How we helped E.ON engage in a larger digital culture change for four of its subsidiaries

We want to live a culture of trust with flat hierarchies. Entrepreneurship and pioneering spirit are the new benchmarks for us. All of us, from me as CEO to the trainee, are open to change and work according to agile principles. Cultural change in the age of digital transformation is not an option for us, but a real and strategic factor that decides the future of our companies.”

Reimund Gotzel, chairman of the board of management of Bayernwerk AG

Overview

Customer: E.ON with four of its network subsidiaries (Bayernwerk AG, Avacon AG, E.DIS AG und Hansewerk AG)
Industry: Energy
Location: Germany

Client Challenges / Business Need: To cope with changing customer expectations as a consequence of digitization, the company subsidiaries needed to transform and start working according to agile principles.

Solution-at-a-glance: Initiating a culture change with a focus on the implementation of agile tools and structures and focusing on innovation and learning, customer centricity and collaboration.

Results (Benefits): Integrating sustainable change through the implementation of agile ways of working, increasing customer centricity and involving the leaders and employees intensively during the change process.

Developing a digital culture

Most companies have understood the need to become more digital but fail to implement corresponding ways of working. Too often, project initiatives fail to consider the people side of digital transformations and rely purely on business and IT objectives.

With digitization progressing fast, E.ON felt increasing pressure to become more digital and innovative. In addition to transparency and accessibility, their clients expected to be addressed through digital channels and a fast processing of their enquiries. The company understood that their digital transformation required a holistic change, but they did not have the right flexibility and reaction time to adapt to new market dynamics and the rising customer expectations.

Capgemini offered itself as a partner that had in-depth expertise in agile transformation. In turn, the organization decided, that a joint collaboration with Capgemini would help them achieving their vision. For that purpose, all regional utility companies in the E.ON Group started the project: “fuNke – dedicated to our grid customers”. The key focus of the cooperation was targeting the agility of E.ON’s regional subsidiaries.  The culture was rooted in traditional values, which was considered beneficial, but also lead to missing the crucial flexibility and innovativeness that it needed to stay competitive. The company wanted to master its digital challenges and increasingly take advantage of agile opportunities.

Together with the client, Capgemini determined three focus areas of the project, jointly comprising the holistic approach of transforming the company into a digital and agile organization.

  • Innovation & Learning = The implementation of new ways of working and increasing creativity and innovation through agility. This included an increased openness towards failure, promoting more rapid trial and error behavior.
  • Collaboration = Integrating mechanisms enabling more cross-functional networks and increasing the fluctuation rate of information between the individual teams, breaking up silos and improving the collaboration between business and IT.
  • Customer Centricity = A stronger client focus, through the direct integration of clients into the transformation project. Tailoring new solutions to the specific demands of the customer.

Innovative business models are essential for the energy sector. To pave the way to an agile organization, the fuNke project team started working in agile ways itself, leaving them with enough space for individual creativity and innovation. Furthermore, openness to failure and constructiveness elicited more the exploration of a larger solution space through rapid trial and error behavior. As essential prerequisites for agility, structures beneficial for co-creation and collaboration were established. During a Digithon, twenty digital natives developed an e-learning prototype, sensitizing employees to the topic of customer orientation. During the Digithon, agile working methods such as Scrum and Design Thinking were used. The Digithon concept developed into a success story in a very short time, having led to replications of the concept and increasing participation rate in the transformation project. The employees that took part in the Digithon acted as ambassadors of agile techniques and transformation.

Furthermore, co-creation was used to increase the customer centricity. Employees had the opportunity to put themselves in the customer’s shoes. The websites of the four subsidiaries were reworked involving representative customers. Over 70 customers were involved in the test of design and usability of the respective websites. New digital channels such as a web-chat were introduced.

As another lever to create an agile mindset, close cooperation was fostered. As part of the fuNke project, silos were broken down and networking was encouraged. For this reason, interdisciplinary project teams were set up and participants were recruited from regional energy companies throughout Germany. Top management was part of project management from the very beginning. Turning those affected into participants was a central process goal and helped to strengthen acceptance of the new changes.

What happens next:

The company-wide project introduced new agile ways of working and increased the customer centricity in the subsidiaries of E.ON. In an employee survey, 1,200 colleagues were asked for their opinion: 64% of those surveyed regard the fuNke goal of customer orientation as very important. Two thirds experienced that fuNke initiated a change towards a more customer centricity.

While the initial agile transformation was rolled-out successfully, it was clear that a sustainable anchoring was required and that changing the ways of working is ongoing process.

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