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Posted by Sarah Brown on 26 Oct '23

Being human not corporate - the road to success

Last week, I did something for the first time: I went to a planning committee meeting. I didn’t have high expectations. I thought I would be bored and it was unclear how long I would be there so the parking cost was £10.50! So why did I go, and why am I writing about it?

The technical reason is that as Chair of Stainton Parish Council, I went to support the local quarry run by Breedon to get planning permission for an extension to the quarry.

Breedon is now one of the largest aggregate suppliers in the UK, employing 3,500 across the UK, in Stainton, it employs around 40 people and indirectly supports many more jobs through haulage and specialist support services provided to the quarry.

Despite not looking forward to it, I went because I knew the planning permission was vital for the continuation of the quarry. They, the people at Breedon, needed my support, and I went and spoke for them. I did it because Breedon really is a good neighbour to the village. Yes, they donate to the local community, but it is much more that it is a real relationship. We are working together to ensure the village and the quarry thrive – the village is named after stone and has been by the quarry since Roman times when we provided aggregate for the Roman roads.

We are neighbours who can ring up to talk about problems like lorries using the wrong sat nav and getting stuck down lanes; it is more than a liaison meeting type relationship; we hugged when the planning permission was granted, and I was genuinely delighted. Their jobs were safe, and we had been able to help, repaying some of the support they had given us.

Other local villages spoke in support, and a planning committee member said what a joy it was to have such positive submissions and support from the community, the first time he had seen such a thing during his years on the committee.

But the relationship was in place long before they needed the planning permission, and the beautiful way they are reinstating nature across the quarry has been going on for years.

They do stuff that comes under CSR(Corporate Social Responsibility), but Breedon does it because it is core to their business, not as an extra. It does not feel corporate; it feels caring, concerned and interested.

Here are some tips that have come from considering why this relationship is so successful:

Five tips for better relationships between organisations

  1. Fundamental is understanding each other's objectives and level of interest so that you pitch how often and how and what you communicate about - a good starting point is mapping your relationships (see our section on stakeholder management or the blog link below)
  2. Make sure it is a two-way relationship with both benefitting ( see our collaboration optimiser and search for more about collaboration across the website you can even download the tool)
  3. Use a mix of communication routes, not all formal, just like you would with a friend or colleague, and make clear what is likely to work or why there might be delays
  4. Keep it human - organisations are about the people in them even in this digital age with increasing AI (artificial intelligence)
  5. Build rapport by using the four levels of communication. You will feel closest to the people you feel able to communicate with at all levels, but don't rush it:
    1. Greetings and platitudes e.g. hello did your journey take long
    2. Sharing facts e.g. My job involves, I come from etc
    3. Sharing opinions e.g. Isn't it great that ...
    4. Sharing emotions e.g. I was scared coming to this meeting because I knew no one


Whatever the type of organisation, focus on what you have in common and together, you can help each other be more successful.

Being Good is a way any organisation will be a success, and it has been my obsession since I started writing my book “Winning by Being Good” several years ago. And this planning permission is part of the evidence that being “good” does help you win. Rather fittingly, since Breedon is in the stone business, my fundamental tool outlining the elements of being Good explained in the book is the ROC©!

Finally, I am about to publish my book, and will be working on it over the coming months for publication in 2024.

To find out more about it and how you can Win by Being Good, follow the links below:

How a wheel became a ROC to support you in achieving your business goals

The Responsible Organisation Charter Audit

Stakeholder mapping or who do you really need to talk to?

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Tags: csr ROC winning by being good