Cheenee’s Arcadia Journey – Year 1

Cheenee’s Arcadia Journey – Year 1

 Cheenee Chan-Dela Cruz

Cheenee Chan-Dela Cruz

Senior Project Manager

Over a year ago, I had the opportunity of joining Arcadia Consulting. I live in the Philippines and amidst the pandemic hitting the world, I am truly fortunate to have a job where I can work virtually. 

In my 10 years of working, this is the first time where I have joined an organisation with a great culture and set of values. During my first few days, I was blown away with the warm welcome that was given to me. Everyone was so nice and very accommodating. I noticed a big difference transitioning from a large company to a small, family-like firm. I felt I could reach out to anyone whenever I needed something or some advice. Everyone is always open to suggestions and has a growth mindset so we can continue to improve and innovate our ways of working.

Despite the various lockdowns and being in a separate country to my UK colleagues, we managed to get through it together and continued to build our relationships. In addition to work related meetings, we ensured that we had regular meetings focusing on wellbeing, resilience and mental toughness.

Arcadia is very invested in our personal development and helps us reach the goals that we set for ourselves. At the end of the financial year, we did an activity where we submitted feedback for each other. This helped me identify my achievements from the past year and celebrate the results of our hard work. We also identified our contributions to our values and our ‘Win, Learns and Changes’ as we move into the next quarter so we can advance our skills and knowledge. The feedback I was given enabled me to identify the changes I need to make to my daily work.

As a Senior Project Manager, I work directly with the team and our clients in making sure that all the session deliveries run smoothly. One of the best things about my job is receiving feedback from participants and knowing that they enjoyed and learned tremendously from the session.

I can say that I am living the best highlights of my working life and I will not trade it for anything else. I will always be proud of what we do as a firm and will always be grateful for the privilege of working with the Arcadia family.

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Building your “Organisational IQ”

Building your “Organisational IQ”

Matt Lyon

Matt Lyon

Head of Consulting and Global Partner

You know that feeling when someone uses a phrase that so perfectly connects so many concepts together for you that, when you’re later asked to define it, you find yourself using the exact same words in the definition?

That phrase for me was “Organisational IQ.

12 years ago, a senior leader who had recently joined a large professional services firm said, “I’m still building my Organisational IQ” …and it instantly made perfect sense to me.

At the time they defined it using two questions:

“Do you know what we do as an organisation?”

“Who do you know that you could reach out to?”

I have later found that other people also use the phrase more holistically to mean the collective knowledge of the organisation, the formal and the informal systems and networks that connect people to the information, knowledge and wisdom contained therein. 

Why does Organisational IQ matter?

As a leader, why should you encourage people to focus on their Organisational IQ?

Individuals: For anyone looking to take the next step in their career, whether you are a high-potential contributor or an existing leader, it is important to broaden your strategic understanding outside of your silo and build your own network and visibility.

Teams: Teams with higher Organisational IQ perform better, have better information transfer between team members and collaborate more seamlessly.

Organisations: If culture is defined as “the way we do things around here,” then Organisational IQ is how we transfer those written and unwritten rules throughout the organisation. If we want to drive change effectively, we need to master the speed and connectedness of that system to our advantage.

What are the elements of Organisational IQ?

Going back to the original two questions from that senior leader, we can articulate the elements of Organisational IQ as follows:

1) What do you know about what the organisation does, outside of your area of expertise?

(e.g., do you know what the other divisions actually do, or that we have an office in Cambodia, or that there is a special product set in Malaysia, that someone recently created a proprietary solution in the London office, or New York has built a new platform that clients love, etc.?)

2) Who do you know that you could reach out to, if needed?

(e.g., do you have a relationship in New York you could call up to discuss the platform, who could connect you with someone in Malaysia, etc.? You don’t need all the details about everyone… you just need the extended intelligence built into your network.)

