Challenging ourselves in the way we challenge our clients
Every year the Dutch, Swedish and UK teams come together for an Academy day, which this year we held in London. The overall purpose is to strengthen our relationships, bring together diverse thought and experience, innovate, inspire each other, and realign on our vision for the future. Although our global teams often work closely together, there is nothing more powerful than having a physical connection to remind ourselves that we are all human.
The UK team, who were hosting, were keen to find a way to push the group outside its comfort zone as this is something we ask our clients to do regularly (if not daily). We wanted to see what we might be able to achieve when our diverse minds came together in a new and challenging environment, so we decided to hold our event in the Flux Lounge, utilising CoCreate technology. Think huge, futuristic Minority Report type screens! Sure, these were exciting, but the environment was also daunting at first as we were forced to work and collaborate in new ways. To foster a safe environment, we implemented a mobile phone shelf and a ‘complete honesty, complete safety’ rule (there are no stupid ideas or questions).
What did we learn?
We spent the day without our mobile phones but immersed in new technology. In doing so, we learnt that technology is not the enemy, it just needs to be used in the right setting and removed when it acts as a potential or unproductive distraction. We reminded ourselves what it felt like to be one of our clients, pushed outside their comfort zone in a supported way: it can be daunting, but invigorating and inspiring. We held each other accountable to the rules and vision for the day because we know there is also no ‘win-win’ when it comes to collaboration. It takes time, compassion and active listening to gain a better understanding other people’s perspectives and ideas. But when you get it right, magic happens. Magic that is generated when you have a group of people who are aligned on their values and vision for their future, but are diverse as humans and accepting of that diversity.
We are by nature a reflective group of individuals and with it being Veldhoen + Company’s 30th year anniversary, we really looked back on the journey we have travelled and distance we’ve covered in that time. Those at the Academy represented how much we had grown as a company, with attendees ranging from employees who had just joined us to some who had seen the birth of the company. Regardless of background, length of service or age, being together reminded us all of what we are passionate about: enabling people to do their best work, the power of the collective, trust, empowerment and psychological safety, and sustainability for the organisation and the world. Our belief is that by enabling the human we will improve productivity, which will enable our economy to flourish in a way that services all our the future generations.
It’s easy to keep doing things the same way, misuse our precious time together, think that there’s no need to change. But when we take ourselves out of that comfort zone, look within and embrace the unknown we can achieve so much more.