Oxford Residency with the Saïd Business School

I’m off this week to work with the Saïd Business School, part of the University of Oxford.  I have been furously packing all the bits and bobs I think I’ll need as part of the week, but there’s always a nagging feeling that there’s something left behind.  Ah well, we’ll find out soon enough.


We’ve set up a project Tumblr here that you can follow us on – we’ve just put up  project outline for which will give you as good an idea as any what we’re up to…



The Oxford Strategic Leadership Programme has never tried to teach leaders all the answers. Instead, it’s been about creating a space within which leaders can learn together to ask relevant, transformational questions of themselves, their organisations and of the world. We know that it is in these spaces between people, in the dialogue and interplay of ideas and perspectives, that our alumni have found the life-changing experiences they’ve walked away with.

Technology presents new opportunities to create spaces where people can learn and walk a common path together; sharing history & experience from the past, to ideas for innovation & change in the future. We would like to walk this path together with our alumni, asking questions about how people learn about leadership and the implications for how they will lead their organisations in the future.

As well as our alumni, a group that we value so much – we are inviting some friends to help us on this journey that will begin this weekend with an experiment. Prior to the weekend we will spend some time designing different types of spaces – both digital and actual – that can be used for learning. We will also be imagining versions of future OSLP experiences that would make the most of them. Confused?!


The OSLP team will be joined by the following friends:

Some of our more local alumni will join us on Saturday 28 September for a madrigal experiment with Paul Hedley and Musica Beata (many of you will remember them).

Then we will gather around a campfire at Egrove to tell stories, to create a virtual object network and to smelt brass to make unique keys that will unlock this new leadership learning space.

CHRIS THORPE is a technological pioneer, a former research scientist who played with really big computers, who had a hand in building everything from the Guardian’s Open Data Platform to the Moshi Monsters site. He’s also recently launched The Flexiscale Company, a model for the manufacturing industry we’ll be all too familiar with in twenty years’ time.  Chris will be with us for two days before the echo event creating versions of the ‘object network’ or platform so that alums can capture and share the visceral learning experiences of being on the OSLP in a network that exists beyond their time in Oxford.

THOMAS FORSYTH is an artist, designer and ‘maker of strange things’. A graduate of the University of Brighton’s famous Wood, Metal, Ceramics and Plastics course, he will be the blacksmith of our experiment. He transforms objects through the alchemy of melting and smelting.  Thomas, alongside our alumni, will be hand-making a set of sand cast brass keys that will access this new platform. This will not be a symbolic act (we hope!) – through the use of 3D printed fiducial marks, each key will have a reciprocal digital location where Saturday’s alumni will put their thoughts, inspirations, questions and reflections on the state of leadership. As with much of the OSLP, this is new and experimental. We are hoping it will work but we know we will learn a good deal in the process.

JOHN V WILLSHIRE runs Smithery, a product and marketing innovation studio. His work includes understanding more about the nature of media, how it can be used in new ways for transferring knowledge between people and groups, how it connects communities, and is increasingly hybrid, working between the physical and digital worlds.  John will spend the whole run- up week with us, working on ways in which we can capture and share the experiences of the course with the world, further broadening the cohort of the OSLP to ensure we remain at the forefront of what leadership means in such a transformational age.