the right direction to achieve our five year ambition of Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities. Which is defined brilliantly by a term Ben found: coddiwomple “to travel in a purposeful manner towards a vague destination”. I’m not saying our ambition is vague, but we’re flexible to the market and we can pivot and remain agile to all the headwinds we may encounter on the journey.
  • Then we’ll review our current plans and retail risks, alongside future trends and potential impacts – helping us to establish the activity that will enable us to deliver our ambition.

Working across the Co-op

At the moment we’re working with key functions: Finance, IT and Customer – holding workshops and sessions across the Co-op to gather of all the great ideas, insight and establish the latest vision of the future. Supporting and helping functions to ensure we’re focusing in the right areas to build a Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities together.

Planning
Planning the coddiwomple

 

Building the plan

In the coming weeks we’ll pull all of this information together, alongside our current portfolio of programmes and projects (Andy’s favourite part). Building the plan for our Co-op to deliver for colleagues, members, customers and their communities.

Tweaking the process

Over the last few SPCs we’ve listened and recognised the food retail environment and customer expectations are changing faster now, than they ever have before. So, going forward we’re making sure our plan is flexible and we can assess change regularly (Andy’s new favourite part). As a result we’re making the SPC an ‘always on’ process, with two key builds:

  • Monthly reviews of new ideas and proposed initiatives, to ensure we tackle any new headwinds or disruption to our 5 year ambition.
  • Quarterly reviews of the portfolio, to make sure we’re focusing on delivering the right initiatives and managing our resources effectively.

We’ll let you know how our coddiwomple is working out

Keep an eye out for updates on our progress over the summer. We’ll share how we’re building the plan and the critical paths that will deliver some great benefits for our Co-op, colleagues, members and customers. Your engagement and support is much appreciated, and once the plan is finished we all get behind it and deliver our part.

Andy & Ben

The Food Transformation team have joined with the Retail Support Centre

It’s been a busy few weeks of change for all in the Food Transformation team, which is something that they’re used to… because they’re the people that look after the Co-op’s large portfolio of change activity for Food and Retail.

Their job is to ensure everyone is aligned, ready to receive the changes, and ultimately to make stores a great place to work for colleagues, easy for members and customers to shop in and build a Co-op for the next generation of members.

These are exciting times for the new joined up team. We’ve all worked together before and, along with colleagues from across the Co-op, we’ve helped to develop some great digital products: ‘How do I’ and ‘Shifts’. With the Transformation team alongside the Retail Support Centre team, we can be confident of developing further initiatives, bringing our expertise together to help achieve our ambition of a Stronger Co-op, Stronger Communities for the future.

There are three main focus areas for the Transformation office:

First, the Governance team works across the Co-op to identify potential new programmes and projects, then helps the Transformation team decide which to do. After that they keep everybody honest, so the Food Portfolio delivers what they’ve said they’ll deliver and on schedule – ensuring they use our time wisely and spend the Co-op’s money like it’s their own!

Next, the Portfolio Management Office makes sure all of the planned changes are meaningful and delivered well. They also provide a centre of excellence for all things programme and project management related e.g. methodologies, tools, resources, and the people who can support the process when needed – enabling and guiding the Portfolio.

Finally, the Food Portfolio team ensures we all deliver the programmes and projects that the wider teams agreed to and ensures it’s done well! They do this by sharing plans and goals across the Co-op, helping to build a platform to support activity for colleagues, members and customers.

Smartphone product scanner and part of the pay in aisle trial. Picture by Chris Bull

The Transformation & Retail Support Centre teams will continue listening and designing solutions with colleagues, for colleagues by harnessing your passion and energy. We know by working with our stores, logistics and here in Angel Square, together, as One Co-op we can…

  • Develop simple, intuitive projects and solutions for colleagues
  • Create meaningful experiences and shopping trips for members & customers
  • Deliver sustainable change supported by everyone in the Co-op
  • Build a stronger Co-op for the future
  • Connect with all of our communities and strengthen the links

We’re working on some critical plans that will deliver some great benefits for our Co-op, colleagues, members and customers – your engagement and support is much appreciated.

