Workplace Innovation helps improve performance and working lives by releasing the full range of talent, knowledge and creativity from employees at every level.

Organisational Health Check

A springboard to innovation

Our Health Checks are not about us telling you what is wrong or right with your organisation. They are about your people telling us what is wrong or right, what can be done better, what works really well and what doesn’t.

An Organisational Health Check acts as a springboard with the potential to release innovative behaviour, improve performance, enhance employee well-being and stimulate growth.

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We know the importance of listening to employees at every level in order to understand what is working and what needs to be improved.

Our reports based on employees’ own accounts of experiences at work provide boards and senior management teams with a powerful stimulus for change, and help to define priorities for action.

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Facilitating Change and Innovation

Breaking down walls and ceilings

Workplace Innovation is at the heart of performance, growth and employee well-being. Many see it but don’t know how to implement it.

We help organizations review improvement and innovation practices by breaking down walls and ceilings and creating dialogue across hierarchies and functions so that the better argument always wins.

Workplace Innovation’s facilitators work closely with leaders, managers and employees at every level, understanding their aspirations and strengths as well as what holds them back. We seek solutions co-created by all of the main stakeholders in an issue to ensure buy-in and to minimise resistance to change.

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Working with Boards and Senior Teams

Horizon-scanning, thought leadership and rehearsing the future

What will your business look like in 2024 and what will your role be in leading it?

Seeing the world in a different way should be on the job description of Directors. Change is happening and it can’t be controlled but it can be anticipated.

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Developing Emerging Leaders

From transactional to transformational

The demands of leadership are changing. At a time of significant challenge and opportunity, leaders and managers must drive improvement and innovation while motivation and energising employees. Emerging leaders must migrate from purely transactional management to proactive, transformational behaviour while current leaders must address the question of succession.

But where are the next leaders coming from and what skills and competences will they actually need?

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Interactive Theatre

Using drama to provoke thought and motivate change

Interactive theatre in the workplace is a real eye-opener. It helps to unlock employee engagement and creativity, one of the key challenges in securing successful organisational change, improving performance and enhancing working life – but it does it very differently.

You’ll see your organisations in a completely different and thought-provoking light.

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Presentations, Facilitation and Masterclasses

Stimulating, informing and resourcing innovation and change

Expert facilitation, engaging presentations, creative thinking and interactive theatre are just some of the ways we enhance and enliven conferences, time-out sessions, in-house training and team development workshops.

We can also deliver masterclasses and provide internationally recognised expert speakers covering all aspects of people centres change, employee engagement, high involvement innovation and leadership development.

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Transformational Coaching

Achieving a new culture

We know how to coach – we do it for a living. However, we are also on a mission to help managers and leaders become inspired coaches in their own right and to introduce a coaching culture to their organisations that will achieve sustainable benefits.

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Networking and Knowledge Sharing

Remember, you are not alone

Networking, knowledge sharing, the pooling of ideas and intellectual capital are the dynamics that underpin a sustainable movement of workplace innovation and provide all organisations looking to change and to challenge the future with access to the choices open to them and the experiences of others.

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Flexible ILM Leadership & Coaching Courses 

In-house and Distance Learning

Flexibility in learning is becoming increasingly important in employee development. We are experiencing a significant increase in clients needing a more flexible approach to the delivery of our ILM programmes.

Releasing staff to attend off-site public courses can cause problems for organisations, despite the obvious benefits of individuals from different backgrounds and industries sharing their experiences as they learn together. It is not always convenient for managers to block out days in their diary to attend sessions off-site, on dates that tend to be inflexible.

We recognise this and in addition to our public courses we are able to offer a range of flexible options to make it easier for organisations and individuals to access our ILM Leadership, Management and Coaching programme.

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The Fourth Element
Co-Created Leadership and Employee Voice



Co-creating leadership

It is unsurprising that enlightened leadership often plays a key role in driving workplace innovation within enterprises. Leadership theory is highly contested but leadership development has gained increasing prominence through business schools, professional institutions and consultancy.

Early leadership theories were primarily focused on the distinction between “task focus” and “people orientation” and this remains a useful distinction. More recently theories have emphasised “transformational”, “charismatic”, “visionary” and “inspirational” leadership. These often draw on the rapidly growing number of biographies which celebrate business leaders such as Jack Welch and Steve Jobs.

The dark side of such leadership approaches soon began to emerge including the potential for abuse of power, narcissism, destabilisation, blind obedience and fear of questioning. One US academic commentator (Khurana) argues that the extraordinary trust in the power of charismatic CEOs displayed in these leadership approaches “resembles less a mature faith than it does a belief in magic”.

Alternative approaches advocated by Peter Senge and others focused on leadership as a creative and collective process. They were less concerned with the central, charismatic individual and more with the creation of opportunities for employees to seize the initiative and contribute to decision making. Such “shared and distributed leadership” relates to a concern with empowerment and building organisational capability. It is therefore a key element of workplace innovation because it focuses on releasing the full range of employee knowledge, skills, experience and creativity. 


Recent developments in the UK, for example, add extra weight to the focus on leadership. On the same day in June 2015, two public agencies coincidentally published guidelines on productivity and employee well-being. Acas and the National Institute for Clinical Excellence, 2015 both refer to the need for positive leadership styles which encourage creativity, new ways of doing things and opportunities to learn, and for leaders to be open, honest and visible.

