The Icehouse 20-Year Publication: Part Nine

Posted by Ben Whittacker-Cook on 19/11/2021 10:00:00 AM

Welcome to the ninth part of our 20-Year Anniversary Publication serialisation. Each week, we’ll be publishing a new chapter telling the stories of the people and places that have contributed to our history. You can view part eight here.

Leadership Development Programme_Publication

The Continuing Journey – Beyond the Owner Manager Programme

As business guru, educator and author Jim Collins puts it, sometimes companies fall into the trap of the undisciplined pursuit of more  which is the antithesis of what the Growth business of The Icehouse encourages their customers to pursue. It should never be about growth for growths sake, but always about profitable and sustainable growth. 

And theres a gulf of difference between the two.

A few years in The Icehouse acknowledged that to enhance its ability to achieve its purpose there was a very compelling logic to go from being a moment in time organisation to more systematically and deliberately journeying with their customers over time.

Beyond meeting the present and immediate needs of owner-managers, The Icehouse has a roadmap for how to journey alongside those businesses into the future. The challenge often for owners as they grapple with growth is how do they raise the businesss ability to handle growth as rapidly as they do the revenue line, says chief executive of Growth, Liz Wotherspoon.

In other words, how do they grow profitably and sustainably and avoid the wheels coming off, particularly as they work to grow their businesses in the context of uncertain or even chaotic times?

Part of the answer lies in how owner-managers resource the business and develop the people who work for them, the leaders and managers of their companies – which is why The Icehouse designed the Leadership Development Programme, the only programme in New Zealand developed specifically for leaders in Kiwi owner-managed businesses.

They realised that at a certain point they had to work more on their business and less in it, Wotherspoon says. Which means they have to delegate. They have to lift the capability and the capacity that exists within the business so they can delegate to competence. So they asked us: Where is the programme for the people that work for us? 

The result is a programme that is very aligned to the OMP but was designed with the people who report to an owner in mind. It is a pared down version of OMP – two three-day residential blocks followed by a single day.

Jo Clayton, a seasoned businesswoman and valued member of The Icehouse delivery team played a crucial role in the development of LDP and 43 programmes later remains the lead facilitator. Having led many teams and businesses herself, Jo understands the issues leaders contend with and what is unique about the challenges and opportunities they face working for an owner of a business rather than in a corporate hierarchy.

The first 10 or so programmes were attended by managers who worked for owners who had already done the OMP. In more recent programmes, some 40 per cent of participants work for owners who havent done the OMP but see the value of their leadership teams experiencing the Leadership Development Programmewhich has had a considerable impact on the owner-managed businesses The Icehouse works with. 

The Owner Manager Exchange is a different initiative that exists purely for OMP alumnibut again, its designed to allow alumni to experience a deeper learning and re-immerse themselves in The Icehouse. OMX provides an opportunity to maintain a connection with other SME owners and with the wider Icehouse alumni ecosystem. Its another chance to step out of the business and share some of the opportunities and challenges owners are facing. 

John Kirwan_Conference 2021

Its an opportunity to get another shot in the arm from The Icehouse, is how Raewyn Goodwin describes it.

They come in on a Thursday morning and leave on a Saturday afternoon like they do for a block of the OMP, and they reconnect with us and with each other. Everyone in the room has done the OMPmaybe not the same onebut theyve all been on that journey. And because theyve already been on the journey theres a genuine exchange of experiences and ideas, obstacles and achievements that are unique to owner-managers.

The Icehouse Conference completes the sojourners trifecta. In its third year (last years conference was cancelled due to the pandemic), the event builds upon a rich heritage at The Icehouse for conferences that have shaped or affirmed its purpose, from the Knowledge Wave Conference in 2001, to the StrategyNZ: Mapping Our Future conference in 2011, through to the annual Showcase conference that spotlights NZs latest startups.

The Icehouse Conference is distinct in that it exists for alumni of either the Owner Manager Programme or the Leadership Development Programme. And again, inspiration and the ability to connect is as vital as information. It provides Kiwi owners and their leaders with insight, energy and leadership to continue driving themselves, their teams and their companies.

We were excited about the opportunity of creating another Icehouse style experience, says Wotherspoon, by which she means creating moments of inspiration and celebration.  

We want to send them away at the end of the day with a lot of provocation, excitement and energy for what they will do going forward.

To that end there are two speakers in the morning sessions, two in the afternoon, and an inspirational speaker, such as Sir John Kirwan, in the evening. In between there is plenty of time for reflection and connection.

It’s also a chance to inspire owners and leaders of SMEs with the stories and examples of brilliant entrepreneurship and innovation—stories that inspire the people who work at The Icehouse daily.

We feel genuinely blessed in our world that we get to experience so many great stories and examples of innovation every day, Wotherspoon says. Its incredibly inspiring to us. But the reality is that business owners of SMEs in New Zealand dont necessarily get to see that like we doso The Icehouse Conference gives us a chance to provide that opportunity to get some insight and inspiration, and to hear stories of people doing really remarkable things.

Next Week: Agribusiness Programme and Changing Gears

Want to read more? You can download the publication here.


For information on how capability building programmes, workshops and advisory can help your business, click  here.

For more business ownership and leadership advice, check out more of our blogs

Icehouse Alumni? For more Icehouse content head to Icehouse Central and register now. Follow this link. 

Topics: Growth, The Icehouse, Owner Manager Programme, Liz Wotherspoon, Jo Clayton, Leadership Development Programme, Owner Manager Exchange, Raewyn Goodwin, 20th Anniversary, 20th Anniversary Publication