Big target. Different approach.

CooperVision is one of the world’s leading contact lens companies, serving eye care professionals and lens wearers in over 130 countries. CooperVision is committed to helping people around the world see better every day.

Their Goal:

Create a one team approach with Customer Acumen at the centre. Customer acumen is commercial acumen applied to customers and is evidenced by commercial account planning and value-led customer conversations.
The hypothesis was that improving customer acumen would shift the team from “transactional with every customer” to a “strategic focus with fewer customers.” This represented the fundamentally different approach needed to achieve such a big target.

CooperVision designs and manufactures innovative, high quality contact lenses, conducts ongoing R&D in optical science, and collaborates with eye care professionals to identify the evolving needs of contact lens wearers. CooperVision has helped improve the vision of millions and become a trusted global leader in the contact lens industry.

CooperVision Australia New Zealand (CVANZ) developed a five-year strategic growth plan to mature the organisation through greater discipline, process and data. CVANZ’s ambition was to increase CV contact lens wearers to 600,000 and achieve #1 market share. This ambition required CooperVision to double the number of its contact lens wearers over the period.

To be the future leader, CVANZ’s Managing Director knew the organisation needed to mature and become more adaptive to change. She knew that engaging leaders to the strategy was critical for maturing the organisation. She knew her commercial team needed to shift their focus from product to customer. Finally, she was clear that this was something outside the group’s skillset. They needed a partner.


Many leaders are challenged to deliver significantly bigger outcomes, but few choose new approaches. For most it’s easier to push themselves and their teams harder along the known path to success rather than consider new paths (or new vehicles!). Exceptional leaders recognise that new mindsets, skillsets, and toolsets are required to deliver supersized results. These leaders know they must make fundamental changes and recognise that leadership is a key lever of organisation performance. They identify a handful of core issues which typically include:

  • “We need greater ownership and accountability”.
  • “We are stuck in the business, not leading the business”.
  • “We are not good at executing”.
  • “We lack bench strength”.
  • “We need new capability”.

While it may start as a list, they see these as interconnected parts in a greater whole. They understand that systemic challenges need systemic answers, not stand-alone solutions. They value integrated roadmaps that demonstrate how to get ‘FROM here TO there.’

These exceptional leaders look outside their own organisations and industries for best practice examples of success in relevant areas. They value evidence-based approaches that are grounded in solid frameworks and repeatable in multiple contexts. They know that “leader-led” change is a key to success and are willing to be personally vulnerable. Finally, they know that structured feedback, and process over time are fundamental for sustained change. They want a leadership system – finely tuned to help execute their unique transformation.

Taking a systematic approach helps them capture value: 
  • Companies using a leadership system achieve their 3-year objectives within +/- 10%.
  • Organisations that address each of the 4 high performance areas: Direction, Culture, Growth, and Execution are far more likely to be in the 30% who succeed with major change.

CVANZ is a product organisation that has earned the respect and trust of both optical practitioners and wearers. Interviewees described the culture as customer-centred and task-focussed. Strong customer relationships are built on a broad field sales force mandate. The sales team does everything from in-store servicing through to marketing support and education. As a result, in field tactical activities/campaigns overwhelm the opportunity to set up more strategic business partnerships. There’s an opportunity to better leverage research and academic papers to differentiate CV as the premium offering in the market. Demonstrating an understanding of the key drivers of the customer would enable CVANZ reps to move beyond the product specialist role. 


The team achieved 99.4% to budget target and grew 10.5% vs prior year. The business is growing at 1.5x the market and 2x that of their competitors.
Commercial Team:
A noticeable shift in the toolset, skillset and mindset of the commercial team. 
Growth Mindset:
To leadership team notices an organisation-wide shift in mindsets and behaviours from “I can’t do it” to a growth mindset focused on solutions, “I can’t do it YET” or “how can we fix this problem?”
The Marketing team have shifted to courage over comfort. “We are always changing, …and we have to be able to adapt & pivot to move forward… this occurs through an open (growth) mindset”.
“The Business Acumen program delivered by the Lighthouse group helped our sales team take the next step in their evolution. It provided the models and knowledge to better understand the customer’s whole commercial landscape and make the leap from just a supplier to a valued business partner. The sales team have embraced this new way of thinking, having greater impact in every call they make.”
Andrew Henderson, Regional Sales Leader

A deeper exploration of the mindsets and skillsets across the business identified three clear improvement areas.

