Laurence attended the two-day course in person at the MTC (Manufacturing Technology Centre) in Coventry in July 2022. He says there were around 14 other attendees, and the training was delivered by Jean Billingsley (MBA CEng FIMechE).
The course began with an overview of how to plan R&D projects, Laurence explains, with guidance on how to identify different kinds of R&D project and appropriate ways to manage them. “I was really interested by Obeng’s model, concerning the different types of R&D projects. The course taught that it is key to define what type of R&D project you are undertaking before you can really start planning the project. By defining project type, it also helps with applying the correct leadership style”. Laurence adds, “this is something I probably wouldn’t have thought of doing at the start of projects prior to [attending] the course”.
Another area he found especially valuable was “the idea of analysing the Gannt chart for a project after completion of tasks”, which he says was also new to him. “The calculation of ‘earned value’ at any point in the project, allowing [you] to measure a project’s progress and success is something I would like to implement during the next project I am involved with”.
After covering theory on day one, the second day of the course was more practical, Laurence recalls, “reusing a lot of the information that we learned the first day to put it into practice”.
Perhaps the best thing about the course for Laurence was the opportunity for “interaction between everyone”. Jean was “really, really good at mixing us all up and getting us into different groups”, he says. “When you speak to other people from totally different industries, and you see the problems that they have, it makes the theory a bit more real” and puts the learning into context.
Talking to people from different industries also allows for some cross-pollination of ideas. By “speaking to massively different industries about their problems and what issues they have, it really gives you an insight into how you can implement some of that [at Torus]”.
Besides the course content, Laurence also appreciated its structure, which offered a good balance of clear learning outcomes, with a degree of flexibility. Having been on training courses in the past that were either overly rigid, or which felt “a bit thrown together”, Laurence found this course struck the balance well. Jean was able to adapt the content to attendees’ specific R&D project challenges, while also delivering plenty of theory.