Monday, April 28, 2008

MCI's training awards

We are so excited! We have been acknowledged by the training industry for excellence for the supervisory program that we designed and delivered for Toll.
We have won the Training Australia magazine award for a Frontline Management program and we were finalists in the AITD award for Excellence in Design.
We are overwhelmed with these 2 great achievements. The Toll program has been successful for a number of reasons
  • We took the time to do a needs analysis based on conversations and discussions with several Toll sites
  • The program itself is therefore directly relevant to the group and contains practical skills that can be immediately applied
  • The variety of media used in the program make it unique - we use videos of guest speakers from within Toll; there are off-the-shelf videos and we combine all of that with role plays, discussions and written work.
  • We also work with some of the LEGO Serious Play challenges to ensure that there is full participation and engagement
  • Finally, the evidence required by the Frontline Management Certificate 4 is collated into the MCI Portfolio Builder which ensures that evidence is presented in a straightforward and user-friendly way.

Tuesday, April 15, 2008

LEGO Serious Play

In addition to attending the IDEA conference, I also took part in a 2 day partner meeting with LEGO Serious Play partners from all over the world - every continent was represented with incredible stories being told and ideas being shared.
So, what are LEGO Serious Play partners doing that is innovative?
David Gauntlett, Professor of Media and Communications at the Univeristy of Westminster, London spoke on 'Making Things, Making Knowledge'.
He said that LEGO Serious Play is a way of giving the randon mish-mash in our brains some form. We often make things in different ways - we design collages and draw things. Through the methodology of LEGO Serious Play, we are able to construct identities that are rich in meaning and have meaning to the people in the room. LEGO Serious Play is a way of getting our stories out there and sharing them with others.
David has done substantial research into how LEGO Serious Play methodologies benefit teams and individuals.
LEGO Serious Play is a great tool he says for ensuring that through metaphors intangible concepts have meaning. It takes away usual constraints and allows people to present their ideas in one go.
We all like to present how we are in the world - like our magnet and photo collection on our fridge door. There are many identity theories of how we present what we want to of ourselves on the front stage and what we don't want known, we keep on the backstage.
What is so interesting with LEGO Serious Play is that the front and backstage become visible simultaneously through the models that are constructed and through the speaker giving meaning to the model.
There is also a tension that usually exists between the individual and society - individuals want to be distinct but at the same time want to feel part of the community.
LEGO Serious Play allows for this tension and incorporates it into the process of the day.
In addition to that, there is a revised interest at the moment in making things. This is exemplified in Web 2.0 where we create our wikis and blogs. LEGO Universe is under construction and will be a creatable world all in LEGO.
This emphasis on craftmanship creates a feeling of well-being and lifts self-esteem. We are no longer just a passive audience watching TV but are moving back to this culture of making things - this also allows us to problem solve and although what we make might not be perfect, this all leads to us investing time in things that we can change and where we can leave our mark in the world. We improve ourselves in the world through reflecting on our ordinary day and through making = the very principles of LEGO Serious Play.

Another speaker, Per Kristiansen, from a Danish consultancy firm, Trivium, spoke about how they are implementing new workshops in organisations based on the principles of unlocking potential by learning through play.
He has devised a series of workshops for an organisation that wants to ensure that all teams are on board in undestanding what the business's value proposition is.
The workshops that Trivium designed are based on Otto Scharmer's Theory U where we move from sensing to reflecting to acting. This takes into account that if we want to come up with new ideas, we need to learn both from the past and the present. If we don't think about the future, we won't have one.
LEGO Serious Play is one of the best ways of articulating Scahrmer's U curve and ensuring that there is genuine 'flow' where enactment and embodiment of new concepts is more likely.
In fact, wherever an organisation is confronting a challenge, LEGO Serious Play through its methodology enables change and the devising of a solution.

LEGO Serious Play

Denise Meyerson with the owner of the LEGO Group, Kjeld Kirk Kristiansen.

Denise with the CEO of the LEGO Group, Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, at the LEGO IDEA conference.

