How a program comes to life – the journey of Expedition DNA


The inspiration for Expedition DNA:

In 2017, Lovinklaan made the decision to discontinue funding the Satellite program which provided seed money or funding for innovative ideas and industry or client solutions. The intention was for Arcadis to create a program of its own to take the broader idea of Satellite and apply it in a more robust and professionalized innovation program, as innovation had been identified as a gap in the existing Lovinklaan programs.

Todd Bechtel and I were in London for a Lovinklaan Board meeting and decided to take the opportunity to meet with Arcadis NV colleagues responsible for innovation. We flew over to Amsterdam for a day to brainstorm a new innovation program alongside two Arcadis colleagues who were both involved in the digital transformation and Lovinklaan programs. From our ideation session, we decided we would set out to create a program that would embed innovation and digital in our DNA: Expedition DNA.

The purpose behind the program:

At the time, people had no idea what it meant to be digital and in

novative. The goal was to create a common language around digital innovation and help our colleagues make the transition. We wanted people to understand that it wasn’t about eliminating work and replacing people, it was about how we can use technology and think strategically to stay relevant in a world that was moving to a digital landscape, whether we liked it or not. The intention was to help people zero in quickly on what digital innovation meant for the global economy in a fun, interesting, engaging, and voluntary way. The result was Basecamp.

To take the program to the next level and to engage these learned skills on a global scale, we developed the second part of the program: Expeditions. The format in some ways was similar to Global Shapers, but made open to all colleagues, offering content rich digital and innovation them

es.  The Expeditions were created taking into consideration feedback Lovinklaan received from Global Shapers and required that a cross section of qualified Arcadian

s be selected across countries, business lines, genders, and age groups. This diversity really contributed to some rich discussions and amazing networking!

Getting the program up and running:

The program proposal was presented to the full Lovinklaan Board during our November 2017 meeting knowing that funding for 2018 would need to be determined by mid-December.  After in-depth feedback, a revised proposal and budget was presented to the Board in mid-December, which was approved by Arcadis and Lovinklaan. The next 6 months were a whirlwind of preparing Basecamp content, informing Arcadis leadership and HR globally to communicate the new program and creating launch materials. Thanks to our collaboration and drive, Basecamp was successfully launched on May 28, 2018. Applications for the first Expedition were due by June 24th and applicants had to complete Basecamp as part of the prerequisite to be considered.

In the initial months following the launch, the program had more than 6,000 people engaging in Basecamp with more than 2,000 completers. The two Expeditions conducted in 2018 had 490 and 585 applications, respectively.  Applicants were selected and the first Expedition kicked off in July 2018 with the face-to-face session in Corsendonk, Belgium in September 2018. Carolyn Moore took over the Expedition DNA program in October 2018 between the first and second Expedition.

The evolution of EDNA:

To date, the program has 18,340 Arcadians participating in basecamp. Basecamp has evolved from the original core content of Customer Experience, Data, Ecosystems, and Platforms to integrate new modules addressing Legal, Digitalizing Solutions, Business Model Framework, and Sustainability – which has become a major focus and core element to the program. Basecamp content is the work of many Arcadians as well as partnerships with industry leaders in specific areas.

The Expedition DNA program conducted 5 face-to-face Expeditions during 2018 and 2019 that focused on the four core Basecamp modules. As the pandemic in 2020 took hold, Lovinklaan and the Expedition program leader, Carolyn Moore, was motivated to take the hiatus from face-to-face expeditions to reinvent the program to meet the continuing needs of our employees. Carolyn and her team partnered with Giant Innovation, the content contributor for the Customer Experience portion of the Expeditions to reimagine the program. The result at the end of 2020 was the virtual Expedition program which had elements of the original Expedition content, but a completely new 10-week virtual program. The dedication and hard work of the Arcadis Expedition DNA team during 2020 was unmatched. In February 2021, the Reimagined Expedition DNA program was launched by Arcadis with support of Lovinklaan. The two sessions conducted over Teams had a combined attendance of 5,500 Arcadians! Stephan Ritter, Arcadis Chief Innovation Officer, Holly Herner and Nora Taylor, Lovinklaan Board Members, supported these sessions live. In 2021, the virtual Expeditions have replaced the face-to-face expeditions with the third for 2021, or Expedition #8, kicking off in early September 2021.  Only time will tell what the next iteration of the expedition might look like once the world reopens!

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