From local to 'glocal' - how participatory theatre empowered enabling, global leadership for L'Oréal
These past 6 months have seen me working in partnership with L'Oréal and CEDEP in a series of 'Frozen Picture' workshops that have helped L'Oréal senior management to understand new ways of thinking about leadership as the company continues to grow and expand it's global operations.
Like many companies, L'Oréal is looking to understand more about the shifting landscape of maintaining a strong brand as the company moves into new markets, whilst also leading and empowering their regional teams to be innovative, entrepreneurial, 'enabling' leaders that are able to develop new products and services for consumers around the world.
We started with leading workshops that use the technique of 'Frozen Pictures' as a way to encapsulate key ideas in this space. Participants were asked to sculpt a 'Frozen Picture' in teams, that looked at 'the situation in L'Oréal as it is now', before creating a second picture that considered 'the ideal situation as we would like it to be'. Having gone from examining the challenges they were facing right now towards a vision for the future, participants were then asked to create a third picture showing 'the image of transition, or transformation' - how do we get from where we are now to where we want to be?
This is a powerful technique that I often use in workshops, usually as a forerunner towards the deeper behavioural change work of Forum Theatre. L'Oréal have found the workshops of immeasurable benefit in helping to visualise and, most importantly, physicalise ideas that were being discussed 'in theory' in other training workshops they were holding across the company.
At one of their leadership retreats, we were also asked to design a performance, that offered a light-hearted look at how the company could respond to nimble start ups that are able to get to market more quickly and easily than the larger cosmetic companies that dominate the market. L'Oréal participants were asked to design their own response to the performance we developed, in short skits and plays that offered humorous solutions to these new competitors.
The overall experience has been transformative for L'Oréal. Some of the participants have had this to say about their experience:
"I was really amazed at how we could be working and having fun in such a collaborative mode. Very interactive in a very short time'
"'How we can be creative and collaborative just by taking action - by 'doing'"
'It was great how, in such a short time, we all realised how creative, competitive (!) we are and how we could channel this in the company'
'I was amazed at how easily it was to work with people that I hardly knew'
'I had so much fun'
"Every team brings a different perception....and it shows me that even if we have different perceptions we have the same alignment'
'When we let go by having fun....you can really create a connection that is much stronger'
'It is amazing how you can relax and have a lot of energy at the same time. The character building was especially interesting and how the story developed....the process can help us think about how we got to the end product'
'There was a very common aligned spirit. You know exactly where you are standing and what needs to be done.'
"It was striking to me to see the level of warmth, kindness, that enables complicity. You want to 'do' together'
If you are interested in having Caroline and the Hua Dan or Scheherazade team work with you on global leadership, creativity and innovation within your company, and doing business in emerging markets, please contact her here.
I am a trained actress and founder and director of Hua Dan, one of China’s first and leading social enterprises. Hua Dan uses the power of participation in drama-based workshops to reveal and develop individual and community potential. Hua Dan has a particular focus on working with China’s rural-to-urban migrant workers, particularly women, who work in the manufacturing and service industries, at the heart of China’s economic boom.