Pioneering hackathon inspires leaders to transform organisations



A pioneering hackathon hosted by Liverpool Business School sparked “inspiration”, “excitement”, and “enthusiasm” amongst senior leaders and consultants recently. The ‘Organisational Development (OD) Hackathon’ was designed to help organisations transform in challenging times.

The OD Hackathon was designed by Professor Tony Wall at Liverpool Business School (which recently won the EFMD Gold Award for leadership development), and was supported by The CIPD, the professional body for the HR and L&D profession worldwide, the Global Centre for Work Applied Learning, and the global Action Learning, Action Research Association.

Jane Eme-Power, Chair of the regional branch of the CIPD, said: “We have been championing better work and personal development for more than 100 years and have more than 150,000 members worldwide – this event provided solid, evidence-based, experience-tested hacks for practitioners trying to change their organisations for success. It was highly successful in creating the energy and buzz to really make a difference in organisations”.

The OD Hackathon was designed for new and experienced leaders and practitioners to keep up-to-date with OD practice and key challenges around engagement, voice, inclusion, and wellbeing. The 8 hacks included:

  • A ‘fishbowl’ technique to rapidly share innovative ideas in large groups – Professor Tony Wall and David Hayden
  • Conversational techniques for expanding understanding of organisational development in organisations – Mary Clarke and Pauline Bell
  • Group coaching techniques to enable large scale learning and development across organisations – Dr Rachel Robins
  • Appreciative inquiry techniques to create and sustain positive and productive cultures for thriving and wellbeing – Professor Tony Wall at Liverpool Business School
  • Techniques to ensure robust agreements to deliver transformative changes through team-based coaching – Christine McDonald
  • Designing work-applied-learning interventions which maximise the impact of work-based learning projects and action learning – Prof Jonathan Garnett from the Global Centre for Work Applied Learning
  • Applying Lego® Serious Play® for creative thinking and energised action – Afshan Baksh
  • Using creative objects and storytelling to help leaders deepen their relationships at work – Dr Rachel Hawley

Participants at the Hackathon were also inspired by ‘lightening talks’ from:

  • Adam Vasco, a Director of Equality, Diversity & Inclusion in Professional Practice, who reminded delegates to really think about the complex lives and stories people have to be authentic.
  • Joshi Jariwala, a Senior Lecturer at Liverpool Business School drew attention to the recent reporting of the general decline of job quality, and how managers-employees could practically co-craft jobs to optimise and embrace individual strengths to help address this.

The final day of the OD Hackathon enabled leaders and practitioners to develop their credibility and showcase practice-based expertise through writing and sharing their work with other practitioners globally through The Journal of Work-Applied Management. The journal focuses on practitioner-oriented insights and impacts through applied methods.

Nic Wagstaff, CEO of Inspire – Rewire and featured in The Guardian and The Sunday Times, described the OD Hackathon “fantastic” and “was perfect for what I had been seeking for some time… The event surpassed my expectations from the organisation, to the facilitators, to the participants.”

Prof Jonathan Garnett from the Global Centre for Work Applied Learning in Australia said “the event encouraged deep reflection for leaders and highlighted the need to spend serious time rethinking how they wanted to build cultures for learning and transformation – this underpins the ethos of work-applied learning and applied management which is at the core of Global Centre for Work Applied Learning”.

The OD Hackathon is another example of Liverpool Business School’s world-leading expertise in the field, recently winning the EFMD Gold Excellence in Practice Award for Leadership Development in 2023, alongside other world-leading Business Schools.



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