We worked closely with the senior leadership team at Central South Consortium at a key moment of change – a move to new offices and the resulting opportunity to develop and reinforce messages to improve the organisation’s effectiveness.
Following initial thoughts from the Managing Director, we proposed an approach centred around Appreciative Inquiry delivered as a ‘Vision Day’ and facilitated by the SLT for all employees. This would provide an opportunity to position their draft vision based on CSC’s ‘One Organisation’ ethos, reminding the wider team of their core purpose (school improvement across the consortium) and helping to refocus and re-energise them in their new offices.
We spent time with the senior team to understand their current requirements and future priorities, and scoped out some exercises for them to co-facilitate with the wider team to ensure that they owned the process and outcomes. We based our approach on the principles that the Vision Day should provide the opportunity for CSC employees to:
• Take time out from the day job to celebrate successes
• Understand their current position as an organisation and what has got them to where they are today
• Refocus and re-energise them as ‘one team’
• Provide feedback and work in small cross-function groups to discourage silo mentality
• Understand what success looks like for them
• Examine what the blockers are to achieving those successes
• Identify core areas for ongoing development
We designed exercises that allowed all employees to spend time with each member of the SLT. The sessions were linked to the overall principles of the day by ensuring that messages given were consistent and opportunities were provided for employees to give feedback on their experiences and thoughts for the organisation going forward as well as getting to know each other better.
Employees were asked to reflect on their greatest successes, what they should keep doing, and what they should stop doing, as well as what was within their sphere of influence to change and what wasn’t. Questions were posed around what leadership means at CSC and how to harness core skills and experience to drive success. We facilitated a visioning exercise testing views on what future success could look like and the actions needed to get there, and a values exercise focusing on what the team want to be known for/as and what behaviours they need to demonstrate to achieve that.
We captured the views of those who participated in the facilitated discussions and identified overall themes. There was clear consensus on the values that underpinned effective and desired ways of working and which aligned with CSC’s overall purpose.
We translated the values into a draft framework and also identified the core behaviours required to drive more effective collaboration and future focused activities. We presented this draft model back to the senior team for them to own and take forward with their teams.
Overall feedback from the Vision Day was very positive – it gave the whole organisation time to reflect on when they have been highly effective and how to build on that to secure future success. The teams also appreciated the opportunity to take time away as a collective to hear others’ views and work together to influence the achievement of shared goals and objectives.