The UX Lens on Leadership Development

by Jessica DSouza 22 November 2019

Leadership Development - no longer reserved for the top rung of the hierarchical ladder, is now a fundamental expectation of people leaders across an organisation.

Recently, Mark Deayton, our National People & Purpose Manager, penned his view on the Leadership Engine Program – Ricoh Australia’s approach to leadership development. He described how we re-engineered the traditional approach to initiatives like this to create a program that is customised, organic and people driven. Reading his article led me to reflect on this: when it comes to program design, especially, leadership development, it has never been more crucial to adopt a user experience (UX) lens.

After all, this approach aligns with the basic mathematics of business strategy - UX + EX = CX. We all know where CX leads...

In an environment that is change-fatigued, we knew instinctively that a cookie-cutter, theoretical framework approach wouldn’t work. Why? ‘Because people need to know what they can cook and eat from programs like this’, our National L&D Manager, Brett Stapleton would say. This is precisely what many organisations forget to factor in. Designing a program that is built around the employees and their development needs, is not easy. It demands thinking differently on every front.

We got in front of our people leaders, pitched our ideas to them and modified the program approach based on their feedback. We worked hard to strip bias from the selection process, challenged each other, challenged the applicants and finally found ourselves with 12 individuals who shared our vision for change and were passionate enough to work with us to see things through. That’s the power of people centred design. The point is this - While business strategy strives to deliver great customer experience, HR & L&D need to champion employee experience and adopt the principles of design thinking in a bid to grow and retain our talent.

The program is still in progress; we have had some wins and have had found things that need tweaking. In essence, we’ve built an environment where the leaders on the program are crafting their own journey – as individuals and as a group. Our role is simply to keep building the structure around them to support their journey. They lead – we support.

For organisations focussing their efforts on capability uplift, consider this: Is your program the textbook version of a leadership development program or is it designed with your people at the heart of it? If the answer is the former, start again.