TRAINING / PROCESS FACILITATION
The issue – how to make crisis preparedness training experential, yet substantive without a full-fledged crisis simulation?
The People’s Association wanted to put almost 200 senior employees from the community centres across Singapore through a crisis preparedness training in order to skill them up so that they could work seamlessly with People’s Association HQ when the situation required.However, each training was only for one day, and so a comprehensive knowledge transfer process plus crisis simulation was not practical. Pure Communications recommended a facilitative training approach, where participants were taken through a crisis preparation process for their own work areas, and then applied the learnings from this to a table top crisis simulation. This approach resulted a rich and participative learning experience, with concepts that could be taken back to the workplace and implemented straight away.
The issue – how to generate energetic support from 400+ staff as the Rainbow Centre defines its corporate direction for the next 5-10 years
The Rainbow Centre is Singapore’s leading special education institution. Its 400+ staff is spread out over two campuses. However, with the emergence of other special education schools, and the changing socio-economic climate in Singapore, it wanted to review its corporate strategy and plans for the next phase of its growth, even while it managed the various business issues which were becoming critical to its continued growth.
Pure Communications recommended a three-step approach. The first step was to take a ‘climate check’ of the various issues confronting its staff today so that their needs could be factored into the planning process. The second step was to build deeper understanding and reinforce bonds between members of the diverse leadership team so that a unified approach would support the plans that would be developed and executed. The third step to engage the executive team and members of the Rainbow Centre’s Board in a facilitated business planning process.
A strengths-based approach, underpinned by the use of Appreciative Inquiry, . Pure Communications felt this would be especially powerful, especially in light of the fact that the Rainbow Centre was evolving and adapting to new business conditions. Given the wide diversity of stakeholder issues, Pure Communications felt that a positive, strengths-based approach to organizational change would be the most beneficial.
a) Staff engagement/ ‘climate check’
In an intense half-day session engaging more than 200 staff members at the same time in a venue, a highly-managed appreciative inquiry process was undertaken. Eight different topics were discussed during the five-hour meeting. These ranged from the kind of legacy The Rainbow Centre wanted to leave, to building respectful relationships. The output from all these conversations were captured on flip charts and later translated into a 100-page report outlining top-line observations and recommendations for the organization.
b) Staff team building utilizing the Strengths Deployment Inventory™ and the Belbin Team Roles® inventory.
Executives’ traits were inventoried through two psychometric tools – the Strengths Deployment Inventory (SDI) and the Belbin Team Roles inventory. Through a series of facilitated conversations, which focused on the strengths of each team member, the Rainbow Centre’s leadership team began to appreciate each other’s strengths and allowable weaknesses, and learnt how to spot ‘clues’ as to when each other’s self-worth was being threatened. The frank and open discussions resulted in the doors to greater team understanding being opened. The team adopted the vocabulary associated with the two tools right away. A new lexicon of team communication began to evolve and one week later, during the leadership team-Board planning session, this new vocabulary was still very much in evidence.
c) Leadership team and Board engagement – corporate planning process
Over one-and-a-half days, the Rainbow Centre and several members of its Board engaged in a series of conversations focusing on several business issues. It was during the final half-day during an Appreciative Inquiry conversation that they had a breakthrough and an innovative, bold new corporate strategy was defined.
The Rainbow Centre has moved to take some bold steps into a future that they had not hitherto envisioned. However, by using a managed approach through all the facilitated conversations, the energy, dreams and strengths that were highlighted by its staff during the facilitated staff engagement were floated up through the ranks to the Board level. The resultant breakthrough that came about therefore leveraged this energy and ultimately, the Rainbow Centre’s forward momentum will be powered by the hopes, dreams and the positive traits of the staff.
The issue – how do we paint a picture of the unique strengths of AMK FSC?
The AMK FSC was in the process of reviewing its corporate strategy and as a corollary, wanted to review its corporate statements (mission, vision, objectives, values) as well. During the briefing-in process, Pure Communications proposed using an appreciative inquiry approach to elicit the leadership team’s perceptions of where the strengths of the organization lay. With this information, a lexicon of words and phrases would be developed that would inform the new corporate values statements.
To support this exercise, Pure Communications also recommended a team building process using the Belbin Team Roles® inventory which would deepen intra-leadership team understanding. The Belbin Team Roles also helped the team identify what other strengths it would need as it took the AMK FSC to the next level.
The open and positive conversations, and the sharing that was part of both the appreciative inquiry and the Belbin Team Roles training built greater esprit de corps for this high-energy team that so obviously loved being and working together.
The issue – can we build stronger relationships for an already strong intact team?
