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Andrew Thornton: Putting Heart into Business

By Randall Peterson


At the age of 42, in the midst of a successful and lucrative career as the owner of an international retail consultancy, Andrew Thornton realised he had nothing more to give to his business. He quit the agency in 2006 and used his buy-out money as a down-payment for two Budgens supermarkets in north London. When profits at one store fell in 2010, he reached crisis point. With a deep conviction that companies should have a broader focus than profit alone, he founded Heart in Business, a consultancy focused on unlocking the potential of employees, and used his Belsize Park store as a testing ground. By 2016, like-for-like sales were growing at 5% – while neighbouring stores’ figures were in decline – and the average length of service at Thornton’s Budgens was 54% longer than that of the control store.Andrew’s conviction that freeing people’s potential and creativity delivers tangible business results now had strong evidence to support it: his sales figures provided that. But even better evidence was on the way, from the global assessment and training organisation BEING at Full Potential , whose Human Potential Assessment tool measured how much human potential the store was utilising and compared it to a ‘control’ store in a neighbouring postcode. Thornton’s Budgens rated higher on every single measure.Through investing in his people with specialised coaching, Andrew had won not just their dedication, engagement and commitment, but their whole hearts and minds. By purposely trying to weave authenticity, cohesion, empathy, self-leadership, enquiry and creativity into every fibre of the business, Andrew not only raised levels of engagement – and profit as a result – but ignited the spirits of all who worked for him. In fact, it was precisely the harnessing and utilisation of his people’s passions that led to their increased productivity.

Learning objectives

  1. The case primarily illustrates how leaders can increase productivity and profits by engaging their people through unlocking their full potential.
  2. Why the best teams aren’t the ones that make the fewest errors; they’re the ones that admit to their errors and discuss them. This enables a climate of openness, where employees and managers can share problems and work together to solve them.
  3. How emotional intelligence provides the basis for many competencies in business. By building self-awareness we can better understand our impact on those around us.
  4. Why money alone does not motivate. Many leaders think that people will do a better job if they are incentivised with money. This is because the psychological assumptions that underlie the giving of money – an extrinsic motivator – to reward performance are wrong. It is intrinsic motivation that matters in order to create an enduring commitment to the work.
  5. How leaders can achieve better results can be achieved by engaging your people positively, with meaning. You need a unified, authentic purpose. To build wellbeing and performance in an organisation, a leader must ensure positive emotion, engagement, good relationships, meaning and that accomplishment can be achieved by all within it. If success is defined solely by profit, people feel little connection or loyalty to their employer.


Publication Date: August 2018
LBS Case Code: CS-18-010
Subjects: , , , ,
Pages: 3
Format: pdf