Sensei Leadership Conversations
SENSEI LEADERSHIP CONVERSATIONS
A collection of our bi-monthly articles providing an excellent
introduction to the sorts of challenges we can help organisations
with or reflecting current events.
SENSEI CASE STUDIES
14 examples how clients like Reckitt Benckiser, Unilever, Avon & Somerset
Constabulary, Danone, Halton Borough Council and The Coop have benefited
from working with us.
|CASE STUDY 1||Avon and Somerset Police|
|CASE STUDY 2||Avon and Somerset Police|
|CASE STUDY 3||Bettys and Taylors of Harrogate|
|CASE STUDY 4||Danone Medical Division|
|CASE STUDY 5||Elizabeth Arden|
|CASE STUDY 6||Firmenich|
|CASE STUDY 7||Halton Borough Council|
|CASE STUDY 8||Homeserve|
|CASE STUDY 9||Jeyes|
|CASE STUDY 10||Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine|
|CASE STUDY 11||Reckitt Benckiser|
|CASE STUDY 12||Seven Seas / Merck|
|CASE STUDY 13||The Co-op People Services|
|CASE STUDY 14||Unilever|
Sensei White Paper-The Human Performance Index-The Necessary Bridge-Executive Summary
SENSEI WHITE PAPER: THE HUMAN PERFORMANCE INDEX™ - THE NECESSARY BRIDGE
Executive Summary by Omar Khan
Yet one of the primary ingredients of business performance is human performance. In other words, how our human assets act, interact, behave, collaborate and engage with each other in functions, across functions, within and between teams. Yet human performance as an overall component of business results is not explicitly measured or tracked. This seems crazy!
In fact, without measuring human performance, the things we are measuring are likely to be symptoms of what are often human performance issues. After all, who does the leveraging of resources, who manages costs, builds and maintains brands, serves customers, innovates, and more?
Strategic Business Results = Company Assets x Human Performance
In algebraic terms, human performance would be the "x" factor. Human performance multiplied by company assets and company capabilities (themselves manifested through the actions and interactions of leaders and teams) delivers business results.
Our 20 plus years of global consulting, research and interaction reveals FOUR KEY COMPONENTS to human performance:
1. LEADERSHIP FOR DRIVING GROWTH. Setting the right visionary goals, allocating and prioritising resources, mentoring and role modeling, removing obstacles and making sure the right things are done and followed through on.
2. TEAMS THAT WIN. Ensuring the right teams are established, in the right roles, with meaningful resources and accountability. Ensuring these teams become net capability multipliers and are focused on and acknowledged for progressing meaningful priorities for the business.
3. DRIVING FOR RESULTS. Making sure we track progress in real-time, test assumptions in the crucible of results, create successful relationships with customers, enable innovative ideas and choose the ones to back.
4. TALENT AS A PATH TO PERFORMANCE. Getting recruitment and induction right, giving people goals that ensure both they and the business grow, coaching and developing them and recognising and rewarding the right behaviour and outcomes.
These permeate all the activities by which a business delivers results. And these are the "difference that makes the difference". In evaluating them, we have to look through THREE LENSES. Otherwise we may find only superficial understudies of these fundamental requirements.
1. Are systems and processes present for each of these areas? Have they been institutionalised or are they ad-hoc?
2. Are they acted on as described, and subject to review and continual improvement so they can be simplified, amplified and made more powerful?
3. Is the quality of engagement present that will make these more than a charade -- that will make them vital, living activities that build relationships, capabilities and results?
If you would like to receive a copy of the full report or discuss our winning formula, please call +44 (0) 20 7917 1830 or email email@example.com. We will be delighted to help you build a rare and exciting competitive advantage.
Consulting Magazine - The TOP 25 CONSULTANTS 2010
Omar Khan named as one of the Top 25 Consultants 2010
Consulting Magazine - June 2010
The annual Top 25 Consultants issue is here, and not a moment too soon. Editors just can’t get enough of this issue; or more specifically, reading the nearly 400 nominations we receive for this award each year...
It’s a wonderful exercise for anyone who has ever doubted the value of the consulting profession. Who wouldn’t want to read 400 consulting success stories written by co-workers, colleagues, clients and C-level executives.
