Teaching activity

Business leadership advice from CEO Secrets ...sssh! Silent Debate!

Penny Brooks

14th February 2017

The Business Blog has highlighted this resource before, but the BBC collection of 'CEO Secrets' videos is worth a reminder. There are now masses of short videos, each around 1 minute long, of a business leader giving the advice that they wish they had received themselves as they were starting out. The CEO's featured range from household names like James Dyson, Martha Lane Fox and Paul Polman to the bosses of Ordnance Survey maps, Brompton Bikes and 1Rebel gyms, and represent businesses from De Beers to Mumsnet to Pimlico Plumbers.

One way to use the resource in class might be to allocate four or five of the clips to each student and ask them to contrast the advice offered in each of them, as a homework task. In the next lesson, put the students into small groups to build up a map of evidence of several different aspects of the specification: different leadership styles and/or cultures, different aspects of entrepreneurship for the bosses of small businesses, different approaches to managing strategic implementation, and problems with strategies and why strategies fail.

To do this, you could use a Silent Debate.Either place several sheets of flip chart paper around the room, each with a different syllabus topic (such as those in the list above, or another that you want to study) written in the centre, or if you have several large whiteboards use them in the same way. Give each student a pen, put them into small groups and ask each group to visit one of the topics, writing down the relevant examples that they found as the start of a mind map. They are not allowed to speak!

After a few minutes, when you see that they are running out of examples to write, move each group on to another topic, where they read what has already been written and then add their own examples - and this time, where they have an example that is either similar to or contrasting with one that is already there, they add it as a 'branch' of the mind map. Continue the process, still in silence, until they have all visited each of the topic sheets, and then hold a class discussion to explore the range of ideas and evidence that the students have identified.

The Silent Debate is a technique that gives students the opportunity to focus on what other's have 'said' more closely than when it is said out loud, and gives those who are reluctant to speak out in class a chance to have their say. If you give each student in the small groups a different coloured pen, it is also possible to track the contributions that each student is making, and ensure that everyone is taking an active part in the work.

Penny Brooks

Formerly Head of Business and Economics and now Economics teacher, Business and Economics blogger and presenter for Tutor2u, and private tutor

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