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Holacracy – an innovative management practice for organizations

During Gdynia Design Days and Design Talks Business Summit, I had a chance to participate in a workshop about Holacracy run by Ewa Bocian – a partner at Dwarfs and Giants, an innovation company which is organized in a holacratic way and its mission is to help shape the future of work.

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Source: Harvard Business Review

Source: Harvard Business Review

For those who are not familiar with holacracy, let me introduce you to it shortly. It is one of the alternative ways of managing a company by replacing the hierarchy. Holacracy makes everyone an entrepreneur. Everyone is a partner in an organization with dynamic roles to take and a purpose to realize instead of a static job description. The company is organized around circles (projects) which consist of people with supplemental roles.

In holacracy, nobody can tell you to do something. You are your own boss and you decide how you would realize your purpose as long as it does not violate the common rules.

Together with other participants we took part in a simulation of a tactical meeting. We could see the IT system used for managing projects. We had a few volunteers who played a few roles at the meeting. There was a secretary of the meeting and a facilitator (Ewa) who helped to moderate the discussion. The rest of the  workshop participants were able to observe everything. Ewa (facilitator) took us through the tactical meeting, one of the two types of meetings which is arranged in every project circle.

It usually takes a few weeks to get accustomed to holacracy as people have lots of habits to change during job meetings. For example speaking whenever you feel there is a need for it. In holacracy you speak at your turn and otherwise leave the stage to others. We could observe how the participants were struggling with it.

We did not have enough time to go through the process in detail but this short sample gave us a chance to experience it on our own.

If you would like to see the example of tactical and governance meetings, check Springest company videos on YouTube e.g.:

I must say I was impressed by the order holacracy brings to the meetings, how it gives space to everyone and enables meetings to move forward even if there is a strong need of some participants to give advice and digress. From my experience, the latter is usually the main reason for unproductive meetings.

Whether you implement holacracy or not, there are certainly things which you can take from it. For example how you organize your meetings. Creating common rules and nominating a meeting secretary, as well as having a facilitator, really help.

If you are searching for examples of companies who use holacracy, a fascinating example is Gore: https://www.gore.com/about/working-at-gore Interestingly, Gore is also one of the most innovative companies. Does an innovative way of working mean that innovation flourishes? Or is it the other way around, innovation provokes an innovative way of working?

To fully understand and work in a holacratic way takes weeks or even months but I am really glad that I had a chance to try it and would recommend you to do the same. You can find more information on the HolacracyOne website:  https://www.holacracy.org/holacracyone 

For those who would like to go straight into the details, I recommend studying the Holacracy Constitution available here: https://www.holacracy.org/wp-content/uploads/2015/07/Holacracy-Constitution-v4.1.pdf

Additionally, check this TEDx video with the founder’s story to get a quick understanding of how it works:

My main take-away, if you are about to start your own company or you are already an entrepreneur who is willing to share the profits with others, holacracy is definitely worth considering. However, if you are working in a hierarchical organization with bosses who would love to have full control over its finances, I do not believe that this approach will have a chance of being successful. One more thing is definitely needed in order to apply holacracy, it is trust in your employees’ competencies to get the job done. If you do not believe that anyone in your company can play their role independently, there is no point of even trying holacracy.

Written by Cecylia Kundera

How design might help business thrive? – Gdynia Design Days and Design Talks Business diary

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Gdynia Design Days is a one-week design festival in Poland at the seaside.

It offers unlimited possibilities to explore the newest trends and good design practices via exhibitions, speeches, meetings or workshops. Among the events, there is also an extraordinary  two-day conference, Design Talks Business, created to discuss the contribution design can make towards business, give opportunities to learn and try different practical tools, listen to tips from design experts, and share your own experience with others at networking sessions.

The conference started with an inspirational session by Fjord Trends 2019, a purpose – driven guide for the future by IDEO and design for circularity in IKEA. 

You can check Fjord trends online: https://trends.fjordnet.com/

What is particularly interesting is that this year there is one theme which links all the trends together – people are searching for value. 

