Yearly Meeting in Feldkirch: Reflect honestly, think critically, share openly!
Exactly one month ago, I came back from the famous foryouandyourcustomers Yearly Meeting. Flying all the way from Melbourne, Australia to Feldkirch, Austria a long flight but definitely worth it, even more, if you are a newbie!
Arriving there, I first stepped into the Montforthaus where the event was happening, I already felt the innovation and future thinking represented by the architecture of that amazing building. We could feel the spirit of foryouandyourcustomers reflected in the building itself. The yearly meeting is our biggest gathering of all ‘cells’ or offices around Europe and the rest of the World. The purpose of this meeting is to come together to share our knowledge and insights around what we achieved throughout the year as well as thinking further on new goals and opportunities for the future. What surprised me most, being part of a small team in Melbourne, is how big and extraordinary we actually are as foryouandyourcustomers Group!
Kick-off and Open Space Technology
We officially kicked off our meeting with all employees seated in a large circle. Stephan Mueller our Group CEO gave the introduction and then went straight into explaining our way of collaborating during the event, using a simple method, which demonstrates one of our strong values ‘pioneering’. This value is about thinking more broadly and the freedom of self-organisation. As such, there was no agenda set by leadership which for most other companies when organising such a big event would be unheard of. This demonstrates foyouandyourcustomers’ belief in the value of great people making great content. This collaboration technique is called ‘Open Space Technology’ invented by Harrison Owen. It is a way of creating workshops where it gives everyone the opportunity to come up with their topics, problems and questions which they want to discuss.
‘I am always surprised how well this works, the quality of these workshops and the effort people put into making this happen.’
I believe the most important thing is nurturing the interests of your employees! The method relies on only four principles and one law: Whoever comes is the right people, Whenever it starts is the right time, when it’s over it’s over and Whatever happens is the only thing that could have! In addition to that, there is the law of two feet (mobility), that you stay productive if at any time you find yourself in any situation where you are neither learning nor contributing you have the right to move to another workshop. Bernhard Mueller, CEO of Melbourne Cell said ‘I am always surprised how well this works, the quality of these workshops and the effort people put into making this happen’. So to summarise, we had strategic sessions, content sessions, sustainability sessions, technology sessions, creative sessions and outdoor sessions – all of which were completely different. Some were more like discussions, others were presentations and some were learnings from different cells which have been shared and hopefully will be applied in other cells.
The ones which stood out as particularly special were from a very creative person Claus Stachl who named himself COO (Chief Outdoor Officer), he offered a sunrise meditation walk to the top of the mountains with only two simple rules, no talking and no pictures. This made me think about another value of foryouandyourcustomers ‘simply integral’. This is not just about being successful in business but also being a good human. Claus showed us the importance of it by helping us to take time to appreciate our surroundings, connect with nature and each other.
Another workshop which went viral was about the strategic game called ‘Go’, presented by Stefan Berner. When Stefan gave the idea of showing how to play a game (which I haven’t heard about before), my first thought was why would we do it on a business yearly meeting? But it was clear from our feedback round at the end, that lots of people loved the session. In every break you could see people playing Go around the place, they became addicted and tried to be more strategic to win faster against their adversary. Finally, I learnt the importance of this game and I could relate it to another of our values ‘Thought through’, because to win at Go, the good strategy has to be very well ‘thought through’.
I also attended an environmental workshop by Andreas Drexhage who presented an idea to brainstorm around an everyday topic ‘Climate crisis’. The workshop became a highly interesting conversation where people asked lots of questions to understand his idea, which was about how homo sapiens are responsible for our planet’s high amount of CO2 in the atmosphere. And his question was ‘why we don’t use the easiest and elegant way of reducing CO2 to recompense this issue’. His idea shows another value ‘surprisingly simple’, foryouandyourcustomers tries to make a complex topic into a surprisingly simple concept, where everyone can contribute to it and bring their ideas to make it understandable for everyone.
In the end, for me the most valuable thing was to finally put real faces to all those names I had been working closely with during the whole year. Which brings us to a final foryouandyourcustomers value ‘relationship building’, the important to build a relationship with people who you work for or with. Working together, when you actually physically meet your colleagues makes communication and collaboration much easier.
I couldn’t finish talking without mentioning the epic party on Saturday night at the ‘Altes Hallenbad’ in Feldkirch with some great artists, music, food, drinks and lots of socialising. The location was fun we were literally dancing in an old swimming pool without water. Jonathan Moeller the founder made a final speech and gave over a piece of art to both of our Group CEOs, symbolising our foryouandyourcustomers’ Group growing cell.
Looking forward to our next Yearly Meeting
To conclude, I must say this Yearly Meeting brings everyone huge advantages, opportunities and for me being a newbie in this group, I must say I now have a deeper appreciation for foryouandyourcustomers’ values, I understood what our values are, how they impact each of us in the group and how we can live those 5 values on an everyday basis at work : ‘surprisingly simple, relationship building, pioneering, thought through and simply integral’. I am grateful for the effort foryouandyourcustomers has invested in these yearly meetings. I would like to say a big thank you to Agnes Halbeisen who organised everything, I know how much effort has been put into organising such a big and great event! Well done and I am looking forward to our next foryouandyourcustomers’ Yearly Meeting!