Business likes to leave out "the fluffy stuff", but soft skills can be the hardest to learn.
And they've never been more needed.
Our learning sessions discuss and explore the relevant skills needed, and challenges faced, in the business world today. We collate thought-provoking source material to prompt discussion and encourage social learning and story sharing, learning from external perspective and from each other.
We'll introduce you to ideas and approaches that might tackle your business challenges- or just help you learn more.
BREAKING THE MOULD
“[…] organizing in new ways requires that you forget the successes of your past.” William P. Barnett, Stanford Business
“Disruptive innovation” is a term that people have used for the last few years every time something or someone has come along that forces people to respond. But there are different types of innovation…and not all of them are “disruptive”, despite the use of the word. There’s a lot of pressure on businesses to innovate, but not that many people know how to put it into practice.
You might not be a disruptor, but you can harness the principles of disruption to create difference in your business. We’ll look at where innovation comes from and the power of thinking differently, questioning the status quo and recognising good ideas. We’ll discuss how to rebel in order to experiment…and what happens when you’re the one being disrupted.
ACCEPTING THE UNEXPECTED
Are you creative? Most people don't consider themselves imaginative, creative, or able to make something up on the spot.
This session shows what you can achieve if you allow your imagination free rein, always say “yes” and have the support of your colleagues. Failing is part of it, but it’s not only OK, it’s actively encouraged.
Starting from very basic, simple improvisation exercises, this session builds confidence in a way that is supportive and not embarrassing. No one is exposed to humiliation or ridicule and it reinforces the value of supportive networks, the power of imagination and that concepts of “failure” are often worse in your head than they are in reality.
smash the system
“The widespread lack of motivation we witness in many organisations is a devastating side effect of the unequal distribution of power.”
- Frederic Laloux
The way people do business, organise themselves, network and communicate about issues that concern them are fundamentally the same as they have always been. The internet and social media might have changed some of the tools, but the structures are the same. We do what we’ve done, we listen to the people with whom we identify, we seek out people who agree with us. What would happen if we didn’t?
Rip up the rules. Fire all the managers. Question your beliefs. Do something different to get something different as we examine the “Articles of Faith” of business and explore heretical thoughts about the way we work and interact.
“When two men always agree, one of them is unnecessary.”
- William Wrigley Jr.
“Problem-solving” is a skill that comes up on quite a few "desired skills" lists- but are we actually any good at it? As it turns out, those problem-solving frameworks you can find in any clickbait business article might not actually be the best place to start.
Approaching problems creatively involves reframing how we think of them, coming at the issue from different perspectives. It might be better to not go into “solution mode” at all, seeking questions instead of answers and disrupting some team harmony along the way… We’ll put problem-solving techniques into practice, looking at how to be more creative in the way we find our answers.
THE STORY OF CHANGE
Big change elicits big fears. It can be overwhelming…but we’ve all experienced change and come through transformations before.
Change has been a universal companion throughout human history. People have told stories to process it, and the lessons it provides, for just as long. In the middle of the last century, Joseph Campbell published his research into stories and saw that they all followed a similar structure. He formalised this into what became known as “The Hero’s Journey”, a framework that allows an individual to put the current change into the context of earlier experiences, reflecting on the successes and failures of the past and learning from them to make the future less scary.
This session takes you through the universal storytelling structure for change…and possibly ruin every film you watch from now on!
building better teams
A good team is a combination of different skills and abilities, brought together in order to complement each other and achieve exceptional outcomes.
This session looks at recognising difference and embracing diversity in your teams and how team dynamics can play out in practice, considering how we all operate, emotionally, on a day-to-day basis. We’ll look at team members’ mindsets, behaviours, who they influence and the skills they can develop.
We’ll use Lencioni’s research on the “Five Dysfunctions of a Team”, which outline the tenets needed for a high-performing team, as well as looking at obstacles you may encounter along the way. We’ll explore how teams can work better together, collaborate, make decisions and identify the issues they need to work on.
FOLLOWERSHIP, NOT LEADERSHIP
It’s all very well being a leader, but who are you leading if nobody follows you?
For years, people have cited “leadership” as a set of qualities you either have, or you don’t. But what the theory world doesn’t consider is the importance of individuality and humanity. This session throws “leadership” as an abstract quality out of the window, and instead looks at the real currency of leadership: human relationships.
We’ll look at developing a leadership style that’s personal; exploring the way in which you come across to others, what you project and the impact that has, as well as how you relate to those around you. We’ll go beyond the “leader” title to bring your whole self to work, acknowledging vulnerabilities and focusing on authenticity. We’ll explore building and improving trusted relationships, to get the best out of those around you, encourage strengths and collaborate for success.