Among trend summaries I would recommend having a closer look at the Fjord one as the authors said that they managed to spot lots of possibilities to innovate within it and in the next 1 to 5 years the upcoming changes are going to be spectacular. 

Here is the mentioned overview of Fjord trends 2019:

Charlota Blunarova from IDEO München, took us on a cruise towards the future. As IDEO does best, she taught us through storytelling the importance of purpose as a guiding North Star. The company’s purpose is the reason to exist beyond profit. Why is it worth having it clarified? The purpose can improve our vision. It can accelerate our strategy and foster our values. It also powers performance, attracts talent, and builds edge. The purpose builds company culture which is a competitive advantage that cannot be copied. Purpose exists on three levels: organization, team and self. 

She left us with a small task to do. She asked us to think about the purpose of our team: What do we enable?/ What do we serve?/ Why does it matter? and then write it down: 

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I would recommend using this task at the beginning of our personal or work-related projects and have it visible throughout it. 

During the 30-minute break, there was a chance for networking and discussion at the theme-focused tables . For example, the participants could take part in a signal analysis session from which I took away the interesting example of a signal flashcard:

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The next block of talks was built around case studies. Slavo Tuleya from a Slovakian agency, kiuub studio, told us about the adventures of building in-house innovation labs. Usually, the need for innovation starts with the need for becoming agile. 96% of companies realize that they need to be agile. They got inspired by some examples such as Uber, Airbnb or wework and then decided to give it a try and arrange some budget for it. However, this traditional approach is not always successful. Although there is a team of business, design, and tech people with lots of money, there is no execution, skill, or stakeholder buy in. 

Slavo emphasized the need for an alternative approach called Skin in the game. This approach is outcome driven (not activity driven) and is based on objectives with the risk of ruin. There should be some money and time constraints put on the Innovation department as well. He also admitted that the agency might bring help here. However, if the company thinks seriously about innovation, it should make it its own competence.

Alistair Ruff from PDR International Centre for Design and Research told a story of how they helped Kenwood create the Internet of things thanks to research: starting with technology, market, trends and themes analysis to participatory research, ethnographic observation, context driven observation and questionnaires.

Mikołaj Molenda from Tylko.com shared with us the story of how he created his innovative furniture company by changing the currently dominant business model and linking designers with customers directly. They even go further allowing customers to design their furniture on their own. Thanks to this, Tylko is able to meet client needs better.

Design Talks Business Summit also offered workshops. I was able to take part in two workshops. I will share my take-aways from one of the workshops with you in my next post as I didn’t find the second workshop very inspiring. 

The next edition of Gdynia Design Days and Design Talks Summit is planned for next summer but the organizers promised more opportunities for design meetings throughout the year so it is good to stay tuned and check the websitehttp://gdyniadesigndays.eu/en

 

The key take-aways from POLISHOPA Design Thinking 2019 conference

POLISHOPA is the biggest Design Thinking conference in Poland, two days of interesting lectures and two days of workshops, 16 experts from different fields and 4 speakers from abroad. It was the sixth edition. You can find more details on this page: https://polishopa.pl/

I recommend signing up for the newsletter to get information about the next edition in advance.

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It was the fourth time I attended this conference and this time I had a chance to participate in the lecture days, so-called Revolution & Innovation Days. I will share my key take-aways with you.

Year by year I see an increase in the quality of this conference showing that the knowledge and interest about Design Thinking is growing. However, as one of the presenters (Dymitr Romanowski) showed, although the popularity of Design Thinking grows, web searches for the term “Service Design” decrease. It seems there is still a lot to do regarding educating people on what service design is in Poland.

This year the healthcare and financial sector was highly present. There were representatives of Santander Bank and mBank as speakers. Piotr Sałata from Symetria spoke about how they created a more user friendly vindication platform by Kruk. Adrian Chernoff from Johnson & Johnson spoke about how they solved the challenge of helping patients with diabetes improve adherence and outcomes thanks to patient-led innovation and user centricity. They developed the first diabetes app in the US – OneTouch reveal app.

