Collaboration Limited

simple solutions * immediate impact * lasting learning

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Now A Registered Company on Sellafield’s LINC Table of SMEs

Posted by admin on 4th October 2018

as can be verified HERE by those who may be interested!


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Financial Reasons For Better Knowledge Management

Posted by admin on 24th August 2018

There are massive financial reasons for managing your company’s knowledge better. We talk about it in this video.

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Simple Solutions * Immediate Impact * Lasting Learning

Posted by admin on 1st January 2018

A New Year

A new beginning

What you have learned about teamworking

Has to influence and inform you now

This new year, this new beginning

Capture what you’ve learned

And step into action


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Posted by admin on 29th December 2016

I learned a long time back that simply giving a team new innovative technology is not going to ensure that the people will work together more effectively. They have to want to work together before the new technology can really help make a difference.

Think about it, just because you can download this innovative app doesn’t mean you will download it.

And even if someone puts it onto your mobile device for you, that doesn’t mean you’re going to use it.

You have to have a pretty good reason first, to compel you to take this action.

And that is why this app can help you and your team mates collaborate more effectively.

Only when you know why people want to work together can you choose the right tools to help them do so.

Don’t waste your time, money and energy on clever collaboration tools until after you know more about what makes you and your team mates tick as members of your team.

This FREE Coaching App Helps You Clarify, Confirm & Convey Your Teamworking Values

logoHere’s a FREE(*) teamworking app for you to download now onto your mobile device.

With it, you can get clear on what’s most important to you as a member of any team you work with.

The app will also prompt you to reflect on what you can do to improve things.

Once you have reflected on these things, the app will produce a concise report you can share with your team mates, laying things out as clearly as you see them.

(*) this FREE offer is for a limited time, so download your copy of the app today!

Problems downloading or using the app?  Contact:

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You may be reducing the market value of your company by improving your business processes

Posted by admin on 5th September 2015

I came away from a very interesting business meeting in Belgium this week with some fresh personal reflections on risks related to “continuous improvement”.

As you look back over your business career, you will probably be able to pin-point times when you developed a certain finesse for doing something more effectively than you did previously. You may have found a way around an obstacle that used to slow you and your colleagues down. Or perhaps you developed a more efficient way to accomplish a repetitive task. You probably didn’t realise that simply implementing these personal process improvements will have very likely reduced the market value of your company.

Let me repeat that in a slightly different way. Continuous process improvement may have saved the company time, money or resources or added to the marketability or sales of your company’s products or services; but it’s still very likely that these improvements in process actually resulted in a reduction in your company’s market value.

And reducing your company’s market value;

  • reduces your company’s capacity to raise fresh funds,
  • constrains your company’s flexibility to further monetise its know-how
  • increases the riskiness for other companies to do business with your company

But how could improving a process actually disable your company in such ways? Here’s how…

The accepted means for measuring your company’s worth requires you to look at your company through the lens of international accounting standards. These standards establish your company’s worth by balancing its assets against its liabilities.

The balance sheet adds up the company’s assets and then subtracts from this total its liabilities – leaving you with the company’s net worth. Two very important distinctions are made for this calculation;

1. A company’s “assets” are the resources that can be controlled by the company.

2. A company’s employees are not considered assets for this calculation because the company does not have sufficient control over them. They are therefore, “liabilities”.

And therein lays the clue to how improving a process can reduce your company’s worth.

If your “process improvement” has been implemented without its details being articulated first in a manner that makes it easily and consistently repeatable by others in the company when you leave, the “improvement” leaves with you. This “process improvement” materially adds therefore to the operational risks for the company (because it is not controlled by the company). This means that its implementation adds to the liabilities side of the equation rather than to the company’s assets.

So think for a moment. If you were to guess;

  • How many of your company’s current processes (and sub-processes) are accurately articulated in a manner that renders them easily and consistently repeatable by others in the company?
  • What would happen to your company’s worth, if you were able to identify all of your internal tacitly understood processes and have them explicitly articulated?
  • In what ways would you most want to leverage this materially increased net worth?

If you would like to share some of your thoughts about this, please do get in touch. Thanks.

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Feedback for My Local Surgery

Posted by admin on 21st March 2015

While my local surgery has a feedback/comment/complaint page on its website,  it does not allow for well-formatted text and it does not allow for email or uploading of letters. So I have posted my feedback here and submitted a link to it on their feedback page so that they can find this feedback…

After registering with my local surgery, I went in for my initial appointment with the nurse.

