Think People Consulting wins All-Ireland Training Award for Innovative Graduate Programme

Think People Consulting, a HR & organisational development firm founded in Belfast, were commissioned to develop a talent development programme for the Irish Civil Service. What they delivered has become an award-winning example of innovative problem-solving in a world facing relentless change and uncertainty.

Four years, 4,500 applications annually, 347 training days, and 803 graduates later, Think People have just been awarded the prestigious Best Graduate Development Initiative Award from the Irish Institute of Training and Development (IITD).

The purpose of the IITD National Training Awards is to promote excellence, best practice and innovation in Learning and Development.

This programme impressed the judges with the innovation, relevance, and on-going refinement of the programme content, and, above all, by the clearly demonstrated impact and results of the initiative for both the organisation and the participants.

“What made this programme so successful was the truly collaborative relationships between the Civil Service Department of Public Expenditure & Reform and Think People. Think People’s team embedded themselves in our team and worked to understand our complex organisation and culture, as well as our ways of working so that every detail of the programme was powerfully contextualised to real challenges and opportunities we’re facing now.” said Paul Rothwell of the Civil Service HR Division.

Paul continues, “The emphasis on applied learning and action means we have clearly seen the direct impact of the programme on confidence, collaboration, productivity and innovation amongst the delegates who took part. This is where Learning and Development needs to be – integrated with organisational strategy and the day-to-day work-lives of delegates beyond the training room.”

The Think People team curated and custom-made a range of modern tools for the Civil Service unique culture and ways of working, including hackathons, Action Learning Sets, agile pace projects , self-reflective exercises, psychometric tools, discussion groups, lectures, case studies, and exposure to 133 subject matter experts representing 35 government departments and the working of specialist areas of the Civil Service.

“It was a powerful process to observe,” said Susan Clarke, Manager of the Civil Service Employee Assistance Service, “It was fascinating to see participants draw creatively from their unique skillsets to bring to life fresh solutions to real challenges being faced by our organisation.”

What’s more, the COVID-19 pandemic arrived during the final year of the programme. Within a matter of weeks of the first lockdown, Think People had transferred this sizable, in-depth, creative programme to fully online delivery.

“We’re extremely proud of what we have achieved in creating a programme for a very diverse audience through working in a truly collaborative way with the team in the Department of Public Expenditure and Reform,” said Think People Managing Partner, Emer Hinphey, “We strive to be at the forefront of thought-leadership and innovation in Learning and Development.

“Winning this award with a programme which started as face-to-face and ended as a highly successful, fully remote programme, shows that learning and development functions have a lot to add to the strategies organisations are putting in place to manage the relentless change we are continuing to face.”

Photo Caption: Think People Managing Partner, Emer Hinphey, addresses the Department of Foreign Affairs and Trade as part of the Civil Service Graduate Development Programme