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The Lab’s progress by Audrey

02 July 2018
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Two months after the official launch of the test phase, we take a look at the progress made by the LAB, our centre for collaborative, creative and agile resources.

A look back at two months of testing

Since the start of April, seven sessions have been organised at the request of in-house companies. From positioning strategy to sales strategy for an evolving product or the launch of a new product, internal positioning, strong events concepts and comprehensive business plans, the topics as well as the clients were somewhat varied, which was exactly what we needed. The clients’ areas of business ranged from communications and media to engineering and finance. It made it a great chance to challenge the LAB in different ways, and involved carefully identifying the right participants with the right expertise.

What were our conclusions after the seven sessions?

  • The content: serious reflection was king

By applying the LAB’s specific methods, attendees would ask the right questions which led to them proposing coherent strategies and concepts, whatever the brief, the session or the people attending. Sometimes this led to the client being challenged, which could be a good a bad thing depending on your point of view. What is certain is that, in the LAB, the question “why” clearly has its place. For example, how a brief is interpreted can change throughout the session as participants realise that the objectives were not well formulated for the expected results or positioning. In every case, the outcome is a proposal that makes sense and that is compelling, which is clearly a good sign.

  • The form: the LAB has two key features

Its way of working

Within the LAB, the role of each participant is clearly defined. Having an agile, neutral facilitator is essential because it helps to focus discussion, manage time, give a live visual rendering of the ideas, and above all ensure that the collaborative methods and agile techniques are respected. In fact, not everyone is necessarily familiar with tools like Pixels and, with strong personalities and varied, specialist expertise in the room, there is sometimes a risk of falling into a debate where egos and the desire to be heard override a common quest for added value. This goes against the principle of collective intelligence. The assertiveness and presence of the facilitator is a key factor for success. In all cases, the final decision and follow-up remain in the hands of the project manager.

 

The venue

Deliberately different and inspiring! The LAB has been decked out with modular furniture, interactive supports and specific rituals. The first few sessions made great use of the furniture, which offers unrivalled freedom for meetings. We still need to fully explore the rituals and get to grips with the technical equipment. But the overall feedback was clearly positive. Participants recognised the feeling of being somewhere else and quickly adapted to the climate, which increased the quality of their output.

 

  • And what about the results?

What came out of these first few sessions?

For one client, it was a new positioning combined with a new strategy. For another it was crucial information regarding its positioning in the eyes of its target audience, as well as a thorough pitch that will motivate and reassure future users of its product. For the next, the analyses led to full recommendations being drawn up for a campaign and an event. Another client left with an implementation strategy with some striking messages.

And participants discussed a total in-house restructuring: new programme, new task distribution, new priorities and a new financial plan, without changing the workforce.

In terms of concrete feedback, it is still too early to draw conclusions given that the projects have only just been presented to the clients. How effective the concepts and strategies are cannot therefore be objectively calculated. Plus we are still in the experimental phase.

What are the next steps?

 

  1. We are planning internal training on facilitation, on analysing briefings and on agile project management techniques for everyone
  2. Establishing the entry rituals and placing value on everyone's input
  3. Growing the network of external contributors
  4. Analysing the concrete results of the campaigns that have been launched
  5. Inviting more young people into the LAB
  6. And running even more sessions while constantly using feedback from participants to improve them

 

It is certainly something to keep an eye on. What is for sure is that the LAB is bringing in a lot of changes that go beyond the sessions themselves. It is changing our habits and making us take a step back to think about the operational side of things, which is a key theme at the moment. The entire culture at VO can evolve to be perfectly aligned with our objective of generating sense and being remarkable.