Putting together a leadership program for women in STEMM with the potential to ensure the sustainability of the planet is not a task for the faint hearted. Kit Jackson was on board the Homeward Bound “ship” from the start, identifying early on that these women needed more than business strategy tools to be effective leaders.
This month, as Kit and business partner Kym Hamer, prepare to deliver the Personal Strategy program to the 7th cohort of Homeward Bound women, the method will be launched as a self-paced online course with the customary interactive workshops with Kit.
“Strategy execution is a key capability that is undervalued and under-developed in organisations and leaders, which is why nine out of 10 strategies fail. And so, when Fabian came up with this grand idea, this dream, she knew it needed to have strategy execution in the curriculum,” says Kit.
“Firstly, we used the strategy map model to all get onto the same page as to our values, purpose, and strategy to make the dream a reality. We then set about the adventure of putting it all together, at pace.”
At the time Kit was travelling extensively through Singapore and China for work, so added Melbourne to her itinerary, spending the months before the first voyage flying in for long weekends to meet with the founding faculty team and build the curriculum.
“That first pilot program was a case of building the plane whilst flying it, and we learned a lot from it to improve and evolve subsequent programs.”
Kit quickly realised that what the Homeward Bound participants needed most of all was not a corporate strategic framework so much as a whole-of-life approach to strategy. This would support the conversion of learning insights from the leadership program into an integrated set of personal strategic choices across all aspects of the participants’ lives.
Strategy for survival
So Kit Jackson brought her own story to the table and developed a strategic framework that works for women, and in particular women in STEMM.
In 2001 while working in Australia, Kit became pregnant with her second child, and she decided to return to the UK with her husband (Steven) and 3-year-old son. A week before their planned departure Steven was diagnosed with cancer with a life expectancy of a matter of months. His business was in crisis. The London office she was transferring to was closed. And, following the birth of their son, her husband passed away.
“I was in a bit of a pickle.
“And, as you can imagine, there’s a lot of people around me going oh, this is just disastrous, it’s going to be awful, how are you going to cope, you don’t have any money, your assets are gone, you don’t have a job.
“I thought, okay put all of that aside. I had spent six years working in Africa in some pretty tough places and one of the things that inspired me was the women and how they managed to do so much with seemingly so little and in such difficult conditions.
“I thought, I have so much. I have two beautiful sons, and I have who I am and all the experience I have. And it was at that point that I started this mantra of “I am enough, and I have enough”.
“So, I am enough, to meet whatever I need, whatever needs I have today. And I have enough, whether it’s enough sleep, or enough energy, or patience, or education, or experience, or courage.”
Having worked with the founders of Balanced Scorecard, Kaplan and Norton in Australia, Kit already thought in strategy maps, so she made an internal strategy map.
“I started with my values, and built that first map around how I was going to drive a career, look after my kids, and live my life,” she says.
Fast forward to Homeward Bound and Kit knew what these women actually needed was a personal strategy.
“They needed what I had and what I have internally. And so, I went away and wrote the personal strategy methodology.” Kit tested it out with different groups of people including Dr Kaplan, engaged in robust creative discussions with Fabian, refining it on each visit to Melbourne and delivering it for the first time in its entirety on the inaugural HB1 voyage to Antarctica.
“The evolution of the methodology has just carried on as the demand for it has grown. I always thought I needed to really build this program into a business, and it wasn’t until I really started working with Kym (Hamer), who is another force to be reckoned with, that we’ve got to a place where we can actually bring this baby to life.”
“Our aim is to empower potential,” Kit says, “helping people create the path to their best life.”
Personal Strategy Map launch
A self-paced online course launches from December 2021, which is very similar to the Homeward Bound program, but it’s been adjusted to fit outside the women in STEMM lens, and to run as a six stage programme. There is a full course for those who haven’t done a personal strategy before, and a refresher course which Kit has already delivered numerous times for the wider Homeward Bound network.
“There’s a huge need in the world for personal strategy,” says Kit.
“I’m always absolutely struck by people who say that articulating their personal strategy map has enabled them to realise what they need to do, and gain real insights about themselves.
“This is not just another self-help book about work-life balance. This is an integrated whole-of-life strategy, delivered through three lenses of your self, your relationship with others, and your work or contributions. This is a kind of strategy that people typically haven’t done before.
“They haven’t looked at their whole of life and, and the strategic ecosystem of myself at the core, my relationships with others, and work and seen how each of these is founded on a set of values.
“It gives them a pathway to fulfill their potential.
“And that is part of my own personal strategy. I believe that everybody has a right to fulfil their potential and, and so this, it fits with my own personal strategy goals,” Kit says.
As a user of the method and now a partner in the business Kym says the Personal Strategy framework is something that can be used over and over again.
“For me the great thing about this, having done it a couple of years ago for the first time, was that it provides a framework that you can use over and over again. You can build it as you start to explore different parts of your life, and that’s what I find so valuable about it. It’s not just a one-time thing,
“I think that because Kit has been piloting this for a number of years with over 500 Homeward Bound participants and others it’s been honed on the experiences and the feedback that she’s received from others.
“And it’s not just about the talk, it’s, it’s about walking the talk. We actually did a strategy map for the Personal Strategy business recently, and it’s incumbent on us to walk the talk and to live our own personal strategy,” says Kym.
“You’ve got to do the work. This is not like reading a book and then not taking any action. This is a programme where you do the work and you create the path to living your best life, and you review and use this toolkit over and over again.”
Kit reflects on how different her life might have been if, 20 years ago, she had concentrated on her current situation, rather than putting it into context and deciding on what she needed to achieve and where she wanted to be.
“I would have got dragged down and drowned. This is about looking at life as an ecosystem.. The Personal Strategy approach makes you step back and realise you can actually make all this work with congruence.”
- Kit Jackson Personal Strategy – follow on instagram
- Personal Strategy Map (coming soon)
- More about Kit Jackson
Words: Louise Johnson
Image: Oli Sansom, HB2