Case Study: Best Leadership Event at the 2018 ICE Awards
Connect Live is an annual employee conference, traditionally held over two days in January as the Company’s kick off for the year. An important date for Danone Early Life Nutrition’s business cycle. It is where they come together to ensure they have a common understanding of the Company goals, both commercial and cultural, and as a team to explore their approach to the challenges and opportunities of the coming year.
best leadership award
Danone Early Life Nutrition
Objectives The brief was to embed the newly created 2020 strategic plan. While many employees were involved in the creation of individual elements in the plan there was a need to create a universal shared understanding and also confidence in the plan’s ability to deliver. They also needed to explore ways of working and behaviours needed to succeed in this complex and changing business environment.
At the centre of the plan is the core purpose and the reason why Danone Early Life Nutrition are in business – ‘to make every day count for you and your baby’. So it was vital that the event also kept a focus on their purpose-driven culture.
The Event Danone ELN responded to the brief by defining three core objectives for the event - ‘Strategy’, ‘Purpose’ and ‘Ways of Working’ - which was the start point in determining the structure and content of the event. An icon was developed to encapsulate these three elements – called the ‘New Day’ strategy. Each session of the conference would lead employees around one element of this icon.
‘Strategy’ was brought to life through an opening Exec-led plenary and four ‘immersions’ – experiential workshops representing four pillars of the strategy.
‘Purpose’ was reflected in content throughout the event but focused on specifically by an external keynote speaker.
‘Ways of Working' were demonstrated in a whole company team activity.
Danone ELN also developed a theme ‘Be the Difference’ which was a call to action that summed up how they will succeed, how they are different in the market and how they need to demonstrate that difference to themselves, consumers and stakeholders.
In keeping with all ELN’s conferences, the event was highly participative and interactive. The chosen venue needed to support not only a versatile plenary space for 180+ delegates but also additional breakout rooms of adequate space to hold workshops and immersive experiences.
To instil the theme of ‘Be the Difference’ there were only two short Exec-led plenary sessions over the two days. The first opening plenary was held with delegates standing around satellite stages in the main room and each stage represented an element of the New Day strategy with each of the 8 Exec directors sponsoring and setting up the premise for one of those elements.
To embed the ‘Be the Difference’ theme and help it to resonate, the opening video featured employees articulating why they need to ‘Be the Difference’. Over the two days of the event, employees were vox-popped, challenging them to put on camera how they will ‘Be the Difference’. This footage was edited live on-site to create a powerful video to close the event capturing everyone’s commitments.
To demonstrate the ways of working and behaviours Danone ELN needs in their business, they attempted something they have never done before – a team activity with all 180 employees in one room working towards one goal over the course of two hours. This activity showed how all employees could work on separate tasks and problems while all contributing to one goal and objective.
Challenges An ambition of all ELN’s conferences is to ‘bring the outside in’, to learn from external influences. In 2018, they chose to use an external speaker to support the core purpose culture. Finding a speaker with knowledge of purpose-driven companies and from whom they could learn was a challenge – it was not enough to find a ‘motivational’ speaker - they needed to balance fact and evidence with emotion. The chosen speaker was Dr Alex Edmans from the London Business School who shared his research into ‘The Business Case For Purposeful Business’. His message of Purpose and Profit co-existing resonated overwhelmingly with delegates – “inspiring speaker with very concrete evidence”.
Results All employees attend this event and success of previous events gives a higher benchmark to aim for each year. A post-event survey included statements relating to the event’s objectives. To each of the statements more than 95% of delegates recorded a response of Strongly Agree or Agree demonstrating incredibly strong ROI.
99% of employees said they understand and have confidence in the New Day strategy and use it within their working day in reporting, action planning and to set priorities for themselves and their teams. It also lives on visibly in office décor, lapel badges and structure of meeting agendas.
The Event App had on average 81 page views per user. The App contained personalised agendas, venue information, as well as pre-read information and surveys. Delegates could use the app to post questions in advance for the Exec Q&A session. Questions that didn’t have time to be answered live, were brought back and answered by the Exec on the Company’s internal social network Workplace by Facebook.
#BetheDifference is a belief and hashtag that has been picked up and run with by employees across the business – using it in Workplace posts and during meetings to call out successes.
Judges Comments The winning paper demonstrated how their team successfully embedded a newly created 2020 strategic plan amongst their employees - at a highly participative and interactive event. At the core of this plan was the need to bring to life their core purpose – the reason they were in business – ‘to make every day count for you and your baby’.
The paper had a well thought-out structure, a simple organisation of the content and good presentation of the written component. As well as providing relevant context and background, it was also self-contained and presented robust measurement figures and strong visualisation. The background information and film were particularly useful in bringing the case to life.
Ultimately it was a combination of these factors that helped it win against some strong competition.