Windmill for Skills Workshop

I attended a CDG workshop recently at the end of April about skills. The trainer “Claire” outlined her varied career history from college to industry, from university to consultancy. She challenged us to start thinking about the skills we need to acquire in our profession and to get us thinking beyond our daily job to broader skills.

 She introduced us to a Business Excellence Model which describes a useful framework of 4 P’s:

  1. Product
  2. Process
  3. Partnership
  4. People

She used the analogy of a ‘windmill’ (hence the title of the workshop) to illustrate the 4 P’s in this framework. It was explained that skills are what drives the processes in an organisation, and without this, the organisation would end up with a deskilled workforce, it could lose its customer base, and staff would not be able to learn new skills.

At the beginning of the workshop, the participants were asked to stand on an imaginary line between 1 and 10 according to how aware they were of the skills they need to acquire. Needless to say, most people congregated down the lower end showing they had little knowledge of the skills they need to acquire. Hence the need for this workshop.

 After the presentation, we were each given a paper windmill on which to write the 4 P’s on each blade. I realised that I wasn’t very good at putting together a paper windmill! Thankfully, we were asked to swop ours with one belonging to someone else – so I gave my tatty one away to get a better one back!

 We broke up into 4 groups and circulated to cover all 4 scenarios/case studies of the workshop.  Each case study represented one of the 4 P’s and outlined a situation where you had to consider which skills you would need to make it work well.  One example, which represented Partnerships, was a Polish Information Day and the skills needed by library staff to make such an event work.

 Our group thought of these ideas: to try and find out who was head of the Polish community, so research skills and networking skills; talking and listening to people; planning and organisational skills; marketing and publicity skills. Events which could be laid on include dances, national costume, food etc.

After feedback on this group work, we reconvened to stand on the line again of knowledge of the skills we need. This time, many more people congregated near the upper end, near the 9’s and 10’s showing that the workshop had met its objectives. To reinforce what we had learnt, we were asked to write 2 skills on the back of each blade of the windmill. What was a bit scarey was that we had to write 2 of these skills on the back of a self -addressed postcard, which was going to be posted to us 6 weeks after this training session, to remind us of what skills we should have been developing.

Overall, a thought-provoking and imaginatively designed workshop which encouraged us to think about broader skills beyond our daily job. A tasty buffet (I felt rather greedy as I’d already had lunch) rounded off the afternoon and an opportunity to network with other participants from other information sectors.

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