How to actually change the way you work with design thinking

Welcome to our guest blog for January, written by one of our preferred training providers for Design Thinking:

How do you make design thinking stick in your organization? Spoiler: it’s not through conventional workshops and trainings.

Design thinking is a creative and collaborative approach to problem-solving that focuses on understanding the needs of users and developing solutions that are both effective and user-friendly. Design thinking has become a well-worn buzzword with many organizations professing to use it, yet it is still rare to find an organization that genuinely applies its principles. That is because despite all good intentions, as anyone who has tried will know, it’s incredibly difficult to bring lasting change to the way teams work.

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The role of empathy at work

Some would say that the value of empathy is one of the most important skills to possess both on a personal and professional level but perhaps one of the hardest skills to develop?

It’s certainly becoming increasingly more important for companies to embrace the role of empathy at work, creating positive working environments to drive businesses forward with connection and innovation.

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Connecting the dots – How to find an external trainer

Providing training to employees is a challenge,  providing high-quality training using external trainers and training providers is even more challenging.

Its common to hear of L&D departments being under pressure – justification of spend,  existence and having to get instant results are just a few complaints we hear.  Naturally, L&D feel like they cannot get anything wrong. 

Therefore, using external trainers and providers becomes a big deal.

Bringing an external trainer to deliver in-house training is a great opportunity.  It allows new ideas, thought processes and observations.  Attendees may open more to a stranger,  share problems and what’s going well.

But the challenge is that the trainer must “fit in”,  mirror L&D and/or the business culture, and often never dare to dream of challenging anyone (yes, I have been given those instructions from a client on more than one occasion).

If you’ve never had to use external trainers or training providers or have years of experience, the following checklist will be useful for you.

Define the change you want to see happen – behavioural change, knowledge gain, compliance.  Make sure you have an over-riding goal that you can refer to post-training.

Create a clear brief – to include the above in as much detail as possible.  What should any trainer need to know,  avoid, what are you looking for in a trainer, what is the company culture,  job levels of attendees,  their experience.   The clearer this is the better your selection process and outcome

Have selection criteria – you don’t need to share this but you must know what you want to see, hear, have evidence of.  Don’t be shy, you are the buyer.

Your expectations from a trainer – what do you want.  What level experience do they have as a trainer,  working in your industry, as a working professional?  What have they done before to help solve similar problems / achieve similar goals?   What’s their subject matter expertise? 

Trainer personality and style – training is a personal experience, so this is important.  Will they work with the attendee’s expectations?  Will they “fit” with your culture?  What’s their approach and methods.

Proof – what testimonials, references do they have?  Do they have any videos of themselves delivering training?  Or from happy clients?  

Work with specialists – Be wary of trainers who do it all.   At Optimus, we ask trainers for their top 5 subjects they love to work on.  We ask for specifics so “management” is never a good enough answer – what level of management we ask?  So, dig deeper.

Demand to speak with trainers – If approaching a training provider, especially one of any size, then it’s likely you’ll be speaking with a salesperson and not the trainer.  Don’t let that happen.  If the provider doesn’t offer a chat with the trainer before you make a commitment, then drop them from your shortlist.   We do.

Due diligence – do the background checks – financial, insurance, working checks (if in government/with children).  

What feedback they provide – Not only the happy sheets but what happens during the session.  Was there any general behavioural patterns,  trends or demands for more time spent on a certain topic, or feedback on working processes.  Useful insights for you.

Trust – last of the list but a vital component of our selection criteria.  Can you trust the trainer to fulfil your objectives and work with you?   If you have any doubts, explore them and if they are still there then consider beginning the process again or speaking to others.

Contingency plan – have a plan B in case anything goes wrong.   And act on it quickly.  If a trainer is doing something unexpected in the session which is getting negative feedback, then get them to change.  It’s always good to have a backup for the trainer and prepare for the worst-case scenario.  Like an insurance policy.

The above takes time but its worth spending this time to get the right solution.  

