- 03 Jun 2009
Yet again the RHS Council is in fighting form agreeing to let the new Lady In Charge release three of her directors (Finance, Commerce and Science& Education). Did they jump with no accrued redundancy benefits or have they been promised (richly deserved) severance packages?
The purge must now be reaching its Nadir - all that is left untouched is Council / Trustees. Liberté, égalité, fraternité or in other words 'off with their heads'.
Full text from the charming, caring Sue: (I prefer Reggie Perrin)
To: All Staff
cc: President, Treasurer, Members of Council and Vice-Presidents
From: Sue Biggs, Director General
Re: The Future Growth of the RHS
Date: 28 October 2010
It is now 80 days since I joined this wonderful organisation, and during that time I have been fortunate
enough to have visited all 7 of our sites, met hundreds of our staff and heard lots of views and exciting
ideas about the past and future of the Royal Horticultural Society.
What follows has been discussed and agreed with our President, Treasurer and all members of
Council, and together we believe that the following new structure (effective from 01 November 2010)
will put the Society into the best possible shape for a strong, productive and exciting future as the
world’s leading gardening charity.
During my first few weeks, I have undertaken a review of the structure and size of the whole
organisation, including a detailed analysis of the senior management and directors’ teams, with the
core objective of positioning ourselves effectively for growth.
I was struck by everyone’s infectious passion and commitment and the fact that all have certainly
been working hard. But we need to be more focussed, deliver more results and work together as a
team – instead of working in the now infamous silos.
These are difficult times for any business, but it is doubly hard for charities, where the tough economic
climate has led to declining income from a downturn in spending on “luxuries” – these might for us
include attending a Flower Show, or a beautiful garden, making a donation or becoming a member.
Add to that the increasing costs in our overheads, and we are indeed facing challenging times ahead
for our financial stability and return to growth.
I have thought long and hard about the changes we need to make in order to be as efficient as
possible to weather this current tough economic climate, and to achieve our objectives of increasing
our membership and becoming relevant and accessible to a far wider audience. It is simply no longer
possible to ignore the fact that we have to change. We must therefore:
1. Move to a flat organisation - straighten out our convoluted reporting lines, creating a clear
division of responsibilities and sole accountability for the core activities of the RHS. This will
lead to faster decision-making, less talking, more action and results, more world class
innovation, more members, more income and therefore more valuable charitable works.
2. Create a more commercial culture – everyone has a part to play in this, directly or indirectly.
Negotiating a deal, bringing in sponsorship, saving money by working out a smart new way to
do things, being aware of waste and caring enough to do something about it. We can all
contribute to a greater or lesser degree towards generating more income to do more great
things that really matter.
3. Cut costs – our current costs are too high compared to our membership base, or our
aspirations for projects.
4. Build a new spirit – one of energy, momentum, positive drive and achievement towards an
exciting future that leaves the problems of last year behind us.
In order to achieve these objectives, we need to restructure the Society, enable a commercial can-do
attitude to grow throughout the organisation and reduce our overheads – whilst retaining the
unquestionable standards of excellence in all things horticultural, and our treasured position as a
historic Learned Society. Regrettably, this means we can no longer justify or sustain the current size
of our senior management team.
2. The New RHS Structure
Attached is a single image that represents the way the RHS will be structured in the future. Seven
core pillars of activity have been created, aligned for more logical and cost-effective delivery. They
support the roof of our guiding principles, and are underpinned and supported by strong foundations
that strengthen our very core. The new approach will allow the Society as a whole to work under one
Leadership team, with one strategy, joined-up goals and clear ownership that will move us forward to
The central and largest pillar is Horticulture that will always be at our very heart, and arches over
everything that we do. There is no longer a Commercial directorate as commercial responsibility has
now been allocated to each specific specialist area across the Society.
Our Seven Pillars are:
Members, Art & Media
Community & Development
Our Foundations are:
Our Core is: To be the world’s leading gardening charity, by inspiring passion and excellence in the
science, art and practice of horticulture
Our Guiding Principles:
These will be finalised by the end of this year and everyone will have the opportunity to contribute
towards their creation.
