Rabobank Engages Stakeholders in Online Dialogues

How Synthetron’s platform allowed 5000 stakeholders to have their voice heard by the Dutch cooperative bank, Rabobank.


Rabobank started by hosting physical roundtable dialogues with their stakeholders to enrich the quantitative data and foster in-person connection. But because of Covid-19, the setup had to change to online. That is when they sought out the help of Synthetron to organize data-driven and engaging online dialogues.

“In meetings, it’s not unusual you often hear the ones with the loudest voices. In a dialogue, it’s important that everyone can elaborate and contribute on a basis of equality. That’s a great benefit of working with this online .” – Maaike Van Leeuwen, Adviser at Rabobank.

Download the full case report here: https://synthetron.com/case-rabobank-en/

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Employee Engagement in Higher Education Institute

How Synthetron’s platform allowed +600 affiliated teachers to have their voice heard by their umbrella organization.


In a company where some employees are physically located in the office and others work from different locations at different times, it can be a challenge for management to connect and involve all employees

FOF Aarhus addressed this challenge and launched a large-scale employee engagement process in the spring of 2021 with the aim of giving all employees a voice. With the help of the Synthetron, FOF Aarhus was able to ensure that every employee had a chance to be heard and the opportunity to become a strong and influential part of the organization – both now and for the future.

Download the full case report here: https://synthetron.com/case-fof/

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Australian industry members co-create their vision for the future.

How a national industry body used Synthetron to engage their members to set a vision for their industry & assess the support they needed in navigating COVID19.



The client and their needs
Our client was a peak national industry body. In partnership with their eight state and territory associations, they wanted to engage their members in a conversation about their industry’s future and to better understand the optimal service offerings and governance framework their members wanted.

The industry and its character
The members of the national and state industry associations are from the for-profit and the not-for-profit sectors, and vary considerably in terms of their governance arrangements, size and needs.

The task
The client asked Synthetron to engage their members in a conversation about the future of the industry, the value they placed on the services provided by the industry association, and what they wanted to see from their associations in the future.


Pause and think about this… 134 member organisations engaged in a conversation that yielded 1503 ideas and 745 agreements, and all in only 60 minutes.



The questions explored during the Synthetron conversation

  • What services provided by the national and state/territory associations have been helpful in dealing with the pandemic?
  • What support is required as we move out of isolation?
  • What is your vision or ideas for our industry over the next five years?
  • What does success look like for your organisation?
  • Which of our services do you consider essential and which do you not consider essential?
  • How do you think these services should be paid for or funded?
  • What is the key message you’d like to share?


The outcome – Key Agreements 

  • Vision A high level of agreement was reached by members for eight key ideas that could be broadly grouped into two themes – industry reputation, and accessibility and quality of services.
  • Definition of Success A high level of agreement was reached by members for 15 key ideas that could be broadly grouped into several themes – transitioning out of COVID, customer relationship management, service affordability for customers, industry profitability, industry governance, and industry reputation.
  • Key messagesMembers believed that the national and state associations needed to rationalise their respective roles, review their membership and fee structure, and explore opportunities to be more creative and member-orientated.

The outcome – The character of the Agreements
This particular Synthetron session revealed that:

  • The level of member agreement was strongest when discussing the vision for the industry
  • The level of member agreement was weaker when discussing how to fund services, and
  • The most number of agreements were reached when discussing the services members want and what success looks like

The power of insight

Synthetron is powerful in its capacity to virtually engage large numbers of participants, explore a large numbers of ideas, and distil the areas of agreement and disagreement in a short amount of time. And the resulting “data feast” enables clients to drill down and analyse what participants said by any number of demographic variables.

The analytical capability that Synthetron offers clients makes the platform unique and powerful. In this instance, Synthetron was able to provide a deep dive analysis of the data for the client by industry sector (six variables), jurisdiction (eight variables), size of member (five variables) or any combination of the resulting hundreds of ways of drilling down to compare and contrast what members with different characteristics said.

This yielded the client with deep and valuable insights. For example, in relation to the proposal for industry association services to be funded on a user-pays model, there was a divergence of opinion between large and small members and between jurisdictions.

Such analytical capability enabled the industry association to really understand what their members thought and where agreement converged and diverged.

Synthetron’s support on the project:

What we did

  • Designed the engagement strategy in partnership with the client.
  • Designed and sent out invitations to industry members to join the conversation.
  • Managed registration for the conversation.
  • Designed the conversation script for the Synthetron discussion in consultation with the client.
  • Moderated the Synthetron conversation with the nine national and state industry bodies watching the conversation evolve in real time.
  • Produced a 17-page  report for the client on key outcomes and findings inside three days.
  • Produced a deep-dive 103-page analysis for the client exploring members’ perspectives by member size, jurisdiction, and industry sector.



