Leadership Workshop - February 2017

New and continuing Scholars assembled for the first Leadership Workshop of the year. The Workshop was focused on Lateral Thinking & Creativity, and we were very pleased to welcome our first 844 Beacon Scholars to the event.

The Workshop started with a recap of the Public Speaking Workshop last year. Scholars were asked to recount how they had applied what they learnt during the intervening period.

Dr Sue then introduced the new definition of leadership which needs to be kept top-of-mind by all Beacon Scholars:

"The Beacon Scholarship is about growing and creating 'change-makers' who:

1. Are making a difference now, not at some future point in time; and
2. Take people with them as they lead."

They then moved on to the theme of Lateral Thinking and Creativity, starting with some warm-up exercises to break the ice and get the creative juices flowing, and moving quickly into a discussion about what lateral thinking means.

Scholars analysed a series of TV advertisements: Faiba, Lifebuoy, Lindt and Adidas, and discussed how effective these were in getting the message across, and the methods that were being used. Everyone then broke up into groups, each tasked to produce an advertisement, including posters and a role play for an innovative new product.


Product presentations ranged from 'Trinity 3000', a new do-it-all watch; to 'Fluorigum', a chewing gum which could repair bad teeth; and 'Struck' headphones, which could be worn anywhere, even in the shower.

After a series of lateral thinking puzzles and optical illusions which demonstrated the need not only to think outside the box, but also to look outside it (ie don't take things at face value), Scholars were asked to make an 'Elevator Pitch'. This involves imagining you are getting into an elevator and having only 1 minute to sell yourself to the Director of Admissions at your preferred school or university, who is in the elevator with you. The main skill learned is thinking rapidly (and laterally) on your feet and trying to make the best impression by presenting yourself as different and unique.

After lunch, the group were shown a video about 'Risk-taking'. This was followed by a discussion about what risk is, how to assess it, and why it is important to take risks when looking for breakthroughs.

Finally, Scholars returned to their groups and were briefed on applying lateral thinking to a problem they saw in their community or society. 

They were tasked to:

  • Describe the problem;
  • Identify three main objectives (SMART Goals);
  • Suggest what they would do practically; try something not tried before;
  • Identify what resources would be needed for their solution;
  • Envisage the outcomes.


After an hour of preparation the groups presented their problems and solutions. These ranged from:

  • building with 'wood paper' in informal settlements
  • safeguarding boundaries between human and animal habitats
  • monetisation of litter

Key Skills Developed in this Workshop

Scholars learnt to challenge their current thinking styles; to escape old ideas and generate new ones.

They increased their awareness of creativity and risk.

They further developed their own problem-solving mindset.


Click here for a Feedback Summary of what participants had to say about the Workshop