Gaël Mercier

Gaël is in charge of corporate Innovation at STIB, the Public Transport company of Brussels Region. In early 2021, he proudly launched STIB’s Innovation Lab (InnovAtelier) with a team of passionate colleagues from across the company. They use design sprints (up to 10 per year) to help colleagues and partners bring their ideas to life, and solve their biggest challenges in an innovative and customer-centric fashion.

Building a culture of innovation, in a large transportation company, with design sprints

Most organizations seek to innovate and integrate their employees, at all levels, in this process.
But building a culture of innovation takes time, perseverance, and requires effective tools.

Thanks to a structured, bottom-up approach at STIB in Brussels, Gaël Mercier and his team may have cracked the code of a pragmatic and efficient innovation process. They were able to create an emulation in a 10’000-people public service company, by organizing a design sprint per month on customer-centric topics.

Gaël Mercier

Gaël is passionate about mobility and innovation. He started as an engineer at Renault-Nissan, where he led several connected-car innovation projects, leveraging Innovation and UX methodologies. He then moved to the mobility sector, at Transdev, to help anticipate an autonomous & connected future for public transport. He moved to Brussels and joined STIB in 2020.

He studied engineering in France at Mines ParisTech. He has a passion for theater, which led him to take a one-year sabbatical to write a play, and perform it 50+ times with a small troupe of actors.


Hello everyone welcome to Itoday Apero number nine I guess nine thank you so much for
being here today this is really really great because it’s the middle of the summer and some people actually
showed up so i’m so so so happy that you guys are here you can tap for yourself
this is good so thank you so much for being here for it
to the apparel we are live from Lausanne Switzerland and today we’re going to talk about innovation about
transportation and about creating a culture of innovation in a very very big transportation
company our guest today his name is Gaël Mercier
and Gaël so there is a there is a little tradition that i to the apero
i have this bottle of wine and Gaël is gonna get one bottle of wine as a speaker and we gonna have a second
bottle of wine for the best question in the audience so it’s going to be interactive and if you have questions at
any point please ask it and you might win the battle so about our guest today
Gaël Mercier he’s a innovation manager at steeb mivb
which is the big transportation company in brussels city and Gaël is from
originally from france and living in brussels right now so i’m gonna read his bo bio and then we’re gonna welcome him
so Gaël he’s really passionate about mobility and innovation he studied as an
engineer at ronald nissan and he led several car innovation projects he
worked in the mobility sector at transdev where he tried to help
anticipate autonomous and connected future public transportation and then he
moved over to brazil to to to join STIB which is the public
transportation company in brussels he has a degree in engineering and engineering from baritek le min and i
didn’t know that but he has a passion for theater which i think is good because he’s also facilitating workshops
and he wrote even a play and he performed it more than 50 times
more than 50 times with a small group of actors so please from brussels belgium
make a huge round of applause for mr Gaël messier [Music]
hey Gaël hi steph and thanks for having me
today i’m really glad to join you guys so yeah thanks for the for the opportunity
it’s great thank you guys for for joining in july yes yeah so we are the beginning of
july people are actually going on holidays right now so they are from the car watching the watching
the show which is which is kind of cool so thank you so much guys for attending
so Gaël today we’re really really excited to to have you on the show because we’re gonna talk about about
transportation about creating a culture of innovation in that space and
it’s it’s quite some years we we know each other right we we we work together we run design sprints uh
together at your company we’re gonna talk about all of this together but maybe before we start can i can i ask
you you know to to kind of tell tell us who you are and what’s your journey and how you ended up in innovation
sure and thanks again steph for for that yeah so as you said i’m from france
originally and i was born in south of france in toulouse i studied in paris
engineering and i i started in in the automotive industry at reno nissan so
actually a first exciting first job not related to innovation but which taught me a lot for for that field which was in
romania in a in a plant in the car factories that was acquired by renault and it was really about being fast and
doing things with what you have and getting things done so i think as a first job experience when you just start
from school it was really really great and then i back in france i worked in
a more traditional design office in automotive so less exciting i would say that i started really to have side
projects in research and that’s really where i already started this innovation in autonomous parking systems and so on
but to be honest what really i would say kicked me off in terms of innovation was really this personal
project that you you mentioned that theater project so i took a one-year unpaid lead after that first job at
renault to do that to write that play and to perform it and that’s really how i i think i
i had the confidence and experience to to really explore new topics and and really at the same time stay very
focused on one goal so that’s really where i started this innovation i think that’s great when i came back to toronto
nissan i i started again as a innovation project manager and that’s really where the fun began professionally speaking so
working on great projects on on voice assistants for cars with microsoft with google so really great
and then i had the opportunity to work on partnerships as well or still in the automotive industry so in partnerships
between car makers and so that really gives you the big picture of
how you deal with legal how you deal with commercial aspects and with design and so on
and after a while i mean i was like okay i’ve been doing this for more than 12 years and i’m