  1. Business Alignment (starting, but not ending, with the Leadership Team). Survey data highlighted the need for better collaboration, more communication and the need to break out of silos. In addition, the planning process needed to provide focus & prioritisation (“we need to do fewer things better”). Finally, more clarity was needed on how functions feed the strategy. “We need a sense of contribution to strategy beyond a view on ‘how I do my role’. How does my role / function interact with the others in the team?”.
  2. Business and Customer Acumen. Diagnostic results showed a multi-faceted need to engage differently.
    • A big picture view was needed both internally (‘clarify my role in the business and the things I can do to maximise CVANZ outcomes’) and externally (‘deepen my understanding re: commercial drivers for my customers so I can add more value to the relationship’).
    • A need for a more commercial approach to sales planning, customer conversations and value proposition.
    • More customer influence (‘I need to put a more influential case forward’).
  3. Growth Mindset. CVANZ benchmarked in the Middle 50% of Growth Mindset Culture. To achieve it’s ambitions, the organisation needs a mindset shift in various ‘pockets’ of people with respect to effort, challenges, feedback and failure. 

Based on this detailed understanding, we co-developed the CVANZ Leadership System – an integrated series of initiatives executed over 12 months. 

  • MD Coaching to guide the leadership and change agenda.
  • Leadership Team Navigation to align the Executive Team on direction, culture, change, and execution.
  • Customer acumen program for Marketing, Sales, and Key Accounts teams to enable commercial account planning and value-led customer conversations.
  • Leader-led Growth Mindset Program comprised of 5 short online modules, individual growth mindset experiments, and prescribed growth mindset discussions for team leaders to hold with teams. 

The timing and contents for each were customised to CVANZ’s Commercial Plan.

To strengthen the focus on application, we broke the group into Action Learning Groups who were encouraged to meet and review their use of new skills. Group members encouraged everyone to practice and reflect on the outcomes of their endeavours.

“What got you here won’t get you there.”
Marshall Goldsmith


Explore all aspects using FROM-TO analysis: 

We use a robust Discovery Process with our clients to dive deep into the current situation (FROM) and identify the targeted future state (TO). This discovery process is critical to develop a program that is well-suited to the needs of a diverse group of professionals. This data are used to source and design the examples and scenarios used in the program. In addition, the “FROM-TO” analysis provides the criteria by which we measure the ROI achieved on the program investment. 

Alignment comes first:

Too often organisations fail to achieve alignment on the 4 high performance areas: Strategy, Culture, Growth, and Execution. These are typically not agreed at the Executive Leadership Team level and mostly treated as independent topics (“HR is deploying a Culture program”; “we’ve got an offsite scheduled to refresh our strategy”; the sales team are developing next years growth agenda). The top 2 leadership groups need to be aligned before anything else proceeds.

Integrate the parts: 

It’s easy to overwhelm a group with myriad programs, coaching sessions, and webinars. Anchor all elements of the roadmap to key operational activities/cadences/measures and desired commercial outcomes. This approach ensures each investment has clear rationale’ and ties learning to everyone’s actual day-to-day work.

Don’t forget mindsets: 

Individuals, teams, and whole organisations operate out of a series of mindsets – ways of looking at the world. In most cases these mindsets remain beneath the surface and go unexplored. Surfacing these and making them explicit is critical to achieving real change.

“We are kicking goals and continuing to evolve. Thanks for your support in 2022.”
Michelle North, GM CVANZ


Senior Leaders who need to achieve step-change results need a systematic way to align the organisation, change mindsets and capabilities, and empower the whole organisation to try new things. Once the system provides a clear roadmap, confidence and execution follow. This results in a more agile organisation that can achieve its stretch targets.

Written by:

Peter Nankervis

Managing Director

I’m passionate about developing integrated Leadership solutions that help guide CEOs and Leadership teams to accelerated success. My strength is creating clarity for people and making Leadership practical to systemise transformation and business outcomes.  Let’s discuss how to get started in your business.