Getting your people on board with transformational change

Founded by the first Lord Rothschild in 1885, the Industrial Dwellings Society was set up in response to appalling housing conditions in London’s East End.


More than 130 years later, it’s my mission to return our 1,500-home organisation to its roots – working to meet the housing needs of Jewish and wider communities in the capital and beyond.

Every day of my 16 months as chief executive has been spent transforming our organisation: renewing our corporate strategy, refreshing our business model, reshaping our government structure, undertaking a fundamental evaluation of our stock portfolio, and – after many years of not delivering any new homes – launching plans to develop 500 properties over the next decade.

Although it’s never going to be possible to bring everyone in an organisation with you when you’re embarking on huge changes, I’ve found that you can gain support from the vast majority. Here’s how:

Buy-in from the board

From the outset, I knew how The Industrial Dwellings Society needed to be transformed, ensuring it could be around for another 130 years.

With my predecessor having been in post for more than a quarter of a century, I sensed our board wanted renewed sense of purpose for the organisation, but I needed to know what was realistically going to be possible.

During my final interview for the chief executive role, our Chair and another board member asked me to present my vision for the organisation, and I outlined exactly what I would do once in post.

When I was hired, I had a strong sense of trust from the board, which has enabled me to push ahead and deliver the change agenda I envisioned.

A historical mandate

It’s been possible to reconnect the mission of the philanthropic founders of The Industrial Dwellings Society with today’s housing crisis.

My team and I have been entrusted with honouring their original intentions during this next chapter of our organisation’s history.

Acting on evidence

One of the first things I did as chief exec was to commission the Institute of Jewish Policy Research to examine levels of social and economic deprivation, including levels of housing need, within Jewish communities in London.

The research found that Jewish households are moving away from areas including Enfield and Brent towards areas with larger Jewish populations in Barnet and South Hertfordshire.

It also confirmed that vulnerable older Jewish people are being left behind in diminishing Jewish communities, where traditional support structures are disappearing.

Now, a series of focus groups with vulnerable groups will enable us to better understand how we can provide the right housing and support.

Clear communication

 As an organisation, we’re delivering value for money for residents by using technology more effectively, and this means low level, repetitive positions are making way for more meaningful positions.

Restructures and business change are always challenging, and we’ve had to reduce staff in order to drive the efficiencies and support the organisational growth we need.

I’ve been honest with people about what the impact will be for them and their roles.

I’ve been able to show them how the new vision will help them to grow and thrive in this changing world, and given them the support they need to get on board.

Taking grassroots advice

Team workshops have shaped our organisational values and helped us to remodel our services for customers.

Staff members are clearly energised by everything that’s been going on – and they’re the people I need around me to ensure The Industrial Dwellings Society fulfils its potential to become a modern day pioneering organisation.