ONE: Open Network Experience

A short account of CBA’s international meeting

Each year, the head of CBA agencies throughout the network gather for three days of work, discussion and idea-sharing. The 2019 edition was hosted and organized by CBA Italy in their Milan office.

They named the event u0022ONE, Open Network Experienceu0022, a title that encapsulates what makes our network unique as well as the spirit in which we approached these three days of work.

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Indeed, the various CBA agencies all have different backgrounds, they work and different markets with different clients, and over time have developed different skills and merits. Being able to open up to the rest of the network in order to share innovative ideas, experiments and strategies is an effective way of making the whole of CBA more open, curious and flexible. Setting aside just a few, intensive days for this moment of exchange has given rise to a wonderful, stimulating experience for colleagues who came from all over the world to Milan.

Some highlights from the three days

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Experimental branding

The Brazilian team told us about their observation of the correlation between companies adopting “experimental” practices and their greater economic growth. This means that branding, which has always been a force for change and exploration, must also seek out tools to support the companies in carrying out such experiments, to challenge the status quo and find a new way to do business and innovate.

CBA Brazil does this by combining strategy and execution in one integrated, fast and repeated process: trial, test, modify, test again and launch. By analyzing how the companies work, CBA has identified 5 drivers that can guide the client in developing a more experimental, and therefore more successful, approach: being more open and willing to exchange information; empowering people to take risks and accept failures; the practice of creating solution prototypes to enhance the learning process; guiding resources towards a more practical execution (of their tasks) and a more personal experience of their mission.

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Critical Imprint

The French team has suggested a new focalisation from the specific point of view of CBA. It will allow us to better understand, from the inside, how to improve our ability to make an impact for our clients through design and branding.

This is how Critical Imprint began, a CBA framework that makes us even more relevant for our clients, as it presents a new outlook which always manages to align the brand with an honest, positive and inclusive mission.

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CBA in China

China is a huge nation that is developing at an incredible speed. However, according to Isabelle Pascal (CBA Shanghai) and Margaux Lhermitte (CBA Paris), who have been working and living in the country for years, China first of all represents an extraordinary network of human relationships (关系guanxì) that connect Chinese people, cities and communities scattered around the world. This is why CBA in China represents a platform, a place and a way of working together to create business innovation and a positive impact. It is a network that connects those abroad who want to do business in China and, on the other end of the spectrum, those from China who want to open up to the world. This has proved to be a winning formula, as we know that the concepts of collaboration and co-creation are embedded in the minds (or rather the hearts, 心xin, the organ responsible for thought according to traditional Chinese culture) of the Chinese people, who are now increasingly more aware of and sensitive to topics related to environmental sustainability.

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New ways of collaborating

Our US team presented the network our journey with adopting new methods of working, cheaper without giving up on the crucial benefits of co-designing, and with a lessened environmental impact.

From Design Sprints to Sprint mode, we’ve adapted the process to make our clients’ lives simpler. Remote co-design generates decisive insights that are necessary for decision-making to come to light more quickly, with no one feeling like they can’t express themselves. What’s more, calling on the client’s team right group of experts leads to even faster decisions. This is also made possible by replacing the classic brief with an initial session with our clients where we align on key information and creative guardrails to lead projects. We’ve also made our lives easier thanks to internally developed tools such as the Archetype Game, an actual board game that, using a series of leading questions, allows clients to go through their unique positioning in detail.

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Finally, we celebrated the end of the event with a party organized in the beautiful Milan studio.