Sports, the Countryside, Lean Thinking and How You Can Maximize Performance

Where do you go when you need a break?

For Olga, that place is her countryside home.

“There’s a lake and forest. We invite guests to relax and enjoy the scenery,” says Olga, the project manager overseeing performance transformation at Kyivstar.

Imagine your special place again. You can get there soon.

Today, we catch up with Olga to learn more about her work and life. Her words of wisdom will show you how to be more productive — and how you can chill by the lake at the end of the day.

What impact does your work have for Kyivstar?

We’re implementing lean principles within a company that provides a service. We’re not a classic company for employing lean processes, like an auto manufacturer or a startup. So, some folks were skeptical at first. But our lean strategies are increasing productivity.

Tell us your Kyivstar lean story!

Before Kyivstar, I worked for 14 years in banking. I came to Kyivstar to get out of the routine and do something exciting. Though Kyivstar is fully focused on being agile, we’ve experienced a bit of hesitation when introducing lean initiatives. But, we’ve been given space to experiment, which is good. Lean strategy is becoming the way here. We first looked for people excited and knowledgeable about lean strategies. We then assigned lean navigators for each stream, like HR, B2B, etc. We’re also using internal resources to teach lean courses to employees. All of this is revolutionizing our culture in amazing ways.

Lean Certifications at Kyivstar

Additionally, I’ve been researching ways to build a startup-like culture within our large corporation. I’ve read recently the new book The Startup Way by Eric Ries, which has lots of insights on how entrepreneurial management styles can drive sustainable growth and continuous innovation within even the largest enterprises.

How can a big organization function like a startup?

There are many simple yet wise tips out there. Modern companies should empower leaders and talents, make entrepreneurship a core discipline like marketing or finance, and take risks and test products. We must also understand what we can do and minimize waste everywhere.

What are some initiatives you’ve implemented successfully?

Our initiatives have been based on understanding client needs. For instance, due to our first lean initiative we discovered that almost all of our B2B customers were going to the store to print invoices. The dates we were sending bills didn’t coincide with their accounting cycles. To make sure they would get the invoices more quickly, we started using electronic invoices. After a few months, nearly 98% of our B2B clients weren’t coming to the store anymore to print invoices. They’re quite satisfied with electronic billing. We reduced paper flow and and took one more step towards becoming a more digital company.

Olga and Lean certifications as well as some inspiration

We’ve also implemented new initiatives internally. For example, within the HR function, we’re working on shortening the onboarding process, especially the time from job offer to start date and from start date to full working date. We’ve cut literally days off the process.

What makes someone good at lean management?

First, you have to embrace the agile way of doing things. That means using collaborative cloud-based tools, increasing transparency when it comes to decision-making, prioritizing projects effectively, executing strategies quickly, and making improvements constantly.

Also, you must identify roadblocks to entrepreneurship and remove them so that people can unleash their talent.

Another thing is Gemba walk! It should be part and parcel of each Lean improvement. We must go out and see how the customers are using a product or service. We must go where employees are to see how they’re working. This is how we identify main issues, fix them, and make things more efficient. You don’t make magic by dictating things from an office.

What’s the final goal for lean strategies at Kyivstar?

It’s to get rid of inefficiencies and maximize productivity. Perhaps you’ve read about the prototype mindset, which shows how you can solve big problems, test new ideas within few days, and then make improvements right away. That’s how we want to be.

For example, now, in stores, we’re trying to simplify by analyzing touchpoints and flow processes. We’re focusing on helping customers quickly by reducing wait times and getting to the point. Our salespeople at retail shops literally just ask what customers need. In the first few stores we’ve done this, we’ve seen an increase in sales by 35 percent. Our next challenge is to reduce the number of free services by 10% in monobrands and transfer them to digital and alternative channels, which will allow to reinvest shop`s staff workload to sales. Going forward, we’re going to implement lean everywhere. The overall goal is to make our customers happier and our organization more successful.

Be smart. Be lean.

It’s a beautiful day in the countryside

Let’s get back to the place you want to be when it’s time to relax. Learn how to utilize your toolbox, apply lean thinking principles, and embrace the future (as Olga advises). You’ll get to that place sooner than expected.

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