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MA For Busy People

How you can get your MA while balancing life and learning
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In today’s episode, James and Carolyn are going to be talking all things Mayvin Masters. As you may have heard, we’re thrilled to be announcing the second cohort of our MA in people and organisation development starting March 2024. To celebrate, Carolyn and James got together and recorded this podcast, answering some of your most common questions. So why do it and why is it different? What will it do for me? And what will I get out of it? And a little bit about the structure and what you can do if you want to find out more.

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James Traeger  1:33  
Hello, so we’re going to be talking about our master’s in people and organisation development. So I’ll start by asking you, Carolyn, why might people do a programme like this, like the people in organisation development masters that we run?

Carolyn Norgate  1:53  
Well, if I think back to most of my career was as an internal OD consultant, so many years in NHS, few years in the civil service before I came here. And one of the things that I was looking for in the internals I worked with internal change and organisational development design consultants are often looking for is, I suppose to reflect on my practice, a community of practitioners to work with and really think about how change happens. I’m going to say in reality, which makes it sound like they’re not in reality. Yeah. But I think there’s something quite interesting about how organisations choose to position change, as if it is structured and linear and

James Traeger  2:48  
can be planned easily. Yeah, yeah.

Carolyn Norgate  2:50  
And I think that can be quite difficult to work with so. So that sense of have both having community having the time and space to research and work with the, you know, what do theorists say around this? But more importantly, how do I practice well in this space, so my background was as an internal OD consultant, this programme works for internal OD consultants, but we also have people on the programme, who come from a more change, sort of business change that sort of internal world business architecture, that sort of area. We’ve, and we designed it for people who might be leaders of change. So I’m thinking again, of our current cohort, there’s someone who’s a leader of a big operational function in a sort of broadly healthcare environment. external consultants, freelancers, yeah, again, some of them working more in design, more sort of plan change areas, some in the what who would call themselves OD consultants. So it’s quite a broad church. But I think change is the the nexus point, and

James Traeger  4:13  
how to really get change done, isn’t it if you’re really interested in how you get change done, besides what it says in the textbooks, but actually how you create coalition’s and manage the process in order to do that. And you’re not just stepping back and thinking about it, are you you’re actually doing it? Yes, part of the master’s programme,

Carolyn Norgate  4:34  
which actually, you might start to answer now, James, because one of the things we’re going to talk about was, how is it different? So what’s your stance and pretend around that?

James Traeger  4:42  
Well, the programme, I would say, is designed for busy people. So it’s designed for people who have a hankering to learn and who may be in a point in their career where they really want to learn for themselves, but also, they’re usually doing big jobs. busy jobs, and they’ve got big lives, you know, lots of commitments. And they want a programme that gives them a community. But that fits in well with their busy life that has some meeting real meeting with people face to face, but also works online so that they can virtually so that they can mix and match their their lifestyle and their learning style. So it’s a hybrid programme, which I think is important. And it gives people that sense of coming together. It has some cutting edge practices in learning in it. It has this practice based learning approach at its core. So rather than coming up with a generic curriculum, everybody has their own tailor made learning edge that’s based on what they’re trying to do differently for themselves. So it’s very much a programme that meets people where they are, and gets alongside their work. So it doesn’t get in the way of the work. It supports them doing the work that they’re

Carolyn Norgate  6:01  
doing. Yeah. And I think that’s been critical for people doing the programme. And that’s a methodology we use beyond the masters. It’s a real hallmark of Mayvin, that holding a practice based question. So how can I develop my voice? For example, in service of something I’m working on right now? Yeah. So taking a chunk of your existing practice in with a client that you’re working with, or as an internal particular programming you’re working with, and really starting to experiment with how your voice shows up. This is an example scenario, but how your voice shows up when, what the conditions are that mean, you can start to play with amplifying it. Yeah. what the conditions are where it’s already shows up? Well, yeah, all of that kind of experimenting, is what we mean by practice based learning. And that’s why it’s absolutely getting alongside you in your role. And you decide what your question is, so people have a different question for each part of the programme,

James Traeger  7:04  
we call it getting close to the grain of the work that we sow. And it flips on its head, the traditional model of learning, because it’s saying, Actually, we’re not saying that there’s a right way of doing this, there, we’re saying that there’s your way of doing this. And that’s what you learn to develop even further. You know, it’s being even more of yourself. So there’s a personal development dimension to it. But there’s also a practice dimension to it, which benefits you and it benefits your organisation or your clients.

Carolyn Norgate  7:34  
So it really follows just just saying that because I think the notion of a Masters gaining mastery. Yeah. can carry with it. Connotations of it’s theory led, lots and lots of reading. There is reading and for those who want to do a lot of reading, they can and it’s quite chunky. And it’s in service of what it is that you’re thinking about in that particular module. So there’s things that we offer in that we suggest, have very strong views will be helpful. But that people take their reading off in the direction that links to that question.

