Being bolder and braver


October 9th, 2015

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I’m mid-way through the two year MSc in People and Organisational Development at Roffey Park and, from the selection event onwards, it was obvious that the MSc experience was going to be as much about developing me, as it was about supporting the development of others (and their organisations). Once we began to explore the theory and practice it was clear that knowing and growing your ‘self’ had an essential connection to the practice of people and organisational development

Roffey Park’s MSc is self-managed but this doesn’t mean there’s a lack of direction or concrete learning. On the contrary the programme is carefully constructed to give multi-layered and multifaceted learning opportunities.

Much of this comes from the obvious places: well informed, engaging contributors as well as enjoyable and experiential workshops at residentials; extensive, remotely accessible resources to further feed knowledge (and writing!); and supportive and insightful facilitators promoting reflection, and upholding academic standards.

However, the genius is in the peer support, challenge and assessment achieved through small, facilitated learning sets. Guided by a Roffey Park facilitator, these groups of 4 or 5 enable the diversity of experience, context, interests and perspectives of participants to be fully mined. The groups create and agree criteria; read, assess, feedback on and ultimately pass or fail each other’s work throughout the two year programme.

This process results in insight on all the areas of study each member pursues, vastly increasingly the learning territory beyond what any one person could cover alone. It is also provides in-depth exposure to different organisational contexts and individual perspectives and preferences. Beyond this, the set act as a sounding board for current professional issues, collaborating to explore challenges and possible ways forward, simultaneously furthering their experience and knowledge. Comments on written work, or even set dynamics as a whole, are handled face to face, flexing and honing the feedback muscles. And at times of inevitable overwhelm the set are a source of support, inspiration and sensible advice!

The sustained nature of these relationships, held in the context of the bigger cohort that meet every few months, provides a vital web of learning exchanges that offer the space to put theory into practice.

It’s not easy to sum up my MSc journey so far in a pithy sound bite. The level of reflection, insight, input, learning and connection making involved has felt far more immersive than the 20 or so days of contact time would suggest. It has touched all areas of my practice and life more generally.

shutterstock_212984878It’s increased my capacity for reflective questioning of myself and others, in turn catalysing shifts in thinking and action. It’s made me a bolder, braver practitioner, as I’ve developed confidence through a grasp of theory and a clearer lens through which to view and hone my practice. The impact of this has been increased personal effectiveness, leading to increased business as I have become better at articulating my offer. The process of reframing and refreshing my practice in this way has surfaced value and transferability that I hadn’t previously appreciated. It was this that led me to pursue and secure my new job… as a Development Consultant at Roffey Park. Writing this blog is my first official piece of work!

Studying with Roffey Park has been an invitation into a beautiful, supportive and stimulating environment. The chance to work here is an incredible bonus. In approaching the mid-point of the programme I have worked with my learning set to clarify areas of further study for the second year, and I am excited by a sense of potential for me, my group and for Roffey Park as a whole.