Our case studies
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.
SituationRabobank (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.
ApproachTo 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.
ResultsThe 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. --- You want to get in touch with the Synthetron consultants who worked on this case to see what they can mean for your organisation?
Keeping a genuine contact with employees during Covid-19’s home-working period.
How adding Synthetron's e-dialogue to a videoconference of 60 managers allowed new director to keep a finger on the pulse.
SituationIt 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.
ApproachThe 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.
ResultsThe 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... --- You want to get in touch with the Synthetron consultants who worked on this case to see what they can mean for your organization?
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.
SituationOne 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.
ApproachInnovation 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)
ResultsMany 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?
Case: involving >1000 customers in co-creation
How an Italian multi-partner loyalty program involved its customers in co-creating new initiatives with the biggest ever virtual focus group."Synthetron has proved to be extremely effective in listening to our customers and in getting feedback and new ideas from them. I would have never imagined collecting so many insights in real time, directly from our customers in just 60 minutes!" -- Head of Marketing & CRM
SituationThe Marketing team of an Italian multi-partner loyalty Program with > 10 million consumers and 80+ partners wanted to identify new insights for new initiatives and to improve the user experience. They were looking for a way to actively involve their customers in this.
ApproachThe team learned about Synthetron online dialogues and decided to use this innovative form of virtual focus group to actively involve their customers, listen to the ideas and suggestions and co-create with them new initiatives. The Synthetron Italy team organized one session with 1300 customers - the biggest (virtual) focus group ever! - and carried out an in-depth analysis of the results.
- The discussion enabled the Marketing team to validate quantitatively some of the actions already in their pipeline and to identify other new initiatives to put in place.
- The discussion also confirmed the relationship and the expectations clients have towards the Program – not just from a rationale / features point of view, but also from a more insightful perspective.
- And, last but not least, consumers really appreciated the Program's willingness to listen to their thoughts:
- "I appreciated the possibility of giving advice to improve the program."
- "I enjoyed to be able to express my ideas and see what others think about it."
- "I like being an important part of business decisions."
Case: testing a new concept efficiently
How a retailer used Synthetron Proposition Lab to test a new concept."We have used Synthetron Proposition Lab to test new concepts for specific target audiences. This was done much quicker than with traditional research, with a better geographical spread, cheaper and in a multitasking environment." --Frans Melenhorst (Manager Customer Marketing at Wehkamp, The Netherlands)
SituationAs part of the multi-channel sales strategy, a large, online department store in the Netherlands was looking for a way to test a new concept for a specific target audience in a predefined age group. Synthetron Proposition Lab provided a fast, efficient and cost-effective solution.
ApproachApproximately 20 consumers in the targeted customer segment were invited to join the one-hour Proposition Lab to review the developed concept. The Proposition Lab is a real-time Synthetron discussion that functions as a virtual workshop. Participants are asked questions about new concepts and discuss their views on it. They select the good, and bad parts of the new concept. By voting on each others statements the participants filter out the most important ideas.
ResultsThe Proposition Lab gave useful insights into how to develop the concept further. This was done in a quick, and efficient way. Another benefit of the online discussion was that the participants could enter the discussion, no matter where they were. This resulted in a better geographical spread. For more information on the Synthetron proposition lab, press this button:
Case: customer Mindset Profile
How a financial institution used Synthetron's Customer Mindset Profile method to understand more about the customers' mindset and adapt its language.
SituationThe financial world has been through a very rough ride in the last 5 years. Many financial service companies have gone under. Others have been re-organized or taken over. Some only survived thanks to state interventions. In this context, a leading European financial service company wanted to regain customer confidence by aiming for a respectful, meaningful and honest relationship with all their customers. They sought a truly customer-focused approach with behavior linked to the core values of the company. The management team wanted to go one step beyond the usual insights on customer needs and wanted to understand more about the customers' mindset and their relationship with financial service companies.
ApproachWe set up two Synthetron on-line dialogues. One dialogue was with a group of front-line financial advisors (employees) in daily contact with the customers. The other dialogue was with a representative group of customers. The topics for the discussions were carefully selected to enable the groups to have free-flowing and rich dialogues with an appropriate level of interaction between the participants in each on-line session. This balanced setup also allows for a gap analysis on the language used by the two groups.