The participants also had a chance to listen to the story of creating a restaurant in Krakow – Handelek by Socjomania. Silke Bochat told us about implementing and scaling design and design thinking in FMCG companies. Piotr Chojnacki from Allegro (“Polish eBay”) told us how to scale the UX in a large organization without losing the consistency of user experience. Radosław Ratajczak from SHOPA explained how they designed the user experience of Olivia Garden – 8270m2 in one of the skyscraper offices in Gdynia. Tey Bannerman from McKinsey & Company shared a story of disruption at Pizza Hut. Olga Bońka from Motorola Solutions Systems told a virtual lesson of empathy for a dog.

Among all of the mentioned lectures, my key learnings are described below.

If you want to introduce Design Thinking to a company, don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness. In Santander Bank, Andrzej Pyra and Jakub Tyczyński simply started organizing Design Thinking workshops. The more people took part in it, the more they wanted to work using Design Thinking methods. What is more, product owners started to ask for their help in managing the whole process in the end.

Empathy is key for making a change. Empathy also makes the transformation last after the Design Thinking project finishes.

Design Thinking is just one type of method used for innovation, it is good to be familiar with other methods such as business model innovation (more in the picture below) as well and juggle with tools and methods depending on the project and its phase, company, and situation.

Innovation methods graphs

Once introducing Design Thinking, there is usually a phase of skepticism which takes up to 2-3 days, it is good to simply overcome it. We also need to understand the cognitive biases and “stamp them out for innovation’s sake” as Mike Pinder from Board of Innovation advised.

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Mike Pinder also had an interesting definition of MVP: “ MVPs are a way of asking questions about critical assumptions within the features of your concept and business models”.

Piotr Chojnacki from Allegro (a company with 20 million users and 100 million offers and over 150 processes) listed three key points to successful scaling in such a large organization:

  • Diffused structures of teams who work in agile way
  • Local innovation within the global structure
  • Consistent user experience

Silke Bochat presented John Maeda’s list of the top 8 skills that designers need to understand in business as well as the top 10 emerging trends that have the biggest impact on design published in Design in Tech Report.

The Top 8 skills that designers need to understand are the following:

  1. Product Roadmap Strategy
  2. Company strategy
  3. Retention/ Engagement metrics
  4. Conversion Metrics
  5. Funnel Acquisition Metrics
  6. Revenue Model
  7. Financial Metrics (i.e. Revenue margin etc.)
  8. Resource Allocation

In terms of the top 10 emerging trends with the biggest impact on design, here is the list:

  1. AI and machine learning
  2. Augmented Reality
  3. Virtual Reality
  4. Behavior tracking and modelling
  5. 3D printing
  6. Distributed teams and virtual workplace
  7. Democratization of design
  8. Algorithmic design
  9. Crowdsourcing and open source
  10. Facial and voice recognition

For those who are interested in the newest Design in Tech Report, here is the summary of it: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Czq2j4p924s

She advised to start implementing Design Thinking with a small project with a limited budget and low risk. Deliver value from it as early as possible. Then promote it if it becomes a success. This gives more chances that it will persuade the decision makers to scale it.

She also recommended to try this canvas in practice: https://www.xplane.com/designops

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Arian Chernoff from Johnson & Johnson recommended answering what, when, where, how and why questions once solving the challenge. In terms of their diabetes app, the answers look as below:

We…

why

…make diabetes easier to manage…

when

…to improve patient adherence and outcomes..

what

…placing the patient at the center…

how

…on a connective cloud ecosystem…

where

…by personalizing experiences.

Dymitr Romanowski explained the role of empathy in health care and shared the results of the projects Human Behind Every Number:: https://humanbehindeverynumber.com/

This is how the project is explained on the website: “Human Behind Every Number is a non-governmental organization that provides research, insight and education on the first-hand experiences of patients involved in clinical trials. In today’s active research industry, our results deliver clear information to industry professionals that will help shape the development of clinical trials around the globe.”

