Culture and VUCA

14th October 2020

If lending is going to change, it must change for the better – for borrowers, for lenders, for regulators and investors.

In the second of a series of blogs, Chief People Officer Sarah Marriott explains why a winning culture is the best way to navigate the VUCA world we operate in today.

If there’s one managerial acronym which sums up the world we live in right now –– it’s this: VUCA.

First used by the US military in the 1980s, VUCA stands for Volatility, Uncertainty, Complexity, Ambiguity. For military leaders, it was a description of the post-Cold War world. For us, it looks like a useful guide to deciphering the impact of Covid on the world of work.

When we look at company culture from the perspective of fintech we know we’re on the cusp of change, a change led by Open Banking technologies. These technologies hold the key to forward-looking decisions for both industry and consumer.

It feels to me like we’ll have a better idea of the right way to respond if we view that change through the lens of VUCA.

As our CEO Luke Enock said in his introduction to this series, we’re now in an accelerating transition to a new era of data and decisioning. The change is disruptive, it’s happening at speed.

We’ve been on our own Open Banking journey for some time and we’re now starting to see the technologies which lie behind it catapulted to the front of boardroom agendas. But navigating these changes is about more than tech because without the right culture the tech is doomed to fail from the start.

You can’t buy culture off-the-shelf. When I look at the aspects of culture that have been critical to help Oakbrook both navigate Covid and make strategic progress, factoring VUCA into every aspect of our culture has been key.

Co-created by colleagues, our vision and values have guided us through the volatility of recent months – our transparent and regular communications have helped navigate the uncertainty of what comes next: while the path to get there may have shifted, we know where we’re going and what the end destination is. Having fostered a culture which thrives on continuous change, we’re well-placed to deal with the complexity involved in change at speed – whether that’s rapid go-to-market or a switch from office to remote almost overnight. Our agility has stood us in good stead when dealing with the ambiguity of a crisis, enabling us to react quickly and decisively.

Our team has taken the impact of Covid in its stride because of the investments we’ve made in giving them the support, tools and environment they need to thrive. Prioritising trust and respect means people feel comfortable with change because it’s the route to continuous improvement.

You can’t pay lip service to culture. If it is to mean anything to people, then it must be lived and breathed. What you stand for, how you treat customers and each other and how you work together must be embraced by all. When you crack it, you know great things can be achieved.

We’re extremely proud of the culture we have at Oakbrook today, we know there will always be work to do which is why we keep a constant feedback loop open with our colleagues, but the feedback we get from our engagement survey provider quarterly is that we are already Industry leading on engagement and this has been further backed up this year with our awards for: Excellence in Wellbeing, Best Workplaces for women UK, Best Workplaces for tech UK and the Overall Great Places to Work award for medium size businesses in the UK.

Oakbrook’s vision is to change lending for the better, and it’s not an empty slogan. We think we’ve got the right ingredients to navigate this VUCA world and achieve our vision. We think our coding and analytics is exceptional, our tech leading-edge. The reason is, that the Oakbrookers who make that happen are absolutely committed to making sure that our customers and partners get the exceptional service they deserve and we’re committed to continuously providing a culture where they can thrive and achieve their life’s best work.