ResultsThe linguistic analysis revealed some interesting insights. The customer mindset is very much focused on the avoidance of any financial risk. This has clear implications for the communication strategy of the financial service company:
- more focus on the security and stability of the company and less on innovation or being different;
- more focus on what the customer wishes to avoid (instead of what they want),
- more personal, less business-like communication,
- more new financial service opportunities proactively pitched to customers.
Case: collecting in-depth feedback from customers
How the General Communications Regulator for Ireland collected in-depth feedback about the impact of the postal market liberalization on customers.
SituationComreg 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.
ApproachSynthetron 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.
ResultsBy 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
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.
SituationTo 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.
ApproachThe 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“.
ResultsSynthetron 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
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
SituationIn 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.
ApproachSynthetron 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.
ResultsWe 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: engaging high level experts
How a large consulting company engaged high level experts using Synthetron online dialogues.
SituationA 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.
ApproachMcKinsey & 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.
ResultsEngaging 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.
Case: preparing a key global conference
How Synthetron helped the senior management of a multinational corporation to prepare a Top 100 global conference.
“Of course they all understand the strategy. This conference will be about how we implement it” - what our client said before the discussion. "We can't have a conference about strategy implementation now." -- what our client said after the discussion.
SituationSenior management of a multinational corporation wanted to prepare and improve the agenda for a Top 100 global conference focused on the implementation of a new strategy. Management wanted to engage their employees to find what they wanted the conference. In this way, management could prepare in advance and maximize the efficiency of the event.
ApproachWe set up two Synthetron online dialogues to identify priority actions for the conference. All employees were invited and the discussions were segmented by seniority and geography. We developed a script together with the client to make sure that the questions would get to the matter quickly. Then we moderated the sessions to make sure that everything ran smoothly and that the client got the input they were looking for.
ResultsThe analysis of the debates was done by Synthetron consultants. It showed that a significant number of the employees were not aware of the strategy. Of those aware, many did not necessarily support or even understand it. This early warning from the online brainstorms came as a surprise to senior management. However, it helped them realise that the first job was to clarify and communicate the strategy and to build alignment. Only after clear communication and alignment around the strategy could they ask employees to implement it. The conference was postponed and hundreds of thousands of pounds of travel expenses were saved. In addition, management avoided disengagement or an unexpected rebellion against the new strategy. This would not have been possible without the online dialogues.
Case: hybrid mass consultation of citizens
How the first G1000 mass consultation with citizens used Synthetron to increase engagement and extent reach.
SituationIn November 2011 a unique experiment was set up in Belgium: the first G1000. One thousand randomly selected citizens were brought together in Brussels in an effort to bring together people from all regions, social classes and ages to discuss 3 topics previously identified by citizens: Social Security, the Financial Crisis and Immigration. The G1000 was set up using a hybrid format. At a mass event people at tables of 10 first listened to 20 minute expert presentations on each topic discussed under the guidance of facilitators. In parallel discussions took place online (G-home) and off site (G-off). The set up was unique in a way that the whole initiative was entirely crowdfunded, and citizen-driven. Furthermore, it used a unique mass hybrid model of on-site mass interaction plus online (G-home) and offline (G-off).
ApproachOn the day Synthetron ran the online part G-Home. More than 700 citizens joined the debates from their PC at home or work. Via live-streaming they first watched the 20 minute expert presentations and then joined the interactive Synthetron discussion online (60 mins). Eight discussions were organised with Dutch and French sessions set up in parallel on each topic. The discussion scripts were designed to be complementary to the G1000 on site event so that citizens co-created their best insights into what changes and solutions they felt were needed. Participants jointly decided some focus areas. Moderators guided the citizens to share and co-evaluate their ideas, opinions and reflect on ways forward. A quick analysis was done during the day and presented back to the G1000 room an hour later. The discussions were projected live in the G1000 event room for cross fertilisation.
ResultsParticipants had a critical yet very constructive attitude during the debates. In terms of content, results were very much in line with the G1000. Reports were provided to all participants a week after the discussions. These reports together with the outcome of the G1000 were the core input for the next step: the G32 (32 citizens from amongst the G-home and G1000 participants working in more detail on some recommendations). The reports and the full raw data were made available to universities in Belgium for further analyses. Since this first experiment, many G1000 initiatives that followed used the Synthetron platform to increase engagement and extend reach. For more detailed information on this case, click "download file".
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