We are holding our next Challenger Day on 5th June 2014. These days are intended to bring more depth to the ideas published in  The Challenger Spirit - organisations the disturb the status quo.

The Challenger pattern we will be exploring this time is Challenger as Learner and in keeping with the topic the day will be experimental in nature, with ‘more jumping than judging’. 

A particular interest of ours is the way we experience learning going on in the world around us when compared to the way it is often approached in our organisational lives. Typically in the former case, the learning is faster, more collaborative, more haphazard, more mobile, more virtual, more communal and more self-directed. We wonder how these attributes could be amplified in our organisations when so much of our thinking feels stuck in an old paradigm underpinned by outdated assumptions.

Image  by Karen Foster

It does beg the question: what is stopping us from adopting an approach that is social, connected, informal and immediate inside our organisations? 

To answer this we need to challenge some of our underpinning beliefs, we need to unlearn many things we previously held to be true. This leads to a second area of interest: how can we learn to unlearn better and faster? What are the actual practices that would help us dissolve our knowledge and increase our curiosity? 

During the Challenger Day we will enrich our thinking on the subject and see what else we can add. As always on these days we will be enquiring in the company of the lively minded guests we have invited from a range of organisations. Perhaps the questions above are ones that you feel you have already begun to address in which case we would love for all of us to benefit from your learning.

For those who have not been to one of these days before please imagine being in a very light, spacious venue in the company of 40 or so peers who enjoy rolling up their sleeves, getting stuck-in, and sharing their own stories and insights as we guide you through a number of processes and enquiries.

If the prospect of the day excites you and you would like to participate please sign up to this forum and reply to the thread with your name, organisation and why you are interested in taking part.

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Hi Asher

This sounds a superb approach to explore an area close to my professional and personal interest and current work in the business education and learning sectors - and I'd be delighted to come along and participate.

My recent work includes the design and development of unconventional education and learning programmes for both corporate clients and the University business school sectors, including one programme that rolled out to more than 120k people in one global financial institution last year.

I'm also involved in 're-imagining' the role of a business school and how business students can design and manage their own learning journeys over their whole lives and the innovative roles  a business school can play in this. I also facilitate on that programme.

My work and experience with Glasgow School of Art might also be relevant here, where they now have a 'learning to collaborate' and 'collaborating to learn' approach which sees the learning come as much from outside the School as within it. They're approach to 'cross-pollination' of disciplines of course what the Schools international reputation is built on.

One of the things I'd like to explore is the 'upside down' learning which is now standard practice at MIT and seems to have  completely transformed education for business students there.

I'm also undertaking a MOOC at the moment and feeling really excited about the experience so far and the similarities and differences with my MBA studies that I did through the OU some years ago.

So, I hope you can fit me in on June 5th!



Hi Asher,

This feels like a wonderful opportunity to learn from others and share my experiences - I'm delighted to accept. 

Working for Aviva we do the more traditional learning reasonably well and have tried to take a more unconventional approach to learning with mixed success.  I can share my experiences of working with Communities of Practice and an unconventional learning initiative where I experimented with using Heifitz's Adaptive Principles and some aligned tools to integrate learning into the work of a Strategic Initiative - recognising learning in Aviva as an adaptive challenge where traditional or known solutions aren't working effectively enough.  If we're going to develop the huge potential we see in Aviva we'll need to look beyond current expertise, processes and cultural norms and invent new ways of learning and collaborating. 

At Aviva we're also using System Thinking (Vanguard) as our key methodology for change.  This has worked very successfully in our UK operational centres but we are now beginnig to work with it more globally and in specialised functions (e.g. IT).   This methodology is testing our current learning paradigm within Aviva. 

I'm intrigued by David's 'upside down' learning mentioned below - really looking forward to the conversations.


I'd love to join your challenger as learning dialogue.  The speed of change, the open access, the information overload and the technology in our pocket present great opportunities for learning and growth in work and in our lives. I've been helping professionals learn, grow and change for 20 years.   A conversation can sometimes effect greater change than a course. The Challenger spirit concept - challenging ourselves and the status quo can lead to great things. "Challenger spirit" is alive in our marketing strategy and the nexus of social and mobile forces" is part of our IT strategy. Learning is another link in that chain.  I'd hope to be challenged to push the boundaries in our learning approach.  Like others in the thread, happy to share my experience and practice of working in professional services an covering a range of development including leadership, coaching, business development skills and consulting skills.

I am delighted to say that Tina St. Leger, VP and Global Head of HR at ViiV Healthcare, will be joining us on 5th June. ViiV is a new specialist pharmaceutical company launched in 2009 that specialises in the treatment and care for people living with HIV.

I am delighted that Anne, HR VP UK Europe Africa at Jacobs will be joining us on 5th June 

I am delighted that Zoe, SVP Learning and Dan, Learning Consultant from Bank of America Merrill Lynch will be joining us on 5th June

I am delighted that Anne, HR BP Thomas Cook Group will be joining us on 5th June 

Ann, is the OD Director at News UK, the media business behind the Sun, Times and Sunday Times. She has been threatening to join the past couple of these events and is definitely coming to this one!

Stuart has confirmed his attendance, he is the Managing Director TDC Europe and President TDC Americas at Takeda Pharmaceuticals. As well as having one of the longest titles on this thread he is responsible for the clinical development of medicines at Takeda, Japan's largest pharmaceutical company.

Sarah will be with us again after being one of the inaugural Challenger Day attendees. Sarah is the International Director for Learning and Talent at Bodyshop, one of the pioneering Challenger organisations in the beauty industry, part of the L'Oreal Group. 

I'm really looking forward to meeting Caroline, Leadership & Organisational Development Manger at Aviva PLC, face-to-face because she is coming along. Our conversations in cyber space have been very lively.

Really pleased that Paul has said yes to the invitation. As the UK & Ireland VP for Print and Personal Systems at HP, he brings a wealth of experience as well as a great sense of curiosity and fun.


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