The Co-op story

We’ve been privileged to have worked with the Co-op at a critical point in the company’s history, as they developed and implemented a major transformation over the last couple of years.

We’ve learnt a lot from their ambition, dedication, and commitment to deliver at scale, and, most powerfully, from the contributions and responses of colleagues which have been both energising and moving.

Our involvement started with ‘Back to Being Co-op’, a bold, ambitious, and creative programme to connect every colleague with the Co-op story, and how it is increasingly relevant in today’s dynamic and changing world.

The business wanted to talk face-to-face with every colleague at a series of events across the country to re-ignite their pride in working for such a unique and historic business.

They didn’t want Powerpoint. No lectures, no jargon, no training-speak. The idea needed to be authentically Co-op: colleague-led, interactive, irreverent, fun, informative, high energy, performance based… and all in 90 minutes!

Setting the scene

Working closely with the client team we created a narrative thread, and a script built around four chapters:

  • Back to our roots
  • Back to being different
  • Back to our future
  • Back to you

Set in a mini Co-op community, each session would be brought to life by colleague hosts, supported by an actor to create an element of surprise, and to provide confidence and energy to the colleague team.

Getting the show on the road was a demonstration of the Co-op team’s logistical prowess. Over 8 months, 40 hosts and 79 actors delivered 648 sessions to 54,000 colleagues, at 156 venues across the UK.

The response

The response from colleagues resulted in 90% strongly believing in why they were going ‘Back to Being Co-op’ and 93% understanding ‘Ways of Being Co-op.’

After participating in the session, colleagues felt “proud to be included, proud to be part of a great organisation” and “realised this was more than just another change – it felt different for everyone involved.”

We have subsequently helped the team imagine how to extend this thinking into internal culture, and processes such as induction, and reward and recognition.

Beyond the successful execution and delivery of programmes, it was striking how the events seemed to unlock a real hunger in colleagues from every part of the business to share their own personal stories and ‘Ways of being Co-op.’

The power of this spark to re-ignite pride and belief in what they stand for, is a real lesson to many companies of the value of really listening. Many of these stories have always been there, but not necessarily expressed. Appreciating how invested many colleagues are in the story of the places they work, and giving them a platform to share and express themselves can add character, emotion, and authenticity to our often bland ‘corporate’ narratives.

Sometimes it’s about unlocking and building on what’s already there.