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Jan 31, 2018 | 4 min read


How does FABERNOVEL INSTITUTE boost team performance?

Continuous improvement - behind the scenes

Adrien Destrez

Generating new business and winning new clients, recruiting in a bid to deliver ever more projects, and reaching a stage where structuring work becomes a necessity—it’s a development path well-known to start-ups and project teams on the rise within major groups.

To optimize internal processes, simplify colleagues’ tasks and ensure the organization’s improvements are sustainable, we put together a team of two people dedicated to performance. Let’s take a closer look at the three new tools launched over the past few months; tools inspired by new working methods (Lean Management, Scrum, Design Thinking, Kanban) with our own unique twist (our corporate culture, context and preferences) to make them easier to integrate.


Work standards as a bedrock of knowledge

The work standard concept is taken from Lean Management, and sets out the best way of completing a task known to date. More specifically, the term refers to a document that draws up an inventory of best practice and the resources to be used to carry out a standard activity. Ultimately, the standard only lists what is absolutely essential to know to do a good job straight off.

We considered the “techniques” we most often rely on to deliver our programs (leading a collaborative workshop, producing an analysis, bringing in a start-up founder guest speaker, showing how a digital product works, etc.) and put together a list of 12 standards. Each standard is covered in a double-sided A4 sheet and regularly updated each time a project is reviewed. Standards serve first and foremost to facilitate getting new team members on-board and to bring them up to speed more quickly. As soon they join us, they are trained in all standards by more experienced colleagues. Standards make it easier to get things up and running and ready to go, and to avoid slip-ups.


They also help us capitalize on best practice, acquired with each new project, thus improving the quality of our deliverables. As an example, for organizing a Learning Expedition (an immersive experience that plunges participants into an innovative ecosystem where they can meet key stakeholders in the digital economy), we identified a dozen different actions that may seem insignificant, but which offer clients a premium experience: giving out emergency smart phone batteries, providing bottles of water during travel, etc. The devil really is in the detail when it comes to service.

Finally, standards help keep decision-making fatigue at bay, allowing colleagues to focus on more creative tasks such as designing new working methods or case studies.

While not wanting to fall into the trap of excessive, counter-productive standardization that doesn’t fit the team’s ethos, having our methods written down on paper for the first time was key to kick-starting our continuous improvement process internally.


Dojos to get the entire team on-board

We deliver so many different projects at FABERNOVEL INSTITUTE, sometimes over 30 events a month. Which means time is something of a precious commodity. Yet any continuous improvement process is essentially collective—it would be impossible to shake things up without getting everyone involved, even when the ideas for improvement are good ones.

To redress the balance a little, we came up with a new weekly ritual: our dojos. Every Wednesday morning from 9 am to 9.30 am, the team gets together to brainstorm a very specific internal topic: how to give good feedback, how to monitor quality in a limited time-frame, which new activities to test next quarter. The session is structured like a collaborative workshop, with one key rule: to come up with a concrete idea for a deliverable. When necessary, one or several volunteers go on to complete the job. Because there are always 52 weeks in a year, this means we’re able to cover lots of different topics, step by step. In terms of space, we created a Kanban wall (ideas box, to-do items, tasks in-progress, completed items) across an entire section of wall in the lunch room, giving us a visual overview of how the team’s various multi-disciplinary projects are progressing.

The dojo concept was inspired by agile methods, which use this technique above all as a way of creating space and time for learning and sharing in IT development. We see it as sacred, quality team time that allows all team-mates to contribute, irrespective of time constraints. One key factor to this tool’s success is the fact that our dojos always start with a hearty shared breakfast, with French pop playing in the background – just because that’s the atmosphere that best suits our team.


Tailored tools to simplify each individual’s working day

Today’s buzzwords are artificial intelligence, machine learning and task automation. So we realized it was about time we developed our own performance tools to simplify work for everyone. Rather than outsource this work, we decided to get expert technical training and do it ourselves. The following tools should be released over the next quarter:

  • The Slide Mill, for frequently-changing slides that contain high business value information, such as project references.
  • The Perfbot on Slack, for storing results of Slack document searches, and retrieving them via a chatbot when similar searches are run.
  • The online Staffing Matchmaker, based on HR data. This tool allows users to recommend the very best human resources for delivering a project based on skill-sets, previous experience, availability, skills improvement needs, etc.

We’re firm believers in the concept of empowerment-by-software, meaning colleagues’ ability to build their own custom-made software to gain empowerment and independence, rather than being locked down in closed, rigid programs. In short – DevOps across the board.

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