The stories, of course, are inspiring every year. But in 2010, many of them revolved around the “trusted advisor” concept a bit more than previous years. Crisis brings out the best in consultants, and we had plenty to go around lately. While client budgets were strapped, their need for advisory work was greater than ever.
As usual, the profession answered the call. Time and time again, you stepped up to the plate and got the work done, often under difficult conditions when clients demanded more from consultants than ever before. They wanted results, and they wanted them better, faster and often cheaper than ever before. You delivered on all of the above. More than a few consulting firms had to trim staff in 2009, and many of you have worked harder over the last 12 months than at any point in your career.
Industrywide, utilization rates are at record levels, which makes the client satisfaction results all the more impressive. In this special 24-page section, we highlight the best of the best. The Top 25 Consultants of 2010 are recognized for extraordinary efforts in client service and leadership, as well as outstanding achievements in six client industries—healthcare, energy, public sector, technology, retail and financial services.
|Top 25 Consultants, 2010|
|William Goodyear, Navigant Consulting||Hana Ben-Shabat, A.T. Kearney|
|Niko Canner, Booz & Company||Alan Colberg, Bain & Company|
|Baljit Dail, Aon Consulting||Michael Dart, Kurt Salmon Associates|
|Julie Diehl, Alvarez & Marsal||John Drzik, Oliver Wyman Group|
|Kate Fickle, PRTM||Carlos Figueroa, North Highland|
|Dean Fischer, West Monroe Partners||Joel Hoffman, Ingenix Consulting|
|Chandra Schekar Kakal, Infosys Technologies||Omar Khan, Sensei International|
|Tony Madrigale, Capgemini||David McCurley, Accenture|
|Tom McKelvey, Capco||Peter Raymond, PricewaterhouseCoopers|
|Chip Register, Sapient||Chantel Sheaks, Buck Consultants|
|Janmejaya Sinha, The Boston Consulting Group||Linda Solomon, Deloitte Consulting|
|Lori Steele, IBM||Dan Tiemann, KPMG|
|Chris Wright, ZS Associates|
Founder and Senior Partner
Excellence in Client Service
Omar Khan was born in Egypt, the son of Pakistani diplomats, and has lived in Germany, the United States, Kuwait, Saudi Arabia, the Netherlands, England, Japan, Pakistan, Sri Lanka, Dubai and Singapore. It’s no wonder then that Khan’s latest book (with Alan Weiss) is called The Global Consultant. He operates a blog of the same name.
Khan was a pioneer in Neuro-linguistic programming, and tapped that background when he founded Sensei International, a global leadership development and consulting firm with 20 people in the U.S., the U.K., Asia Pacific, the Middle East and South Asia.
In 1992, Khan created a firm called Training 2000 in Pakistan, fertile ground with enough business and hardly any consulting firms. “This was the heyday of re-engineering. Re-engineering process is one thing, but re-engineering people is another.”
This gave Khan his big idea. “If we took our people management skills and linked them with the process skills of a change management firm, it would be a potent combination,” he says. So that’s what he did, teaming with a British firm called York MDM to form Sensei International.
“Usually you have people that deal with human performance, and others that deal with business performance and never the two shall meet,” he says. “We are interested in delivering strategic business results by working through and engaging in human performance. We’re looking to build a bridge that we think has been overlooked.”
Khan says there’s no easy way to define Sensei. “We were doing this long before anyone knew what to call it.” Khan says. “Elements of what we do fall into strategy, we support operations, and there’s clearly an HR component. I think Sensei transcends the usual way the profession is defined.”
Clearly Khan is onto something. Khan says the firm’s been growing steadily and forecasts double-digit growth again this year. He was nominated for the Top 25 award by more than a dozen clients, which include American Express, 3M, Johnson & Johnson, Ritz-Carlton and Unilever. “This award is a re-affirmation of what we’re doing,” Khan says.
“Hopefully, we can continue to add to the value space—and maybe even create a new one.”
Conference News - Time To Establish Meetings Value - June 2010
TIME TO ESTABLISH MEETINGS VALUE
Conference News Magazine - June 2010
CN and management consultancy Sensei UKE recently convened a panel of meeting industry experts at Cannizaro House, Wimbledon, to examine perceptions of value and return on investment and time.
The Business Visitors and Events Partnership recently estimated the value of events for the British economy at £24bn. Many organisers, however, are increasingly pressed by procurement and their bosses to justify the value of time spent at events. But just how do you determine the value of a conference or meeting?
