Shaking it up — What has Lego ‘Serious Play’ got to do with a procurement summit?

By Julia Christensen,

November 25, 2015    3 mins

Last week we were headline sponsors of the Public Sector Procurement Summit in London which provided some fascinating insight into the world of procurement.

I think it is safe to say that procurement is a critical issue for government organisations. With a £70 billion deficit, value for money, as well as better procurement are absolutely at the heart of most public sector strategies.

Today, public sector organisations are looking at how they can collaborate more with the private sector. In particular, they are looking to partner with more SME’s to foster a positive engagement that broadens-out capability and delivers innovation.

How do you work with SMEs in an agile, yet de-risked way?

Andrew Haldenby, Director of Reform chaired the one-day summit and the day’s proceedings kicked off with a presentation from one of our customers, Martin Fewell, Director of Media and Communications at the Metropolitan Police. Martin talked about the fact that the procurement of SME specialists is problematic for large public sector organisations in that it is perceived as risky. Martin went on to say that if these problems can be overcome and the relationship de-risked then the benefits are far reaching.

The Met chose to work with WAE to get the benefits of working with a small and agile specialist rather than going the route of a larger more traditional supplier. It was all about challenging the status quo, taking a very customer centric approach to defining its requirements and problem solving, rather than a business centric one. As a result, the Met Police was able to deliver quite an extra-ordinary piece of work that is set to revolutionise policing in London.

The Met Police approached WAE to design a mobile service that would dramatically shift the relationship between the Police and the public — with a long-term vision of the future of policing in London. Our work for The Met Police has been successful largely due to our ability to bring customers into the heart of the organisation, excite and engage key stakeholders and leadership teams and solve real problems that make a measurable difference. What we have effectively done is free up police officers time so that they can go back to policing the streets rather than getting bogged down in routine paperwork.

The clock is ticking

Martin’s presentation was followed by a panel session around the future of procurement. I sat on the panel along with Martin and Jim Carter, Commercial Director, Network Rail and Pat Mills, Commercial Director, Department of Health. Here we discussed how we develop strategic leadership with procurement professionals and whether procurement should play a role in developing business with suppliers. In particular Pat talked about the huge deficit facing the NHS and how it needed to quickly find ways to procure smarter — as the clock is ticking towards 2020.

We then had a couple of break-out session where I ran a debate around the many methods to involve people in the right way to drive engagement. Building the right teams to focus on customer centricity, asking the right questions of the right audience to deliver the right outcome, and adopting a fresh agile approach to customer engagement are all good starting points. We also talked about encouraging people to think differently and to embrace an open, commercial approach that scales to meet your business needs. All these components help to excite and encourage buy-in.

Enabling whole brain thinking

At WAE we use a multitude of techniques including Lego Serious Play and 6 Hats to both help break down perceptions and open up behavioural insight through whole brain thinking. To truly understand how your business can succeed, you first need to break the business down, create a shared vision and then use smart creative thinking tools to take your teams on a journey. This certainly opened up a host of questions during the session and we got a lot of feedback and interaction during the workshop.

At WAE we work with our clients to help them make smart, intelligent informed decisions and remain focused on the outcomes they want to achieve. Moreover we help them understand more clearly what the future customer looks like — and how they behave. Understanding how Millennials communicate, observing their behaviour and acknowledging advancements in technology will impact on how you drive change within your organisation and create the ultimate customer experience.

Break the mould

Large organisations often find it very challenging to procure services from SMEs. No one ever got fired for hiring IBM, yet government bodies and complex organisations, such as TfL and The Metropolitan Police have opted to break the mould and work with WAE to deliver outcomes that are now revolutionising their operations.

By taking a fresh approach they are reaping the benefits. We are demonstrating new ways of thinking — both in how they work on major change projects and how they engage with specialist businesses like us who believe transformation can only come through adopting a ‘customer first’ methodology.

Taking risks in procurement is a challenge, but government organisations who are able to work with SMEs in a way that is both agile and de-risked, will find that this delivers incredible results.

If you are looking to adopt new ways of thinking to drive cultural and behavioural change — please get in touch, we’re here to help —