Change and Agility
Sometimes a group of people come together and create something wonderful. This case study just touches the surface for the culmination of a project that became the perfect storm to end an intense 12 months of transformation. The team worked to a very tight deadline, pivoting, and adapting to changes in direction. They weathered a lot of turbulence as they challenged standards and expectations. Despite the intense pressure, and perhaps because of it, the team that managed the AGL IST Expo would all say that it was a highpoint in their careers.
AGL Energy Ltd is public company listed on the Australian Stock Exchange. AGL are involved in both the generation and retailing of electricity and gas for residential and commercial use. They have a legacy of over 180 years providing electricity to the Australia market.
What was required
The Future IS&T team, led by our CEO as program director, had implemented a contemporary operating model and defined new ways of working for AGL’s IT group. In conjunction with the leadership team, they had also developed the framework that underpinned the operating model and defined new ways of working.
We were asked to create an exciting and different way of communicating and working together and to deliver meaning across IS&T about the new ways of working and how this had shifted because of Future IS&T operating model changes. We also wanted to build trust in leadership engagement and were looking for ways leaders could play a key role as tour guides for their teams leading them through the experience.
Finally, we wanted to reinforce ‘safety to speak up’ by demonstrating our interest to listen to our employees and providing an opportunity for 2-way feedback.
What we did
We conceived the idea of an experiential Expo with the theme of an ‘airport’ experience to lead our people through a journey and set them up with a ‘Passport to success’.
The expo consisted of fixed booths highlighting specific areas of IST, as well as short, interactive presentations with guest speakers on key topics. At the end of each experience, people had the opportunity to test themselves against what they learned in a fun and interactive way, earning stamps on their ‘passport’.
To turn this into a reality, we planned, created, and delivered the experience in just over 30 days with a core team of just 3 individuals through an agile mindset and agile ceremonies and behaviours.
In the Planning Phase, we identified key processes that had changed dramatically because of the operating model changes. We identified 4 persona types that represented the main IT roles. We held HCD storyboarding workshops and cajoled the Process Owners, core working group members and interested parties to identify how each persona would engage in the ‘to be’ processes and what the WIIFM statements would be for each persona.
In the Create Phase, we worked iteratively with key stakeholders, our change manager, and our creative designer to illustrate the E2E processes and to identify interactive opportunities for each of the “Process Departure Gates” to highlight the change meaning. This involved daily stand ups, visual boards for each gate, and for the project overall, and a communication and change management plan to get the message out to over 600 IS&T employees across a distributed network. We created a “drop-in” project space that became a hub and hive of activity for the 30 days leading up to the event.
In the Deliver Phase, we ran the Future IST Expo “Passport to Success” in our Melbourne offices over 3 days to showcase new ways of working and the new operating model.
From a collateral perspective we delivered executive level communications, companywide digital graphics for our information boards, weekly leader communications, electronic Boarding ticket style invitations for over 600 employees, floor decals for the centre of the EXPO departure gates, an electronic “security” boarding gate, Gate departure board information unique to each process gate, an E2E stylised graphic of the new ways of working, social media cut-outs for photo bombs, employee passports with key messages and much much more.
The Expo was the most well-received in AGL’s history. It created a sense of excitement, alignment and purpose as well as generating a lot of interest beyond IT for the new ways of working. From a long-standing staff member who had been with AGL for over 30 years, he said, “This is the best way of engaging the team, it’s exciting and you have knocked it out of the park!”. Another comment was: “This will be hard to beat! What an amazing way to engage us!”
The major change that was demonstrated through the Future IST program and the work undertaken was the major shift is open and transparent conversations with staff, at all levels, feeling ‘safe to speak-up’ and engage with areas of the organisation that were otherwise unknown to them. Courageous conversations were also a positive change with leaders learning how to have a difficult conversation in a respectful and mindful manner.
Processes that were previously considered as the ‘dark art’ of a team were available for staff to understand how they worked and how to engage more effectively. We created an online body of knowledge that could be accessed by all IST staff, allowing self-service of information. Never before had this level of open engagement and transparency had ever been attempted or achieved which is a testament to this change program.
It also won 3 medals in the Melbourne Design Awards 2019 for graphic design illustrations and type, live marketing event and video.
Most importantly, parts of the IS&T family that normally did not get to see the light of day, such as purchasing, procurement, cybersecurity, people, had an opportunity to share their story and create a commitment to new and better ways of working.