THE GRID - bringing digital transformation to life through game-play

Like all top-performing organisations, Stonewater recognises that digital transformation is vital to the long-term success and sustainability of the organisation.

Digital tools provide an opportunity to create better internal operations and drive business efficiencies which can be invested into improving and developing housing products and services. Going digital also means new opportunities to create new revenue streams and meet changing customer and market demands.

“The shift to become a digital organisation is more than a series of IT projects,” explains Karen Stephens, Digital Programme Director at Stonewater. “It requires that we plan, think and work differently. Taking both colleagues and customers on this ‘Journey of Discovery’ is essential to its success.”

In 2016 Stonewater embarked on a three-year, digital transformation programme to significantly improve the way it delivers its customer services and the way in which colleagues work. Having set this challenge, it’s been vital that the organisation had colleagues from board level to the newest recruit, focused and engaged in delivering its transformation strategy.

Stonewater has done this in a fun, collaborative and innovative way through THE GRID – a digital table game inspired by the 1980s sci-fi film Tron, played by the organisation’s entire 650 staff at its Colleague Annual Conference.

Photo of table decor with ladies in the backgroundPhoto of a group of people at a table at the Stonewater Staff conference



Stonewater’s brief to Design Force Associates, THE GRID’S creators, was to devise an interactive ‘snakes and ladders/dungeons and dragons-style’ table game which in bringing the organisation’s digital journey to life, would inform, engage and inspire colleagues.

Design Force Associates responded with THE GRID, an imaginative and interactive game based on the Tron film where players are transported into a digital universe to play on the game grid. “Our aim was to create a change from the usual format of sitting and looking at a screen,” explains Simon Brindle, Managing Director at Design Force. “THE GRID encouraged staff to engage and collaborate with one another.”

Learning through strategic game-play

The game involved 63 teams of around 10 players, each with a ‘CLU’ – a special guide briefed in advance by Design Force, who provided the team with information, help and support on navigating THE GRID.

The game is played on a virtual grid similar to the one in Tron, uniquely designed to enable up to 10 players to interact simultaneously around tables.

THE GRID is centred on Stonewater’s five digital strategy pillars – Drive Digital Engagement, Build on Digital Foundations, Data Driven Actions, Develop a Digital Organisation and Connected Homes and Residents. Teams of two had to play one of the digital pillars and answer questions relating to it to overcome digital barriers – such as helping a new customer become digitally-enabled – as they manoeuvred around the board.

Each team also had to find a solution to a series of digital barriers. These were then compiled in THE GRID’S ‘data cube’ – the central hub of the game. Players were additionally asked to share their own experiences outside work of being a digital customer to reinforce the importance of placing the user experience at the heart of digital outcomes. Each team’s CLU then assisted players to generate ideas from playing the game which could be applied within the ‘real world’ of Stonewater.

At the game’s conclusion, players each made their own digital pledges explaining how they would embrace Stonewater’s digital vision in their day-to-day work. These will be embraced within an internal communications strategy. The name of Stonewater’s new digital transformation strategy – ConnecteD – was also revealed to colleagues at the end of the game.

Bringing a digital vision to life

From the original brief to project implementation, Design Force worked closely with Stonewater’s communications, digital and people team, to create an educational and engaging game that brought the organisation’s digital strategy to life.

The concept, design and production of the game were cleverly introduced with the distribution of a ‘teaser video’ to build up excitement and created a buzz about THE GRID before the conference.

“We need to be digital – it is what our customers expect and we want to make our online services to them attractive and easy to use. The digital experience is equally important for colleagues working in Stonewater so that we can all work effectively wherever we are. With the geography that we cover this is a crucial part of our digital programme,” says Karen Stephens, Digital Programme Director at Stonewater. “THE GRID game was a brilliant way of getting colleagues engaged, excited and involved in our digital strategy. It also helped colleagues understand why digital transformation is so important to our business and our ability to provide high quality customer services that deliver real value for money.”


“The enthusiasm colleagues demonstrated playing THE GRID was inspiring,” says Jenny Sawyer, Stonewater’s Director of People and Organisational Development. “Over 2000 individual responses were captured on the day. These have been collated and analysed and a digital communications and engagement strategy has been developed.”

The strategy will reinforce the overall vision for digital within Stonewater and will support a new digital culture across the organisation. Colleagues will also have the opportunity to embed themselves further through the introduction of a Discover Digital Passport. The passport has been designed so that they can manage their own personal digital journey, understand the key elements of the programme and enable them to ‘Think Digital, Act Digital, Be Digital’.

Based around Stonewater’s five digital pillars, colleagues will be encouraged to complete the passport by undertaking digital tasks associated with specific elements of the programme.
The strategy will also encourage digital storytelling.

“Using Stonewater’s five digital pillars and the fantastic digital pledges colleagues made on the day, we will help everyone across the organisation bring the story to life via blogs, vlogs and social media,” explains Jenny.

“Travelling to THE GRID took colleagues on a virtual journey to the future, and with the amazing support and feedback we received, Stonewater’s digital reality for both customers and colleagues can now be realised.”