23 January 2013

They said it couldn’t be done. They said it wasn’t possible. They said we were crazy. But we have done it and proved it is possible to turn a group of people, with no musical ability, into a real symphony orchestra in the space of 90 minutes.

This is Orchestrate!, a sensational team-building experience that will transform your people and bring them together as never before.

Which is just what we did with Zurich Insurance.

Why did Zurich approach us?

The client really wanted something musical as they saw that as a positive way to engage with the staff and offered many powerful metaphors for the Zurich culture. They loved the fact that Orchestrate offered a way to hold individual, personal workshops yet unite the entire company in a collaborative project that produced a powerful tangible result.

So how did this team-building session unfold?

The group head office is in Europe, with national offices worldwide, and it has a strong traditional identity with a solid track record.

The South African operation was re-engineered to take advantage of growth opportunities in Africa and a great investment had been made in ensuring the right people, with the right skills were in place to take the company forward. The values, vision and mission were examined and updated to reflect the new environment and strategic focus.

The client requested an intervention countrywide to open the dialogue and create new memories without discarding the good in the past. The company specifically wanted something that was a global as they are but with a strong emphasis on the local and the uniqueness of Africa, which was a source of great pride.

A final challenge was that we could not gather the group together at one event because of operational constraints. We also had to make sure that our event didn’t disrupt day-to-day business or the service levels clients receive.

With these parameters in mind we decided to Orchestrate them

How Orchestrate usually works is that participants choose an instrument commonly found in a symphony orchestra. Once they’ve chosen their particular instrument, they work in sections under the guidance of an expert musician learning how to play their instrument of choice. When they’ve learned how to play their instruments, they come together to play a specially-composed five-minute piece.

For this particular event, the client arranged a road show around the six South African regional offices over a two-week period with 28 sessions in total. The workshops were called The Sights & Sounds of Zurich:

  • The session kicked off with an exciting interactive presentation headed by a personal message from the CEO outlining the company’s vision and mission, and entrenching the Zurich DNA by living the company values.The Leadership Promise and Employee Value Proposition were presented and the groups were introduced to a concept that resonated with the essence of what they do each and every day as a business.They were compared to an orchestra. A group of specialists, skilled in particular disciplines performing at a high level not in isolation but rather as a collective. Through Teamwork, Respect, Customer Centricity, Sustainability, Integrity & Excellence (the Zurich core values), they could produce an output that would delight all their stakeholders while enhancing their individual growth and well-being.
  • As a final surprise, they were introduced to their tutors, our professional musicians who would teach them the rudiments of the cello, violin, viola, trombone, clarinet and various percussion instruments.For one hour, they learned and practised their instruments’ piece in the iconic classical piece O Fortuna. The executive team worked with African instruments and produced a performance that became the foundation of the final production and of course gave the global classic a distinctively African flavour.We videoed and sound recorded every session and then digitally wove them together to produce a spectacular Sights & Sounds of Zurich video which saw all 850 musicians perform together in one giant virtual orchestra.

Was this event a success?
Without a doubt! The client had great expectations and we exceeded these. The participants loved the experience and were amazed at how much they achieved.

The buzz around the company during the two weeks grew to a crescendo as those who had been to the workshops explained to those that had yet to go what a powerful experience it was. Once everyone had been through the process, the energy in the company moved to an even higher level as they felt bound by their shared experience.

The best, however, was yet to come when at the Zurich year-end celebration, the staff saw the final video where they all played together. The roof came off and the pride and sense of achievement was palpable. To watch it now will still bring goosebumps to all that were part of the experience!