Six months ago, IABC invited Stephen Welch and Casilda Malagón to take me to Montreal and run the Strategic Adviser Forum at IABC18. We were all delighted for the opportunity, after all I was created for an IABC conference. Immediately we got our heads thinking: what could we add to Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders to make it more fun, more useful, more helpful to the audience?

Over 50 senior communicators from around the world were giving up their Sunday to spend a morning with us and we couldn’t disappoint.

The premise behind Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders – that corporate training has to be fun to engage the brain – has been proved right again and again. Yet, providing experiential learning through an enjoyable experience is a bit like the Sunday crossword puzzle. It takes little bit of method, a little bit of art, and some luck. The good ones are liminal. They take you just to the edge of your comfort zone, sometimes a little over and then bring you back. That’s the space we wanted our strategic advisers to navigate.

On the day, my new group of advisers applied themselves to find the answers to real-life dilemmas and they tried out a couple of practical tools to understand personality archetypes, influencing styles and advising typology. Without realising it, they were taking in complex concepts of psychology, HR and communication.
After just one session, ten teams representing cities from Astana to Johannesburg, walked away with:

  • The standard version of Corporate Snakes and Career Ladders, with me – Carmen Spinoza (@CarmenSpinoza11) – at the helm.
  • A diagnostic on the four types of strategic advisor
  • A self-diagnostic on influencing styles
  • A guide to the eight personality archetypes one can find at work.

They had fun and dared to put the “work” back into “workshop”. They discussed, debated, self-reflected and took away cool tips from each other, making us learn a few things along the way.

Casilda and Stephen love facilitating intense and diverse groups like these, it energises them and confirms that continuous improvement requires passion, and hard work, but no one ever said it had to be boring.

At the end of the session, participants submitted the three words that described the session. I held my breath, we had a new system and had gone through a lot of material. When the screen showed the results, my heart skipped a beat. Success: they had learned and enjoyed. The combination we live for.

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