Maximising return on inve stment (ROI) has become a mantra for many, with numerous industry seminars on the subject and even the odd category at industry awards. CN and management consultancy Sensei UKE convened a roundtable forum of industry planners and meetings experts to examine the issues. In some areas testing ROI need not be too hard, with sales leads and PR coverage both measurable items. However, forum co-chairman, Sensei UKE’s director Richard Ferguson, noted it was “worrying” that there were attempts to turn events ROI into a science with its own institute in Norway and a special formula for success. “Our experience is that so many organisations haven’t truly thought through what they want to get out of an event, let alone measure ROI", he told the forum.
Recession had heightened the challenge of engaging people, believed Johann Scheepers, GM of Thistle’s Kingsley Hotel in London. He pointed out there were now fewer events where the chairman came a long to address the annual ‘do’. The day delegate rate had rebounded, at least in London, Scheepers noted, with £35-£65 now being achieved, compared with around £25 at the depth of the recession. “It’s starting to come back", he said, adding that the Kingsley had gained from some companies trading down from the top end. "The requirement for discussion does not go away", Ferguson stressed, advising clients to remember the business value of the event and make the appropriate investment. “Organisations don’t always think about it in that way", he said.
Head of Group Internal Communications, Manchester Airport Group, Liz Douglas, said delegates were now demanding more and the format of the annual event was changing. The group’s annual roadshow event had evolved and reaction to the content was closely monitored, she explained. “We looked at the conference differently and the event was staged in one building split into zones", said Douglas. The format was designed to appeal in its component parts more directly to individual sections of the business and ran from 8am to 9pm. Delegates could drop in to the zones and pick up content. “It was no more expensive but in terms of value to the business, we got much more", she added. The airport group’s annual survey found that key information was retained six months on from the new-style conference. Effectiveness and education, rather than an annual jamboree seems to be the way forward for securing value.
Ron Glasgow, MD of event management agency Glasgows, advised choosing your organiser carefully. “The great tragedy of the public sector is that none of those asking for events knows anything about events", Glasgow said. He is no fan of procurement calling the shots. Their processes, he noted, were “draconian and expensive” and put magement companies under unnecessary pressure. Demands for policies on sustainability, crisis management, disaster recovery and BS standards were time-consuming and added to costs without necessarily raising quality, Glasgow believes. “In terms of value for money, clients need to understand what they want. Procurement systems deliver the best tender, but not necessarily the best event management company.” Glasgow foresees big cuts to public sector events budgets, predicting some companies will go to the wall when the big squeeze comes. “It is short-sighted and dangerous and you get what you pay for", he warned. Glasgow suggested that the celebrity factor could be one area to cut. “It is preposterous when public sector conferences pay up to £20k, a third of their budget, for a celebrity speaker", he said. “Does a chief nursing officers’ conference really need someone like Lenny Henry?”
Head of internal communications at Aviva, Gillian McGill, said the challenge for her team was now how to get more discussion and results from more intimate meetings. “Over the last 18 months we have concentrated on getting conversations going at the right level. Today the style is different. You have to justify bringing senior management to a conference. We are never asked to measure, however, but to justify.” Aviva’s senior level conferences are all about value for time more than money, she noted. “You can’t put a price on the value of getting senior managers in front of staff.”
Director for leadership and organisational development at NHS Hampshire, Simon Philips, said he’d been sent to conferences to gather information on behalf of his whole organisation to save paying multiple delegate fees. “Managers are also aware of time, but the key issue for us is cost.” The headline cost of the conference, he said, definitely affected the initial judgement on whether to attend. As for mechanisms for feeding back value, Philips said increasingly there were informal ones. “After an event, websites can be populated with presentations and this undermines the argument for sending multiple people.” Glasgow noted an increased use of web casting. “In one example, we had 800 people logged on and sending messages to their board in real time. It is a good way of getting a large audience.”