James Traeger  8:20  
And it’s not just reading is it it’s also tools and things to do. I mean, we talked about double duty. And that is that when you’re learning about things and to do things on the programme, as part of the community, which is, in a sense, a lot like a real laboratory of practice, people say that what they can do is immediately take those and apply them in their setting in work, and in their practising work. So there is something that’s immediately and efficiently kind of applicable from that point of view.

Carolyn Norgate  8:53  
I think one of the other key differences, and I really liked this, I think back to when I was doing my masters and thought that might have felt easier as an entry point, is that we’ve broken the structure of the programme up so the first year can be standalone. You could come along, do the first year, get a postgraduate certificate as an exit qualification and that might be enough for there. And you might not know whether you want to do a whole Master’s, you may already have a master’s in something else. So quite often, people say to us, I’ve already done one but I’m really attracted to coming and being part of this community and really thinking and practice, you know, developing my practice. So the first year might be, you know, either your starting point or your all I need point.

James Traeger  9:45  
And some people have done that. Yeah, in the first cohort. 

Carolyn Norgate  9:50  
If you then did the second year that you know, you can either carry on and do it sort of, you know, one after the other or you come back. So, as you say, some people have done that. So you might come back and cohort two or cohort three, and pick up year two at that point. So and you could also start at the end of year two and have a diploma. So you may have stopped there, or you may have come back, and then you’ve got the choice about whether you’re going to do the dissertation module. Yeah, that’s what gets you the whole masters, and again, there might be some people on this cohort who are coming back at dissertation point, having taken a break, or who are powering through. So it’s a real kind of hop on hop off.

James Traeger  10:37  
Yeah. And again, it’s really part of that principle that we’ve designed the programme to be as accessible as possible to busy people, people who’ve got big life’s big jobs, and wants something that gives them a lot of choice in how they might do their learning. Let’s talk about what people say then, because this is the second cohort that we’ve run, and we’ve had some excellent feedback from the first one. So yeah, what did people say? And let’s think about, not just what the participants say about the programme, but what the organisations that stand most of benefit from this, the clients as it were people on the programme, what do they say about the benefits of this programme.

Carolyn Norgate  11:21  
So one of the things that clients are noticing is a real sense of kind of difference, making the difference, if that makes sense. So what they’re getting is not experts coming in and telling them what to do. What they’re getting is a partnering approach, and an opportunity to reframe how they’re looking at issues, so that they might be offered different ways of thinking, different ways of playing with something. So you know, a model, or just a different kind of conversation, it’s the conversation. And that, you know, that notion of conversational change that comes in a lot in terms of what we’re hearing back from clients.

James Traeger  12:06  
I mean, I’ve heard, I’ve heard them say things like that, they found people who’ve done this programme, create space to think differently, about what the tasks might be, and help them think quite differently about that and work quite differently, to get things done.

Carolyn Norgate  12:23  
The phrase grounding experience was one that I picked up this was a grounding experience for us. And I think that is often the case when the presenting issue isn’t necessarily kind of the issue you end up working with. So that kind of grounded us into ah okay, we thought we needed to start here and now, as we’ve talked about it and thought about it, it’s a slightly different starting place. And that’s actually much more connected to what we’re trying to work within this organisation or what we’re trying to move forward on or solve.

James Traeger  12:56  
I sometimes talk about it in terms of moving from activity to action, that what the people who’ve done this type of practice learn to do is to help organisations and clients in organisations understand what purposeful action is, rather than just being busy fools. Going round and round in circles, so they talked about them, in order to do that they’ve been generous with their time, that they’re very professional, that they’ve got this ability to identify trends and flex, you know, so the client’s needs will change and you learn as in this type of programme to flex how you respond to that changing need that clients have.

Carolyn Norgate  13:37  
Yeah, helping us find out what our needs really are in relation to this change, and asking the questions that were needed, so that we can get to a better place, which I think is a really interesting because it’s, you know, that kind of that notion of what we’re trying to change and what is it we’re trying to change and for the, you know, for why we’re trying to do this is, it’s often seems like, quite an easy question to answer and it is at a superficial level, when you think about the complexities of organisations and, you know, the fact that they are this interdependent places of humans coming together. Of course, it’s not that easy.

James Traeger  14:19  
So, you know, when organisations talk about this kind of golden thread of aligning vision and strategy and values and work, activity and people. This is actually about how you do that. Where producing practitioners who know how to get that done in practice as part of the learning on the programme.