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Stakeholder conference turned virtual at a Dutch bank.

How a cooperative bank used Synthetron as a tool to change a physical conference into a truly interactive virtual conference for all stakeholders.


Rabobank (a Dutch cooperative Bank) has a strong ambition to contribute to sustainable development. This is explicitly formulated in the mission of the bank: ’Growing a Better World Together’. As such, they had planned a half-day dialogue event gathering a variety of stakeholders ranging from governmental institutions, NGOs, academia, and business. The purpose of the conference was to do collective research about sustainability and to connect the participants, allowing them to gather insights and for Rabobank to adapt their policy choices accordingly.

However, we were at the start of 2020 and it wasn’t long before Covid-19 made it impossible for the organisers to go on with their planned physical conference. Instead of cancelling the event, it was decided to simply replace the already planned conference and bringing it from physical to virtual.

They approached our Synthetron consultants, with whom they decided to translate the 3 hour physical conference into a 2 hour online event mixing Teams Live Event (a Microsoft videoconference tool) with Synthetron (an online dialogue tool).

The agenda for the event had to be changed and simplified but, with the help of our consultants, the bank managed to create an online dialogue event that provided an alternative that brought rich and substantive input. 

Rabobank Online conference on sustainability


To make everyone feel at ease with the whole process and be ready for the day itself, the Synthetron consultants organised dry-runs with the client. Making sure that the organisers were comfortable to organise this online dialogue event. Details like; how to start and end the session, what to say, and making sure that the whole process was a bit more personal and pleasant for the participants was something Rabobank brought in by introducing a Synthetron moderator during the session.

The whole process was co-designed by the Synthetron consultants and the client. Here is what the process looked like;

  • First (30 minutes in Teams Live Event): Introduction by the bank’s CEO and with the chairman of the event.
  • Second (1 hour in Synthetron): The structure of the online dialogue was based on the Rabo AI-dialogue method and transformed into the script for the Synthetron session. This included around 5 phases during which questions related to sustainability and banking where asked to the participants. Every single person was able to give their inputs and opinions as well as rank and react on those of others.
  • While the online dialogue was going on, on the moderator side, our consultants could help the client analyse different dynamics, opinions that stood out, and important topics to follow-up on. Based on what was coming out of the dialogue, the client could choose to go further on a topic and decide to adjust the script a bit, during the session itself.
  • Third (30 minutes in Teams Live Event): A panel with the chairman and a member of the managing board and advisor of the Rabobank Dialogue Expertise centre, looked back at what came out of the dialogue and concluded the event.



The participants to the virtual event were very pleased that the event could continue despite Covid-19 and enjoyed using a software to do that (Synthetron).

As for our client, they were able to gather new insights and suggestions from different stakeholders around sustainability. This will help them in their new policy choices on the topic, as they want to fulfill an important role in the development of sustainability practices in business.

During the uncertain times at the beginning of the corona crisis and the restrictions on public gathering, some organisations chose to cancel their events and conferences planned in 2020. Others, like Rabobank, decided to keep going, to be pro-active and find an alternative solution for their physical conference. Organisations don’t stop in times of crisis, they adapt. In this case, Synthetron was there to provide an effective alternative solution to share and collect insights with stakeholders.

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Keeping a genuine contact with employees during Covid-19’s home-working period.

Virtual meeting Synthetron Webex

How adding Synthetron’s e-dialogue to a videoconference of 60 managers allowed new director to keep a finger on the pulse.


It was Covid-19 times. Organisations could not have real, physical contact with their own people anymore. The question was, how to keep a genuine contact with your employees if it is all virtual? How do we keep our employees engaged and listened to?

To add to these difficulties of social distancing requirements, the Dutch Ministry of Justice had just been appointed a new Secretary-General before the crisis and he was looking for a way to get in touch with his big new team in a meaningful manner.

Quote + session image Secretary General Ministry Justice Virtual Meeting Synthetron


The new Secretary-General wanted to know how everyone was doing under these circumstances. In order to do that, he decided to use Synthetron and host a session to hear how his people were really doing working from home, as well as introducing new managers.

The process of feedback and receiving relevant input from his team was very important to the Secretary-General but unfortunately, traditional videoconferencing tools don’t let you do that easily. So, the solution here was to use Webex (a videoconferencing tool) to let the top managers make a presentation and then use Synthetron to get real feedback from everyone, live.

