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Developing the knowledge and skills of leaders in Wales

Written by A.R.Fairbank@swansea.ac.uk / Thursday 21st November 2019

At ION leadership we strive to further develop the leadership knowledge and skills of practitioners across Wales, as well as our own knowledge and skills. We believe in learning from the best. So earlier this year we partnered with hybrid business and design school KaosPilots, based in Denmark, to pilot one of their most successful programmes in Wales for the first time. We also piloted our own new programme, Developing Organisation Innovation. 

DSC_0153.JPGOur Programme Director Gary Walpole took part in a KaosPilot programme in 2017 and 2018 and felt that their teaching pedagogy aligned perfectly with how we’ve been running programmes for the last 10 year.  He also thought that the programme could complement our current offerings and more importantly add value to Welsh businesses.

The business environment is increasingly complex and dynamic. Leaders that embrace complexity and develop a systematic approach to developing their value proposition can more successfully manage the challenges businesses face. We aim to deliver programmes that give delegates the knowledge and skills to move their organisation up the value chain and enhance their product/service offering. The piloted programmes also enabled us the opportunity to diversify and develop our product range as well as develop the skills and knowledge of our team.

The Leading Product & Service Design programme aimed to strengthen the ability of businesses to enhance their products or services, retain customers and develop new products or services that deliver value for their customers.

In September, 26 delegates from organisations such as Wolfestone Translation Services, Amber Energy, Carreg Construction and Hospital Innovations joined us in Swansea for 3 days, designing experiences with emotion and purpose that changed the way they thought, felt and acted.

Over the 3 days, delegates learnt the importance of mapping out and understanding their customers’ needs and desires for today and in the future, developed the ability to prototype and test ideas, learned modern design language and methodology to design and develop new products / services and left with a modern toolbox for leading the delivery of powerful experiences.

DSC_0288.1.JPGAnd the feedback from the delegates was hugely positive. 100% of delegates felt that they had developed new learning and 90% of delegates felt that what was discussed was ‘very relevant’ to their organisation's development. These numbers are fantastic but are the delegates going to change the way they develop products and services in their businesses? It might be too early to tell but the anecdotal feedback (and discussions) on the programme’s WhatsApp group after the programme finished were fantastic to see (and read). There were a number of recurring themes in terms of key learnings – the importance of purpose and its role in designing services, IDOARRT, the 5E Experience Design model and the importance of thinking fast, prototyping, gaining feedback and iterating.

The Developing Organisational Innovation programme, designed and delivered by our Director, aimed to develop delegate’s knowledge of leading organisations as a space for innovation and collaboration.

In October and November, 12 delegates from companies such as Welsh WaterMiles Hire and Melin Tregwynt met in Bridgend to learn how to design (and create ‘space’) for change in their professional life and their organisation. Reflective practice, innovation and systems theory, process mapping, idea generation, prototyping and communities of practice facilitation were all on the agenda, all with the aim of designing the ‘perfect’ creative innovation model that is collaborative, co-creative and inspiring.

The programme finished just last week and the feedback from the programmes was very positive. In addition, the delegates have now created a ‘community of practice’, and therefore the learning will extend way beyond the 3 days.

Both programmes employed KaosPilot and our own ‘learn by doing’ problem-solving approach, which creates a dynamic environment, where you’re learning is rooted in reality and in you. You then reflect on the learning that has just taken place and think about how it can be applied to your day-to-day job. As John Dewey extolled “We do not learn from experience…we learn from reflecting on experience”.

So what’s next?

Well as we said earlier, these programmes were pilots, and we would like to take the opportunity to thank WEFO for supporting the pilots and all of the delegates who took part. Now that both programmes are complete we need to analyse their effectiveness and impact on those who took part. But we also need to continue to strive to diversify and add value to Welsh businesses. We have a proven track record of developing extraordinary leaders, 1400 to date, but to continue to enhance the delegate experience and maximise impact we need to continually look outside the box and identify programmes and development opportunities which enhance the knowledge and skills of practitioners in Wales. We can’t wait to get started. 

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