The Community Foundation of Singapore is a grant making organization that brings together a diverse network of relevant stakeholders. It was established in 2008 and has seen strong growth over the years. However, in 2012, to prepare for the next phase of growth, the executive team wanted to forge a deeper understanding with each other. Pure Communications recommended a team building session centred on Relationship Awareness Theory® use of the Strengths Deployment Inventory™. During an intense half-day facilitated session, the group began to understand each other’s motivations and even corrected some previously held perceptions of each other. During the facilitated conversations on relationship awareness, the team developed a deeper understanding of each other’s professional motivations and perspectives. Past issues were processed during the session, and the team finished the session feeling energized, and keen to practice their new-found knowledge of relationship concepts.
The issue – is the current training programme helping us to build a high performance sales team?
The insurance arm of the Hongkong Bank approached Pure Communications to help facilitate a focus group discussion on the training programme for its insurance agents.
The client wanted to evaluate the current programme, and to elicit feedback on what more needed to be done to develop a high performance sales force.
About 20 insurance agency leaders and new sales staff attended. Through a series of questions, and feedback categorization and a participant-led process of prioritisation, the client got the information required to retool and develop the training plan for 2012.
The issue – how can we build morale in our diverse team and come up with new, innovative ways to reach our residents?
The client wanted to gather its office bearers and other members of its core team together for a one-day team-building plus workplan development.
Pure Communications developed a team building exercise that accommodated the diverse interests and age groups (including a polytechnic student and a grandmother!) in the client’s core team. The group ended the session on an energy high and this was carried through to the workplan exercise that opened with the participants setting its own discussion agenda.
World Café process was deployed with participants changing tables and groups with every new discussion topic. A wide range of proposals and ideas were floated, and there was much laughter and discussion about them.
A gallery walk completed the exercise and participants voted on which ideas they wanted to develop further.
Issue – how do we tell more people about the FNS and what we do? How can we engage our diverse membership?
Pure Communications manages all marketing communication needs for the Facilitators Network Singapore (FNS). This includes news bureau services for its newsletter, and marketing all its various initiatives.
The FNS, although established in Singapore since 2004, has grown organically and has not managed its own image. More recently though, it decided that it needed to raise the profile of professional facilitation in Singapore.
The strategy proposed is to leverage its membership and its volunteer facilitation programme to cultivate brand ambassadors, and to use its communications channels to give these facilitators a profile.
To tell its target audiences, current and potential, about the strategic goodness of facilitation, the website is in the process of being revamped. This will boost ‘touch’ with membership and will tell new site visitors more about facilitation in Singapore.
This is a work in progress – but already, positive feedback has been received about the newsletter. Recently, with the launch of the new FNS website, a wave of positive feedback on the newsletter was received, reinforcing the importance of the newsletter as a strategic outreach initiative.
Issue – launch of a first-ever sensitive tooth product to drastically cut dental sensitivity in a single minute without any advertising – during a peak advertising period – to create ‘noise’.
This well known FMCG company had decided on the strategy of using just press relations to launch its seminal new toothpaste. Singapore was the first and only country in the world to have the toothpaste on store shelves for the first month after the launch and this, in addition to the groundbreaking tooth desensitizing technology in the toothpaste, were the key selling points.
The key issue in this exercise was that the launch happened in the October timeframe when lifestyle publications were experiencing a space crunch due to the spike in advertising in the run-up to Christmas, New Year and a Hari Raya holiday. Lifestyle publications typically prioritise their advertisers when it comes to giving them space in their editorial pages.
Pure Communications proposed a two-pronged media outreach programme. Prior to the official launch of the toothpaste, the story was ‘sold’ in to trade and lifestyle media and after the launch, news platforms and wires services were engaged.
Leveraging excellent media relationships, Pure Communications garnered ‘hits’ across all Singapore dailies, several regional news wire services and a wide range of lifestyle and trade publications.
Issue: small budget, big plans
Box Sentry (now called TrustSphere) is an email security vendor that was a venture-capitalist funded start-up. When Pure Communications began working with the company, it had only five people but the staff strength grew by leaps and bounds.
To accommodate its budget, Pure Communications proposed a targeted media cum whispering campaign to help position Box Sentry as an advocate for email security awareness amongst the CIO community.
The strategy worked well, and Box Sentry received ‘hits’ in the Business Times, the Straits Times and a series of technology trade publications. The CEO was positioned as an advocate for email security and he was regularly quoted in the media.
The higher profile stood Box Sentry in good stead and it was invited to sit on committees and task forces on email security and approached by other vendors to partner with their own solutions.