putting diesel vehicles on the road so is that really the future is that what i want to do afterwards so i decided to
move to the mobility sector and to join transdev which is a big public transport company in france which is present also
in the us and germany and many more countries not in belgium or switzerland but
and i i was there in a a small division working on adapting self-driving technology to public
transports by preparing the company for that future and and then my wife moved to brussels so i uh yeah we
took for a new job so yeah i moved there as well i was really lucky to to be able to uh
to join steed so the big public transport company of brussels region to become their innovation manager and i
started their early march 2020. so this is great so STIB it’s
actually a giant company right i read somewhere it’s more than ten thousand employees right yeah so you have to yeah it’s a bit more
than ten thousand employees but you have to realize a big part of those ten thousand employees are like mostly bus
drivers trump drivers meteor drivers or technicians working on the on the work we have so it’s it’s not like 10 000
employees like google employees you know so it’s it’s mostly a people management company but yeah it’s
it’s pretty big of course and it manages basically all the public transport in the region but it’s also a local company
which is also a strengths and in some in some points and i think because because i’ve
worked a bit with you and what is really interesting when you are not when you’re not from
brazil is to realize that brazil really is you know you have different languages in the same city you know you
have people speak dutch or speak french different cultures too and also inside the company so i i think
it makes it a super interesting context for what we’re going to talk about for the rest of the of this talk so i
saw ninten like your title is simply innovation manager right so what does it mean at STIB and what’s
uh what do you do and like exactly and what’s your job there
yeah so i think there are several things to the job and this is what i do and what you
know the team does and other people and in the company do and i see today alexandra is connected so she’s also
part of that so so yeah i think the main thing is about
building an innovation culture for first tip and so we definitely will talk again about that today i think it’s
really the core of of the interview i guess but there are also other things another thing is to really manage i
would say the innovation portfolio to be able to okay over the years match this is the
corporate goals and strategies that we have another point is really about uh
being able to anticipate major challenges and opportunities to to like look ahead
in 5 10 15 years and see okay how things are changing what are the trends in
technology and in in in the society and so on and how do we adapt to that what are the opportunities
for us and and last but not least it’s about partnerships and partners so it’s building also
especially in innovation a culture of partnerships being able to partner with other big public companies with
industrial partners with startups with academics and so on so that’s in a nutshell but of my role is that uh
let’s do it it sounds pretty interesting i like how you know sovereignty is you know
innovation manager but you know people they will have added like three lines on 18 i guess but yeah
it’s great so let’s talk a bit about the enough italy because i think it’s uh
it’s really the the heart of what we want to talk about what’s super interesting is that you
have built what’s seemed to me at least a kind of mature innovation
you know culture at STIB using design sprints so several design
sprints over the year and i think it’s a very well structured approach
very well far through and it’s probably a model that could inspire a lot of people so could you tell us a bit more
about what is this innovatory and how did it start sure
yeah so so i think what what’s important is also yeah how did it start and why did it start
so yeah going back a bit more than two years so when i started that at sip so beginning of march 2020 so by the way
15 days before the first lockdown so it was a bit of a special time it’s also a good opportunity to maybe start new
things yeah i really started to discuss with many people in the company to see okay
how is how how things are going how are we doing regard with regard to
innovation and what works what doesn’t work what are the expectations and well one of the things i i noticed that there
are a lot of very creative people within the company i mean ten thousand people of course
you’re going to find people who are really willing to to have new ideas and do stuff but a lot of them were a bit frustrated that okay
they could not really execute on their ideas okay they can locally innovate but maybe they don’t have the resources you
know the connections as a to to do things at the broader scale so we could see there is a huge potential
but a little bit untapped potential and so one of the main things we we proposed
first to do to our our top management is to say okay we maybe should start a sort of innovation lab
and they say okay sure why not but what exactly do you mean so please come back with something more you know concrete
and so that’s when we started to work with a small team so alexandra here today is part of that team of
people from everywhere in the company so like sunrise from from marketing from digital marketing there are people
from operations from hr from finance and so on and so we were like yeah six person working together during the
summer of 2020 to to actually define what we wanted to do and okay we said we we need something quite
simple quite condensed in terms of time and so we we said okay we need something that will support uh
colleagues who want to yeah to to to bring their ideas to life to solve big challenges in an
innovative manner a customer-centric manner and so we we looked at several methodologies we
decided to choose design sprints five-day sprints for also for the reason that it’s really uh
in one week and that’s really going to bring dynamics to what we do and and yeah so we basically got
the budget end of 2020 and we really started operationally speaking beginning of 2021 our first print was in february
2021 and to date we’ve done 15 sprints so we basically do
9 10 sprints per year so we don’t do in july in august but otherwise it’s basically one sprint per month
