Reader reviews

This month’s reader reviews

Winning returns on behaviour

Training manager of Claire’s Accessories Gillian Ince reviews: Boomerang
Format: programme includes a 10-minute video, video workbook and handouts
Price: £295 plus VAT
From: Flex Learning Media.
Contact: 01462 895544 e-mail:,
fax: 01462 892417

The video starts by explaining the ‘reciprocity urge’. This is done very subtly
by the use of cartoon images of dinosaurs, Stone Age men, chimps, and even
Vikings. Have I held your interest? It certainly held mine.

The ‘reciprocity urge’, as revealed in the video, is the basic drive in all
of us that forces us to return favours, repay kindness with kindness and to
reciprocate when someone gives us something. Another way of putting it is
‘behaviour breeds behaviour’ – whether positive or negative.

So why call the video Boomerang? The concept of a boomerang is used to
illustrate how the ‘reciprocity urge’ works. Throw a boomerang and it comes
back to you. Likewise, behave in a certain way, and that behaviour – good or
bad – rebounds on you.

The main character in the video is Bill, a team leader. On chatting to a
colleague about the repeated problems he is having with his team, Bill is
challenged to consider that he may be the problem, as he doesn’t listen and is
rude to people, as seen in the first clip in a restaurant. Bill is staggered to
find out he is the problem, after seeking out further feedback from a friend
and former colleague. Understanding that he has to change his own behaviours
first, Bill starts to throw out positive ‘boomerangs’. The illustration ends
with Bill on the phone to a difficult client. For a change, he decides to
listen, and by throwing out positive boomerangs, he achieves a positive outcome
for both parties.

The various scenes enforce the message by using yellow sparkly boomerangs to
illustrate positive behaviours and black boomerangs, the negative. These are
great as reinforcement to the learning, as well as keeping your interest in the

Who would you show this video to? Well, understanding its lessons can
empower people at all levels, from team members to directors to help them
consider their own behaviour and how it can influence others.

This provides great back-up to individual 360-degree feedback for customer
service departments, team building events and even conferences. Not only does
this video offer great enhancement of behavioural awareness in the workplace,
but it could prove a simplistic and fun way to bring up your children.

Creative approaches to leadership

Veronika Harris, training and development manager at the Victoria and Albert
Museum, reviews: Imagination in Leadership
Format: a half-day open workshop from arts-based learning consultancy Steps
Designed and delivered by: Steps – Drama Learning Development. Contact 020 7403
9000 e-mail:

At the beginning of this workshop, we were introduced to the eminent author
and consultant on creativity, Dr Stephen Forsythe. His presentation featured
some bizarre and ‘off-the-wall’ views and after five minutes, we were greatly
relieved to find he was playing a role and this was merely an ice-breaker.

This was a neat way for Steps to reassure people that the workshop wasn’t
going to be all about ‘touchy-feely’ exercises. Drama-based training can be
scary for some people, but with Steps, it is the professional actors rather
than delegates, who undertake the role-plays, which result in experiential
learning for the participants.

At the Victoria and Albert, we are always looking at different approaches to
leadership. We have used Steps in-house for other programmes, so I was keen to
see a specific application of their work in this particular area.

Run by four actor-facilitators, the workshop used a mix of exercises,
small-group work and professional role plays to show how to create an
environment that captures ideas, how to ‘sell’ ideas internally and how to ensure
successful ideas thrive.

We looked at the ‘blockers to imagination’ in organisations and saw how
easily you can block a person’s creativity through a simple expression or
negative body language. The actors illustrated this with a vignette of a
manager trying to understand how to create an environment for imaginative

In another exercise, delegates had to work together to propose a new
strategic direction for a fictitious horticultural company, then sell their
idea to the board. This really tested people’s understanding of culture, values
and status. To challenge the ideas, the actors played the ‘imagination
blockers’ which delegates had identified earlier. Finally, two of the team ran
a forum workshop scenario where a manager asked delegates for help with an
employee who needed to overcome his negative attitude to a new company

Imagination in leadership is a very broad topic. Although only a half-day
session, this workshop tackled it well and brought out leadership attributes –
such as active listening, influencing and motivation – and touched on other
issues such as presentations, teamwork and communication.

The content was powerful and very pertinent to the diversity agenda, in
valuing the different approaches to the way people work. It could be developed
into an inspiring in-house workshop but you would have to work closely with
Steps to make the content of the role plays specific to your organisation.

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