This website gathered patients’ stories throughout their patient journeys which might be helpful for designers working in the Health Care sector.

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From the story of creating Handelek, a restaurant in Poland, I walked away with a feedback tool –  a physical one in the form of a board in the restaurant as well as a virtual one on Instagram. They called it  the card of transparency with Your opinion, Status and What we changed. It obviously helps to deliver real value to customers.

Here is the POLISHOPA summary by professional illustrator, Agata Jakuszko.

Polishopa summary

I would recommend this conference to any DT enthusiast. See you in 2020 in Bydgoszcz, Poland :).

Author: Cecylia Kundera

Takeaways and reminders from SXC18

Service Experience Camp is not just another conference. Thought by service designers, for service designers, it is a 2-day “unconference” whose new edition always tops up the previous ones thanks to an amazing selection of design leaders as speakers, a passionate and proactive audience of practitioners, and a long list of carefully planned details that make participants feel like they don’t need to worry about anything else than just enjoying rich conversations and an inspiring atmosphere.

Gathering around 300 people from all over Europe on the first weekend of November, unfortunately this year’s edition – the fifth –  was announced to be the last. Perhaps this was the reason why its bar-camp, a grassroots format to provide participants with an informal space to run their own sessions, was so successful.  In fact, throughout the two days participants held a total of 30 open sessions, alternated by keynote speeches, networking moments, and delicious meals.

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One of the sessions run by participants

 

Before SXC18: Service Design Tour

This year, the conference program was preceded by a day-long Service Design Tour across 4 Berlin-based service design agencies. Having planned a longer stay in town, as soon as it was announced I immediately reserved a spot to discover different agencies approaches to service design and collect insights on how they overcome their most pressing challenges.

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The Service Design Tour kicked off at Service Innovation Labs

 

Starting the day with a breakfast in Kreuzberg, we first spent a couple hours at Service innovation Labs and then moved to Aperto by IBM. After a quick lunch on the way we visited Fjord, and lastly, Idean.

Here is a summary of my key insights from the Service Design Tour.

 

  • Impact beats enthusiasm

Whether we mean “impact” as financial, societal, environmental, or most often as the effect of our work on the client, the random and enthusiastic use of design thinking in business contexts seems to have come of age, leaving room to an increasing tendency towards making sure our service design efforts have a meaning and leave a long lasting, positive footprint not only on our users and clients but also (sometimes) on a larger scale.

 

 

  • The rise of new professional roles, a.k.a. what the heck is a business designer?

Something that really caught my attention concerns the rise of the new role of business designers, which just a bunch of years ago was not common at all. Perhaps due to the two world of business and design increasingly leaning towards each other, not only all 4 agencies we visited have business designers in the team, but they are actively recruiting more! Hence, upon investigation, I now understand a business designer is someone who is in charge of researching, testing, measuring and implementing a range of business related aspects into the service development process (like business models, service pricing, etc.).

In addition to business designers, another emerging professional role seems to be that of legal designers, as in those figures who take care of different legal aspects to take into account in innovation, and that are no longer engaged as an external party as in the past. In facts, it seems like almost all agencies we visited, regardless of stressing their core value proposition around service design, try to build a team of different professionals whose aim is to address and overcome challenges in the innovation journey from many different points of view.   

 

  • Team work

As opposed to the classic consultancy offering, most of these service design agencies seem to believe in building up (internal) multidisciplinary teams around a challenge, rather than allocating individual consultants to project. I really liked learning about this, as I strongly believe that sharing the joys and sorrows of a winding road with someone that has your same mindset leads to greater results.

 

Service Experience Camp 2018

Following the past edition theme “struggling for change”, this year focused on the topic of “crafting delight”, meant as the art of crafting experiences that delight users.

