What is our organisation’s strategic learning agenda?
The work is changing, how do we prepare our staff for this?
How do we stimulate continuous learning of our professionals?
Our leadership needs a boost, how do we design a strong learning programme?
How do I measure the impact of our training programmes?
You, us and everyone: we learn when it matters to us personally. Whoever finds the motivation has the key to learning. That's why we at Kessels & Smit look for the ambitions and dreams that people cherish. What benefits do they see in a change in their work? What makes it important for them to develop? What does the organisation offer to facilitate their learning? What do people grant themselves? Enforcing learning experiences on people is not an option. That's why we create environments that are inviting, challenging and help people learn. That does work.
Each learning question varies. That is why our learning programmes are always unique. Nothing 'off the shelf' or ‘more of the same’. We build on what is already there and what is needed within your organisation. A good design doesn't come about at the drawing board. Rather, we design smart and creative solutions together with the people involved, for the specific purpose you have in mind. Whether it's a specific learning programme for a set target group or an organisation-wide learning and development agenda. We prefer to become concrete very quickly. Prototypes help us to make fuzzy ideas explicit and stimulate clear choices.
Learning by doing
New knowledge and (self-)insight are important ingredients for learning; practical theory and working models are useful. But learning also requires doing. Experimenting, trying out new approaches, pushing the boundaries in everyday practice. Followed by individual and collective reflection: what works? What doesn't (yet) work? This interplay by doing and thinking is how people become more proficient and develop new skills and approaches. We support such processes as learning facilitators.
For a long time, learning has been approached unilaterally from a deficit-based perspective. What is a person (as yet) incapable of? Whenever possible, at Kessels & Smit we also like to start from a strength-based perspective. Building on someone’s natural talents t
o develop skills and achieve results on-the-job. Measurable results: because afterward we measure the impact of our interventions. This in turn serves as a springboard for subsequent steps. Whoever said that learning ever stops?
Turning evaluation into a learning process
How participation triggers innovationWhat to do if you are very successful, but at the same time feel that your success stifles future innovation? This question triggered the events team from a Political Foundation. A trusted group of 15 enthusiastic professionals who organize visitor trips and conferences for international guests. They had been working together for a while, in a tried and tested manner. And found themselves in a solid, but somewhat repetitive, routine. Their results were generally very much appreciated, but at the same time the desire to try out new things, "the spark", was lost. And they wondered: can't we derive more value from what we do? And rekindle our creative spirit, so that we can keep up our excellent performance? Approach The original client’s question was to help with the evaluation of the events program. In order to turn the evaluation into an energizing learning process, we deliberately broke with traditional evaluation procedures. Instead of an external evaluator, making recommendations based on his observations and studies, the team was invited to evaluate itself (with external support) and draws its own conclusions. ... ››
Training 120 people for a new role
Learning in the workplaceA national railway operator faced a challenge. A temporary change in the timetable was predicted to cause a great deal of congestion on the platforms at a specific station. This would result in potentially dangerous situations for passengers. For this reason, it was decided to deploy specialised crowd control personnel in addition to the conductors. These were recruited from security and service personnel of other transport organisations. So they were already experienced in part of the task, but certainly not all of it. How could some 120 people be prepared for this role within a short period of time? The risks were so great and the time frame so short that regular security companies did not dare to follow a traditional training approach. Approach Our first step was to use the current staff to map out exactly what the work involved. It soon became clear that there were three core tasks with successive levels of difficulty: providing service to passengers (e.g. referring to a different departure track or informing them about delays), closing part of the platform (e.g. asking passengers to move) and evacuating and closing the entire platform (the 'worst case scenario'). With specialised safety and service professionals, we prepared detailed work instructions for each core task. ... ››
Developing skills for leading complex projects
An ‘up close and personal’ approachA large global strategy consultancy firm places great value on executing its projects flawlessly. This is not easy, considering they often operate in a multi-stakeholder context, on complicated questions, under high pressure. To ensure high quality project delivery, senior project leaders are vital. They are seen as key for the success of the organization. Therefore, the firm invests in their ongoing development. The organization was looking for ways to create an impactful two-day program for senior project leaders, as part of their wider learning program. The focus was on investing in their ‘soft skills’. Most project leaders have a strong track record and expertise in the content of their projects. In order to increase their impact as project leaders, however, communication and interpersonal skills are just as important. Approach Because of the short time-frame, it was important to focus the learning intervention on the most critical skills and knowledge. So, we decided to take the actual work of the project leaders as a starting point for our design. In a number of interviews with the target group and their managers we identified ‘critical incidents’. We uncovered a total of six typical work situations in which project leaders make a real, relevant difference in the collaboration between client, partner, and the project team. Take for example a situation in which a client is not satisfied with the results but only voices this indirectly. Or a high-pressure project in which team members work ineffectively, but the project leader wants to stick to a coaching... ››
Strengthening local community projects
Project development through personal growthIn the young democracy of Tunisia, civil society is developing rapidly. Many citizen initiatives, community projects and associations are currently being started all over the country. But a great idea and enthusiasm in itself are not enough to ensure a successful project. Often, initiators of these projects lack sufficient funding, project management skills and a useful network in order to build a sustainable initiative with significant impact. Luckily, several European development cooperation programs support the growth of civil society initiatives in Tunisia. ‘Houmtek’ (‘my Neighbourhood’) is one of those programs. It provides five teams of people who have an idea for a project for their own neighbourhood with the opportunity to participate in a capacity building trajectory. We were asked to provide a one-week training for these participants. . Approach Unlike many other capacity building courses, our focus was on the development of the teams and the personal growth of the individuals launching the projects, rather than on their technical skills. The underlying rationale is that a project can only be successful and sustainable when the people carrying and building it are intrinsically motivated, fully aware of their own strengths and weaknesses and able to attract the necessary support within their network and beyond. ... ››
Redesigning a nursing curriculum
A pressure cooker fosters results and commitmentA leading hospital wanted to redesign its advanced training program for oncology nursing. The ambition was to create a 'state of the art' curriculum that would keep up with developments in the field, so that the hospital could train oncology nurses for their own as well as for other organisations. It was also important that the program would meet external accreditation requirements. Approach We organized a five-day design pressure cooker, in close cooperation with relevant stakeholders, including the nurses themselves. In advance, we made an inventory of critical incidents in the work of oncology nurses: what is the essence of their role, which professional challenges should they be able to cope with? ... ››