Our agile journey so far – Part 5: Sustaining the change

This is the fifth and last post about our growth story. You’ve read about the history of bol.com and the process they made to reach their goal: landing on the moon. Now we’ve come to the final chapter: how to make sure this culture is sustained? How to stay successful?

This post is written by Roy Gielen, an agile enabler who interviewed several persons at bol.com on this topic. We want to thank him for helping us to put our story on paper, making it possible to share our journey with you!

Sustaining the change

(by Roy Gielen)

Step eight in Kotter’s model of change is to make the change stick in the company. Bol.com acknowledges this with its own talent management program. The baseline of the program is the identity of the company. An identity determines who will work for you and who wants to keep working for you as a company in the future. Menno Vis, IT director software development at bol.com, believes that the ability to innovate will make their success and that innovation is driven by technology.

Bol.com as an engineering culture

Who is bol.com and what’s the company’s culture? Bol.com is shifting from an e-commerce company and webshop to a tech company, which also results in a shift to an engineering culture. The talent management program needs to be adjusted to this shift. The three pillars of this program are included in the following question: how to find, develop and retain talent at bol.com?Attract/find:Because bol.com is shifting to a tech company, the company needs to attract talented IT people. In close collaboration with HR they recruit new people based on technical expertise, competencies and passion for ecommerce. But equally important is: do the new talents fit the bol.com engineering culture?Retain:Leaders play a crucial role in retention at bol.com. They develop, support and coach engineers, but they also coach teams. The goal is to foster the company’s engineering culture. An example of this is the quarterly hackathon that is organized by engineers within bol.com. You can read more about our last hackathon here. These hackathons promote purpose, mastery and autonomy. This also addresses the main goal of the program: how to keep people motivated?

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Another great example of the bol.com engineering culture is the internal conference Spaces Summit which was organized by engineers for engineers.

It is not only about retaining people but also about how to get the best out of them. Continuous improvement and learning are important factors for bol.com. People development is also an agile process where IT together with HR will continue to experiment, learn and adjust this process. Bol.com believes in a feedback culture – the only way to learn is to receive feedback on a regular basis and act upon this.

From the moon to Mars?

2017, bol.com has fulfilled its ambition: the company has landed on the moon! Is this the end station? No, of course bol.com wants to go further. First it’s working on optimizing life on the moon and moving the last parts from the earth to the moon. The company is already planning its next ambition: Travel from the moon to mars! Objectives to accomplish in this next phase are improving customer centralization and business integration in the teams. This shows that the company believes in the need to improve itself constantly in order to survive and be successful in this fast changing world. I think there’s no better way to be prepared for the future.

Personal conclusion

With this perspective to a good future we've come to the end of this blog series about the journey of bol.com. I hope you enjoyed reading these blogs. For me it has been an honor to visit and write about such a beautiful and energetic company with such motivated people. I think a positive vibe is the most important ingredient to achieve your personal goals. Intrinsic individual motivation is the baseline to achieve a purpose on team level and even on company level. Such a successful story gives me a lot of energy and I hope with these blogs I transferred some of this energy to you.

Did you miss the previous posts? You can read the first blog about bol.com’s history and the need for change here. You can read the second post, in which I elaborated on some necessary steps to take in an organizational change here. You can read the third post, in which I write about the slogan called YBIYRIYLI (You build it, you run it, you love it) here. You can read the fourth post, about which kind of leadership fits the new way of working here.

About the writer

Roy Gielen is an agile enabler, personal coach and change manager at Ctree BV. He is currently studying for an MBA and writes about successful responsive organizations. Thanks to this combination of skills he guides organizations and their individuals in their journey to responsiveness, keeping in mind that every change starts with the individual. He future proofs organizations so they are ready to adapt in this fast changing world.