Carolyn Norgate  14:46  
I was thinking about the flexing and adaptable nature of the kind of consulting that people are taking into their organisations or to their clients, and thinking about what participants have said to us

James Traeger  14:59  
So, yeah, so tell me a bit about what participants say about the impact of the programme. What did they say is what they benefit from in terms of doing a programme like this in terms of the impact on them?

Carolyn Norgate  15:15  
Well, I think there’s something about the space that they’ve had both individually to reflect through their question, but also in community to really step back a little from from day to day, and look at their practice, look at the context in which they’re operating. And not just think about, but experiment with practice in how might I show up differently in this space? And what that seems to do for people is really bring them back to themselves as a practitioner, but one of them said to me recently, you know, that use of self for me, that’s what it’s all coming back to as I’ve been going through this, this module. You know, it’s both had me think differently, given me a broader theoretical basis. And with both of those are more confident, I’m quite sort of indirectly quoting someone, I’m more confident to trust myself and adapt and flex in the moment, when of course, you’re sitting in a conversation, you don’t know where it’s gonna go, you’re working with a group, you don’t exactly know where that’s gonna go. So that confidence to trust yourself, and your practice, and how you then show up and trust that you know what’s needed for that group?

James Traeger  16:35  
Yes, I’ve heard participants talk about that idea of critical thinking, but not in the sense of thinking on their own in a darkened room, but with others, and how to develop a kind of a more wise and grounded crafted approach to how we might go about change, which involves critical thinking, they know where to look for the right ideas. So they’ve got a better theoretical base for what they’re doing. But it’s also about the confidence to have a go and to try and with the support of peers and faculty. They’re sort of less judgmental about themselves and more, allowing themselves to kind of embrace challenges and see challenges as a bit of a gift. And also, we talk a lot about intuition and I remember, surveys suggest that chief executives say that they wish they’d relied more on their intuition. And I think intuition is a refinement of craft. It’s kind of knowing my head, heart and guts in some kind of alignment and a programme like this really kind of develops that. That from a kind of very sort of strong point of view.

Carolyn Norgate  17:54  
Well, I think people underplay intuition, as it is a form of knowledge. There is a type of knowledge, which isn’t always privileged because it’s not the type of knowledge that organisations focus on. And people are building up their practice so that when in the moment intuition helps them suggest, you know, choices, take a turn in the conversation, make a choice. There’s an underplaying of what happened there and what this programme does is ask people to really acutely observed the practice and notice that yes, at one level, it was in their intuition, but what is it in their practice? That had meant that that was there ready for them? To sort of, you know, that very short itch to scratch moment where they knew to grab and of course that model or ask that question,

James Traeger  18:55  
and that that’s going to help them be more efficient, and more direct and make quicker decisions and that kind of thing. I noticed that organisations that I work with, often asked for more data before they make choices. And actually, what’s going on there is not that they need more data, most organisations are full of data. What they haven’t got is confidence, clarity, and programmes like this give people and their clients confidence and clarity to make moves in a chaotic environment and that’s what the programme is about.

Carolyn Norgate  19:31  
So if this is for you, if you’d like to find out more. There’s our website where we have a whole section of stuff on the masters. So There’s open events, which will be a couple of hours to hear a bit more detail about the programme

James Traeger  19:55  
and meet potential participants to get a bit of a taster

Carolyn Norgate  19:59  
session. So it won’t be a come and listen, it will be come and stop thinking about your practice. So you’ll get a good sense of how

James Traeger  20:08  
it might be, a free taster of the learning environment. 

Carolyn Norgate  20:08  
So the first one of those is on the fifth of October. And they’ll then run through to when we kick off next year, always happy to have a chat, as well. I’ve a one to one a cup of tea over Zoom or teams, and with myself or James or other members of faculty. So drop us an email at [email protected]. And yeah, let us know. If you’d like to chat. What questions

James Traeger  20:40  
you’ve got either for you or for a friend and you know, the programme is due to start in March in 2024. There’s an orientation session on the 26th of February. So that’s kind of what you’re aiming for. And yeah, that’s the basis of our next cohort, which we’re very excited to and of course, they’ve got the benefit of the previous cohort to learn from as well. And the idea is to develop that wider kind of community around the whole programme, so you’ll have some older brothers and sisters as it were kind of supporting you as well, if you come and do the programme,

Carolyn Norgate  21:16  
and we have another podcast out there already, which is talking to Amy and pretty who are on the current cohort talking about the experience so far from a few months ago and there’ll be more if you wanted to hear participants experiences. Listen out because there’ll be some future content from them. Thanks for listening.

James Traeger  21:35  
Thanks, guys. 

Claire Newell  21:36  
Thank you so much for listening to us today. And we hope to see you next time take care bye bye.

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