Case: collecting in-depth feedback from customers

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How the General Communications Regulator for Ireland collected in-depth feedback about the impact of the postal market liberalization on customers.



Comreg is the general Communications regulator for Ireland, covering almost all possible types of communications. In this capacity, it acts as the National Regulatory Authority for the Postal Sector in Ireland.

John Hearn, Comreg’s Manager for Postal Liberalisation initially conducted a series of “physical” conferences to collect feedback about the impact of the postal market liberalization.

However, he wanted to collect additional insights to fully understand what benefits might be expected for all types of customers of postal services in Ireland. These additional insights were to be collected after the full opening of the Irish postal market due by the end of 2010.


Synthetron provided an innovative solution by engaging both the service providers and the representatives of customers in a single online discussion.

The script for the online dialogue on “Understanding and ensuring the benefits to all consumers from a competitive postal market” was developed by Paul R. Kleindorfer, Distinguished Research Professor at INSEAD, an expert in the field of postal deregulation.

Prof. Kleindorfer also facilitated the debate among the conference participants and wrote the report documenting the outcome of the Synthetron session.


By using Synthetron, the feedback was collected in an efficient way. Traditional meetings are time consuming both for Comreg and the participants. The need to spend at least half a day at such symposium, plus the travelling time inevitably restricts the participation of many stakeholders; especially those who live some distance from the venue.

The online dialogues ensured that every participant got the opportunity to make their point, from the comfort of their own laptop and a place of their own choosing.

Case: engaging experts at EU level

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How the EU’s Research & Innovation DG used Synthetron online dialogues to consult and engage experts across Europe in the development of a EU policy framework on biodiversity.


To inform the EU policy framework on biodiversity, the European Union’s Research and Innovation DG, in cooperation with the European Platform for Biodiversity Research Strategy (EPBRS) wished to mobilize key stakeholders.

Among the participants were: knowledge holders and providers, policy makers, performers and market players, users, and society in general on the local, regional, national, European and global level.

The DG needed a way to efficiently engage these stakeholders. They had to take geographical location and busy agenda’s into account.


The crowdsourcing sessions were specifically prepared by Synthetron consultants. They made sure that the time and date suited as many experts as possible. After which, they developed a script with questions. In the next step they moderated each session to make sure that the process was smooth.

Four Synthetron online crowdsourcing sessions were held in total. Experts in Biodiversity were engaged throughout Europe on the following topics: “improved risk management and resilience”, “restoration of degraded ecosystems”, “climate change adaptation and mitigation”, and “sustainable urbanization“.


Synthetron consultants analysed the outcomes of the session by coding the qualitative data and restructuring it. Within a short period the Synthetron consultants were able to report on the most important conclusions.

The outcome of the Synthetron sessions contributed to the development of a comprehensive EU policy framework on biodiversity for research and innovation to solutions.

Case: learning about the perception of Germany’s foreign policy

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How the German Foreign Ministry used Synthetron to learn about the perception of Germany’s foreign policy  in a new and modern way.

“Within the IT-architecture of the Foreign Office, the crowdsourcing approach offered a new, modern approach from which we learned a lot.”   — Dr. Thomas Bagger, former head of Planning Staff, German Foreign Office


In November 2013, the German Foreign Minister, Frank-Walter Steinmeier, launched a “What goes wrong?” reflection on Germany’s foreign policy. As part of the 2014 review process, the aim was to consider what aspects of the foreign policy needed to be changed.


Synthetron came into play in order to complement external expertise with the internal knowledge of the central staff in Berlin and their colleagues in embassies around the world.

Starting in November 2014, we ran four 75-minute discussions, each spotlighting different aspects of cultural and procedural issues.  Three concentrated on culture, creativity and organisation.  One focused especially on how to handle European policy in the light of the newly established European External Action Service.

Around 350 participants exchanged nearly 3,250 ideas.

The analytical work was done in four steps:

  • An immediate response converting significant raw data from each discussion into a readable layout
  • An in-depth analysis for each the 3 discussions focusing on culture, creativity and organisation
  • An additional analysis on European Policy issues
  • An analysis of attitudes shown via language patterns.


We reported back on the following:

  • What participants expect as an appropriate internal culture and how they would react to it (shown as well in segments differing between central and embassy staff)
  • Top actions required to achieve the desired culture
  • Which parameters need to be reflected in the course of achieving progress
  • What suitable communication could help to bridge gaps in a consistent way.

“The Synthetron online debates were an important integrative element amongst the various formats of people involvement in the “Review2014” Process. It was only with the assistance of this methodology that we could offer the chance to take part in the process to colleagues from all over the world in a very short time. The technical potential of your product as well as the manifold options for evaluating the data were a big gain for us. We were also impressed by the quick analysis of the underlying patterns of the participants on the basis of the structure of the language they used.
I realised that an efficient cooperation between your specialists and my team is indispensable in order to coordinate the Synthetron expertise with the knowledge of the processes and specials of the Foreign Office and to make use of them in a most efficient way. This was a success.”
— Dr. Thomas Bagger, former head of Planning Staff (now Director of Foreign Policy for the office of the German President)

 Read the article about this project in the Economist

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Case: engaging high level experts

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How a large consulting company engaged high level experts using Synthetron online dialogues.


A large private sector management consultancy wanted to develop knowledge and expertise around the treatment for depression. They wanted to involve multiple experts in a constructive dialogue.

The experts were dispersed and therefore they had to look for an innovative and efficient way to engage them all together.


McKinsey & Company commissioned a synthetron session where a high-level panel of more than twenty academics from Harvard, Yale and Oxford discussed issues around the treatment for depression.

Synthetron and the internal pharma project team jointly developed questions about treatment pathways, how to address challenges and how to formulate effective answers to improve care in depression.

The questions were put in front of the participants, after which they were able to react and vote on each others statements. Thereby the experts filtered out what they though was important, and what wasn’t. Everyone was able to give input.


Engaging participants for more than an hour, the moderators collected around 500 statements of substance. Nearly 21% of those achieved a collaborative support. From the instant report at the end of the debate participants learned immediately about their level of consensus on major issues.

McKinsey partner Dr. Jorge Santos da Silva was quick to congratulate the team – not only for careful preparation but also for the momentum achieved in this highly interactive format.
To inform experts around the world about insights from the panel, McKinsey published an in-depth research paper on the topics.