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“I've nothing but good things to say about Inspire Group. The whole experience was really good. Not only were their communications brilliant, but the end product was exactly what we were hoping for. And Inspire Group are really great to work with. They’re good people and it's always great to work with good people.”

Chris MacDonald - Training Lead Maritime, New Zealand Customs Service
Screenshots of eLearning module pages with videos showing different scenarios

Challenge

Inspire Group had worked with Customs to create e-learning before, so when Customs’ training team needed to revamp their tactical communications e-learning module, they called us. This online learning was to be the precursor to face-to-face training, and Customs were keen to make it more engaging and interactive and also expand the content to be relevant to a wider team.

Maritime Training Lead, Chris MacDonald explains: “We send our team to get re-certified in tactical comms every 12 months, so we need a resource they can refer to throughout the year. Also, during Covid, our people weren't able to get face-to-face training, so we were looking for an alternative to keep their de-escalation skills refreshed.”

 

“One of our issues is we have a multitude of teams who have different risks associated with their roles, from our call centre teams who need to be able to handle tricky calls, right through to people knocking on doors with search warrants. So, there's a wide range of needs and while we train our teams face-to-face, we also wanted to provide verbal de-escalation e-learning because that goes across the board. Regardless of whether a situation is low or high-risk for violence, communication's always key.”

Screenshots of eLearning module pages showing scenarios with choose-your-own adventure style conversations

Approach

The Inspire Group team began by meeting Customs’ training leads along with representatives from their front line. Together we discussed their requirements, reviewed their current learning solutions, and explored how e-learning could better prepare their teams both for in-person training and the challenges they face every day.

Chris says, “I enjoyed the collaboration in the initial co-design meeting. The great thing about working with Inspire Group is they drive those project milestones. Often when we meet internally we have great discussions, but because we’re all operationally focused, it’s too easy for nothing tangible to happen afterwards. But with Inspire Group we had our co-design meeting and a week or so later they presented this whole plan of action based on what we'd discussed. And that sparked more ideas and communication back and forth to refine our approach. So that was a really cool thing to see.”

One of the great values of the co-design approach is it’s a rare opportunity to get all the experts in the room together.

Chris explains, “I'm not a specialist in officer safety tactics (OST), but there was great collaboration between Inspire Group and the OST Instructors who are the experts in the defensive courses we run. They teach physical de-escalation techniques that range from deflecting aggression through to handling restraint and arrest and situations that can cause grievous bodily harm. So, there was real good engagement there, with our people giving their point of view on Inspire Group’s recommendations from a practical training perspective.”

Screenshots of eLearning modules showing interactive diagrams around what happens in our brains and bodies during confrontational situations

Solution

The new tactical communications module lays a foundation for defusing conflict by helping people understand what happens in our brains and bodies during confrontational situations. The module also shares models for dealing with scenarios the Customs team commonly encounter.

Three realistic video scenarios of situations that can spark conflict show Customs Officers in action and allow learners to explore the consequences of their choices in a safe environment. In each video we set the scene, then ask the learner: ‘What would you do to diffuse this situation?’ Learners can choose one of two branching paths and see how the situation plays out.

Inspire Group learning designer Emma Wilson says, “I’m really proud of the way the module explores different scenarios. We haven’t simply presented some behavioural models and told people to go away and use them. We really thought about using relatable scenarios to explore not just the perfect situation, but also to see what happens if a situation goes south. You get to choose your own adventure and see how that plays out.”

A screenshot of the wrap-up screen of an eLearning module

Outcomes

Chris says, “I’m confident it’s going to be a success because everyone we've tested the new module with has come back positive, saying they would absolutely enjoy doing this before face-to-face training. We’ve had about 20 people review it from across the organisation, and they’ve unanimously said it's great. So that's awesome!”

“Also, we’ve filled that void we had for a reference resource. Before, the only material our team had was the material given to them when they did in-person training. So, this module with the videos is more interactive, people can do it at their own pace, and once they get access, they can go back to it to refresh their memory if they've forgotten something.”

I've nothing but good things to say about Inspire Group. The whole experience was really good. This was my first learning content project that I’ve managed from start to finish, and not only were their communications brilliant, but the end product was exactly what we were hoping for. And Inspire Group are really great to work with. They’re good people and it's always great to work with good people.”

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