What we learnt at Flow 2018

by Catherine Flynn

We celebrated our first global leadership summit in style. From great quotes to speaker insights, here's how it went.

On Tuesday, we were delighted to host Flow, our first global leadership summit, bringing together visionary founders, SaaS experts, Workplace customers and product partners.

Thank you to everyone who came, participated, shared, networked, listened (and partied). And thank you especially to our panellists and keynote speakers who made it a truly inspiring day, full of unique stories, insights and experiences.

But what was it all about? And why Flow?

Turning companies into meaningful communities

At Workplace, we build tools that empower people to do their best work. That's what we call 'Flow'. But it goes further. When their people are in Flow, organisations are in Flow. And that can drive profound effects. Tuesday's event was dedicated to understanding the strategies that help organisations achieve Flow and examining the effects that follow.

Workplace by Facebook VP, Julien Codorniou, got things under way in the morning. He laid out the vision that drives our product teams to create something that's more than just a communication or collaboration tool.

"We come to work every day because we want to connect people. And when we connect people, we can have a profound impact on their working lives. We can turn the companies they work at into meaningful communities."

He shared the Workplace journey so far – from a fledgling idea that created a new way of working inside Facebook, to experimental start-up, to fully fledged enterprise business. He showcased some of the incredible customers who have joined us on the journey, from Walmart and Starbucks to Chevron, GSK and Clarins. As well as the service partners and software vendors who are bringing our "better together" philosophy to life.

Julien was followed by Director of Product, Kyle McGinn, and Product Marketing Director, Christine Overby, who took us further into Workplace's mission to create meaningful communities and showcased some new features bringing it to life.

Kyle revealed the three big trends that happen inside companies that deploy Workplace – information flows more freely, workflows become faster and more delightful, and we put people at the centre of organisations.

Christine announced major new features such as Safety Check for Workplace and valuable upgrades such as Multi-company chat and Mark as important.

Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code and The Talent Code, took to the stage for the keynote. He began with an observation. Culture – the thing we all recognise as so important within every company – is the thing that's hardest to put your finger on.

According to Daniel, the three key behaviours required in order to create culture within any organisation are to build safety, share vulnerability and establish purpose. And when you get these three things right, people and purpose are aligned and productivity flourishes.

He also emphasised the importance of seeking and sharing impactful stories. Find them, share them, celebrate them – it's the small signals and moments at work that often matter most.

"It's not about what you say, it's about what you do. The safer you feel, the more open you are, the more committed you are."

– Daniel Coyle, Author of The Culture Code and The Talent Code

From cultural change to product workshops

After the break, our panel sessions kicked off with 'The people behind the change'. I had the pleasure of hosting this session and my guests were Maxine Williams, Chief Diversity Officer at Facebook, Pradheepa Raman, Chief Talent and Innovation Officer at Stanley Black & Decker, Ronald Schellekens, Group HR Director at Vodafone, and Joelle Emerson, CEO at Paradigm.

The theme of their talk was how to drive culture and change within an organisation, which is fast becoming recognised as a business priority.

Part of the problem is a lack of understanding about how to measure inclusion. But as Maxine pointed out, the solution lies at the hiring stage.

"If you don't interview under-represented people, you won't hire them. Companies need to get more qualified candidates from under-represented backgrounds into the interview stage. Diversity is everyone's responsibility."

– Maxine Williams, Chief Diversity Officer, Facebook

Then came 'From stack to suite', where Workplace Global Sales Director Lesley Young welcomed to the stage Aaron Levie, CEO at Box, Helen Russell, CPO at Atlassian, Rahul Sekhon, CTO at Sun Life Financial, and Sanjay Beri, CEO & Founder at Netskope.

Employee engagement, open leadership and smart tech were the dominant themes of the session, and everyone had a different point of view on how to get these elements in alignment. Rahul shared one of the most enlightening moments of the session.

"When leaders share their vulnerability, it invites employees to be open and it builds trust. It builds the DNA of your organisation."

– Rahul Sekhon, CTO, Sun Life Financial

There was a consensus between all leaders on the panel about the importance of transparency with people and partners, especially in times of crisis. As Rahul noted, the biggest thing CISOs need to know – and know now – is that their Business Partners are their partners, and they must be open with them.

The Flow library was a big hit during the lunch break. Guests mingled over food and snapped up free copies of books by Sheryl Sandberg, Daniel Coyle, Craig M. Mullaney and James Essinger (in honour of Ada Lovelace Day being on the same day as Flow).