and yeah so what we do is we we we source we select projects and then and and project
leaders or our ideas leader should i say and we we have a yeah we can talk
about this later but we have a low selection process but basically we we make sure those people can get the
resources the right team to to to give their idea or their a chance to to to be to be uh
prototyped tested and maybe then become a reality so that’s that’s what we do yeah i think i think
something that that you said but i would like to put an emphasis on that is the these ideas leader the people who
become basically who bring a sprint idea and become the deciders of the sprint right
they are not you know top managers or they are not from the sea level they are basically anyone in the company
if i understood well so could be a metro driver who has an idea it’s like oh i would like to do that or i think we
should do that or we have this problem could bring a sprint idea and become the decider right yeah that’s that’s that’s correct
so it’s very bottom up approach should i say so yeah we have several ways of sourcing
uh ideas i mean or the first one is is it
the team that basically runs innovative or in our innovation lab is really the core thing so we we have
one person in each big one or two person in every big division so like marketing
sales hr operations and so on and each of them has a network of course in the company and they hear about okay what
are the big problems what are the big ideas and so that’s the first way to to actually bring ideas to the table
and then of course now we a little bit more well-known inside so people come to us also saying hey i have this idea has
this problem can you help us and we also have when the third thing is a sort of small internal innovation
contest which was there a long time before that stupid it existed more than ten years
and that’s more for for the field level for the year for yeah for like bus drivers and so on for
them to be able to to to bring like small projects they’ve done or ideas they have to the table and
and be part of that and so for example we had a yeah a former bus driver who had a nice idea and who did a sprint
with us and that’s yeah so it can be really bottom-up and that’s i think that’s a good part a
great part of it it’s really great like what was it from the beginning like really like the
like the vision for innovatory that it would be that bottom up and really open to absolutely anyone or did you
have some first test with like you know smaller team at the management level like
how did you build that no no we we didn’t have a like test with management level but it’s the fact is
that at the beginning the first topics were really more brought by people like i would say a director or manager
level because they already had a vision of like what are their big problems so there’s there naturally were the people
to bring the first topics yeah but it was not like okay it’s a test only you can bring ideas it was just what
happened i would say and then over time we said okay now we can really go i would go get more people i would
say to to to participate but yeah no no there were no like trials
before it was really from the start we were very clear about the governance and everything we we had
i would say to buy in from for for from our executive committees a budget for it and then we just started
how did you get the buy-in you see like it’s already hard to finance you know a five-day workshop in general like to get
the buy-in but how did you get the buy-in for such a you know a strong uh
yeah like innovation track with several workshops like a once a month
was it a yearly budget was it a quarterly yeah how did how did you make it
um yeah i think it was really step by step so so first of all i think it was the right timing i mean i joined early
march 2020 it was a time when they had i mean uh
STIB was already thinking okay what should we do with innovation that’s a question in mind it was pretty hard to
find the right way to do it so it was an expectation about it so that’s first thing i mean i just
joined at this right time and and and yeah it was step by step so so first
defining what is innovation for us for first tips so of course innovation for us we are a people management company so
innovation for us it is all is not the same as innovation for google or or tesla of course and so that’s the first
thing was to say okay have an agreement on what we mean by innovation and
what what are our goals there why do we want to innovate so that’s what the first thing the first few weeks a month
was really about that and then saying okay to answer that maybe a first step one one big thing we could do is launch
an innovation lab okay let’s try to see what that means and then we come back okay with uh
exactly what we want to do okay we know we we could name them innovate here is a methodology here is a budget we need for
the first year and so on and so on and basically we we had the i would say the confidence of
our executive committee to to start and do and test this for a i would say
a few sprints and see how it goes and yeah that’s basically how it started
[Music] yeah so so it’s basically that you came with a plan right yeah
yeah yeah but that plan was built i think the one of the very important
thing is i didn’t just build that plan alone it was co-created with yeah
those you know five six people i mentioned before and now it’s evolving over time the team is but it was a
really transversal team not just a corporate team for working alone i would say it was people from throughout the
company yeah passionate people of course all really great very different from one another and i think it was really a
collective work of building that innovator so if it was just one person or two people
just trying to do that in their in their office makes sense could you maybe
you know like take i don’t know like one of this project as an example and basically you know give us some kind of
timeline about the steps because i think it’s so interesting your whole process of like how do you select the projects
how the the people who brought an idea become the deciders how you assemble the team and all these steps i think it’s
fascinating yeah what i could do even is is already give you a few examples of projects we
have because it’s very different from on another so maybe just to give you a sense of what we’re doing we we have
for example sprints about we had sprints really at the beginning about how to get back our customers because
