Cultivating the Strategy Through Our Employees

DuPont Pioneer strives to be the world’s most innovative plant genetics business, delivering industry-leading products and unmatched service and support. While there have been many changes since our business was founded in 1926, we have remained steadfast in our dedication to one guiding principle – the success of the business is based on our customers’ success. That belief has helped us become a leading developer and supplier of plant genetics to farmers worldwide and has helped those farmers improve their lives by boosting productivity, profitability, and sustainability.

Always Room for Growth

Already regarded as an innovator in our industry, we wanted to find a way to increase our employee engagement with the goal of creating clarity, alignment, and a sharpened focus across our organization. We needed a program to help us understand the dynamics of a rapidly changing industry and an intensely competitive landscape. These factors provided the context for our overarching strategy. All of our employees needed to understand how they:

  • Contribute to accomplishing our strategy
  • Contribute to our increased profitability
  • Connect to one or more of our core business processes

We knew we wanted to move away from slide presentations and siloed communications plans. First and foremost, we wanted every employee to think like a businessperson, so we needed to make business concepts clear and memorable.

We selected Root to help us drive this endeavor because of its expertise and unique methodologies including visualization, dialogue, small-group interactivity, and facilitation.

Planting the Seeds

The first order of business was for us to create an integrated team made up of individuals from Employee Communications, Human Resources, and Finance to lead the charge. More than 100 employees were tapped to help develop the first three Strategic Learning Map® modules focused on Pioneer Strategy, Planting Seeds for Growth (Finance), and Delivering to the Customer (Core Processes).

These modules used icons, infographics, drawings, conceptual illustrations, and metaphors to tell a story in a visual way and facilitate conversations to create a common understanding across all functions, levels, and geographies.

We tested the maps using focus groups in three different regions: the U.S., Latin America, and Europe. Some modifications were made based on focus group results, and subsequently, we rolled them out to the entire business. We started with an off-site learning day near our headquarters in Des Moines, Iowa. More than 1,600 employees and 100 facilitators participated in the launch event in small facilitator-led sessions of no more than 10 employees per group. These sessions were specifically designed to help our employees:

  • Understand the context for them in the marketplace and grasp the big picture regarding our strategy
  • Understand their individual roles in accomplishing our strategy
  • Comprehend financial metrics in a relatable way, allowing them to understand how their actions impact our bottom line
  • See how their jobs correlate to business processes, own their actions, and improve productivity

Ultimately, approximately 8,500 employees participated in the Root strategy sessions, which were offered in multiple languages around the globe.

The Fruits of Our Labor

Root’s innovative approach fit the bill for what we were seeking – a partner to help integrate our communications objectives in a memorable way, creating the greatest possible impact. Working closely with our own subject-matter experts, Root creatively presented the critical information that helped our employees avoid overload and embrace what really mattered to their jobs and our company.

Root’s Strategic Learning Map® modules and accompanying materials allowed us to bring employees together and gain a shared sense of purpose. We were able to provide our employees with clarity regarding our strategy,
including priority markets and crops, and to leverage the power of a well-defined vision.

Root’s Learning Map® methodology helped Pioneer successfully:

  • Engage our employees in every part of the organization
  • Significantly increase our employees’ understanding of our business
  • Create memorable shared experiences
  • Enable conversations that stimulated additional dialogue about where we were going, why, and how

An internal survey deployed to gauge the reception to Root’s program revealed the following:

  • Ninety-five percent agreed/strongly agreed that the first Learning Map® visual increased their understanding of our strategy and its link to our customers and markets.
  • Ninety-four percent agreed/strongly agreed that the learning session helped them understand how our customers’ needs, strategy, financials, and core processes relate to each other.

Root allowed us to bring together people from different areas throughout our organization and get them all on the same page. The Strategic Learning Map® modules provided such strong visuals that our employees were able to quickly comprehend and remember the content we were sharing. The result was a truly connected workforce that better understood our strategy, our key financial metrics, and our core processes.