Over a 7-month period, French sporting goods specialist Decathlon gave its 92,000 collaborators, as well as customers and partners, the opportunity to co-write its vision for 2030. This open, hybrid process took place through physical workshops across the globe and via a multi-lingual collective intelligence platform, Decathlon Vision 2030. Working with a company known for its agility and innovation was, without doubt, a memorable professional and human adventure.
1. THE ENCOUNTER
Following Vision 2026 completed several years ago, Decathlon was looking to co-construct a new vision for 2030 with its collaborators. But not only. This time, they decided to invite the entire Decathlon ecosystem – including customers and international partners – to take part. The company therefore needed a multi-lingual (14 languages) digital collective intelligence platform to collect contributions from all over the world. And, this is where bluenove came in.
Decathlon heard about us through our involvement in analysing contributions to France’s Grand Débat National (large-scale public debate in 2019). We teamed up with its Nabaiji brand for SWIM 2030 to imagine the future of swimming via our collective intelligence platform. Following a successful call to tender, we then set to work on shaping the Group’s new vision.
For me, it all started in September 2019 at Alive, a space dedicated to innovation and new working methods on the Decathlon campus – here, a whole ecosystem mixes and mingles in an open-space venue that reflects the group’s dynamic mindset. Decathlon is a company like no other and France’s favourite shop. As well as a unique customer that treated us as a project partner with a shared objective to achieve together. We joined the Core Team comprising 20 or so Decathlonian volunteers from across the world, all keen to build this new vision and, in their own way, change the world!
The project mantra, “Trust the People, Trust the Process”, embodies a way of thinking in sync with our own at bluenove. The idea that it is important to trust the process that has been developed collectively and the people that make it a reality.
During this visit, I met Charlie Felgate, the ambitious Decathlon Vision Leader – who has done everything possible to create conditions that foster trust, while leading the project with boundless passion and humanity.
“If you believe in collective intelligence, you need to listen to the voices of all your stakeholders. In the past, we carried out massive collective intelligence exercises internally with our collaborators (up to 37,000 people), but these were too focused on ourselves and own our aspirations. Even before the COVID-19 pandemic, we were already evolving in a VUCA environment. I’m convinced that if a company wants to remain relevant to its customers, it needs to integrate them into its Vision. Once we had decided to open up our approach to everyone (#OpenToAll), we realised that physical workshops weren’t enough. We also needed to add a digital dimension and looked for the partner with the skills to do this. This was a big first for us.”
The Core Team impressed me with its unfailing capacity to adapt. They were eager to learn about our methods, grapple with highly technical topics, get their hands dirty and do it themselves. We were the team’s “collective intelligence coaches”, sharing our skills and experience. During a 2-hour workshop we explained how our platform works, so the team could be as autonomous as possible. This meant we could focus on adding value and constantly improving the project.
Webinar “Tomorrow is Now : the Decathlon Journey to 2030” with Charlie Felgate
2. A SHARED ADVENTURE, HAND IN HAND
October 2019: the collective intelligence platform for Vision 2030 opened internally to 92,000 Decathlonians scattered across 57 countries, marking the beginning of the CO-INSPIRE phase. Teams were invited to share their ideas in relation to 3 key themes: Future of Living, Future of People and Future of Sportspeople.
The success of this initial phase was largely due to the tremendous onboarding efforts made by 250 project ambassadors across the globe. In every country and city where Decathlon has set up shop, these individuals helped engage with and motivate their local communities. They organised workshops around the 3 themes, sharing different points of view to generate more than 10,000 ideas that would nourish the final vision. These initial weeks of international consultation were a mirror image of the Core Team – efficiently run in a trusting environment that enabled shared success.
It wasn’t all plain sailing though. From December onwards, the platform encountered a series of problems including simultaneous load holding and instability, as well as slow loading times and translation requests. Despite being determined to investigate and find solutions, our technical team couldn’t always keep up.
In the face of complex technical problems, which we had never experienced on this scale, Decathlon Core Team came to the rescue. Swinging into action, they provided precious support in understanding the problems and creating a plan of attack, while always remaining objective and positive. This enabled us to significantly improve our Assembl collective intelligence platform.
Through this feedback, trust and investment, we honed our tools and governance, and even develop new functionalities – for example, a search by city/town filter. Now we can find out exactly what Decathlonians think from Rome to Bogota and Seoul.
January 2020, we launched the CO-EXPLORE phase and opened the dialogue to external stakeholders, including clients and partners, through our local ambassadors. Not to mention launching a massive communications push featuring newsletters and web banners.
Next step? Determine key themes based on contributions made during the initial CO-INSPIRE stage. These 4 themes defined the contours of the Exploration Territories on which Vision 2030 would be built.
- SHAPE THE FUTURE OF HUMANITY
- TECHNOLOGIVAL & ENVIRONMENTAL CHANGES
- FUNDAMENTAL PILLARS & VITAL CHANGES
- FROM “I” TO “WE”
Personal writing was also an important source of inspiration. This design fiction exercise involved imagining yourself in 2030 and beyond – what will the world be like? How do you want to live? Adding a new dimension to the conversation, this process united profound aspirations and a new reality to build together.
After 7 months of enriching international dialogue, we established the pillars of the 2030 vision, drawing deeply on inspiration from collaborators and external participants.
3. TURNING TOWARDS THE FUTURE
In April 2020, the 3rd phase of the co-construction process, CO-WRITING, was set to begin. But as the COVID-19 crisis unfolded, we suddenly needed a new approach and methods. In spite of the challenging lockdown conditions, participation levels remained high in France and across the globe.
Once again, the mantra “Trust the People, Trust the Process” took on fresh meaning: trust the team to transform our methods to fit a new reality and finalise Vision 2030.
This meant 100% digital writing workshops with a reduced team (Core Team + selected international ambassadors). Using CO-EXPLORE insights from bluenove and Cognito, the pillars of the vision were drawn – taking into account areas of consensus and difference, as well as local specificities and orphan topics. Following several digital workshops, some co-hosted by bluenove, Vision 2030 was finally ready.
However, following a period of deep reflection and multiple discussions, the vision initially set out for 2030 became Vision 2021.
Why this change?
- The international health crisis has transformed our daily reality and tomorrow is already here.
- For Decathlon, 2030 can no longer be envisaged without first transforming, from today, a world in which so much to be rethought and rebuilt.
CEO Michel Aballea and Charlie Felgate announced this new focus, explaining that Decathlon would soon be launching a new vision based on the collective and individual contributions made during the 7 months of international dialogue.
Charlie Felgate explains that, “In 2019, we knew that completing a wide-reaching vision, massive and open to all, looking ahead 10 years, was going to be complex. It’s never easy to project so far into the future. Of course, we have insights into the main trends and challenges, but no one really knows what’s actually going to happen. When you analyse content carefully, when you read what people are saying, the dreams of the majority will be valid for tomorrow morning. Fo
r us, this sanitary crisis has accelerated existing trends. We feel that we have a window of opportunity to drive certain transformations that hadn’t been easy to deploy. What we can say is, tomorrow starts today!”
So, 2030 became 2021. Throughout this partnership and unique adventure, Decathlon has been surprisingly innovative all the way!
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