I am pleased to provide you with feedback on Turning Point, and its significance for us here at Otago Polytechnic.
First of all, I would like to put my feedback into its proper context. As you know, we are strongly committed to building the capability of people, and I am personally a subscriber to the school of thought that the starting point for building personal capability and proficiency is self knowledge and understanding. For that reason I was on the lookout for a suitable development programme, initially for our managers.
The opportunity to "try before you buy" came up when you launched your first public occurrence of Turning Point, to which we sent 2 of our relatively new Heads of School. Their feedback was enthusiastically positive, so we resolved to put all of our senior and middle managers through the programme. That, too, was a roaring success, with the unanimous view that the programme had built confidence (for the new managers) and provided a much needed refocus for the more experienced. Everyone came away with an enhanced sense of what was important to them, and a commitment to taking responsibility, setting priorities and seeing the glass as 'half full'; not to mention a strong sense of renewal.
You will recall after that programme that we did provide some more critical feedback - mainly around the need for the programme to better take into account the experiences which were reasonably typical of academics/educators and experienced managers in the education sector. To your credit you took this feedback on board, which was clearly demonstrated when we ran the programme for our supervisory managers - our academic programme managers and our team leaders in our service areas.
Our decision to invest in our supervisory managers has already proven to be a very wise one, even though we are thus far only halfway through. You agreed to customise the programme to align it with our organizational development strategy, and the feedback we have received to date is that you have done a great job in that regard.
I will finish this feedback with some (anonymous but real) quotes from staff who have participated in the programme. You can see that they are highly complimentary of your personal facilitation expertise and of the programme staff; and have gained considerable personal benefit.
"Turning point was a luxury. A change of pace and routine. Three days getting to know my colleagues from across the Polytechnic, three days spent in the luxury of thinking about me and what I need to sustain myself in this job. I came back to work and asserted myself. I have since been tandem para-gliding which is directly related and something I have always wanted to do."
"I’d definitely recommend doing the Turning Point course but only if you are prepared to go into it with an open mind. It’s true that you do get out of it what you are willing to put in. Yes, there will be material that is familiar and you may have heard many times before but often it is these valuable thoughts that get lost in the busy nature of our work. It gave me the opportunity to refocus my thinking and look at a heavy workload from new perspectives and consider how I personally respond to and approach that workload. It also was a fun and interesting 3 days with a great group of people from throughout OP who now support and encourage each other whenever we meet."
“I was cynical at first and spent the first hour of the course thinking 'what am I doing here', but then I saw the teaching style that Richard modeled and I was hooked! Much of what we did I had heard/done before but it was good to have it reframed, to be reminded and to have to review it. There was also the invaluable chance to meet and interact with colleagues I had been saying hello to in the lift for a year but never met, and in that environment we really got to talk about things that mattered. At another level altogether I have come away with the feeling of being valued enough in my workplace to have that amount of time, money and support expended on me, and that affirms me in the O.P. culture and confirms for me that my work behaviour and attitudes will be reciprocal."
"I am happy to talk to any staff about turning point. As you know I thought it was a very worthwhile course for me to attend. It has changed my perspective about my work and has had an overflow affect into my life generally. The statement on the front page sums up one important thing I was reminded about over the 3 days of the course, and that I often let slip away. 'Not in place, time or circumstances but in self, lies success'. Pretty cool, and frankly you could replace the last word with any word/statement you please. I think 'the sparkle of life' is a good one for a cold day like today. Attending turning point gave me an opportunity to learn more about myself, what I want out of life and how I can get it."
"There are many good things that I have learned from Turning Point. The course has helped me to work more smartly and to prioritize everyday workload. One of the best things is that I have felt bonded with the programme managers on the course. Richard is an excellent convenor. He can turn the abstract to something tangible. Group activities on the last day has made me feel that we have to be together and help one another in order to move forward. That certainly applies to Otago Polytechnic. The course always reminds me also of what you said before we went. That is something like we need to speak the same language. I think all programme managers on the course have agreed on that.
For me, I have found many new friends and there is no barrier for when I need to talk to different programme managers concerning ESOL students' career path and welfare."
"From some of the bush telegraph comments I had heard, I was skeptical about going, but decided to go with an open mind and have to say it was a very positive and powerful experience for me personally. I was fortunate to be with an excellent group of diverse staff which has resulted in a new network of friends who I could turn to for support. I thought the three days an absolute luxury but the course needed that and with a weekend to reflect was the icing on the cake. Some of my colleagues felt I was a new woman when I returned. Some of that has diminished a little, but I will get it back!"
"Richard's facilitation is executed with total respect; he has a wisdom and insight into the many meanings to life. He has a gentle, genuine quality and is dedicated to encouraging folk to question their ways, to set meaningful goals and to celebrate all that is achieved. I had been doing much reflection already, as one does facing another personal decade. This time out with Richard was therefore 'timely'. Even though I was familiar with some of the processes he identified and even some the material his delivery, the setting, days away and the exercises we were involved with all helped me to set firmly my ideals and to re-evaluate my core. Rather than an indulgence I see such re-evaluation as crucial to our purpose. I'm glad you agreed to arrange for us at this level in the organisation to attend Richard's seminar."
As you know, we have now decided to offer the programme to all of our permanent staff - we believe the investment will yield a great return in terms of greater staff efficiency, more personal accountability and more positive attitudes. All of these are necessary to support the difficult change process we are going through.
I am happy for you to use my feedback in whole or in part to promote the programme for other educational providers. It is excellent value for money, and you personally are a pleasure to do business with.