Back in September of 2013 it was listed on the Shadowcat news pages that I would be joining the first cohort of the Lancashire Forum. This was an initiative sponsored by the European Regional Development Fund in association with Boost Lancashire and the Lancashire Enterprise Partnership and held at the Lancaster University management School (LUMS) at Lancaster University.
The Quorum has been a great ride and an enormous success for me. I have loved almost every moment; learned and grown as a person; made friends and business contacts that will I know turn into long term relationships and generally been able to step away from Shadowcat and think deeply. Most of my thinking has been about the culture, the direction and the strengths of the company and the wonderful staff that are part of it.
The initiative has also led to some excellent, and often greatly inspiring, Masterclasses. These are lectures, events, where a speaker will engage about their life and what they have come to learn and I wrote several blog posts based upon them.
The first of these was from Mark Freel a professor at both Lancaster and the University of Ottawa. Mark spoke about [innovation for companies][innovate] and the importance of being innovative, but also innovating well. He also mentioned the [goals that businesses must develop][goal] and gave a great account of the Brew Dog brand.
The Masterclass given by Paul McGee famed for being The SUMO Guy (Shut Up Move On) was one that has made positive impacts on both my life and my thinking. The articles I wrote for that were gushing as I both stated that ['I Love You Sugar Baby'][sumo1] and the [7 Steps I Think About Every Day][sumo2]. Paul is a great speaker and I am looking forward to a point when i can see him again.
Pete Goss gave a wonderful account of his experiences running several yachting challenges. His lecture was both exciting and humbling and made me reflect on the fact that it is the 'team that make you the leader'. His meditations on life, leadership, teamwork and overcoming great odds was inspiring and can relate to everyday existence.
There were other lectures that I could not attend, or did not write about. One that stands out was Kirsty Henshaw who spoke about her business and personal challenges. She also gave positive example that you can face almost absolute disaster and yet bounce back from it.
The Forum was so much more than this though. Kim, Laura, Ian and Richard created a programme of events and material that supported a journey. This was a challenge to face and a lot of time was spent in thinking, learning and listening to other people. The manner in which we became supportive was amazing and that we also developed peer learning. We came to understand each others challenges and approaches which gave fresh insight to ourselves and our businesses.
We also had a great opportunity to forge links with other departments and staff at the university and to see the resources and opportunities available by involving ourselves with them. This was one of the first elements that attracted me to the initiative and so I am especially happy to have been able to do that.
So this is a bit of gushing praise for the experience and the people. I am sad that it is over and yet I know that we will continue as a group in one form or another as there are strong links already forged between us all. I really want to thank/praise the University, the staff, Boost Lancashire and especially Kim and Laura for all the hard work made to make this a great thing to attend.
So this is not farewell, just au revoir.
[innovate]: http://shadow.cat/blog/mark-keating/2013/innovation/ "How we need to innovate and how we see it"
[goal]: http://shadow.cat/blog/mark-keating/2013/business-goals/ "The Goals of Business"
[sumo1]: http://shadow.cat/blog/mark-keating/2013/sumo/ "I Love you Sugar Baby, all about Paul Mcgee and his ace presentation"
[sumo2]: http://shadow.cat/blog/mark-keating/2013/7-steps/ "applying SUMO to my daily life"