Case study

How to restructure a department with effective collaborative workshops


Shared by 
Norbert Friant
Chief Digital Officer at Rennes Métropole

Norbert Friant is Chief Digital Officer at Rennes Metropole (Brittany, France). With his team, he redefined his department's tasks and projects to adapt to a new structure. For fruitful brainstorming and to initiate change, he and his team used Klaxoon tools. The result: more detailed ideas and an effectively implemented action plan.

The challenge: quickly transform a department’s structure with the approval of all the teams

As Chief Digital Officer at Rennes Metropole, Norbert Friant works in a team of 9 people. In this capacity, he is responsible for the region's digital development, which includes network maintenance and optical fiber installation. More generally, his department is charged with understanding the way digital technologies are used in the sector.

To do this, Norbert and his team do real-life experiments, mainly assisted by Fab Labs. These are real laboratories to stimulate and develop innovation in different fields including digital technology. With a network of associations, businesses and colleges, these Fab Labs proved invaluable to Norbert and his team: "They nurture innovation and let us test new uses and get advice", Norbert points out. This ultimately enables the digital team to adapt to the needs of their target audiences and offer them the most appropriate solutions.

After an internal reorganization, the team got bigger and stronger with new recruits. To prepare for the inevitable process transformation and welcome their new colleagues, Norbert’s team wanted to use Klaxoon, a platform already well-known at Rennes Metropole.

It seemed obvious to us to redefine our team, our projects, our tasks and our skills, so we set up a long-term brainstorming workshop, which we split into several sub-workshops.

The solution: a series of interactive workshops to map tasks and needs

When you want to transform something, it can sometimes be difficult to know where to start and how to do it. To avoid this pitfall, Norbert and his team decided to use the Klaxoon Board, so they have a collaborative workspace where all the information is available, and they can track project progress.

Initial group preparation in person

The transformation takes place in two stages. The first phase involves creating the workspace on Board. Norbert explains: "At 301 (a college specializing in digital skills in Rennes), we met for 3 hours to collectively reflect on how we wanted to organize and move forward on the project. The entire digital team at Rennes Metropole attended this initial workshop."

Together, they determined the topics to be addressed, formats and timescales to create their department’s new structure.

We agreed to make the format fun. Each area of the Board corresponds to a 30 to 45-minute team workshop. We established 10 workshops with different topics to be addressed each time.

Each stage is represented visually by a drawing of a small island, on which the workshop takes place. Progress can be tracked with each island, which must be gradually filled with ideas. A fun way to embrace change using visual management.

A person working on the Board remotely, connected with their team in the Board space where each step is represented by an island, where everyone adds his ideas. | Klaxoon
Connected through videoconference, all the participants see where the group is on the Board, and the ideas added to each "island".

In 3 hours, with the help of Board, the plan is complete. All the topics were addressed, and the team was ready to examine each of them to find solutions and move forward together.

Solve problems as a team, even remotely

In the second stage, Norbert’s team meets to discuss each workshop and solve the associated problem. This workshop is done remotely, using the built-in videoconferencing tool on Board. Everyone can meet in the same space, in the specific area for each topic.

The initial workshops were a way to list the team's action items before the transformation. Norbert explains what each of them involves:

The first one concerns the ongoing projects within the team. Each participant is given a color. So you know who's in charge of what. This helps us to share our usage and our vision.

Effectively identify the group's skills

In keeping with this aim to have an overview of the team, the second workshop focuses on the skills of its members. According to Norbert, "this is a brainstorming workshop where you can share your skills individually. Then, collectively, determine common ground and the team’s skills. Using Board, you can create an idea map. And because everything is written, everyone can have their say."

This step identifies the team’s cross-functional skills:

  • Agility
  • Digital knowledge
  • Teaching

Analyze the existing strengths and weaknesses

To go one step further, an assessment of the department’s current structure is carried out: "First, as a group and using visual representation, we establish the strengths and weaknesses in our system. And based on this, we do a “CST” exercise: continue, stop, and try."

Using Board, the strengths and weaknesses are immediately identifiable thanks to a clear color code. The first are in green and the second in red, which makes it easier to gather information. And these items remain accessible from one workshop to the next. The strengths and weaknesses determined above are directly incorporated into the CST matrix.

Define and implement a clear action plan as a team

From the fifth workshop onwards, Norbert and his team switch to the topics of change and transformation: "We described the department in which we work in a few lines, so we have the same vision and the same goals. And after that, to go one step further, we came up with a definition of the department to be shared with all the Rennes Metropole staff."

Steps 7 and 8 conclude this transformation process. Firstly, with a marketing exercise, Norbert and his department developed the way Rennes Métropole wants to communicate, and the messages they would like to convey about their role within the metropolitan area, along with the actions they implement.

The action plan gradually emerges from the collective reflection on the context and the communication to adopt.

Step 8 then sets the action plan in motion. As Norbert points out, "We’ve defined the shared vision, so we can think about the next steps. What topics will we focus on first? How to put our ideas into practice and how to translate them into concrete projects? This enables us to have a longer-term vision."

Finally, an envisioning workshop is launched to imagine and predict the future based on the question: "In one year, we will be satisfied if…" This enables the team to set targets and find a goal in terms of ROI.

To end this series of workshops, the last stage enables the department to take stock of the past year with an effective retrospective.

Finally, Norbert states that they will carry on using Board because it provides an easy access to the ideas and projects to be implemented:

In parallel with all these workshops, we have a roadmap that we use every day. This is intended to track ongoing projects and their progress. This space is dynamic and used on a daily basis by the team.

The result: co-created transformation and quick and easy consensus

For Norbert there are considerable advantages in using Board and Klaxoon tools to transform their habits within his team. No more dithering when you meet as a team: who's taking notes, who's writing the minutes, where should they be made available? It’s a safety-net for everyone.

Norbert Friant "The tool gives us the power to go back to the Board, and we always have a record of everything." | Klaxoon

He also sees a big improvement in participation from his entire team: "Writing an idea is simple, everyone can do it and in this case for our workshops, it was important because we needed to tell each other things. Because everyone can express themselves, Klaxoon can build more empathy."

In terms of results, Norbert emphasizes that visual management ensures all ideas are collected to create a relevant, effective and shared comprehensive plan.

Finally, he sees definite value in the cross-functional collaboration between the various departments at Rennes Metropole. Board facilitates discussion: "Everyone has access to it; the time saved directly benefits ongoing projects. What's more, when we’re working directly with other Rennes Metropole departments, all I need to do is share our workspace on Board and they have access to everything."

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