Written by Marine Wallace Director of Brand & Talent practice at MSLGROUP in the Netherlands
Marine Wallace leads MSLGROUP’s Brand and Talent practice in the Netherlands. She brings more than 13 years of experience in planning and implementing communication projects that enhance company’s reputation internally and externally.
Corporate events where participants suffer from jet lags, sit in expensive rooms and dine on a Power Point soup are not inspiring to the new generation of knowledge workers. That is why Corporate Communications leaders are looking to digital and social technologies to make meetings more enriching and engaging.
MSLGROUP introduced the Multilogue, a live online interactive meeting to address this trend. Multilogue allows large groups of people, from all around the world, to chat with each other, in real time, using a web connection and a keyboard. Multilogue is especially popular among global companies with employees in multiple countries. It has been used in the past as an extension of a face-to-face meeting and even as a substitute (eliminating the travel time, costs and logistics involved in organizing large-scale physical events).
Of course, the act of joining an online meeting is not new and there are plenty of tools available to start a chat between colleagues. It is how corporation leverage those social technologies for the workplace that is fascinating.
In fact, in some cases, an online meeting is the only possible way to bring large numbers of people together – other than renting a football stadium. The particularity of Multilogue is that it is a private social network used uniquely in the corporate environment. Access to a Multilogue discussion is only granted upon invitation so only those concerned can participate. At the end of a session, all the data exchanged remains the exclusive property of the corporation. It is analysed and summarized to guide company strategy.
What makes Multilogue unique is the team of moderators who follow the discussion in real time, in every language. The software functionalities allow them to qualify, track and rank comments as they are made.
Marine Wallace, Director of Brand & Talent practice at MSLGROUP in the Netherlands, has implemented several of these online meetings. She explained:
“We monitor what is being said. We can alert the client on key points. And we provide an overview of the comments we read as they are made. Personally I think the real value of Multilogue is the human moderation. Instead of employee comments being lost in cyberspace, people are genuinely heard and answered to in real time and in their language.”
Real time analysis also helps moderators sustain discussions. For instance, moderators are able to identify areas with low participation and send out emails to encourage employees to join in.
After the event, moderators summarize the ideas, questions and recommendations. They identify key themes and present a report that can guide the company’s strategy.
Henjo Guitjens, CEO of MSLGROUP in the Netherlands, explained:
“Some clients like to get the summary from the moderation team every 45 minutes. For them, it is like putting their finger on the pulse of the organisation. They want to be able to stir the conversations and dig deeper in some of the most fruitful ideas being exchanged.”
On the day of the Multilogue meeting, a team of client stakeholders, MSLGROUP moderators and MSLGROUP technical support experts come together at a central hub. The teams work side-by-side in a so-called “war-room” filled with laptops, projectors and video cameras, somewhat similar to a newsroom or a crisis centre. There is at least one moderator per language in order to bring insights from every part of the world.
Client stakeholders such as CEOs, regional leaders and spokespersons stimulate discussions in their own language. They are coached by the Moderation team to respond to employee questions. Often, moderators will film interviews with clients to highlight the main points of discussion and post these as forum summaries (with subtitles in relevant languages).
MSLGROUP moderators analyse discussions and poll results in real-time to create text and video summaries. The tech support team control back-end features like opening and closing of different forums and polls, making announcements and sending reminder emails to zones where participation might be low.
Here’s a video showing the war room during MSLGROUP’s own Multilogue discussion, hosted by CEO Olivier Fleurot: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P3k-38AQWVM
MSLGROUP has organised Multilogue meetings for global companies, connecting teams from 25 people to over 50,000. The tool has been used in several ways: from discussing strategy with board members, to brainstorming within an international marketing team or even co-creating the company values with all employees.
The benefit of the tool is to allow an open discussion using live moderation.
Several clients have shared their surprise at the effectiveness of Multilogue in energising employee participation. In the video below, leaders from AXA and Philips share their experience.
Case Study: Introducing a new brand signature at AXA
When bank & insurance giant AXA decided to re-shape the company’s brand positioning they needed to bring on board all their staff. The challenge was to introduce the new values in a way that the desired behaviours would be well understood and adopted by the staff at all levels throughout the organisation.
To do this, AXA opted for a Multilogue inviting all 120,000 employees to address questions such as ‘What does it mean to be attentive? How will I adapt my behaviour to deliver the brand promise?’
Discussions were organized in 9 different languages and the meeting was live for 24 hours in order to allow the whole globe to join in . 42 top CEOs of AXA were asked to post a video testimonial (in their own language) about how the brand signature would affect their local market. Of the 120,000 employees invited, 41% or 54,000 employees participated, representing 59 countries, and posting over 19,000 comments.
Seeing the astonishing number of employees taking part in the event and the quality of the ideas brought to the discussion, the leadership team felt compelled to integrate the main findings in their local business plans. Furthermore, a new global intranet was created based on the key topics that emerged. The most active contributors from the Multilogue were identified as “champions” for certain topics. And a new web magazine was launched using the views and anecdotes shared online as a starting point.
