Aligning leaders around a customer centred strategy


In an increasingly competitive market, Orange Business Services knows how important it is to shape the future of technology hand in hand with its customers.

Part of the wider network operator and digital service provider organization, Orange, Orange Business Service looks after infrastructure operations, technology integration and value-added services for the group.

It was a pleasure to work with Orange Business Services for two years to help them unite their teams around a new and shared vision for how they could better co-create alongside their customers. Here are some of the ways we did that:

Using design thinking to create a new strategic vision: A two-day interactive event

Every year the organisation arranges an event for its top 100 leaders, to give them a chance to connect, network, and come together to tackle current challenges.

This time, they wanted to do it differently, introduce everybody to design thinking and use it to develop a new strategic vision, and explore how they could begin to make it a reality.

We designed a hands-on, interactive event, which took place in Germany. Using human centred design we bought together 80 senior leaders from across the globe to explore what really matters to  customers and employees at the centre of their five year strategy.

We took everybody through each of the mindsets of design thinking mindsets in stages, providing teaching on the theory behind each one, stories about how they work in practice, and then time to go into groups and practise. Over two days the leaders were immersed in a highly engaging and collaborative session to unlock their collective knowledge and discover new insights through human centred design practices.

Tackling current challenges affecting teams across the business – from sales to marketing, R&D to talent – leaders from around the globe worked in groups to carry out empathy interviews, and form insights to understand why these issues existed and what they could do about them.

To help them on the right path, we did a series of stakeholder interviews before the event, speaking to leaders from each key area of the organisation, to understand their viewpoint, and spot in advance go-to ideas teams are likely to come up with, to help us facilitate each day and avoid falling into the same old traps.

Documented by a graphic illustrator, the first day saw people start to form a vision for what the world they want to work in looks like. And then on the second, we showed everybody how to use prototyping to test out their ideas for solving the problems preventing this vision from becoming a reality.

Groups worked together to identify quick wins that would help the business make progress in the short term, and longer term ideas that they could work towards. They walked away from this two-day, intensive experience with a strategy underpinned by what their customers and employees really need, and content they could use to show colleagues what they’d done, and to help bring them on this journey with them.

Outcomes from the event

Leaders walked away from this two-day immersive experience with:

El Tong, Project Lead

“Orange wanted its leaders to go through an intensive, thorough process in a short period of time, so planning was crucial to making sure this was a success. We worked incredibly closely with our project manager throughout to ensure everybody was clear on the outcomes we were looking to achieve from each element of each day, and that they walked away with something they could use. We covered a huge amount in just two days, and it gave the business a real springboard for the next few years.”

El Tong
Treehouse Innovation

A year later, we were invited back to the next edition of this annual event, to help leaders explore which challenges discussed at the previous event are still persisting, and how to resolve them.

Ahead of the session, we did extensive interviewing with people in the business to get an in-depth understanding of what was going on, and created personas to help everybody understand how the issues affect people in their day to day roles, and start thinking about what might help.

El Tong, Project Lead

“Coming back to this group a second time was fascinating, as we could see how far everybody had come and what more needed to be done to take them further. We learned that leaders can sometimes struggle to articulate their visions and ideas, so we got everybody to create elevator pitches that they could take back and used with their teams, which they found useful.”

design thinking notes

Putting the customer at the heart of process

Following this event, we were asked to help Orange Business Services created a more human-centred process for customers ordering new technology from the organisation.

We ran a two-day workshop in Windsor for people from around Europe, to develop solutions and a roadmap for improving this issue.

Using design thinking, we helped teams build empathy with their customers and understand what the procurement process feels like for them. Speaking to people about their experiences helped the organisation understand how a negative experience becomes a barrier to doing business, and what they could do to remove them.

Attendees walked away with a set of simple improvements they could implement right away, as well as more complex ideas for ways in which they could transform their ways of working to create a better customer experience.

El Tong, Project Lead

“We’ve had fantastic feedback since this workshop that people left enthused to put real changes in place to make the order process better. Seeing the problem from their customers’ perspective has helped everybody in the business see that they need to consider their end users – regardless of whether they have a customer facing role”

Highlighting the value of co-creation – with your colleagues and your customers

The CEO of Orange Business Services, Helmut Reisinger, asked us to run a fun, intensive four-hour event for 250 senior leaders where they used design thinking to solve problems.

We developed what was essentially a hackathon. We took nine facilitators to Marseille, with each responsible for a group of 30-40 people. Each took a different challenge facing the business, and ran a series of quick sprints to explore the problem and generate potential solutions. For example, one team looked at how they can use the vast level of data they have on their customers to give them a better experience.

Aside from the ideas themselves, the purpose of this event was to give these global leaders the opportunity to work with people they hadn’t spent time with before, and discover how human-centred design can help them solve problems.

El Tong, Project Lead

“This was a super high energy and fast half day, which saw leaders throw themselves into human-centred design and consider how they could use it to innovate with their customers. The presentations teams came up with were great and gave them real food for thought to take back to their day to day roles”.

Uniting colleagues responsible for innovation under a single vision

The head of co-creation at Orange Business Services wanted to bring together people across the business working on innovation, and unite them with a clear vision, mission statement and project plan.

Working with a group of 20 people, we led a hands-on, human-centred session, we helped this group see the challenges they face and from both their customers’ and their colleagues’ perspectives, and then form a practical plan of action that would meet everybody’s needs.

El Tong, Project Lead

“Bringing people from different areas of the business who have a shared purpose together was really powerful. Developing a plan together meant they could shape the journey they wanted to go on themselves, and form connections with colleagues in the same boat to help them along the way.”

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