Northgate's 40 Year Anniversary

When Northgate started 40 years ago, there were very few management games about. At the start we were designing customised games for Trainers. One of the first we were commissioned to do was about time management. Now we have over 75 products and time management is still a hot topic!

So, what are the differences between now and 40 years ago?

  • Language then was more formal and convoluted; today it is simpler and people write more like they talk.
  • Some business games then were excessively complex and required lots of number crunching – mainly done manually. Some calculators were available but desktop computers were not yet ubiquitous.
  • Training was a lot more directive and didactic – there were certain rules to be followed and the training attempted to get these across, often by telling. Today there is much more emphasis on people working together to discover things for themselves – learning by doing.
  • Participation is much greater now than it was then, as is the amount of awareness about diversity, mental health issues and sexism.
  • There are a lot more women in training positions than there used to be and, apart from a few stick-in-the mud sectors, there are a lot less alpha-male behaviours on view.

But essentially organisations face the same problems and dilemmas as they did in earlier times. Life has speeded up, emails and social media have created new problems and political correctness has its good and bad effects.

The key is still that a happy staff is a more productive staff and you get more productive staff if you treat them fairly, explain what you want them to do, check they are doing it, listen to their ideas, reward them when appropriate, communicate, communicate, communicate. It’s all in the management books and it’s all inside training activities but it’s hard for people to keep on doing the right thing which is why training is relentless. It’s not a question of doing a training session and thinking that’s the end of it. You have to be at it all the time constantly repeating, updating and changing the message to meet ongoing trends.

It makes life interesting for trainers, keeps Northgate busy designing new activities (which we love doing!) and is great for staff who are empowered by active learning.