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Our Case Studies

The Manufacturing Case Study

The brief

At the time, one of our client’s manufacturing sites had a number of issues:

  • health and safety compliance behaviours were not up to standard
  • unproductive habits had been developed by some members of staff
  • corners had been cut, leading to lost work time incidents which might have been avoided.

Our brief (Anna Beckwith working with associates at Smith Beckwith) was to develop a drama based approach that would raise awareness not of the expected compliance behaviours, but on the rationale behind them. In short, to give staff a ‘what’s in it for me’ reason to comply with requirements.

The approach

working with professional actors, our intervention had three strands

  1. a) ‘invisible theatre’, where, following the site directors Health and Safety presentation an actor dressed as a member of staff stood up and said exactly why they couldn’t comply with the expected standards. In effect, the message to staff was “we know that this is what you’re thinking – let’s get it out in the open”. Once the audience realised that it was an actor making these pronouncements, it opened up discussion and questions from the floor.
  2. b) a comedy sketch, based on a horse race, with the actors playing the jockeys, in which common reasons for non-compliance were undermined and presented as weak excuses.
  3. c) a hard-hitting drama and multimedia presentation in which the potential consequences of non- compliance were brought home – the protagonist knows that corners are being cut here and there, but does not feel it’s his place to address the issue. An accident occurs which is the fault of someone else, but he is the victim. The scene concludes with the observation ‘John’s family come and visit him every weekend. It’s not clear if he knows who they are’.

Impact

At the time, the presentations had made health and safety compliance (in the words of the site director) ‘the talk of the town’. Several years on, the Health and Safety record of that site have improved significantly, and the drama intervention was part of a sequence of interventions which brought that about.


 The Retail Case Study

The brief

The client is a successful family business based in mainland Europe who wanted to build on its existing international reputation to grow its luxury brand.

As part of this, it was recognised that a comprehensive programme to develop the leadership and management of its staff at all levels was vital: hitherto, training had focused on technical and product-based aspects of the business.

Our approach

Our approach was first to consult with the client to establish exactly what they wanted to achieve from a training intervention. We then devised a programme covering a range of topics which the company had identified as its priorities. The workshop element of the programme was to be underpinned by projects undertaken in the workplace, and with e-learning.

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Each workshop revolves around practical activities and takes an experiential slant, with business games and scenarios that challenge participants’ current way of thinking, and prompt action in the workplace. Examples include a ‘murder mystery’ to test communication and problem solving skills, a range of business scenarios for analysis and action planning, and our ‘Landscape of Change’ map, which invites participants to think strategically about change as a journey.

As a fore-runner to the programme, we ran a ‘train the trainer’ workshop for sales training staff.

Impact

The leadership development project is still ongoing. The Train the Trainer programme resulted in some ‘night and day’ transformations amongst the participants during the workshop itself, and ongoing feedback from the field is indicative of a lasting change in the approach and delivery style of those who attended the course.


Charity Case Study

The brief

Our client is a charity which operates across England and Wales, and supports those with disabilities living in the community. The brief was to develop and deliver an ILM Level 5 Senior Leadership programme, covering key areas that were immediately relevant to the organisation, including culture and ethics, change, strategic thinking, and building mental resilience.

Our approach

We devised and delivered a programme involving 3 practical two-day workshops, supplemented by e-learning. As part of the ILM programme, participants are required to complete their own assignments, applying the principles covered on the course to their organisation.

The programme involved the use of:-

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  • A 360 questionnaire, based on core competencies
  • A ‘mental toughness’ questionnaire, to asses participants levels of resilience to stress, and to develop personal strategies to address problem areas
  • A range of activities to spark a different way of thinking about the issues, including analysis of holiday brochures and ‘trip advisor’ information as a pre-cursor to considering corporate culture, and a bank robbery activity to consider project planning and risk management
  • Detailed business scenarios (written by Ian Thomson) as a focus for strategic thinking
  • Use of our ‘Landscape of Change’ map as a working metaphor of the change journey, and how to get through it.
  • The client was offered the option of coaching sessions for participants, but this was carried out in house.

