The year 2020 will go down in history, that's guaranteed. How did we experience this at Groupe Défis? What lessons do we take from it? We have prepared our review of this exceptional year which you can read below or listen to on our podcast, In Action.
For the first time in history, all of humanity is affected by the same problem at the same time.Dr Mario Messier
It is still difficult to assess the impact of this major event over the coming years.
For Groupe Défis, of course, it was a year filled with CHALLENGES.
Without going into the clichés that don't really help, like “what doesn't kill us makes us stronger"Or"companies must adapt”, We can still say that this pandemic forced us to do in 10 months what we would probably have accomplished in 3-4 years.
It's ironic, because in December 2019 we moved to a new location. After 10 years of working in the event industry, it felt like we had finally “arrived”.
We had an adequate room with a loading dock for our trailer, a large, well-equipped warehouse, simple offices, but clean and adequately heated in winter and air-conditioned in summer.
I remember the feeling of satisfaction when I took this photo:
Lesson 1: It's when we least expect it that a crisis arises and brings us back to the drawing board.
We had also just bought $ 10 from MonsterTank to stop using plastic water bottles in our events and to order 20 t-shirts for the Défi Entreprises.
For once, we were well structured, we had taken the lead, we had set off for a terrific year!
I imagine that when we have the impression of having reached it, this is when life reminds us that canoeing on a lake is relaxing, but also a little 'flat ''.
So life has 'gotten' us in a hurry!
Lesson 2: Launching a COVID product isn't easy and it's better to launch a flawed product quickly than slowly launch a great product.
In the spring, during the most intense time of COVID, we launched an accessory used to reduce the strain behind the ears of those who wear masks all day. We called this accessory Conformasque (sorry for the not very original name, had to go really fast)!
After a great success during the launch with a product that was not quite right, we created, in about 3 weeks, more or less 20 versions of the product.
The last version being satisfactory and we decided to go “all in” and invest nearly $ 20 in a mold. Come to think of it, it was quite risky as a bet, but it paid off in the end.
We sold Conformasques to various institutions, as well as to several retail businesses, such as Canac, Club Tissue and Accès-Pharma. Moreover, a special thank you to Frédéric Guérin for Club Fabric who gave us a good helping hand to promote the product, to Nadine Rioux, Marcel's cousin, who made a lot of representation to different businesses and to Alexandre Martins, fromAccess-Pharma, which was the first business to believe in us!
Lesson 3: in times of crisis, we must work on our strengths.
Once the worst of the crisis was over, we started working on projects that are more within our usual field of expertise; sporting challenges.
We first launched the 10 x 10 Challenge: a challenge that consisted of completing 10 10 km routes in the Quebec City region. We saw an added value in offering a hybrid event, halfway between the face-to-face challenge and the virtual challenge. It was a relative success, with nearly 200 participants.
However, this set the table for the 42-Day Workplace Challenge : a virtual challenge that succeeded in mobilizing 2500 participants, with participants all over North America.
This Challenge, imagined by Alicia Vargas, was developed in record time and proved one thing: the mission of the Défi Entreprises is mobilizing, relevant and important, even in times of pandemic.
In fact, it really gives us a message of hope: if the Défi Entreprises remains relevant through this pandemic, it is therefore because its mission is essential and is far from being accomplished.
If we had to do it again, maybe we should have worked on this virtual Business Challenge earlier in the crisis.
As our former colleague Hugo Clermont would say (now at Trema Marketing), there is no alternative cassette with which we could verify what would have happened if we had made another choice.
We have also learned a lot from the experience to be able to offer it better in 2021.
Lesson 4: Caring for humans
Where, (Daniel) personally, I have the most regrets is from a human point of view. For me, it was much more difficult to take the pulse of each person at Groupe Défis remotely.
It was difficult within a small team of 4 people, so I can hardly imagine the challenges faced by large companies in this world.
A large part of our team, often in the shadows, is our group of volunteers. Some have been with us for several years, others passing through for a single event.
We have had less contact with many of these people who are usually part of our work team when delivering events. We think about you!
Lesson 5: agility = speed + flexibility
All businesses want to stay agile.
Except that in practice, how can we achieve it?
For Groupe Défis, this was achieved in two words: flexibility and speed.
Speed is trying different things, launching new products quickly. '' Fail fast '' as they say. How did it materialize for us?
- 5 new products launched in 10 months
- At least 5 products that we decided not to do:
- Biodegradable plastic face shield safety visors
- Protective screens `` plexiglass '' for shops
- A series of paid conferences
- Online training
- The Course de la Cité-Limoilou in face-to-face format
In terms of flexibility, I think this year has been the perfect example to illustrate the fable of the oak and the reed.
It was a year when the most flexible structures adapted the best.
Lesson 6: be grateful for what you have
We must be aware of the chances we have had:
- Be supported by a community that has supported us in all our initiatives;
- Golden volunteers, who supported us, etc.
- Hitting the right people at the right time;
- Doing business in Canada, in a country that has supported the hardest hit companies;
- Be able to stay safe, everyone at home;
- See so much openness in our community for adaptation;
Basically, we are very optimistic for 2021 and we can't wait to show you everything we have in our surprise bag!