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: collecting in-depth feedback from customers

Who we are. Join the game as a Synthetron participant.

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

Who we are. Join the game as a Synthetron participant.

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

Who we are. Join the game as a Synthetron participant.

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

Or download the full case by clicking “download file” below.

Case: inviting citizens to share their views

Hear what citizens have to say in Synthetron online dialogues

How citizens were invited by the Dutch Ministry of Environment to share their views on their future environment.


The VROM (Dutch ministry of Environment) is responsible for the environment in which citizens live, work, and relax.

The Netherlands is a densely populated country requiring careful consideration of issues such as living space.

VROM decided to set up a vision development project for the ‘Randstad’ – the urban region including Amsterdam, Rotterdam and The Hague – called ‘Randstad 2040’.

Citizen participation was key to the vision development and VROM looked for innovative ways to go about this.


As part of the ‘Randstad 2040’ vision development project, 400 citizens were invited to discuss their views of the ideal future for the ‘Randstad’ through Synthetron online discussions.

Participants had lively discussions about mobility, environment, living conditions, transportation, housing, urbanisation, etc. They visualised their ideal world, discovered dilemmas and explored the downsides of their choices.

Synthetron consultants developed the script alongside representatives of VROM. The questions were specifically made to suit the wishes of VROM.

We moderated the sessions, making sure that all participants had a good experience. All voices were heard and the citizens filtered out the most important statements themselves.


The raw data, among other things, provided the most supported statements, controversial statements, and non-supported statements.

The results of these Synthetron sessions were used as input into meetings where citizens were invited to explore the issues further. Therefore these meetings had a “head start” and could go deeper into the matter from the beginning. This proved more efficient than the traditional focus groups.

The findings from the sessions and the meetings were analysed and a comprehensive report was made. The results were presented to the Minister and top policy makers.

In the end, the Dutch parliament adopted some of the recommendations resulting from the study.

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.

Click “download file” for more detailed information.

Case: engaging members on hot topic

How an automobile association engaged its members on a controversial road tax reform to advise the government using Synthetron online dialogues.

“Synthetron helped us in a very professional way to reach more than 6000 members in online conversations on the key issues of the ‘car tax proposal’. Our members were happy as they found it easy and engaging to participate. And for us, getting a collaborative filtered outcome on such a large scale made the process very efficient and transparent. We got deep insight into what our members think, feel and why, on the different policy issues. The excellent report enabled us to bring balanced and motivated advice to the government with co-created stakeholder support.”

Guido Van Woerkom, President & CEO ANWB


The ANWB – the Dutch national automobile association – needed a clear and complete image of what its members‘ opinions were on a controversial proposed law, in order to advise the government.

A quantitative questionnaire showed that more qualitative research and engagement of members was necessary.


All ANWB members were invited to participate to one of 7 real-time Synthetron sessions, spread over 3 days.

In total, 6000 people participated. They discussed all 7 parts of the proposed law. Carefully designed scripts served as the basis for the discussion.


Within two weeks, Synthetron inventoried, classified and analysed the ideas, opinions, insights and feelings of those 6000 participants on one of the most delicate political topics at that time.

The final advice reflected an overall image as well as an insight into the 7 different aspects of the law. The results were presented by the head of the Association in a public press conference.

Media, parliament, and stakeholders systematically referred to the report in the following months. The automobile association gained much credit publicly and from its members for having involved members on a large scale in such an innovative way.

The results were combined with the results of the quantitative questionnaire, and were presented to the national government, which helped them in reaching a decision on road pricing.

Click “download file” to get more in depth information on this case.