Embedding Values and Driving Impact
The Victoria & Albert Museum
Director of People and Change
Embedding Values to Drive Impact
Empowering Leaders: V&A's Journey to Embedding Values to Drive Impact
The Victoria and Albert Museum (V&A) is over 170 years old, with the foundation stone being laid by Queen Victoria in 1899, the museums that now make up the state-of-the-art galleries has always evolved with a collection spanning 5,000 years of human creativity.
With the museum embarking on an ambitious program of development, including a landmark expansion, becoming a multisite institution with the opening of V&A East – a transformation in the way visitors can access to their collection, through the Storehouse. And the opening of Young V&A, transforming the Museum of Childhood for the next generation.
To support this change, culture was key. The museum sought to unify all areas and departments that may have traditionally worked in silos by establishing a clear set of shared behaviours that would enable cultural success and support growth.
To seize this opportunity, the V&A partnered with Dragonfish to explore behaviours and competencies. To align them with their existing values, and launch a comprehensive and experiential program to embed the values and behaviours consistently with managers and leaders throughout the museum.
Dragonfish collaborated with the V&A's People and Brand teams to create a refreshed behaviour framework aligned with the organisation's brand refresh. The focus was on making sure the behaviours were actionable and accessible to all parts of the organisation. The programme expanded to also include the refresh of the V&A’s values, which were not initially part of the plan however the opportunity to energise and maximise the impact of the behaviours meant refining the values too.
The result was a simplified framework that remains relevant and connected to the strategic objectives, with a focus on connecting all employees to each other and the visitor experience by fostering a sense of connection and pride.
Embedding the new values within the V&A was key. Dragonfish supported the development of a roadmap for launching and embedding, involving key stakeholders, including the People team, Brand, Internal Communications, Learning and Development, EDI, Volunteering, and representatives from the new sites (V&A East and Young V&A) to identify the relevant elements to build a robust launch and embedding plan for the V&A.
With the Values & Behaviours and the plan for launch agreed, Dragonfish supported the development of the Culture & Brand Narrative. This narrative effectively communicated the change, telling the story of the cultural transformation to all employees and volunteers. The recommendations for the launch and embedding of the new values and behaviours emphasised the importance of the "Values in Action" program. This initiative focused on enabling people leaders to support their teams in fully embracing and integrating the new behaviours into their daily work, cascading practical and accessible understanding throughout the organisation, inspiring ownership and alignment.
Dragonfish designed a comprehensive learning experience for all leaders and people leaders to launch the values and behaviours. Over 15 sessions, we upskilled and educated a significant number of leaders (total here), while also developing supporting tools and videos to bring the values to life and successfully guide their teams through the transformation process.
The V&A's commitment to this comprehensive culture transformation program yielded positive results:
Enhanced Cultural Connection: The refreshed values and behaviours framework created a more meaningful and connected culture that resonates with employees and volunteers.
Unified Leadership: Leaders across the organisation were empowered to facilitate further sessions with their teams, ensuring consistent understanding and adoption of the new values.
Improved Employee Engagement and Understanding: By focusing on values that align teams, the employee engagement score increased, with understanding for the values also increasing.
Through a collaborative effort with Dragonfish, the V&A successfully aligned its values with its ambitious expansion goals, fostering a connected culture that empowers its people and enhances the visitor experience. This transformation journey has set the foundation for the V&A to thrive as a leading institution in the cultural landscape.