Archive by Author | liisapoussa

Can big organizations be agile?

For big companies, change is hard and slow. No news here. However, corporations that are successful, keep up with the change. How is it done? A few quite interesting points were raised at an event on how to engage your customers in developing digital services organized by Helsinki Region Chamber of Commerce. The event was held on December 10th, 2018 and we heard keynotes from Harri M. Nieminen from Kesko and Mirette Kangas from Yle. In both organizations, service design or design thinking methods were adapted in order to drive change and develop value for the customers. I was keen to hear how change is driven in big organizations, like Kesko and Yle.

Kesko’s Lead Service Designer Harri M. Nieminen shed a bit of light to the way Kesko has started to utilize Service Design methods. As digitalization keeps accelerating, the role and power of the customer grows ever more – and in order to stay in the game, corporations, both big and small have to understand the customer. Understanding the customer is the key to provide excellent customer experience, always and everywhere. This is what Kesko is also aiming for. With his designer team, Nieminen is supporting the organization in building up winning customer experience and a seamless connection between the brick and mortar business and digital services.  

Founder of Agile Company Culture Accelerator Mirette Kangas talked about how YLE has transformed their company culture. At YLE, developing company culture is tangible and practical everyday work. Not a program or a project.  It’s all about learning together and curiously utilizing different models and methods. Part of their mindset is also to share the tools used for others to try as well.

Keep the processes light

To me it seemed that at Kesko, they cherish agility throughout their design processes.  To start with, they emphasize the importance of framing the problem in every project. The key question always is: What are we trying to solve and are we actually looking at the right problem? After the framing and solutions and ideas, they proceed quickly to prototyping. Instead of making it a huge and time-consuming project, the testing phase would, ideally, come in the third day of a three-day sprint. Experience at Kesko show that people are surprisingly willing to give their time and participate in developing new services. So, instead of waiting for the investment decision for a prototype, the insights can be gained through light means as well. The idea is to get things rolling quickly.

At YLE the agile company culture is built on experimentation too. And as Kangas emphasized, it’s not just building it, the culture is also changed through experimentation. However, it has to be systematic, not just experimenting for the sake of it. The point behind all these activities is to ensure YLE’s competitiveness in digitalization. The focus is in the future and innovative methods are implemented in everyday work.

How to succeed?

Design methods, experimentation and keeping your eyes in the future. What else is there to keep in mind, when transforming a large corporation? Both Nieminen and Kangas had some useful tips to share. Here’s my summary of their most valuable points.

  • Ensure things get done. When starting a project, make sure there’s ownership in the organization. Otherwise things might just hang loose in the air.  
  • Keep the customer in mind, always. When developing a new service, keep asking how the customer has been involved and what’s the feedback.
  • Base the change of an organization on voluntariness. It’s the basis for growth and mutual learning.
  • Leadership matters. The leader must reflect every day whether s/he is a preventer or promoter.

By the way, if you want to read more about the event, there’s another blog post about it here.