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With 20,000 team members working and collaborating across more than 45 studios around the world, sharing is rooted in Ubisoft's DNA. To better facilitate and grow this essential aspect of the company's work, Ubisoft supports communities of practice that give team members with similar roles the opportunity to network with colleagues, grow the company's collective intelligence, share experiences and learnings, and ensure they have a strong voice to continue improving processes.
At a recent internal event called the Producers' Digital Summit, Ubisoft's community of producers and production directors came together for a livestreamed event to share best practices and learnings together, and to forge stronger bonds.
We reached out to Ubisoft's Production Communities & Competitive Intelligence Director Vicky Lagarre, and Producing Community Team Lead Louis Farbos de Luzan, to learn more about the Producers' Digital Summit itself, as well as the growing number of communities of practice at Ubisoft and other sharing initiatives in production teams.
What is the role of the Production Communities team at Ubisoft?
Vicky Lagarre: Our role is to accompany and map all our internal production communities of practice, support some of these groups with dedicated internal community managers, and facilitate exchanges within Ubisoft. These exchanges can be between community members, but also between teams and Ubisoft's management, or with external partners.
My team also supports our production communities by looking outside of Ubisoft to develop competitive intelligence about their areas of expertise.
What is a community of practice, and what role do they play at Ubisoft?
VL: A community of practice is a group of people who share a common practice or interest and whose members are willing to learn together and from each other. Communities of practice represent an important advantage for Ubisoft in terms of corporate culture, talent retention and engagement, and collaboration.
The benefits of communities of practice are focused around three pillars:
First, communities of practice foster collaboration and empower experts by giving them opportunities to discuss and exchange together. They grow collective intelligence at Ubisoft and give experts who share common objectives a stronger voice when needed.
Second, communities of practice play a key role in improving how we do things at Ubisoft by increasing capability, identifying innovation that matters, and fostering creativity. They are also an accelerator of production excellence and efficiency, helping make sure we align standards and resources, so we don't duplicate efforts across the company.
Third, communities of practice contribute to the development of team members by providing them with new perspectives and opportunities for peer-to-peer sharing. They have an important role to play in identifying talent with great potential to take on more responsibilities, developing senior profiles, and creating mentorship opportunities.
One of the communities of practice your team facilitates is for producers. How would you define the role of a producer at Ubisoft?
Louis Farbos de Luzan: The objective of a producer is to manage and oversee the development team, and ensure we deliver world-class games while achieving quality, scheduling, and business targets. Producers at Ubisoft are key players in the success of our games!
To achieve those objectives, producers need to be strategic and thoughtful leaders with excellent communication, anticipation, and people-management skills. Their role requires them to be on top of their area of expertise, be it in game development or team management, and communities of practice are a great way for them to share with their peers and stay up to date.
Tell us more about the Producers Community at Ubisoft.
LFL: There are around 150 producers and production directors across Ubisoft. Our team collaborates with this global community to identify best practices and share them through events and tools, including newsletters, online platforms, worldwide conferences, and both physical and online events.
We also accompany smaller communities of practice among producers - for instance, groups that have similar scopes or work with a specific business model, like free-to-play - to facilitate meaningful peer-to-peer interactions and co-development. Our aim is to promote faster alignment and collaboration with other teams and within the production ecosystem.
All of our initiatives are geared to increase knowledge sharing, create stronger alignment with the group strategy, support the community on their leadership challenges, and make sure producers at Ubisoft are best-in-class.
How did the Producer's Digital Summit you recently organized come together?
LFL: We organized our first digital event for the producers' community in 2020 in a work-from-home context, as a result of the pandemic. The digital format allowed us to open the event to Ubisoft's associate producers, increasing the potential audience to over 400 team members. The second edition took place in November 2021, once again as a livestream, but this time with a professional TV set live from our HQ near Paris.
The content for the presentations and roundtables were aimed at sharing expertise, information, and experiences, with topics ranging from game engines and project management methodologies to leveraging user-generated content and player communities for live games. We want producers to learn from successful productions, but also from projects that faced some challenges. Presenters and participants got the chance to exchange on actionable tools and resources, align with Ubisoft's strategy, run peer-review processes, understand the competitive landscape in our industry, as well as simply talk to their peers and have fun!
To make sure the content was a good fit for the needs of the community, we worked alongside a committee of producers who helped define priority topics and review all the presentations prior to the show.
Can you share some highlights from the Producers' Digital Summit?
LFL: Some of our company leaders, including our CEO Yves Guillemot and the recently appointed Chief Creative Officer Igor Manceau, shared strategy updates that the audience appreciated. It was also an opportunity to align on production priorities across the company thanks to VP Production Martin Schelling, who kicked off the summit. Producers are important agents of change, and are often called upon to provide answers and clarity to their teams, so these kinds of strategic talks and Q&A sessions have a big impact across development teams.
For these events, we love to invite producers who can share a candid project retrospective on a recently shipped game. This year, Sébastien Arnoult, senior producer at Ubisoft Annecy, told us the story of the development of Riders Republic, from its early days to release, including the high points and the more difficult times that all productions go through. It was particularly insightful.
I also want to highlight an inspirational masterclass given by Domain7, an organizational change agency, on the concept of "The Chaordic Path," or how balancing order and chaos unleashes creativity in our teams.
In total, we had more than 60 speakers and 23 hours of content, fully recorded.
Can you highlight some of the other communities of practice that exist at Ubisoft and what projects they're working on?
VL: In addition to the producers community that Louis talked about, and which is a benchmark at Ubisoft, I'd like to talk about a few communities of note.
One is our Tech Ambassador Board, which was established in February 2020 and consists of 11 tech experts from across Ubisoft who come together to share advice and expertise on strategic technological decisions in the company. In collaboration with our operational teams working on tech, they supported technological convergence at Ubisoft and contributed to a roadmap that will ensure we have a simplified, efficient, and innovative use of technology.
Last year, we also launched new communities of practice around specific cutting-edge technologies that are disrupting our industry, for example artificial intelligence and extended reality. These technologies represent new opportunities to take risks, innovate, and create entirely new types of games. These communities are going to help guide our teams on uncharted territory and help us tackle the right priorities at the right time and in the right way.
We also have many other active communities of practice at Ubisoft that bring together experts in the same field, for example in audio, mobile, or accessibility to name a few.
Beyond the producers' summit and communities of practice, what other events or initiatives exist at Ubisoft to promote sharing between production teams?
VL: Every year, in February, we organize the Ubisoft Developers Conference (UDC). This conference is open to all our production tech and programming experts. Over the course of one week, more than 90 speakers share their latest innovation and project updates, and exchange with their peers during networking sessions. It's like our very own, internal GDC! This year, once again, the event will be held remotely with livestreamed presentations.
Beyond "official" events and programs, I would say that Ubisoft's strength in terms of sharing lies in our mindset and our people. A few weeks ago, I was talking with some senior team members who recently joined Ubisoft and had a lot of experience in the games industry. They were amazed not only by the collaborative tools at our disposal, but more importantly by the people and the strong DNA of collaboration. As they met new colleagues around the world, these colleagues offered their help and took the time to onboard them. They said that they had never seen this kind of energy before.
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