Epics by Esséré

BRUSSELS : Boosting the collaboration between two Business Units

Once upon a time … in one of the European capitals, two executives of an energy company were waiting for the rest of the team to start talking for real.

The increased volatility of the energy markets in recent months put pressure on the collaboration between two Business Units (BUs) of an energy utility group. The malfunctioning of some processes and the lack of clarity around roles and responsibilities had become unbearable for the people and had strongly degraded the value of the result.

At some point, it became necessary to bring the teams of the BUs together and work on the two key aspects of the collaboration: the visible: processes and organization – and the invisible: trust and the desire to work together. A 3-day workshop was decided upon with about 50 participants from different countries.

It was at this point that Esséré was contacted to work on the invisible part, Trust, while two internal agile coaches took care of the visible part.

We had a lot of interactions during the preparation for the workshop, and we had to face the pressure to make sure we would get tangible results. After some discussions with the sponsors and BU directors, it was commonly agreed that the medium term was a priority for these teams and therefore, that trust should become the “red thread” of the seminar. We decided to start the workshop with some practices on the 4 Levels of Trust, then to spend a whole day with the top managers working on a “Team Leadership Compass” to rebalance and re-energize the relationship between them.  Finally, we got ready to graft the result of this work to the rest of the team.

A second important decision was made – the BU directors wanted to commit to empowering team members, not only to propose solutions and next steps to the current issues, but also to continue to lead the activity of the different workstreams after the workshop.

The seminar was dense, with many parallel streams. It ended with the visit of the Executive Committee of both BUs. Beyond the production of agile roadmaps for the workstreams between BUs, a manifesto of behaviors and beliefs was co-written to guide future interactions and create a common vision of “who we want to become, what we want to contribute to and why.”

A checkpoint conducted two weeks after the workshop confirmed that in terms of the relationship between the BUs, there was a before and an after the seminar. One Annick, a sponsor of the project and steering comitee member, saied to it with this metaphor: “Now we know how to juggle with a ball in and between the two BUs. Before, when someone threw a ball, it often fell to the ground.”