Luminous India, a three decade old market leader in power storage and home electrical businesses – wanted to create better synergy and collaboration amongst their structural silos. The market establishment had brought in taller functional verticals and high specialisation. HR leaders at Luminous foresaw that these ‘closed departments’ would gradually weigh them down. It was only a culture of interdepartmental collaboration and interaction that would provide a sandbox for innovation and new ideas to spur. They feared they might eventually lose their ability to quickly respond to the market demands and lose their competitive edge to newer and leaner organisations.
Seepika, head of total rewards, Luminous, articulates these challenges in an interview.
“Our strategic challenges are different for each of our business segments. New competitors are entering our power storage business segment, where we are stable and leading. We need to break through the home electrical business using product innovation and quality, because of the tough competition from the established players. We need to sustain our battery segment growth and increase the growth rates of 63 per cent, that we achieved in FY 2018-19 in the electrical segment.
Customer service is another aspect of this growth challenge. Consistency in services across service partners and excellence in customer service are very important elements.”
This requirement to sustain and stimulate innovation, made them take a stand. They called themselves an agile organisation and extensively worked towards being one. This strategic shift required extensive reinvention of processes and policies. Battalions of cross-functional ‘process simplification’ and ‘process re-engineering’ teams were deployed and every process was brought under scrutiny.
“In a VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) world, the rate of business transition and market volatility is unprecedented. It is dangerous to consider oneself as mature. I believe that the learning process stops once you feel mature and have a know-it-all attitude. We are constantly learning and changing as an organisation. We would like to call ourselves an agile organisation. Innovation is a KPI for our products and processes. ‘Learn everyday’ is even a company value,” says Seepika.
As an result, cross-functional focus groups, quality circles, and so on were introduced to nurture inter-departmental collaboration. To incite an intrinsic need for the employees to collaborate and break down the silos, though, Luminous required a massive behavioural shift.
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That is when the HR team at Luminous turned to evaluate Xoxoday Empuls, an employee-engagement platform. This platform helped them consistently reinforce behaviours that denoted cross-functional collaboration.
All the interdepartmental dependencies, which would have otherwise gone unrecognised or been taken for granted, were brought into the limelight.
Xoxoday Empuls provided features for peer-to-peer recognition, which helped with this positive reinforcement process — with ‘thank you’ notes, wishes and value badges.
Peers could recommend an employee from another department, for an award – and this provided ample opportunity for ‘pats on the back’ for helping someone out of their department’s way.
These badges and appreciations are announced on an organisational community wall, which is viewed by every employee of the organisation. Other employees can add their special wishes on the comment threads, ‘high-five’ or ‘+1’ a message to show collective appreciation.
This one-behaviour-at-a-time reinforcement has shown great results in the levels of interaction between functions.
“Transforming functional silos to a collaborative ecosystem was another significant purpose of implementation. Before Xoxoday, every function worked in strapped silos,” says Seepika.
This is a stark example of how the HR function can be instrumental in bringing about strategic change and paradigm shifts in an organisation. The biggest learning from the ambitious HR team at Luminous is how it ventures to re-think and aspires to transform employee behaviour in order to re-engineer the organisational culture. Together with Xoxoday Empuls, Luminous India achieved employee engagement that helped to make its work culture interactive and collaborative.
How do market leaders predict and solve the fallibilities of existing people processes? How does the HR function play a strategic role in restructuring such organisations? This article talks about how Luminous transformed collaboration between silos.