As this past year has proved, it’s the organisations that have responded with agility and forward-thinking that have stood the best chance of success – or, in some cases, survival.
We’ve already had the pleasure of working with some great organisations as they go from strength to strength with digital learning. Now we’re excited to share with you our journey with the fantastic people at Strongmind.
Strongmind provides the highest quality specialist training in mental health awareness, Trauma Risk Management (TRiM), peer support and resilience. They work to help managers understand best practice and train peers to support colleagues in difficulty. Their trainers have decades of experience in the delivery of this essential training to a wide range of organisations and regularly work with industries and services where there are high levels of stress, particularly around trauma.
Strongmind knows that people who are struggling with their mental health after challenging events are often reluctant to seek professional help. They train their colleagues to recognise the risk factors and signs of developing mental health problems so that those who need medical assistance can get it at an early stage.
They have delivered excellent training results to staff working for the UK Home Office, the police and emergency services, the NHS, the construction industry, education and the corporate sector.
We speak to Richard and Sue Dorney, both co-founders and directors of Strongmind and British Army veterans.
Prior to implementing Thinqi, Strongmind relied on training delivery that was purely face-to-face.
“We had the very beginnings of converting to virtual training because, like other businesses over the past year, we had no choice,” says Richard. “But before this we just relied on face-to-face delivery which involved a lot of travel and wasn’t practical logistically with overnight stays in hotels.”
Richard and Sue found that face-to-face training came with its own set of frustrations. These included:
- Punctuality - Not everybody was guaranteed to arrive to the training session on time
- Different hours of work - Some clients preferred shorter or longer days of working, which would then need to be accommodated
- Technical issues - Training venues were not always guaranteed to have great connectivity
- Heavy admin - Hotel bookings and logistics required a significant amount of paperwork
- Cost - Depending on location, travel costs were a deterrent for certain clients
- Limitations on numbers - The cost of venues, assigning trainers and heavy admin meant it wasn’t feasible to run courses for just one or two individuals
Another key frustration was the practical difficulty in appealing to the overseas market. Sue tells us: “The cost of flights for trainers to go abroad ended up being more expensive than the course was, so in many ways it simply put the clients off. There’s no point in keeping course costs down if you have to charge twice that in travel.”
If they were to successfully scale up and expand their customer base internationally, Strongmind needed a more practical solution.
So, what was it about Thinqi that made it the right fit for Strongmind?
One of the main reasons was our wealth of experience with the government and public sectors, which allayed concerns over cybersecurity requirements for Strongmind’s clients.
“Because so much of our work is based with the government, the cybersecurity restrictions are very strict,” says Sue. “That’s when Thinqi popped up. We noticed that you have already worked with government organisations, so that was half our work done.”
Getting started with new technology can be a daunting experience and Richard admits that he was reticent prior to using Thinqi. “Neither of us has any experience, so I just think that if I can design a course and put it out there, anybody can,” he says. “The support that we got from the Thinqi team was brilliant. We were shown how to do things and could then come back to ask questions. Thinqi is just really user-friendly in terms of its functionality and simplicity. If you told me a year ago I’d be able to do all this, I’d have laughed.”
For Sue, it was the customer service that was worthy of note. She says: “The customer service really has been second-to-none – even down to Dan in Sales who phones up just to check everything’s okay. The support at Thinqi has made everything really quite simple.”
The ‘Playlists’ feature was a particular hit for curating and creating engaging and professional-looking resources with ease. Formative and summative assessments could then be added to these playlists to enrich the learning experience. “People love its appearance,” says Richard. “I think even our trainers were quite shocked at just how professional it looks.”
The ability to embed videos from Youtube without concerns over copyright has enhanced the credibility of learning content for Strongmind – particularly when dealing with more complex subjects. “The concept of secondary traumatic stress is misunderstood and it’s a difficult thing to explain,” says Richard. “I added a video from YouTube from an American PTSD expert called Charles Figley who explains it all in simple terms. This was far more effective than if I’d explained these concepts myself and it kept the learning experience varied.”
Providing courses through Thinqi has not only helped to meet demand during the pandemic, but has also raised standards. The platform was used to accommodate some of the face-to-face scenario-based exercises, giving learners time to prepare and think deeply about how they would manage a group of people in a given situation.
With boosted profits and superb user feedback, results with Thinqi are already overwhelmingly positive for Strongmind.