When Gaz de France and SUEZ merged to become GDF SUEZ it was the birth of a new company with a workforce of 210,000 employees in 30 countries and speaking 7 different languages. But the values and culture of the two old entities had to be re-created in order to make room for a new corporate culture.
In order to achieve this, GDF SUEZ opted for a Multilogue to co-create a unified identity across the company and proactively address the risk of a culture clash.
During 18 hours, employees from around the world discussed topics such as ‘How do we want to work together? What do have in common? And Who do we want to be?’ This was an emblematic initiative from the new management, empowering a large numbers of employees to shape on the future of their corporate values.
Board members of GDF SUEZ joined the moderation team to chat online with employees from all around the company.
48,000 employees took the opportunity to participate in the discussion and generated 12,000 comments. Their feelings and votes were analysed and resulted in the launch of the new values a few months later. This Multilogue resulted in the rise of a new culture of open dialogue between employees and their new management.
Both the AXA Multilogue and the GDF SUEZ Multilogue have won Silver Top Com Awards, a prestigious French award for communication.
Online global meetings are a unique way to open up the traditional corporate events like top executive meetings. Recently Multilogue served as an extension of a face-to-face meeting:
When a European service company went through a re-organisation, they invited the top 70 leaders to meet in Berlin. On their meeting agenda, two hours were blocked to move their discussion to an online platform, inviting the top 1000 managers from Europe to join remotely.
This extension of the face-to-face event was an instant success. 670 managers joined the top 70 in the online meeting room. 1,500 comments were posted (by those joining remotely and those in the Berlin room) in just 90 minutes. Because the discussion was being monitored live, the moderation team immediately returned the first results to the plenary session in Berlin after the online discussion finished. A week later, after all comments were thoroughly analysed, the management was able to produce a roadmap based not only on the input of the top 70 invited to Berlin but incorporating the views of their top people from across the zone.
Multilogue is more than a cost effective solution to host companywide discussions. The live human moderation ensures that the conversation is influenced in real time and that the key findings are extracted and analysed. The fact that a Multilogue is an actual event on a given date fuels participation. Employees feel empowered to have a say and they share a common energy during this live social experience.
Indeed, this two-way form of communication is the new norm. Julia Christoph, Senior Consultant – Brand & Talent, MSLGROUP Germany explains:
“Particularly through the power of social media, employees – and other stakeholders – have become used to new means of communication. Today, collaboration is key: People want to be asked and they want to feel that they participate in decision-making processes. An A-to-B-information flow is thus out-dated. “
A Multilogue promotes transparency, openness and co-creation. It is a culture that is especially valued by generation Y workers and will appeal to brands that want to leverage the power of online meetings for engaging employees.
Sarah Thompson, Digital and Social Leader, MSLGROUP, Canada, believes this platform will catalyse the evolution of corporate events and collaboration:
“Multilogue is the next generation of co-creation. If you think about it, beyond just events with your employees, you can take this to your customers or stakeholders or key influencers. Co-creating is especially important with Generation Y audiences, who want to have a role in the brand’s marketing efforts. And, while it does bring in new implications for brand governance, the opportunity is one disruptive and innovative brands will embrace.“
I think of this as the next evolution of Quirky combined with a TED talks. What if a brand created a global think tank in real-time and had the best, brightest and most passionate minds and influencers working on a project? Social media has allowed for the walls to come down between brands and customers and there are many innovative benefits around this. This global collaboration tool of Multilogue will help more amazingly brilliant ideas meet and merge and come to life.”
MSLGROUP’s People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform and approach helps organizations tap into people’s insights for innovation, storytelling and change. The People’s Lab crowdsourcing platform also enables our distinctive insights and foresight approach, which consists of four elements: organic conversation analysis, MSLGROUP’s own insight communities, client-specific insights communities, and ethnographic deep dives into these communities.
As an example, 100+ thinkers and planners within MSLGROUP share and discuss inspiring projects on reputation, employee engagement and citizenship on the MSLGROUP Insights Network.
Every week, we pick up one project and do a deep dive into conversations around it — on the MSLGROUP Insights Network itself but also on the broader social web — to distill insights and foresights. We share these insights and foresights with you on our People’s Insights blog and compile the best insights from the network and the blog in the People’s Lab Quarterly Magazine, as a showcase of our capabilities.We have further synthesized the insights from 2012 to provide foresights for business leaders and changemakers — in the ten-part People’s Insights Annual Report titled Now & Next: Ten Frontiers for the Future of Engagement, also available as a Kindle eBook.
As you can imagine, we can bring the same innovative approach to help you distill insights and foresights from conversations and communities. To start a conversation on how we can help you win with insights and foresights, write to Pascal Beucler at firstname.lastname@example.org.