It does what it says on the tin

It does what it says on the tin

By Allan Howells

It has been remarked that leadership can be a lonely place. Even though there are people and teams around you, carrying the responsibility of organisational leadership can be isolating. When colleagues say that they support you and are with you, how do you know that they actually understand the challenges, believe in the strategy and see the priorities as you see them? It’s a circumstance of human nature that each of us creates our own unique perception of an event or situation and then believe our version to be true.

So as a leader, how do you ensure that your team is aligned with you and see the world and the challenges through a similar lens? How do you ensure that you get best value out of your Boards, Trustees, Governors and Independent Non-Executive Directors who challenge and support you by providing their valuable time and experience, often for free? How do you know that the messages and priorities being communicated to key managers are being received?

One thing for certain is that the clearer the collective understanding of the organisation’s strategy, the challenges that it is facing and the priorities that require focus and attention, then the more likelihood that success will be achieved. When the frequency of interaction of your non-executives is limited or there is a regular turnover of people within the organisation, then many of these challenges are amplified.

At Wickland Westcott we have developed an organisational health check tool specifically for the Education Sector, aptly named MOSAICS. Short for Mission, Outcomes, Sustainability, Attraction, Image, Commerce and Social Responsibility, the tool is a simple and effective means of understanding the relative strengths and areas of focus for organisations as part of a strategic review process. Co-created with organisations from across the education sectors the model provides insight of both self-perception and comparisons to other organisations within sector. “MOSAICS was very helpful in terms of thinking of the bigger picture” was the feedback we received from a recent user.

One feature of the model is that it enables the results from different participant groups and even individuals to be compared. In doing so it can highlight where there is commonality of views and understanding. It also exposes where there are differences. MOSAICS facilitates strategic conversations about priorities; it highlights where groups or individuals need further support or training to improve their understanding; it stimulates discussion and debate on what is and should be important. It provides a structured way in which a leadership group can explore the differences in their understanding of corporate strategy and leadership focus. Feedback from one leadership team was that “MOSAICS was the best strategic workshop we have had as a leadership team!”

More and more organisations are starting to understand and value the opportunities that diversity can offer. As leaders actively avoid the unconscious bias to select and recruit talent with backgrounds, perceptions and experiences similar to themselves, then the opportunity to access new creative tools which can help them extract insight from a more diverse workforce will be invaluable. MOSAICS is one of these tools that can help organisations piece together the corporate strategy picture.

Earlier in my career I received some helpful advice. As a scientist I placed great emphasis on the use of facts as the appropriate way of determining the ‘right answer’. After all I thought, facts are, by their very definition, always ‘correct’. Yet interestingly when a group of people in a room encounters the same problem, each will perceive the situation differently and are likely to arrive at their own unique and different solution. Each person will believe their solution to be ‘right’. The paradox is of course, that unlike facts, perceptions can be changed. At Wickland Westcott we have developed MOSAICS to help leaders and their teams understand their perceptions and then facilitate a way to arrive at a common solution which is collectively ‘right’.

For more information on our services please contact Wickland Westcott on 01625 508 100 or email

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