SVA Aargau.

How to change successfully.

From authority to service provider.

How to start change processes. The SVA Aargau and standing ovation showed the way.


Change processes are manifold dialogues: between management and employees, between past and future, between heart and mind. SVA Aargau has initiated a far-reaching change process and brought standing ovation for the communication tasks on board. A success story in three learnings.

First learning: Change requires dialogue.

“SVA Aargau wants to develop into a dynamic, customer-oriented and cost-conscious company.” Nancy Wayland Bigler, CEO of SVA Aargau, leads over 400 employees and wants to achieve a lot with them: “We have set ourselves the goal of becoming a leading service provider among the Swiss social insurances.“ To achieve this, SVA Aargau is not only striving for cultural change, but also for a culture of change.

Switzerland’s SVAs will face numerous challenges in the coming years. They must become more efficient, more digital and more economical in order to perform. Once “social insurance institutions”, the SVAs of the future will be customer-oriented service providers.

It’s about every single employee.

Nancy Wayland Bigler, CEO SVA Aargau

SVA Aargau has started this transformation from authority to service provider with power and dynamism. The difficulty: “Our change process is complex and takes place at different levels.” Nancy Wayland Bigler summarizes the initial situation: “It’s about digital systems, process organization, workplace design. What’s more, it’s about every single employee. Because everyone experiences and interprets cultural change in a different way.” For this reason, SVA Aargau decided to work together with standing ovation. “It became clear to us that we needed a comprehensive dialogue to get everyone on board. And we also realized that we needed a specialist for this dialogue.”

Second learning: Action needs expertise.

An authority and standing ovation? Such cooperation was uncharted territory for both partners. “We wanted to be the actors in the change process ourselves. With standing ovation we had an idea provider, sparring partner and coach. So the implementers and doers stayed. This constellation was decisive for success“, comments Nancy Wayland Bigler.

For standing ovation, the first step was to look at the complex change process from a bird’s eye view in order to identify hurdles and possibilities. “The project was divided into three phases,” says Thomas Volprecht, Head of Branding and Strategy at standing ovation, outlining the procedure. “In a first step, we worked out the elements of the change story from the perspective of the employees. This was followed by a co-creation phase, in which we discussed the joint road map and accompanying communication measures. The third phase was the conception of employee event, in which the culture of change was actively initiated und experienced by all employees.“

Shaping change means addressing the mind and emotions.

Thomas Volprecht, Head of Branding and Strategy standing ovation

For Thomas Volprecht, the interaction of live communication and change management proved to be a natural complement: “We took on the role of the translator. As live communication specialists, we have a special sensorium for the emotional dimension of dialogues and processes. And we got to work with this sensorium. Our guiding principle: Shaping change means addressing the mind and emotions in order to create a holistic change experience.“

Third Learning: Future means Teamwork

Then came October 16, 2018: More than 350 SVA employees had assembled at the „Kulturzentrum Aarau“ to initiate and intensify the culture of change. Everyone was excited, everyone wanted to get started. All the greater was the impact of the bad news: The management of the SVA Aargau had resigned shortly before the employee event; it was replaced by appropriate software. Now it was up to the employees to become active.

The strategy of the opening scene (conceived by the SVA team leaders) was successful: It created the right framework to experience the employee event as a festival of interaction, inspiration and dialogue. As an event service provider, standing ovation, together with the SVA team leader, created the various experience formats as well as the overall dramaturgy. “Thanks to the teamwork with standing ovation, it was possible to anchor the topic of change in the minds and hearts.“ But what was equally pleasing for Nancy Wayland Bigler: “It was possible to achieve a very large impact with a rather limited budget.”