Postal service in a changing world
The Dutch postal service PostNL is 200 years old. Not surprisingly, the organisation has gone through countless changes over the years, and the world today is completely unlike the world at the time the company began. People are sending fewer letters. However, parcel deliveries are rocketing thanks to online shopping. In a world in which people’s lives are ruled by technology, PostNL needed to rediscover its meaning and purpose. For its senders, staff and recipients, PostNL needed a new corporate story.
PostNL began by formulating a clear vision that encompassed the essence of the organisation: connecting people, now and in the future, using the latest technology. Working with PostNL’s Communication and Strategy departments, PROOF developed an inspiring story that explored the world in which PostNL operates, the company’s vision of the future, and the road that would lead it there. This ‘compelling story’ was based on PostNL’s vision and strategy, plus a series of interviews with employees at all levels in the organisation. The result: a clear and inspiring story that would be widely supported.
Bringing the story to life
The compelling story formed the basis for all subsequent communication. The first challenge was to engage every employee in the story of the future of PostNL. Visualisation and the type of communication used played a significant role in this. The compelling story was brought to life in a film in which a presenter walked through various scenes. These scenes visualised the various worlds in which PostNL operates, with the presenter explaining how PostNL serves customers now and in the future and, in particular, connects people and the world. The title of the film: Seamless connections.
The first step in involving employees in the compelling story was to literally make them part of it. The film was shot with the help of around 40 PostNL staff, each of whom had their own role. The production also included a making of in which staff talked about their part in the film, and PostNL CEO Herna Verhagen shed more light on the strategy.
Both the actual film and the making of were produced in Dutch and English versions. It was first shown to senior managers during an annual meeting. After watching it, they immediately went to work, in workshops, to figure out how best to tell the story in their own words. The film was then shown to all staff, with managers explaining the relevance of the story and so making it concrete in terms of what it meant for their own team’s daily work. With the context having been sketched, it was now up to every department and part of the company to flesh out the story in the way that was most appropriate to them.
Basis for internal and external
For employees, the compelling story brought the vision of the future of PostNL to life. At the same time, it formed the basis for PostNL’s strategy update, in which the company would tell the outside world – and the financial world in particular – about its strategy up to 2020. A story with the right balance of information and inspiration had provided the solid foundation needed for a successful follow-on.