Last month I had the great fortune to travel to Singapore as this was the location for the latest ICMIF Advanced Management Course (also known as the AMC). This was the twentieth time that ICMIF has run the Advanced Management Course and the second time that we were able to hold the course in the stunning location of Singapore thanks to the fabulous generosity of our hosts, ICMIF member NTUC Income.
In brief, the ICMIF Advanced Management Course was developed specifically for ICMIF members, all of whom are member-owned insurers, who want their team leaders and managers to benefit from specialised professional development with a mutual/cooperative focus. The course is aimed at experienced managers and executives who are involved in leading teams and making complex, strategic decisions, often in conditions of uncertainty. The AMC gives participants new insights and approaches to decision-making where simple rules-based approaches are no longer enough.
I am both pleased and proud to say that we have always enjoyed great feedback on the AMC. This has come both from the participants of the course and also the leadership of member organisations who choose to send their staff on the course and who subsequently see an increase in confidence and ability of their delegates when facing complex challenges back in the office. This latest course, however, significantly exceeded anything we have achieved in the past in terms of participants’ feedback scores and comments. This caused us to pause and reflect on what exactly it was this time of running the course that delivered this significant, additional value to participants.
In the last two years we have encouraged participants to come to the course ready to talk about a “real world” challenge they are facing in their organisations. The idea is that they can then apply specific, focused learnings from the course to their own, unique challenge that will really help them when they return to the office. We tried this approach with something of a “light touch” for the previous two courses, but based on the positive feedback we received, we decided to give more time to looking at these real world challenges during the course last month in Singapore. The results were phenomenal.
At the start of the course, the participants are always invited to introduce themselves and their organisations. This is an always an absolutely fascinating part of the course for me, with participants this time coming from Singapore, The Philippines, New Zealand, South Africa, Sweden, Belgium, United Kingdom and United States. They spoke about the purpose of their organisations, the challenges they are facing in their respective markets and how these might be different because they are member-owned insurers – in this case mutual, cooperative, fraternal association and micro insurers – rather than stockholder companies.
The participants are then invited to work in small groups and introduce their real world challenges to each other. The challenges discussed were wide-ranging, but all had two things in common: they were complex challenges, in that they were difficult to define and couldn’t be solved by technical skills alone; and they involved changing the beliefs or behaviours of a group (or groups) of stakeholders in order to succeed. Once the “real world” challenges had been initially introduced, the participants were then given time on the first day to work together to define exactly what their respective challenges were, then the next three days of the course would give them the tools to address these (previously) hard to define, behavioural challenges.
The AMC does not simply provide business concepts and expect people to work out for themselves how to implement them. Instead, the course gives them practical, easy-to-use tools that are grounded in the psychology of decision-making. In addition, it allows them to practise using these tools while working in teams and pitting their wits against each other, all the while immersed in the AGILE insurance business simulation. This has been the usual AMC structure in recent years, but this most recent time of running the course, layered on top of the usual content, were these “real world” challenges to be worked on which further reinforced the learning.
At the end of each day we gave the participants time to evaluate how they might apply what they had learned that day directly to their own unique challenges. This was done in a highly structured format and with the opportunity for participants to consult with each other as well as with the course facilitators. This helped the participants to gain a far better understanding of the complex challenges they were seeking to address. Then, during the last day of the course, we gave the participants time to think about how they would start to tackle their respective challenges and what specific actions they would take on their return to their office.
Our key findings from the Singapore AMC were that giving more time for the real world challenges enabled participants to reflect on how they could apply what they had learned in their own organisations and they all left the course fully “armed” with new skills and ready to make a real difference in their organisations. As one participant put it, following his attendance at the Singapore Advanced Management Course, there will be a “before” and an “after” in his way of doing things, both professionally and privately. The same is true for ICMIF and the way we run the AMC, after Singapore 2017, we will continue to deliver even more value to the participants by making the learning even more “real” for them.
Find out more about the Advanced Management Course and/or register yourself or team members for the first Advanced Management Course of 2018 (13-18 May, Manchester, UK) here.
For more information on other professional development training and events with ICMIF which may be suitable for other levels of your staff please contact Mike Ashurst, Vice-President, Professional Development and Reinsurance.