Practical breakout sessions

The afternoon was all about hands-on learning with a series of breakout workshops. New York Times best-selling author Daniel Coyle led a workshop on how culture drives competitive advantage, giving practical advice about how organisations can connect their people and play as one team.

And there were two product workshops on how to use Workplace to get more work done, and how to communicate effectively with everyone in your organisation.

Meanwhile, in the Brilliance Ballroom, Mark Mader, CEO at Smartsheet, Eric Yuan, CEO at Zoom, Melissa Taunton, Partner at New Enterprise Associates, and Jason M. Lemkin, Founder at SaaStr, joined Workplace's Global Director of Customer Growth Monica Adractas for a Q&A session.

The topic on the agenda was how to build a SaaS unicorn. The group shared some valuable insights about turning a start-up into a billion-dollar business.

"As you scale, it's important to ensure that all employees still speak the same language. Define the 'what' of your company, and make sure that your management team communicates it to every corner of the business."

– Melissa Taunton, Partner at New Enterprise Associates.

Next, Workplace Ecosystem Partnerships Frerk-Malte Feller hosted a Q&A with Charisse Evans, VP of Customer Experience Integration at Delta Air Lines, Vicki Huff Eckert, New Venture and Innovation Leader at PwC, Jen Baxter, VP of Strategy Delivery & Performance at GlaxoSmithKline, and Karen Peacock, COO at Intercom.

"At Delta Air Lines, 70% of our people don't have regular access to a computer. Because people can share things on Workplace on their own device, it allows people to join our conversation and build better communities."

– Charisse Evans, VP of Customer Experience Integration at Delta Air Lines

Connected organisations and work with a purpose

Christine Overby was back on stage after the breakout sessions to lead the discussion on putting people over pixels. Joining her on stage was Walmart VP Joe Park, Emilie Maunoury, Chief Digital Officer at Clarins, and Pat Wadors, CHRO at ServiceNow. We learnt that, for Walmart, great tech allows their retail workers to deliver excellent customer experiences in stores.

"Workplace is a common place, a common language and all generations know how to use it. We spend time liking, loving, laughing and crying together as a team."

– Joe Park, VP, Walmart

In a particular highlight, we were joined by Facebook COO Sheryl Sandberg alongside John Taylor, CTO at United Way, and Joanne Smith, EVP & CHRO at Delta Air Lines, to discuss how to build connected organisations.

Sheryl shared how we use Workplace at Facebook, emphasised the importance of Workplace to the Facebook mission of building community and compared this with the experience of Delta and United Way.

For Delta, having a mobile tool like Workplace has facilitated connections and collaboration between dispersed parts of the organisation such as pilots, crew and ground-based staff.

For United Way, being a connected organisation allows them to engage with the wider community and affect change where it matters most.

"We use Multi-company groups, but we want to expand our use of them so that we're not just talking to ourselves – we're talking to everyone we work with about the big, important issues."

– John Taylor, CTO, United Way

The final session saw Workplace's Director of Online Sales and Channels, Geoff Perfect, introduce us to Workplace for Good before Brian Wenke vividly brought the idea of community to life through his experiences at LGBTQ+ charity It Gets Better.

As Geoff explained, Facebook was built to connect people to friends, family and loved ones. But over time, it also began to connect people to the causes that they cared about.

When we were building Workplace, we asked ourselves what we could do to bring this kind of impact into the work environment. The answer was Workplace for Good: a way to donate a premium version of Workplace to charities and educational institutions free of charge.

For It Gets Better, Workplace allows them to share stories that make a positive impact on the lives of young LGBTQ+ people. It allows people to connect with community ambassadors on the other side of the globe, and be sensitive to cultural nuances around the world.

"Something magical happened when we brought in Workplace. People gravitate towards it. It gives me the opportunity to be in the trenches with affiliates. And the translation feature: Oh my god… It's all been a game changer for us."

– Brian Wenke, Executive Director at It Gets Better

And after the close, it was all back to Facebook Campus for networking, debriefing and a glass of something fizzy. The Californian weather was kind, spirits were high and it was the perfect end to a great inaugural Flow event.

Thanks again to everyone who made Flow a great day. We'll be sharing more insights from our panel sessions alongside exclusive interviews over the coming weeks.

And we're already planning for next year. We hope to see you there.

Flow-ver and out.

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