You are managing many different roles, but what has been your main role at KLM?
My assignment at KLM entailed to digitalize and innovate the entire HR department, processes, products and services. Our main objective was to make sure the approximately 30.000 employees would be able to take more ownership over their own work/life balance and career development.
30.000 employees sounds major, did that make
the assignment even more challenging?
As of only six years ago, employees were not even able to get an insight into how many leave days they had left. That was just the tip of the iceberg in terms of all we needed and wanted to innovate. With 30.000 employees you can imagine that there were lots of complex and delicate processes in place that could not be disrupted. Making innovation happen within an environment like that is challenging to say the least.
“It’s key to think big, start small, and find a gain that can be implemented quickly”
How were you able to innovate and still keep complex and delicate processes in place?
My first step was to organize the Digital Design Days, which focused on mapping the “employee” journey with ‘pains’ and ‘gains’ together with senior management and a large team of experts. Some of the experts I knew from my own network and some I gathered.
Mapping journeys can be complicated, what would your advice be to others?
A common difficulty while mapping a journey is to lose yourself in details. We focused on the moments that matter, the moments in which we could quickly differentiate as an employer. It answers the question: what are we doing wrong and where can we improve the most? As you would do with an impact-effort matrix almost.
Would you say that focusing on ‘the moments that matter’ made your process easier?
Definitely, I believe in dreaming big, but also having a tangible vision. We gathered 14 epics, which were the most important domains in which digital transformation was mandatory.
How were you able to keep your stakeholders at peace when knowing the path to transformation was long?
I think it’s key to think big, start small, find a gain that can be implemented quickly and show your stakeholders in even the smallest possible way that value is being added. Transformation requires a lot of money and workforce. These investments will not be made if there is not an aligned vision of what we are doing it for.
What would you advice others who are also in the midst of digitalizing a department?
Have courage and believe. If you believe in the vision you have, you should go for it. There will always be people who will hold you back. Of course, within a company like KLM, it is crucial to listen to all sorts of feedback, but it is also essential to determine carefully what to do with it and to never lose focus of progress towards the end goal. Think big, start small, find a quick win and transform.