I already wrote many things about Danone on my French blog but nothing here. I think there are a few things you have to know before reading further.
â€¢ The biggest point about Danone is their “dual project”, both business and societal. Every business decision has to take into account its societal effects. The purpose is not to balance business decisions by societal programs but to make decisions that deal with both at the same time. It’s a very important component of the corporate’s culture and management, and someone business focused without any societal awareness has many chances not be hired or not feel comfortable for long working at Danone. For Danone, the way people do business is at least as important as business itself.
â€¢ Danone has an informal culture. Of course, plants and factory need very strong processes. But for the rest, “the rule is the exception” or “exception is the rule”. As one of their VPs once told me, “we will always be smaller than most of our competitors, so we need to be smarter, run faster”. Initiatives are welcome and people are encourage to share ideas and best practices together by themselves.
â€¢ A survey showed their clients and partners valued a lot this culture, this “Danone Way”. It proved that it was identified as a key factor of performance, inside but also outside the company. A few years ago it made Danone’s people realize that their culture, one of the most intangible business assets, was a key performance lever.
â€¢ Many things to add…this company is worth being known and studied. Really outstanding !
What’s interesting in Danone explorers, is that Danone tries to seduce members of the famous Generaton Y and, as a consequence uses all the levers that are supposed to be efficient with tehm : proximity, discussions, exchanges, personalized dialogues, transparency, games, adult to adult conversations intead of parent to child.
Of course, in these times, we can expect a “full 2.0” approach to tool such a logic. Not at all.
Danone favors “In real life” things : students are coming to Danone’s HQ, 50 managers are present to exchange with 150 happy selected students (yes…1 for 3…), and, last but not least, the Executive HR VP and the CEO Franck Riboud were here too.
Why that ? Because this informal culture which is about exchanges, discussions, is a part of Danone’s DNA. When many people are wondering how to make their business practices move to something similar, the question has not te be asked at Danone where, anyway, “we don’t know how to do things another way”.
This inspires me a reflexion : I know there are many ways to make business practices change in a company, but when culture is adequate it’s really easier to ask people to do thinks such or such way. This may be a very interesting subject sor an essay : “are tools 2.0 the extension of a culture or a lever to move toward another culture we don’t have yet”. If I were asked that my answer would be “both, depending on whom…”. But since things work in real life, are tools needed ?
Two things before I finish.
The first is what a student told us (I was withÂ post by Umair Aque, the “dual project” seeming to be not so far.one of my fellow HR bloggers). “I came to check if reality matched the discourses, the website, the leaflet”. The risk would be obvious for Danone in case of a gap between what they say and what they are. Lucky they are, they see to have the right DNA to compete in these times and attract the needed talented people. By the way, I’d like to have Danone’s people opinion on this
The second one is about knowledge exchange practices at Danone. For the first time I was able to attend one of their “marketpalces” but it was rather a “business to candidate” marketplace. I’m gathering informations about B2B or “employees to employees” marketplaces to share more about their outstanding way of sharing information, best practices and expertises.