…or more simply put:

Organisational IQ =  What We Do  +  Who You Know

Over the years we at Arcadia we have worked with clients around their Organisational IQ and, in addition to the above two factors, we have started to include a third element:

3) Who knows you? …and what do they know you for?

For the system to work you also need to contribute to it, not just take from it.  If you think about this from the perspective of other stakeholders, you could ask: How many people would include you in their Organisational IQ? What value do you offer the wider organisation? How have you shared that with others and what would they reach out to you for?

This third element can amplify (or in its absence, negate) the previous two elements.

In other words, the “who knows you” element is a multiplier:

Organisational IQ =  (What We Do  +  Who You Know) Who Knows You

Tips to Build your own Organisational IQ:

  • Be “intellectually curious and intellectually generous” (ht: Scott Clark). Be fascinated by what other people do, don’t hesitate to take an opportunity to understand their world better – but also be generous with your own information and time, find more opportunities to give than to take.
  • Figure out what you offer the collective IQ and make sure you present your strengths back to the system. Be clear “What do you want to be known for?”
  • Work smarter not harder – find the “super-connectors” in your organisation, these are the natural networkers – it’s an impossible task to maintain relationships with everyone so choose wisely.
  • Remember relationships are like bank accounts, at the beginning we can only withdraw what we deposit, so how are you adding to your relationship balance. If you don’t make a deposit in an account for a long time it will eventually be shut down, and once shut they are much harder to open again.

As a final thought, just like IQ can be enhanced through mental practice, so too is there an opportunity to build your Organisational IQ every day.

I feel very strongly that as new people join our team across the globe, bringing their diversity of experience and backgrounds, as we solve new people problems for clients and as we seek to drive change in our own organisation and for others, I am constantly reminded to be like that senior leader I met 12 years ago and say, “I’m still building my Arcadia IQ.”

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Be the Change

Be the Change

Andy Wolfe

Andy Wolfe

Co-Founder and Global Partner

How transforming to and immersion in sustainable leadership can drive profits with purpose and positively impact our planet and our people. 

How it started…

I was on a call a few months ago with the other partners in our business when a realisation of a need to focus on more purposeful leadership started in earnest for me. My colleague Dan Spira, Managing Partner of our North America business, shared a dream to be at the solar eclipse in the Antarctic later this year in November and I realised I knew someone who could potentially help turn that dream into a reality. I contacted Petrina Dabrowski and together with Dan Spira we have developed the ‘Arcadia Journey’ idea…

The Idea

“Imagine if we could get a group of likeminded senior business leaders to join us on an expedition and sail into the Antarctic for 10 days, immersing ourselves in the topic of Sustainable Leadership while devising a plan to not just change ourselves but to influence a world of change in business. An ultimate goal of making business a force for good. How can we get the right people onto this expedition, in an unknown world of COVID-19 and brainstorm this kind of change?”

Around this time, by sheer coincidence, one of my clients and good friends Des O’Connor, CEO of Ardonagh Global Partners, a multibillion Insurance Conglomerate asked me how he could “Immerse himself in Sustainability” and enhance his already exciting and purposeful leadership style for the better. Stanley Nyoni, a colleague in our EMEA business, introduced the fact that Sustainability in retro-fit is expensive and we need influential leaders to lead the way forward. I contacted Gabriella Daroczi, a passionate vegan leader and marketing guru about her studies at The Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership and we discussed this movement to the future.

Who knows where “the journey” will take us but at least we are on our way

Profits with Purpose

Businesses today face environmental and social challenges that threaten their potential to sustain growth. Building a resilient business is more and more dependent on being prepared for the impact of nonfinancial factors, including those related to environmental, social, and governance issues.

In today’s business landscape, it’s no longer sufficient for organisations to simply acknowledge global sustainability challenges set out in the Sustainable Development Goals – they’re expected to lead the way through them!

