Creating a self-managed network of global ambassadors to enable cultural change


How to empower local stakeholders and promote self-directed action – Our client, a global optics and optoelectronics group, aims to become a market shaper. They want to set trends, not follow them. Key to their success was the engagement and empowerment of their global employees. With the full support of the management team, they embarked on a corporate cultural journey with three guiding themes: empowerment, diverse teams, and role models. Though the themes were set, and the destination was clear, there were still some roadblocks to overcome:

  • The project had a global reach but required local engagement and activities
  • The participants were leaders with varying skills and experiences in team development, and daily business responsibilities in their existing positions
  • To foster greater acceptance and influence, the basic concept was built on enabling and empowering stakeholders to take internally-driven action rather than waiting for external prompting but this concept needed to be taught and understood
  • A lack of clarity in the local offices of the basic concept of using behavioral anchors and how to implement them

Our Approach

The Journey Toolbox – First, we developed a toolbox for leaders from all company levels. Regardless of seniority, this toolbox would enable them to run workshops on the guiding themes of empowerment, diverse teams, and role model building.

  • Development of a toolbox that includes 19 tools, including three feedback techniques, consisting of facilitator guides, supporting materials, and methodical background information for each tool.
  • Seamless integration of the toolbox into the existing management tool
  • Implementation of a Cultural Ambassador Network
  • We implemented and enabled a self-organized network of several hundred culture ambassadors to drive change locally.
  • Definition of roles, conceptualization of the network structure, and enablement approach
  • Execution of a series of workshops for the first and second cohort of cultural ambassadors. Establishment of the network purpose, sub-team structure, processes, space and enabling methods and tools
  • Continuous follow-ups of enablement formats with the provision of information on agile ways of working, self-organization with tension-based working, and consent decision-making
  • Execution of nudging activities to activate an “activist mindset”


New connections on a global cultural journey – The cultural ambassadors were equipped with the guiding themes to map the journey, a network to give and receive support, and a toolbox to empower them every step of the way.

    • Live toolbox with several thousand interactions in the first six months after launch
    • A self-managed network that works with agile approaches
    • Impact tracking of the network activity via quantitative key performance indicators such as granular participation rates
    • Establishment of a test and learn mentality within the network
    • Cross-functional and cross-regional collaboration and relationship, fostering an ecosystem thinking in the organization

Lessons learned

Looking back on the journey so far

    • The view in the rearview mirror is essential when planning the next phase of the journey.
    • The “tone from the top” is key as it fosters a willingness to experiment
    • The importance of drawing inspiration from other movements (“be Greta”)
    • Think big, START SMALL
    • The enablement of self-organization is time-consuming and requires recurring loops and retros
    • An internal partner with outstanding communication expertise is crucial