Designing better careers for top talent at Sky

Sky TV camera at sports event

How might we provide our people with fulfilling careers at Sky?

Sky’s leadership team wanted to reimagine the Employee Experience, particularly for their more junior employees. After analyzing employee satisfaction data, they noticed a spike in employees leaving within 1 to 3 years of starting the job. Genuinely interested in WHY people were leaving, they decided a human-centred approach to innovation would help them to better frame the problem and quickly develop innovative solutions.

Did you know?
75% of employees are unsure if they plan to stay at their organization for the next 5 years (2019 Bureau of Labor Statistics Survey)

The approach

1. Learn design thinking

An experiential workshop that enables teams to learn design thinking while applying it to a challenge.

2. Field research

A deep dive into key ethnographic research techniques and planning how to get started.

3. Expert guided sprints

A Sprintbase sprint coached by El Tong.

4. Implement

Concluding the sprint, a session to plan next steps and how to get buy-in.

Learn design thinking

Learning the principles of design thinking through a half-day experiential workshop

Before diving into the sprint to tackle Employee Experience, we brought each of the team members together for an action-packed day of learning. This experience enabled participants to:

Field research

Extreme users

After learning the principles of design thinking, we helped the Sky team kick off their design sprint by going deeply into empathy building. One of the more helpful tools we used was interviewing extreme users. Extreme users are outliers, those who don’t fit the norm when thinking about a ‘regular user’. Identifying extreme users is a great way to run less interviews that reveal more insights!

Leveraging their data, they were able to get a clear sense of who their extreme users were. Some of the questions that set the foundation for them were:

Field Research

Interviewing for empathy

After identifying extreme users, Treehouse’s El Tong led interviews with Sky team members in attendance so that they could see best practice before conducting the remaining interviews themselves. The team used templates to draw pictures and image cards to capture stories of what they were hearing and the feelings and reactions of those being interviewed. One of the key findings was that people had extremely different feelings about their work based on where they were working; aesthetics, cleanliness, feeling connected were all major players.

Insights & HMWs

Reframing the challenge

The team uploaded all their findings throughout the field research stage to Sprintbase, allowing them to consolidate their work and stay on track as they executed the project alongside their day-to-day activities.

Moving forward from field research, they formed insights and reframed the challenge with new ‘how might we’ questions.

El Tong, Project Lead

“The first time around, the team formed several insights that were safe and familiar with solutions already baked into them; so I made them go back and start again. The second time around, they formed revealing, non-obvious insights that really addressed the challenge. That’s something great about using Sprintbase, you can go back and see exactly what you’ve done and why you’ve done it, then make changes if needed.”

El Tong
Project Lead


Thinking big

After reframing the challenge based on deep user insights, the team began brainstorming. In their first brainstorming session, the team generated 100 ideas. They captured the ideas in the platform and prepared to vote the best ones through.

Charlie Tomlinson, HR Business Partner, Sky

“After adding all the ideas, it was time to narrow down the best ones by casting our 25 votes, and it took two rounds to get it right. The first time we did this we played it too safe. The ideas were all quite similar, all very practical and within our influence to implement.

Luckily for us we had our coach from Treehouse, who challenged us and encouraged us to be bolder. The ideas we landed on the second time round were more innovative and pushed boundaries. It was obvious everyone in the team felt much more excited about them.”

Charlie Tomlinson
HR Business Partner, Sky


Building an experience

Prototyping the ideas was a big challenge! (It normally is). Although the team was great at quickly developing storyboards, it was a struggle for them to think about making a prototype for something intangible. “How do we build an experience?” was a common expression.

One of the challenges was getting the teams to imagine something other than an all-in-one app that would fix everything. To address this challenge, we ran an in-person prototyping session at the Sky offices using only arts and crafts materials – and we barred technology from being present in the solutions with “Imagine it’s 1970” as our mantra!


What’s next

The Sky team concluded the sprint by going through exercises that asked them to look ahead. They considered what the organisation might look like should their ideas become reality, created a business model canvas to explore feasibility, and even built project roadmaps to outline how they could get buy-in from the greater organisation. Our final coaching sessions took the team through a storytelling module to help them build a narrative to help get key stakeholders on board with their solutions.

The team produced a great blog sharing through the entire experience from their perspective: Agile in Learning.

A few tools we used

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