Customized training for a change of mindset and processes

Merck en España

Operating in 66 countries, Merck is a chemical and pharmaceutical firm which engineers and manufactures specialised products in healthcare, life sciences and high-performance materials. Merck is at the forefront in Spain in both investment and developing new processes. However, although its organisational structure is flexible and vibrant, they wanted to commit to an improvement of processes applicable to the different business areas.

Bespoke training

At Runroom we are highly experienced trainers and we know that every company and team is different. Hence we tailor our training courses to the needs of each project, seeking to get the most out of the materials and sessions we plan to convey information which is as personalised and relevant to each customer as possible.

Our goal was to bring about a real transformation in the way Merck Spain’s departments operate and so we set out to design the training sessions we considered essential for their organisation:

  • Training in Kanban, an agile methodology.
  • Training in Design Thinking, a customer-centric methodology.

These training sessions were primarily addressed to Product Managers, Marketing Managers, Medical Advisors, Key Account Managers, Compliance Advisors and Legal Counsels.

Training in Design Thinking

Design Thinking is the means to achieve business objectives and customer satisfaction and is anchored in 3 main activities: inspiration, ideation and implementation.

To customise this training as much as possible, we first interviewed the departmental heads to get a better understanding of corporate objectives. We also surveyed the attendees to learn about their prior knowledge and the goals they had in mind for the sessions.

Armed with this information, we designed bespoke training courses drawing on the ‘Training from the Back of the Room’ technique. It consists of building an optimal learning environment through the 4 Cs (Connections, Concepts, Concrete Practice and Conclusions) and enables us to accomplish the following objectives:

  1. Introducing the value and principles of Design Thinking to unlock a customer-centric strategic approach which will deliver business success.
  2. Providing tools to help them lead and guide their teams in attaining targets and customer satisfaction using streamlined processes.
  3. Making the knowledge gained tangible by applying it to attendees’ own cases to ensure they swiftly take on board the new mindset.

To address this latter point, we ran numerous specific hands-on exercises for each group rooted in real situations and cases which they come across in their everyday work.

These sessions were led by Laura Polls, Certified in Design Thinking by Ideo, Head of Experience Research at Runroom and a lecturer in CX Research on the Master’s Degree in Digital Experience Design at BAU, College of Arts & Design Barcelona.

Training in Kanban

Kanban is a project management method founded on visualising outstanding tasks, striking a balance between the work to be done and the availability of each team member. This methodology is delivered using boards that show the workflow and is used to trigger change in organisations by revealing potential process inefficiencies and making it possible to respond and put improvements in place.

At Runroom we decided to start the transformation of Merck Spain’s teams with Kanban because it does not call for sweeping changes in the organisation in order to embrace it. Instead it is based on a process currently in operation while a few simple rules set up a system for continuous improvement.

It is also a method which is very non-prescriptive yet surprisingly powerful in aligning teams or organisations. It engenders a climate of transparency and brings all members together around a shared goal.

Determined to get Merck Spain’s teams fully involved in the Kanban universe, we set the following targets:

  1. Teaching how this method works and how to evolve it through STATIK (Systems Thinking Approach To Implementing Kanban).
  2. Deploying metrics which make value delivery and change management visible.
  3. Providing coaching tools and feedback loops for taking decisions in work planning and coordination.

We convey all this knowledge by building spaces in which people feel safe and inspired to experiment and learn. We also use a flipped classroom to make the people who take part in the workshops and training sessions the key factor in both online and face-to-face training. The experience hinges on a protagonist who learns through a number of activities which foster the diverse intelligences and discussion coupled with individual and collaborative work.

These sessions were conducted by Carlos Iglesias, CEO at Runroom, Director of the Business Agility programme and co-director of the inDigital programme, both Executive Education programmes at Esade Business School, and Pablo Domingo, Professional Scrum Trainer (PST) and official Lean Kanban trainer. He is passionate about agile methodologies and systems thinking applied to helping people improve organisations.

Applicability as an outcome

As we said at the start of the case study, Runroom’s goal is to tailor and customise training materials and sessions as much as possible to get the best outcome, which is simply delivering our knowledge.

In each session we put theory into practice, going from the abstract to the concrete, transferring the tools and knowledge to the situation of each team and seeking direct relevance to their respective contexts. At Merck, we got each area to roll out its own Kanban to prompt a change in the way they do things and reap all the benefits of this agile methodology.

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