Bio-Bonding Café: A NEW NOW- NEW NEEDS

How do you formulate and execute an event for all of your organization’s employees, which aims to create interpersonal closeness and enjoyment and provide both employees and the organization with practical wellness tools relevant to the New Normal?

Over the past few years, the Doing Good Model (DGM) has become a powerful tool for promoting a value-based business strategy and organizational culture at Bioforum. The process of assimilating this change involves three main stages, which together aim to create a new, innovative organizational DNA that transforms Bioforum’s corporate culture.

Bioforum Group is a research organization that develops a variety of clinical processes for life sciences companies. By the end of 2018, it had approximately 90 employees. During this time, Bioforum Group also grew outside of Israel and opened new locations in South Africa, the United States, and Australia. It currently employs around 145 people. One of the top challenges that it faced as a result of this international expansion was how to assimilate a new cultural DNA – that connects business prosperity to employees' personal well-being and ensures a positive impact on the environment – all throughout the organization.

Along with many business challenges and innovative breakthroughs, the outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic made it more important than ever for Bioforum Group to ensure that everyone in the company is on the same boat, working together in a new state of mind. The pandemic also forced it to rethink its business strategy and come up with solutions to maintain and strengthen organizational and interpersonal solidarity while encouraging employees to pursue their professional development.

In May 2020, we launched another cycle of the Purposeful managers program, which included 14 managers from Israel and South Africa, joined by an existing group of managers who are committed to strengthening the concept of doing good within their organizations on a daily basis.

In addition, the leadership team in charge of the implementation process at Bioforum decided to hold a special online event with all the employees at the various sites. This blog talks a little bit about the online event.

About three months ago, after the ‘New Now’ fully sunk in, I (Adi Snir Johnson) sat down with the DGM and Bioforum leadership teams to try and figure out what employees need and what we can do to make them feel better in those challenging times.

We all unanimously felt that what is most important is to facilitate a shared dialogue and provide employees with a value-based toolbox for facilitating enjoyment and a sense of togetherness. “But how do we do it digitally? People are tired and don't want to join another Zoom session”, someone said. To that I replied: “I’m no longer fixed to the face-to-face meeting format. I have learned in recent months that everything can be done digitally, including creating closeness and togetherness.

”We all understood how important it was for the company's employees to mold the content and be part of the planning, guidance, internal marketing, and implementation stages of the new DNA in the organization. We chose the “world café;zxc” method taken from the field of participatory leadership that has been developing in recent years, both in the world and in Israel.

This method is simple but very effective. It allows the organization to create a safe and welcoming space within a large group (and in a short time frame), by creating a dialogue between smaller break-out groups, accompanied by a professional guidance team. These groups let employees meet new people, ask powerful and influential questions about the present and future of the organization, listen to different opinions of people from different fields in the organization, and most importantly, enjoy the process of formulating connectedness, caring, commitment and involvement.

The method aims to help the organization meet a variety of business goals by tapping into the wisdom of the crowd. For example, it enables it to find answers to strategic questions, solve organizational challenges, reflect on an existing situation vs. a desirable outcome, and much more.

Bioforum’s CEO opened the event with a summary of the Group's journey over the past two years. He then handed the baton over to the implementation leadership team.

In our meeting with Bioforum, we asked three question. The first question aimed at examining employees' needs in light of the new reality. The second question dealt with the mutual learning process and the methods and tools that were seen as effective and that the organization wants to preserve in the future. The third question brought up the nostalgic element and the importance of conserving positive energy, and we encouraged participants to share a memory that reflects the organization's DNA. The answers to this question really got people thrilled.

The employees were then divided into ten rooms led by the managers who underwent a 'Train the Trainer' process before the event. These managers led the discourse with great sensitivity and professionalism, documenting everything what was discussed on shared white boards. I moderated the overall discourse activity and invited the participants after each discussion to share insightful takeaways called Aha! Moments (those moments when you reach a nonobvious breakthrough

Tal Kamil, the graphic facilitator who accompanied me in the facilitation, graphically documented everything said in the break-out rooms and on the whiteboards. The impressive outcome from the event (see below) helps illustrate just how powerful this experience was.

The WhatsApp messages, emails, and even phone calls were not long in coming: “This is the first time I have had such feelings in a zoom call,” “Knowing that people can share such a high level of honesty and openness at work strengthens and motivates me,” and “Thank you to everyone involved for putting together such as a fun, fulfilling, unusual, and professional event”. There were even some people who wanted to rejoin the Zoom session so they could have lunch together.

The feedback we got from the participants, along with the whiteboards that summarize all the insights and ideas and the visuals from the event, will help us analyze the outcomes and write an operational work plan for establishing a continuous, effective, pleasant, and value-oriented workspace that is suitable for the ‘New Now.’

If you too feel that the time has come for a different discourse, for internal organizational leadership that produces meaning and fosters change that comes from within the organization, contact us today. We will guide you on how to produce a digital, meaningful, and practical company-wide event that connects and empowers your employees.