DesignThinkers Academy places a strong focus on bringing back customer centricity at Randstad Group

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DesignThinkers Academy places a strong focus on bringing back customer centricity at Randstad Group A collaboration between Randstad Group and DesignThinkers Academy By Tim Schuurman and Jochem van Laren Intro


Randstad has placed clients back into the spotlight by opening The Kitchen, a physical creative space where employees can experiment with various ingredients to optimize the customer experience. Collaboration with the DesignThinkers Academy led to a solid foundation for a tailor-made training program, including a toolkit, followed by a long-term strategy and coaching on the job. This article describes the recipe for this successful partnership.

Randstad is a global leader in the HR services industry. By combining the passion for people with the power of today’s intelligent machines, Randstad supports people and organizations to realize their true potential.


Human-centered It was 1960 when the original founder of Randstad brought his first temporary agency worker to her new employer on the back of his bicycle; a prime example of a customer experience. Over fifty years later, Randstad has become a global player, but is facing receding margins and competition from unexpected places (such as Google for Jobs and Uber). “We should make a clearer distinction between our company and other players, which is why we started focusing on the entire customer experience for both candidates and companies,” says Jochem van Laren, Human-Centered Coach at Randstad. “An extensive research for efficiency may sometimes push the customer to the background. Design Thinking can be used to return the spotlight onto the client in a unique, company-specific way.”

client-focused approach, Randstad contacted the DesignThinkers Academy (DTA).

Collaboration is key The partnership with DTA led to the development of three elements that established a foundation for innovation in The Kitchen: 1. Activating the internal organization, by means of a launch event; 2. Developing custom tools in line with The Kitchen; 3. Training Randstad employees and facilitators in Design Thinking. Customer Journey Map

PERSONA ..........................


Tim Schuurman, DesignThinkers Academy Amsterdam.

The Kitchen: a space for experiments In the exploratory stage it was Randstad’s challenge to activate major internal stakeholders. “This is why I often brought managers and other colleagues with me to inspirational meetings with companies like Rabobank and Vodafone,” Jochem explains. “Without knowing it, I was already in the first stage of the ‘Double Diamond’1 of Design Thinking.” This exploratory stage resulted in The Kitchen, a physical creative space in the head office, focused on experimenting with the various ingredients in the customer experience. The goal of The Kitchen is to stimulate a human-centered attitude, one which should enable Randstad employees to get easily in contact with their end users. To launch The Kitchen and the associated © 2019 Text and images DesignThinkers Academy






Design Thinking training

Facilitation training

Coaching on the job


“We only take on projects with organizations that really want to work together,” says Tim. “Randstad was entirely open to it, which meant working with Randstad, not for them.” The Randstad team saw this as the perfect partnership: “We were looking for a partner that would not only help launch The Kitchen but also provide intrinsic and process-related support,” Jochem explains. “The fact that the DTA offers this combination – instead of just training – was extremely valuable to us.”

Staged process To activate The Kitchen internally, Randstad is applying a behavioural change model, and the Behavioural Model by BJ. Fogg of Stanford University in particular, which concentrates on motivation and skill factors. “In the first stage of the process we focused mainly on motivating Randstad employees to think in a more customer-oriented way,” Jochem says. “The Design Thinking training sessions mainly highlighted this aspect: inspiring as many internal people as possible. We are now entering the second stage in which employees must become skilled at independently applying Design Thinking in projects.” In the first stage, the DTA prepared Randstad employees to act as facilitators via train-the-trainer sessions. This was followed by the quick roll-out of thirty internal training sessions in Design Thinking which had over 300 employees participating. These sessions involved employees from various departments and teams, including IT, sales, marketing, front office and support. It always motivates us to see how inspired people become when they learn to use Design Thinking to tackle issues or processes. You immediately see the effect it has on the participants’ mindset.

Staged process The Kitchen has now already been part of 25 customerfocused projects, a number which is set to rise as increasing numbers of Randstad employees find their way there. And many more will follow if it is up to Jochem, who has clear objectives for the coming year: “The tactic is to make Human-Centered Facilitators of the already active change managers and project managers within the Randstad Group.” Tim indicates that this requires process supervision: “We coach Randstad ‘on-the-job’ and support them in proving the value of Design Thinking.”

Key Take-aways The recipe for a customer-focused organizational process: 5 key Take-aways 1 Start by broadly exploring what a customer-focused approach means in and outside the organization.

Involve relevant stakeholders from in and outside the organization from the outset. 2

4 Motivate and inspire employees, turning them into ambassadors. 5 Split up the process into – preferably measurable – milestones.

3 Find collaborative partners who you can coach on-thejob.

Watch the video of the launch of The Kitchen here 1

Double Diamond: The double diamond shape is often used to illustrate

Tangible results

a design process. The model analyses the process by dividing it into four

Randstad is a company that demands concrete results, and especially ones that can be reported on quantitively. This was a challenge in the first stage as you have to find a way to quantify motivation and enthusiasm. Tim shares a practical tip: “It helps to divide a Design Thinking process into milestones; for example, by formulating 75% of the projects in a ‘how can we…’ question. This way, you can share concrete results with management throughout the process.”

follows the same diamond shape in the process, alternating between

© 2019 Text and images DesignThinkers Academy

different stages: Research, Define, Develop and Test. Design Thinking divergent thinking and convergent thinking.

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