Telecommunication | Enterprise Agility
Vodafone NZ’s Agile Transformation set out to improve its customer experience and introduce new ways of working. Radically’s team was engaged to set up foundations for the change, bring agile ways of working into the organisation and build an internal capability to sustain the transformation.
How might we create a customer-first organisation by changing the way we work and adopting an agile mindset?
Enterprise Agility – Growth of collaboration and adaptability across the business around key business outcomes
Delivery effectiveness – Measurable increase in delivery effectiveness. Increase of speed of delivery by 30-100%, and reduced costs by 15-25%
Increased engagement – Evidence in the survey run in April 2020 that engagement score had doubled among employees working in a squad
In late 2018, Vodafone New Zealand set out to improve its customer experience by adopting a ‘digital first’ mindset. Investing in agile would underpin this approach by introducing ways of working that reduce complexity, improve collaboration and bring the customer to the forefront of each decision.
With an ambitious 18 month timeframe, Radically’s team was deeply integrated into Vodafone to provide confidence and experience, initially acting as the ‘scaffolding’ for the new agile model, then building capability and gradually stepping back as Vodafone’s maturity grew.
”We were determined to bring everyone along on the journey to adopting the agile mindset that is the enabler for cultural change. A set of agile practices helped us to bring the process to life, but it is the agile mindset that has ultimately changed the business long term.”
- Katie Williams, Human Resources Director
Winning the ‘hearts and minds’ of all involved was critical to the success of this complex business change. To achieve employee buy-in, the programme was structured around four core principles: Clear Purpose, Simplicity, Pragmatic and Deep Agile Expertise, and Great Leadership.
”Agile brings together multi-skilled teams to focus on solving a customer need.
This way of working has always been in Vodafone's DNA but Radically really helped us scale it up and unlock a lot more value for our business.”
- Jason Paris, CEO
The 18-month programme followed three stages.
Company-wide agile awareness and engagement activities established a strong foundation for change. These drew on the experiences and success stories from a series of agile pilots Radically had run with individual Vodafone business units throughout 2018.
Most of Vodafone’s business units and digital delivery teams transitioned into the new operating model which was designed for New Zealand culture and business environment. Ten tribes were ‘stood up’ across the organisation, each made up of multiple squads. In total, 55 squads were created, each a blend of business and technical experts. New roles were established including Tribe Leads, Product Owners, Chapter Leads, Scrum Masters and Agile Coaches. Priority was given to Vodafone employees, and over 300 interviews were conducted to find the best internal talent.
By September 2019, nine months into the rollout, Vodafone was ahead of plan and the agile mindset now widely adopted. A new, more urgent rhythm was now clearly visible, centred on a high impact quarterly event called Big Room Planning, during which all tribes meet to align and prepare for the next 90 days.
A critical aspect of the transformation was consistent coaching and advice for all levels, from executives to tribes and squads. This helped ensure that ways of working were adopted consistently and supported the overall business approach.
“We started working in agile just 5 minutes ago, and if we look at how much people have changed in the way they work and communicate, it’s incredible. I couldn’t imagine leading the End2End squad even one year ago.”
- Product Owner
Within a year, Vodafone had achieved a high level of agile maturity. Products and services were now coming to market faster, with improved customer and business outcomes. This included a revamped online store, My Vodafone Mobile App, new Wireless Broadband products and Vodafone TV.
Employee Net Promoter Scores (NPS) doubled for the people working in the new model. Employees embraced the agile culture, enjoying work conversations that had become more meaningful, empowering and collaborative.
“When the team push back on you for the first time, it’s quite surprising! But it gives you the courage to have real conversations with leadership team”
- Product Owner
“We struggled to deliver strategic initiatives in the past. Now we make work transparent and we do something about those challenges”
- Tribe Lead
The new model created some unexpected challenges, such as managing the interface between fast-pace squads and the non-agile teams servicing them within the pre-existing structure in the. To prevent a two-speed system emerging, Radically drew Vodafone back to first principles and established new forums where leaders cold align on priorities. Cross-departmental collaboration provided the agile squads and non-agile teams with increased autonomy, accountability and alignment.
By mid May 2020, Vodafone’s Agile Practice was well established and employees were fully embracing the agile mindset and operating model. Experience also showed the value of adequately structuring squads and tribes to unlock employees potential. This allowed Radically to transition out as planned, knowing that Vodafone was in a good shape to sustainably operate.
“When squads are staffed at 80%, output is about 50% of potential. When squads are staffed at 100%, output is about 150% of potential.”
- Tribe Lead
While the journey continues, core lessons are now embedded as guiding principles, like the importance of simplifying as much as possible and working from one integrated plan.