CN managing editor Paul Colston asked whether the panel thought the conference was no longer the place where you start discussion, but the forum for the culmination of the brief, extended through social media such as Twitter and Facebook. Ferguson noted social media helped to “lock in” benefits from a conference, good materials that were often “left on the floor”. Philips said social media only worked once the value of an event has been established in the minds of individuals. Social media is clearly not for everyone: Douglas noted that, even in 2010, the majority of her staff didn’t have email a ccounts, let alone Twitter or Facebook. “Engage before, during and after a conference on the official website", was Glasgow’s advice. The website could be a repository for conference documents and feedback post-event, he said. Interactive technology such as SpotMe devices could be considered for speeding up networking opportunities. Technology can save money, too. Glasgow gave an example of an organiser’s request for 10 bilingual facilitators for one multinational conference. ”I proposed dispensing with that and having interactive technology. It saved £15k.” Douglas cautioned on using technology for the sake of it. “We tried going back to basics and it really made us think about what we spend money on”, she said. “We still ended up needing a small amount on technology in order to capture the vast amounts of information we needed.”
Ferguson noted that people often simply lose sight of what they want to get out of a conference. “There can be much effort poured into who will be speaking and what technology is used, rather than thinking ‘Who’s our target audience, who would benefit from it and how? We need to educate people to think about what they can get out the other end, what are the outcomes they are striving for.”
Scheepers pointed out that perception is important. For one Labour Party conference organiser it was important not to create a fancy affair, even though the event was in a five-star hotel. “Flexibility and accessibility are deal-breakers", said Scheepers, “always ask yourself if you really need things, you could save 10 per cent on your meeting cost. I’ve seen people manning empty registration desks for £10 an hour ‘just in case’ someone wants something. That’s surely what venue service level agreements are for.”
The five-point ROI methodology pyramid put together by the ROI Institute in Norway which claims to have a planning and evaluation tool for all events, was not taken too seriously. The first three pyramid levels, which include satisfaction with hospitality and content; what was learned and how to apply that learning, the panel thought were valid but no more than common sense.
Converting the business impact into a monetary value to then compare it with cost, in order to determine the ROI was not generally thought to be either achievable or even desirable. Glasgow thought the first three levels of the five-level pyramid were all measurable. “Public sector clients are happy with the first three. I believe the last t wo are just alchemy.” McGill said her sector was full of actuaries and insurance managers who loved to pick holes in such theories. “I don’t think you can get true, measurable, science with ROI.” Ferguson believes extracting value from an event comes down to defining the value you want to get and being clear about outcomes. Douglas said the kind of outcomes fro m events denoting succe ss included messages and lessons being retained by delegates.
What was measurable, said Glasgow, was the level of action and inte raction at the conference. “If key staff come back stimulated, then great, but I hate box ticking. It doesn’t have any value. It is impossible to measure outcome without changing that outcome by the process of measurement.” Philips sees a generational differences in terms of what is demanded and expected of conferences. Younger delegates, he said, weren’t interested in tablets of stone being handed down, or turned on by champagne receptions. “Old school thinking is ‘carrot and stick’, but the last 30 years have shown that approach has only a marginal impact on an individual’s thinking. More potent today are notions of autonomy and purpose.” He gave the example of using SpotMe technology. “Generation Y knows where the net working opportunities are", he said. “They want to be in charge, choose when to turn up, when to leave and get the outcomes they want.” He contrasted this with the older generation that sat still and took notes. For Philips, meetings are now about empowerment and the perception of value for time.
And, with little agreement that we have arrived at a meetings science of determining return on inve stment, it seems, the phrase, ‘time is money’ is still the trusted barometer in estimating real value for our panel, at least.
Karen ButlerBusiness Development Manager
Karen is Sensei UKE’s Business Development Manager, responsible for communicating the benefits of Sensei’s range of leadership and human performance solutions to organisations throughout the UK and Europe.
Karen is a business professional with over 25 years’ experience in SMEs and blue chip
companies. Working in the UK and the USA, Karen has worked in a number of sectors, including private equity, digital publishing and healthcare.
Sensei Leaders of the Future
SENSEI LEADERS OF THE FUTURE
'The future isn't what is used to be and it's time for a new breed of leader to emerge...
The recent economic crisis has placed leadership and how it is deployed in the spotlight like never before. It has also starkly demonstrated that many organisations simply did not have robust enough plans to survive without significant trauma. For many traditional leaders the last few years have simply been a challenge too far, as they have been caught holding on to false assumptions about how the future will unfold. Those in leadership roles now find themselves in many cases leading organisations that are bearing the scars of the recent recession. Their people are feeling battered and bruised and, in many cases, fearful of any more change that might threaten their livelihood.
