(unwritten) Case Study – NixonMcInness – Spreading a culture

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They may not realise it, but they now take themselves much more seriously as managers. As a consequence, management is taken more seriously as a whole throughout the organisation.

Naomi Trickey, VP of People – Brandwatch

Brandwatch – Conscious Leadership at scale

Helping 80+ managers become leaders


  • Global high growth tech company with more than 300 people
  • 80+ managers many of whom had never managed before
  • Embedding leadership as a constantly evolving practice
  • Now they lead with confidence


Brandwatch are a fast growth tech company with more than 300 people, over 1000 clients and offices in Brighton (HQ), San Francisco, New York, Berlin, Stuttgart and Singapore.  In 2015 they had just received $33m investment for further expansion. More recently they have purchased BuzzSumo to continue that expansion.

They had a growing team of 64 managers (over 80 have now been through the programme) many with no previous management experience and with all the challenges that come with rapid expansion:

  • New people joining who need to rapidly come up to speed
  • Constant pressure to achieve demanding targets
  • Letting go of older responsibilities to focus on leadership
  • Managing the performance of diverse personality types and varying expectations, sometimes in remote locations
  • Competitive, changeable market conditions and the need to for the capability to rapidly pivot the business but still maintain high levels of innovation and creativity
  • Silos developing as a consequence of the increasing size and speed of growth
  • No time to learn how to deal with it all

But the opportunity is huge if they can develop the leadership that helps their teams be responsive.


We co-created a 10 month integrated leadership programme with the Brandwatch people team and Wild Things to take the initial 64 through a programme that would help them to lead with intuition. Underpinned with some conscious communications skills and simple models, we wanted them to end with the desire and ability to continue to develop themselves as leaders through peer support

“I wanted to break the mold of training programmes, providing both soft and hard skills for all new managers. I wanted to get people to appreciate that management is a practice, not a tickbox exercise, and it required them to do some heavy lifting on their own development to get there. We wanted them to ‘own’ being a manager and build confidence in their roles. It’s been a resounding success.”
Naomi Trickey – VP of People

We wanted to create a self supporting community of leaders, motivated by their own development and that of their teams.

We divided the group into 5 different cohorts and mixed the departments to break down some of the silos and also mixed up the the personality types so they would have hands on experience of understanding how to manage difference. We looked at their aspirations as leaders, then helped them understand themselves and their impact managing different types of people.

We then went through varied programme of hard and soft skills with a support and feedback as constants throughout. This included:

  • Having difficult conversations
  • Delegation and empowerment
  • Working with diverse personality types
  • How to be an effective communicator
  • Performance management
  • Feedback & coaching
  • Information sessions about how Brandwatch worked internally.

We ended with a peer support process to ensure that they would be able to support each other effectively moving forwards.

We set up monthly feedback sessions for any managers that wanted to attend, a different member of the C-Suite and the people team so that we could offer and receive suggestions while also maintaining buy in at the highest level of the organisation.


The impact of the work is best understood by hearing what they had to say about it:

“We see managers having much better conversations, using a common language and involving us much less. When we do get involved the manager already has a clear idea of what is happening in their team. They go to their own bosses with solutions not problems and they may not realise it, but they now take themselves much more seriously as managers. As a consequence, management is taken more seriously as a whole throughout the organisation.”

On working with us: “We loved the the co-design process, CBP were very responsive to the needs of the business and the programme management process was both enjoyable and intellectually stimulating.”
Naomi Trickey – VP of People, Brandwatch

We noticed the shift increased expectations they had of themselves and how they increasingly embraced new challenges as the programme progressed.

At time of writing, the programme has been through two full iterations and awaits a third. The newest cohorts now having the benefit of the support from previous cohorts and the learning and cultural shift.

Brandwatch have moved from strength to strength and many additional internal initiatives have developed as a result of the programme, including management reading groups, a process for ‘reporting bugs’ in how the organisation is run so that organisational issues are treated seriously, formal and informal management support groups and keenly read internal blog created by one of the managers about the ongoing learning they have had from the programme. They have just purchased BuzzSumo.

“This training dispelled my criticisms, humbled me and gave me an arsenal of tools to help me be a better manager. There was so much I didn’t know. Not only did they help me realise it, they gave me the confidence to take that knowledge to my day-to-day. I’ve used this training to create my own ‘Team Contract’ session to reset the ground-rules for my team and hopefully improve communication”
Mikey Allan, Senior Manager, Brandwatch

“This is the best thing any company has given me ever. I loved every minute of the training with Jamie & Lasy. The sessions were always the highlight of my week, and I knew I’d come away from each one knowing myself a little better, which is an enormous gift. The course was a huge boost for me in terms of empathy with those with different dispositions to myself, and really helped me navigate some difficult waters. Would love to learn from them again!”
Ali Lockie, Senior Manager – Brandwatch

“As new manager Jamie and Lasy helped me understand how to communicate with my peers, I am now able to tailor my conversations depending on my audience.”
Christian Caterham, Senior Manager – Brandwatch

“It’s really helping me to feel confident in my decisions, more supported (and therefore less stressed) and better able to deal with difficult situations. I think my team is feeling the benefit of that already and I certainly am.”
Bex Carson, Senior Manager – Brandwatch

“Jamie and Lasy struck a great balance between making sure we were progressing and giving us the space and time we needed to learn from each other too. I came out of every week with my mind full of new things to think about in how I managed. The common language it’s given us as managers at Brandwatch has made some conversations that used to be difficult much easier.”
Rob Stanley, Senior Manager – Brandwatch

“I was a very new manager when I started the training. Over my twelve or so years working I’d always worked solely with just me, and my boss, in mind. Suddenly I had someone else’s career to look out for, and it was scary! Almost instantly I learnt things that felt like a lightbulb turning on – how to understand motivations and needs, and that SHOCK – OTHER PEOPLE THINK DIFFERENTLY TO ME. I know it sounds mad but the way that was framed in the first session really set me up in trusting and believing the programme. Every session I learned something that I took away and used in practice. As a first-time manager, I feel like the programme really helped establish mine and my team’s relationship at work, and I’m now using the techniques with a new member of my team, too.”
Natalie Stewart, Manager – Brandwatch

“I was a little skeptical at first, given previous management training courses I’ve been on, but Max, Jamie and Lasy’s approach was refreshingly up-to-date and different.  They all brought a supportive and challenging energy to the proceedings that enabled everyone to flourish and contribute in a way I hadn’t expected, as well as some real-world personal experience that gave the course even more of a relevant edge.  I felt like I’d really accomplished something by the end of the course and can honestly say that I learnt a lot about myself in addition to being a better manager as a result of their guidance.”
Dallas, Senior Manager – Brandwatch

“Having been on management training courses in the past I was slightly cynical at first, but I kept my mind open, and In the end I was delighted to have been proven wrong. I found it a very engaging, introspective and at times emotional experience that has changed the way I work, for the better.”
Andy Polhill, Senior Manager – Brandwatch