Each of the three UK case studies discussed below illustrates different ways in which shared and distributed leadership can stimulate and drive workplace innovation. In each organisation, workplace innovation was instigated by a newly appointed Chief Executive and led to greater employee empowerment and innovation. Yet the three journeys of transformation were very different, reflecting the very different contexts in which each organisation operates:

Drax Power is the owner and operator of Drax Power Station in North Yorkshire, the largest power station in the UK. The arrival of Chief Executive Dorothy Thompson and HR Director Richard Neville transformed a record of poor industrial relations. Drax Power’s Working Together agreement with trade unions combined with a comprehensive consultation programme in which Dorothy invests large amounts of time each year in face-to-face meetings with staff helps build an understanding of the major technological changes faced by the plant, establishes trust, demonstrates transparency, stimulates employee ideas and creates a more entrepreneurial culture.


Skanska, a Swedish-owned company established in 1887, is one of the world’s leading project development and construction groups. The UK operation was established through acquisitions from 2000-2013. When Skanska acquired the UK companies it inherited many practices at odds with the Swedish parent’s open and transparent culture and values. Mike Putnam’s appointment as CEO in 2009 demonstrated a clear commitment to break with the past. Visibility and accessibility is characteristic of his leadership style. He explained that:

“One of the big transformations has been to adopt the Swedish approach to openness and transparency.”

“Everybody in the UK talks about it but in the Skanska Group it is at a completely different level.”

“When you have your values you need to be visibly seen to follow them. The behaviour that backs up that leadership is absolutely crucial.”

Skanska UK has been on a sustained journey of transformation, distancing itself from traditional industry practices by embracing ethical principles relating to safety, the environment, transparency and quality.

Bristan was founded in 1977 in Birmingham as a family owned business but was acquired by Masco, a US-based company. Bristan is now a leading supplier of showers, taps and bathrooms in the UK with exports to Europe and Russia. The company is led by Chief Executive Jeremy Ling. He joined Bristan Group in 2009 when it was a family-owned “can do” company but with “a lack of clear focus and inconsistent objectives”. Although the company has retained its family atmosphere Jeremy’s arrival was transformative. Leading by example, he created a culture of shared leadership, values and behaviours:

“Empowerment of my top team and feedback on performance are essential for us to be a learning organisation”.

He and his senior team are guided by “boundaries” rather than strict role definitions, and are trusted and empowered to be entrepreneurial within those boundaries. Jeremy points out that all employees have two duties: to develop themselves and to change and develop their roles.

One employee summed up Jeremy’s leadership: “This senior management team are the best ever, they know all our names.’’ Jeremy has empowered line managers, teams and frontline workers, introducing a culture of continuous improvement that has become embedded throughout the company. 


Workplace partnership and employee voice

Partnership between management, employees and trade unions can take many forms, but always requires openness, transparency and two-way communication. At the very least it can be an effective tool for positive industrial relations, minimising conflict and resistance to change.

So this means that industrial relations go beyond adversarial bargaining; it looks for win-win outcomes for the organisation and its employees. It means partnership forums, times and spaces where senior managers and trade unions or employee representatives get together to tackle big issues in a climate of openness and trust.

Yet partnership can also transcend the industrial relations sphere. Where it works best, partnership blows through the entire organisation. It stimulates dialogue and, like a wind, carries the seeds of innovation both ways between senior management and frontline employees.

An important body of research has begun to show that representative partnership structures on their own may have little direct impact on performance or quality of working life. Rather they can exert a positive influence on the development of activities and practices that may do so.

Kaiser Permanente, one of the biggest healthcare providers in the US, offers a particularly striking example of this. Its Labor-Management Partnership has driven improvements in the quality of care through employee-led innovation, leading to win-win-win outcomes for patients, management and employees.

In Ireland, proactive intervention by the union-led IDEAS Institute and local shop stewards reversed several years’ underinvestment in Becton Dickinson’s Drogheda plant, saving more than a hundred jobs and creating several more. By unleashing the knowledge and creativity of frontline workers, productivity and performance improved to the point where the parent company recognised that the plant had been transformed from an increasing liability to a major asset.

When partnership arrangements exist alongside the types of participative workplace practices described in the previous three Elements it creates a system of mutually reinforcing practices leading to improved information sharing, greater levels of trust, reduced resistance to change and heightened performance.

This combination of representative and direct involvement is known as “employee voice”.


Leadership for Workplace Innovation

Workplace Innovation Practitioner

Our unique distance learning or in person programmes accredit key people in your organisation as Workplace Innovation Practitioners, giving them the knowledge, competencies and resources they need to achieve successful and sustainable outcomes with the option of practical in-company facilitation and support. Participants also gain the Institute of Leadership & Management (ILM) Level 3 or 5 Certificate in Leadership and Management.





Kaiser Permanente

Ideas Institute

Becton Dickinson


The First Element:
Jobs and Teams
The Second Element:
Structures, Management
and Procedures
The Third Element:
Employee-Driven Innovation
and Improvement
The Fourth Element:
Co-Created Leadership
and Employee Voice




Case Studies
Case Studies Case Studies  Case Studies 

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