challenging complexity


challenging is...

  • "I never thought I could do that"
  • "I've amazed myself"
  • wanting to run and hide
  • motivating people to have fun
  • making £5m increased profit in a four month period in a major business prior to sell off
  • spending a lifetime climbing whilst being afraid of heights
  • allowing my children to learn from their mistakes
  • helping people to deal with redundancy
  • sleeping badly before descending my first wild cave
  • being interviewed on television for the first time
  • climbing alone for five days on the highest mountain in Peru
  • feeling a sense of achievement for being the first to go from the deepest point in England to the highest one in a twenty-three hour journey

the SPC story


SPC* was a sell off from Scottish and Newcastle Retail, a £2.5 billion company with 30,000 employees. The SPC company was formed as an independent business to run over a six-month period prior to it being sold. At the end of this period the employees would face an uncertain future. The main company wanted increased profits during this period so as to increase the sale price.

complexity based approach

Robin persuaded the SPC executive to pursue a strategy of growth and use a complexity based approach.

The result exceeded all expectations. The business was sold, people moved on to other jobs carrying with them a very positive experience. SPC exceeded targets set by Scottish and Newcastle Retail and made £5 million extra profit. Sales revenue remained high as did staff retention right to the end. People were proud of what they had achieved.

  • "I've been amazed at the speed of change and the quantity of people involved in the change"
  • "self organisation just happened"
  • "without the framework, the minimal structure, it wouldn't have worked"
  • "the team spirit was unlike anything I had experienced in my whole career."
  • "we needed to experiment with the ideas of complexity and the conference gave us the chance to do that ­ once we had done this there was no going back. There was tremendous energy, communication and commitment"
  • "the minimum structure really worked. We were actively involved in putting it together and we lived it - we didn't just pay lip service to it. It actually freed our time up and enabled us to get out and talk to people."

Quotations from the executive of SPC.

*Select Pub Company, a 20% sell off from the parent company Scottish and Newcastle Retail