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The Challenge

When The Red Thread was invited to help Ricoh build its suite of leadership development offers, the challenge was initially quite simple.

“We needed to help move our leaders and culture to support a strategic move from a manufacturer to a true services-led business,”

said Chris Mclaughlin, Senior Learning Specialist (Leadership) at Ricoh UK & Ireland. As we started working with the business, however, we came to understand that - as well as this top line challenge - there were other desired outcomes and challenges that needed to be addressed, such as:

  • Continuing the blending of cultures that had been acquired within the business over the years to create the modern business that is Ricoh in the UK& Ireland today.
  • Supporting, influencing and working within the European HR and development strategy, as well as delivering the specific needs of UK& Ireland.
  • Supporting the creation of a coaching culture Supporting the transition from classroom-based taught courses to learner-led mixed media development experiences.
  • Building on the success of an initial pilot and learning from it.

For us, there was the additional challenge - through how we worked with Ricoh and our primary contact - of becoming a genuine partner for the business.  The catch, of course, was that all of this had to be designed and delivered across all four target levels of participantswithin 12 months!

What we did

After a short period of discovery, we worked with the internal team at Ricoh to create an architecture and philosophy for the whole suite of programmes, summed up in The Performance Equation (see right).

This gave us clarity about the core topics that were to run vertically through all levels of the programme. The architecture also defined the key additional concepts for each level and the desired outcomes. Finally, we set out how we wanted the programme to feel – with learners being asked to review and explore theory before workshops, workshops to be experiential events, and application to be driven through real workplace projects.

Performance is a function of engagement, emotional intelligence, coaching, positive change and trust

We then built and ran the following programmes over the next 12 months:

  • Aspire – a senior leaders programme, focusing on helping participants to create vision, influence, become trusted role models, and act strategically [Sevenx 2 day modules over 10 months, co-delivered to one cohort]
  • Inspire–a middle leader programme, focusing on helping participants to translate strategy into action, inspire positive change and become trusted advisors [Four x 1 day modules and one x 2 day module; co-delivered to 2 cohorts]
  • Enable – a front line leader programme, focusing on helping participants to support,challenge and inspire their team, to be open and to communicate effectively [Five x 1 day modules; delivered internally to 2 cohorts]
  • Explore – a pre-management and specialists programme for forward thinking challengers and innovatorswith a desire to move into a leadership role, exploring innovation within Ricoh [Four x 1 day modules; delivered internally to 2 cohorts]

Within each programme, each module was accompanied by pre-work, consisting of reading, activities, videos and online discussions, as well as post-workshop activities. Each module also had its own content and supporting tutor notes, and incorporated both set piece and work place based experiential activities. We also wove in peer, line and mentor coaching as well as Ricoh’s internal 360 degree feedback tool.


One of the delights of the project was the level of support that the initiative received from the Ricoh Board. Every programme was sponsored by a Board Director and each level presented their ideas for how to improve the business to them at the end of the programme. As a result,every cohort to date has had some of its improvement ideas adopted by the Board and implemented into the business – including potential acquisition targets identified by the Aspire delegates.

The programmes were assessed as ‘Excellent’ when reviewed for accreditation by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI) and were a finalist in the 2015 British Quality Foundation’s 2015 UK Excellence Award for best leadership development initiative, with Ricoh winning the best company award that year.

“Red Thread’s skill in linking leadership material together in a delegate friendly and progressive manner is exceptional. They will go the ‘extra mile’ to ensure the customer’s expectations are realised and more in a true partnership that will evolve and enable Red Thread to become an extension of your business.”

Chris McLaughlin
Senior Learning Specialist

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