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Culture change - systems wide human connection


One YMCA has a mission to double their impact by 2025. They recognised that creating and maintaining meaningful connections amongst their teams and with service users was going to be key to achieving this. We were asked to support them in this organisation-wide culture development by creating a comprehensive strategy, and a range of tools and processes to achieve it.


It was vital that we park our existing work in this area and undertake extensive user research across YMCA to audit the perceptions and current levels of connection. We looked at what the term ‘human connection’ meant to people and how it already ‘showed up’ among team members. We identified examples of existing behaviours that we could build on across the organisation. We looked to identify the appropriate language, and the appropriate balance of personal/professional.

With the insight from this discovery work, and now including our previous work on Human Connection, we created a range of tools and training to test with internal teams. We identified ‘gateway behaviours’ that would lead to more of the right kind of human connection across work streams. We nestled these inside a bespoke framework for the YMCA culture and methods that fitted into phases of their work processes. We also developed an accredited learning programme for the organisation which has gone through three cohorts, refining the design each time.


  • Authentic Human Connection Playbook

  • Suite of bespoke 100 Human Connection tools to be used amongst team members and with their service users

  • 1 day immersion training and a 3 month accredited peer training journey to skill-up the team in this new approach – now in its 3rd cohort at YMCA.

  • Bespoke impact measurement tool

A year on, One YMCA are now scaling the work across their wider network of partners and sharing it beyond as part of a commercial franchise.

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