To help leaders respond to this challenge in a smart and intelligent way we have developed Sensei’s ‘Leaders of the Future’ service, an innovative and cost-effective way to develop future leaders in today’s cost conscious climate. Our approach will:
• Deliver the sustainable value needed now to help fuel the growth of your organisation
• Embed a culture of candour that will unleash pent up enthusiasm and focus energy on improving performance
• Provide a leadership pipeline that helps you future proof your organisation
The recent global recession has taught us all some painful lessons and we have to take these on board if we are to ensure we have any future at all.
Developing leaders of the future is always an important but rarely an urgent priority for non-executive directors, CEOs and their executive teams. In fact, in the current economic climate it is common for this activity to be considered as just part of the overall training and development budget and this, as evidence shows, is one of the first budgets to be cut when the cost squeeze is on. Rather than fight this reality we have developed a more novel and, we believe, more realistic line of attack to develop the leaders your organisation needs to future proof your business.
This service draws on our award winning global consultancy skills and the latest training and facilitation techniques developed while supporting some of the world’s leading organisations. Our starting point is to work with you to co-create and design a highly tailored approach that recognises your current operational and strategic reality. Your world view and the value you need to deliver to give you an acceptable ROI guides what we do and how we will do it. Our aim is to ensure that the investment you will make in developing your future leaders is at least self-funding and preferably value-generative.
EXAMPLES OF ‘LEARNING THREADS’
WE CAN DEPLOY IN YOUR DESIGN
• Sensei Breakthrough Coaching
• Leadership Journeys
• Community Value Projects
• Strategic Deep Dives
• Participant Mentoring
• Operational Value Performance Projects
• Study Sessions
• Participant Skill Share Sessions
• Visit and Learn Experiences
• Team Stretch Activities
• Modular Highly Interactive Workshops
• Culminating in a ‘Leaders of the Future Conference’ - the participants’ chance to share what they have achieved with your executive team.
We will take your current view of the challenges your organisation will face in the future and mix it with our view of the challenges you may face. This approach, derived from helping some of the world’s leading organisations, will enable us to develop a unique and bespoke design that we can be confident will really take hold in your organisation’s DNA.
A co-designed approach of this kind is a long way from the ‘plug and play’ programmes that are now so common in the leadership development and training marketplace. In the Sensei design our consulting expertise complements our training and facilitation skills to ensure your leaders are exposed to a learning experience that really resonates and prepares them for the future.
The duration and the ‘learning threads’ deployed will vary to suit your organisation’s reality, degree of ambition and current operating constraints. Topics covered may be as diverse as:
• The art of leadership and what history can really teach us
• How to liberate the latent passion for change and tap the hidden productivity that is discretionary effort
• How to lead global, geographically dispersed, virtually connected teams
• What style of leadership has succeeded in your organisation in the past and what the future requires
• The role of the leader in reshaping and changing the prevailing operating culture to make it fit for the future
• Making the most of the globally connected, network savvy and internet enabled talent that is the current generation of graduates entering your organisation.
LEADERS OF THE FUTURE at a glance...
Sensei’s ‘Leaders of the Future’ service has elements of both give and take. Each participant will be exposed to leading edge personal development experiences that will equip them for life. In return they will be expected to give something back, both to your organisation and to the community.
Each student will have to complete at least one ‘Leadership in Action’ project that will be scoped and selected at the start and designed to deliver significant value to your organisation. They will also take a leading role in designing and completing a project that is of genuine benefit to local residents.
In this way Sensei’s innovative ‘Leaders of the Future’ service will contribute a real and sustainable ROI for your organisation as well as providing a positive impact in the local community.
CASE STUDY - BENEFITS AND RETURN ON INVESTMENT
One of our International clients headquartered in the UK had a substantial and growing business in Asia. They recognised that if they could develop their country leaders to a point where they could take on a regional EVP role, this would save them the cost of their current expatriate packages of around USD 750k each. The design we co-created took 8 country GMs through a 12 month learning experience and produced three leaders capable of taking up EVP positions. The ROI was never in doubt.
We have helped clients such as Unilever, Reckitt Benckiser, British American Tobacco, Maersk and Homeserve to create leadership development programmes that deliver real value, as well as a leadership pipeline that helps future proof their organisation.
