The French Postal Service crafts its strategy in a participative way

strategie participative la poste

Credit : Website La Poste

The French Postal Service (Groupe La Poste) recently mobilized their employees to build their strategic roadmap for the next 5 years. They published this great Dataviz to show how big it’s been  : 150 000 employees participated (2/3 of the payroll) and generated 45813 ideas. That said, the quantitative side is one thing but behind the numbers and data visualization there’s an human reality, a project, and that’s what businesses to try similar approaches may want to know more about.
The Department of Strategy of “Groupe La Poste” kindly accepted to answer a couple of questions, through the voice of Olivier Dressayre, innovation and partnership deputy.

 

It seems that you chose an offline approach. Why did you do so ?

The approach was not exclusively offline ! We had to do with two realities : very little time to listen and discuss and a very large population for which because of their job (postmen, delivery people, counter clerks…) – it’s impossible to connect from work and during the work time. Moreover, we wanted a direct exchange, taking place within actual teams, around the managers who are close to them in a workshop approach where a real conversation can happen.

This approach was backed by an online platform that had three main purposes :

• Allowing manager to provide comprehensive feedbacks “in the flow”

• Be a space for dialogue, to submit and discuss ideas, individually.

• Offer an alternate solution, a kind of online workshop with same approach as offline ones, for people who could not attend physical workshops, whatever the reason, in their workplace.

A mobile site was also available to share, read, and discuss ideas.
The online side was not the priority of this operation but a indispensable complementary channel.

How many of the 45 000 ideas did you keep and to what extent did they help to make matters/actions surface that would not have with a traditional approach ?

First it was a collective practice going far beyond a simple survey targeting a representative sample, in terms of mobilization, engagement, freedom of speech. Since the purpose was also to share a common diagnostic on the Group, the progress made during the last ten years, the current situation, we have now the certainty (measured) that every participant learned something, regardless to their position, business unit or hierarchical role.

The contributions we got from the 5-6 people workshops are very various : general purpose thoughts, principes or very specific actions. All this very rich material has been used : first it’s been sorted with the help of a semantic tool, then all the contributions have been cautiously read again and checked.

What we can draw, as we speak, from a general standpoint and is backed by the legitimacy provided by the large number of participants :

• Subjects on which a consensus exists among employees : for example the SWOT analysis of the group or the success indicators for 2018.

• A hierarchy of expectations and prioritize actions.

• But also questions which meaning is still unclear and deserves more actions and explanations.

As for specific ideas (15-20% of the whole) they will be confronted with past, ongoing or scheduled projects over time, in agreement with each business line and often through collaboration between business lines.
After this program, how will you deal with expectations, explain what’s been  selected or not and why ?
That’s the challenge of a participative approach and we don’t have any ready-made answer. The first thing that matters is to provide feedbacks to all the employees on the contributions that’s been made. That’s, in fact, a very high expectation : know what their colleagues said. A “Contribution handbook” was issued in 250 000 copies, only 3 weeds after we ended the consultation process, and sent to all the employees (but is also available on the intranet). Then, from a strategic standpoint, we’ll highlight what comes from the consultation. Then there will be a management work to be performed at every level, in any unit to take the contributions into account and go deeply into them.Will there be a specific follow-up program ? is it a one-shot or is La Poste willing to start an continuous listening/conversation program with employees ?

Like in many other companies, sustainable participation is a major expectations at Groupe La Poste. A one-shot approach makes no sense since we consider wellbeing at work as a major priority and performance driver. Listening to all our stakeholders is our calling and not only an opportunistic attitude. But we must be lucid  and admit that much is still to be invented to sustain the conversation.

———-

I would really like to thank Olivier Dressayre for his receptiveness and La Poste’s digital team for their responsiveness in connecting us.

I’ll comment this initiative later with a more analytic eye but, before, I’ll write something on a similar initiative recently conducted by the bank Société Générale. Then we’ll have enough material to take hindsight on an approach that seduces more and more businesses today.

Last but not least, here’s a video on the program (sorry…it’s in french, but close-captioned and showing how things happened).