Leading Change - Overcoming the Difficulties of Creating a Digital Business

Jamie joined BT on 15th October 2012 as the Chief Operating Officer to build the infrastructure, broadcast chain and operating model for the launch of BT Sport. In August 2013 BT Sport 1, BT Sport 2 and ESPN all started broadcasting from the brand new purpose built studio facility on Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park.

Jamie shared insights on how he set about delivering this ambitious project. He initially set about creating a brand new culture with existing BT staff, from which everything seemed to follow. He was supported throughout by a very ambitious CEO who trusted him and was accepting of the risks faced. Because of this supportive leadership Jamie didn't waver under challenge, but instead, he embraced the risk and marched on. He knew that the CEO 'always supported his decisions.'

Jamie was willing to push the boundaries of change but advised it wasn't about throwing a huge budget at the project; it was much simpler than that. Some of insights the audience caught a glimpse into were, where he personally inducted new staff and fostered a'can do' culture by demonstrating that change was the new business normal. He lived and breathed this positive belief and staff embraced the exciting new normal, throughout he clearly delivered information as to why something was changing. Simply put, he gets buy-in by creating the vision.

Our members also got an indication of how he operates on a daily basis whilst sitting amongst the hub-bub of his staff. His anecdote of cleaning the studios glass floor on launch day demonstrated his firm belief that 'walking the walk' is part of that cultural change. He is a strong advocate of allowing team members to get things wrong; when fear is dispensed with, it ensures that the team's intentions are always coming from a good place, they are empowered, energised, trusting and they are willing to give their best. By doing this, it demonstrates absolute confidence and faith in the team without them being reckless.

Jamie revels in surrounding himself with expert people who are better than him; he nurtures the brilliance of his staff but won't allow 'star strikers' to disrupt the team; because their knowledge is not superior to the team spirit. He informs the experts but won't tell them how to do their job, he accepts that he may not agree with them but he doesn't get upset with differing views. He creates a platform for creative people to work together and believes that: 'If I don't change then no one else will.'

He has no doubt changed the BT brand and perception in relation to television production and we suspect you won't hear: 'can't do this because....' but rather: 'this is a challenge, how are we going to sort this...'

He left the audience with a final thought on how he was able to achieve what seemed an impossible task:

'Chief Executive Officers are responsible for taking decisions and as such the support staff should be content and safe in that knowledge, thereby freeing them up to do exciting, challenging things for the organisation. We often have too many experts, have a fear of failure and find reasons not to do something.'

He lives by the mantra 'catch me if you can, why fear it.' Leaving the captivated audience enthused and empowered about the possibilities that are achievable within the Forums membership organisations.