Watch this space and we’ll keep you updated on our key progress, successes and let us know what you think too! We know that change is hard, but any retail business that isn’t transforming will leave themselves open to disruption. So please, do support and get behind what’s on the plan. 

Listening to colleagues in the Support Centre

Thursday 15 March saw 17 store colleagues gather in Angel Square’s ‘Innovation Centre’, a nerve centre of ideas and future store concepts from the Leading the Way team.

They were there to take part in March’s Store Manager Listening Session arranged by ourselves in Colleague Insight, a day that’s designed to provide an opportunity to hear from teams around the business, offer feedback on existing or upcoming pieces of work, and give us their thoughts and feelings on how things are for them currently.

An extra bonus of the day was an hour’s chat with our Retail Chief Executive, Jo Whitfield. The chance for an hour’s conversation with the boss is a rare one, and Jo was very willing to hear a “warts and all” view of the challenges our store colleagues are facing at the moment. You can read more about this on the Colleague Insight intranet pages.

Jo&Crew
Jo Whitfield speaks to store colleagues during our Listening Session

 

As well as hearing from them, Jo was able to give an update on how things looked from her perspective and gave some pointers about what was to come up for Food in the rest of the year.

She left the group with 3 key messages to take back to their colleagues in store;

  1. Believe in the plan
  2. Put the customer first
  3. Look after our colleagues

As well as Jo, several business areas from around the Support Centre were able to sit and talk through their world with the colleagues present, asking for the current feelings on how things work at the store level.

Among the topics discussed were store KPIs, the communications cascade and the top shelves project, where the comments and experiences of the colleagues were extremely useful in deciding what we do in the future.

They also had the chance to talk to a project manager from the wider Co-op team who discussed the very early stages of a new training project.

The learnings from a day like this feed into our quarterly hackathons, and help us keep the voice of the colleague front and centre in the minds of all in the Retail Support Centre.

By the time you’re reading this we’ll have just finished Quarter 1’s Hackathon, an event where we gather 50+ colleagues in a big room and, as well as hearing about current projects, we get them involved in shaping future projects, working out solutions to the things that they’re facing.

If you’d like to be involved in either type of session in the future (and they’re not all held in Manchester), then email the team at colleagueinsight@coop.co.uk and we’ll be in touch telling you when the next session is.

What happens after ‘submit’?

LAF 2

The first 6 weeks of 2018 have already seen over 160 ideas and suggestions come in from colleagues around the business, but what happens to these ideas once they land with the Colleague Insight team?

Our first step is to add them to our growing database of ideas, where we categorise all incoming submissions by what area of the business they align to and what type of idea they are. The overwhelming majority of submissions we get are about topics that various teams in the RSC are already working on fixing, with projects that are either just getting started or well under way. When we get an idea that relates to this, our first step is to engage with project manager and offer them the feedback; they’re the subject matter expert and they’ll know how best to quantify what’s come in.

Sometimes, we’ll take a little longer in getting some feedback across to the teams here, but that’s because we want to present a full picture of what’s being said. If one colleague has suggested that a plan should be done in a certain way, but then 3 other colleagues suggest it should be done in a different way, we need to report that fairly.

One example we had last year involved two colleagues from different parts of the country who, in the space of a week, suggested completely opposite and opposing solutions to an ISB-related issue. So for us, getting it right can sometimes be tricky.

LAF

Alternatively, we often get a lot of feedback all saying the same thing; that happened only recently with the publication of the Q1 Rhythm and Routine book. We got a lot of feedback in a short amount of time from people all saying they missed having the financial information pages, so from Q2, this will return.

A recent innovation from the Colleague Insight team has seen us use hackathons to not only gather suggestions, but work through solutions together. Our first one last November proved successful, so we’ll be hosting our next one in Manchester on March 22nd. If you’d like to get involved, leave a comment and an email address and we’ll get back to you.