Impact

As part of the programme, participants were required to give a presentation based on their work and on their research for the ILM assignments to some of the organisation’s directors.

Their analysis of the status quo and suggestions on moving forward not only concurred with what the directors thought themselves, but has resulted in a cross-departmental working party being established to looks at some of the issues, with a membership drawn from all levels of the organisation.


The Financial Services Case Study

The brief

the executive team had chief executive and new members. There had been a very strong leader in the past and the new team needed to consider how to build trust and confidence and understand how to be most effective in working with each other. This small team needed to work together to deliver projects, based around their different knowledge and skill sets. We created a one day event.

Our approach

The day began with a review of profile reports, outlining behaviours, team styles, transactional and transformational leadership and emotional intelligence. The individuals were mapped to the various models and discussions developed on how this might impact on working relationships, communication, team working and culture. This raised interesting discussions on differences and similarities.

This was followed by the Leadership Challenge, an interactive approach to learning. On this occasion, there was only one team who appointed a leader – in this case not the CEO. While the leader went off to study the brief, the team considered some leadership issues – characteristics of a good leader, importance of a leader to the team and then an evaluation sheet of what good leadership would look like in action. When prepared, the leader briefed the team of their objectives, gained agreement on what additional information was required and then created a plan to accomplish the outcomes. At the end of the project time, the team reflected on successes and improvements they could make in working on a project. They further evaluated leadership performance according to their evaluation sheet – of course, considering not only the nominal leader but all members of the team.

The team then continued their discussions with dinner at the end of the day.

Impact

The team were highly motivated during the day to learn about each other and understand how they could impact positively on their colleagues. Following the day, the CEO confirmed that people were sharing more knowledge and skills in support of their clients and anecdotally, the team appeared to be working more efficiently and with a higher level of commitment. Each year, we have returned to the company to work with their team which is changing and growing in alignment with their five year strategy to double financing for projects.


The Regional Team Case Study

The brief

The small team at the Scottish branch of a national organisation wanted a team building workshop to draw together the various individuals involved. From a selection of options including an outdoor excursion in the woods of North Ayrshire and a drama based ‘play-in-a-day’ option, they chose a music making workshop.

Our approach

Working with professional musician and conductor, the group learned the basics of percussion based music making, and the core principles of ensemble performance (including timing and listening skills).

They were given violins (none had ever played before) and by the end of the afternoon had practiced and performed a short pizzicato piece written specially for them.

Rather than being overly structured about the academic content of the workshop, participants drove their own agenda, and the practical sessions were interspersed with best practice models and theories and related activities that came up in discussions ‘in the moment’. As such ALL of the workshop content was of immediate relevance to participants.

The impact

Through the violin playing and the necessity to listen to each other acutely and work together, participants became aware that this was not always happening in real life. Some tough issues came to light that had not been discussed before, and the workshop had the impact of ‘lancing the boil’ and providing a forum for a robust conversation, carefully facilitated to ensure that the focus remained on potential solutions.


The Women in Leadership Case Study

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The brief: our client was an overseas training provider who specialises in bringing international trainers to Malaysia to deliver on a range of issues. They had received requests from clients in the engineering and petrochemical sectors for a programme for women in leadership roles.

Our approach: in devising a programme we had to be mindful of the objectives of the programme, but also the culture of the country in which we were delivering the training.

Our programme was based on an extensive amount of research that we’ve done on women in leadership positions throughout history, focusing on the skill and mindset of successful female leaders from a range of cultures to draw out key lessons which are applicable to women in today’s working environment.

Participants focused on a range of characters, including Queen Elizabeth I, Oprah Winfrey and Nusayba Bint Ka’b, the first woman warrior of Islam. Rather than starting with leadership models and theories, character profiles, quotes and images underpinned the content and structure of the workshop, with a range discussions and activities where the participants recognised key challenges that were common to all, and more importantly, what these women did to overcome or work round these…and finally considered elements of accepted best practice that were relevant.

Impact: Participants left the programme with a range of personal strategies to help them to move forward in their leadership roles, as well as a new network of women in leadership positions to communicate with in the future. Participants have been recommending the programme to others, and more are scheduled for the future.