The Joyous Republic of giffgaff

By Steven P. MacGregor


The Minister for Development arrives at the office by bicycle, and gets straight to work. Meeting the other ministries is first on the agenda today, with a number of initiatives in the offing to improve the day-to-day lives of the 250 people that make up the Republic. The Minster for Health and Wellbeing kicks of the meeting, with some good ideas in particular coming from the Minister for Parties and Good Times.

You will realise by now, dear reader, that this is not your conventional set of government ministries, rather an innovative cultural initiative to create a sense of belonging and emotional connection to something special, where culture is also created from the bottom up rather than dictated by management. giffgaff do have a set of carefully curated values designed by management: curiosity, collaboration, grit and positivity and the ministries help bring people closer together in alignment with these.

Kim Faura is the Chief Commercial Officer at giffgaff, the UK telco and number 3 employee in a company that was founded in 2009 and which now, with 250 employees, is outgrowing its fourth office location in Uxbridge just north of Heathrow. He states that the idea for the Republic surfaced when considering the number of members in the wider giffgaff community – members are used in place of customers or clients to reflect the close engagement they have with the company. They actively contribute to development through recruiting new customers, helping them with any issues once becoming a customer, and submit ideas to the company to grow the business, with giffgaff having implemented around 10% of the 18,000 ideas submitted so far. “We realised we had reached a member base size equivalent to a small European country.” explains Faura. The Republic has a national day, in June, when strategy is covered within a fun outdoors experience, a passport which is handed over during the onboarding process and which is stamped for key dates and events including the national day, and frequent Ministerial-facilitated events that cover the areas of Development, Good Deeds, Health and Wellbeing, Sport, and Parties and Good Times.

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About the Author

Dr. Steven MacGregor, founder of The Leadership Academy of Barcelona [LAB] and author of Sustaining Executive Performance (Pearson 2015) , has delivered over 1000 sessions the past 5 years in executive health and behaviour change for clients including Telefónica, Danone, IESE, IMD, and the BBC. He holds a PhD in Engineering Design Management and has been a Visiting Researcher at Stanford and Carnegie-Mellon. His executive education teaching is informed by academic interest in sustainability and design and he is an article reviewer for, among others, Industry and Innovation, Journal of Engineering Design, and the International Journal of Design Creativity and Innovation.


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