While registering, I had written down in the “special equipment needs during consultations” section of the registration form my “need” to record my consultations using my mobile phone.

Because I had written this, the surgery’s administrator or perhaps practise manager was on-hand to tell me that I would NOT be allowed to record during the session, as it was simply against their policy which requires patients’ mobile phones to be turned off.

She did however say she would bring the “request” to the panel who were meeting the same day and let me know their “answer”. I don’t know their answer, as yet.

But by way of feedback regarding this experience so far, here are my subsequent thoughts;

  1. I think that they cannot in fact prevent me from recording my consultations, as I believe that UK law allows recording as long as you alert others to the fact that you are recording.

  2. She didn’t ask or discuss with me why I felt that I needed to record my consultations.

  3. She didn’t explain the rationale behind the phones off policy at the surgery.

  4. If she was simply worried about contravening a policy, then she could have thoughtfully suggested that I bring in a dictaphone to use instead of the mobile phone as there was probably no policy concerning dictaphones.

  5. If instead, she was actually worried about audible records of consultations being made and kept by patients – and the potential financial/legal/reputation risks that these might bring, then I would suggest that an examination of what lays behind those perceived risks would be appropriate – and then balanced against the risks associated with patients not fully comprehending (and later not recalling) the professional’s diagnosis and prescribed treatment.

  6. She didn’t introduce herself, as far as I can recall.

  7. She didn’t address me by name, as far as I can recall.

  8. This was a transactional intervention to prevent the patient from recording the session.

  9. I am getting on in life, living on my own in a completely new area (hence my newly registering at the surgery). As my life progresses in my new surroundings, health issues will at times surface and I will have no one readily available to discuss them with – especially if today’s sampling of the service provided by the surgery turns out to be “normal” for them. So recording my consultations will enable me to properly reflect on what was said during a consultation; e.g.

    1. Did I tell or ask them everything I wanted to / that they needed to know about, in order to diagnose my situation properly?

    2. What exactly did they want me to do and for how long and just as importantly – why?

    3. What did they say I should look out for?

    4. Which of my concerns did they dismiss or not address and why?

    5. Did they say there may be potential side effects from my doing or not doing certain things?

    6. When should I (and should I not) book another appointment?

  10. All these questions are very typical for me to have after a consultation. It’s also typical that I don’t actually know the answers to most of these questions – despite the fact that it is my own health we are talking about!

  11. This is why I want to record – so that I can better manage my own health, by having the space and time to more fully reflect on and understand my situation after the actual consultation.

  12. NHS Cumbria is experiencing its own emergency care concerns, with patients over-running its facilities and professionals approaching burn-out, trying to service them as fast and as efficiently as possible.

  13. It behoves any surgery needing to keep repeated visits regarding the same issue down to a minimum,  to better ensure that their customers understand things the first time around. That calls for two-way dialogue, rather than simple unilateral assertions.

  14. And sometimes, that two-way dialogue is simply not enough, because the customer is easily nonplussed by the professional’s assertive behaviour or use of technical / professional language.

  15. Such behaviour may shut the customer up during the consultation, as it did me today – but that transactional “win” perpetuates the unsustainable loss that comes in the form of overworked and burned out professionals who are unable to bear up to the brunt of repeated (and preventable) follow-up visits because the patient did not understand the reasoning behind (and therefore did not follow through with)  the prescribed course of treatment.

  16. Worse, having not listened to the client well in the first place, decisions are made without full knowledge of the patient’s condition. And just as patients can misdiagnose themselves through inadequate knowledge of where to research things on their own, professionals can misdiagnose by not taking the time to properly discuss (and uncover) the reasons behind a patient’s being in their surgery in the first place.

  17. And perhaps this potential for misdiagnosis is what lays behind the objection to my recording my visit with the nurse today. This thought of course has created an unease within me regarding the practice I have just registered with.

  18. I cannot know to what degree my recollection and interpretation of the above is accurate. But here’s the thing; It doesn’t actually matter, because what is indisputably real is my reaction to my perception – what I do in response to how I feel about the experience I had at the surgery.

  19. And to the degree that the practice wants its patients’ behavior to engender health and to reflect positively on the practice, then patient perception management is worth considering – and that may mean behaviour management / modification for the practice.

  20. Being “professional” but inconsiderate is not acceptable to me.

  21. In addition, my experiences thus far with the surgery have highlighted gaps between expectations set via the website or registration forms and the actual experiences I have had in the surgery itself.

