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Hc.com.sgCASE STUDY / WESLAND HEALTH INSURANCE / PAGE 1 to Align Strategy & CultureA Case Study of Westfund Health Insurance, Australia CASE STUDY AT A GLANCE
Grahame Danaher, CEO of Westfund, a health insurance company, which has operated in Australia for over BUSINESS OVERVIEW:
79 years, knows how crucial it is to align the people and culture of an organisation with the business strategy. ! Westfund is a private health insurer and provider of ‘Success in business strategy usual y comes down to how eye-ware and dental clinic services to members. effective you can be in aligning your customer’s needs to your staff skil s, capabilities and largely their passion for ! It was established in 1929 and services members the business. The better you get at alignment the more you largely in regional areas of New South Wales and differentiate from competitors which al ows your staff to operate more efficiently and comfortably,’ Danaher explains. ! Rapid growth in last ten years from $9 million to $100 ‘Business management that develops staff by supporting and recognising those staff development needs will maintain staff because they feel well treated, respected ! One of Australia’s most financially sound health and feel part of the organisation. Contented staff lead funds with a history of consistently offering members to contented customers,’ states Danaher. To meet these insurance premiums below market rates.
needs, Westfund has used the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator® (MBTI®) instrument for staff development over CHALLENGE:
several years under the guidance of Danaher. Aligning Westfund’s organisational culture with the business strategy to achieve a competitive advantage. The MBTI® instrument, distributed in Australia by CPP Asia Westfund were seeking to help management and staff Pacific, is the most widely used personality measure in the understand the culture of the organisation and factors world. With over twenty years of application in Australia, influencing customer satisfaction. The objective was to organisations continue to use the MBTI® instrument as a help Westfund management and staff use knowledge of core tool for improving individual, team, leadership and personality types and differences between work teams in a constructive way and improve business performance.
The primary purpose of the MBTI® instrument is to help SOLUTION:
individuals determine their personality preferences on four dichotomies comprising preferences for Extraversion To develop an understanding of Westfund’s culture and the (E) or Introversion (I), Sensing (S) or Intuition (N), psychological drivers of their customer’s expectations for Thinking (T) or Feeling (F) and Judging (J) or Perceiving sales and service by using the theory of psychological type (P). When all eight preferences are combined in all their possible combinations, they produce sixteen distinct personality profiles. Under the guidance of a qualified RESULTS:
MBTI® practitioner, individuals use their results from the With the majority of Westfund’s staff undertaking the assessment and additional information to self-select their instrument, the organisation has a clearer understanding of how different work teams prefer to communicate, make decisions and interact with each other. By using the Danaher first encountered the MBTI® instrument MBTI® instrument, staff better understand the personality while attending Harvard Business School in the late types of customers and how to effectively manage sales 1990’s. During a course on organisational change, and service interactions. Westfund’s management has a Danaher learnt that the instrument could enable deeper understanding of how the organisation’s structure organisations to understand their customers and their and culture align with the business strategy. Westfund has buying preferences. Danaher says ‘The Myers-Briggs achieved positive results in staff retention, growth and Type Indicator instrument allowed you to understand individual customer psychological preferences and their preference for products from companies in the CASE STUDY / WESLAND HEALTH INSURANCE / PAGE 2 same industry. It then occurred to me that we needed views between different work groups. These competing to understand the company’s psychological preferences views can lead to misunderstandings between co-workers in how staff operated and match those preferences and ultimately result in intra-organisational conflict and with customer needs. It became clear to me that if we achieved alignment of buyer preferences for our product and the preferences that our staff had, we would have a Danaher explains, ‘When you ask how does back office significant competitive advantage, something that all CEOs relate to service, support and sales, people tend to say it is hard to get anything out of back office, they don’t appreciate what is needed to support customers. They Danaher and his HR manager subsequently completed get things done but it is not what we need to be done.’ a certification program to become qualified MBTI® Danaher adds ‘You then ask are the behaviours you have practitioners. To date, over eighty percent of Westfund’s with the back office getting things done appropriately, they say yes they do, but they are critical of the Sales, Service and Support staff who need empathy.’ UNDERSTANDING THE ORGANISATION’S
THE BENEFITS OF DIFFERENCE
