Engaging C-level managers in co-creation from silo-thinking to group dynamics

Best practices from our Be-novative Partner Hub

The most successful entrepreneurs and company leaders of all time have a unique ability to empower people to co-create

The all-time most successful entrepreneurs and company leaders all have a unique ability to empower people to co-create and foster a culture that promotes group-dynamics instead of building silos. In this blogpost we uncover some of the best practices that help companies on this journey.

Gathering knowledge and best practices through Collaborative Learning

Background: The Be-novative Partner Hub members, consultants in people experience, organisation design and development, Design Thinking, innovation consultants and management consultants from around the globe are committed to learning from each other and with each other about the future of facilitating workshops and improving consultation impact and scalability in a remote world, so we focus on finding what works, we are non-judgmental, curious and tentative, rather than absolute in our sharing.

The process: Each participant at our online ‘Spark Creativity’ biweekly meeting introduces the topic or case that occupies their mind and thoughts and the chosen method that would fit it best:

  • Deconstructing success: a new use case or step with clients or achievement in the organisation, that went really well
  • Best practice & wisdom seeking: with a topic to collect best practices, methods and tools that have worked for others within this theme
  • Shopping for ideas: a challenging project to gather peer ideas to figure out how to move forward best

We have followed the steps of the Reflective Solution Focused Practice. We voted which story to work with based on the most learning potential for ourselves. At the end it was not just our protagonist, who came up with this question, but all of us geared up with new ideas, tools, thoughts and inspiration. Elvira Kalmar, our Partner Hub Program Facilitator in the Spark Creativity online sessions facilitated the session. So the most voted topic of our latest ‘Spark Creativity’ session was on:

How to engage C-level managers to collaborate better and break the silos to create a more engaging workplace for employees?

The problem: A typical problem in large organisations is that senior leadership concentrates on short-term business goals and are less motivated by opportunities to engage with people co-creating projects that reflect on the long-term impact of the company when it comes to a hackathon. However, purpose projects are not possible to be surfaced nor implemented with silo-thinking and without fostering a collaborative space among the senior leadership team. So we wanted to gather possible methods that motivate the leadership team to foster group dynamics when it comes to projects that contribute to the company purpose.

Here is a collection of our best practices:

A.) IN A DESIGN THINKING JOURNEY FOR C-LEVEL LEADERSHIP: like in one of the success stories about a similar challenge a Global Council of CEOs had a monthly 90 minute session Design Thinking Journey

  • 1. FIND A COMMON ISSUE: In the Problem definition Phase find the Issue, that they can not solve alone. An ideal question could be ‘What is the biggest problem we are facing that we could only solve together?’ By the way, it is possible to create a virtual Be-novative challenge for this process. :)
  • 2. CREATE SUB-GROUPS: around problems identified to work on these challenges create sub-groups of leaders who want to collaborate on solving the same problems. Engage them in surfacing possible solutions and selecting the ones they see most impact and feasibility.
  • 3. CONCEPT MAPPING IN SUBGROUPS: with facilitation in break-out rooms, the subgroups of c-level leaders work out specific ideas in detail using a customised Business Model Canvas that makes sure the solution contains all important details.
  • 4. ACTION PLANNING TOGETHER: Rejoining the subgroups the leadership team can work on a Roadmap Canvas to make sure action is envisioned and supported on a whole-company level.

B.) MAKE COLLABORATION AND EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT A KPI: Strategy workshops may uncover both the hidden and known KPIs that C-level leadership measures all their actions on. Many times these KPIs are not even visible on all levels of the company. Revisiting strategy, goal-setting and KPI measurement helps engaging the senior management team in different ways:

  • ADVOCATE FOR SOFT KPI-S: make sure that things like Purpose driven action and attention to the wellbeing of their employees are measured and even the management bonuses are also dependent on these
  • CREATE SHARED GOAL KPI-S: create ‘must win battles’ where 2–3 managers cooperate on a project and make sure they can only be won together. Discuss their statuses on monthly meetings.
  • HAVE REGULAR 360’ REVIEWS- twice a year about every C-level Executive to have feedback for each other about their development focuses. This reflects on their image relative to the whole company instead of only relative to their own projects it drives attention to group achievements.
  • USE EMPLOYEE ENGAGEMENT SURVEYS and create a group level competition about the results between the teams. Comparing results may involve cultural considerations as well. In some competitive cultures it might be a good idea to have the employee engagement results visible for all senior managers per department, in other cultures it is a better idea to make it invisible on a group-level and only visible for the facilitators or coaches of the organisation who can better support leaders based on this knowledge. Independent from culture, managers can compare their team’s or department’s engagement level compared to its past results and thrive on improving the engagement numbers constantly involving employees and creating an ideation session with them on how to improve the most important elements of what creates sustained engagement.
  • CREATE A ‘SITUATION’: on a workshop where they have to identify the best solutions moving forward, management need to behave like experts of the topic. They can be dedicated as mentors to teams trying to come up with solutions, or explaining their point of view is an opportunity to talk in front of each other (or even at a conference about Employee Engagement best practices). Identifying problems, the right solutions and empowering people to move forward with them may in itself create the outline of an article for a Press Release or a conference presentation about the topic that focuses their attention on the future of work and creating an environment they want to be part of.

Besides best practices, what we gained from the experience?

We all have realised that the diversity of our professional backgrounds and experiences is an almost endless bag of best practices and the 40 minute-session was enough only for the top of the iceberg to surface, but there was a lot more there. And what about the case presenters? Let us share with you their follow-up thoughts:

‘I must thank you all for your generosity. It was a liberating experience to share our “intimacy” with “strangers”.

Our market — corporate internal comms — is very rough and competitive. And yesterday we had this “weird” warm sensation of not being alone. And it shouldn’t feel weird, right?

We expect to attend more sessions and hopefully return at least some of the energy you guys shared yesterday.’

The Be-novative Partner Ecosystem is a Hub of people and resources whose main goal is envisioning, accelerating and scaling the success rate of both organizational and product-development, creating impactful projects and meaningful solutions locally or globally. We share knowledge, inspire people and actively co-create new methods. We contribute to a better, more creative Earth.

We are meeting again on the 23rd of March and biweekly on Tuesdays - let us know if you would like to join this Learning Community.

Be-novative is a Design Thinking and Innovation platform that helps organizations build breakthroughs collaboratively. http://be-novative.com @benovative