    1. The website says “Please complete the online form below if you wish to register…” But when I came in afterwards to show proof of identity, I was told that I had to register in-person, with pen-in-hand and that nothing would or could be done with the online forms that I had already filled out.

    2. The website says “On the form, you will be able to say which practitioner you would prefer to see. However, you will be registering with the practice rather than an individual GP. “ So I took the time to read the profiles of the GPs before registering. Afterwards, I did not notice any place in the registration process to indicate which practitioner I would prefer to see and when I asked the receptionist in the surgery how I might do this, I was told that you can’t. You can ask when you make an appointment to see a particular GP, but you cannot choose one to be your general default GP.

    3. Somewhere on the paper forms (I think it was the paper forms, rather than the website) that I filled in, it says that when you register, the surgery will want to take blood and urine samples when you visit the nurse. None were asked for or taken.

  22. Let me be clear – I don’t live my life looking for opportunities to write missives like this one. Life’s too short. But being new to the area and the surgery, I happen to be acutely aware of first impressions and their impact on newly forming relationships – and I want to form a sustainable, positive one with my local surgery.

  23. I am hoping that given this feedback, the surgery’s response to my need to record my consultations will be honoured and that perhaps some of the other points I have raised will be addressed as well.

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Dealing With Legal Matters – the emotional side

Posted by admin on 17th February 2015

Create your own user feedback survey

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Some tips for developing eLearning

Posted by admin on 26th February 2014

I am the happy beneficiary of insights gleaned from having developed 100’s of hours of eLearning materials over the years that have been pro-actively sought after by more than 40,000 learners world-wide. While the content of these modules are strictly confidential, the precious insights I have gleaned from developing them over the years is free for me to share with you.

I have a brief moment of time before my next project commences and I feel like sharing a few of these insights with you in what for me is an experimental manner.

If you are faced with developing eLearning modules, check out:

Some of the tips I share there may not be the ones you’re expecting.

And feel free to let me know what you think of the experiment.

Kind Regards


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Grumbles into Gold

Posted by admin on 31st December 2011

Prompted by an old friend seeking insights on blogging today, the following thoughts emerged…

My first attempt at blogging was before “Blogging” was a word, during virtual team working days. This was back in the early nineties.

As a leader of an early virtual team, I felt that I needed a way to let everyone know what I was doing and experiencing (meeting and planning wise) and I intermingled this with how I felt about it all (and the impact this had on our work and my own life).

The response I felt from the team was one of distinct discomfort. The depth and frequency of logging my reflections was presenting them with “too much information”. Plus they believed that they had to read my missives and continually adjust what they were doing accordingly (to adapt to the knowledge of an ever-changing tide “at the top”).

My “learning” at the time was that in a context where virtual team interactions were more transactional than transitional – let alone transformational – information was preferred to knowledge and knowledge was preferred to wisdom. Nobody knew what to do with wisdom when they were geared up and motivated to progress down a prepared pathway like a good group of soldiers – even if the leader realised they had landed on the wrong island. (Thanks for the metaphor, Steven Covey.)

Over time, learning to share my deepest insights to the advantage of others has required my also learning to be receptive to their deepest insights (and related concerns). I recall the death knell observation of one participant in a one-way “sharing” I was monitoring awhile back. “X is an interesting man. Too bad he is not interested in us.” When I heard that utterance, I knew it was the beginning of the end for ‘X’ in the role he was in. Social learning can rapidly escalate your ascension AND your downfall.

I’m currently experimenting with fostering social learning in a new-to-me area. Drawn to it by compassion (as well as the professional challenge of it all), I’ve put a lot on the line to do so – more than two years of non-billable time so far. I’m applying all the KM and virtual team experiences I can recall / re-create / re-engineer into the process. Getting people on all sides to participate and talk with and then trust me has been relatively easy. Facilitating the creation and moderation of a digital environment for them to listen to, talk about and learn from each other’s experiences without my direct involvement has been thus far only modestly successful.

Spanning the gaps between the societal ‘entrenched’ and the socially ‘disenfranchised’ requires stretching every psychological, technological and methodological sinew I have. In an environment where animosity overwhelms honesty and distrust decidedly thrusts itself in front of an otherwise rational mind, even modest successes are treasured. These successes have mostly been enabled via semi-private email, telephone and in-person avenues so far..

Moving the dialogue into a more visible / sharable space is my 2012 objective.  I want to enable people to be easily sifting through the growing groundswell of grumbles to find the golden nuggets that when applied in their own context, will work for them to reverse the tides of their ‘misfortunes’. Ultimately and perhaps unreasonably, I hope that Social KM can become a golden goose that helps turn grumbles into gold.


