Case Studies

“Tell me more about your work”

Here is a small sample of case studies.   We’re very happy to expand on these, share others, and provide references.  Just get in touch to explore more.

  • A "Crucible" Team Experience | Investment Bank in a Hurry

    The CEO of an investment bank needed to accelerate the effectiveness of his new international leadership team. Specifically he wanted a “crucible” experience which would build mutual understanding, be a platform for better and deeper team dialogue, and signal a shift towards a more trusting, collaborative, collective mission-based way of working.

    In short we created an experience based on the team piloting an accelerated induction programme as a mountain rescue team. Why? See the case study download below.

    Underpinning this was an appreciative inquiry into “How do we need to be to achieve mission-led, trust-based, collaborative impact? At pace? Globally?

    We also provided the team with an experienced video producer so they could work together to develop and communicate the key messages arising out of the experience, and share this with bank staff at “town hall” sessions around the world.

    Here is a download which provides a richer look “under the bonnet.” It includes the team’s immediate and 3-month feedback and also the video that you will have seen on our Home page.

    Case Study – Team Effectiveness Experience, Investment Bank, Dunblane Scotland

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  • "The best sales-led company in our industry"

    The CEO of a satellite services company was concerned about the effectiveness of his leadership team. He saw the team’s development as essential to improving the company’s sales performance. He was unsure about how to approach this, and engaged us in a consulting role initially. This led to the design and delivery of a team workshop, and the coaching of individual directors.

    We used a psychometric tool to look at individual and collective team leadership preferences. Next we ran a number of one-to-one conversations to inquire into these results, explore issues around high performing teams, and capture narratives around key business and wider contextual issues.

    This discovery activity, which highlighted a range of other important issues, fed the design of a team workshop. This was run, indoors and outdoors, as an appreciative inquiry into “Leading at our very best – creating the best sales-led company in our industry.”

    The discovery and design phases catalysed the creation of a tangibly fresh team spirit, and the workshop enabled the identification and collective ownership of three immediate and high impact projects. These formed the basis of the company’s subsequent transformation programme.

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  • "We need a resilient team ahead of the restructure"

    The regional director of a bank wanted help to develop the resilience of his leadership team ahead of a global restructure. In particular he wanted his team to explore what was needed to support customers, support the bank, and support one another. And he wanted team members to develop the trust and confidence to be able to ASK for support from colleagues as well as offer it.

    After an initial discovery process involving one-to-one conversations with team members, we designed an experiential programme in which the team would train as a Downed Aircrew Response Team.

    Emma, a senior manager at the bank, takes up the story:

    “We were based in a bunk-house in the Brecon Beacons over 3 days. As well as learning to live together in such close proximity, we took turns planning and cooking meals. This alone provided a very simple, yet powerful, way to get to know each other.

    We also took part in a range of exercises where we worked in different groups and in different contexts – either collaborating or in competition with each other.

    It culminated with us being “called out” to search for two downed air-crew. When we found them we were faced with a triage situation. We had to make the tough choice of which crew member to save and carry off the hill, and which to leave behind to die.

    This was a real hair-on-the-back-of-the-neck moment! This dramatic and highly symbolic scenario was used to make us define and commit to the future we wanted and to ditch the behaviours that were getting in the way of resilient team-working.

    We had conversations over those few days that we could never have had at work. It was eye-opening and uplifting”.

    Throughout the programme, we facilitated an inquiry process that enabled the bank’s team to explore who they were as individuals and as a team, and identify the concrete steps needed towards becoming the resilient team they wanted to be.

    Back to the client director:

    “It was a great couple of days. The parallels between relying on each other in the outdoors and the daily corporate challenges were powerful and thought provoking. Building collaboration in a competitive environment is a challenge for us all and, if done well, the result can be a truly sustainable and successful business. Thank you for helping us achieve this; the lessons will be long remembered.”

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  • Escaping the present | An urgent team journey

    Following a “near death” experience, a FTSE 100 company was in the process of transformation. This included the creation of new a divisional structure. The CEO of the largest division needed support to bring his new leadership team together – mostly new faces from outside the “old” company – to explore and give shape to the urgent and critical journey they needed to make.

    The discovery process involved 1-2-1s with twelve directors, and a team functionality questionnaire. This highlighted a common narrative around “old” and “new” faces, and a desire for “guiding themes” and leadership “freedoms” which would enable the “journey” to the “horizon”. Underpinning these was a desire to get to know one another better, develop trust, and work out how to “escape the present”.

    We designed a 2-day offsite in the New Forest which featured a mix of indoor work and an outdoor journey which was physical and metaphorical. The journey was designed as a quest for a distant yet achievable “gold standard”.

    It started with an escape from the middle of a maze, and then a succession of journeys on foot in 3 groups, tandem bikes in 2 groups, and eventually the whole team on one bus. The journey got faster and faster, and incidents, props, and fresh data were introduced en route. These provided relevant metaphors into an unfolding al fresco appreciative inquiry around the question of “How do we need to be to drive this business forward?”

    We included a pre-dinner talk from a mountaineer who had been caught on Mount Everest during the devastating 2015 Nepal earthquake. She recounted how she had escaped her near-death experience and was planning her return journey to climb the mountain.

    Some final words from the team:

    “I thought Dave and the team were great – very enthusiastic and showed a good understanding of our business and provoked and stimulated good debate amongst our group.”

    “Great to get to know the team better. Activity based sessions created a lot of energy and enthusiasm – showed how we can work as a team, great for building trust and appreciating each other. I particularly liked the Hawkins and Lencioni models.”

    “Very good in terms of getting to know each other a little more, and enjoyed the journey element and the use of the great outdoors to signify different elements of our collective journey. I liked the way the facilitators had an excellent rapport with each other and strong camaraderie – a metaphor to reflect upon.”

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  • Highland Hack | A Powerful Development Journey for Senior Leaders

    We have created a slide pack that explores the “What? So What? Now What?” of Highland Hack – a powerful development journey for senior leaders based on a hotel-hopping journey on foot through the Scottish Highlands.  Download it here.

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  • Hyde Park Leadership Insights

    Great coaching creates light bulb moments. And coaching in the outdoors is particularly powerful. Here’s what one senior executive had to say about their Fresh Air Learning experience one morning in Hyde Park.

    “At first I was reluctant to give it a go. Nothing much seemed to be happening. I just couldn’t see the point of walking and talking, relaxing and reflecting. Dave Stewart encouraged me to stay with it and, after what seemed a long time watching a butterfly flitting from one flower to another, it hit me!”

    “In that moment, I had a real insight into my leadership style. It was something I’d developed during my time in a rather hierarchical public sector organisation. I realised I needed to evolve into more of a ‘pollinator’ of ideas and involve a lot more people in the process”.

    Our client had been experiencing difficulty trying to make her public sector leadership style work in her new private sector career. The butterfly moment helped her become aware of something she probably knew subconsciously. The presence and persistence of a coach helped her articulate this and identify the steps she would start to experiment with.

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  • A Bored Board - Development in the Mendips

    Against a backdrop of a highly challenging business environment, and sub-optimal Board operation, the CEO and new Chair wanted the Board (6 x executives and 6 x non-executives) to explore how it would best operate in support of the company over the next challenging 18 months.

    Traditionally the Board had conducted annual development activities in the boardroom of another organisation. The CEO and Chair wanted to explore how use of the outdoors could create a more stimulating environment for significant Board development.

    [Download slide-deck to follow]

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