How is Orange developing its digital culture?

The digital transformation is at the heart of Orange’s strategic plan and its “digital and human employer” promise. The company is a frontrunner in the development of ambitious programmes that aim to develop the digital practices and culture of its employees. Aim: get everyone on board regardless of their job role, position, age or level of digital maturity in order to enable each and every employee to play a part in the 4th industrial revolution.

What are the objectives of Orange’s digital transformation?

In a world that has been transformed by digital, Orange wants to make digital a lever for its transformation towards progress, better quality of life at work and employee development. The company’s “digital AND human employer” ambition is to guide each and every employee in this transformation by way of a series of voluntary programmes that it began launching in 2014 – a process that we have accelerated over the past 2 years on account of the fact that we live in a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world that demands speed and agility.

Additionally, Orange has been one of the first companies to sign an agreement, in September 2016, making official this strong commitment and affirming its desire to start all of its employees off on their own guided digital transformation journeys. This agreement is based on striking the right balance between realising potential opportunities (chances to collaborate provided by the internal social network, improved work spaces or individualisation of employee experience, etc.) and ensuring protection for employees that takes into account the possible risks associated with the use of digital technology.

What are the challenges associated with this transformation?

It is our desire to be able to provide Orange employees with the same great experience we want for our customers by making use of our innovative culture and digital expertise to benefit their daily lives. However, teaching people to use digital technology is just one of the challenges associated with the transformation. The other more difficult and time-consuming task, which we are now focused on, is cultural.

This involves changing our methods of working, our ways of managing, our behaviour, in all sectors of the company, while also integrating technological and societal developments such as the aspirations of “Generation Y”, which exhibit a different kind of relationship to work and companies. Finally, the aim is to simplify our operations and strengthen exchanges and collaboration between everyone involved with the company with a view to transforming our relationship with our clients.

What are the core aims of your cultural transformation programmes?

Our first acculturation programme was structured around three main areas:

  • Communication to raise awareness of the transformation’s objectives and help our employees adopt and prescribe the products and services we sell to our customers, familiarising them with social networks and teaching them how to use digital tools properly, while also informing them of the potential risks.
  • Training, one of several essential levers required to successfully transform skills. Training offered a new, autonomous digital learning method supplementing our business school and Orange Campus management training courses.
    These two aims were supported by the launch of Orange’s Digital Academy that enabled each and every employee to acquire a common base of knowledge on digital and take their own interactive “digital course”, at their own pace, at the end of which X employees out of 75,000 received their digital passport. MOOCs like “decoding code” and COOCs on new skills for community managers complemented these schemes. 

And what was the third component?

That was trialling and testing. These are the pillars of our employee promise that guarantee useful skills for the future, develop our collective agility and encourage everyone to be engaged. This component hinges on our strong belief that having people “do it themselves” is a very effective way of getting new ideas adopted. In order to develop it further, we have launched numerous locations that enable employees to test out new collaborative, creative and open methods of working: “code rooms”, “digital labs”, a “WorkLab” and our Villa Bonne Nouvelle “Corpo-Working” space that has now spread to other Orange sites. This lab for testing and learning about future work organisation types operates on a “seasonal” basis and combines internal project teams, startups and freelancers together in one community of about 60 people working in accordance with the processes of collective intelligence.

Our internal social network, Plazza, which has been open to all Orange Group employees as of 2015, also helps to smash our internal silos by cultivating a spirit of sharing, engagement and collaborative exchanges between different departments, hierarchical levels and larger entities in the group. Today, there are over 9000 active communities across Orange France.

I heard that you have also launched an innovative “digital ambassadors” network...

The aim of this initiative is to ensure that no employee is left behind. It comes in response to two formal commitments that we made in our 2016 company agreement: to ensure that each and every employee has enough time to learn how to use digital technology autonomously and to organise exchanges and opportunities for skills transfer between employees. It embodies the spirit of both the digital culture codes as well as our digital AND human employer model.

These 1000 digital ambassadors led by a hundred or so ambassador managers are voluntary workers. They all share a sense of curiosity, a craving for all things digital and a desire to pass on their experience, but also wish to learn more themselves through collaboration. They agree with their manager to set aside a portion of their work time for training their peers by educating them in uses and techniques as well as on different subjects that build on the work of the Digital Academy: social networks, Orange apps, connected items, innovations arising out of Hello Shows, the employee work environment, etc. We believe that this network – with its values of sharing, solidarity and intergenerational interaction – is a real lever that can help our transformation.

What other recent initiatives have you led?

There are just so many different ones to choose from. This abundance enables us to reach all the different categories of people who make the Group what it is, while digital enables us to target the specific interests and operating methods of each of these categories of people. Here are a few examples of what I am talking about: in order to develop future digital skills, we are putting training/acculturation schemes in place and even running internal programmes to retrain staff in Data, Design Thinking and agility.

These two initiatives are part of a new learning experience that tries to teach digital culture using digital means:

  • the Orange Learning programme, which is offering people a new kind of learning experience. Each and every employee can play an active role in their evolution by planning their own skills development journey and training themselves to use new devices whenever is convenient for them.

  • Learning Expeditions organised for managers to instil innovative practices and go beyond the current limits of the company.

As a way of enhancing our culture of innovation and intrapreneurial spirit, we launched the OZ Employee Innovation Programme at the end of 2017. A result of this is that every employee can express their ideas about continuous improvement/ innovation, participate in collective challenges and apply for our “Intrapreneurs Studio” – an internal incubator aimed at developing innovation projects. The "Little Factory" programme is targeted more firmly at “generation Y”: employees under 30 who are motivated by a desire to change the world and are keen to experiment with new, simpler and more effective internal methods of working. The next project we will be launching is an experimental immersive learning initiative giving Orange employees a sample of life in a startup. Conversely, we will also be testing solutions provided by startups on new topics like culture development and collective feedback...

Allowing each and every employee to surprise themselves, to come face to face with different ways of doing things, to experiment, to emulate, to promote cultural learning/intermingling and take initiatives are just some of the many levers that can help employees understand more, adapt seamlessly and join the revolution we are currently experiencing.