that was during cove period of time so like in any other i think public transport company of the world we had
much less travelers at the time so it was about okay how do we get back customers when we’re after the pandemic so and so for
example we had a sprint about how can we build more flexible offers for example
for our customers and then we also had stuff about yeah i would say uh
more operational stuff so for example how do we best man best manage our our our real time our our disruption on the
network so for example when we have road works and so on how do we manage disruption better for our customers of
course things like to be a bit different physical objects we design like for
example we have an e-terminus which is a charger for our electric buses which is
going to be in the streets in the public space so it was about co-designing that uh
also with the lighting and the electrical company from brussels with the authorities and to make something
that will be a physical object then we have more digital traditional
for sprint but digital topics like designing an app for to to declare uh
problems on the network so anyone can take a picture and very simply declare problems and so we even add
internal ones like working on our our the way we’re going to work with with
hybrid so how are we going to redesign our office spaces and it tools to better work hybrids of course it’s going to
it’s a topic for every company i guess in those times so you can see it’s very very diverse one of them was and you
know this one stuff it was to to how do we reduce fraud so people not paying their tickets in our network
so and for this one it was funny because the testers at the end of the sprint were actual offroaders people
really hard one actually it was quite fun interviews so yeah just to give you a sense of the variety
of topics we we have and so but for all of them it’s a bit the same in terms of processes we
basically so it’s a sourcing time where okay you identify the idea
you identify maybe the person who becomes a decider and then okay when you and we with
the team we try to see okay is it a good idea for a sprint or is there another way to help them i mean it could be
something else but if it’s a good idea for a sprint then we we start to coach one of them is coaching the future decider and then we
have every three months we have a sort of jury reassemble to to select the topics we’re going to
to to run sprints for the next trimester so basically what we do is we have three
or four topics being presented at the time and every candidate has like 10
minutes to pitch and then 15 20 minutes q a with a jury so the jury is basically directors from
throughout the company but it’s not always the same so from one time to another it changes a little bit to be able to to have some
diversity and so basically that’s how we we select topics then we we give
ourselves a bit bit more time to assemble the full team and to prepare the sprints but that’s basically how it
works this committee kind of looks like like what like it’s like
it’s like a shark tanks like the like the candidates they come they pitch for for five ten minutes the spirit id
and then they leave and like and basically how many proposals like do you get per
session yes so so in one session we we usually have three typically three maybe four
candidates so not not too many we do a lot of pre-selection also before to make sure there are good topics that we ourselves
judge good ideas for for a sprint and then yeah they have 10 minutes to pitch but then they stay for for a bit
more time to to have a question and answers with the jury and it’s usually we ask a jury to be to
ask us the right questions so of course ask the yeah the questions which are hard
but of course be be be respectful of of the work of course and usually
uh it works pretty well so the jury is like 12 people 10 12 people basically from throughout the company and who have
a wide vision of what is going on in the company so they can really weigh out priorities and they have criteria of
course to to help them make a decision but basically at the end they vote and you decide what to be
yes you bring so it’s very close to a startup approach right instead of getting like the like
like investors for the startup they will get a sprint organized and they beget to become the
decider of the sprint yeah basically what they get is a screen being organized for them and they get a bit of
visibility and of course we they also usually have one or several sponsors higher up in the company who will not
take part to the sprint but who will will yeah support supports that and support the execution afterwards when
it’s when it’s done and then the preparation steps of the the objectives print it’s like
like do they get to choose who is going to be on the team or
yeah i mean you you i mean basically the decider and usually they’re their sponsor or sponsors and it’s their
project it’s their idea it’s their i mean we’re just here to support so it’s usually they have ideas about the team
and then here of course we help because we don’t want to have a team of like a seven person from the same uh
from the same division or something so we of course we help them build like the dream team and putting diversity there
putting really yeah people from every meaningful department their partner external partners as well when it’s
needed and yeah so we we tend to to play it by the book to speak so to speak to have a
max yeah six seven people and eight people really max in in the team and so
yeah it’s it’s a we we built a team with them and it’s it’s actually they have to be comfortable with
what the team is and there is never an issue to to get
to get the people they they want or they ask for or you see what i mean because and also maybe some people might be too
busy or yeah i mean it’s it’s a good point you you mentioned
because it’s a very good selection criteria as well i think for me is if someone is not willing to commit five
days for that it’s maybe for a very good reason which is it’s not really important enough for him or her
and that’s fine i mean if you’re saying okay this topic is yeah it’s interesting but it’s not really my my core
business i don’t want to spend five days on this okay fine yeah so but so it’s basically we get only
people who are who feel already committed enough to say okay i’m going i’m going to clear my schedule for five