This is the media archive which stores all the posted media items of Sensei.
This page shows all of Our Stories to date.
Sensei Conference On The Move
SENSEI CONFERENCE ON THE MOVE
An exciting new concept to break the mould from traditional conferences that takes participants on a collective adventure...
The Brief – Our client was the Global Category Officer for Reckitt Benckiser Health Care based in the corporate headquarters in Slough, UK. We had supported the Health Care conference in the spring of 2009 and this had received great feedback as it had lots of interaction and team events built into the design, which had participants fully engaged and actively involved. The autumn conference was a follow on from this and Thomas wanted it to be an even better experience - and an event that could help him with his quest to create a Health Care community across the diverse key functions of category marketing, research & development, regulatory & medical, market research, sales and supply. The participants were drawn from a pool of 50 – 55 senior managers based in Hull and Slough in the UK.
We chose a ‘Conference on the Move’ format to break the mould from previous conferences and to take the participants on a collective adventure - the idea being that during the journey participants will deepen relationships across the HC community, build a community spirit and develop some real insights into how they can work more effectively together in the future.
The Design – We centred the conference on Oxford, one the UK’s most beautiful cities. The design utilised the city, the Thames and the surrounding countryside. A small client planning team worked with us and our chosen events partner ‘In Any Event.’
The participants received detailed joining instructions, including what to bring and the fact that they would be sleeping in shared accommodation, but they had no further agenda or any idea about what was in store for them at the event. The conference design was deliberately kept secret from the participant group as this heightened the sense of adventure and discovery. The locations and team events were carefully chosen to enable strategic work in an environment free from the relentless operational ‘noise’ that consumes everyone's day to day interactions.
The Conference On The Move Picture Dirary (view this diary with images) – The event started on the coach to the venue with a ‘Top 10 Challenge’. On arrival each participant was given an envelope and was asked to identify 10 things they appreciated about their colleagues based in the other location, including at least two things that should:
• make us smile;
• compliment the town / office;
• compliment a person or team;
• challenge a prevailing behaviour and suggest how to improve; and
• say whatever they like....
This proved to be a source of much humour later in the day when we replayed the summary of the results. We discovered for instance that ‘Windsor is a really beautiful town and Slough is close to Windsor!’ and that ‘Hull had white telephone boxes.’
On arrival at the Trout Pub in Wolverton, participants were formally welcomed to the conference, grabbed a coffee and an early bacon sandwich and then the adventure started in the car park! Using one of Sensei’s communication models, each participant was asked to expose their preferred communication style.
They then had to adopt a communication style that was totally unfamiliar to them. By asking them to deliberately play the role of someone who is unlike them and ‘walk a mile in their shoes’, this exercise really made participants appreciate the different communication styles.
The next exercise is called ‘In2MeC’ and is designed to quickly get to know everyone in the group. Participants drew a colourful mind map that brought to life, and enabled them to share, the various ‘masks’ they wear in their day to day life.
Once the mind map was created, everyone got their 5 minutes of fame to share their pictures and when the In2MeC exercise was completed, participants were divided into natural work teams; a leader was selected and they embarked on a 2 mile amble along the banks of the river Thames.
During this time each group was asked to engage in the first of several ‘leadership conversations’. This first conversation was framed around a number of operational challenges faced by their team.
Each participant was asked to conduct this conversation in the communication style that was given to them in the car park exercise, to build their appreciation of others who do not
communicate in the same way as them. Obstacles encountered along the way simply added to the richness of the debate and those with ‘dodgy’ ankles had all the support they required!
On arrival at the next scheduled stop, each participant once again changed communication style and then embarked on the next stage of the journey. This was a gentle river cruise down the Thames, through some locks into the heart of the city of Oxford.
During this part of the journey the teams had their second ‘Leadership Conversation - this time on some of the strategic challenges faced by their team.
Lunch at a Thames-side restaurant provided a final chance to consolidate the morning conversations before the teams were briefed for the Oxford Challenge.
This was a competitive team activity where teams earned points from achieving certain tasks that involved them planning and working effectively together, solving clues and interacting with the city and citizens of Oxford.
Not only was this exercise great fun, it also provided a chance to learn about this fabulous city and to understand what it takes to work as a team under pressure in highly competitive circumstances.
