From the C-suite: Three CEO Dave Dyson

by | Oct 22, 2014 | Articles

Three CEO Dave Dyson talks to HR magazine about the Inspiring Leaders programme, designed and delivered in partnership with Cirrus.

“When Three UK found ourselves competing on price, we saw a broader opportunity to challenge the mobile phone industry for the better. We recognised the need to develop our leaders to start reinventing the rules of mobile once more.

Three only exists because a lack of competitiveness and innovation within the mobile industry led the UK government to allow the introduction of a new operator back in 2003. To achieve growth, we had to price our services at a discount and quickly developed a reputation for being the cheapest in the market.

When I was appointed CEO in 2011, my first priority was to reconnect the brand with its mission to make mobile better. We had to get back to challenging the rules, such as the unspoken assumption that if you go abroad, roaming rates are so high you have to turn your phone off. But to reinvent the rules of mobile and live up to our brand promise, we had to develop leaders to be creative and bold. It wasn’t enough to have great ideas, we also had to bring them to market first.

Making the transition from being price-led to brand-led was a huge strategic shift. We couldn’t just flick a switch, so we appointed Cirrus, the leadership and engagement experts, to help us create a leadership development programme that would drive the change for our top 50 leaders, including me and the board.

To establish the right behaviours going forward, Cirrus also worked with us to create a set of competencies to use as the basis for a leadership development programme we call Inspiring Leaders. They also helped us to clarify our vision and explore the pockets of excellence that were already in place when we saw great customer-centricity in action. We worked in partnership to create three two-day learning modules for groups of 8-12 leaders at a time. Taking senior leaders out for six full days, supported by a further three hours of individual coaching, represented a significant commitment from the business.

The eight board directors were the first to go through the programme. At times the experience made us feel physically uncomfortable, it was so impactful. Unlike reading a book, the use of actors and real-life business scenarios forced us out of our comfort zones onto a steep learning curve. Everyone took away something different. For some, it was speed of decision-making, for others it was their impact on others.

The programme has had a lasting impact. People in the business are more confident they’re working on the right things. We’re looking out for speed of decision-making and performing better as an organisation. Everyone’s aligned to and excited by our core purpose, increasing the momentum of deliverables. A major benefit is the way leaders from each group have bonded and stayed in touch to improve collaborative working and communication across the business.

Best of all, we’re back to changing the rules of mobile. Our financial performance is solid and we were the first mobile operator to allow customers to use their phones from abroad as if they were at home. We continue to offer a differentiated range of benefits to improve customer experience, such as free 0800 numbers.

The brand-led leadership development from Cirrus is helping to make our customers love us. We’re now rolling the programme out to our next 200 leaders. And we have gone from being the UK’s most complained about mobile operator to the least complained about.”

Three in a minute

  • Staff Over 4,400 people across offices in Maidenhead, Glasgow and Reading and 345 retail stores.
  • Services Carries over 45% of the UK’s mobile data. 3G network covers 98% of the UK population.
  • First UK network to introduce all-you-can-eat data and offer 4G at no extra cost.

 

 

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