A pioneering, commercially focussed and remotely delivered development programme for an annual cohort of sporting future leaders.

The context: Following a 12 month process of vendor research and evaluation, YCN was appointed by the global talent development team at adidas to design, produce and deliver a series of topic specific learning modules, remotely presented as 'Skills Gyms', to annual cohorts of future leaders enrolled on the business's Talent Carousel development programme. The Talent Carousel is a real-time, real-life on the job two-year learning experience that offers cross-functional and cross-cultural exposure, experience and support to 20 talented performers, enabling them with creatively, collaboration and confidence to lead in ever-changing contexts.

These Skills Gyms would be central to the programme's content, needed to develop capability that could be applied to specific live business assignments and must connect participants with smart and inspiring thinking from outside the business. The ambition was an enticing, interactive learning experience — delivered entirely remotely, given that participants were distributed all around the world — and that encouraged the practice and application of interesting and challenging new models and tools to two central assignments; one tackled individually and the other in sub-groups:

The approach: Drawing on remote, social and micro-learning principles, we developed ten Skills Gyms in total, focussed on key capabilities participants would need to successfully deliver against these key assignments. Each Skills Gym comprised a series of specially produced bite-sized video and audio contributions from inspiring external contributors, curated resources and recommended reading, and short virtual workshops hosted on ZOOM, into which our external contributors were invited to share their perspectives on the topic, personally frame challenges and provocations — kickstarting conversation and application among the group.

Below are details of each Skills Gym and the community of entrepreneurs, subject experts and other thought leaders we curated to deliver and enrich each with their generous sharing of first person learning. YCN's expert and close ongoing facilitation, learning community management and individual coaching were fundamental to the success of the programme.

Skills Gym 1: Defining Your Leader Brand. With brand consultant Robert Bean.

Skills Gym 2: The Power of Feedback. With polar explorer and endurance athlete Ben Saunders, choreographer Richard Alston and creative director James Greenfield.

Skills Gym 3: Problem Definition: how to use challenges as springboards for innovation. With innovation expert and 'chief misfit' Alexa Clay, designer and creative director Kirsty Minns and the Bakery co-founder Andrew Humphries.

Skills Gym 4: The Value Proposition: how to create products and services customers want. With brand consultant Matt Boffey, Proper founder Ryan Kohn and chief strategy officer Andy Bellass.

Skills Gym 5: Accelerated Ways of Working. With Andrew Gregson, IDEO's Jenny Winfield, and John Lewis's head of innovation John Vary.

Skills Gym 6: Making Change Stick. With Sugru founder Jane Ni Dhulchaointt, change lead Emer Wynne and coach and author Gillian Davis.

Skills Gym 7: The Art of Disruption. With McKinsey partner Richard Dobbs, author and consultant Mark Shayler, Gyana founder Joyeeta Das Kell and OMD's head of technology Sam Battams.

Skills Gym 8: Breaking Down Walls: How to open-source your thinking. With 'compulsive connector' Roland Harwood, Numa's Claudio Vandi, Monzo founder Tom Blomfield and Talenthouse founder Maya Bogle.

Skills Gym 9: The Game Changing Business Case. With coach and consultant Liz Whitney, Bloom & Wild founder Aron Gelbard, Pip & Nut founder Pippa Murray and ustwo managing director Nicki Sprinz.

Skills Gym 10: Smart Co-Creation. With Smithery founder John Wilshire, trainer and consultant Claire Bridges and LEGO Serious Play creator Per Kristiansen.

Skills Gym 11: Making a Difference: How to Inspire the Change that matters. With B-Corp head of operations Georgina Morris, Cook Creative Director James Rutter and coach and author Gillian Davis.

Skills Gym 12: Lead with Purpose. With coach Anna Barez-Brown, Unruly Media co-founder Sarah Wood and coach and author Hilary Gallo.

Eyecatching post to connect Skills Gym participants with collaborating experts.

Partner with us

We provide growth-oriented organisations of all shapes and sizes with social, motivating and behaviourally-driven approaches to building capability throughout their teams — wherever they’re working from.

With an emphasis on virtual and remote delivery; our pioneering programmes bring people together to build skills among peers, and immediately apply them to the commercial and cultural challenges of the day.

To learn more about our transformative work with partners ranging from Dr. Martens to Dishoom, Adidas to Action for Children; and to explore ways we can support your teams — email Nick Defty or call +44 (0)20 7033 2140.

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