If you are struggling to find good quality providers,  Optimus can help.  We have over 30 years’ combined experience doing exactly this.    Get in touch with us at  or call us on 0845 519 7408

Training your Staff? Good Managers develop their staff through learning

A motivated team is a successful team – that’s not rocket science. Motivation, of course, can come from myriad sources, but (and I’m sure you won’t be surprised by this) in this blog we like to focus on learning, development and CPD (continued personal development). At Optimus Learning we are firm believers that businesses should install a learning ‘culture’ to develop their staff – ensuring they understand how to be successful in their current role and subsequently offering additional development tools to prepare them for their next position.

According to The Balance Careers improving your employees’ skillsets is the most rewarding thing most managers can do – and we have touched on this in our own blog in the past, about good learning habits.  What is clear is those employees who have on-going training in the workplace:

  • Are more motivated
  • Work more efficiently
  • Feel enthused
  • Display ‘loyalty’ to the business, and
  • Have increased productivity

If your employees are developing through training then soon there will be a ‘buzz’ amongst them. CPD is infectious and soon staff will be discussing which training they need next and what would be beneficial to the business. If you can create an atmosphere of enthusiasm among your employees and increase loyalty, staff retention and productivity through learning you’re well on the way to having a very successful company.


tips on improving your employees through learning

That said learning needs to be an on-going process.  A one-off training course can seem like a ‘token gesture’ or even ‘sticking plaster’, so some form of training strategy needs to be in place.  Learning and Development teams are fully experienced in this, but it can seem like a minefield for smaller companies who don’t have that resource.  This is where out-sourcing come in. A managed learning service (MLS) will help you find, book and manage courses in the most professional and cost-effective way – freeing up your time to work on your training strategies and other aspects of your busy role.

Using a managed learning services will increase your operational efficiency and reduce the cost of the training – clients who receive full managed learning services from Optimus Learning, for example, see reductions in costs of between 16% and 25%.

Managed learning services can save your Company hours of work and money by taking the strain of managing the training of your staff and utilising the skills of your L&D team to their best effect.

To Find out more about our services and how we can help YOU contact Blake via or call 0845 519 7408

Great training is about exploring the unknown unknowns

If you don’t know that you don’t know something, how can you come to know it?

As we begin the New Year, most thoughts as standard turn to personal growth and renewal. We look back at the past year and think about what we could have done that little bit better. We look at everyone around us and wonder about how we might make that little bit of a bigger impact on their lives. We definitely look inside ourselves and ask what more there is to come. Analysing the known unknowns is always a great first step.

However, the biggest insights can come when we look outside of our frame of reference.

Given the limitless potential of the human spirit, training (and learning per se) is one of those areas where utterly unexpected changes in performance are always possible. However, because they are not expected (we know how challenging measuring the ROI on all training can be), organisations tend to focus on what they know that they don’t know. This will take them from good to better, but will it take them from good to great and truly improve employee productivity. Unlikely.

In our work sourcing training programmes for various large corporates, our most successful clients have given us creative licence to suggest solutions that they may not be aware of. We work with lots of similar companies, so why not explore a few solutions which they may not be thinking of themselves. This openness to explore what was previously unknown requires a large amount of trust, but the feedback is unanimously positive.

Searching your feelings to find out what you don’t know takes determination. Taking a deep dive to plug that gap in your life takes resolve. Admitting that you should be doing things a little differently takes courage.

Effecting change is hard, but it only happens after a voyage of discovery.

I suppose that is what I enjoy so much about January musings. Not only am I looking at what I might do better in my life, the majority of the people that I talk to are at the same point. Companies are pondering how to spend their personal development budgets – they are open to doing something different, but somehow many end up spending money on the same old things, every year.

Being content knowing what you don’t know won’t bring new insights.

Exploring your unknown unknowns will.

However, because you don’t know what you don’t know, external guidance is essential. Managers will be having chats with their people about their goals from the year and L&D and HR departments will be having chats with their training providers. However, even this brings potential problems…. They may have been working with a certain provider for years, but they simply don’t know who else is out there and where they can make a difference.

