Alliance MBS has begun one of its first ever Management Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (MKTP) with business consultancy firm Cirrus.
Unlike a more general Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) where business and academia usually join forces to develop a specific product or service, a MKTP is built around identifying strategic management-based initiatives to increase business effectiveness and improve management practices.
Cirrus works with major organisations on leadership development and employee engagement, and the MKTP will help it embed and transfer knowledge of agile leadership and team agility to support new ways of working.
The partnership will also look at how to develop and adapt training materials to address challenges brought by the pandemic. In particular, because of the unprecedented disruption caused by Covid-19, organisations now need to be much more agile and need to work and lead people virtually.
David Holman, Professor of Organisational Psychology at Alliance MBS, said the crisis had accelerated the need for agile and virtual ways of working. “This includes the need to deliver consultancy services virtually. Indeed, the corporate training and development market has switched almost completely to virtual delivery.”
He said the MKTP had arisen out of previous research into team agility, and that it had significant impact potential. “Because Cirrus is a consultancy it can then apply the knowledge not only within its own organisation but cascade this information through to clients too. That is potentially very exciting.
“From the academic point or view it offers a unique opportunity for us to develop and apply new theoretical and practical insights on agile leadership and team working, areas which have largely been unexplored with academic rigour.”
Simon Hayward, CEO at Cirrus, said the company’s vision was to be a trusted transformation partner for clients and in order to meet that vision - and adapt to the changes brought about by the pandemic - it was imperative that the company embedded agile working across the organisation.
“The MKTP provides an exciting opportunity for us to enhance our management structures and practices to adopt robust, scalable, agile management systems to respond to the new challenges and opportunities of virtual delivery in a growing market. The partnership will support this change by driving leading-edge agile research and turning it into practical solutions. Together we will establish robust, innovative services to deliver that agility to clients.
“We are looking forward to testing these services internally and embedding them in our leadership, talent management and employee engagement programmes. So this partnership will give us robust insight into how to make appropriate changes to create agile, scalable brilliance.”
The project has three specific key aims:
- Develop new and systematic knowledge about how effective leadership practices foster team agility, and feed these unique insights into the design of a new agile leadership programme
- Show how contemporary understandings of leadership can be used to help manage the challenges of leading agile teams
- Develop a process evaluation tool kit, suitable for use by a range of organisations including SMEs, that will help them assess the impact of agile leadership and team development programmes.
Professor Holman added that the project would also enable synergies to be created with the recently launched Productivity Institute at Alliance MBS.
“The MKTP will not only be able to contribute to the agenda of the Productivity Institute, as it will provide new insights on organisational productivity, but it will also enable the MKTP team to influence and work with associated policy makers and businesses, thereby increasing the impact of the MKTP.”
Other academics from Alliance MBS involved in the partnership include Robin Martin, Professor of Organisational Psychology, and Dr Kara Ng, Presidential Fellow in Organisational Psychology.