days yeah and that’s that’s also part of yeah that’s a good criteria to to have a motivated team i think and then
yeah so and that’s perfectly fine if people are not available and saying yeah that’s maybe not for not so much for me uh
maybe another time okay no problem but usually we get really the team they want it’s very rare that they don’t get the
right people so so the team is assembled then they run the design sprint i know because i’ve
been the the facilitator of some of them so i kind of know how it goes which is a typical five-day design sprint
and then at the end of the sprint there are some more steps right yeah yeah basically what we do is
just the week after the sprints i mean we originally we started we tried to do it to fit it in the friday but it was
really not working so well so we did it after yeah i mean traditionally in the sprint
you do this this this synthesis at the end of the sprint but it’s really very quick
so like typically tuesdays or the week after or wednesday we assemble the team
again for one one hour usually remotely and then we we we deep dive a
little bit more okay what is really the take away from the sprint what what are the actions we want to to have next and
then we present that in another session just one second one hour session to the sponsor so basically the guys who are
going to to put like the money or people on the table to to do to do stuff and so here and then we present okay what was
the sprint what are the takeaways and and we discussed basically the actions and we we discuss okay what are we
really going to do now and it can be nothing because it’s a sprint test we should do
maybe stop that project and it happens and sometimes it’s of course yeah let’s go and let’s do it so it’s uh
how easy is it to get i don’t know some some more funding or you know like some people or
who who can be mobilized on the project to execute after the sprint you see what i mean like since you thought you thought it
through because it i i see sometimes we do run the design sprint in the company and then
they have a great idea a great product or a great whatever and then they want to build it and they have to wait for two years to get the
funding to actually do it does it happen at you or did you think this through and are
you able to execute faster it really depends on the kind of topics and the teams so
um in in some cases it’s so first of all the decider it’s usually the insider is
from the main team who who has the resources to build it usually or two teams together so it’s in the
sponsor is basically usually the director who has the the decision power to to get the guys to
do it or not so if that’s the case and and it’s really core to him or her uh
usually we’ll put resources to do it so in some of the cases it can be the execution can start quite fast then of
course it can take then the execution itself will take maybe six months one year a bit more it really depends on the
project but we can really start executing quite fast in other cases and it really happened as
well and the same the director will say okay idea is great but actually i i can see now with the scale of what
you want to do i i don’t have resources for that i i mean i have to to to to have my priorities and i’ll say okay
let’s let’s post this or let’s park this and it also happened and a third kind of things as well and
that’s something we’re really going to work more on this this fall and next year is digital projects
uh we were not very nimble and agile with digital projects that’s tube so we we have to be a bit more efficient with
that and yeah we’re going to try new approaches to to to execute faster on on
digital products we we we we design and test during sprints but so
to boil it down it’s really depending from one project to another and then sometimes it can go pretty fast to have
the resources and then some other time we will just stop the projects on yeah
how is it perceived now internally you you have run this innovate for
almost two years right yeah year and a half and 15 sprints now
uh yeah it’s i mean it’s getting a little bit more well-known within the company but still
of course you have to to explain all over again sometimes to to new people and so on so that’s a constant
work i think it’s two two things that’s perceived quite positively for for some
of the results we get i mean and some other projects of course though don’t stop there so it’s really uh
mixed but some of the projects we deliver so i think it’s also also giving a very positive feedback and it’s also
going to be giving positive feedback regarding what it’s what is being created within the team from the design spirit and i
think that’s common to all sprints and i think steph you know that really well it’s that during the sprint people will
really connect together they don’t really know each other maybe at the beginning of the sprint and of course at the end of the sprint especially if it’s
in person we’ve done a lot of things remotely during pandemics but now hopefully it’s it’s back to uh
to to in person then yeah they really create trust and so on and that’s really lasting for the project and beyond and
that’s really perceived very positively as well as yeah yeah this is great maybe can you compare because
yeah you studied i guess the program during kovid so it was all online and
now you have shifted to in person again right yeah correct i mean all the first prints
we did were we started really during pandemics so it was 100 online and we
were actually quite surprised how well it worked even if it’s not as cozy and
and convenient as doing it in person but it really worked well in terms of results and then we started to add in
the mix like one or two days in person i mean based on the pandemics rules and so on so for example we did the testing
and prototyping and testing on site for example and i mean we tried several things several days of the sprints we
could do on-site and and now since yeah four four or five sprints we we do it purely 100 in person
and so that’s i it feels pretty natural to to i mean we we follow the way uh
i mean we all manage the pandemic so it it’s a very natural evolution to it
yeah the the thing okay i find it fascinating that you know you can be a metro driver
for like you know 95 percent of your year and one year during uh like
sorry one week during this year you can actually be on the design sprint i think it’s super cool because usually we work
