Following the appointment of Mission to the executive coaching panel of a Global Insurer this year, we were asked to develop a meaningful and challenging CSR programme for a high profile executive team. Working alongside the HR Business Partner, we developed a community-based programme that would see the team build an adobe Story Circle in the grounds of Hounslow Heath Infants School in West London.
What are Story Circles?
Story Circles are earth and sacking structures that are built using simple eco-build (cal earth) technology. (www.calearth.org)
Once completed, they provide a circular seating space. This then becomes a place to meet, to learn, to share stories, conversations and for creative self-expression. The intensely physical nature of the experience gives participants a real sense of purpose and ownership, and this in turn helps to sow the seeds of genuine community.
To build a Story Circle requires listening skills, co-operation and hard work, which will result in participants being fully embodied & present in the task. They will work as a team to create each layer of the building, to fill the sacks, to mix the sand, cement and to set about achieving the goal of completing the circle before the day is out. Once the circle is complete it will serve as a permanent structure which will benefit the local community.
It was more than just building.
We spoke with each member of the team before the programme to ascertain their expectations and their measures of success for the programme. In addition to gleaning a greater appreciation of how the team could move further forward.
We also combined this detailed diagnostic with the Strength Deployment Inventory. This enabled us to examine the team’s motivational preferences, behavioural choices, conflict management and the performance blind sides of the team.
Meetings with our community partners followed to align these expectations to a bespoke programme of activity that would see the team working alongside one another to create something special within one day.
The bespoke programme aimed to build a story circle in the grounds of the school over one business day capable of seating 30 small people comfortably for a spring or summer lesson in the fresh air. The second day would be used to reflect on the experience and specifically how we could take the lessons and insights from the build day back into the working environment.
The programme was very well received despite the weather and plans are being drawn to extend the concept to other operational teams. The hard efforts of the team were rewarded when we sat down on the finished product at the end of the day.