 

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Top 3 talks

Like in the past years, this edition’s content was very well curated from A to Z. Yet there are 3 talks that, in my opinion, will stay memorable:

1) Designing for Future life events  – Karolina Kohler, Lead Design Researcher @ Kaiser X Labs

Having never worked in the insurance industry nor bought myself an insurance, I had hardly reflected upon how different the characteristics of an insurance service are in comparison to any other service. Through her fun, engaging speech, Karolina Kohler walked us through her reflections on how aspects like value proposition, touchpoints and loyalty require a different approach in designing insurance services. In facts, in this context the purpose is not to delight users with enjoyable experience, but rather to provide concrete and efficient help whenever a tragic moment in life happens. And since that future tragic moment is something people prefer to not think about and that, by definition, is unexpected, insurance services are like “buying shoes that you receive yearly updates on, but never wear”, “or buying a movie by only knowing the title but without being able to watch it before the next 30 years”. Through a bunch of simple examples we all realised the design of insurance service runs on completely different premises than any other services!

 

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Karolina Kohler, Lead Design Researcher @ Kaiser X Labs

 

2) How making accessible services benefits all users – Alistair Duggin – Head of accessibility @ Government Digital Services UK

1/7 people in the world suffers from disability, and with an average of population age continuing to rise, it is likely that sooner or later disabilities will affect us – either directly or indirectly. With the mission of designing digital services that any citizen in the UK can use, Alistair Duggin reminded us how solutions designed for extreme users may positively impact other “less extreme” users. For instance, providing users the option to indicate whether they prefer to be contacted via written text only, they not only remove barriers for people with speaking impairments, but also for people who can’t answer calls during the day or that have very limited time to check their phone.  

 

3) Future-proof design for urban mobility in growing cities – Hanna Kops, Head of Experience @ Transport for London

Starting her speech with a blunt statement: “design is not about solving problems, it is about creating a space for people to experience something differently”, Hanna Kops set the stage in no time, walking the audience through a few important moments that marked the interesting story of the London tube. One of these is when the first pocket map of the tube was distributed in town: it was visual, tangible, and it helped people have a reference when defining London’s boundaries. By including all tube lines – from the central ones to those that touch upon the greater London geographical area, this first version of the London tube made people living in the most remote outskirts start feeling like they belonged to the city. “If the tube gets me home, I am a londoner too”. By redesigning the way people would experience public transport as a public space, over time London created a culture of public transport, by design.

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Hanna Kops, Head of Experience @ Transport for London

 

Cool hacks

During the conference I spotted a few practical example of cool workarounds that people have come up with to overcome their daily challenges.

  •  Lost in Jargon

The airline industry, like any other industry, is packed with acronyms and abbreviations. To deal with complex jargon, Maria Lumiaho and her team at Finnair created a Slack bot that, upon request, will suggest what these acronyms stand for whenever being lost in jargon during a meeting.

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Finnair team’s slackbot to navigate through acronyms and abbreviations

 

  •  Spread the news

To deal with complex stakeholder engagement, Frankie Abralind from Sibley Memorial Hospital hospital came up with the idea of making weekly postcard-like micro reports of his team work’s status updates and started distributing them on desks of key internal stakeholders, with the aim of informing them and making them feel like their involvement counts.

 

 

Takeaways and reminders

 

  • Stakeholder management goes beyond PR, a.k.a. design for perseverance

 

In a session about stakeholder engagement, we all found each other on the same page in facing lots of difficulties engaging with people in the organisations where we work. The conclusion drawn during this sessions was that we should apply some simple tricks like inviting people for coffee or having a smoke together to set up a space to communicate informally. I must admit, I was pretty disappointed about it. In facts, stakeholder engagement needs to push itself way beyond the basics of PR to really be effective. Thankfully, later Frankie Abralind reminded us during his talk that no matter the environment where we work, the only way to break through is to be persistent, make and update internal stakeholder maps on a regular basis, and create ownership over progresses by keeping everyone informed. In a nutshell: try, try again, and again.  

 

  • Will ethics in design ever go beyond recommendations?  

