Derek Stewart of The Silent Partner tells the story of his Accreditation Workshop…

“I recently attended the future factory Accreditation Workshop in Edinburgh. My objective was simple: pick up some new ideas, or different ways and methods of helping our clients.”

During the day the group, which was comprised of Management Consultants, Trainers and Department heads, covered five of future factory’s tools. Practical ways of improving the understanding and therefore the performance of the participants, were explored and discussed. I could see ways of using all the games in a variety of different situations, however, I am going to focus on one – Supply Chain.

Supply Chain is about practical problem solving and information management in a network. That network could be a department within an organisation, the whole management team or a group of customers. Its aim is to improve communication skills, which sounds basic but in our experience this the biggest weakness in most organisations. Supply Chain also encourages teamwork and problem solving, through a consultative management approach – not the old fashioned “your either part of the steam road roller or you are part of the pavement” kick in the backside style. So how does a black bag full of belts, cords, cards and bits of plastic achieve the desired result?

As a group we all put on our belt that allows you to be connected to other people in the group by cords. You are given a task of collecting 3 or 4 pieces of coloured plastic in a specific order. These can be passed to individuals by other members of the group via the connecting cords. As you can imagine with a group of 12 people all trying to achieve their personal target, the group target of getting everyone finished needs some management. The exercise is fun and so simple, yet the lessons that come out of it are very powerful.

Since the accreditation day I have reflected on the use of these exercises and come to the conclusion that if the participants see them as a game, they are missing the point. The game is only there to bring about the learning that needs to be interpreted into the working environment. I’m sure you will have heard people coming back from a course saying “well that was good, now let’s get back to work”.

Supply Chain has many uses and as management consultants one of the ways we will be using it is to replicate management structures to identify weaknesses before and after their organisations restructure. These can be very expensive exercises if you get it wrong and can leave a lot of people afterwards wondering what has been achieved.

“As an organisation we improve our service offering to our clients with the help of future factory. This in invaluable to us.”

Derek Stewart is the founding Partner of The Silent Partner, a business and management consultancy practice that specialises in the financial services sector. You can contact him on 0141-221-8774 or by email

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