The Folly of Not Engaging in Co-design

27 Feb 2017

Leadership is a funny old thing to describe isn’t it and yet saying it just slides so easily off the tongue.

I have been wrestling with it a bit lately because we are right in the thick of developing an ‘emerging leaders programme’. That’s even more murky territory isn’t it. What do they look like?

The only thing I can say with any real authority at this point is it won’t be called that.  The HGI Emerging Leaders Programme. Can you imagine the collective yawn across Australia and New Zealand at the launch of that.

You’ll also be happy to know we’re not just cooking it up ourselves in the HGI boardroom over a few long blacks. I think one of the best lessons I learnt establishing Real – a national range of wellbeing services for at risk young people – was that unless you engage in true co-design to meet need you might deliver 50% – 60% of something actually useful.

I mean seriously, take a look at that picture. Well intentioned? Sure. Meets need? Sure. Ridiculous? Definitely. People lining up to use it? I don’t think so!

So in short I have spent quite a bit of time lately giving people a damned good listening to.  Leaders that is – actual ones. And when I spot them – the elusive emerging leader.  And to be honest it hasn’t been a hugely scientific process. I have just simply asked:

  1. Is this needed?
  2. What is the definition of an emerging leader in your context?
  3. What elements should a programme have?
  4. What would success look like at the end of it?
  5. Should HGI get involved in this area?

The good news is we have plenty of leaders in our Executive Learning Sets whose sage advice I have been able to draw on. They are at a very different stage of their leadership journey and use Sets to focus primarily on system and organisational level innovation and change. Great for the emerged leader shall we say!

In summary. We’re largely good to go with points 1, 3, 4 above. Still wrestling a bit with 2 but getting there. Encouraged by the vote of confidence re 5.

So if you have read this all the way to the bottom and have a vested interest in this working for you, your organisation or system we would really love to hear from you. It is no too late to have your say…

Note: Paul Ingle was the founder of Real, an organization aimed at supporting young New Zealanders grow in confidence, realize their potential and achieve their dreams. “Real – playing a part in supporting all young New Zealanders feel great about their futures”. Paul led the creation from inception in partnership with young people – including naming it, branding it, the service design and delivery.

Much of the work is about going in to low decile secondary schools with skilled youth workers (supported by psychologists) and working with kids that teachers and/or the school counsellor identify as having a hard time of things at school and/or at home. Real does a great deal through arts and kapa haka (Maori song and performance) as one means to engage meaningfully with young Maori. Check out some of their work here.