For me, that is where our training sourcing service comes in.

We open up a world of possibilities for companies wishing to explore their development needs. All this language might be a bit silly, but when you genuinely don’t know what you don’t know, working with an external partner can often be hugely rewarding.

Our initial conversations usually end along the lines of: “Wow, that sounds amazing. I didn’t know that this sort of training existed. Or could be delivered in this way. Let’s book it in.”

With this attitude and new found knowledge, step changes in employee productivity are sure to be just around the corner.

If you need any help sourcing training for your organisation please do get in touch and we can help you explore your unknown unknowns on 0845 519 7408 or email

Chocolate and yoga workshops

Chocolate and yoga.  In the same workshop.  Who can resist this.

Brought to you by The Wellness Designer, this has proved to be an excellent choice for departmental team building events and work socials.

What’s included?

This healthy wellness workshop starts with the light and humorous history of chocolate and cacao, its nutritional benefits, and moves onto to making it with a cheeky glass of antioxidants rich red in hand!

While the chocolate is cooling, there is time for gentle, fun, metabolism boosting yoga or any Q & As regarding health, wellness and nutrition in an informal environment.

This workshop provides the perfect opportunity for employees to get together and have some festive fun in a relaxing way with a ‘no pressure feel’, improving relationships within teams and departments. You can even wear your Christmas jumpers if you wish!

All workshops can be provided on or off-site at a venue of your choice, and run for approximately 3-4 hours. Workshops can also be customised in content and duration on request.

Price is just £150 + VAT per person.

Find out more about this special offer for your festive teambuilding event. Call us on 0845 519 7408 or email

P.S Need to book something in January to motivate and rejuvenate employees after the Christmas break?  This offer will be available until 31 Jan 2018.


Excel training for employees to improve their skills

Excel training has always been popular, however in the past few months we’ve seen a huge increase in demand.  Its the most popular Microsoft Office application topic that we arrange training for. 

With the need for better data analysis rising and having employees with transferable skills could now be the time for your employees to improve their Excel skills?

Range of modules 

When looking at Excel training we always recommend to focus on the areas your employees need now and some that they will need in the future.  That way all excel training will be relevant and useable.

Therefore we recommend running modular sessions,  shorter in length and looking at those areas or ways of using that matter to your company. 

Some recent excel training modules and sessions include: 

  • Excel for finance management
  • Data modelling using Excel
  • Introduction to Excel formulas
  • VBA for Excel

Range of training formats

Excel is a great tool and is easy to start learning as all you need is the relevant software on your computer.  

Improve the use of your data analysis

Its a very powerful data analysis tool. Used by almost all companies, regardless of size, in their daily operations and it syncs with other systems too. 

Contact us about your Excel training needs – email or call on 0845 519 7408

Introduction to Management Training Course

Introduction to Management Training Courses

2 Day Introduction to Management Training – Price £849 + VAT

If you wish to book any of the Introduction to Management training course dates below or you would like further soft skills training course information including alternative locations or want to arrange soft skills in-house training then please contact us by calling 0845 519 7408 or email

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Introduction to Marketing Training Courses

 Introduction to Marketing Training Courses

2 Days Introduction to Marketing Training Courses – Price £799 + VAT

If you wish to book any of the Introduction to Marketing training course dates below or you would like further Soft Skills training course information including alternative locations or want to arrange Soft Skills in-house training then please contact us by calling 0845 519 7408 or email Continue reading “Introduction to Marketing Training Courses”

Effective Delegation Training Courses

Effective Delegation Training Courses

1 Day Effective Delegation – RRP Price £569 + VAT. Our Price from £489 + VAT

If you wish to book any of the Effective Delegation training course dates below or you would like further Soft Skills training course information including alternative locations or want to arrange Soft Skills in-house training then please contact us by calling 0845 519 7408 or email

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