How to make a practice stick in an organization with a little effort? How to grow a practice and scale up from 50 people to 10.000 in two years?
It is well known that to introduce a new practice in an organization with success, you would need a kind of magic potion that combines all the right ingredients at the right moment and the right place. You do not have to enter in magic worlds and talk with witches to find that potion; there is a real-life one: KudoBox practice has all likelihood to become that.
Back in 2015, when I arrived at my company, it seems like a dream to introduce management 3.0 techniques. Where to start? Even when all the company culture entirely matched with this practices, they needed a boost to keep moving forward.
So I decided to start with a simple keynote about kudoBox technique. People were totally impressed and involved from the beginning, so they were willing to begin with kudos next day (don´t get me wrong, it was not because my powerful persuasion, it was just because it is a practice easy to start experiment with). To do that, We selected five teams to experiment with the kudo box with the help of the HR department. Without a big plan. Without a big corporate initiative. Just like that. Our potion was starting to look good.
Then, we let the teams select all the “configuration rules” Some teams chose to open the box every 15 days, others every week. Three teams decided to associate the kudos with small gifts (no more than 10 euros)
After two months, the company got the first results: more engagement, more productivity and a lot of people around wondering about the crazy practice from another magic world (yes! Common sense is not always a common practice).
Three years later, we are getting better and better. We have now several channels to say thanks with kudo box in our company. From the simple box in every corner of the firm to digital tools that make easy for everybody to use the technique. And we reach this year more than 10 thousand people (40% of the total employees) using the practice. Also, we have a corporate box and cards for any team that wants to start. I have to say that I deny any welldoing. It was all a matter of people believing in it, and they were willing to work for it.
But our last move is making a difference: We are setting up a big wall within the company where every person, team/department can put their kudos. We call it The Corporate wall of employee’s pride. It feels like when you walk into a football stadium and see all the cups and awards the team has won. It is catching all the attention of every employee, and it helps us to extend more quickly the initiative.
And last but not least we are working now introducing this year a “Kudo Awards event” so teams will have the opportunity to “have the best kudos practice ever around the company” voting by everyone once per year.
In my ten years of professional experience working as a change agent, I always had many problems introducing new practices at the team level and organizational level. After a few months still the teams would throw it away, and no matter how much effort I put in, there was no way to demonstrate a return on investment.
What was different this time? How the practice scaled up from five to hundreds of teams? Why more than 40% of the total employees use the practice at this time? Why we achieved this with almost no effort?
I think it was for three reasons: first of all, kudo box technique is common sense practice. Get people to offer each other tokens of appreciation, either by posting them in a box or putting them on a wall is something that almost anybody cannot resist. Also is cheap and offer short-term results; Second, as Jurgen Appelo was saying last year, people do not change because you tell them to change. People change because smart companies make them want to change. And to do that they use techniques borrowed from sociology and psychology as gamification, behavioral economics, and habitualization. That was what we did with this initiative.
But there is a third reason. The most important one: you need a magic potion. When people find a practice that matches with their values, it’s spread by word of mouth throughout the company at the speed of light. And that’s it. After all, Who doesn’t find it useful and valuable to make some time to say thank you?