with you know managers or or really like like people working
in offices right and we don’t work too much with with people who are on the field and driving buses and metros and
yeah my question is like how willing are they to be part of these kind of
initiatives like do they see it like as a great opportunity are they excited about it or are they more like yeah
it’s not really my job i shouldn’t do that like yeah i mean
the guys who do it are really excited because it’s usually they are they are their ideas or their colleagues ideas so
they’re excited about it and but you of course there are challenges as well i mean it’s for for someone who
has not done so many studies and so on who’s not used to to to do this kind of work
it can be pretty challenging and it requires quite some coaching i would say to
to be in the mindset for a design sprint so accepting okay because it’s natural for everyone to have solutions in mind
so so people are saying okay i have an idea but the idea for them means solution and so when you explain okay
your sprint is about starting with the problem start starting backwards and so on so this requires a bit more coaching
with people coming from the field that done with like managers for for who it will be a bit more natural to work
like this so it requires a little bit more coaching before the sprint for them to to be at ease with how it’s going to work and
then i think during the week they they really deep dive i mean dive in and it
really works that’s cool like when you when you look back these
two years i guess you you studied something you probably change along the way you are
maybe thinking about the things you want to modify or improve in the whole process like if you
yeah if you could look back and give some advices to someone trying to replicate what you guys did what did
work what did not work yeah maybe it’s a bit a bit too early to give advice but two years
i think the first thing for me which is important is that innovation is really different from one company to another so
it’s really about what what is your company doing i mean that’s it’s really about people management so
we have a lot of topics which are related to that actually how we how we operate and how we
yeah how we plan our our operations and so we we’re going to really focus more on on people management topics and uh
more than digital for example a little bit more than digital and and design sprint is really well
suited for what we do for for our customers or internal customers but maybe at other companies of course you
you have to to to see what your innovation culture is what are your needs and maybe you’ll need other tools
i don’t know so it’s really about building the right lab and the right innovation tools for for your company so
it’s i don’t think you can just copy-paste stuff it’s it’s it’s really about looking what what is out
there and then just yeah assembling the blocks to to build your own your own things for your own company but
um for example just to give an example i was discussing with other labs of course
to to see how it works and even now we we give feedback to each other and just to give an example
uh the leo so in the automotive space so it’s a big [Music]
automotive supplier they have those car labs network so they have several labs actually it’s a big company throughout
the world and it’s much more centered on product design and they have fab labs
huge fat globs and so on other methodologies are not only sprints but it’s because they are centered on
product design so yeah yeah and
it’s interesting because the the sprint was created for digital products right but i think it’s one of the example of a
non-digital product that can be worked on with this methodology because
basically what’s kind of great is that you if you have everything around right if we need
to access some users we just go to the metro station and we can ask them directly because they are there if we
need to look at a specific location we just go and so it’s kind of experiential and
uh it’s also great that it’s at at the city level so you users they are very close to you they are in the same
city which is not the case that’s one thing that’s making very making it very easy actually to deploy
things faster in terms of processes that we are very local company i mean we’re at a scale of a region and it’s of
course much faster than when you’re in a much bigger company multi multi-continents and so on and
where you have to synchronize cultures from and people from singapore from the u.s from from uk and so on at the
same time so here it’s much faster and we’re all in the same time zone and so on so it’s easier and
as you say our users are nearby great so we have a question from sabrina
sabrina do you want to ask yeah thank you so thanks kyle for for
all your information that’s so fantastic to hear how you how you just
in how you unfolded let’s say the power of the design sprint
and actually i also have a client who wants to let’s say
have more innovation and it’s just let’s say the support from a sea level
so my question would be how is the feedback from your sea level and and
so regarding their expectation what did they expected and how is their feedback now
so after one and a half years yeah i think it really varies from one one person to another of course and some
of them are really more familiar to the to the innovation field some less one of the things they see is the result i mean
they can see that when we when we every like three four months we go to the sea level of the company to the
executive committee to say where we stand and usually we do that with uh
with sponsors from from projects and they themselves present the results of the sprint and so that i think the
strength is that okay there’s the results and the people will speak for themselves about it so
yeah what i wish we could do now is have also sprints with some of the sea level
and but it’s of course for them a bit harder to to three five days from their agenda but i think it would be a nice
experience but at least the way they see it i think it’s yeah they they see it’s working and of
course they always have the question for some of them okay can you do it shorter can you do that in three days can you do that in half a day
so we say yeah sure we can do a three hours workshop and then do many things of course we won’t do yeah
prototyping and testing at that time but yeah so we we try to adapt also methodologies and
