2023 - Key Takeaways
The Challenge of Context Agnosticism
Freedom can be a blessing and a curse. You can be everything and nothing; sometimes, in defining your identity, you can have choice paralysis. We are at the end of 2023 and four years into the Solvd Together “journey”, and we’re still having animated internal debates about what we do as a company. On the one hand, we have a world of opportunities before us; on the other, it is nerve-wracking to focus on one area at the expense of another.
When you are experts on a process like 5Di / human-centred design, the opportunity and the challenge is that you can be ‘context agnostic’. We solve problems, and it doesn’t matter what industry, sector, or service: if you have a diverse team who can generate world-class research and design consumer-grade quality products and services, your scope is unlimited.
Diverse Client Projects: From Onboarding to Service Design
In 2023, our client projects have ranged from induction and onboarding, to graduate research, engagement, and customer experience. To skills frameworks, performance management, and service design. I personally have lived a varied existence from crawling around the bows of ships to days in a “dark room” designing people development strategies.
Perhaps we can be too focused on defining a place for ourselves in this topsy-turvy world of people development, when to be impactful you need to be both a generalist and specialist simultaneously. Could it be enough that we’re solving “people problems”?
Awards, Identity, and Innovation
So, I sign off 2023 with Solvd Together amid an existential crisis – in a good way. We’ve won awards for ‘British Training Provider of the Year’, ‘Use of Social Technology’, ‘Learning Designer of the Year’ (Alexei Hnatiw) and ‘Heathrow’s Supplier of the Year’. And at the same time, we’ve delivered projects that bear little to no resemblance to training at all. Having one foot in, and one foot out of the L&D industry feels uncomfortable, but maybe that’s where you must be if you want to do “innovation”?
Disrupting in Partnership: Collaborative Innovation
In the chaos that is disruption, beautiful things have emerged. The best collaborations have happened when every person and partner has felt free to push the boundaries of our collective expertise to do things never done before. This year I’d particularly like to shout out to Hero Films (for their support in creating a recently shortlisted, Virtual onboarding experience), our acting partners RpfT, and PUKKA Films (for their professionalism and commitment to quality across several experience design projects), The Likeminded (for their animation production), Jen Long-O’Hare (copywriting), IQ (high-quality printing) and the continued help from WASSAA (design).
Personal and Organisational Growth
For me, 2023 has been a year of growth metaphorically and literally. I’ve seen the Solvd squad increase in size (60%) and I’ve seen my family do the same with the birth of my son in November. It feels like with every new human there are new opportunities to diversify in experience and expertise, it’s inspiring and overwhelming. It’s a responsibility that’s impossible to take lightly, and just as there are tough times – like trying to convince my 2-year-old to wear trousers to nursery – there are also moments of profound inspiration, pride and gratitude for what we’ve achieved together.
So, it’s thanks to folks who have been prepared to challenge the status quo and have ridden the wave of ambition. Call it arrogance or naivety, but it feels like everyone at Solvd, and working with Solvd, believes that the world of learning and education can change for the better.
2024 will be another year where we expand our horizons and get closer to the truth of who we are, but always as a force for good, and one that believes in the potential of people to do the right thing given the right culture and environment.