MRL 5 2018-2019

March 2019 saw us back at Malham for the end of the MRL 5 Programme. The photograph above was taken on the grass verge just outside the Centre for Management Creativity where we’ve run the MRL residentials since 2013. First evaluations are now coming in about the 2018-2019 Programme. Here is the overall feedback:


The course provided support and challenged me in ways I had not expected. I think I still have a lot to digest from the year, and I feel incredibly lucky to have met such an impressive, inclusive and intelligent bunch of museum professionals!

I have found the programme exceptional. The fact that it was tailored specifically to museum professionals gives it a real edge, this makes it outstanding I think. MRL has given me the invaluable opportunity to reconnect with a sector that I had somehow forgotten how much I love and I have remembered how much I care about what we/I do - clarity of purpose! It has also allowed me to take stock, reflect, identify knowledge gaps as well as validating my knowledge and skills - my confidence in this respect was very low on entering the programme.

The programme has been an amazing experience and has probably changed my career trajectory - it has given me more professional confidence to break away from my current role, and re-engaged me with the sector. I think a lot of value should be placed on the length of the course, the 10 month period allows for ideas to sink in, relationships to be made and leaning to be applied. The course is excellent value for money, even for a cash strapped local authority, and the content is varied and well organised. If there was anyway to slightly increase the travel budget, or perhaps advise a rough spend for the oversees visit that might be useful. I only managed to bring it in on budget as was able to car share (we didn't put in many petrol claims as the mileage is a lot more off the budget than just petrol, so we just covered it ourselves). Travelling from a less central location than Manchester must be difficult in terms of expenses.

The combination of approaches employed during the MRL programme has equipped me with a completely new confidence and a very different outlook on life (at work and at home). I enjoyed spending time with other cohort members so much, and feel very lucky to have got to know them.

I have been very pleased that people have told me that they have seen a change in my actions and resilience since starting the course, this has included members of my team and one of my Directors. I think a lot of this is down to a better clarity of purpose but also a better view of the big picture and not focusing on the small (irritating) stuff I don't use the phrase 'life changing' really so it would be hard to use it here. however, there have certainly been moments during MRL that could be described this way - most notably the OSV where I spoke to some vert inspirational people who certainly don't believe that museums should be neutral.

It’s an exceptional course, for the multi-faceted approach to leadership that it provides, access to fantastic speakers covering different perspectives and voices from the world of politics, heritage and commercial, from organisational leadership to personal leadership and resilience It provides such a wide variety of different styles of learning ranging from group work, to presentations, mentoring, the OSV, it’s incredibly rich providing something for everyone It is continually iterative being shaped both by participants feedback to ensure its relevance to the group but also being informed by topical events to ensure wider relevance It's led by a team who care and who are curious. They bring different strengths to provide support, challenge and provocation in equal measure, underpinned by what is a clearly managed and finely tuned process It pushes and challenges and inspires and motivates Its duration running over a 10 month period is a huge part of its success providing time for reflection and to test out different tools and approaches, build resilience through the different experiences you have along the way

And here is feedback on the location for the final residential:

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All too often conference venues are soulless and sap creativity and thought. High Trenhouse is the opposite - homely, whilst at the same time having a business-like, professional feel and in an absolutely beautiful setting. Walking round the Tarn is the ideal way to discuss and process ideas.

It is such a treat to be in Malham and surrounded by the Yorkshire landscape for a few days - I think it inspires breathing space! The food is amazing and the staff are incredibly warm and welcoming.

The team worked really hard to create a domestic atmosphere. This helped relax me (I don't find business hotels conducive to thinking well). Bernadette's attention to detail was great.

Beautiful setting, comfortable rooms, wonderful wholesome catering and phenomenally helpful team! It was the perfect setting for the start and end of the MRL journey. I would not hesitate to recommend this centre!

A wonderful oasis with a homely feel. Amazing views, foood and a real sense of a retreat. A great way to bookend the course and strengthen relationships.

I think High Trenhouse is the perfect place for the programme to begin and end. Couldn't fault it. Lovely location, food, surroundings, attention to detail.

It’s fabulous, a home from home experience which provides the security, warmth and comfort just when you need it It’s all about the easy, familiar, relaxed and friendly – it’s a place where there is a lot of trust and warmth It’s nourishing to spirit, body and soul

The Start

The group have come a long way since they started in May 2018 but even at the outset they were feeling inspired.


A massive thank you! an incredibly inspiring 3 days. I really appreciate the energy and expertise from all of the faculty. Looking forward to the coming year!

Really refreshing….. I started to think about things I haven’t for years with regards to my career and found a renewed passion for museums. Personally it was great to be around so many professionals from the field who were all so helpful and open. I am really pleased about having a mentor as I think this will be a great opportunity for me in my career development as well as for my organisation. Only suggestions would be if there was a way to take a little longer over some of the leadership models/tools used during the weekend and just a little bit of downtime so I could retreat and have a think! The venue was simply wonderful. Thank you to all involved- I know just how big a job it is to coordinate these things and keep everything running to time. The organisation was so smooth and it felt amazing not to have to take responsibility for any of the running of the weekend- so much so I became completely useless in the manner of a teenager at home and lost all track of time!


The facilitation was excellent. Each member of the faculty provided something different, and necessary. Dawn and Arnie were extremely perceptive and their contributions were invaluable. On many occasions, their feedback and pointers enabled me to take a step back, consider my actions, thought process, language and body language and then resume activity with a fresh perspective, renewed thinking and a greater sense of purpose. Andrew, Stephen and Nick embody leadership in three very different ways and I found this to be very powerful in recognising that leadership can mean many things. I found their contribution to the sessions to be inspiring and thought-provoking, and they were very good at challenging the cohort. In addition to this, I appreciated their honesty. I also really appreciated that all members of the faculty were very perceptive and would seek contributions from everyone within the cohort. Jo was excellent at ensuring that each workshop ran smoothly (including before and after the workshop in Malham), the sessions felt well organised and I felt prepared.

I like the variety of approaches amongst the faculty. Some of these approaches meet with my learning style better than others, but all offer a great learning experience. I loved the fact that we were kept to a strict time table and that there was an expectation that we would deliver on time. I attend a lot of things where the clock and schedules are ignored and find it hugely frustrating. This makes me feel that we will squeeze a huge amount into the days throughout the year, making the time we give to MRL really worthwhile.