and the panels of tools we have but i think overall the feedback is really is really great
do you feel that they have a personal interest i mean i mean the sea level people for
for these kind of things to be part of the design sprint or do they like that position of
you know basically giving the funding and then seeing what happens and and being more
like in the review mode yeah once again i think it will really depend from one person to another some
of them are really i think ready if there is an occasion and a good topic for them i think to to jump in probably
so we we definitely have to to try it i would say we were a bit reluctant to do it at the
beginning because though i mean in the company culture if you put sea levels in the sprint
too too early in the process it can be very frightening for other people but now i think we are at
the stage where we could definitely do it without any issues so definitely something to try
oh yeah also i have a personal question because i’ve been a facilitator for some of your sprints but not all of
them which is a shame but some of them but at the same time i’m very interested about
like the reason why you you decided to work with several facilitators who
might have a bit of a different flavor or things like that and i i think it’s intellectually very
interesting so i would like to understand your train of thought and basically what did you choose to do to
go this way yeah goodness great great question
yeah i think it’s if you take it the other way around it’s the same like for a consultant for example if you had only
one client and you were working always with the same company doing your your stuff after a while i think you’d be uh
maybe running in circles i would say so here it’s about the same it’s saying okay we want to have not too many
partners but to to have also some diversity to to yeah to to be able to to have various flavors
of how we do sprints i as you mentioned I do facilitate
some sprints myself but not not too many because it’s i try to join all the sprints we do
for for at least one reason which is to to make connections between sprints to be to be able to see okay we’ve had this
in the sprint before we will have this in the sprint in the future and we will make connections between ideas and
solutions so that’s really important and it’s not so easy to do at the same time facilitation and and also being part of
the decision making and be really really involved in the topic so i think it’s really great to to keep the
external consultants to to to run our sprints and to have of course a variety
of people doing that so i think it’s yeah it’s a good approach we actually
laughing because we just looked at the chat and alexandra has a question for a question for girl because she wants to
win the battle do you want to ask alexandra yeah that’s your question
am i as good as steph in facilitation yeah i i know that
i’ve learned a lot from you steph so i think he’s as good as you for the moment but STIB hasn’t offered all the material
the the sauna and so on and the right makers and so on so no no definitely no and there is no
modesty here it’s just a few sprints compared to to steph and you you can really see the
experience and passion so no definitely not that’s good [Music]
so Gaël you you’re welcome any time to say good things like like like to come back on the show to say good things
about me anyway there is a great question from fomo wait says right there johann are
you here yes yes hey Gaël yeah hi you are nice to talk to you
after all those years yes yes yes yeah first of all i also want to say
thanks for all the information it’s it’s great to see and very creative thinking
what you are doing in a company in a public transport company i was wondering how
what’s the difference if you present this to your executive committee in
in the public transport versus to if you present like the assistant projects in renault
right i mean what is there from a high level management
thinking or goals versus a commercial company like renault with sops with budget restrictions
how what is their strategic goals right is that is that
what’s aligned or what’s different versus let’s say commercial company versus a public public transport company
yeah this is a great question i thank you on and i think there are many differences i
mean first of all is the size of the company i think a big car company like like renault nissan for example is much
bigger so usually you’re not pitching your innovation ideas directly to the ceo to be honest first of all
uh but and yeah as a company uh it’s very different because like a car
company to take this example is really about product design and and and then how to build this product that’s going
to differentiate and make money and be marketed into a very very competitive
market on our side what we do is we are not in a very competitive market because we are
a public company operating without direct competition in in the brussels region and so our
challenge is really to have the best service with i would say at the lower cost
and then and it’s really about people management what we do guys it’s not about product design so yeah the mindset of course is very
different in both companies and of course here still it’s much more direct because it’s smaller and you can pitch it directly to
the sea level and yeah so it’s really very very different of course and it’s
easier of course in a smaller company like that even if it’s ten thousand people it’s really smaller to to actually
yeah get get the buy-in for for that okay but can you can you get let’s say larger
projects easily more easily approved than in in a commercial
enterprise like a renault if it’s going to be very big projects no
i think it’s it they still take time it takes a lot of time right yeah to take one example and this did not come
out of a sprint it was something that started before we have a big project for example for hydrogen buses and
we’re starting small with just just one two bus and buses and then we’re going to build a bigger fleet so that’s
a very big project i mean you have to work with partners and how to supply hydrogen and you know big build pipes i
mean it’s huge project so this of course you cannot just decide it on in one day it’s a
[Music] big enough budget it’s going to take time to to to convince but
really depends on the size of course of the projects usually after sprint what we do it depends on but if it’s a
digital project you can directly go in into execution but otherwise we usually do a proof of concept we do pilots