The Cambridge Institute for Sustainable Leadership points out how businesses are perfectly placed to deliver sustainability ambitions. There are three driving forces behind rewiring our economy and a few examples below show how all of these forces have already shifted towards a sustainable future – and why sustainable leadership is not optional, but crucial for business.

1. Governments STEER the economy, providing the signals and conditions necessary to adjust economic and social behaviour.

In the area of social sustainability, a great example on how businesses can influence government decisions is the inspiring story of Marc Benioff, CEO of Salesforce. He took on Indiana’s Anti-LGBT Law by threatening to scale back his company’s investment in the state and announced plans to cancel all Salesforce programs that would require customers or employees to travel to Indiana. He also offered relocation packages to Salesforce employees in Indiana who wanted to transfer elsewhere. After a week of backlash, Indiana approved a revised version of the measure, this time explicitly banning businesses from refusing service because of a person’s sexual orientation or gender identity. This is what social sustainability is about – overcoming the systematic conditions that undermine people’s capacity to meet their needs.

2. Finance provides the economy’s FUEL, feeding capital towards economic and social activities that support the future we want, and away from activities that do not.

The world’s biggest asset manager BlackRock, worth $7 trillion, made climate change central to its investment strategy for 2021, giving a clear indication on the shift in their future investments. It is estimated that the sustainable investment (ESG) Market has more than doubled from 2012 to 2018, rising from $13.3 trillion to $30.7 trillion. By taking leadership, Blackrock help grow this market while solving some of society’s most intractable problems.

3. Business is the ENGINE of our economy. Business has a global reach, entrepreneurial dynamism, and the capacity for innovation. Business has the power to change government, employee and consumer behaviour.

Having a CSR page on a company’s website is no longer sufficient. Leaders simply cannot expect to build a business with longevity and resilience if they don’t embed sustainability in everything they do. This is now a precondition for any successful company. If organisations do not move to a more responsible, sustainable, and equitable way of doing business, consequences will make the coronavirus pandemic look like a dress rehearsal.

Fortunately, we now have plenty of success stories on businesses with leaders who demonstrate a sustainability mindset. The benefits to these organisations include reduced costs, top talent attraction and retention, access to new markets and innovation acceleration. Ultimately, a sustainable business model drives improved business performance – and these are the kinds of companies that investors and consumers’ reward.

The book Green Giants: How Smart Companies Turn Sustainability Into Billion-Dollar Businesses  lists nine different companies, such as Ikea, Natura, Tesla, and Unilever, all worth at least $1 billion, that prioritise sustainability and social responsibility. These are great examples of companies outperforming solely profit-oriented competitors while being motivated by idealistic goals.  

Sustainable leadership

At the end of the day, people will follow you or people will be energised by you if they buy into your vision or purpose. So, the most important thing is to be true to yourself. That's why I would say to be a great leader - you, first and foremost, must be a great human being.

Under Polman’s stewardship as CEO for 10 years, Unilever implemented its ambitious Sustainable Living Plan which aimed to double its growth, halve its environmental impact, and triple its social impact. The plan succeeded, with Unilever’s annual sales rising from $38 billion to more than $60 billion.

Businesses thrive when they serve all their stakeholders: citizens, employees, suppliers, partners, those who make up the extended value chain. When you make your business relevant to the needs of the communities and societies you serve, then everyone benefits, including shareholders.

Accountability for taking meaningful action must start at the top, we need authentic and caring leaders who truly believe in making this world a better place. Window-dressing or greenwashing will rightly be exposed for what it is, a PR stunt that does nothing to tackle the underlying issues. It can take 20 years to build a brand, but 5 minutes to destroy it!

Leaders of sustainable businesses have learned how to be an effective change agent, overcome barriers to change, obtain networking support and embed sustainability into their business plans.

Whilst sustainability leaders are equipped with knowledge around social and climate challenges, they also must develop key characteristics – such as innovative approach, systematic understanding, emotional intelligence, and values orientation – to be able to respond to these challenges.

