When looking at ways to increase profitability, CerebralFix’s first move was to put in Lean processes; their second move was to enrol their Head of Studio, Nadia Thorne, into SIGNAL’s XTEND, an in-work, at-work, for-work Masters programme to grow leaders in the tech industry. We spoke to Gwyn Edwards for more insight into the benefits of this innovative programme.
What attracted CerebralFix to the XTEND Professional Programme?
We needed to move away from a command and control management approach - to focus our attention on the business, instead of having to work in the business. Being able to train our staff into leadership roles, rather than to engage external consultants.
XTEND's work-based learning was a huge benefit. It's specific to your business needs and aimed at businesses that want to grow their people. Overall XTEND is a more cost-effective approach to professional development.
We identified the people we wanted to grow, but they needed help to take the next step up - to become a critical thinker on how to run the business.
What have been the benefits to your organisation in staff completing XTEND?
I've been able to do myself out of a job and focus on other new ventures. XTEND has taken a problem away from me. We now have a management team in place who can successfully run the business. We give them ideas, they can grasp them, critically analyse them, then go put them into action. Our Head of Studio has grown as a person and is a highly effective leader.
The wider company benefits from the new processes that Nadia put in place. Staff have embraced a culture of empowerment. Where the team had traditionally been told what to do, staff are now empowered to take ownership of the business and that has been successful.
How would you describe the Return on Investment (ROI) of XTEND?
ROI was immediate. Nadia’s development was the leading force behind the company’s growth. The average age of our staff is 31 so she developed processes and culture that engages millennial's. The result is more committed and enthused staff. Staff utilization is up +35%, the same number of staff are delivering more output which has had a positive impact on revenue.
How does XTEND compare to other forms of professional development?
You can send staff on Kanban or Lean courses, conferences, but those learnings aren't always implemented. There might be a buzz of excitement, but it wears off and usually doesn’t make change. However, there is constant feedback and opportunity for improvement throughout the XTEND programme. With XTEND, Nadia learned how to create meaningful change.
Which staff do you see XTEND as being best suited to?
XTEND is not necessarily a technical degree, or just for projects focused on theories or coding. XTEND allowed Nadia to develop the other softer skills of leadership, and will make other leaders within the business.
Would you recommend the XTEND programme to other businesses?
I would definitely recommend XTEND for businesses that want to grow their people. We put three more of our team on to the programme after Nadia's success. With the industry we're in, finding people to hire with the right expertise is difficult or very expensive. XTEND has enabled us to grow our people into the roles that we require as our business grows.