Leading the Impossible

Leading the Impossible is an experimental and immersive programme designed to support leaders to drive radical change in stuck systems. If you are looking for a developmentally stretching programme and are ready to think again about dearly held assumptions, behaviours and beliefs acquired over the course of an already successful career, Leading the Impossible is for you.


The programme will blend approaches from system change, imagination practice, entrepreneurship and habit-forming. Our aim is to tailor the most innovative and ground-breaking leadership and change practices to the context of working in public service. Whether your focus is net zero, children’s services or mental health you will know that the systems we have need more than just incremental reform. However, with the pressures of keeping the show on the road each day, along with intense political and financial scrutiny, how can you go further? This programme is about working with that context, and finding the ways through.

Leading the Impossible is designed to support you in taking tangible action towards a vision and impact that you are passionate about. On this programme we will challenge you to see beyond what you think is possible and to find powerful moments of insight. But perhaps even more important than that, we will support you ways to apply this in practice.

Leading the Impossible is brought to you in collaboration with Impossible Ideas, and is delivered in partnership with Coney and Canopy

 Key Information

Dates: 6-7th February 2024, 7th March 2024, 27th March 2024, 18th April 2024, Mid-May 2024

Duration:  Over 4 months

Format: A mix of residential, face-to-face workshops, regular peer learning sessions and 1:1 coaching

Fee: £2995+VAT per person including the residential stay.

Faculty: The team delivering Leading the Impossible brings together a diverse mix of skills and experience across the disciplines of system change, imagination practice, innovation, game design, activism paired with deep local government policy and change management expertise. All of the team are experienced facilitators having run a variety of learning experiences and programmes.

Who is the programme for?

Our pilot cohort will be made up of public service leaders from across the country and professional disciplines operating at Director level or equivalent.

We find that having a varied and diverse cohort brings rich benefits to all those taking part, introducing us to different perspectives but also shared experience of challenges that enable powerful peer learning. If you join us we expect you will meet a group of like-minded peers who will become a trusted network of support both during the programme and beyond.

Benefits for you

By joining the programme you will:

  • Learn to see the traps and patterns that keep you locked into pursuing incremental improvement.
  • Find personal resilience and peer support to counter the difficulties of working against challenging systems.
  • Build the habits, behaviours and actions to support more radical change. This programme is about ‘doing’, not just the theory.
  • Test and experiment in real time with change in your setting. We expect you to leave the programme with something having shifted.
  • Enjoy powerful reflective spaces and approaches to rediscover your imagination for what is possible and to think differently about the problems and mission you are working with.
  • Redefine your personal relationship with risk and change in a way that supports the work you do, and creates a ripple effect in your wider place.

    Focus and Structure

    We will work across four broad themes which we will return to throughout the programme.

    Escaping the incrementalism trap  – It is easy to get trapped in a cycle of putting sticking plaster solutions onto broken systems. We call this the incrementalism trap and this module is about breaking leaders out of it. We will use imagination practices, narrative change and a newly designed mission gap process to help you work towards new possibilities in what you do.

    Redefining risk – Using immersive games and new frameworks we will help you find fresh ways to consider and approach risk. Trying to eliminate and micro-manage risk can often take over how public service systems are run and sometimes how we run our lives. We will help you find ways to rebalance your relationship to risk so you can move forward.

    System Experimentation – Leadership courses can often leave you inspired only to find yourself back at your desk and unable to practically take forward the insights you have learnt. This programme is different, we will support you to experiment and test out ideas in your area. We will work responsively with you to explore the resistance to change you may encounter and to find the hidden possibilities for change that exist.

    Habit forming – Making a positive change can be hard to sustain. This is especially true if what we want to do goes against established norms and incentives in the culture we are working in. We will help you build the muscle memory to underpin how you really want to work. We will be using the latest theory and practice in habit forming and behaviour change along with powerful peer support methods.


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