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Increasing innovation impact at KLM by building solid innovation capabilities

A strategic approach combined with innovation in practice; we’ve built, prototyped, iterated and refined the program together with the KLM core team and about 100 participants.

Increasing the adaptive and innovative capacity of the organization to pioneer in the next 100 years

KLM can proudly look back on 100 years of history in aviation. To achieve their ambition of becoming the most customer-centric, innovative network carrier and continue their pioneering role in the next 100 years requires them to increase the adaptive and innovative capacity of the organization. KLM acknowledges this requires adopting a design-driven culture and practice that is collaborative, innovative, and user-centred.

A few years ago, KLM started a change program with the aim to increase design capabilities in the organisation. They invited Livework to support them in developing, implementing, scaling, and running this change program.

A skill-based approach tailored to a wide variety of teams, contexts and challenges

We leveraged existing design initiatives and capabilities within KLM, in collaboration with the KLM internal core team. Together we developed the program through three interlinking workstreams:

Build sustainable internal capabilities
To ensure that the design driven culture, practice and ways of working survive after the end of the program, we co-created an organisational backbone. We enhanced amongst others: a northstar vision, a capability framework, the programme branding, a shared language, tailored design methods tools and empowering and connecting the existing design community.

Developing skill based training modules
We took a skill based learning approach; we focussed on developing specific innovation skills through training, followed by offering coaching on the job to empower KLM employees to integrate new tools into their ways of working in live operation. By not providing (yet another) innovation process yet offering a wide variety of design methods, and adapting them to the context and specific needs of the teams, we could implement a way of working that is tailored to KLM’s reality and culture.

Implementing fit-for-purpose learning journeys
To scale this change program throughout the organisation required a balancing act between standardizing and tailoring. The training is developed in custom building blocks and revolves around real life cases. An individual skill assessment and various training modules enabled us to compose fit-for-purpose learning journeys that fit with the wide variety in the level of experience, contexts and challenges involved.

A solid foundation to head for KLM’s north star and first successes.



100+ KLMers upskilled by the programme
With a mix of training and coaching we inspired and empowered over 100 KLM employees to strengthen and expand their innovation capabilities and solve paradoxical challenges. The teams varied from digital services to operations to ground and flight teams.
In this first phase, we designed and implemented 6 learning modules that can be ‘cut to fit’ for different teams and departments needs. We deployed follow up coaching sessions so that different roles got the support and upskilling they needed. The objective for the next phase is to further scale-up the training vertically – to front line staff as well as leadership – and horizontally to other units and departments. Next to that the aim is to coach more in-depth; project based and start-to-end.

Solid metrics & early symptoms of success
We have seen the first signs of success of this program. To track if the program is delivering the desired outcomes and build evidence of impact we have identified qualitative and quantitative metrics on organisation level as well as program and training level. Long term desired outcomes (mostly on organisational KPIs) have been connected to early symptoms of success that already show in individual behaviours.

Internalising the programme
The program is now governed by KLM operations and continues to develop. The solid organisational capabilities that were put in place ensure the change program outlives Liveworks presence. KLM is committed to continue with the program, scale the training within the organisation and work towards the northstar ambition.

Let's talk!
Anne van Lieren Lead Service Designer

I am a lead service designer and a researcher with a strong interest in human behaviour and user research. I work on the crossroads of service design, human behaviour and business to create meaningful customer experiences that deliver value to both the customer and business.

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