Helping engagement with messy experience: Organizational transformation at Assimoco Group (part one)

In 2018 Gian Carlo Manzoni, E-consultant’s director and Marco Ossani, associate partner, delivered a big facilitation project for Assimoco Group, the insurance company of reference of the Italian Cooperative Movement, with which it shares a heritage of history and values.

These values ​​ are:

  • Attention and care of the person (Assimoco establish a relationship that comes from continuous listening and develops through professional competence and personal involvement, with the aim of implementing a common growth path)
  • Responsibility (Assimoco exercises its role with care and care and is aware of the result of these actions)
  • Cooperation (Assimoco pursue an individual approach that develops abilities to work together towards common goals)
  • Transparency (Assimoco dedicates time and attention to sharing information and promote direct and sincere communication)
  • Simplicity (Assimoco makes complex things simple)
  • Learning (Assimoco can be distinguished by curiosity and desire to learn, that is to say people are not satisfied with the results achieved. They innovate by learning;)
  • Passion (Assimoco works with commitment and enthusiasm, and actively contributes to its growth).

In general Assimoco believes that only a superior organization can achieve superior results, in full respect of all stakeholders: customers, distributors, collaborators, shareholders and the community.

Assimoco is a B Corporation  (a benefit corporate, a new kind of business that balances purpose and profit).

They are legally required to consider the impact of their decisions on their workers, customers, suppliers, community, and the environment –  They have a facilitative mindset, able to implement valuable conversations as a basis for innovation (thanks to this project), creating a context that supports the adoption of agile methodologies which improve internal decision-making processes, encouraging the ambition to develop networks with business partners and external organizations.

When we started, the Assimoco Group was facing an intense transformation program, in order to acquire a distinctive positioning in the panorama of Italian insurance. Assimoco realised that, to face this huge transformation challenge and results, the entire organization needs to evolve the ways in which people generate conversations, on daily basis.

The main objectives of the project were to make facilitation a new way of looking at group dynamics and co-innovation processes, upskill and increase internal Assimoco facilitation capability and capacity, and embed facilitation as a core competence of the internal leaders. In fact the entire organization needed to evolve the ways in which people generate conversations, on a daily basis. So building facilitation skills and competence especially starting from team leaders, really developing and enhancing existing skills and finally providing a broad understanding of facilitation tools, techniques and processes is the “stargate” for a new generation of internal leaders.

We won the International Association of Facilitators (IAF) 2019 Golden Impact award about this project (see One of the main things we delivered in this project was about recommended,  useful and relevant facilitation resources to support the internal community of practice of facilitators.

This internal community needed to be both consolidated and reinforced, and pushed to do more internally and externally, based on well-defined skills and processes and facilitation approaches –  and all this while respecting the corporate objective to push the adoption of a more facilitative/conversational approach in general.

At the end of the project we gave frameworks to evaluate internal processes and, specially, themselves as real internal leaders able to host and engage internal and external stakeholders. Actually the internal facilitators are now running one or two facilitated interventions every week. This amounts to around 10+ interventions a month internally and across their direct and indirect customers. So stepping forward and back, that is core of Host Leadership process, was not only a metaphor but a practical and concrete approach to measure and assess their own capabilities as leading facilitators, increasing internal performance.

The delegates had engaged internal leaders in their project work, making direct facilitation experiences during their internal meetings and kick off. They shared exercises done together, facilitating directly the class under our coordination and supervision. So they expressed their own leadership planning, inviting, introducing, providing, encouraging, giving space, joining in. They understood the value of knowledge and experience shared both in this project and in the internal community of practice: they became real hosts!

The percentage of employees who have benefited from at least one meeting to understand the potential of facilitation is 100%. ,We think that is a great result. Due to the fact the community of practice has to increase the percentage of employees and external partners who can be involved in a facilitated activity we thought to deliver and offer  frames  (such as U theory and Appreciative Inquiry) through which many dimensions of leadership can be viewed and Host Leadership was at the end to support these.

To be continued with Host Leadership Approach.Host leadership