Co-creating with 16,000 colleagues

When Arla Foods wanted to anchor their brand position Closer to Nature™ in their organisation, it was important that employees were involved, and that a number of "brand ambassadors" were created among them.

The issue was important enough for management to decided that all employees in 2011 should spend a whole day working on Closer to Nature™. Workz was asked to help develop a game-based process to go alongside the more traditional campaign developed by Open. 

The challenge

As a strategic project the challenge was to move from brand to culture. The process were to create awareness and to support the innovative agenda by fostering a local development of ideas. The aim was to turn all employees into ambassadors and have the whole organisation work on innovation to support the strategy.

It was a premise from the start that the process needed a strong local focus. Local innovations are more fit to survive and faster to bring to market. One of the aims was that ideas should not depend on action from headquarters. The process should be seen as relevant in the many different markets in which Arla operates, and the many different functions that exist within the Arla organisation.

Last but not least, there was an explicit wish from Arla to work with games. Games have a proven track record within Arla.

Arla's CEO Peter Tuborgh describes the initiative as follows to Arla's managers:

"To ensure that we work on coming Closer to Nature™ in all parts of our company, senior management has decided that all 16,000 employees at all locations need to be involved. It is important that each employee experiences a clear focus and a strong support from management to Closer to Nature."

"I consider it a strategic investment, which will increase the market value of Arla Foods at the same level as our external marketing activities."


Our solution consists of a workshop supported by a game. The workshop frames the work of the employees with Closer to Nature™ and creates a local relevance. Local managers bridge the gap between everyday work and Closer to Nature™ - and back to everyday work. All supported by small films and a slide show that the manager can adapt to the local context.

The game lets participants immerse themselves into Closer to Nature™  and make the strategy their own. It lets players select the areas of the strategy that it makes sense for them to work with - and thus shows how everyone can contribute to the company's coming Closer to Nature™.

Workz aims high from the beginning, and it is a pleasure to work and learn alongside them. I think that they have been particularly skilled at reducing complexity in the game

The game alternates between creating awareness about existing solutions and examining local potential for innovation. In the field between global experience and local knowledge, the game helps participants find solutions that fit their own reality. The perpetual aim is to create ideas that local departments can implement themselves.

With existing solutions as a starting point there is an acknowledgement that Arla is already working on coming closer to nature, which makes employees better ambassadors for the strategy.


Even the best of projects can fail without proper support. The focus has therefore been on supporting Arla's efforts to involve important stakeholders and to create buy-in in the organisation with respect to the game.

We conducted tests of the game in several countries and ran a series of presentations of the game for various professional decisionmakers within Arla. We thus planted the idea in many different parts of the organisation, while the involved stakeholders were allowed to leave their mark on the final product.

It was important to integrate perspectives from top management, HR, marketing, internal communication and local management in the different locations. By doing so, we achieved that the various parts of Arla could recognise the game as relevant and useful.

"Workz aims high from the beginning, and it is a pleasure to work and learn alongside them. "

"I think that they have been particularly skilled at reducing complexity in the game. We needed a game that managers could roll out without previous training, while at the same time avoiding that the game became too simple [...] "

"We have felt in good hands from the very start," says Marianne Bach, Corporate Marketing & Arla Brand