When he started working at Solvay a year before, building a design studio – as a catalyst to innovate ways of working around user-centric design and agile - wasn’t in his job description, it wasn’t what he imagined doing either, it’s an idea that grew out of one of the projects he was hired for: finding a good tool for Solvay’s HRIS (Human Resources Information System) and out of working with Fréderic who visited many Fab Labs at other companies.
The old system was …well… old. Something needed to change for the employees of Solvay. Historically, previous attempts to change the system were blocked by the executive committee because of the size of investment and business priorities. Bruce joined Solvay two years before and knew he had to approach this differently. Before looking into possible solutions, he paused and made a step backward. Anyone who wants to change must first come to a standstill.
Bruce started running workshops with employees to understand their needs and wants better. It quickly became obvious that employees had a certain number of pain points that needed to be addressed. In short, employees at Solvay wanted more feedback, more mobility in jobs and more personalization in learning. Soon after, Bruce organized a “demo-day”, a full day of demonstrations by big HRIS-vendors during which twenty employees of Solvay could evaluate the different solutions. Bruce also invited some HR-tech startups, that have an answer to a specific pain point and generally have more user-centric solutions. It was immediately clear that those start-up solutions resonated much more with the employees than the big systems that provide everything and most of all, are set-up from an HR-process-perspective instead of the more appealing user- or employee-perspective.
It was the moment Bruce realized that HR needed to change from process-centric to employee-centric thinking and doing, putting the employees central in building and finding answers to their problems and needs. So they made the jump from looking into big systems towards testing start-up solutions that solve specific needs, like giving feedback. A group of employees tested solutions, gave feedback, tested again, gave feedback, and each time decided if they would go forward with a solution or stop it altogether. This series of pilots ended in the idea to organize a hackathon by and for employees to reinvent feedback at Solvay. Great ideas came out of the hackathon. But what next? Looking for a partner to create this together was not an issue, but legal constraints made it difficult to reach short term results. So they decided to create it themselves.
At the same time Bruce was reflecting on how to make a traditional company like Solvay more agile. He believed that the key to this is people. The power of the people. How can we use the ideas of employees to create the future of Solvay together? The idea of larger co-creation was born in Bruce’s mind. Fifteen people from across the business (business, IT, legal, not too much HR) were invited to the newly formed Design Studio in Paris with the goal to develop a new prototype in twelve weeks time. Another hundred employees were part of a newly created feedback panel and were consulted weekly by the team to give feedback on their work and to help decide on the name of the solution (“You”) and which features to develop. This is how the first prototype of “You” was developed.
If you want to learn more about Digital HR and the use of People Analytics in this journey, and learn from the experiences of Bruce and his teams at Solvay, then our next Masterclass will surely be something for you! Bruce will facilitate this Masterclass himself. More information and registrations here.
Early bird & KMO-portefeuille (Flanders) available.