1. Our Pillars
Each pillar, or division, is detailed below, bringing key areas of activity under one holistic line
of ownership and accountability, creating one voice, without duplication of time or cost:
Gardens – James Rudoni (Director)
Curatorial (except overall horticultural standards which sit within Horticulture)
Heads of Site
Adult and Children Learning in the gardens, Families & Events
Catering for all garden outlets
Retail – Will Havercroft (Head of/Senior Manager)
Book & Gift buying
Licensing – images & products
Shows – Stephen Bennett (Director)
Catering for Shows Sponsorship for Shows (except Major Shows Sponsorship that sits with Community &
Development to ensure sole ownership of corporate funding)
Horticulture – Jim Gardiner (Director)
Horticultural standards throughout the RHS
Horticultural Trade Relations
Curatorial (for overall horticultural standards only)
Accreditations, Qualifications & Bursaries
Members, Art & Media – Dan Wolfe (Director)
Libraries & Collections
Editorial - online and magazine
Publishing – magazines and books
Science – Roger Williams (Head of/Senior Manager)
Advisory & Diagnostics
Conservation & Environment
Community & Development – Ruth Evans (Head of/Senior Manager)
Fundraising – Corporate; Statutory; Major Donors; Membership
Sponsorship – Major Shows Community Outreach – Campaign for School Gardening; In Your Neighbourhood; Britain
in Bloom Affiliated Societies
As a result of this restructure, James Rudoni becomes Director of Gardens; Ian Le Gros is
confirmed in his position as Head of Site & Curator at Hyde Hall, and Hayley Monckton is
confirmed in her position as Head of PR. I am sure everyone will join me in congratulating
them on their well deserved promotions, and in wishing everyone mentioned above the very
best of luck with their new responsibilities and challenges ahead.
2. Our Foundations
Finance & IT – To Be Advised (Director)
Finance including Business Analysis
IT – hardware, software, telephony, helpdesk
HR – Kerry Smith (Head of/Senior Manager)
Training & Development
Health & Safety
3. Changes in the new Organisation
The new organisation chart for each division or pillar will be available on the intranet on 01 November,
but as a result of this restructure, I regret to advise that the following members of the senior
management team will be leaving us:
1. Gordon Seabright, Commercial Director
Gordon recently completed a nine month period as Acting Director General, and has stayed in
post to help ensure a smooth and successful handover. He has been an excellent
Commercial Director since joining the RHS in 2006, but with the senior team now moving to a
new structure, Gordon feels this is the perfect time for him to move on to a fresh challenge. I
appreciate his help and support enormously, and hope that we will still be able to work on
projects together in the future.
2. Simon Thornton-Wood, Director of Science and Learning
Simon has been with the RHS for 13 years, and has established a world class reputation for
horticultural science. He led some incredible scientific projects and his legacy here includes
the amazing Plantfinder book, and the Advisory service for which the RHS is renowned. In
later years, Simon developed a passion for education, and his dedication to this led to the
creation of the Campaign for School Gardening which today teaches the joys of gardening to
over 12,000 children. We look forward to working on special projects with Simon in the years
3. Sarah Buxton, Director of Finance & IT
Sarah has taken the opportunity of this restructure to take a well deserved short career break.
After 8 years with the Society, her care, commitment and passion for the RHS has always
shone through, and her hard work, particularly in the Finance sector, has been much valued
by all of us. She has always impressed by demonstrating her flexibility, integrity and
professionalism in her work and been prepared to take on extra challenges. We warmly wish
her every success for the future.
We look forward to welcoming them all to the Chelsea Charity Gala Preview next May, and of course,
to many other RHS events.
