Digital is transforming work organisation and management methods. Yet during this period of change in which new work models are emerging, is the deployment of technology and digital processes able on its own to dismantle traditional work schemes and achieve the agility that all companies are looking for? At Orange, we also apply the social innovation dynamic to human beings – the second pillar of our digital and human employer strategy
In business, social innovation means being agile
We are living through a planetary alignment of sorts that is seeing three trends converge:
- a societal change altering employees’ aspirations and recentring their professional motivation around whether they see their work as meaningful and/or interesting.
- companies’ need to be more efficient, faster, more in line with their customers’ needs and better able to managed the risks associated with their market activity;
- the emergence of new forms of work organisation coming out of the world of IT, which are fuelling the growth of agility-based methodologies.
Driven by the development of digital technology (digital nomad tools, enterprise social networks, e-learning, etc.), agility can thus be described as a lever giving employees that little bit more power to act, that little bit more potential for self-expression and that little bit more opportunity to take the initiative. Agility enables companies to deal with their weaknesses such as silos and command and control management structures and switch their organisation and working methods for newer models.
Digitalising working methods does not always generate agility
No matter what some people may say, technologies, methods and rituals centred on the technical aspects of operational agility are not enough if you want to generate true agility – that requires awareness and active acceptance. Agility can only deliver on its promises when accompanied by teamwork and when it is firmly rooted in the company culture. When done properly, launching an internal social network like Orange Plazza works as a powerful catalyst for collaboration. However, there will be no chance of achieving agility as long as workers remain convinced in their belief that working in an open space is not a prerequisite for simultaneous “collaboration” on the same project.
Capitalise on human support to develop an agile culture
Here at Orange, we have chosen a top-down, viral approach when it comes to addressing transformational change. First of all, senior management work to change their own culture and then the example they provide serves to drive transformation lower down the chain of command. With this in mind, we nominated 120 “change makers”. These community ambassadors for the agile culture put its theory into practice on a daily basis and work to make it fit the organisation. They have a direct line to the President on whom they can immediately call as soon as an obstacle appears on their path. The managers we are training in new agile management models are similarly instrumental to the whole process. We are also experimenting with future working methods in our WorkLab and encouraging employee innovation and initiative-taking (the innovation portal, the OZ employee initiative programme, etc.).
With any transformation, the human support factor is key to developing an agile culture – the hard part is changing human logic. We measured exactly this during our Villa Bonne Nouvelle experiment. We knew that we would have to build a place where people could work collectively and make it fun, too – a task we entrusted to our new dedicated Feel Good Manager.