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Ordnance Survey

Leading and embedding culture transformation to drive an ambitious growth strategy.


The Opportunity

Since it was established in 1791, the UK’s mapping agency, Ordnance Survey (OS), has navigated many extraordinary times. Key to OS’s success is innovation, a trusted reputation, and expertise. However, as advancements in geospatial data and technology have progressed, its shareholders raised their expectations around how a truly customer centric OS could both enable the UK’s public and private sectors and also realise its commercial potential on the world stage.

With a new CEO, ambitious strategy, and new operating model, the challenge was to shape and align a new ‘fit for future’ culture which aligned all 1,250+ colleagues together as OneOS whilst enabling different business teams to achieve their potential.

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In summary we were asked to: 


  • Map the ‘as-is’ employee experience to help establish the state of alignment and engagement and understand the moments that matter

  • Define an ambitious vision, bringing clarity to the strategic direction for all

  • Develop compelling missions for newly established business units (to build ownership and provide focus)

  • Ensure stakeholder management, leadership & Board alignment with energy and excitement for culture change

  • Co-create, through an inclusive process, one shared set of values and behaviours, aligning and uniting 1,250+ colleagues as ‘One OS’, whilst enabling different business units to achieve their potential

  • Redefine a single, unifying purpose that inspires and motivates teams and individuals internally, and connects with customers externally, to drive sustainable growth with a focus on 'purpose in practice'

  • Address the culture challenges identified through the research – drive greater customer-centricity, commercial focus and increased collaboration (seen by stakeholders as critical shifts of strategy)

  • Successfully develop, launch and embed the full culture blueprint with ongoing activities identified, whilst navigating the pandemic

Our Solution

dragonfish partnered with OS on its Brand and Culture Transformation Programme. Following the facilitation of a Leadership Culture Lab in 2019, we explored the existing culture strengths and barriers, alongside conducting immersion into the existing employee experience.

dragonfish initially engaged several OS stakeholders to better understand and appreciate the desired starting point: for the project to evolve the OS Employee Experience in particular. Culture was described as ‘an opportunity’ within OS to improve performance, productivity, and behaviours. Without a clear, concise and compelling culture narrative people had their own interpretations of culture and many viewed it as ‘abstract’. There was an evolving desire to make culture more tangible, more pragmatic, and more actionable. It was felt that beginning with reimagining the OS Employee Experience would act as a pivot by which a new culture narrative and framework can be achieved.

We identified that mapping the ‘as is’ employee experience would establish the current state of alignment and engagement, shining a light on some quick wins and improvements to drive immediate engagement, customer experience targets, and understand the key moments that matter. This work would also form solid foundations to support the future culture development. The first step was to facilitate a discovery and alignment session to build the business case and define the culture and employee experience aspirations. This included a mix of key stakeholders across the organisation. The objectives were to:

  • Reach a shared understanding of how culture affects behaviours, performance, and the employee experience

  • Uncover the key components of the OS culture (vision, values, behaviours, etc.) and the key drivers for culture evolution. As well as the moments of matter to help prioritise immediate improvements in the experience whilst strengthening the longer term cultural opportunities

  • Identify the future culture ambition – what good would look like for OS, what needed to be different

  • Surface any challenges, risks, barriers, and opportunities​

  • Align everyone around the best way to evolve the culture and develop the roadmap for evolving the culture to enable transformation and a new target operating model


With insights gathered from the sessions, as well as an understanding of the direction set by their new strategy, we worked with the leadership team to shape a new target Culture Blueprint consisting of vision, purpose, business unit missions, values and behaviours. 

Our methodology to design the culture blueprint was collaborative and inclusive, connecting with leadership, employees, customers and users. This consultative approach helped us to truly understand the connection between people, culture and the brand. 

A 12-18-month holistic and transparent brand and culture roadmap detailed the journey from awareness to advocacy, mapping embedding activities, communications, processes, and symbols of change. 

A two-phased launch:

Our approach enabled focus, inspiration and energy around each of the culture elements. It gave people the time and space to connect with them and explore ways to embed them practically into their everyday thinking, decision-making and actions. 

  • Phase 1: Vision and (Business Unit) Missions 

  • Phase 2: Purpose, Values and Behaviours 

Activities that followed the launch included a simple and compelling brand and culture narrative bringing to life the culture blueprint, motivating employees and inspiring new talent. A new brand and culture hub contained materials and tools to encourage team conversations and ways to practically embed the culture into everyday actions. To support the embedding process, a grassroots movement of ambassadors (Action Teams) were established to embed the new culture through communications, activities, processes, experience and measurement. 

The great things leaders do:

With the culture narrative launched and understood, we shifted our focus to one of the key enablers (or barriers) of successful culture transformation – people leaders. 

Working with the exec, employees and trustees we defined a set of leadership principles that would support bringing the culture to life, equipping leaders with the skills, competencies and tools needed to be successful and create the right environment for the new culture, values and behaviours to thrive. These leadership principles were rolled out across the organisation with opportunities to strengthen a learning culture at all levels.


Improvement in clarity around purpose


Our Impact


Direct improvement to employee purpose (‘I have a clear sense of purpose’) increased, despite the pandemic, by 3% correlating as a result to culture & brand transformation programme, including a 13 point improvement in the ‘Clarity score’ for their engagement survey.

With focus on the values (as of 2022): 

  • Seize the Moment – ‘We do a good job removing barriers that slow down our work’ 3% point increase since previous survey.

  • Stay Ahead – Employees feel 3% more able ‘to challenge the way things are done’. 

  • Think Customer – ‘I know how my role helps our customers make a positive impact’ a brand new question to reflect the value, has 78% score following the launch of the strategy focus and a genuine shift to customer-centricity. 

  • Thrive Together – A focused aim of the values was to improve recognition and celebration internally, ‘I feel satisfied with the recognition or praise I receive for my work’ saw a 2% increase from 2020 to 2021.

The successes of the project:


  • Helped reconnect people back to the importance of laying solid culture foundations and in particular the vision and purpose

  • Shine a light on the opportunity to refresh the values and behaviours to drive performance

  • Importance of one compelling, meaningful and shared culture narrative

  • Uncovered practical and pragmatic recommendations and opportunities for quick wins and longer term improvements by mapping the ‘as is’ OS Experience and reimagining the optimum OS Experience

  • Focused OS on the top opportunities in the EX by identifying moments that matter across the experience

  • Inclusive approach, taking people on a journey to play their part in shaping the OS Experience, crowdsourcing ideas, ensuring buy-in and support, and understanding the moments that matter

  • Produced a project journey, a 12-18 month ‘OS Experience’ roadmap to embed the culture narrative, values & behaviours and improve the OS Experience and a longer-term outcome journey of up to 5 years which supported the business case for the wider culture change program.

  • Elevated the strategic importance of culture with senior leaders as a key enabler of their transformation.

  • Created genuine leadership alignment around the ambition, direction and readiness to lead culture change

  • Shaped actionable tools and activities that bring the blueprint to life for teams and leaders 

  • Established a CEO sponsored Brand and Culture Action Team to shape and activate culture activities and communications. I would then have a separate bullet around measurement – A dynamic brand and culture dashboard to track and measure the embedding success and culture sentiment

“Our values have given us a confident unified voice which recognises our great strengths and demonstrate our firm commitment to improve – this has increased our impact on a whole range of stakeholders, new hires, our board, and our customers and partners."


- Hazel Hendley, Human Resources Director – Ordnance Survey

If you'd like to understand this project or our approach in more detail,

email or call 023 8082 8505

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