In addition, the following roles will be merged in the new structure:
1. Head of Finance and Head of Business Analysis (roles of Mark Farrar and Fiona Russell)
2. Editor in Chief and Deputy Editor (roles of Ian Hodgson and Chris Young)
3. Publisher and Sales Manager for Hort Halls (roles of Fergus Wilson and Maugie Lyons)
The following roles will be removed in the new structure:
1. Head of Publishing (role of Susannah Charlton)
2. Policy Adviser (role of Abigail Page)
On behalf of Council and the Directors, I would like to thank all of the above for their hard work,
commitment and valued contributions over many years.
This new structure for the Society is now complete and there are no plans for any further changes.
However, no organisation can ever say “that’s it” or that there won’t be the necessity for further
changes in the future if our circumstances alter. The People Plan, Pay and Benefits review and work
around these will all continue as normal, and it is now time for us all to look to the future - our best
protection against a need for any further such actions is to improve our performance, both individually
and as a team. We must always be looking for ways to deliver the quality, excellence and tight
financial controls that will be the hallmark of everything we do at the Royal Horticultural Society to
ensure our growth and success far into the 21st century.
A new Leadership team
The new Leadership team of ten will be made up of:
Sue Biggs, Director General
James Rudoni, Director of Gardens
Will Havercroft, Head of Retail
Stephen Bennett, Director of Shows
Jim Gardiner, Director of Horticulture
Dan Wolfe, Director of Members, Art & Media
Roger Williams, Head of Science
Ruth Evans, Head of Community & Development
Kerry Smith, Head of HR
Director of Finance & IT
7The first key meeting of this group will be on 2 November, after which we will communicate further
information on the new way forward for the RHS including communication, strategy and values.
This group will have clearly defined authority and accountabilities. Performance indicators (KPIs) will
be introduced and measured for all divisions, and will cascade down from the clearly communicated
strategy and financial budget. We will meet weekly for an “operational/trading” meeting to ensure the
whole organisation is co-ordinated and moving forward together, with further meetings introduced at
all sites to ensure communication to all is swiftly and dramatically improved.
A bright future together as one RHS
I believe we now have the right structure and size for our amazing organisation to move forward andgrow with energy, passion and excitement into the 21st century. We have an incredible heritage both
as a Learned Royal Society and a renowned charity that we will always cherish, but now we have an
even more thrilling future to create. The drawing of our new structure shows the part we each play in
this, and it’s now time for everyone to join up together as one strong RHS team. We’re all in this
together and we need to do everything we possibly can to generate the income that allows us to
deliver amazing gardens, shows and collections; to achieve all of our important and inspiring
charitable objectives relating to the science, art and practice of horticulture; and bring today’s society
all the community benefits we have only just begun to deliver.
For too many years, our membership numbers have been static and so have many of our shows’ and
gardens’ attendance figures. This is now a time for inspiration and leadership, creativity and
innovation, confidence and positivity, cost control and efficiency, focussed investments and the
measurement (and celebration!) of all our achievements, and for putting the member or customer at
the very heart of everything we do. I have been amazed by the incredible charitable projects we
deliver but modestly shout so little about, and that will be a core focus going forward – to create a
visible presence and an emotional attachment with our existing members and future members, so that
they want to be involved with us and help us achieve our goals. I am passionate about ensuring we
deliver more for our members and more to our communities, as I know many of you are, but that
needs for us all to be the very best we can, to be positive people with energy, speed, commitment and
a can-do attitude with integrity where nothing is impossible. Do you fit that description? I value these
behaviours and know the vast majority of you do too, so let’s all tolerate nothing less and make the
RHS a better place to work!
Put quite simply, all of this is because gardening matters, because we can make a difference to the
way we all live, and we’ve got lots of great things to do together. I look forward to sending you Part 2
of this email after our Leadership Team meeting at the beginning of November. This will include a
clear update on Strategy and the direction we’re going in, our values and vision for our successful and
sustainable future, and a timeframe for these to be completed. The aim will be to have all this work
finished this year so that we can focus 100% on delivery and growth in the new year.
Until then, please pop in, give me a call or send me an email if any of this isn’t clear or you’d like to
give me or any member of the Leadership Team any feedback at all. We will be coming to visit all
sites very soon, so until then,