Mott MacDonald: developing a blended learning programme for new managers

Mott MacDonald is a global engineering, management and development consultancy focused on guiding our clients through many of the planet’s most intricate challenges.  The Challenge was to develop a blended learning programme for new managers, echoing the 70-20-10 formula, that would enable them to develop core skills and make an impact quickly.

The Solution

The Enabling Managers programme. A programme blending face-to-face workshops; participative webinars and on-the-job tasks over a 9 month period, using the programme app as a resource for learning and application.

The success of the programme derives from its design principles:

  • People develop skills over time, not in one hit. So, the programme re-visits three core skills in greater depth and challenge as the programme develops. We call this looped learning and it is inspired by the Spiral Curriculum.
  • People learn most through experience. So, the programme is highly experiential with zero theory or informational input about how to perform the core skills.
  • Learners will apply what they have learned if their mental model of what is needed has been developed by them, not imposed by their facilitators. So, learners create their own models for executing a skill, in small groups, once they have completed the experiential exercises. The learners re-visit their models at every workshop, and update and refine them on an on-going basis.
  • People learn with stories. So, the programme engages participants in the stories of Alex and Chris, two Motts team members played by actors, and learners engage with Alex and Chris through 6 conversations that are themed to represent the real-life situations and challenges that learners will experience in the work place.

The Results

Mott McDonald originally organised 7 cohorts for 2019-20. Due to very positive word of mouth recommendation, demand in the business for Enabling Managers necessitated the offering of 12 cohorts for 2020-21.

Across the pilot phase, people were asked to estimate in % how much of the new learning they will apply at the job. This is a key metric which allows to accurately predict the likelihood of real impact. Best scoring companies usually achieve a score of around 85%, while with Enabling Managers, this score is approaching 90%.

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