Building the culture to create more homes




The decision to merge Amicus Horizon and Viridian to create Optivo in 2017 was an obvious one, and indeed it made sense on a number of levels. Not only did it create one of the largest housing associations in the UK – providing homes for more than 90,000 people in London, the Midlands and South-East England – but the combined power of the new organisation also allowed the group to build a further 1,500 homes every year. This, in the words of its Chief Executive Paul Hackett, would enable it to “respond positively to the challenges of the housing crisis while looking to deliver sector-leading services.”


The leaders were conscious that mergers are always challenging and success cannot therefore be guaranteed. To continue their track record of success, the new organisation would have to develop a robust culture that was consciously designed and embedded.

They asked Culture Consultancy to design and deliver cultural immersion workshops for all Optivo staff, which would promote:

  • Shared values
  • The application of tools and techniques to help employees embrace the changes ahead
  • The desired behaviours and best practices to continue the growth of the company
  • Delivery of innovative ideas and solutions, even with reduced external funding

Key to success was in inspiring everyone to engage their energy and translate that into meaningful positive action.

  • Inspire and engage
  • Shared values
  • Innovative ideas

Working with the Executive Team, Culture Consultancy devised a three cultural immersion workshop which was designed to be suitable for the entire organisation. The emphasis of the workshops was to help staff gain a rapid understanding of what the new culture entailed and what was expected of them.

At the heart of this was a powerful toolkit that was designed to inspire staff and empower them to be accountable for their work and adopt a ‘can-do’ attitude to enable the very best customer service to be delivered, even in the midst of a challenging austerity environment

  • Working with the Executive Team
  • Design cultural immersion workshop
  • Staff toolkit to inspire and empower

The Culture Consultancy team supported by Olympic Gold medallist Sally Gunnell delivered eleven cultural immersion workshops. In order to optimise effectiveness, the workshops incorporated the use of experiential activities, powerful metaphors and symbolism, music and differing presentation mediums. The participation of the Executive Team was particularly important in demonstrating the new culture.

Initial feedback revealed that 84% of participants agreed that they clearly understood how they contribute to the Optivo culture whilst 87% believed they can apply the behaviours and attitudes highlighted during the workshop.

Take a look at this short video which highlights the success points and the impact generated by the workshops.  A download is also available which provides more information in respect of the workshops.

Successful delivery of inspirational workshops to kick start the embedding of the newly-designed Optivo culture and one-team philosophy


“High energy, engaging activities”

Energy levels have been high, activities have been engaging, the pace has been perfect, the messaging has been spot on.

Paul Hackett
Chief Executive at Optivo

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