Here’s what’s been achieved so far.
17.5% revenue boost in just 6 months
Strongmind has been going from strength to strength in the past three years with an impressive 600% growth – the final year of which Thinqi was a key part of.
“In terms of profit, there’s definitely been an increase,” says Richard. “With the rapid take-up in virtual learning over face-to-face, this has contributed to revenue.”
“Although we signed up to Thinqi in April, we didn’t start taking bookings until July because we had to write the course,” says Sue. “17.5% of sales were on Thinqi during that half of the year – and this was before we got many of our big customers on board.”
Buy-in from major clients
For Sue, one of the most notable achievements using Thinqi has been convincing a large national transport organisation to reconsider the way it works and start putting all of its TRiM training staff onto the platform.
“I honestly thought that would never happen,” says Sue. “I initially thought Thinqi would just be used for the overseas market and for individuals, but once I gave the organisation a demonstration system to look through, we had a large client wanting to move everything over to the platform in its entirety. At the moment, we’ve got healthcare trusts putting large numbers of people through it. We’ve also just been signed up with a national transport organisation.
Even current clients, who were initially reticent about the move to digital, were converted by how easy Thinqi was to use.
“To hear these clients say that it’s brilliant and that they’re really enjoying it is fantastic,” says Richard. “And they’re building confidence too. The next time that they use the skills they’ve learned, they may be with someone who’s seen something traumatic and will know how to manage this. Learner feedback is telling us that they love it. We haven’t had a single criticism so far.”
Improved quality of assessment, knowledge and understanding
According to Sue, she is seeing the quality of knowledge and understanding improve through improved quality of assessment. “This is a very complex course and involves people who are going to be working with those who are very vulnerable,” she says. “We’ve phrased the wording in such a way that there is no way to cheat – if someone gets a mark of 40% then they haven’t done the learning. The quality of the actual assessments, and the quality of resulting knowledge and understanding, is proving greater than what we’d get in the classroom.”
Greater access to learning opportunities
As mentioned earlier, prior to using Thinqi, it simply wasn’t feasible to run courses for individuals or overseas clients. Now that Strongmind have three strands to the business – face-to-face, virtual and e-learning – there are now numerous modes of access learning opportunities.
“If you’ve got a hospital that wants to train three or four teams of people, face-to-face is great,” says Sue. “However, if you’ve got one individual who wants to do a particular course, it’s incredibly costly and labour-intensive. Having these options now allows us to cater for the individual as well as overseas teams. It’s difficult, for example, to get twelve people together to put them all through the training on the same date, so Thinqi has helped us to overcome these problems.``
As Sue and Richard note, this goes beyond just giving an option to the business – it’s about providing access to learning for people who really need it.
An ethical approach to business
This brings us on to our next point. Strongmind are using Thinqi to lead from an ethical perspective, supporting their values in putting people at the heart of their business.
“We probably put the hardest course up first,” says Richard. “This is a 14 hour, two-day course with two assessments. The reason we did that is because we wanted to make a difference in an environment where people were struggling and more capability was needed. It would have been much easier to quickly sell a number of two-hour courses, but we really wanted to make a difference.”
With significant progress made already, what’s next for Strongmind and Thinqi?
One of the main objectives is to get as many standalone courses onto the learning platform as possible. These will provide a continuous revenue stream with only minor administrative requirements.
Long-term, Strongmind aims to increase the number and range of products that are deliverable through Thinqi. Currently, the virtual elements of our Trauma management training are facilitated via Zoom and Microsoft Teams, but virtual classrooms through Thinqi is a possible consideration.
The international market is still a primary focus area for Strongmind, with goals to expand overseas at a greater rate.
Finally, Richard notes that he and Sue would ideally like to increase access to e-learning solutions for the UK civil service with whom we do most of our work. “We’re currently delivering eight workshops a week on the Mental Health for Managers course, but there’s no reason at all why that can’t be done on Thinqi.”
In Sue’s own words: “You don’t need to be an IT superstar to use Thinqi. Anybody can build a course on there, the quality is good and the customer service is brilliant. Nothing is wanting.”
After such an incredible start, we’re excited to see where our journey with Strongmind takes us next.
Don’t just take our word for it: see how 25 million users are fulfilling their potential with Thinqi. Contact us to arrange a free demo.