Over the past week I observed Steps’ work and got a better idea of how they work with people and the approach they use. From the work experience I learned about the process that stands behind the creation of a project and I was fascinated to see how Steps transforms ideas into programmes which encourage people to change their behaviour.
On the first day, I sat in on some of the research calls that Steps make at the start of a project. These calls are essential to the realisation of a programme as in the interviews they ask about employees’ experiences and use the responses to gain insight into the work and culture of the client. It was interesting to see how the interviews are structured and how the team later use them to create scenarios that are based on people’s experiences. It was also engaging to see how people react differently when they are asked the same questions; some of the interviewees were happy to tell us about the problems they faced in their careers, while some others were afraid of saying something wrong and held back their opinion until questioned further.
One of the most interesting experiences I had over this week was sitting in a meeting where a live session was being shaped. During this meeting, the client and the Steps project team collaborated to design a programme that could satisfy the client’s needs and achieve all the aims they had previously discussed, incorporating them into a programme which included drama based exercises and videos. I saw that the creation of a program is hard work as the project team had to take into consideration many different aspects to ensure the programme’s success. They needed to think about the right way to present the issues to the employees, create exercises to help to break the ice at the beginning of the session and create stimulating discussion opportunities, whilst taking into account what kind of audience they were dealing with. I appreciated seeing Steps work side by side with their clients and how dedicated they are in creating a programme which is effective and inspiring – at the same time fulfilling all the expectations of the client.
I also supported as a runner on a video shoot for a global bank and again saw how Steps works in partnership with clients. In fact, there were client stakeholders on set to help the director to get the best representation of the work environment. What I found interesting was the importance of generating a stimulus (using drama) that leads the audience to reflect on their behaviour. The actors were asked to exhibit different feelings and reactions many times until the director and the client agreed on what was the best representation. The video shoot helped me to fully understand the “see it” step of Steps to Change; the function of these videos is to put people in front of a mirror so that they can recognise the situations they experience everyday and reflect on them from another point of view. I think that making this genre of video is not easy, as they need to encourage a reflection, but they cannot be too explicit as Steps aims to encourage viewers to reach their own conclusions.
On the last two days of my time at Steps, I went to observe the Hello London programme that Steps is running with London’s bus drivers. Seeing this in the last days of my work experience gave me an overview of the whole process of making a Steps programme; after seeing the research process and the design stage, I finally had the chance to see how the programmes are delivered. In the sessions, the facilitators used many tools to start the discussions, such as quizzes, scenarios and drama based exercises. What I found surprising is how different the effect on the participants can be according to their mind-set. In fact, over the two days, I observed two different groups which reacted to the programme in two different ways: the first one accepted the challenge of changing behaviour and embraced the idea that the way they act is always under their control; the second group was a bit more cynical about the session and therefore they weren’t as engaged with the programme initially, they saw the benefit a little later into the course. I was also captivated by the role of the facilitator as they have the chance to work with a new audience every day, to listen to new points of view and to explore new worlds. However, the job of the facilitator is not easy, as they need to create a safe environment where everyone can express their opinions without being judged and they need encourage different behaviours without imposing their own.
I need to thank Steps for the opportunity they gave me. I learned that change is possible if you really want it and even though you cannot force a change, encouraging is always the best thing you can do.
Thanks for inspiring me Steps!