The world is changing fast with accelerated competition, constant disruption and changing customer behavior everywhere. In this changing landscape, constant innovation is the only way to survive and prosper. In large organizations however, innovation is often sidelined in favor of established processes and practices despite the fact that being innovative is the only way forward in the digital era.
Being an industry leader through continuous innovation, Telenor Pakistan is embarking on a large scale internal innovation program that would focus on bringing a shift in the mindset of its employees towards more agile, lean and disruptive thinking. At the heart of this transformation is an initiative called “Activate” which is a month-long boot camp for Telenor employees to learn the innovative mindset.
For a full month, the Activate cohort disconnects from their regular jobs and focuses on getting hands on experience with skills essential for innovation such as need finding, solution storming, rapid prototyping and user testing. These are then applied to real problems using Google Ventures Design Sprint methodology which has been tested in more than 100 organizations and startups across the world with great results.
Over the course of a month, every employee works on three distinct problems, learning the mindset and skills along the way, culminating in a final design sprint solving a real business problem. Once graduated, the Activate cohort will go back to their teams but with a new mindset which will be incorporated in their way of work, making their teams agile, and innovative.
This is the first of its kind internal innovation program in the country and will be constantly improved through multiple iterations, incorporating customer feedback from each cohort. Commenting on the launch of Activate as part of fostering the internal innovation culture, Nauman Pervez Qureshi, the Head of Digital Products and Innovation at Telenor Pakistan said
“Coming from Silicon Valley after founding my own startup there, I had seen the utility of innovative mindset first hand and after joining Telenor, I worked with my own team to instill this mindset and skills which has showed great results as evident from all the innovative products we have developed last year. Seeing that innovation is not just a need for service/product design anymore, it is expected of all functions in this fast changing landscape and we have developed this program so people from all domains can get away from their jobs for a month to immerse themselves in experiential learning about how to solve complex problems using principles from design thinking, agile and lean startup models. This is a great example of how to shift the mindset in a large organization and should serve as a good model for other companies to follow.”
Advancing the internal innovation agenda further, Telenor has also set up a “Startup Garage” at its Campus, 345, in Islamabad which will serve as the breeding ground of creative new ideas for its employees. The garage was launched by the Chief People Officer at Telenor Group, Cecilie B. Heuch in the presence of company management and employees. Commenting on the launch, Cecilie said “Helping our people shift their mindsets and become innovative is a key priority for Telenor. As we enter the new era of digitization, constant innovation is a necessity even for established organizations like ours. The Startup Garage will go a long way in encouraging employees to be creative and work on their ideas in free time. Such spaces are integral for fostering a culture of internal innovation in the organization and we will be looking to replicate this in other business units as well.”
In the coming months, these programs will be further complemented by other initiatives to accelerate the internal innovation transformation, including hackathons, startup weekends and speaker series featuring talks by notable entrepreneurs and leaders.