The answers too many of today’s business problems and dilemmas will not be found in main stream management practice, best practice or copying similar companies. The aim is to strive for difference not sameness through developing unique thoughts, ideas and insights.

“Out of classroom discovery experiences” are designed to tap into the richness of life by seeking inspiration and learning from the world around us, practitioners, different companies and unusual places, people and events that may prove to be helpful in resolving the issues that executives face.

They can also be valuable to realise if another way of thinking and behaving or functioning has application in your context.

There is discovery in everything

Learning can come from very different places other than academic analysis and best practices from similar companies, for example:

Where can you find coordination without a controller? (in markets); compliance without a regulator? (Insurance brokering); prediction without a prophet? (stock markets, wisdom of crowds); direction without a leader? (flock of bird); management without managers? (self directed teams); freedom to learn and challenge? (universities); openness and meritocracy (the internet); inspiration and emotion (the arts); time and resources to experiment (R&D labs); variety and resilience (cities); intrinsic motivation (the voluntary sector); a cause worth serving (families and family life); leadership without authority (WL Gore).

What’s in it for the institution (private, public or NFP organisation) being “visited”?

  • It’s about the belief that learning is crucial to all our futures and by sharing we are all richer and more insightful. The subject therefore has to resonate with the institution being visited
  • There is the kudos of being acknowledged as an organisation that has a lot to offer on a particular subject.
  • Networks are created and relationships are cemented through this process. Reciprocity down the line is a very real option.

This sort of exchange in our experience usually lasts in the region of 2 hours. It’s less about formal corporate presentations but more about storytelling and sharing experiences, and it is intended to be enjoyable and relaxed and not a chore.

Some of the most common questions that we ask the participants to think about as they go on discovery trips include:

  • What is the discovered organisation about and why do they do what they do?
  • What values, beliefs, behaviours and principles does it hold to be true and helpful?
  • What kind of relationship do the people have with their environment?
  • What are you seeing, hearing and feeling?
  • What impression did this visit make upon you?
  • What are the implications for you and your organisation?
  • What can you and your organisation take from this experience that we could use or try out?
  • What would you love to see happen in your organisation as a result of this discovery experience?
  • What thoughts and different ideas were prompted during this discovery visit?

When discovery trips terminate each participant would voluntarily take on a project driven by their natural enthusiasm and energy. These projects are self-defined and not prescribed and address the very human issues of trust, collaboration, leadership, influencing, risk, decision making and a whole host of other unstructured human behavioural traits related to challenges they face.

Making tangible changes through testing new ideas is at the root of translating participants’ experiences into tangible activities and also defining impact.