Shell – Project Team Skills for Technical People
30 years ago, right through to current day Shell bring technical people in from the field or the line into their training centre. The inspiration for this programme came from two geologists who, now in charge of the development of young geologists, felt that there must be a way to give some life skills to these young people that would reduce the need to have as many painful learning experiences out there “in the Turkish desert”.
It was important to them that these skills were developed in a way that inspired and enabled the technical professional to see the benefit and use the techniques in the workplace.
At the same time, the training was going to move from “chalk and talk” to experiential. From 17 weeks of lectures to 6 weeks of experiential learning.
30 Years on
The programme is still running, both the technical and the “business simulation”. Budgets and priorities mean that the event is now 2.5 days but the objectives remain similar. Participants will work together, in teams in the technical training. The will work in peer groups and must deliver assignments on time and give a final presentation to a panel at the end. Sometimes in Europe, we have 17 nationalities in the classroom.
Organisational pressure, budgets and technology have all played a part in this programme going through several iterations and reduce from 5 days to 4 days to 2.5 days and the technical elements of the programme following similar reductions but the objectives and the fundamental design principles remain the same. Experiential; several journeys through the learning cycle; discussion and debate rather than lectures; bite-size theoretical inputs; skills relevant to the learning approach used in the technical training.
To match the energy of the graduates we decided to use elements of the outdoors within a business simulation that allowed groups to take full responsibility for what, why and when they did any activity.
To support the integration of the skills into the technical part of the course the technical trainers became part of the training team for this part.
30 Years on
Essential the programme remains the same, technical learning now happens online before the face to face, which means the time spent in the classroom has been reduced to 2 weeks. The time can then be focused on working with the subject matter experts and in syndicate groups working on the case study which runs through the programme.
The need for the working together skills remains is just as important. The students work in peer groups to deliver their assignments, they must work with the cultural mix of the group and deliver to deadlines.
“The Saturday was great, with a steep learning curve regarding teamwork and stakeholder management, in combination with the very good presentations by Clearworth”.
“The teamworking aspect (particularly in the Pecten Challenge) was invaluable and taught me a lot of skills that I would be able to apply in the workplace. For instance, recognising different character traits and responding accordingly and receiving feedback”.
“The weekend event in Belgium because of how the enhanced teamwork facilitated the interaction with the other graduates before the two weeks’ assignment”.
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