Inspiring staff to turn theory into practice?

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Many companies have employees earmarked for leadership positions, but how well equipped will they be for their management positions and will they be able to apply their knowledge in practice?

Every year, South African Breweries runs a Management Development Programme (MDP) - an intense course for those at SAB who have been selected as up and coming management. This year, 40 delegates from around South Africa and other African countries attended the MDP along with other international delegates from countries such as India and Al Salvador.

Effective communication experts - Avocado Vision were tasked to present a module on entrepreneurship and innovation. The results astounded the course leaders and far exceeded expectations.

The brief to Avocado Vision was that the module had to be creative and innovative while allowing the delegates to relax and have fun. It had to be practical and needed to inspire delegates to apply the knowledge they had gained.

Enter 'the apprentice challenge' - a course specifically designed by Avocado Vision to do just that - challenge delegates to apply their knowledge - with very real results.

In this particular instance, Avocado Vision got their facilitators trained up on beadwork and then divided the delegates into syndicates. They all then attended a beading course and given a beading kit which equipped them to make beaded items.

"The delegates then had to decide whether to mass produce these items or make a few select products, which they then had to market and sell. They needed to have a marketing strategy and a business plan for the project," explains Janette Dace of Avocado Vision.

So the delegates went away and worked on a business plan, marketing plan and sales plan. They then made up the beaded items and physically went out and put their plans into action to try and sell as many items as they could, with any profits being donated to charity.

Juliet Newton, founder of Avocado Vision explains that the purpose of this exercise involved two key elements: exposing the delegates to an innovative and entrepreneurial way of thinking, and helping them to understand what unlocks innovation and what closes it up.

The delegates were given one week in which to sell their merchandise where after they had to report back on how they had marketed and advertised their products, demonstrating their execution and follow-through of the business plan.

The results were exceptional. They managed to rake in a total of R64 300, which is being donated to the Mother of Peace, an orphanage for HIV positive children and those whose lives have been affected by AIDS.

"The course instructors were extremely impressed by the business plans the delegates presented," Dace says. "They were fired up and inspired by their success. The fact that they were able to put the theory they had been taught into practice immediately, brought it to life and would certainly have assisted in equipping them for future business challenges."

Newton concludes that the success of 'the apprentice challenge' can be attributed to the synergy of intelligent people and a simple yet clever idea. "It is what Avocado Vision is all about - unlocking potential and in doing so, helping companies and individuals to achieve greater success."

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