The one where everyone gets to play

So previously on the HR Directors Business Forum….

One of the sessions I attended was presented by Rachel Denmeade who I believe is Director of Resourcing, Talent & Development (or maybe in a different order) at Everything Everywhere (the name comes from the mission – see picture), the organisation formed by the joint venture between Orange and T-Mobile in the UK.

Now we’ve all been to these sessions where senior people from well known organisations talk you through an episode from their company narrative and they fall broadly into two camps namely:

  1. We did this, we were amazing and the whole world is now amazing thanks to us
  2. We did this, some of it worked, some of it didn’t, if we were doing it again here’s what we’d do differently

Thankfully for all present Ms Denmeade chose the latter approach and a very interesting session followed. It’s an absolutely massive (such proper business language) JV and formed from two organisations that were and remain competitive – Orange is owned by France Telecom and T-Mobile by Deutsche Telecom.

There was loads of good stuff contained therein but the point that really stuck with me was the way the Senior HR team chose to resource the change programme from an HR perspective. For any of you who have lived through a significant change programme such as this (I have) the usual approach seems to be to take either external interims/consultants or the usual suspects from the HR team and give them the “new & shiny” work to do. Meanwhile, back in ‘business as usual’ a resentment is growing in the remaining team who are busy cranking out the day job looking over at the new toys and feeling isolated and left behind. In trying to create a new unified culture even the HR approach puts barriers in the way.

What Everything Everywhere decided to do was spread the work across the existing team and get people to take on additional responsibility and accountability for the JV work whilst doing BAU. In the process of this they structured how these people would increase the delegation of work to their teams and support those people being delegated to. I loved this!

Not only do people doing the day job get to play with the shiny but also the people working for them get the development opportunity of covering work at the next level and the sense of increased accountability.

In the list of things that they would do differently if they had their time again I was very pleased not to see this HR structure on the list as something that hadn’t worked and it’s an idea I will pinch pay homage to at some point in the future.

More HR Directors Business Forum stuff to come but now a message from our sponsors….



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6 responses to “The one where everyone gets to play

  1. Really like the learning from this particular session.

    I have one bugbear, which you can dismiss as you see fit. Abbreviations such as JV and BAU take me time to decipher and are painful to place in the context of the post.

  2. Interesting story Rob. The HR team in question obviously created capacity somehow but with more work delegated I assume they either already had available capacity in the team or resourced their existing workload differently. I suspect the latter and therein I suspect sits the “how to” learning. Any idea? Also, post Joint Venture what happened with the transition back into Business As Usual?

    As an aside, Sukh raises an interesting point on language and assumptions and I’m glad to have the reminder. I wonder what impact HR / L&D would have in the organisation if they were less often abbreviated? Maybe their abbreviation also takes time to decipher and are painful to place in the context… something to ponder. BTW you also made me look up “bugbear” – I’m that kinda guy – and it’s origins are quite different to today’s usage but I digress…

    • Dave – quick question, what does BTW mean?? 😉

      To answer your question I believe they made a priority decision on work that could be put on hold or stopped during the change to create the capacity. It was one of the questions I wanted to ask Rachel but can’t find her e-mail address…

      As for the return to business as usual there wasn’t one as the joint venture became the new business as usual.

  3. That’s such a great example, not just of learning, but of seeing how to truly mobilise change. I think too often change is seen as something that’s done in a vacuum to the rest of the team, and then fails massively because of tissue rejection by the team… Not because the proposed change is necessarily bad, but because people have been disenfranchised by the process is developing it.

    Interesting discussion also brewing here thanks to Sukh and David about language…!

  4. Pingback: Friday Wondering – HR Bugbears « People Performance Potential

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