As well as running system and organisational experiments, we also run a range of workshops ranging from 60-minute snapshots to multi-day training programmes. Here are some of the workshops we run:
How to have a collective impact
We all understand the logic of how individual organisations are supposed to make an impact – your inputs, activities, outputs, and outcomes. But no individual organisation can solve a complex problem. If the only way to create meaningful social change is to bring together a range of actors in a structured way, how do we do that? Our approach to making a collective impact includes: •building meaningful relationships, •structuring shared learning, •deep listening, •surfacing and challenging assumptions, •tackling tensions, •making sacrifices, •trying a bunch of stuff together
There are many leadership development programmes out there. Traditionally they focus on developing the skills and competencies of a single individual, who is either already in a position of authority or wants to be. For us, ‘leadership’ is about enabling a group to achieve a shared purpose. Leadership development programmes get things the wrong way round by focusing on the individual, rather than the group. So, we developed something different. We don’t even call it a leadership programme. Most of the accepted practices of leaders are recipes for dependency and mediocrity. We want to help overhaul these practices, so we call what we do ‘anti-leadership.’ Our training does not focus on ‘the person at the top’. Instead, it focuses on helping entire groups (teams, organisations) become more effective at achieving their shared purpose. We help organisations to develop cultures that promote and enable continuous learning, transforming the organisation to deliver better outcomes.
Resilience is a property of teams, not individuals
We know many professions need workers to be resilient. However, many professions have gone down the unfortunate route of viewing resilience as an individual competence. They then try to promote and teach this skill to individuals. If ‘resilience’ is something like ‘being able to pick ourselves back up after we’ve been knocked down’, research tells us that the most important factor in this is our network of social relationships. In the midst of stress, many of us isolate ourselves from others. The most resilient people don’t turn inwards - they hold tighter to their social support in times of difficulty. These people are in general happier, more productive, engaged, and energetic. If resilience is fundamentally about networks of social support rather than individual competencies, this workshop explores what we need to do within our teams to promote this?
Why we need to talk about autonomy in social work
Autonomy is often talked about as a ‘nice to have’ in professional settings. Lukewarm statements are made about giving staff more autonomy, then typically little changes. Part of the reason for this is we commonly misunderstand how important autonomy actually is. It’s not a cherry on the cake, it’s oxygen for us. According to The Happiness Advantage, a study of 7,400 employees found that those who felt they had little control over deadlines imposed by other people had a 50% higher risk of coronary heart disease. Feeling a lack of control over pressure at work is as great a risk factor for heart disease as high blood pressure. Moreover, in social work, exactly the same thing is true of the people we’re trying to support. Research has found that putting nursing home residents in charge of their own house plants increases their levels of happiness and halves their mortality rate. If autonomy is like oxygen - vital for health, wellbeing and survival – then how can we promote autonomy-supportive environments, and practices within social work?
Introduction to Human Learning Systems
Human Learning Systems asks the question ‘How can public service better help people create good outcomes in their lives?’. The answer it gives is threefold: 1.We need to ensure our services are operating in a more human way, embracing the variety of strengths & needs 2.We need to ensure that the focus of management is creating conditions for learning and adaptation 3.We need to shift our focus to actively and collectively nurturing healthy systems to create positive outcomes This workshop provides an overview of the Human Learning System approach. It includes case studies of what this work looks like in practice, and some interesting provocations.
The role of learning and emotions in systems change
At present, most organisations tend to think of learning through two lenses – training people in ‘best practice’ and evaluating projects once they have been completed. In this workshop, we argue that this is a very anaemic view of learning, and one that stunts effectiveness. Instead, we should understand learning through three different lenses: •A tool for adaptation and improvement •A connector that drives trust between people •An intrinsic human need, essential to psychological health and flourishing. We argue that if learning is an essential component of a healthy system, then perhaps emotion is the thing that can get us there. We explain how and why we need to enable emotion to become an accepted and encouraged part of our working lives.
There are all kinds of difficult conversations we need to have in a workplace - from individual conversations between peers, to difficult decisions the organisation needs to make to knotty conversations about equity, diversity and inclusion. We need to find ways to hold those difficult conversations in spite of the tensions inherent in groups – the desire to keep the peace, to not risk relationships, the tendency to fall into group-think. In this workshop we explore how the relationships between the humans in the conversation are the pivot around which those difficult conversations progress. We examine the theories that underpin the need to build psychological safety and connectedness in our teams and organisations, and practical steps to move us from theory into reality.
Introduction to systems and systems change
Systems and systems work are foggy things to think about. In this session, we try to pierce the fog by explaining our understanding of systems in a non-jargony, minimal-theory way. We cover ideas of complexity and the health of systems. We talk about the importance of orienting around learning, and our experience of working on systems at CIA – our approach, the pitfalls we’ve encountered, the bruises we’ve collected.