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Learning about Germany’s foreign policy perception

How the German Foreign ministry used Synthetron to learn about Germany’s foreign policy perception in a new and modern way.

Situation


Back in November 2013 German Foreign Minister Frank-Walter Steinmeier launched a “What goes wrong?” reflection on Germany’s foreign policy to consider what needs to be changed as part of its 2014 review process.

Approach


Synthetron came into play when external expertise had to be complemented by internal knowledge of both the central staff in Berlin and their colleagues in embassies around the world.
Starting at the beginning of November 2014 we ran four 75 minute debates, each reflecting on different aspects of cultural and procedural issues – three in an overall context and one especially focused on ways how to handle European policy aspects in the light of the newly established European External Action Service. Around 350 participants exchanged nearly 3,250 ideas.
The analytical work was done in four steps:

  • An immediate response converting significant raw data from each debate into a readable layout
  • An in-depth analysis for each the 3 debates focusing on culture, creativity and organisation
  • An additional analysis on European Policy issues
  • An analysis of attitudes shown via language patterns.

Results


We reported back on the following:

  • What participants expect as an appropriate internal culture and how they would react to it (shown as well in segments differing between central and embassy staff)
  • Top actions required to achieve the aspired culture
  • Which parameters need to be reflected in the course of achieving progress
  • What suitable communication could help to bridge gaps in a consistent way.

The Synthetron online debates were an important integrative element amongst the various formats of people involvement in the “Review2014” Process.

Within the IT-architecture of the Foreign Office, the crowdsourcing approach offered a new, modern approach from which we learned a lot.
The Synthetron online debates were an important integrative element amongst the various formats of people involvement in the “Review2014” Process. It was only with the assistance of this methodology that we could offer the chance to take part in the process to colleagues from all over the world in a very short time. The technical potential of your product as well as the manifold options for evaluating the data were a big gain for us. We were also impressed by the quick analysis of the underlying patterns of the participants on the basis of the structure of the language they used.
I realised that an efficient cooperation between your specialists and my team is indispensable in order to coordinate the Synthetron expertise with the knowledge of the processes and specials of the Foreign Office and to make use of them in a most efficient way. This was a success.”
Dr. Thomas Bagger, former head of Planning Staff (now head of department of external affairs in the office of the German President) – Foreign Office Germany, Berlin

read the article about this project in the Economist