 

Two years ago I was sitting in the main room listening to a talk about ethics in design. In this edition, two years later and in the same room, here we go again. For how interesting it always is to listen to different people’s perspectives on the topic, I couldn’t do but noticing that in the meanwhile conversations about ethical design are still where they used to be, meaning they haven’t really moved beyond a set of general recommendations about aspects to take into account. So the question is: will they ever?

 

  • The measurement tension

 

From these two days, it emerged really clearly that nowadays everybody is busy measuring the tangible and mostly the intangible (yes, against all odds even More Than Metrics has fallen into the measuring trap), yet everybody is still struggling to prove the value of service design and having troubles showing that we are actually able to bridge concepts to implementation.

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A snapshot from a session of SXC18

  • Many in distress make the sorrow less

 

300 people is not a huge number. However, the audience at SXC18 was a very specific crowd of passionate people who are deeply involved in practicing and advocating for service design, from an organisational to a a global level. To this extent, the fact that that the service design community might not be enormous, but that on the other hand is very active, collaborative and dedicated was a good reminder. No matter how challenging our journey as practitioners can be, it made me feel like we are all allies in driving a disruptive, powerful mindset change.  

 

Service is the new value. Most interesting case studies from SDN conference (2017)

Service design is creating a new mindset. After SDN Global Conference in Madrid and case studies of new services we can acknowledge that this specific approach to build organisations and their DNA and offer for customers is spreading the word. In this post I want to show most interesting cases from SDN conference to memorise this time and SDN awards winners and those honourable mentioned.

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Continue reading

Employee experience – same same, but different?

 

In the global conference of service design network, held in Madrid last week, theme was service design at scale. Why was employee experience one of the topics that rise into discussions for the first time at this scale? Is employee experience the same as wellbeing of employees?

Service design is known to be really good in problem solving: creating services, that answer the customer´s unmet need.  But characteristic to this era is that all organizations struggle with large scale implementation especially in non-digital services. Number one reason why change initiative fails is employee resistance and management behavior. In service design terms, delivery phase, but more commonly known as implementation, is the phase, where the recognized reason for failing is the lack of employee adaptation. One answer to this is working with employee experience (EX), which brings service design from strategic level work to practice and explores the topic from the employee, but also from the business side as well.

Continuous change, fast pace of technology development, new tools, channels and methods has led to a situation where employees are really struggling with their workload and are feeling overwhelmed. They are drowning in the amount emails and information coming and are often stuck in ineffective meetings. More and more is added, but are the existing processes and working methods supporting the wanted need?

 

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Slide by Carla Rocha Mohairs , Businers, to point out the the different wants that affects on the employee experience

Designing employee experience can tackle the challenges. It means organizations need to shift their focus on understanding employees´ needs and start designing concepts and solutions from this perspective. If you are now thinking free beer and candy bars, I want to high light that EX investigates it from a far wider perspective: What are your people thinking? What do they say to you? How do they feel? What do they actually do? After understanding the reality and their unmet needs, we should be thinking how can we relief our employees work? As I wrote in my previous post, integrating systems and channels and designing something the future can design further are definitively aspects to consider together with the development of culture and way of working.

Scaling service design

Day one of 10th global service design networks conference kicked off today  by a presentation how to scale service design in government and was ended by the afternoon´s breakout sessions concentrated in social innovation and people power. Louise Downe started by going through themes emerged inside the last 10 years in the field of service design (SD).  Focus has moved from the legitimacy of service design and how to define, what service design is all about, into scaling service design. But still, even today, legitimacy of SD is still recognized as a common problem organizations face, when they start applying service design. Free tip Louise gave- don´t waste your time on this, focus on doing it.  kuva sdn

Louise  and other keynote speakers made really good points by highlighting that the fast pace of technology development has outstripped the speed of design. Design can´t keep in the pace of technology development. It´s not about designer´s ability to design services, but about the ability to scale the design as the transformation is never done. Therefore it´s critical to understand, there are no big fixes, but many little things to be combined. When you scale SD, all the little things become bigger and ultimately the end result and experience can go completely wrong. Continue reading