Building internal facilitation mindset to shape a sustainable future
Assimoco achieved its objective of establishing and nurturing an internal facilitation community of practice and developing facilitation skills based on IAF core competencies. The initial target of training 25 staff and inter-functional people in the core competencies has been surpassed and the organisation now aims to start a new project in 2020 with other trained internal facilitators. Internal facilitators are running 1 to 2 facilitated interventions each week. This amounts to around 10+ interventions a month internally and across their direct and indirect customers.
In 2018, 26% of employees and 20% of external partners were involved in a circle facilitated by an internal employee. At the time of writing, 100% of employees have benefited from at least one meeting to understand the potential of facilitation .
In 2019, Great Place to Work ranked Assimoco amongst the best Italian companies for the quality of the working environment thanks to the wide program of involvement of people in the facilitation processes. The application of facilitation methods, also tested with intermediaries in institutional events, intensified the involvement and quality of the relationship, contributing to a 6 point percentage increase in net promoter score from 2016 to 2018.
In 2019 Assimoco also received and AIFIn Award for innovation. The two winning products were designed by a working group applying facilitation methods.
Context and challenges
The Assimoco Group is the insurance company of reference of the Italian Cooperative Movement, with which it shares a heritage of history and values. It is facing an intense transformation program to acquire a distinctive positioning in the panorama of Italian insurance.
Assimoco has embraced the paradigms of the B-economy and obtained the B Corp certification in May 2018. In keeping with its B Corp certification Assimoco wanted to:
- develop a widespread culture of innovation throughout the entire organization, involving all employees in an active and participatory manner— Assimoco have been Great Place to Work certified since 2015
- start a new way of working (business agility - strong synergies with respect to facilitation)
- involve employees in major decision-making processes
- pursue an objective of personal and professional development of employees
- develop talents (where facilitation is considered a core competence)
- improve management decision-making processes (facilitation is now used in the strategic planning process)
- involve business partners in the co-design of the new offering system
- activate integrated welfare systems with other territorial cooperative partners (facilitation takes on a critical role to allow an effective dialogue between many entities involved).
A 'Culture and Sustainability' office was established in 2019 to support the development of facilitation along the entire organization. The company has launched a program to change its corporate headquarters in 2019, designed to support also the facilitation methodologies.
Assimoco realised that, to face this huge transformation challenge, the entire organization needed to evolve the ways in which people generate conversations, on daily basis. To meet this need, Assimoco embarked on an ambitious project to:
- become a B Corp with a facilitative mindset, able to have valuable conversations as a basis for innovation and create a context that supports the adoption of agile methodologies, improve internal decision-making processes, encourage the ambition to develop networks with business partners and external organizations
- build facilitation skills and competence especially starting with team leaders and develop and enhance existing skills and provide a broad understanding of facilitation tools, techniques and processes
- help individuals build greater confidence in working with groups and individuals and in handling and managing ‘difficult’ people-types and situations
- increase individual and team effectiveness
- provide individuals with a safe environment to practice facilitation
- acknowledge IAF competences as the baseline to improve facilitation skills.
The objectives of the project were to:
- Make facilitation a new way of looking at group dynamics and co-innovation processes.
- Empower internal facilitators to improve usability and logistics and reduce costs of a regular enrolment of external professionals.
- Train in depth on the key facilitation IAF Competencies, fundamental facilitation methods a group of 25 voluntary employees to become Key Internal Facilitators.
- Develop real model workshops with them for specific internal needs.
- Focus on the strategic design of workshops to address specific group challenges.
- Upskill and increase internal Assimoco facilitation capability and capacity and embed facilitation as a core competence of the internal leaders.
- Improve the quality of both design and delivery of large and small facilitated interventions supporting internal and external customer needs.
- Support the building and shaping of the internal facilitation community of practice and embed facilitation and IAF skills as a core competences.
- Provide Assimoco facilitators with a suite of tools and techniques, and a real kit, to use to design and run more engaging facilitated interventions.
- Develop and sustain a facilitative culture of participation and engagement across Assimoco and Assimoco Group.
Assimoco engaged E-consultant with Gian Carlo Manzoni, IAF Certified™ Professional facilitator, past IAF Italy chapter chair and past SoL (Society of organizational learning) Italy chapter chair, and Marco Ossani, present chair of SoL Italy, to assist with the project.
Gian Carlo and Marco:
- Shared facilitation awareness in different meetings with Assimoco staff, comparing their approach with other facilitators approaches.
- Following initial consultation with Assimoco point of contact, co-designed a core facilitation skills three-day learning workshop, including a full day of exercise designed for a maximum of 12 to15 participants which was delivered 2 times to more or less 30 Assimoco staff.
- Delivered, as written above, 5 modules of three-day learning workshop, including a full day of exercise, delivered 2 times for around 10 months.
- Supported Assimoco in the establishment and boosting of an internal Assimoco facilitation community of practice.
- Recommended useful and relevant facilitation resources to support the community of practice.