[Music] pilots on just one metro station or one line or whatever and it’s of course a
first step towards something bigger so it but that is a bit like like in the commercial
companies right we also do that yeah yeah in that regard is the same same approach yeah
and another unrelated question is how how do you find talent right i mean
everybody is there’s a war for talent i was not aware that
public transport company that you do this kind of thing so how can you expose what you are doing this innovation
natalie to the external worlds to find talent to come and work for for the for
the company good question now it’s a great question because as i mean a lot of other companies we we
are in the talent world actually i said we’re not competing in our space but we are competing for
talent that’s for sure and so yeah it’s definitely a challenge as for everyone else to attract talents so
yeah i mean doing interviews like this can can of course contribute i hope to to find talents as well but what we do for for
design sprints we do we we assemble our teams internally first of all with the talents we have and that’s and of
course with partners i mean we partner a lot with many other operators with other companies but yeah
i mean it’s we’re all part of a talent war and and yeah
we had one one sprint about our work philosophy i mean it was more i would say higher level thinking not not so
maybe not as concrete results as other sprints but it was more how we are going
how are we going to reinvent our work philosophy in the hybrid world and that’s i think that can really help also
showing that we do that bring bring bring new talents to the company
um there is one last question from matthew manning matthew had to leave
because he’s driving he’s on the road but he sent the question it’s very interesting because he has a very very
similar role than yours for public transportation in switzerland so his question is this one
how how do you ensure with this approach that you do actually innovation reinventing the company and not only
incremental improvement that’s a hard one yeah it’s a great question and to be
honest i think that we with the approach we have right now and it’s going to evolve over time we’re not yet at the stage where we
reinvent the company to be really honest we are we are doing more daily innovation which which matters i think
we do project and we are building a culture of innovation but we are not doing disruptive innovation with with
what we do right now with innovator to be honest i think it will come over time but
it’s definitely it’s more trying to find us the small projects or i mean the
projects that will improve over time what we’re doing so it’s it’s really innovation in the
sense that it’s it’s like new for us to do that and then it’s really reinventing the company but it’s not like
fully disruptive and i think for that we we need to to first do what we do for
a long enough period of time build this innovation culture and then i think we can be ready to be a bit more disruptive
but we’re not there we’re not there yet fully i think to be to be honest we’ve done that less than two years
but so i think we i need to wait a bit to to really answer matcha’s question no but actually i think well
it’s interesting because because matthew i guess is in the same position than yours
but i think personally what you have is already comparing to a lot of companies i’ve seen it looks to me already very
mature but in your wildest dream like whether you want to push that and you
know if you could yeah if you could you know be in the in two or two years or five years
what what do you want to be with innovatory yeah great question
um yeah i think we we definitely could
i think we’re going to try i mean i mean other methodologies are pushing the methodology to
um to to to other areas i think for example one thing we’re going to try for example
is to mix and we’ll see if it works on to to mix design sprint five day sprint with hackathon approach for example so
basically we’ll take four day sprints approach like mixing monday and tuesday to make more room for prototyping so it
will still be five days but we’ll you’ll have two days of prototyping so that that’s an example of experiment we’ll do
so what i mean is over time we’ll try to to to to have more tools in the toolbox to to to be more responsive to to the
needs of of the company but at this more strategic level i think what we what we need to do and what we’re doing
right now is try to define what yeah they find more strategic priorities on which to to focus our
sprints and be able to have a series of strengths that really will respond to and one another to really
be more disruptive i would say and that’s really a goal of our time that we should have
to to really focus several sprints in the same very targeted
priority to to see rate leads and i think that’s something we are going to try so what you’re meaning is that
someone who already got one sprint right could have a new sprint to push it forward
yeah it could be the same decider or or it could be several deciders but you have to see as a difference between
a project and a program so if you’re at the project level it’s just one single project if you’re at the program level
then it’s of course a program is like a collection of projects with the same overall goal so here it could be the
same it’s basically sprints which which are the same i would say overall challenge and you could really
start with like a sort of sprint to explore that and then define your topics and then
okay have various maybe deciders and and to explore various approaches that will all
converge on the same yeah strategic goal so that’s something we we should try
Gaël it’s time it’s time to choose this was my last question
who asked the best question and who should get the bottle of wine
well i yeah i’m going to say johanna had a very good question johann smulders uh
and so i would i would say okay let’s let’s send him the bottle you have a winner
he seems to be very happy happy that’s great great
it’s great guys so again thank you so much for all of this it was it was gold super
super valuable i hope you guys had had fun thank you so much for being here on summertime really really appreciate
this and yeah that was i to the upper row number nine see you see you very soon cheers
thank you Steph thank you everyone and thank you guys today you can dance
thank you guys