The Oxford Challenge culminated in a meeting in the Old Court House where we were joined by an external speaker who talked to us about emotional intelligence and how to sustain ourselves to cope with the busy, busy world we all now inhabit.
After our stimulating discussions at the Court House, the group left Oxford by coach and headed for our evening accommodation and activities. At last, a chance to have some much needed ‘relax and chill’ time after what was a very busy day.
The evening activity started with the results from the morning’s ‘Top 10 challenge’ and prizes were awarded to the teams who did well in the afternoon’s Oxford Challenge.
After a hearty meal the barn dance got into full swing, with a break for oxygen during which we were joined by the fantastic Florence! Florence was an expert in the ancient craft of corn doll making. She showed us how to make a button hole corn doll and - in true ‘Generation Game’ style - we had a corn doll competition!
Great fun and a much needed breather before the barn dance got back in full swing.
Day 2 started bright and early with morning assembly and stretch and yawn! This was followed by ’50 Up’, a team exercise designed to get the blood going, clear the heads from the night before and work up an appetite for breakfast.
After breakfast, each team told a story of what they had gleaned from day 1 in the style of their choosing. Some of the teams used the coach journey to our next destination to replay their stories so we could use all the time available.
The next sessions took place in the Thythe Barn, a fantastic oak and thatched barn, which we used as a venue for the remainder of the conference. This large creative space enabled us to work on a number of exercises for the rest of the day.
The conference was now moving on from small category team work to the challenge of building the whole Health Care community. In our first task we had to work together and plant bulbs that will flower in spring.
This work will help with the recovery of the declining UK bee population and, common to all our conferences where we use the landscape as a stimulus, we also used this exercise to ensure we left a positive footprint in the community we were passing through - one that is life sustaining and in tune with our desire to leave the world in a better state than when we found it.
After the physical exertions of the bulb planting, the group then entered a more cerebral exercise - one we call ‘Future States’. In this exercise participants listened to the head of Health Care describe the vision for 2020 and then they split into randomly selected mixed groups.
Using a sheet of white wall-paper, each group drew what they considered would be the strategic journey the Health Care community will take in the next five years.
They highlighted transition states the community will need to pass through in order to bring the 2020 vision to life.
This exercise produced some interesting insights into what the participants felt about the challenges that lie ahead and how they saw the future unfolding.
The final exercise before lunch was an Oxford-style debate. Four participants had prepared short manifestoes that explained what they felt about the ‘engagement’ challenges faced by the Health Care community. We had a Project Party who argued that there is always a smarter way to deliver change and suggested the organisation should be fluid, coming together and disbanding as the strategic and operational challenges change.
The People’s Party argued for more flexible working and greater trust for the individual. Their slogan was ‘overtime is a hobby not a financial transaction’. The Central Party claimed that ‘One Central Hub’ was the most efficient way to organise the community, with power being held in the centre. This party was initially the most popular amongst participants as it mirrors the business’ current operating paradigm. The final party was the ‘Local Party’ who, as the name suggests, argued precisely the opposite by giving power to the local companies and dissolving the centre. This party received the most initial ridicule as it clearly flew in the face of the current operating paradigm.
Each leader put their case to the participants who literally voted with their feet and joined the party that most appealed. After some judicious re-balancing of floating voters, we finally started the debate. Our logistics team and the catering team at the Thythe Barn acted as the general public listening to the debate. After that they voted via a secret ballot for the team that they felt made the most compelling case. Needless to say, the winning party was the one that flew in the face of the current operating paradigm, prompting mutterings from several of the leaders: “That’s what you get when you ask the public! What do they know?”
After lunch, the final exercise was a community drumming challenge, which finished the conference on a real high as everyone worked together to create a great noise and send us away with rhythm and beat ringing in our ears.
‘A note of thanks to all of you for inviting me to participate in the Oxford adventure. All the hard work that has gone into organising this is very much appreciated. I have attended many conferences and events before but this one was the best. Not only did I get a chance to meet my fellow colleagues in a wonderfully relaxed atmosphere, I also got to know them quite well in a short space of time. Although the 2 days were intense, I thoroughly enjoyed the experience.’
‘I thought this was a great two days. I appreciated the time to think and discuss the future - both what we do and how we do it’