In the public eye, large corporations are often viewed as being part of the climate and social problem. Successful sustainability leaders prove they are the force for good and their business is part of the solution, not the problem.

Be the catalyst for change and come immerse with us.

Be empowered and take the lead in tackling sustainability challenges and ignite your response, by joining a once-in-a-lifetime transformational journey for sustainable leadership. 

Come onboard at: 

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Hybrid Working? Increase Your Success with These Tips

Hybrid Working? Increase Your Success with These Tips

Steve Ellis

Steve Ellis


Hybrid working and hybrid leadership demands serious thought and action.

COVID-19 accelerated digital and virtual transformation. In doing so it challenged job roles, what we valued in work and life and our working patterns. Organisations accessed new information, data and evidence to illustrate jobs could be done from home. Technology could be made secure and safe, collaboration and relationships could be facilitated by platform like Zoom, Microsoft Teams, Webex. Some people liked it that way.

It prompted leaders to ask about the purpose, usefulness and costs of office buildings. It also raised questions about diversity, isolation, remote leadership, mental health and wellbeing and our teams ability to focus and feel a sense of belonging to a brand/ company without all the cues of logos, colours, motifs, symbols, colleagues, trophies, achievements, values statements being promoted on screens and displays around the office.

It presented opportunities for work/ life flexibility or pressure with living in the ‘multiverse’ of home-schooling, homework, home care; all without escape or mobility.

As organisations move to new work modes of homeworking, hybrid, office fixed, office flex and mobile, leaders need to be very clear on the value proposition of any work mode change and mindful of unintended consequences and the psychological responses of individual and teams as a result of this change.

This paper outlines some of the critical issues and an approach to executing new work modes.

The shift to new work modes demands careful planning, engagement and leadership to realise the value proposition of the opportunity and to mitigate the risk of the threats. 

The change is profound and will have cultural, people and performance consequences.

New work modes, new normal, multiverse, remote leadership, collaboration...So much change needs work.

Not everyone wants to go back to the office. 

Forbes Dec 2020 report stated “As of February 2020, only 3.4% of Americans, a grand total of 4.7 million people, worked from home. Over the course of the year, that number grew to 42%. Now, another survey states that 65% would like to continue working remotely full time after the pandemic, while 31% would prefer some form of hybrid format. Most people have found that they can perform many of their tasks from home, and don’t want to go back to working like before.

Is there a generational view?

As hybrid work enables employees to work from anywhere, it tends to involve more freedom around when to work and where. It splits workloads between workers working remotely and in-office. In a recent Salesforce survey, 64% of workers want to work from outside the office and another type of workplace, as opposed to working entirely remotely. It also found that the Gen-Z workforce is more interested in the hybrid work model as 74% of Gen-Z are likely to prefer either working from home or splitting time at home and work. Conversely, 64% of the respondents like to spend some time working from an office or location outside of their homes.

Different business cultures demand different solutions. What does your culture need?

BBC news reported:

Goldman Sachs boss David Solomon has rejected remote working as a “new normal” and labelled it an “aberration” instead.

Mr. Solomon said the investment bank had operated throughout 2020 with “less than 10% of our people” in the office.  His eagerness for workers to return to the office is at odds with many other firms, who have suggested that working from home could become permanent.  Mr. Solomon suggested that it does not suit the work culture at Goldman Sachs.

Microsoft has told staff that they will have the option of working from home permanently with manager approval.

The move mimics the US tech giant’s rivals Facebook and Twitter, which have also said remote work would be a permanent option. It follows a rapid shift away from office working prompted by the coronavirus pandemic. Many companies are reconsidering how much office space they need, expecting a long-term increase in remote staff. Microsoft said some roles will continue to require an in-person presence, such as those needing access to hardware, the firm added. But many staff will also be able to work from home part-time, without needing formal approval from their managers.

