Re-establishing team relationships to re-ignite and finally realise an overdue strategic project 


Hays plc is a British company providing recruitment and human resources services. It is listed on the London Stock Exchange and is part of the FTSE 250 Index.

A project to systemize a manual payment process had stalled and was running two years behind schedule. The client had expressed concern to the IT Solutions Team (contracted by the client) regarding their capability for delivery. Contract negotiations and finances between the two parties had stopped and the relationships had become tenuous, defensive and blame-ridden.

Our challenge was to re-establish team relationships to enable the successful completion of the project within six months. The aim was to create new relationships based on an authentic commitment to the accomplishment of the project, enabling faster problem solving and management of individual concerns, which had previously slowed them down.


The first step was to explore the characteristics and constraints of how the team worked together. By asking these questions, they created a new way of collaborating that recognized the old, debilitating habits when they arose. The team were then free to develop an integrated project plan underpinned by authentic ownership and commitment from all.

Next, we embedded a new infrastructure and culture, that ensured the accomplishment of the project plan whilst maintaining the new way of working.

The infrastructure included:

  • Creation of a Business Existence System (BES) chart – a tool that supported the team’s focus on the leverage points for the project and enabled easy assessment of results. The BES chart provided an excellent summary report to the project board, enabling them to discuss the key issues
  • New meeting format – implementation of a meeting format that enabled the team to identify key issues for resolution, communicating concerns and making requests of one another. This helped to build an environment of participation, coordination and productivity
  • Sub Forums – small groups from the project team utilized a Breakthrough Thinking process to help them quickly resolve issues. Learning and problem solving became the drivers for the process rather than blame, analysis and justification
  • New reporting format – allowing those responsible for taking action to stay clear and focused, reporting critical information in a timely manner


  • The project was reinstated and the commercial contracts honored
  • The project was completed within the six-month deadline
  • The total payment process cycle was reduced by 44%, from 36 to 20 days
  • Resource capacity increased dramatically by 4 times in some areas 
  • The system now has the capacity and flexibility to process high volumes through every stage of the payment process. This provides the client with an opportunity to redesign parts of the entire process drive more efficiencies in all areas
  • Improved relationships between all parties. Mutual respect established, allowing each team member to be heard and participate fully
  • Partnership and collaboration, resulting in new opportunities for the client and IT solutions team
  • Issues are jointly resolved effectively with one clear message for action
  • Negotiations for a long-term ‘support & maintenance’ contract between the parties have already began