Guest blog: Measuring our mutual value

How can co-operatives and mutuals identify and communicate consistently the total value that they create? Peter Hunt, Managing Director of Mutuo and Andrew Haigh, CEO of Newcastle Building Society provide some insight into The Mutual Value Measurement Framework. 

Peter Hunt, MutuoThis article was first published in Society Matters magazine

One of the greatest challenges for co-operatives and mutuals is to be able to identify and communicate consistently the total value that they create. Being the only framework designed with co-operatives and mutuals in mind, The Mutual Value Measurement Framework allows all mutual organisations, including building societies, to do this.

The Framework uses six dimensions to cover the unique areas of value that mutuals generate, but they are all linked:

Mutuals from a range of industries have applied the Framework in Australia, the UK and the United States. They have used and integrated the Framework into a wide range of important business activities including, but not  l limited to, enhancing business strategy and communications, aligning priorities of various stakeholders, and improving member relationships.

In a world where corporations are inspired by mutual-like language and portray themselves as purpose-oriented,  the Framework gives mutuals an authentic shared language when communicating their total value to members,  other mutuals, and wider society. 

To find out more, go to www.mutuo.coop

Andrew Haigh, Newcastle Building SocietyMutual Value Measurement in Practice

Andrew Haigh, CEO Newcastle Building Society

As with all things for Newcastle Building Society, our experience with the mutual value measurement (MVM)  Framework starts with purpose.

We’re a purpose powered organisation: We “Connect our communities with a better financial future”.

Purpose is at the very heart of our organisation, it is our ‘why’ and in many ways through  the five pillars that describe our purpose, our ‘how’. The nature of purpose – the reason for which an organisation  or group exists - when applied at every level of a business, across its processes, its behaviours, and its decision  making, can be a powerful tool for transformation.  

Because mutuals exist for their members, commitment to a  customer first, purposeled, delivery and decision-making approach, with absolute clarity about what it aims to deliver for customers, can work to great effect. The model itself gives licence for purpose execution in its most  authentic and impactful form, where value may be defined across a much wider spectrum than product and price alone.

Even so, getting to the point on our own purpose journey, where our strategy and our commercial deliverables  could be aligned wasn’t an overnight process. It took time, and requires constant reflection and reappraisal to  ensure it remains current and relevant to changing member needs.

But as part of this journey, we also needed to understand how a purposeful business could not only measure its performance and impact, but also think about  strategy in a way that went beyond the standard metrics of financial organisations and investor models. 

That journey was without doubt helped when we came across MVM. 

As an early adopter of the framework, there wasn’t a great deal of practice to draw from, in our industry or in our  geography. We literally went around the world to see how others were using MVM, looking first to Australia, here the model was originally developed by BCCM and Monash University in Melbourne and had started to be implemented in a variety of mutual and co-operative industries. 

The MVM framework considers how a mutual’s  activities add value under each of six dimensions and assesses the relative balance of each dimension. 

It does not necessarily follow that a mutual will excel in each dimension – the result very much depends on the focus of  the business and the interests of the membership community that it aims to serve. However, when the MVM process was applied to Newcastle Building Society, the framework showed we had strong evidence of value  delivery across all dimensions. Taking this historic perspective on our performance and mutual value  generation,  we began to wonder: how could we use the framework to help us identify our future direction and opportunity too?

By cross referencing our purpose and the strategic pillars that deliver it against the MVM measurement  categories, we started o better define our focus. And having this focus and a hierarchy for our strategic delivery, we moved on to examine where we were already making a difference and to understand the potential scale and  impact for value creation in our priority areas. An iterative approach to refining the distinct areas of value delivery  led us to develop eight themes that would define our strategic journey for the years ahead and focus our path towards those activities and goals that would deliver a real difference for members, powering highly valued customer relationships, which in turn become the power behind the commercial success that sustains the  business. That’s what we call being, “Powered by Purpose”. 

In that way the MVM framework has become a valuable strategic tool at the senior leadership level of the  business. In addition to helping us articulate our ambition over a long-term view and helping facilitate discussions with our Board, it also provides a common language for leaders and  a narrative to share our ambition with  colleagues, while holding ourselves to account with members. 

The process of applying MVM has provided a  meaningful starting point from which we can also begin to explain the inter-connection between a whole range of metrics. Our net interest margin, our fantastic net promoter score  and leading customer experience standards; the value  we create from our extensive community activity. What  used to sit as discrete areas now knit together as a single strategic story. 

But the real value of MVM is how it can be used to create something quite unique even within the same industry.  Just as no two mutual businesses are the same, so the MVM process draws out different findings and directs  towards different goals dependent on the context and priority of the mutual business involved. 

The MVM has guided us in establishing clearer, more explicit and more focused measures and ambitions to aim  for. We intend to share progress against these with our members and wider community as a more meaningful statement of progress and success.

Our journey is really only at its beginning, but we are encouraged by where it can take us.

To find out more about the Newcastle Building Society, go to www.newcastle.co.uk