We take experienced senior managers out of their hectic offices for a day and a half per month and place them in the neutral space of Odell House, a historic restored 19th-century residence, ideally suited for informal discussion (under the “Chatham House rule” intended to encourage direct and candid conversation and ensure confidentiality).
The Program design incorporates cognitive and experiential development through three interwoven learning approaches:
- Senior practitioners and thought leaders in conversation with participants in which personal contact and frank conversations build awareness and expand tacit knowledge. (see [PDF, 856 KB] for examples from the past few years);
- Participants in conversations with each other where practical insights from hard-won experience in executive leadership are shared, and;
- Participants in a process of continuous self-reflection that integrates knowledge, consolidates understanding, and deepens and expands self-awareness.
Throughout the program, a variety of learning methods are used;
- Readings and reflection on a broad range of topics to expose participants to relevant subject matter and new sources of information;
- Dialogue and debate as participants learn from senior practitioners, thought leaders and each other;
- Experience with the art and practice of effective communication to build confidence in presentation, briefing and discussion at senior levels;
- Carefully targeted travel and first-hand contact with people, cultures and institutions that play an essential role in the world around us;
- Exploration of case studies prepared by participants based on personal career experience and focused on the management issues raised in the Program; and
- Deepening of an individual “leadership practice” (that set of knowledge, experience, ethos and energy that defines them as leaders) through coaching and structured self-reflection.
Perhaps the most important design feature of the Program is sharing the journey with fellow travellers. The group dynamics within each cohort contribute enormously to the overall impact. The different backgrounds, expertise and perspectives, which participants bring, as well as the diverse organizations from which they come, and their varied management styles and experience within the public service and elsewhere, become critical sources of mutual learning and support.
Participants gain an invaluable enduring professional asset in the life-long bonds of trust and friendship forged with first-rate colleagues from across the breadth of the system, which will continue long after their graduation to enrich their careers. Odell House supports this through an active Alumni Program.