Resilient leaders make resilient organisations - COOK UK

COOK is a UK Food manufacturer and retailer. Founder Ed Perry has always believed in doing business the right way. He believes a business has responsibility for it’s impact on people, the community and to operate in a sustainable way. As a result, COOK led the way in becoming the first large B-corp in the UK. COOK’s core purpose is to COOK For Good, creating a remarkable food business that’s a force for good in society. 

They say: ‘We don’t want to be like lots of companies. A business with a purpose beyond profit has more energy, more focus, more passion, more engaged people, and more fun than a business whose only point is to make money. We want our purpose to give people a reason to get out of bed in the morning. We want business to be accountable for creating shared value for society as a whole.”
COOK’s values are: Be part of our family, Churchill’s pig (we’re all equal), Be Remarkable, Care, Have Fun. And they mean them.

At COOK, they put money and time behind focusing on being a purpose and people driven business and are innovators in the space of reinventing business. People love working at Cook as they believe in Cook’s purpose and because Cook takes care of them by ensuring a culture of big resilient relationships.

Here’s what the UK Sunday Times Best Companies Awards has to say about how they treat people :
“This is a company that knows its staff are human beings who occasionally have a bad day. An honest approach, says COOK, which retails frozen meals, is one of the keys to building a happy workplace.

Check out what is a B-Corp and why COOK are pioneering the movement in the UK.

The firm has set out to build an “appreciative culture” where relationships are resilient, can flourish and people feel connected to each other. Forty senior leaders underwent my Big Relationships training course, and spread its key tenets through the company. First, COOK encourages employees to put themselves in their colleagues’ position, in order to build empathy and compassion. Second, it champions understanding and celebrating differences, and finally it “cheerleads” its people, appreciating their contributions.

Value awards are peer nominated and celebrate colleagues’ achievements. Last year, 5% of COOK’s profit was given back to staff. The organisation also runs a Dream Academy, to help people achieve their personal goals with the support of a personal life coach. More than 50 employees have participated to date, and achievements include writing a film script and giving up smoking.”

And the business results? 

COOK have:

  • Increased sales from 25m to 57m and profitability from 1.5m to 4m
  • In the prestigious UK Sunday Times Best Companies list have gone from outside the list to climbing the ranks to number 28 (the highest placed food manufacturer) 
  • Won the Sunday Times Wellbeing award in 2015 for work on Relationships and Values, and a Special award for Discovering Potential in 2016 for employing prisoners and positive recruitment policies.
  • Wins in the Great Taste Awards every year – in 2016 won 14 Great Taste awards
  • Won Franchisor of the Year in 2010 from British Franchise Association
  • Have an extremely low full-time people attrition rate and spend very little on recruitment as people are attracted by reputation. 

At COOK having a job means more than turning up for a pay cheque. It means being part of a work family who care and who believe in something worthwhile.

Human beings look for meaning in what they do. At work and in society. It makes them more resilient. Many people no longer want to work for businesses that are just about money: they want to work for businesses that are contributing in some way to the well-being of people and of the planet. They want to work for businesses that, while needing to make money, also exist to make a positive impact on communities, on society and on the environment. Resilient organisations.

And at the heart of what makes an organisation truly resilient? Resilient leaders.

If you’d like to discover the source of your own resilience, come to our next transformational Open Course: Resilient Leader Training January 26th and 27th 2017. Especially for Changemakers

Here’s a sneak peak inside our last training  Leadership Course 


Making Learning Awesome - Kahoot! 

About five years ago, I met two rather fabulous young men. Johan Brand and Jamie Brooker. They had set up a small digital-design agency called We are human to strategise, design and build products and services that add value to people's lives.

I was their leadership coach at the time helping them think through how to play to their strengths together and reflect on what impact they wanted to have in the world. We talked vision, purpose and direction. They realised that their big 'Why'  back then was to create new businesses that would make a social difference. They didn't know exactly how or what. But they did have courage, vision and insight. And a fire in their belly, so they pointed themselves in a direction - listening in to their wisdom and following opportunities that made sense. 

Fast-forward three years and they have now co-founded the start-up Kahoot! along with technical genius Morten Vervik and business viking Asmund Furuseth. Kahoot!'s vision is to make learning awesome and they have developed a free learning platform that is transforming learning in the classroom and at the last count have 30 million active users a month. They have also won Nordic Start-up and Founder of the year.  Here's Johan on why they did it:

I have been asked to work with them again in 2016 to explore how to support the leaders of this fast-growing and instinctive business to have individual, team and organisational flow. So far we've done some leadership workshops, individual coaching, investigated what kind of culture is needed and what part people will play to help Kahoot! thrive. Mostly I just check in, listen and act as a sounding board for whatever is needed in the moment. I try to help them see that when they access a calm, clear state of mind - the answers they seek are always inside - them and/or their people.

In my view they naturally and organically know that people are their greatest asset and they do a lot right when it comes to looking after them well. For example in August they will have their annual Kahootadoo with everyone in the business travelling in from all over the world to join together for three days of fun, focus and friendship.

Later in the year, I will be running some tailored to fit training sessions - designed to help people at Kahoot! find their own natural flow and wellbeing.

I am proud to be part of this amazing business - who are showing the way - not just on how to make learning awesome, but how to make business awesome. Watch this space. If you haven't already heard about Kahoot! - you will.