Remember the small things!

Thank you 2I’ve been reminded this month through work with one client of how important your attention to “the small things” can make a massive difference to the commitment, performance and well-being of a team. Here’s what happened:

The quarterly results were good and targets just about met. Some achieved and surpassed their targets; some worked hard and didn’t quite make it.

So what would you do? How would you communicate with the team? What would you say? [Read more…]

Interests or Positions: Creating momentum and avoiding stalemate

Solutions AheadIn team events, I often talk about the promotion of “interests” rather than “positions” in helping the team to move towards it outcomes and objectives. It’s a principle promoted by Roger Schwarz in his “Ground Rules” for teams within his “Mutual Learning Model” and you may have also come across the technique in conflict resolution or negotiation skills.

The crux is that in getting to a win-win mutually beneficial outcome it might be more useful for all parties to find the common ground upon which you can agree rather than focusing upon your specific views or opinions about a given topic and walking away with a lose-lose.

[Read more…]

The Squirrel That Learnt To Swim

iStock_000011878152XSmallThis month I’d like you to consider how doing something different and for some of you even something surprising may have an impact on you and those around you. Rather than my usual style, this month’s tip is told from the perspective of an unsuspecting squirrel that I encountered towards the end of last summer. I’d virtually forgotten the incident until last weekend and thinking back through it I, like you, will find some interesting new thinking and possibility within it:


Not so far from you lives a squirrel. Let’s call him Sammy for that seems to fit for most squirrels. He could have been a boy, she could have been a girl and for the sake of our tale you can choose whichever gender he or she is. I’ll refer to him as he. So there he was, a bright September afternoon going about all the usual things that squirrels do: searching for food, walking his territory, keeping an eye on the other good and not so good looking squirrels in anticipation of next year’s breeding season, sunning and preening himself but essentially just being a squirrel. [Read more…]

When Opportunity Knocks


This month’s tip takes its title from the UK TV programme “Opportunity Knocks” hosted by Hughie Green in the 1960’s and 1970’s (and there have been many similar shows since, including Britain’s Got Talent) where budding entertainers audition themselves in front of a live audience with the promise of fame and fortune. They’ve practised and rehearsed (well, some of them) and they’re all ready for their big moment and their acceleration into stardom. Or are they? [Read more…]

“Because of” or “In spite of”?

Traffic light Traffic lightThis month I want you to consider why you are doing things or why you are not doing things and discover how through some simple rethinking and reframing of the circumstances around us you can make breakthroughs and headway into your goals, ambitions, plans and as always, your life!

You see, it’s often just too easy to take the option of doing nothing instead of what we really want to be doing simply because we allow the circumstances facing us to tell us that we might look silly or daft by doing this, or that we’re just not qualified to do that and so on.

Some you already know that there is sometimes a “running” theme through my blogs and this one was born not through my thinking time whilst I run, rather it was born from the very reality of there being 5 inches of snow and ice on the ground in January. And for the first few days that it was here yes I was out there playing in the white stuff with my kids and yet there were times when I longed for the snow to be gone so that I could get out there and run again. This went on for 9 whole days until I finally put my running shoes back on and realised exactly the trap that I had fallen into! [Read more…]

It’s time to clear out the old!

Happy New Year and welcome to 2013 and if it’s anything like 2012 then it’s going to be fast, exciting and will whizz past!

It would be usual for me to write some words about the New Year heralding change, promise and opportunity, to talk about resolutions and promises that get lost or broken all too quickly. But today I’m not going to do that. Today I’m going to give you something to kick start your year and to make a difference to how you think, feel, work and live. This is something that you can do as just a “one off” and even better than that make it a daily, weekly or monthly habit if you want to. But I strongly recommend that you take at least the first step by completing stages 1, 2 and 3 below. [Read more…]

2012: It was better than you thought!

As we come to the end of the year, I find it fascinating that so many people that I talk to look back into their past and seem to focus in on the bad things, the troubles they experienced and somehow seem to pull up all the negative stuff that happened to them. Perhaps that’s their general disposition, to be more pessimistic in life (which I’m not saying is always a bad thing) but isn’t there a better way? A way of reflecting that gives you back something, a method that might change your perspective and remind you that if you look for them, you were (and are) surrounded by many great moments even if it seems as if things don’t always go right for you.

And maybe you’re one of those people that do what I’m suggesting already in which case here’s a timely reminder to do it again anyway or to try this as an alternative approach if you’ve not done this before. [Read more…]

Thinking Visually

The team sat down to their monthly meeting. From the back of the room the latecomers squinted and whispers abounded as newcomers asked their neighbours to explain what the data meant. Are the scales supposed to be different? Why is the font size so small? Why so much on one chart? All this besides the overarching question of what did all that data mean anyway? Are we doing well or not? It all seemed a bit of a jumble, but not just today, it seemed as if it had been this way for months. No, maybe years!

Sound familiar? It’s the same in organisations all over the world and all too frequently. So in this month’s Your Future State I’m going to ask you some simple questions and propose one sample solution. [Read more…]

How are you holding yourself back?

The other day I got up at 6 am for an early morning run. I love running first thing; the house is quiet and it feels as if I’m breaking the silence of the night as I creep downstairs being careful to leave my wife and children dreamily in their slumber. In the spring I love the way that the mornings get ever lighter and the air ever warmer, in the summer I love that the day has already been awake for at least a couple of hours, the world already bathed in light. And in the late autumn and winter? Well that’s a different story…

This week it’s dark at 6 am and more than dark: at 6 am the sky is nearly black when the moon is past it’s fullness or the sky is covered in a blanket of cloud. And my route, the first 1.5 km of which is along a road that has its street lights turned off at midnight seems somewhat strange and unfamiliar. Engulfed in darkness, except for the light from passing cars or the occasional house light, this 1500 metres foretold conditions for the next 9 km. So as I rounded the corner and descended the footpath to the canal there I was, encased in visual treacle. Yet, it’s amazing how your eyes adjust to the dim, how puddles reflect what seems to be a residual glow of yesterday and the outlines of boats, trees and buildings appear silhouetted in a lighter tone of black. [Read more…]

How a Post-it note keeps an aeroplane flying!

Believe it or not, it’s true. Post-it notes can keep a whole fleet of aircraft in the air – whether passenger or freight. You may be shocked by that fact but it’s not as serious as the title suggests. Let me tell you some more:

Last month, I ran a Continuous Improvement session for a group of managers going through a management development programme at one of the UK Airlines and before thinking about how to make things better we needed to make their implicit knowledge about their work explicit. You see, so often when I work with clients and groups they think that they know how well their operations are working and how they are “supposed” to function. But it’s only when you stop and make a proper analysis of what’s “actually” happening that you can begin to see, question and understand the current situation; identifying flow, bottlenecks, duplications and disconnects. [Read more…]