Flavour Night: The times… they are disruptive!
During our Flavour Night on March 31st at deSingel (Antwerp), we proudly launched our new brand: beopledd. So, goodbye Kaleido, here we come with a renewed, stronger team and a new, energizing purpose: to support individuals, teams and organisations in a volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous world. Our baseline: Beyond people, developing together in disruptive times. We welcomed a lot of guests during our Flavour Night. For those who missed it, we have prepared this newsletter on ‘Learning to adapt in disruptive times’. You can read about our EDF Luminus case on systemic development* and the disruptive insights of rock & roll icon Guy Swinnen. Enjoy!
*If you want to read more about this case, check out our white paper ‘Learning to change’ on www.beopledd.com.
EDF Luminus: VUCA urged us to change!
“We are living in Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous times,” states Henri Buenen, commercial director at EDF Luminus. “As an energy producer, EDF Luminus can speak from experience. In 2011 our gross profit took a serious hit. Shortly after, we were confronted with a dive of the energy prices. As a response, we had to diversify our offering. We introduced a number of new services for our clients, which put a lot of pressure on our customer services. The bottom line is that since 2012 we have experienced nothing but change. These VUCA times have had an enormous impact on our organisation and our people.
“Instead of resisting the change, we had to learn how to ride the waves of change. From a management perspective crucial decisions were made. But that wasn’t the most difficult part of the ride. We had to make sure our co-workers would follow the direction of change we had in mind. And to make this a success we depended upon the leadership of our team managers. So we decided upon implementing a development track that would prepare the 35 team leads of our customer services department for the three roles they had to fulfil to become real leaders: the role of the coach, the role of the manager and finally the role of the leader.”
Systemic development approach
As talent manager at EDF Luminus, Ilse Matthijssens was one of the major sponsors of this development track. “This ‘I learn, I lead’ project became an example of the systemic development approach in which we involved the whole customer services department. Thanks to a ‘scrum’ approach – taking the output from the former step as input for the next one and deciding which direction to take based on progressive insight – we made progress.
“We also took our people out of their comfort zone: made them walk over hot coals, put them in control of a flock of sheep, made them play a financial business game, provided them with 360° feedback throughout the change and gave them visibility within the organisation. Soon we managed to get the engagement of our senior management and of our team leads to make real change happen. And they kept their promise: people took ownership, they came up with suggestions and improvements, they upgraded their management skills and most of them became real leaders. This project also got noticed within the EDF Luminus Group as it became a nominated prize winner as an example of innovation. Also from a learning and development perspective, lessons were learned: ‘scrumming’ really works, systemic development supports the sustainability of the change and to make it all work, you need a partner – like beopledd – you can rely on.”
And finally Carlo and Tim, two senior managers who took up a very supportive role during the change, provided their insights during our Flavour Night.
Tim: “As senior managers, we were part of the development track right from the beginning. We were asked to support the team leads during the change and facilitate the workshops and boot camps. So we dived into the bath together and we also emerged from it together.” Carlo: “We especially learned that engagement doesn’t stop at the classroom door. There’s still a long road ahead of us. For myself, the road we walked together gave me the inspiration and the courage to fulfil one of my dreams – writing a book, which I finally did.”
Guy Swinnen (The Scabs):
“Looking at things differently and taking another approach keeps me alert”
Talking of handling disruptive times… we introduced a new guest to our Flavour Night: Guy Swinnen, for over forty years the lead singer of Belgian rock band ‘The Scabs’. We gladly dived in to his experience as a band leader.
Beopledd: “How do you survive forty years of rock history?”
Guy Swinnen: “Mostly by improvising and managing problems when they occur. During the early years of the Scabs we had to take risks, like financing our first single ourselves. As a band lead, I also had to take tough decisions when it came to choice of music and selection of band members. For example, at an early stage we moved from punk and new-wave to a more accessible rock repertoire. And we took in Willy Willy as guitarist. He also wanted to make music for a living and he added that special flavour to our live performances.”
Beopledd: “And how did you manage to stay on top of the ever changing music industry?”
Guy Swinnen: “By making sure we embraced the changes. In our early years, there was only music on vinyl. With the introduction of the compact disc we made sure we focused on both vinyl and CDs to reach our audience. With the rise of the internet and the possibility to download music we saw our income from record sales drop. On the other hand, we noticed that major bands started to focus on getting higher wages for their live performances, so we sought a manager who shared that same vision.”
Beopledd: “How did you manage to keep your music as pure as possible?”
Guy Swinnen: “All band members loved their little baby. But in the end, they all saw me as the one who had to take the decisions. So that’s what I did, although it was not always easy. When our record ‘Royalty in exile’ became gold, the record company started to interfere with our approach. Our music had to attract even more listeners and buyers. But with increasing commercial success the authentic rock and roll feel was fading out of the picture. We tried to compensate for that during our live performances. And I listened closely to the feedback I got from our audience after every gig we played. Being close to your public and staying close is key for every musician.”
Beopledd: “How did you keep group dynamics alive?”
Guy Swinnen: “The most important issues were always discussed face-to-face. I have always tried to respect the opinion of every band member. Being a good listener is, by the way, one of the core competencies of every band leader. Creating a democracy within the band is on the other hand a rather difficult thing. Someone has to be in charge and make the decisions. But I must say, the band has always supported me in this. Once we were clear on the direction in which to evolve, they let me take the lead.”
And so we experienced another great Flavour Night with lots of captivating insights in how to grow in disruptive times. The beopledd team wishes to thank all speakers and participants and we hope you enjoyed it as much as we did. And if you want to relive the good times... join us here!