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We work differently together, we are more conflict resilient, we share more, and through the process we have become a more cohesive and collaborative unit, capable of achieving the future we envisage.
Longhurst Group is a leading regional housing organisation managing more than 16,000 homes in around 40 local authority areas, spanning the Midlands, East of England and Yorkshire and Humberside regions. The group and its four member companies – Friendship Care and Housing, L&H Homes, Spire Homes and Keystone developments – are committed to maintaining their ‘federal’ structure and values and working together collaboratively to help create communities where people live positively together. In 2004 Longhurst’s executive team was looking for a training programme to develop leaders and managers for the future.
With an open mind to format, more traditional types of training were rejected in favour of the Oasis peer-based developmental approach. Mike Hardy is Managing Director of Longhurst & Havelok Homes, a member of the Longhurst Group Executive Team and was involved in the selection process. It changed the way managers and leaders across the group worked together and with others, and many considered it a life-changing experience.

But two away days with Oasis in 2007 gave them time and space to consider the organisation, its future and how they worked together.
Since the pilot on average one group a year has gone through LLL, with the  eleventh cohort taking part in 2013.
A key difference is that the personal development programmes Oasis offer help people work through their ‘live’ issues, the questions they are working with and challenge deeply-held beliefs and assumptions. The LLL programme included the creation of a development strategy for the business, which brought about a number of changes and showed the need to look at organisational change and development rather than business planning.
All the directors across the group are working together on using a future picture approach to work together to develop a collaborative approach.
Bob Walder, group chief executive for Longhurst Group, said: “In the past as an organisation we were more or less developing people in a traditional way by sending them on management courses of one sort or another. The team resisted, feeling that they knew their organisation, worked well together, and knew how to lead.

We have different strategies to understand each other and we are more conscious of the dynamics.
Understanding of ‘self’ is key to this and not something a traditional training programme could come close to addressing. Challenging each other was uncomfortable but through it we developed a maturity in handling conflict better,” said Mike. You can learn tools and skills but they are not going to be useful in what is really important in an organisation and that is building – and maintaining – relationships that are robust enough to manage a more uncertain future,” said Mike.

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