Adapting to Tomorrow: How we are creating and innovating

8 January 2024

I say this, I hope, with pride and confidence, but not with arrogance – at Steps, we are good at what we do. That’s because we believe in it, we enjoy it and so do our clients. Of course, that doesn’t mean that we are perfect or can’t improve, but the core approach of using drama to hold a mirror up to behaviours in organisations, to explore how to be more effective in our relationships, hasn’t fundamentally changed in Steps’ 30+ years of business. And that’s because it’s really powerful and effective.

Actually, to say that how we do it hasn’t changed isn’t quite right. Whilst drama and storytelling will always be at the heart of Steps’ work, how we use drama has had to adapt, particularly in recent times. We now create a lot more in the way of digital solutions in order to meet the way our participants like to learn. And of course, the pandemic drove a huge shift away from in-person and towards virtual learning over Zoom or Teams. Thankfully, for our very survival as a business, we were able to pivot our experiential approaches towards this new way of learning.

But despite those shifts, we know what works and we know that our clients generally like it. So, against that backdrop how do you guard against complacency or the risk of stagnation? Just because it’s worked up until now, it doesn’t mean it always will– particularly in the fast changing world we are in. It’s something we have given a lot of thought to over the last few years.

It was as a result of these changes in modes of delivery that we set up the new role of Director of Quality & Innovation. We wanted to make sure that we were keeping a constant eye on the best ways to achieve the high levels of impact and change that our clients expect of us. At the same time, we wanted to take the best of what the recent times taught us so that we are open to new ideas, even if they weren’t in our box of ‘how we usually do things around here.’

I’ve been in this role for a couple of years now and I’ve learnt that in a high performing organisation, there is a constant push-pull dynamic of not feeling like we need to reinvent what works well, but at the same time not letting things get stale. In a working environment that is constantly busy – and sometimes stressful – that leaning on what we know works is ok, but only if we give ourselves the space and permission to also see if there are other ways of doing things. And for an organisation that has a lot of people who have been in role for some time (because we enjoy it so much!), it’s helpful to draw on experience, but not to close down ideas that may work now, even if they have not worked in the past.

Honestly, that’s a never-ending task! It’s constant reminders, encouragement, and challenging thinking. Some of things we’ve done to help encourage our focus on creativity and innovation include:


  • Holding regular Designer’s Meetings in which we do a range of sharing activities, including:
    • Current live or recent programmes, including what’s new, what’s worked well or what we can learn from
    • ‘Past Successes’ – a dip into the archive of initiatives that we haven’t done for a while or that some may not know about
    • Examples of what’s new in the marketplace that we need to be aware of (such as VR and AI or new topics such as psychological safety)
  • Being together in person to experience new approaches that engage in different ways, challenge our thinking and take us out of our comfort zones
  • Experimenting in order to see what’s possible. A recent example includes the use of interactive video for the first time to bring new dynamics to our use of elearning in order to increase levels of engagement
  • Better understanding the impact of what we do. The more we can demonstrate impact to our clients, the more confident we can be in co-creating solutions with them that include new ideas and fresh thinking.
  • Reviewing, observing and feeding back on programmes in development and/or delivery to both see what others are up to, but also to offer a supportive critique on what could be improved.


At Steps, we stop ourselves from using the phrase ‘we don’t need to reinvent the wheel here’ as much as we can (we have a swear jar for that and I’ve put plenty in there in my time!) but at the same time we know that being creative and innovative is a balance – we can believe in what’s great and what’s served us well, but we also know that it’s ok to step back and to see what else is possible.


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