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Customer Driven Transformation @Watercare - Blending Agile Teams, Operating Model Reorganisation, and Design Thinking

Business Agility Australia 2018

Watercare, a lifeline utility company with 1.4 million consumers, is undergoing a massive transformation which puts the customer at the centre of the company. Responding to customer's problems and needs quickly is a big challenge and requires a motivated and digitally enabled workforce and agile teams that adapt and flex to different demands.

This challenge also requires leadership and culture that embraces and celebrates rapid experimentation, iterating potential solutions with customers and end users, and disciplined continuous learning and improvement as the normal daily, weekly and monthly routine. Data, analytics and insights are central to enabling this leadership and to driving this culture.

During this address Paul de Quaasteniet, Director of the Strategic Transformation Programme (STP), and Peter Johnston, a strategy, design and change consultant, will share key lessons, hints and tips from the journey so far, including:

- How the Target Operating Model redesign put business agility as a core design principle, driving key decisions including new executive team leadership styles, new team structures and mechanisms for working across business functions

- How the New Zealand business community has recognised Watercare's Procurement team with the Procurement Change of the Year award, for driving business-led agile change, introducing cross-functional squads, scrum masters, and product owners to achieve outstanding procurement outcomes

- How the STP has driven a 1.5 year behavioural change programme with 200 of Watercare's top talent group, setting up over ten squads that are delivering business-led digital change, headed up by Product Owners from the business (not from IT), enabled by an intensive training and communications engagement programme in business agility, high performance teams, leadership agility, product ownership, scrum mastering and design thinking

- How the design of the new Digital organisation function followed an agile, design thinking approach, with design input starting with non-IT business executives and stakeholders, and organisation design prototypes for Digital domains being tested with business leaders before implementing

- How 'HR are going agile', through working in squads to rapidly prototype and build a workforce experience AI solution to test and refine with their end users, Watercare people

- How User Experience Design and Design Thinking are being used to redesign Watercare's digital customer experiences, build Watercare's first customer app, build a Data Hub and customer centred 'Nerve Centre' enabled by data platforms and technology, and redefine how Watercare people work together in teams across Planning and Construction, Operations and Maintenance and Customer and Billing organisational functions

Paul de Quaasteniet

Programme Director


New Zealand

Paul leads the Strategic Transformation Programme in Watercare.