Muscle Memory


I’m somewhat shocked to say Enact Solutions has reached its 5th birthday!  Not because I didn’t expect it to, you understand, but rather it’s gone so quickly. And what a lot has happened along the way. Not all of it as planned.

Looking back, head-hunting colleagues who I’d worked with for many years made it easier to deliver high quality work from the get go. It did, however, rather fascinatingly throw-up a challenge I never expected.

Best intentions

Five years ago, when Enact Solutions was born, Graham, Jemima, Rosie and I were keen to learn from our previous joint experiences.  We wanted to create a new, vibrant, highly creative and caring company, one that really practised what it preached (a rare thing, in my experience, when it comes to training companies). I wanted us to be an organisation that listened to every member of the team (including our ‘extended family’ of associates and partners), as well as our clients and prospective clients. We would question everything we did, asking ourselves about the value to the customer of each process we created and task we carried out. It was going to be truly different. Better.

As time goes by

So we set off with a short term, initial six month business plan.  We did incredibly well at securing the contracts we needed – a huge achievement at a time of recession.  I owe so much to the team we grew in this time.  Everyone worked their socks off.  But, at the end of our first six months, when I brought everyone together for a strategy meeting, I quickly realised that we were mirroring so many of the processes, values and behaviours of our previous work experience.  Our intent had been that Enact Solutions was going to be a unique company, not a copy, a mini-me, but a new start. With a passion we’d wanted to do things differently. So what happened?

Memories are made of this

‘It’s like muscle memory’, I thought, as we took stock. Witnessing the way we did things, the processes, the behaviours and attitudes, all morphing into unoriginal, carbon copies of our previous working lives, it was the only explanation that made sense. Through repetition, routine tasks, undertaken in the same way for many years previously, had been consolidated into memory, so well that they were being performed without hardly any conscious effort. Don’t get me wrong, we were delivering great projects and clients were all happy. It’s just, we weren’t. We knew we needed to learn and change.

Shaking things up

Innovation is essential for our growth.  To thrive as a company, we want everything we deliver to stand out from what’s on offer at traditional Learning & Development companies. That means finding new, more impactful ways to share knowledge and expertise. Ways that give our learners experiences that engage and enlighten. That make a real and lasting difference. But you can’t innovate if you aren’t learning, experimenting and pushing boundaries as a matter of course. It was time to break out of our old patterns and find different, more creative, more efficient, more effective (you get the idea) approaches. And we needed to be able to do this continually.

Getting better all the time

Now, five years on, we’ve created a quite simply outstanding portfolio of highly experiential, innovative and effective solutions for both the Learning & Development and Education arenas.  Our sales are the highest ever and feedback from both learners and commissioning clients are incredibly positive.

I’m proud that we’ve created a drama based learning company that strives (we’re still learning, see) to continuously improve the ways we do things. Drawing on Lean and Leanstartup, we’ve tried out ideas and approaches developed in other sectors, things like visual management, daily huddles, minimum viable product, and waste elimination. We’ve had great success as a result, and achieved a lot these last five years. The benefits are clear to all. But what really felt good was when one of our largest clients, National Grid, wanted our help introducing new ways of working; ways that we were already working on ourselves. Hey, now we’re really practising what we’re preaching – you see we’ve come a long way.

My thanks to everyone who’s been involved in all the hundreds of jobs we’ve successfully delivered in the last 5 years.  Watch this space for a gorgeous next 5 years too 🙂

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