Regional High Performance Networks
UTS pilot project
A team from the Centre for Business and Social Innoviation (CBSI), at the University of Technology Sydney (UTS) conducted a pilot project which developed the foundations for an effective new approach to stimulating and enabling management and leadership development in regional Australia. The pilot was supported by the University of Melbourne-based Centre for Workplace Leadership (CWL) which had substantial support from the Commonwealth Government for this initiative. The core team from UTS involves Dr Renu Agarwal, Professor Roy Green, Professor Emmanuel Josserand, Associate Professor Don Scott-Kemmis, and Dr Alex Pitsis.
The team developed a set of foundation learning modules in key areas of management and leadership. Each was designed to be used by groups of managers to guide knowledge and skill development — and to link that new knowledge to past experience and to future action in the workplace. Groups of up to perhaps six to eight managers met, in a workplace face-to-face or via the internet, with one member of the group as the leader/facilitator of discussion. Reflection and discussions were at the centre of the learning process. The approach was inspired by successful exemplars in other countries and aimed to stimulate and support the formation of self-sustaining ‘learning communities’. The quality of the learning modules and the effectiveness of the learning experience was vital.
We formed ten pilot groups across Australia and convened a two day workshop with the leaders/facilitators of these groups to assess the experience to that point and to identify any changes in approach that were required.
During the pilot the learning modules and ongoing learning, support was provided to participants.
The pilot supported owners of small/medium business or senior managers of larger organizations, in the public and private sectors across regional Australia. We ensured that some of the participating groups are from SMEs.
The project began in November 2014, groups began to operate in early 2015, with a review workshop in July 2015, and a major evaluation in late 2015. The final report is due later this year.
Consultation and participation
We consulted a wide range of public and private sector, national, and regional organizations which could assist the project by providing advice on professional development needs and on effective approaches for forming the pilot groups, and by assisting the formation of the pilot groups. We were particularly interested in organizations that would be prepared to participate in the project by hosting one or more self-sustaining groups and/or by joining an informal advisory and review group.
The program found that peer learning could play a key role in accessing harder-to-reach, regional small businesses where managers tend to have little or no formal training.
“Peer learning allows regional areas to leverage local knowledge and expertise, which can be the most relevant and easiest to access.”
Download the Regional High Performance Networks Project Report (pdf, 68 pages, 3.18 MB)