Meet Charly & Kees
“Enabling new customer promises the most effective and efficient way”. Charly Toni & Kees Jans - our 2 Chief Technology Officers - talk about how they see the role of Tech within wehkamp and reflect on their journey, looking backward and always pushing forward.
What is the North Star of Technology?
We started off with ‘never miss a promise’ and were successful in achieving that as first part of our journey. We have evolved to a new north star for us as technology: "enabling new customer promises the most effective and efficient way". As technology we focus on how we can enable and support the organization and teams in the most effective and efficient way. An e-commerce organization is an ecosystem: we make a promise to our customers and we need to deliver the promise. We have to do that together.
What is your journey pursuing this North Star?
We are moving as technology more and more into the business. It is our role to bring colleagues with various skill sets and expertise together and make sure teams are able to organize and manage themselves. We are working towards a situation where there is no technology department as such, but technology has become an integral part of the business. As technology, we embraced the digital way of working in the form of agile within wehkamp. This used to be something specific to tech. Over time other specialisms within wehkamp adopted this digital way of working and now this is the standard everywhere in Wehkamp. We are very proud that we could help in this journey. It is all about starting. You can still move and move forward fast without knowing everything in advance. We call our transformation digital, we do it agile.
What is your personal North Star?
It might seem strange, but my personal North Star is to make myself redundant. I truly believe in the self-steering powers of autonomous teams that are eager to learn the ever-changing capabilities required and that truly unite around our common ambition to continuously improve and innovate our customer experience to new, unmet levels.
Every interaction of me with teams aims to elaborate on the why & the how, truly understanding the parts that are not clear yet or that could be done differently. In the end it comes down to driving committed ownership by the teams fostering excitement about a strong, common ambition. Every interaction with colleagues is to help & guide, to understand their energy drivers and drains, fueling personal and professional development true to one of our core beliefs: "wehkamp groeit, jij groeit, jij groeit, wehkamp groeit".
Our open & transparent culture is a perfect foundation for development, both professional and personal.
It inspires me to take ownership of the digital transformation. For me, this translates into my effort to make sure we all take our organization wide North Star as the guiding light. All of us have our own unique expertise and strengths. If we are able to build on our combined strength and push forward, we will move with a pace that we have not seen before.
What is your journey pursuing your North Star?
I see change happen every day, and I see learning happen every day. For me personally, this is exactly the same. Every day new insights, new actions, new experiments. I am hugely grateful for my journey at wehkamp and all the people who take part in that journey.
Just to give you an example of the great things that I am lucky enough to experience. We had an issue that we thought would take four years to solve. The team decided to take another approach and without any sign off or approval from anyone, to go live. This was a huge technology issue that needed to be solved. All teams and systems were affected if we wouldn’t solve it on time and to the full. The team felt the ownership to take on the challenge and to solve it. There was trust, courage and entrepreneurship. The team just did it, really mind blowing.
Another example is that we introduced a new form of post mortems, where we identify learnings from things that were not a success. These post mortems are great examples of transparency, trust and a learning mindset. In the end, it is all about learning and improving every day for our customers and colleagues. The way we do post mortems work for us. More importantly teams are constantly improving how they do post mortems to make it work for them. It is all about learning, improving and making it work. #winning
There are a few things that really jump out for me. Everyone in Technology now feels part of the same team. The technology expertise is a specialism that has been around for many years. In recent years, the speed of development and complexity has increased. In such a reality, it is very important to look at each other’s strengths and to trust each other’s expertise. We were able to ignite a transformation within Technology to the point where teams now automatically improve and transform themselves. There is trust, respect and a lot of laughter. I think we were able to make such shift because me and the other Tech LEADs don’t take ourselves too seriously. However, we take the impact of our work and the development of colleagues very serious. We were in the fortunate situation that our colleagues chose to trust our intentions, and were willing to explore and own this journey together.
It is great to see how we now handle incidents, solve issues and innovate. We are more than ever really open to each other, about everything. There is no blaming and shaming. It is all about trust, people feel that it is okay to make mistakes. Solving things together and learning every day, that is what really counts at wehkamp.