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Design notes for a new reality?

Like many other organisations, here at RSVP Design we’re wrestling with the raft of new challenges that getting back to work has presented. Everything looks and feels different, both internally, in our immediate surroundings, and outside in our global marketplace: we’re determined, and optimistic, that we will soon be fully operational again, but any idea of collectively trying to understand an organisational ‘new normal’ seems to us to be something of a distraction. We’ve always worked with clients to build an understanding of an organisation needing to be considered not as a single homogenous entity, but as ‘an organisation of individuals’, and that’s how we’re choosing to create our back to work strategy.

Each of our core team is being asked to define their own challenges and opportunities for the months ahead. We have shared goals and soft targets, but we’re not making assumptions about how we will each contribute to their achievements. I asked some of our team to briefly describe what’s making their work-life interesting at the moment, perhaps there are some ideas here that you might relate to?

Graham Cook – Managing Director

Prioritisation continues to be the key challenge for me to ensure that RSVP Design takes advantage of opportunities that will be presented. I’m trying to make sure that I recognise the advantage in carving out parts of my day and week to make sure I touch the things that will allow us to emerge as a stronger business in 2021. These include:

  • Our customers. No business survives without customers, and we’ll continue to try and deliver what they need, when they need it.
  • Our team. Our jobs are changing and as we return from furlough I’m looking forward to having more of our team around, and to discussing with them how to use their skills to support the changes we’re introducing to the business.
  • Our finances. This is a difficult time for many businesses, and we are not exempt. We do however have a large customer base and will continue to try and deliver what they need to keep ourselves relevant and provide good value products and services.
  • Our technology. We are continuing to invest – our new e-commerce stores will improve online support for our customers around the world and will be launched within the next few weeks. We’ve also begun developing a new online experiential learning platform, and hope to see this in use with some of customers this year.

Ann Alder – Consulting Director.

As one of RSVP Design’s lead ‘deliverers’, I focus on encouraging and supporting the application of experiential learning methods and tools across business and educational settings. At the start of the lockdown the questions multiplied. How could this possibly continue when everything had to move rapidly to remote working? Would it be possible to do team-building online? Would trainers be able to engage fully during long sessions of facilitator training?

The answer to all of these questions has been an unreserved yes. The first of our modular Learning Spaces trainer training programmes was completed last week and the twelve hours were over in a flash. We maintained focus on the process of experiential learning, the factors that enable learners to become more capable and self-sufficient and the creation of learning and thinking activity spaces. Using online experiential tools and group work we built an effective working team and stimulated each other’s thinking. I can’t wait to do it again and, by learning from experience, make it even better.

Kim Sherwood – Sales and Marketing

Having just come off furlough to start supporting the business again in Sales and Marketing, I am delighted to be back and part of our new journey.  With the business having now diversified into offering some of our training tools online I need to look at how best to get that message out to all our customers and how I can work with them to find out what best fits their training and team development needs.

I also plan to work with our consulting director Ann Alder to allow me to understand how we will help our customers and their teams get the same value from the training we now provide online as they have done with our face-to-face programmes.  I can then look at the best ways of communicating this to existing and potential customers to keep them up to date with what we can offer and how we can support them and their teams.

We are still supplying our full catalogue of physical experiential tools and they remain as popular as they have always been, but I also have to analyse how circumstances over the past few months have presented the business with new sales and marketing opportunities and how we can work with these going forward, and let’s face it, having homeschooled a 6 year old for over 4 months, I’m pretty sure I can take on any challenge!

Geoff Cox – Design Director

I love a challenge, which is why I enjoy the process of designing experiential learning environments to deliver the learning outcomes that client organisations request and need. My challenges have been about making sure that we remain guided by the principles of good experiential learning when we redesign these learning experiences to be effectively and efficiently delivered remotely. That has meant building a knowledge of remote-working technology and then applying our activity designs to this medium, a process that has involved many hours of rapid prototyping and testing. We’ve had some notable successes including having our top selling product Colourblind out there in a remote working version.

We quickly recognised that there was no commercially available platform that was ideal for experiential learning, and that most of our larger customers had some level of restriction on using the commercial platforms anyway. Our solution has been to accelerate the development of our own platform which has been designed ground-up to support facilitators and trainers to get back to fully integrating RSVP Design tools into their client-facing work.

Watch this space for more news on this exciting development.