Gerry Kitchingman reviews an interactive thinking experience that kept everyone on their toes
What do you get when you cross a war correspondent with an expert on the future of work? In the case of the business agility programme delivered at the Training Solutions event held at the National Exhibition Centre in Birmingham in June, the answer was breathless participants taking a bumper harvest of new approaches to mental agility back to their workplaces.
The war correspondent in question was Giles Trendle, with his wealth of experience derived from his time in the Lebanon at the height of the hostage crisis. The futurist was Helen Vandevelde, whose combination of raw energy and serial insights lived up to the billing for the event as 'fast and furious'.
The session began with an animated case study discussion with Vandevelde taking the lead, in which participants split into groups and acted as communications consultants for - of all organisations - the Vatican. Using source material that must rank as among the most impenetrable messages ever to appear on any website, participants had the task of coming up with text that would actually connect to its intended audience.
Trendle led the second case study. This highlighted highly-offensive advertising material for a product with a well-known global brand. The advertising material had been fabricated by middle eastern saboteurs with a long-standing grudge against the company. Participants worked through their strategic responses to the integrity of the brand.
However, it was only towards the end of the session that Vandevelde and Trendle shared the true purpose of the session. This was for individual delegates to score, and then reflect upon, the extent to which they had applied 10 key agility traits to the interactive work they had completed.
As a killer punch delivered at the end of a learning experience with more twists and turns than a Harry Potter screenplay, it was masterly.
Delegates left the session discussing their performance and looking to apply it back at work.
And how might trainers engage with this original and frenetic programme? My view is that such a multi-faceted programme has a huge amount to offer in terms of organisational development and individual performance.
The whole session quickly turned into a trampoline for ideas. Delivered in-company, it has the potential to unblock organisati