The managers could then immediately come back to what had come up during the feedback discussion on Synthetron and conclude by using Webex again. The whole process took 1 hour and 30 minutes.


The Secretary-General and his team got important insights from their managers. Insights about how they were handling this new working-from-home situation. What was working well, what was not working so well. Most importantly, they heard about how their managers were coping with this new situation and how they could be supported in the next weeks.

Participants to this ‘enhanced’ videoconference had only positive reactions to it. So much so that the Secretary-General and his team were convinced to continue using Synthetron for their future videoconferences. A few weeks later using the Webex-Synthetron combination and turning it into a powerful tool for innovation.

People felt involved, felt connected to their organisation. It was a way for them to keep in touch. To create this feeling of community. Everyone working together, but separate. They were happy to try a new way of doing virtual meetings. This was not just superficial, like video calls can sometimes be, it was about sharing real content and ideas with each other. The virtual way…

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Innovation during virtual times at the Dutch Ministry of Justice

How an interactive virtual meeting with 150 managers made innovating in times of crisis possible for the Dutch Ministry of Justice.


One need that the Corona crisis of 2020 accentuated was a need to innovate. Organisations were doing that before already, but this crisis forced them to innovate double as fast as and adapt to these changing circumstances, as day-to-day practices evolved because of homeworking.

The challenge then, for most companies, was to find a way to move forward with innovation while being unable to meet physically and host big innovation sessions with their different teams…

One organisation found a way to innovate effectively with their virtual teams. The Dutch Ministry of Justice had already leveraged Synthetron for the first time at the beginning of the Corona crisis to get in touch and connect with their people suddenly isolated and working from home. After being very pleased with the results and dynamic it had created in their teams, they used it again and turned it into a powerful tool for virtual innovation.

Their different departments had adopted new ways of working with their teams, had tried and tested different practices and it was time to now put the different departments together for them to learn from each other and implement, as an organisation, efficient new ways of working.

It all came together nicely for the organisation. They had been working already on a leadership program and a change program when the Corona times hit. At this point, they found it important to share experiences around innovation with their top managers to be able to learn quickly from each other in an open setting.

Covid 19 Virtual Meeting


Innovation was the most important objective. There was a clear need to innovate and share ideas that could immediately be adopted and implemented by the managers. In order to achieve that, it was decided to organise a virtual meeting with all the managers from all the departments and combine Synthetron (the discussion and co-creation part) with Webex (to introduce, present and conclude the meeting).

The meeting was divided into 3 cycles, one per presented innovation initiative. All cycles were built as follows;

  • First, the team of 150 managers used Webex (a videoconferencing tool) so the entire group could listen to the manager who presented the initiative. He presented and explained his new practices and what he had learned. (5 min)
  • Second, the different departments met using Synthetron to discuss and see if they could adopt certain practices in their own processes. Every department could discuss about; “Could we do the same in our processes? Would it work for us as well?” (10 min)
  • Third, Webex was used again for the organisers to immediately react and conclude on what had come out of the virtual discussions and what, based on these findings, the next steps would be. (5 min)

This cycle was repeated 3 times and followed by a general conclusion to the meeting.


Many ideas have come out of it. It was a big step forward for identifying ways to improving processes across the various departments, and this in just over an hour!

The biggest added value for the organisation was that Synthetron makes it possible for the them to use a videoconference tool like Webex alongside our e-dialogue platform. This allows to start with a “one-to-many” format, then swiftly enter into separate conversations in the “many-to-many” format to go deeper, share innovations and learn from all participants.

The most well-known videoconferencing tools like Zoom and Webex just don’t have a good functionality when it comes to allowing people sitting behind their computer, usually taking a passive role, to take a pro-active role by sharing and ranking their insights and opinions with those of others. By adding Synthetron to the mix, the organisers could let everyone speak, react, debate and find out relevant insights that, after just one hour, they could put forward and react on with Webex before concluding with concrete next steps.

The Synthetron consultant working on this case concluded: “Without our tool, all you can do is get a person to give a long presentation after which you might be able to get a few people to respond, but it usually doesn’t go above 10 people. It is really more of a ‘one man show’ or a ‘few people show’. It remains limited when it comes to sharing and discussing topics. Which is essential to any innovation process.

By combining Synthetron with their videoconferencing tool, the Dutch Ministry could turn two different tools into something new and powerful. Into a real tool for virtual innovation with big teams.

You want to get in touch with the Synthetron consultants who worked on this case to see what they can mean for your organization?




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Case: improving employee satisfaction

How a big university hospital used Synthetron to improve employee satisfaction.