Reuters in February 2021 reported:

HSBC and Lloyds are getting rid of as much as 40% of their office space as an easy way to make savings when bank profits have been crunched by the pandemic. Standard Chartered will cut a third of its space within four years, while Metro Bank said it would cut some 40% and make more use of branches.

“I think what we have learned this year is that we had a dysfunctional relationship with our workplaces,” says Bruce Daisley, a former Twitter executive and now a big-time business podcaster. “Commuting for an hour each way to sit at your desk answering emails – in hindsight that looks like an act of collective lunacy.”

Engage, Excite, Enable, Embed

Understand the difference between Laws, Rules, Guidelines and Models. 

When implementing new models and developing new cultures leaders often put in place new rules. The challenge is that sometimes they treat the rules as laws. Laws are typically created to create social safety (think speed limits, protect clients, employee rights, health and safety etc). Rules are closer to the idea of guidelines, best practice, ways of working and serve to enable people and teams to be as productive as possible. Rules must be seen as more malleable and can change subject to use case and whether they help people to operate and be productive. As the hybrid working model becomes embedded leaders should ‘build in’ and be open to adoption to suit the efficiency and effectiveness demands of the team and organisation.

If organisations simply force it on people, they will simply find their own path around it.  That path may include leaving your organisation and joining another.

1. Engage and Excite the team in the design

The big why? The value and benefits of the new modes need exploring to create motivation and excitement as well as to allay fears. If the value for the employees, the business and the clients are not understood or realised…well what was the point?

Discuses and survey staff for the preferences. Pressure test the suitability on home environments for working over the long terms and not just the emergency COVID-19 short term. Explore the implications of your model on the clients or customer journey and experience. Will they enjoy your model?

Invite the team to consider how they will use different work spaces to maximise effectiveness. Is there any point coming to the office to just do emails? Involve the team in identifying the necessary behaviours and required skills to make the model effective

2. Educate and Enable a successful model

Once the model is defined educate and enable. Educate the rules of the model, standard, expected behaviours. Enable leaders and team members with the necessary skills on virtual facilitation, virtual presence, collaboration, inclusion, inspiring and motivating people remotely. Ensure that everyone in the office and at home has resilient technology. The model wont work if the Wi-Fi wont work.

3. Embed

As well as empowering team members to design, re-design and refine working practices leaders will need to embed best practice, codify policy, systems, processes that work and suit most people, celebrate what works, institutionalise into the employee lifecycle from recruitment, onboarding, performance management, promotion, succession planning, career development.  In essence make it a cultural norm. Leaders will need to role model the behaviours and skills they expect to see in others.

5 E’s of Execution


Role definition, ownership, support and development

Without doubt leaders and leadership is critical during change. Firstly, the business needs to help leaders with their own change response. This requires empathy, emotional intelligence and engagement and an appreciation that they may have challenges with new work modes too.  New work modes demands a new role for leaders, responsibility and behaviour. Organisation need to gain buy-in to this to ensure ownership.  Finally, organisations need to support leaders with the tools skills and development to operate and drive the new culture and ways of working with their teams.  Critical new skills and behaviours are:

  • Developing purposeful goals – to provide focus, motivation and empowerment in the new work mode
  • Developing inclusive, diverse and connected teams – to ensure belonging and contribution
  • Developing and instilling a growth mindset in self and others
  • Create powerful team identities across different work modes
  • EQ and Leadership Care – at the point of change we need to make people feel they are cared for, belong here, are valued.
  • Wellbeing and resilience – managing physical and mental health strategies to cope with change and new ways of working
  • High Performing Teams – continuous improvement, standards, excellence and stretch goals


Hybrid working presents a generational and circumstantial  shift in culture, leadership, fundamental use of estates, team engagement/ employee experience, technological transformation, customer experience and much more. It’s unlikely that the people leading it are experienced in such an operational change and as such the execution presents risks. These risks have consequences in not only failing to realise the benefits of the new model but damaging the employee experience and organisational brand reputation.

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