1. Eyes Wide Open

1. Eyes Wide Open

I went into this course with my eyes wide open but mind in overdrive.   What should I take with me on the course?   Do I need stationery? (silly I know).  Will they have pens and pads?   My drive from home to that first weekend, I was taking work calls as normal – one after the other - with my mind racing.   Am I doing the right thing?   Am I too old or even have it about me to take the information in?   And complete my assignments?   And hold down a full-time job?

So many questions.

With the course being over a number of weekends, and my awkward way socialising when out of the work scene I just did not know what to expect.  

Friday afternoon, Day One.   Classroom of adults taking on the same challenge as me and I can see them all looking around trying to gauge eye contact with those they didn’t know. 

Steps in Carl Dakin and Professor Patrick Smith and my mind went from overdrive to “Yes Adam, this is for you!”  

Introductions made with the classroom full of varied individuals and experiences in security as well as the emergency services to even a lad who’s tech-savvy and currently building an ultimate security drone. Someone to look out for the future that’s for sure!  

As the afternoon went on, we were introduced to Learning in the round!  

For me learning is learning, what makes this different? Well, I will tell you in my own words, it’s an adaption to the theatre in the round where the audience on this occasion is the students working with the facilitators (Carl and Patrick).  The topic is Crisis Management for the weekend presented to us in the middle of the group.  It’s as if they've just let off a very active bouncy ball pinging off the walls of a cohort room.  The subject flowed throughout, presentations and activities that not only got the classroom positively buzzing, but it was sticking!  Every time that Bouncy ball hit, it left a mark a positive mark.  

We also had a guest speaker Ian Rivers who captured the room with his vast experience in the UK Special Forces and now in commercial security world.   Again, as if the bouncy ball had been picked up and let off with all this kinetic energy of experience and knowledge. 

Then the bombshell was dropped, dinner but then back in the classroom for more learning!  Off I went, stuffed my face and trotted back to the classroom for the next exercise.  That’s when I felt my eyes roll slightly in the back of my head, worked all week and been flat out for months.   Those of you reading this from the security game know what that means.  It’s hard to switch off! 

The exercise was to make a crisis management plan for a TV Film Crew team travelling to Hong Kong to report on the situation there.  Our group was joined by the people on the second year of the course – all of us working together.   At the time of the workshop Hong Kong was at the height of the political tension with the activists which made the exercise more current and easier to understand and relate to. 

Was this a coincidence that the exercise was about Hong Kong?  You would ask yourself “Is this the Silverback standard exercise?”   Well the answer is “No.”  That’s the Silverback way.  The theory is there behind the exercise, it’s your job to use it like a tool, to explore situations and issues.   But the subject is as current as the facilitators can make it. 

And as I write this blog, I would bet if this exercise was for the upcoming week, then the destination or scenario would be built around either the Iran situation or the Australian natural disaster.  

As the group of first years and second years congregated in the room, you could feel the knowledge of the second years and the confidence they showed in presenting in front of the room.  This has been assisted through the course, by the likes of Carl, Ian and Patrick and the other people they pull in as contributors. 

With the exercise over and the group having done a good job, we got instant, constructive feedback from the facilitators.  

Saturday morning.  Day Two 

Breakfast completed and coffee in hand off I trot to the next day, full of energy and eager to learn! Only if I had this enthusiasm when I was at school maybe I would have achieved more.  

As the day went on, normally in any classroom or away day training you normally feel your attention drawing to other things in your mind, or even trying to find ways to catch five minutes nap without the tutor realising.  Well with that bouncy ball pinging around, you could not.  I found myself like a meerkat wanting to learn more.  

As the second day draws to an end, I was waiting for that bombshell from the night before  “Yes class once you have eaten dinner back in the classroom” but that did not come and I can actually say was a slight disappointment amongst the group. 

Silverback encourages the group to stay residential to allow us to learn together but also eat and socialise, this at first for me was a little hard as I like to do my work and then go home into my own little bubble. However, the socialising I found by the second night was beneficial as it was not all classroom talk but also a chance for the cohort to network with each other and pick up little tips with one another.  

The third day was about different methods of writing your assignment which for me was needed and the way it was explained to the group was not in a way I have experienced before.  It was laid out to us in a way that made us realise our own way of formatting and tackling our assignments - one that suits our individual styles of writing. 

So, the assignment when it was given to us, was not such a shock.  We had to write a crisis management plan for a work setting which we could choose.  OK, they wanted 2,500 – 3,000 words which at first sight looks like a lot.  It is until you get stuck into it, then you realise that it’s not.  

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