MRL IS described AS A DEVELOPMENT PROGRAMME - WHAT DOES THAT MEAN?
On a traditional training course, even in the digital age, there can be a ‘broadcast and receive’ model; content is provided in a set pattern and participants are expected to absorb it. In contrast, on MRL, almost everything offered is interactive in some way. The Programme is a series of learning environments or spaces designed to inspire creative thinking, help you analyse your own and other’s practice, and experiment with new ways of working. Through this, you will grow your personal, organisational and network capacities and you’ll do this in a community of your peers; working in a friendly environment with expert support and with people facing similar challenges to your own.
We apply the learning by doing approach to MRL itself, evaluating the Programme 12 times during the MRL year. Whilst we hold to a core curriculum, the Programme Directors analyse the results and may adjust the programme, accordingly. Through this iterative process we have developed over 60 different techniques for MRL all designed to support a discovery based learning environment.
So, MRL can be thought of as a series of 'spaces', physical, environmental, intellectual and emotional designed to enable a fundamentally human discovery-driven learning cycle; experiencing, reflecting, thinking and doing. This contrasts with 'real life' where there is rarely the opportunity to try things out; this can be particularly true in public authorities, which can be very failure intolerant. This desire to 'get it right first time' can also be hard wired into funding regimes and be subtly present in an organisation's internal culture. You can think of as an 'offline' practice area where you can try things out and where we encourage benign 'failure'. Successful organisations innovate by setting up a 'failure tolerant' internal climate, making spaces for teams where experiment can happen.
We also know that this discovery process occurs at different speeds for everyone on the Programme, so it has been designed to allow you to revisit topics many times during your 11 month 'MRL year', using your MRL peers, your mentor and the support materials for appropriate help. With different speeds go different learning styles, and we take Howard Gardner's 'multiple intelligences' approach seriously. For example, financial numbers and making money, aren't everyone's friends, so we approach this vital resilience question from many directions; funding, entrepreneurship, starting and running a business, looking at good and bad financial management. You’ll work hands-on in a social enterprise, learn the secrets of running a surplus generating independent museum, meet a businessman or businesswoman and reflect on cultural funding models from other countries. We look at virtuoso leadership through music, charismatic leadership through politics, entrepreneurial leadership in business. We also look at what can go wrong with governance. You'll meet inspiring people and visit inspiring places. This multi-layered approach is applied to all the topics the Programme covers, look here to see a typical range from the current Programme. Or here to see what the current cohort think of the Programme so far.
The Programme is structured to help you work with various learning dimensions:
- Behavioural - actions - the results of exercising choice
- Cognitive - thinking and beliefs - how our decisions are informed
- Dynamic - instincts and drives - what makes us act or not act, especially under stress
- Analytical - methods of thinking and knowing
- Developmental - maturity and how this changes over the MRL year
- Biological - physical state - handling health, fitness and life balance issues
- Cultural - how implicit values and norms affect what's possible and not possible
We bring all of this together through the critical leadership lens - decision making. A leader may be thoughtful, well informed, be a good speaker, have presence and be well networked but they stand or fall by the decisions they take. See here for a fuller discussion on this vital topic.
Whatever is being covered, there is a three-phase approach:
- pre-workshop support material
- activities in each workshop or event
- post-workshop evaluation and topic reinforcement
Particular development questions that this may prompt can then be discussed with your mentor. Also, the MRL Google Drive contains support materials, a wealth of case studies and video resources, which are added to frequently.
HOW IS YOUR DEVELOPMENT RECOGNISED?
There are four elements to the system:
- As part of the mentoring system, each participant has their own online Personal Programme Log (PPL); this builds a learning record as MRL progress. The Log entries are discussed with your Mentor at each of your three mentorials, over the MRL year. You can review and amend them at any time and they remain confidential to you and your Mentor. You can think of the PPL as your personal development space, with a structured, though flexible, system for reflection and analysis.
- The three meetings with your Mentor during the year provide a 90 minute in-depth review of your challenges and development. The Log and the support from your Mentor interlink
- Post event evaluation via Survey Monkey questionnaires, provides a personal record of your response to each workshop. The questionnaires reprise workshop content and the entire set of your questionnaire answers for the whole of the Programme will be given to you at the final Programme residential
- Every MRL participant is presented with a Certificate of Completion at the end of the Programme in recognition of their achievement