Featured Profile

Will Hutton

Will Hutton

Principal, Hertford College, Oxford University and chair of the Big Innovation Centre

Friday 31 May 2013
Character + KnowHow = Impact

Character + KnowHow = Impact

As a technology and Services provider, our business is very simple. We need to have strong technology that works day-in and day-out. Some of our solutions need to be highly robust and faultless, and to minimise risk; other of our solutions need to be much more innovative and flexible.

On the service side, our colleagues need to be able to understand our customers’ needs and take thousands of decisions a day so we can support our customers in their own businesses. We will be successful as a company if we can impact our customers business in a positive way, hundreds of times a day, every day of the year.

The root of success to managing two distinct technology cultures and a decentralised service operation is to identify talent and manage our people well. The difference, for us, in how we do this, runs along two very distinct axes.


Firstly, we have worked hard, with our colleagues, to define our KnowHow. These are the special skillsets or expertise, which allow us to find and deliver value to our clients. These may be product related (for example payroll process) or may be a broader capability (for example, risk reduction or tax optimisation); these are often unique to Ceridian. Often, when making hiring decisions, the thinking is predominantly along this axis, which is only part of the equation.


Secondly, we have worked, again with our colleagues, to define our Character. With this element, we have turned a competence framework into a set of distinct and unequivocal behaviour sets that define our business. These behaviours are what govern our culture, and how we relate to each other and our customers. They have not been taken from the internet – they have been defined by our talented colleagues based on what they believe makes a difference. It is on this axis that much interesting work is being done today. We are using this to help redefine the nine-box grid, to help redefine how we measure and reward, and how we develop and use our own analytics technology on our own business.


When we combine expertise and the right behaviours we find we unleash the potential of people. It is our colleagues that impact our customers, our customer’s colleagues and our customers’ customers; not those of us in staff roles sitting in the centre. When that impact is positive, the link between colleague and customer is strengthened enormously. We all know how this feedback engenders connection with the business, engagement and thereby retention of key colleagues and of key customers. Impact on those around us is the key to making change and moving forward.

By combining the best of our KnowHow and being clear about the Character we want in our business, we are maximising the Impact on our customers. It’s only now that the power of the simplicity of this equation is becoming clear to us, and how we need to change many things within our own approach to reflect that thinking.