A transformation agenda – refocusing who we are

This is a special month for my work website – it turned 5!


I wasn’t involved in the website when it was first launched; however, it has been my baby for the last 4 years.

During that time the website has grown significantly. Its content, its reach, its audience has grown beyond what I ever imagined when I took on responsibility for the website back in 2012.

But, one thing has not changed – our why. That has remained consistent –

we help people make informed choices about their lives.

That’s why we exist. Its what shapes what we do and how we do it.

But, we don’t want to stand still.

Future proofing to 2020

One thing about my team is that we are realists. Part of us didn’t think that we would make it to today – and part of us doesn’t see us making it to our 10th birthday. Not because we are pessimists, but because we understand the system that we sit within. The stresses will grow – and the budgets will shrink. We know that, and we accept that.

But, we will not give in.

We will continue to grow, to improve what we do, how we do it, and the impact that we have – all driven by our why.

To help us do that, I have spent the past few months working with my team on A Transformation Agenda for our website.

A Transformation Agenda

Inspired by the great work of Howard Schultz at Starbucks – with input from the talented bunch at SYPartners – I set out to look again at what we do & how we do it, and how we can stay relevant in an ever changing digital world.

I realised that what we needed was our own Transformation Agenda. Something to drive us. Something that we can aim towards. Something that we can check our progress against.

But I didn’t know where to start!

So, to help me, I used the SYPartners (or SY for short) Unstuck tool to create a number of initial actions. These actions were:

Action 1 – Think about how do we fit into the world

When the website was launched in 2011 the world of the Internet was in a very different place. What’s more, the world of the Internet in our type of work was in a place much further behind. We started life as a directory – or as I refer to it, as a Yellow Pages for adult social care. But since then, we have grown.

And since then, user expectation has changed dramatically.

So we needed to work out how we fitted into 2016 – and then from there, how do we fit into 2020.

To help us do that, we started at the top – we rewrote our why. Our purpose. The thing that drives us. Our old version – we help people make informed choices about their lives – was okay, but it didn’t hit the right buttons. I believed that it was too professional, to bureaucratic and not really something to drive us. Don’t get me wrong, I didn’t want to change our why as such, I just wanted to change how we wrote it.

So, that’s we did – we rewrote it.

Our why, our purpose, why we exist is now –

To enable people to live their lives better

We think that’s clearer. It’s more ‘real world’. It’s more ‘outcome focused’.


Action 2 – Think about our mission

After resetting out our why, we started to think about our mission.

Inspired by Coca-Cola, we wanted our mission – we didn’t really have one before! – to be enduring. We wanted it to declare our purpose and serve as the standard against which we weigh our actions and decisions.

So, we wrote our first ever mission.

You’ll notice that I don’t call it a mission statement – this is deliberate. For me this is like our own mission, like a mission to the moon or to the bottom of the ocean, it sets out where we want to get to; its active; its achievable but stretches us; it certainly is not just a statement.

Our mission is –

We will be part of the everyday lives of the residents of the borough
—we will be their first source of trusted information & advice, we will support them make more informed choices about their lives, and we will help them feel part of a community of shared experience

This is certainly ambitious for us. We’re not the type of website that people tend to keep going back to. But we want to be.


Action 3 – Think about how we reach our mission

Once we had reworked our why and set out our mission, we started to think about how we get there.

Again, I was inspired by the work of Howard and his team at Starbucks. I love the Transformation Agenda that they created – with the help of SY. And in particular, I loved the principles that they came up with – our coffee, our people, our customers, etc. and then how they said that they would achieve them.

Adding this inspiration in with my learning from another tool from SY, Teamworks, I worked with my team to identify 6 ‘bold moves for transformation‘.

These would be ambitious but clear & actionable statements to help us reach our mission – inspired & shaped by our why. We would be able to monitor our progress against them. We would be able to achieve them – but they would push us.

Our 6 bold moves for transformation are –

  1. Make our website more engaging in its content by mixing the ‘human story’ together with information & advice in a style that people experience away from the public sector
  2. Make our branding more ‘current’ & digitally friendly, including a new logo, new font style, & new colour scheme
  3. Make our purpose clearer & more relatable to the public—whilst also covering the full breadth of information & advice on our website
  4. Make users of our website feel part of a community of shared experience by joining conversations that people are already having online
  5. Make our content more customisable by using simple questions to give targeted information & advice, and direct links to relevant actions—such as online forms, buying equipment, or completing a referral
  6. Make more people more aware of us by focusing our resources for publicity & brand awareness raising on going to people —both physically & digitally—and giving them a clear reason to come to us

Each one would help us to enable people to live their lives better by being part of the everyday lives of the residents of the borough.


Our Transformation Agenda

So after identifying all of that, we pulled it all together into one sheet – and here it is, here is our Transformation Agenda:



Source: https://iammichaelwatts.files.wordpress.com/2016/05/redesign_transformationagenda02_singlepage.jpg.

I would love to hear what you think. Just comment below or e-mail me at iammichaelwatts at gmail dot com.

Here’s to progress.

2 thoughts on “A transformation agenda – refocusing who we are

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