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Insight Strategic Thinking & Consultancy Skills Workshop Interview with Chris Pritchard

A recent course participant, Chris Pritchard from UK Payments, shares his experience of the Strategic Thinking & Problem Solving Skills course developed and run by Sarah Thrift, Managing Director of Insight Consultancy Solutions.

Chris PritchardQ: Chris, what were your expectations before starting the course?

Chris: I didn’t know what to expect from the course, but when Sarah mentioned she was running it, I knew I just had to do it. Not only are the techniques used by consultants famous for their effectiveness, but I’ve known Sarah for some years as a successful businesswoman, and anything she can teach about the techniques she uses is bound to help me in my own line of work. Needless to say, I was not disappointed in the quality of the course’s presentation and the excellent skills taught during it.

Q: What was your experience of the course?

Chris: I really appreciate that Sarah keeps the groups quite small, and so can tailor the course to the needs of the individuals. The pace, energy and enthusiasm with which she runs the course made it upbeat, highly interesting and enough of a challenge to engage the mind without leaving anyone behind or going over your head.
There were plenty of ‘aha!’ moments and I was very pleased to discover just how much I was learning in a very short space of time. The structure and length of the training days, and the space in between them to apply the knowledge learned were all extremely well judged.
The exercises to take away between sessions were incredibly helpful, especially because I could start applying them right away to my own project – no nice-sounding theories disconnected from the real world, just practical tools and techniques that could be applied straight away to here-and-now challenges.

Q: Did you notice any immediate impact of the course on your way of working?

Chris: Yes, definitely. I found myself taking stock of my own project, feeling more in control of it, and having a much broader sense of the actual outcome desired, and the exact steps needed to bring that closer to reality. Strategic thinking started to become something tangible to me, with the techniques to plan a road map of how to achieve the goals.
The best thing is, Sarah’s teaching style ensures that you’re learning almost without realising it. It’s still challenging, but the way the techniques are presented means that you’re never left scratching your head, trying to think “What was that bit again?” If in any doubt, the excellent course materials she supplied act as a reference guide to ensure you’re on the right track.

Q: Three months on, would you say the course has had a lasting impact on your way of working and success in your job?

Chris: Yes, the impact has been noticeable both for me and for others – the renewed enthusiasm for my project and the sense of direction I received from doing the course has become infectious, and I now have several very talented volunteers who have chosen to come on board to help out with the main project I’m working on. I’ve also recently been asked to join another project team, where the strategic thinking skills I have learned are proving a great benefit.

Q: What tools and techniques have you found most helpful?

Chris: The incisive nature of the methodology was the greatest benefit, I think – the ability to use the tools to find the right question to be answered and to put structures in place that employ specificity and therefore cut to the chase, rather than wasting time tinkering around the edges. The issue trees are an excellent way of laying out all the main factors in a clear way that covers all bases, so that you know you’re on the right track (and can clearly show this to others, to boost their confidence in the direction of the project).

Q: So, you’d do it again?

Chris: I would definitely do it again! This course is an absolute bargain, considering the long-term implications of the skills I learned from Sarah.