Dentsu Aegis Network – Core Skills Programme


Background and Objectives

In March 2014, Phoenix, in partnership with sister company Blue Phoenix, was invited by the Dentsu Aegis Network to begin the process of overhauling their existing general skills curriculum, which was a core element on the newly formed DAN Academy.

The existing curriculum was a collection of a stand-alone workshops that though generally well received, had little link to the organisation’s wider objectives. What’s more, the new programme needed to serve all the “brands” that now operated under Dentsu Aegis Network. Historically, individual brands had booked their own training and development which meant not only a hugely inefficient list of providers existed, but even more importantly that there was very little way of tracking, measuring and evaluating what was being delivered.

Programme Format

Against this complex and challenging backdrop, we began an extensive round of consultancy with key figures from each brand, as well as wider focus groups drawn from all levels across the business. This consultancy served the following key purposes:

  • To understand the current key business challenges that DAN are facing
  • To initiate engagement and interest in the new General Skills programme
  • To understand what works well in terms of content, format and style of learning
  • To ensure that the brands were actively involved in the creation of the new programme

Although, we had initially planned on building a programme that reflected the Life Cycle of a Client, it was apparent that linking this to all the different brands was a near impossibility. Given this and drawing upon what we were being told, we identified four key areas of focus that it was felt would enable DAN to reach its overarching goal of doubling its growth by 2016:

  • Business Growth
  • Getting Connected
  • Client Management
  • Communication

We then identified specific capabilities for all four which would ultimately need to be addressed by some form of workshop or learning opportunity.

We were keen to avoid simply replacing one set of courses with another, albeit a better aligned, set. The next stage of consultancy enabled us to review all their existing providers and then make informed decisions about how each capability should be addressed. In keeping with the DAN values we needed to be creative, as well as provide a sustainable programme which would initiate genuine behavioural change. Given that challenge, the new programme now involves a mixture of new and existing providers, internal experts, capability “champions” responsible for sustaining the learning introduced on the workshops, as well as a full range of on and offline resources. No workshop is longer than a day, with most being just 3.5 hours, reflecting the demands of the business.

We also had to make sure that all the deliverables were aligned and reflective of the wider business objectives and the organisational brand values – agile, pioneering, ambitious, responsible & collaborative.

The programme itself was preceded by a four day launch event which showcased the revitalised programme through a series of tasters and educational events. Managers were also engaged in the process, and encouraged to make sure that their team members attended only those workshops that were relevant to their development and that would have an immediate impact on their performance. Finally, their existing LMS – BOOST – was overhauled to make the whole experience more user friendly in selecting and booking onto appropriate workshops.

The Results

Delivery of the programme began in September 2014 and the feedback from all the sessions has been extremely positive, with 100% of participants stating that the workshops had met their objectives. We continue to partner with the Learning & Leadership team, developing new initiatives and increasing our work with the managers and brand champions. The programme is now into it’s third year, with additional workshops that reflect the evolving challenges of the network.

Phoenix have helped to cultivate a new way of working by really connecting our network of businesses through shared learning opportunities. They are incredibly supportive, organised, creative and humble. It feels as though they are part of the internal team and have integrated well into our diverse and complex business! Their collaborative approach combined with good quality service has helped to create an offering that has helped to heighten the profile and reputation of our Learning and Development department.

Lauren Gregory, Learning & Leadership Manager