Every three years one of the biggest University Hospitals in the Netherlands held traditional employee satisfaction surveys. However, they noticed that these surveys were encountering some problems.

Therefore the (then) Director of HR went looking for a new and innovative way to engage the employees and improve employee satisfaction.


Synthetron offered a way to engage teams directly, on their level, and offer them an open way to voice their opinions on what is going well, what isn’t, and what solutions they see. They were offered a safe space to talk anonymously. All of this could be done from a location of their choosing, they only needed a laptop or a tablet.

In three years time around 150 teams got the possibility to let their opinions be known. They wrote over 23.000 messages and came up with solutions tailor made for their own team. All sections of the hospital participated, from the medical- to the kitchen staff.

Synthetron developed the script for these dialogues and moderated the sessions together with an adviser from the HR department. The participants also filled in 9 closed questions. These questions enabled the hospital to compare the results to previous ones.

Synthetron worked closely together with dedicated staff from the hospital. Always keeping in contact and tweaking the script and approach when needed.


The team management, sector head, and HR representative of the team all got a copy of the report within a week after a team dialogue. This report included some statistics for benchmarks and all the most supported statements by participants (so called synthetrons).

Every sector of the hospital got it’s own consolidated report. This included thorough analysis of the results of the sector and benchmarks towards earlier years.

The Synthetron consultants also provided the hospital with an end report which included all the things that were going really well, and all the things that could be improved. Lastly, the hospital was provided with suggestions by Synthetron consultants on how to continue.

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Case: translating values into behaviours

How a financial institution translated its values into do’s and don’ts for branch personnel using Synthetron online dialogues.


A financial institution wanted to translate a set of global values into meaningful do’s and don’ts for everyone “on the floor” in their retail branch network.

They were looking for a way to involve big groups of employees in the actual development of these values.


Synthetron took a segmented approach, organising 8 sessions catering to different languages and split by size and by level (the branch director and branch personnel invited around 200 employees for each around).

Participants in the discussion were first asked to share their enthusiasm for the values, in order to understand drivers and hesitations.

Next, the focus lay on the meaning and translation of values in behaviours. In practice this was translated into the questions:what do we stop doing? Start doing? or keep doing?

In the end the participants shared what they can do to make things happen.


All the participants that were invited participated as well. They were very enthusiastic about the possibility to contribute their views. The discussions created an instant buzz on the values within the networks.

Synthetron consultants did the analysis and formed a report. It yielded some surprising insights in terms of: do’s and don’ts, on the deep understanding of current mind-set of the participants, and in the change forces.

The content analysis was the basis to produce a small booklet with do’s and don’ts using participants’ own words. The MindSet (language and motivation) profile was used to adapt the communication style. The roll out plan was based on the analysis of change forces.

The do’s and don’ts were rolled out successfully. They were perceived from the beginning “as ours” and two years later are sticking well.

Case: digging into disappointing employee survey results

How a FMCG crowdsourced solutions using Synthetron online dialogues following disappointing survey results on retention and work life balance.


“This exceeded our expectations, and those were high.”

— Senior board member



A multinational consumer goods company board member was surprised to see – despite overall good results – some very low work-life balance and retention scores in his business unit (BU).

Management did not have instant answers for the disappointing survey results.  They also lacked insight into what potential actions would work to turn these scores around.

They wanted to dig deeper into the survey results by engaging employees in a different way.



Together with representatives of the company,.Synthetron developed the questions for an online dialogue to better understand the low work-life balance and retention scores.

The entire BU was invited to spend 1 hour of its monthly “all in office” day to join a Synthetron session about work-life balance and retention.

Top management observed the discussion in a separate room. In this way, they experienced the authentic feedback and could sense the energy of the conversation.


On the day of the discussion, the entire BU felt lots of energy and excitement. Some difficult topics were on the table, and solutions were now clearly articulated.

Within two weeks, Synthetron presented the results to the management and two weeks later to all participants. The results provided insight into what the different issues were. Motivators and de-motivators were itemized. 4 actionable improvement areas with specific suggestions for implementation were presented.

In addition, a mindset analysis made the management aware of how important it was for them to act.  The mindset analysis also explained how management could best communicate about some of the very sensitive issues.

The BU management took action on the practical solutions suggested.  They also addressed the sensitive issues very openly. This created instant good will and a significant increase in employees’ survey scores the next year.

Case: assessing readiness for culture change

How a global company used a Synthetron value jam to assess readiness for a culture change.


A worldwide division of a large industrial services multinational developed a proposed new corporate culture with a changed mission.

They wanted to test this in order to launch it successfully at the worldwide top 500 conference.

This involved getting input from different locations before the conference.


