Defence Science and Technology Laboratory

Developing technical experts into system skill leaders

Client challenge


The challenge for Dstl was to expand the capability of its deep specialists from technical experts into ‘systems skills people’, who could think broadly, engage effectively with customers and deliver customer-orientated solutions. Dstl aimed to reduce the average development cycle of systems skills capability from ten years to five years.



Dstl commissioned Talogy to undertake bespoke research to define those psychological qualities that differentiated effective system skills people from those less effective. By identifying these secret ingredients, Dstl would be able to tailor its recruitment and development programmes to identify and develop more people with system skills.

Our ground-breaking research found that individuals rated as demonstrating effective system skills were more likely to have higher levels of Emotional Intelligence than those rated as less effective; and this was regardless of an individuals’ personality or intellectual decision-making ability.

We subsequently designed and delivered a four-day, two-part Emotional Intelligence development programme (Managing Individual Effectiveness – ‘MIE’) to develop systems skills; this has now been rolled out across the organisation. We have supplemented this with further modules focusing on specific elements of systems skills, including building powerful relationships. Additionally, we have developed a bespoke online system skills selection tool, underpinned by Emotional Intelligence, to enable the selection of candidates with system skills potential.



Since its launch in 2007, around 115 people have undertaken MIE as part of the Accelerated Systems Skills Programme (ASSP). Evaluation confirms that ASSP has succeeded in significantly reducing the average system skills development cycle. Talogy’s development programme is cited as the key to this outcome.

MIE’s success led to its use more broadly across Dstl with upwards of 350 MIE graduates now drawn from the leadership, system skills and technical consultancy development streams. Six months after the programme, evaluation confirms sustained improvement in participants’ Emotional Intelligence by 18 percent. Further retest measures indicate a 100 percent increase in self-esteem and a transformation from a negative attitude to a positive one.