SIMPLIFY YOUR LIFE
If you had to simplify your possessions into 100 items or fewer, could you?
Business, like life, is complicated. It’s especially complicated when you consider the number of people, tasks, teams, functions, processes and systems all functioning at the same time within one organisation. Meetings are endless, decisions are never made, and projects are delayed…all because things are too complicated.
We’ll look at how the simplest of tasks can become complex, why complexity happens, and how human behaviour can actually make it worse. We’ll look at what other people do to avoid complexity, how to get the basics right and what might stand in our way.
- The causes of complexity
- How do we make things worse?
- How to crush complexity
- Why complexity persists
- Finding the problem worth solving
WHO HAS THE "D"?
72% of senior-executive respondents to a recent McKinsey survey said they thought bad strategic decisions "either were about as frequent as good ones, or were the prevailing norm in their organisation.”
The word “decide” quite literally means “the death of choice”. Unfortunately, the death of choice doesn’t come easy for most people, who find making decisions a little bit tricky. In a world of increasing business complexity, with meetings, processes, systems and people adding to the mix, decisions are hindered, and the dreaded decision paralysis begins.
We’ll look at why decision-making can be so hard, what gets in the way and how you can start to make better decisions, quickly, at work. We’ll dispel common decision-making myths, look at what type of decisions you have to make, and give you the tools and techniques to tackle decision-making in teams.
TEAM AND WORKING
Have you ever experienced any of the following?
Don’t worry- we all do it. We’re all afraid of what Brené Brown calls “excruciating vulnerability”; we all suffer from the Impostor Syndrome. But with any fear, you have to name it to tame it. This session looks at the things we’re afraid of and why we feel vulnerable at work, working together to build and instil confidence and courage.
FAILING TO SUCCEED?
Margery Eldredge Howell: “There’s dignity in suffering, nobility in pain, but failure is a salted wound that burns and burns again.”
For many people, “failure” elicits negative emotions. Shame. Guilt. Wanting the ground to swallow you up. But, like it or not, failure is sadly a fact of life…
How can you learn to accept failure, or even begin to embrace it?
We’ll look at how you, and those around you, handle mistakes, where blame comes from, and how to change attitudes towards failure into those that encourage experimentation. When failures ultimately happen, we’ll discuss a “failure post-mortem”, asking the right questions and learning from mistakes- and ultimately, how to be kind and compassionate to yourself so you’re resilient enough to try again.
- How you handle mistakes
- Encouraging experimentation
- How to become “failure-tolerant”
- Rules for failure
- How to analyse failure and the questions to ask
- How to be resilient and keep going
from glossophobia to glory
It’s an oft-misquoted saying that “people are more afraid of public speaking than they are death”.
The saying itself might not be true, but if you’ve ever felt yourself dying in front of an audience and wishing for the torture to end, you can understand where that feeling comes from.
Luckily, we can offer you a complete, experiential analysis of all the elements that can save you from a near-death experience. We break down any fears into manageable, bite-size chunks, and take you through the whole presentation journey: from where your fears actually come from, to being confident enough to deliver engaging material in front of a supportive audience.
Don't make things worse by accident
In any interaction between people, a huge amount of communication happens non-verbally.
Humans are simply animals that operate in social groups or packs. As with any animal, they signal their thoughts and intentions through the way they stand, how they look at each other and the gestures they make. Most of the time these are not acknowledged on a conscious level, but they have a huge bearing on how people feel about each other and how they perceive the attitudes and motives of others.
Let’s examine the tiny elements that influence how we do – or don’t – get along with other people. Breaking down individual components and testing them out on each other in an entertaining and engaging way, we’ll look at personal space, eye contact, posture and tone of voice.
IS YOUR NETWORKING NOT-WORKING?
Networking might be a necessary evil, but it's not always bearable...
How can you make your networking conversations more than just the contents of your business card? And why do so many people hate networking so much?
We'll tackle the fears we have when faced with a room of people we don't know. We’ll explore how you show up to other people, overcoming barriers to talking to strangers and getting your story across in a way that people remember. We’ll look at the physiological obstacles to communicating effectively before you have even opened your mouth, and examine the content and structure of what you say and how you say it, making good introductions that say more than your name and your role.
Finally, we’ll look at how to get out of tricky or unwanted conversations, as in a networking situation, knowing how to subtly draw a conversation that isn’t going anywhere to a close is as useful as being able to initiate one in the first place…
“Howard and Vicky arrived for the session with massive energy and enthusiasm. The impact they made in two hours was impressive, combining fast-paced delivery, anecdotes and stories to create an inclusive and enjoyable experience.”
- HR Leader, international automotive organisation
- HR Leader, international automotive organisation