Synthetron organised a value jam session with 8 online open discussions split by employee segment. The goal was to identify present: motivators, irritators, and hopes and fears.

The resulting synthetrons (most supported statementes) were analysed by segment. Furthermore they were integrated to give an overall insight into prevailing, missing, and aspirational values for different managerial segments.

The synthetron and mindset analysis produced a clear overall value map (values that enabled or slowed down). The value map contained a profile of each segment: person, team, company, and outside world.


Management realised there was a significant gap between today’s aspirations & emotions on the one hand and the proposed new culture on the other.

Furthermore, they realised this would compromise the worldwide conference and that they needed to adapt the proposed corporate culture based on the input, and find the necessary bridges and convincing arguments, before moving ahead.

They postponed the conference while they addressed this gap.

Case: addressing diversity to improve retention

Synthetron online dialogues. Home. Moving forward. Together

How a top league consultancy used Synthetron to address diversity and improve female consultants’ retention.


A top league consultancy was concerned about the high staff turnover of its female consultants just before they became partner.

They had appointed a diversity manager to solve this retention challenge, because they felt they did not adequately address diversity.

Hence, they wanted to understand the drivers of the high turnover, and how to keep this group engaged.


Two separate Synthetron sessions were set up: one for male, and one for females consultants, all potentially becoming partner in the next 3 years. The script that we developed with the client was the same for both discussions.

The question script was developed with representatives of the client and of Synthetron, it addressed 3 main topics:

• Identifying the employee value proposition that consultants had in mind when joining the company (the reasons and ambitions).
• The current satisfaction of the job/company (motivators and currently perceived motivators and tension points).
• The future ambitions and expectations.

In the discussion particular attention was given to understanding the triggers. When and how did tension points become breaking points? And, what measures could be co-created that would prevent this from happening?

The anonymity and safe space of the Synthetron discussion insured that everybody could freely speak their minds. 90% of the target group female consultants and 60% of the much larger group of male consultants joined their respective discussions.


Synthetron consultants analysed the discussion data. They created a concise segmented report, comparing the insights of the two discussions – male and female consultants – in a grid of drivers, distractions and retention solutions.

The outcome demonstrated that both groups had very distinct sets of motivation, tension points, and retention factors.

This output has made the organisation decide to fundamentally differentiate its HR policy towards both groups with a more menu type of approach (balancing between learning , care policy, part time or flexibility …etc).

This led to adapted career paths. This made them more effective and simultaneously avoided give away to one or the other group. The results of the Synthetron were reported internally to all participants.

Case: building Employee Value Proposition from the bottom up

Synthetron online dialogues. Home. Moving forward. Together

How a telecom company built its Employee Value Proposition (EVP) from the bottom up using Synthetron online dialogues.


When you deal with a big company, it is not always easy to get the opinion of large groups of employees…Working with Synthetron has allowed us to involve a big part of the company when defining our Employee Value Proposition. The Synthetron process is simple, the outcome very valuable, and our people really enjoyed participating. Thanks to the chat sessions we now have a more realistic view about how our employees perceive us as an employer.

— VP Employee Engagement Belgacom (Belgium)


The challenge of Belgacom’s HR department in a changing market environment was two-fold:

  • Maintaining a high level of motivation and employee engagement
  • Attracting the right people

Available material was too generic to help build the “who we are” and “who we want to be” pictures for the Employee Value Proposition (EVP).


First, the desired insight was identified: the components of the EVP (affiliation, culture, HR policies, way of working and job). Then participants from 6 business-critical target segments were recruited.  In total, we conducted for 11 Synthetron online discussions in three different languages over three days.

Synthetron designed the discussions to trigger all of our 3H components.  3H components are: behaviour (Heart), rational thinking (Head), and competencies (Hand). People discussed what motivated them about the company and what they were less enthusiastic about.  They also shared their aspirations.   Finally, they gave their advice to the leadership.

The participants were thanked and given a quick report after every discussion. This created a lot of goodwill.


We structured the management report in two parts to make it more actionable. The first part gave the global view of all segments.  The second gave specific insight per segment in terms of: drivers, image, mind-set, and management implications.

Profile sheets were also created.  These indicated the starting level and drivers of engagement and how to improve or maintain them, the recommended tone of voice, and finally what is common and different to other profiles.

The report, profile sheets and subsequent workshops helped Belgacom to successfully revise the EVP.

This new sharp and strong EVP has since helped to:

  • Build the internal employee branding plan
  • Rewrite job advertisements and find better-fit candidates
  • Rewrite the internal career site and reach higher training rates
  • Launch new strategic employee programs

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