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From Ordinary To Extraordinary: How REBORRN Helped Microsoft Build Its Impact Report
Written by @Anastasia Valti
Microsoft has shown genuine commitment to their ongoing objective of enabling every person and organization on the planet to achieve more. In their spirit of transparency, they publish an annual Impact Summary Report, highlighting the most noteworthy contributions in these four areas of change.
Supporting inclusive economic growth: Includes boosting access to digital opportunities and skills, bridging the data divide, and promoting public health.
Protecting fundamental rights: For individuals to have access to education, employment, healthcare, and other necessities, they must defend democracy, uphold human rights, confront racial inequality, and provide access to the internet and accessible technology.
Creating a sustainable future: Our generation’s defining problem is climate change, which must be addressed with quick, coordinated action, and technological innovation.
Earning trust: Having a positive outlook on technology’s advantages while being realistic about its challenges.
Last year, Microsoft celebrated 30 years in Greece and wanted to publish its own, localised Impact Summary Report to reflect on the efforts they’ve made over the years to advance progress in these four pillars. A lot of the work that was initiated in Greece had fallen under the umbrella of GR for Growth. This was an endeavour announced in October of 2020, to accelerate the digital transformation of Greek businesses through multiple initiatives, such as the establishment of three datacenters in Greece, and the digital skilling of 100,000 people.
Wanting to launch a report, REBORRN was brought in to tackle the challenge of creating a world-class report in a short period of time. By taking an innovative approach to both the content and our ways of working, we were tasked to collect, curate, and craft the facts and the narrative around stories that highlighted Microsoft’s impact in Greece.
We are incredibly proud to have contributed to the creation of Microsoft Greece’s first Impact Report.
We formed a cross-functional team both from Microsoft and REBORRN, which was a game-changer for the execution of this project. We broke down the traditional client-consultant barriers, and collaborated seamlessly and produced high-quality results that exceeded all expectations.
This is how everything unfolded.
Step 1: A Lightning Fast Onboarding
In the first stage of the process, we began collecting and gathering information to build out a preliminary skeleton. The first step was for us to do a deep dive into existing content around relevant Microsoft activities from the past years. We gathered pre-existing materials from as many contacts from the Microsoft team and their partners. This included everything from internal presentations, past publications, reports, videos, TV snippets and even image files that helped us navigate:
Where we had gaps and which information needed to be prioritised.
Start setting benchmarks for what types of information we wanted to include. For instance, what we considered impactful compared to something else, and what we thought was recent enough.
Staying true to our principle of co-creating with our clients, we had agreed from the beginning with the core team that they would need to be available for questions, fill in the blanks as needed, or make introductions to people who could provide us with additional resources. Once we had our content map ready, we ran our first sprint. This was super small scale: just us and the core team (5 people). The goal was to do a first screening of existing content to agree on the main building blocks of our content, identifying which pieces needed to be fleshed out more through further research and which should be deprioritised in the report. By the end of the sprint, we had a version 1.0 of the content points which we believed could be turned into a full-fledged report.
Step 2: Deep Diving Into The Stories Through Interviews
Now that we had a wireframe of our content, we needed the details to bring the narrative to life, both through hard data and personal stories. We wanted to create a report that was both engaging and representative of the true impact that was brought about. To achieve this, we arranged interviews with more than a dozen stakeholders to obtain details that could enhance our picture of events. Each interview aimed to deep dive into a topic the specific person had worked closely on. Everything was documented thoroughly throughout these sessions, and we then began again to map the details we got onto the report’s framework. As the content was incrementally becoming well-defined, we were able to gain more clarity on stories that needed specific data points, permissions, quotes, or phrasing issues that would need to be addressed later on. Following this process, we were gradually moving toward a second, far more substantiated version of what the report might look like.
Step 3: Unifying Through Co-creation: Moving Beyond Client-Consultant Barriers
Given the short timeframe, it was crucial to ensure that all relevant stakeholders approved of the direction the report was taking, to prevent major back-and-forths in content iterations. This time round, our second sprint was more extensive and included all relevant stakeholders from the extended Microsoft leadership team. In the beginning, we arranged a dial-in from the Communications expert overseeing the production of the global report’s development to gain some insight on what to keep in mind, as well as pitfalls to avoid. We then provided a comprehensive overview of how the details we had individually addressed with each of the participants were coming together to build a 360-degree report. We asked the team to prioritise, provide comments, and align in strictly timed blocks, so that at the end of the day, we had a content map that was ‘locked in’. Now, we could start writing!
Step 4: Getting Things To The End, Through World-Class Storytelling
We swiftly put our associates to work, fleshing out the information we had in the tone of voice of the Microsoft brand. We worked in an agile way, by establishing key rituals with the core team, which included daily stand-ups and sprint planning/review meetings to deep dive into feedback. We operated under a system where we delivered one pillar at a time, allowing the team to give us input while we wrote the next piece.
When the content was close to final, we started working on the design; It was crucial for this to be a page-turner rather than a corporate deck that would end up in people’s drawers unopened. We began co-creating a visual identity based on the idea of a ‘liquid’ element while staying true to the brand’s main color coding . This visual identity would resonate with the freshness of the initiatives detailed in the report without diluting the brand. As the release date was approaching, we asked for feedback from Microsoft’s Corporate Comms stakeholders to help us tweak our work’s tone of voice, as well as the visual components to further ensure this worked as a continuation of the global reporting initiative. Fine-tuning included not just beautifying and refining the language, but it also comprised features that are essential to Microsoft’s accessibility principles, such as making sure that readers with visual limitations can easily understand the colours and fonts.
The report was launched at a Conference commemorating Microsoft Greece’s 30th anniversary. A combination of both hard data and well-known, large-scale efforts as well as intimate stories that many people may not be aware of is a true representation of Microsoft’s impact in Greece over the past three decades.
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This rapid success was made possible through a dynamic collaboration and co-creation with our client, having a solid strategy with distinctive goals, and of course, sprinting. To deliver this amount of work, reaching new heights in quality standards in such a short timeframe requires first and foremost trust. All of this was facilitated by the unwavering support of the Microsoft team and especially Stamatis Kasmas, Data Center lead who led the project, and Polymnia Soulioti CMO for Greece, Cyprus, and Malta, who went above and beyond to work with us as one team. We look forward to seeing the many more initiatives Microsoft pioneers in Greece, and celebrating their impact on all facets of Greek society!
👉 Read the full report here.