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Building Capability at Vodafone

Vodafone UK is a British telecommunications services provider, and part of the Vodafone Group, one of the world’s largest mobile phone companies.

BeLiminal were initially brought in by the digital part of the business to help them to set up teams and adopt agile ways of working.

Beliminal helped Vodafone to begin experimenting with Agile ways of working, based on that early success, agile approaches started to spread to other parts of the business. BeLiminal were then tasked with helping to make it sustainable by designing and delivering a learning and development programme to build the competence and confidence of the ScrumMasters and internal Agile Coaches.

The Brief

To build a world class ScrumMaster community across the consumer, enterprise and digital parts of Vodafone UK in order to:

  • Be the best (anything less than the best was perceived as not being good enough)
  • Facilitate the training, growth and development of high potential individuals who didn’t necessarily have experience of agile ways of working, but who were very enthusiastic and open to change and pushing the boundaries
  • Help the hand-picked team to grow their potential and maximise their impact within the organisation
  • Take the chapter members on a journey to grow the community
  • Help and support not just the chapter but the organisation as a whole
    To ensure sustainability by building capabilities and the continued delivery of chapter events

The Delivery

The plan was to take the nominated ScrumMasters, many of whom had very little experience, from ScrumMasters through to the level of Certified Scrum Professional using:

  • Workshops/training
  • Reflective practice
  • Mentoring and coaching
  • Chapter events

Step 1

The first step was running a Certified ScrumMaster (CSM) course for the group as a 2-day introductory training session.

“We had low levels of expertise at the start, so doing the first CSM course as an entire cohort was magical and accelerated the feeling of community and togetherness, and our growth as practitioners.”

Alex Bluckert, ScrumMaster Chapter Lead, Vodafone UK

Step 2

The second step was the Advanced Certified ScrumMaster (A-CSM) course, delivered by BeLiminal coaches as modular training sessions which allowed team members time to do homework and to apply their learnings over the 3-month period and beyond.

Feedback was that this modular approach (half day sessions every few weeks) was conducive to making the sessions very high energy and focused throughout. This approach also ensured the community continued to build as the coaching programme was ongoing, with regular 121 coaching support and after-action reviews.

Putting their skills into practice with follow up coaching conversations and deep reflections helped the team members to grow and to think about the outcomes: what did they learn, what would they do differently next time?

“Content and discussions reinforced the importance of what is needed in order to set up a team for success”

Vodafone UK course delegate

Step 3

The third step was the Certified Scrum Professional – ScrumMaster training, designed to deepen their coaching and facilitation skills and grow the team members into dynamic change agents for Vodafone.

“Learning like this was a great metaphor for how we are now actually working”

Vodafone UK course delegate

The CSP training was important not only for the ScrumMaster chapter at Vodafone because of its highly effective mix of exercises, discussion and, crucially, reflection, but also taught the team how to facilitate remotely.

Key Learning

As a result of the Covid-19 pandemic and the unchartered waters of remote working, the team were concerned about practicing their new roles whilst working from home. BeLiminal coaches led by example, giving them the confidence to adapt facilitation skills to use, not only amongst themselves, but throughout the wider organisation.

Chapter members adopted recommended tools such as Mural (a digital workspace for visual collaboration) and utilised the breakout sessions that are available in Zoom to help them with facilitating team meetings.

“It really helped us in growing our confidence to take on remote working and facilitate across a wider group of people.”

Alex Bluckert, ScrumMaster Chapter Lead, Vodafone UK

The Outcomes

Our work with the team set Vodafone up for the kind of culture they wanted to create:

  • Really set up a world class culture within the chapter which resonated to the wider organisation.
  • A move towards a more balanced collaborative, innovative, Agile aligned culture
  • Staff who were at the very first meet up are now unrecognisable: more comfortable as human beings and more open to sharing their vulnerabilities than before which has led them to be more confident in the group.
  • Increased psychological safety for team members
  • Perspective has grown (Coaching Wheel) which has helped to broaden the team’s understanding about the impact they can have as high performing teams
  • Organisational change – identifying the challenges that impacted the team outside of the team has been a growth area for many few people
  • Sustainable change – investing in the community so that despite the fact some of the original team have left, the remaining members have embraced this investment into the community and still want it to be sustainable as they benefit so much from it.
  • Chapter Meetups: Vodafone are now 2.5 years into their first chapter and it’s still going strong. The meetups ensure regular contact time and investment in the three focus areas of community, job roles and the organisation as a whole. They have identified the importance for staff to invest the time to come together, with around 7 full day meet ups per year.

“I don’t think anyone is recognisable from the individual who joined us in January 2019 – they are more confident in who they are as a total human being…”

Alex Bluckert, ScrumMaster Chapter Lead, Vodafone UK

What Does Success Look Like?

With our focus on building capability, the Vodafone UK team have now fully embraced agile ways of working, are able to put into practice everything they have learnt and no longer need our help or a reliance on third parties for Agile support.

As a result, Vodafone UK have a highly capable group of coaches who are now in high demand to support new teams and to give training and advice in other parts of the business.

There has been a real sense of accomplishment as there are now 10 Certified Scrum Professionals in Vodafone UK (there are only a handful in the whole of the UK).

Our coaches have equipped the team members with the confidence to take on the agile training themselves, developing their own version to lead from the back of the room and confidently train people interactively.

Vodafone UK internal coaches have since trained over 120 people, with astronomical scores for their evaluation/ feedback forms programme.

On a more personal level, several people in the chapter have made a huge progression towards the aspirational idea of world class and are now “doing some incredible stuff”. They have gone on to create a very forward-thinking model which has been embraced across many areas of the business.

What was Beliminal’s Impact?

BeLiminal focused on developing a high performing ScrumMaster chapter, based on the idea of nurturing and developing a specific group of people who would go on to drive and accelerate it across the rest of the organisation. No organisational agility had occurred before this, but 4 years into their scaled agile model and Vodafone are still delivering great agile practices and have created a fantastic level of agile culture thanks to the ScrumMasters who were originally nurtured by BeLiminal. According to Vodafone, the estimated impact has been on over 500 people within the organisation.

During lockdown in particular, the teams we trained and mentored remained at a much higher level of productivity, especially in the consumer facing teams, and their monitored levels of happiness were much higher than in other part of the business where levels of engagement etc dropped. The agile team members are now in high demand, using their learnings and adaptability to support other parts of Vodafone UK on their agile journey.

How was it working with Beliminal?

“Working with you has really helped, in terms of facilitating, coaching and training, and how you were able to hold the room and own the space. You have demonstrated what world class looks like and we know where we need to be.”

Alex Bluckert, ScrumMaster Chapter Lead, Vodafone UK

Alex and his team were particularly impressed with our coaches’ presence during the training sessions, and their ability to step back, hold the space, hold the silence and feel confident to step in at the right place to get everyone’s attention immediately.

“We got to see world class facilitation and coaching which gave us the impetus to strive to achieve it ourselves.”

Alex Bluckert, ScrumMaster Chapter Lead, Vodafone UK

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