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Nailing executive alignment and organisational health at MLC Life

Business Agility Australia 2018

Building a healthy organisation with an aligned executive team can create one of the most powerful and easily accessed competitive advantages, but this will only be achieved with commitment starting at the top. Join us while we share our journey working with the MLC Life executive team, preparing the organisation for the future.


MLC was an insurance business contained within a large traditional bank, purchased by a Japanese insurance business with a dream to create the best standalone digital life insurance business in Australia. One year into the journey, the CEO identified the need for the executive leadership team to lead differently and optimise the business for change rather than run - he explored agility as the mindset and mechanism.

Our transformation journey:

Building a relationship with the CEO and his executive leadership team, we portrayed the art of the possible – sharing what a healthy, aligned adaptive and agile organisation looks and feels like as well as expressing the risks if they continued with the current operating methods and practices. We reflected on past and present to understand constraints and pain points, co-designed a new operating rhythm to enable the leadership team to think and work differently and executed a safe experiment to test and learn from.

The co-design resulted in a structure and model where the team spends just enough time running the business and have more time to focus on the deep work of changing and transforming the business. This new way of leading includes cascading priorities through the organisation enabling everyone to understand what’s most important, how they individually and with their teams can contribute and how they can innovate to support the strategic direction.

By co-creating and experimenting with the new working practices and cadence, we established the importance of designing how an executive team can amplify their collective time and resources to:

  • Understand and leverage the strengths of the team to find ways of working that stimulate and boost the performance of their leadership capability
  • Create a shared understanding of what the strategic imperatives are, choosing how to execute on them, and building strong working relationships to accomplish
  • Build a cycle and rhythm to deliver value on immediate priorities with flexibility to adapt based on internal and external influences
  • Influence the ‘system’ to adopt curiosity, creativity and innovation to solve customer pain points whilst aligning to strategic priorities
  • Establish an approach that supports the CEO in gradually dialling up the focus on aligning the team at a course and speed enabling the business to both run and transform

To aid the broader organisation to respond positively to the adaptive ways of working we established a ‘pull based’ approach to change where lower level teams embraced agile, lean and design thinking approaches rather than forcing a particular model or issuing a directive.