Denise with Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST - For Inspiration and Recognition of Science and Technology

I was immensely privileged to attend the LEGO IDEA conference in Billund and to listen to a range of incredible speakers from all over the world.
So what's new?
There is a lot of talk around being an ambidextrous organisation.
Jorgen Vig Knudstorp, CEO of the LEGO Group, started the conference by asking the participants:
"What would you do if you had one week to do anything you want with no worries about food or money?"
He said that most people tend to respond by saying that they would like to make a difference to someone and help them to grow and to reach their potential.
He stated that one of the ways of achieving this is to create an organisation that is highly scientific in its thinking and at the same time very creative to allow for all forms of exploration.
We need to become organisations that are collaborative in creating and innovating through a spirit of entrepreunership and at the same time have a well-functioning and coordinated business model.
We need to balance the right and the left hand - the right and the left brain. It is optimum in organisations to have both functioning at the same time. But how?
We start by imagining that it is possible to combine right and left and work with the whole brain. At school, children play and at the same time achieve their objectives. They learn and are not even aware of their learning. They are so 'in flow' that they pick up skills as they go along.
In organisations, we do not learn by listening. So what else could we be doing to create an environment where learning through play is possible.
This theme was picked up by the next speaker, Tony Lai, Managing Director of the Idea Factory in Singapore.
He spoke about how play has become crucial for societal innovation. There are so many new global forces at play - the initiation of Web 2.0 in all its facets, the new world of Gen Y and Z and so on. We need new Players for this world where some argue that the web is the new platform of the future and Google reigns supreme.
It is now possible to get ideas across far quicker through Youtube or Wikipedia - it is a participatory culture that is emerging on a wide scale.
Is it possible that Nintendo Wii will become the ultimate learning tool? How will Second Life be integrated into learning scenarios?
Time Magazine has made 'YOU' the person of the year.
We have the possibility of creating new ideas that might not be the ultimate solution - there are often ideas behind ideas that are also good.
Societal innovation will have economic, social and environmental factors linked together to create a triple bottom line.
So in all of this, why is play so important?
Play is necessary to change the questions.
Play changes the processes by allowing prototypes to be piloted and tried out. We do not need to get things right the first time and the culture of the organisation needs to allow for that. These prototypes create small experiments that provide fresh ideas.
Lai talks of new pedagogies that allow play to be included in the process:
  • Futuring
  • Soak it in
  • Identity searching
  • Pattern breaking
  • Collaboration centred
  • Inspire to aspire
  • Circle of Life
  • Chaos navigation
  • Spin a tale - the power of story-telling
Lai also says that we need to increase the real diversity of teams as this creates the right environment for co-creation and involvement.

I then attended a session on LEGO mindstorms where teams use LEGO robotics in the LEGO First League. What an amazing process to involve children in team-work, creative play and problem-solving to ensure that they develop strategies for working collaboratively to solve challenges.
LEGO FIRST league is the brain-child of the final speaker at the conference, Dean Kamen, founder of FIRST - For Inspiration a d Recognition of Science and Technology. Dean has won prizes in recognition of his work in the medical field and is the inventor of the Segway.
He decided that there were not enough kids coming through school that were entering science and engineering and that these professions were not highly valued.
He decided to create the FIRST League to encourage children to realise that sport is not the only way of competing and that science is also fun.
Teams now compete from all over the world in the League and and fill Olympic Stadiums as the competition has grown so large.
Dean had a dream and he ensured that it happened. He was awarded this year's LEGO prize.

Thursday, April 10, 2008

Transport LEADERSHIP Program Gains Momentum!

One of the most exciting things about being a training facilitator is seeing delegates grow professionally from their learning experience. This is particularly obvious in the delegates of the first Transport Leadership Program, an extension of the Transport Supervisor Program which MCI first ran in 2007.

Candidates from around Australia who completed the 2007 program are upgrading their skills and bolstering their leadership abilities as well as gaining a Diploma in Business (Frontline Management). The program focuses on values-leadership, influencing-skills as well as communication skills.

Our facilitation team at MCI looks forward to reading comments on the program from participants on this blog.

So to kick discussion off, I'd like to pose the open question of what the differences are (if any) between MANAGEMENT and LEADERSHIP?

I looking forward to reading responses from our Transport Leadership delegates!