“Redesign Stories” is a series of articles showcasing the business redesign projects we took together with 5 of our key clients. Each article takes us through the journey of innovation and agility within the organisation touching upon mindset, experience, and space design. Follow the agile redesign process in the 6 inspiring stories shared in our blog.
I. The foundations - Mindset redesign
The story of how the leading mobile operator Telenor decided to adopt agile ways of working began back in 2016, following a large-scale research on customer attitudes and buying behaviour in the telecom sector. It turned out there was an undeniable lack of trust towards the telecoms among the clients. The results showed that in terms of communication and taking into consideration customer feedback, at times, the telco companies were leveled down to public administration institutions, which in Bulgaria are known to be rather ponderous and inefficient. It was at that point when the Marketing department realized that in the current digital economy there is a vast scope of tiny, yet crucial details, that make up an array of different choices for the end customer.
Here’s how Mila Kusheva - then head of Marketing and Products in Telenor and her team decided to turn their attention to redesigning the organisation for more customer-centered services and joined forces with launchlabs Sofia for a reinforcement with theoretical and practical guidance along the way.
The partnership started with some small-scale projects facilitated by launchlabs Sofia like “How to make the mobile app more user-friendly” or “How to improve the company website’s UX”. Whilst working on real projects the team simultaneously went through trainings centered around the agile methodologies - design thinking, service design, futures thinking etc. And after being able to apply more of the new knowledge like various research tools, customer journey and stakeholders mapping, the marketing team managed to bring together engineers, sales representatives and customers to a new level of co-creation.
“The marketing team is the link between the various departments of the company - engineers, back office, legal - and our customers. We aim to get as much information about the needs of both customers and employees and then come up with the most suitable products and services - simultaneously client-oriented and company-effective.”, says Mila.
II. Redesigning user and employee experience
"We have always enjoyed a high level of collaboration at Telenor, but launchlabs were the ones who insisted on radical collaboration between the teams," Mila adds. So, her team decided to introduce feedback and discussion sessions not only with customers, but with the company’s employees as well. And this led to some quite interesting results and situations. One Sunday afternoon, she remembers, during an interview with customers, an extremely capable but somewhat uncommunicative engineer from Telenor participated on an equal footing with the interviewed customers. This unveiled a massive set of ideas for small incremental changes, but with a great potential to transform the customer experience and employee satisfaction, which significantly contributed to the adoption of these new ways of working. This practice continues up to this day.
Furthermore, a strategic decision was taken at Telenor to implement service design, design thinking and agile methodologies as a key asset across the company. So 100 employees were trained and received project-based coaching. The practical nature of the designed program led to concrete results - substantial financial savings, better customer retention, improved delivery cycles and a sharper focus on customer experience, which paved the way for a true mindset redesign within the company and better end-consumer experiences with the brand.
Then in 2018, Telenor and launchlabs decided to focus on another important aspect - bringing customer needs as close as possible to the brand's promises.
“We had the globally created corporate customer personas but we needed to be closer to our local persona profiles, to know their real names, faces and live stories”, says Mila.
The brief led to a 4 month-long facilitated sprint that was focused on the translation of the brand messages with detailed customer research and precise segmentation according to real needs. The final ideas, shaped as concepts, served as a basis for the upcoming strategic planning.
III. Redesigning internal processes during a year of crisis
After having integrated agile methodologies in their daily work, 2020 led to a whole new realisation. A question of how the company might apply all the new learnings to their internal processes and especially in their strategic planning process came up. The brief was pretty straightforward until the pandemic struck and all this had to be redesigned to work remotely. Mila and her team were faced with the challenge of having to continue delivering services with no compromise whilst being separated physically as a team and at the same time to be able to focus on the long-term goals of the group.
“Telenor turned to us for the creative facilitation of their commercial division’s strategic planning process. A pretty straightforward brief before the pandemic hit in March 2020. After discussions and course-corrections, we decided to run an entirely remote strategic sprint. It was designed with tools from different methodologies to ensure co-creation from all C2 level participants, aiming to improve the overall goal-setting process.” - elaborates Kristina Petrova, Strategy Director, launchlabs Sofia.
The company had the corporate framework but it needed to be filled in with content and adapted for crisis.
“We wanted to get out of our comfort zone; to get out of the small-issue-resolving task and glance at our customers’ long-term needs. And that is a never ending process. COVID-19 continues to shape people's behaviour and we have to be ready for these changes too”, validates Mila.
After conducting several remote sprints with the facilitation from launchlabs Mila shares that her team understood how one can deliver a 12 plus people’s online workshop with high energy, everyone’s active participation and excellent flow. What is super appreciated is that the launchlabs team of experts is able to monitor and apply different tactics to include inactive participants and generally design the workshops in such a way that all participants are easily included and motivated to take part. “Your facilitation is really good. You always seek ways to make it different, up to date and truly engaging.” What Mila points out also as an eye-opener is that they’ve become mindful of who they are inviting to take part in a workshop, to think what specific value would the invited person bring to the group work.
For this five-year history of cooperation, the two companies have managed to go through numerous trainings and collaborate on various pilot projects. Which resulted in bringing the overall company performance on a higher level. From new digital distribution channels, new mobile platforms for employee services, innovative approaches for entering new sectors and better customer engagement to clarification of its grand aim - becoming holistically agile and ultimately - transforming Telenor into a successful customer facing provider. A never-ending process of its own.
“What I admire most in launchlabs’s team is that they accept every project as their own, they truly become part of the team. The customization and agility levels they bring in designing experiences for us are extremely high and if we can spread this all over, not only country-wide, but even across borders, that would be magnificent!”, says Mila.
2020 seems to be the best time to put into practice the agile methodologies that you’ve probably already come across in one way or another. ‘Why’ you’d think? Well, because it's a moment for business at unusual times - we are all operating in a sea of uncertainty and rapid changes, which at times may even feel bottomless.
But here’s the thing - we need to own this uncertainty, grow with it and become more flexible, on an individual and subsequently on an organizational level. It’s always easier said than done, but that does not mean not to take our best shot and continue to learn.
Storytelling by Mila Kusheva, Storywriting by launchlabs Sofia team.