To build an effective culture, organisations need to first be As expected, the results from the MBTI® assessments aware of the characteristics of their own culture. Danaher with Westfund’s staff highlighted the origin of the says, ‘Companies often refer to their culture, however perceived differences between the staff in different areas when you ask businesses to define culture most find this of the business. ‘For our front office service, support and sales staff, the dominant culture indicated by the MBTI results was ESFJ and ISTJ’, Danaher explains. ‘When we Culture, based on years of research by Geert did the MBTI® assessments with management it was an Hofstede, has been defined as ‘learned INTP culture. We then did research on our customers MBTI preferences and found they reflected expectations of ISTJ patterns of thinking feeling and acting’ preferences for sales with ISFJ for service predominately.‘ or more commonly ‘the way we do things around here’ (Hofstede, 1991). Westfund used the MBTI® results to help staff identify where differences in personality type occurred within the Identifying the characteristics of an organisation’s organisation and with customers and then capitalised on culture from the inside is extremely difficult, as many using the differences in a constructive way to achieve of the cultural expectations are not easily articulated or business outcomes. According to Danaher, ‘When staff obvious to staff. The framework of psychological type, understood their MBTI results they saw that people had as measured by the MBTI® instrument, enables staff to different ways of communicating, collecting and using develop a common language for understanding cultural information, making decisions on the way they operate expectations of the organisation and also identify the degree of alignment between strategy and organisational CONSTRUCTIVE USE OF DIFFERENCE TO
Westfund used the MBTI® instrument to help staff Isabel Briggs Myers and Katharine Cook Briggs, designed understand their organisational culture and achieve the MBTI® instrument to make the theory of psychological alignment with the business strategy. In asking Westfund’s types, proposed by Carl Jung, understandable and useful staff about their culture Danaher says ‘A typical response to people in everyday life. By undertaking an MBTI® from staff is that the people in the back office tend to be assessment individuals can identify naturally occurring quiet, keep to themselves and are hard to get anything out valuable differences between people which can otherwise of. They are busy, they value efficiency, they get a lot done be the source of misunderstanding and miscommunication and they are tough minded’, ‘When we administered the (Myers, 1998). Knowledge of and constructive use of these MBTI® to back office staff the dominant culture was INTJ, differences in the workplace has repeatedly been found which reflects people who generally are a very ‘do you see to enable organisations to understand and maximise the the picture’ type of influence.’ Danaher has found staff talents of staff and build an effective culture. in other areas of Westfund’s business can differ in their perceptions of their colleagues and the purpose of their Explaining his insights about Westfund’s culture using the MBTI® instrument, Danaher says, ‘So culture can be defined by the dominant MBTI type in the various group’s Within each organisation, ‘sub-cultures’ often emerge in behaviour preferences. We found that an ISTJ approach groups and teams that work closely together. Different sold best into our market. In particular, our sales process sub-cultures in an organisation can result in competing requires staff to listen, identify price, apply logic and with CASE STUDY / WESLAND HEALTH INSURANCE / PAGE 3 a clear process to close. An ENFP approach was best for About CPP Asia Pacific Pty Ltd
supporting people between back office and front office. CPP Asia Pacific is a publishing, training and distribution INTJ and INTP approaches were very good for complex organisation. Our primary focus is to contribute to the problem solving, while ESTJ and ESFJ approaches worked productivity and profitability of client organisations, whilst enabling the individuals within them to grow and develop personally. We accomplish this by providing training, world-renowned psychological instruments ‘Understanding our culture using the and innovative consulting solutions to our customers. By MBTI process allowed us to define various qualifying to purchase and use our instruments you gain commercially valuable skills that you can apply in your behaviour groups and how we could align client organisations. Among CPP Asia Pacific’s world- our approach for improved communication renowned brands and services are the Myers-Briggs on the basis of a better understanding of Type Indicator® (MBTI®), FIRO-B®, CPI 260® and California Psychological Inventory™ (CPI™), Thomas-Kilmann Conflict preference of the various groups behaviour’. Mode Instrument (TKI), the Strong Interest Inventory® and a range of related psychometric products. CPP Asia He adds, ‘It has also allowed us to develop our people to Pacific provides services throughout Australia and the Asia positions that suited their preference’. Pacific region. CPP Asia Pacific Pty Ltd is a wholly owned Drawing on over fifty years of research and decades of application in organisations, the MBTI® instrument used by For more information on CPP Asia Pacific and the MBTI® qualified practitioners continues to give business leaders, instrument please visit www.cppasiapacific.com
like Danaher, the knowledge, skills and tools to develop their staff and business. Danaher reflects, ‘Most problems in business are not your competitors but what happens within your organisation. Alignment of your business to customers’ preferences for sales and service styles allows you to ensure everything is running smoothly’. Grahame Danaher and Westfund continue to build on their knowledge of psychological type and how it applies to the performance of staff and the business. Danaher concludes, ‘The customers like us, staff like working here and the Board likes the results in growth, retention and profitability’. REFERENCES & FURTHER READING:
Hoftstede, G. (1991) Cultures and Organisations: Software
of the mind. London: McGraw-Hill
Kirby, K. K., Kendall, E., and Barger, N. J. (2007). Type and Culture: Using the MBTI® Instrument in International Applications. Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc. Myers, I. B. (1998). Introduction To Type® (6th ed.). Mountain View, CA: CPP, Inc.
Thanks to Grahame Danaher of Westfund for his valuable
insights and contributions.
® CPI 260, FIRO, FIRO-B, FIRO-B logo, Strong Interest Inventory, are registered trademarks of CPP, Inc.
® Myers-Briggs Type Indicator, MBTI, Myers-Briggs, MBTI logo, Introduction to Type are trademarks or registered trademarks of the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator Trust in the United States and other ® CPP Asia Pacific and the CPP Asia Pacific logo is a registered trademark of CPP Asia Pacific Pty Ltd.
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