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Solve Your Team Working Issue in One Week

Posted by admin on 31st October 2011

An Autumnal Crazy Idea

Solve Your Team Working Issue in One Week

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A Transfer of Undertaking from a D&I perspective

Posted by admin on 15th July 2011

Each company has what it thinks of as its suite of core competencies that are highly attuned to whatever they do to generate revenue and to stay in and grow their business.

Every company also has a bunch of “oh I’d rather not have to do that bit” set of overhead type activities that it doesn’t regard as sexy or exciting revenue-generating stuff. You know – this is what we often call the -back office, administrative costs of doing business.

And therefore it sometimes tends to not focus its attention on developing that area particularly well, and therefore it sometimes tends to not focus on developing the people who happen to be working in that area particularly well either.

So over time, those back office activities can tend to atrophy a bit, and the people involved in those activities can tend to lose sight of their own exciting future potentials.

And at some point someone has the idea, “Well what if we paid another company who’s efficient at doing that stuff to do it for us instead?”

“And since we’re going to do that, we’re not going to need these staff anymore, so maybe we should give them the opportunity to go work for the other company…”

Well, in the particular experience that I’m thinking of, I was working with the receiving company – we’ll call it “Company B”. We were about to receive all of the staff from “Company A” in a very exciting multi-million pound deal.

And as part of this – because for Company B, this is core revenue-generating activity – we were going to pour all sorts of training and development cash into our ‘new hires’.

In fact, we were planning to invest significantly more money into the staff than the old company had done. And we felt very good about this. But for some reason the people didn’t want to play along. So as designers and negotiators of the deal, we began to sweat.

The people who were going to be transferred in this undertaking were looking like they were actually intending to opt out of both companies and go work for somebody else – and that would have ruined the entire deal really.

We (Company B) needed those people. Not only for the insider knowledge they had of Company A, who was to be their new client – but also, we just needed that additional amount of “human resource” to provide the service.

So it was a very handy and critically necessary amount of “resource” that seemed to be slipping through our fingers despite our calculated generosity for developing the staff.

Our perspiration turned into desperation and we decided to take a time-out in the negotiations and talk with everyone involved, in-person.

Why didn’t the people want to play along, when their new company was going to put in all this extra effort and money and resource to support and promote them?

There was a very specific reason, and that is, at the individual employee level, they were going to be going home each week with less money in their pocket, less cash.

So regardless of the fact that this new company was going to spend far more money on helping them to develop, they were in fact going to be walking out at the end of the day with a smaller cash-in-hand pay cheque.

And at the socio-economic level in which they were working, this was simply not a margin that they or their growing families could afford or wanted to accept.

So are you wondering how this scenario is relevant to Diversity and Inclusion? Here’s the explanation. Company A and Company B both thought “hey, this is a good deal for the people. Significantly more money is going into their development and over time, things are going to get better and better for them”.

But neither company had actually consulted with the staff targeted for the move and so no one had noticed that the actual cash-in-hand effect was worse for the people involved.

We had only communicated to them – not with them.

So we didn’t expect the problems and we certainly didn’t understand it when people said “forget this, I’m leaving”.

So regardless of our organisation’s strategic intentions to be inclusive of a diverse workforce, what we should have kept in-mind was; how the actual individuals involved felt – what it was that they were measuring to feel included – at a practical level.

Once we did do this, once we understood their situation – and they knew that we understood – we were able to re-structure the deal so that no-one lost out on pay day. The deal was done. Phew!

What did I learn?

  • You can’t simply say “you’re included”, or “people are our greatest asset”. That just doesn’t work. You can ask them, “What is it that you need to see or hear or feel or know or do, or for me to do, that would result in your knowing that you really are included in what we’re thinking about doing?”
  • All value is context-dependant – and what you actually communicate can only be measured in the RESPONSE you get – not by what you intended to say or to deliver.
  • You need to step into your target recipients’shoes and walk a good mile with them inside their context before opening your mouth or your cheque book, so that you can deeply consider things from within their context first.

You can download more stories about being inclusive using this short link:

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Psychometric Testing? Well……

Posted by admin on 6th June 2011

Psychometric Testing? Well……

I looked up one day to see a team of people crowding into the doorway to my office, hoping to distract me from my paperwork and seek my help. They wanted to know if I could arrange for psychometric testing to be done on all the members of their team. They wanted to get this done because they thought it might help them figure out how best to utilise the talents inherent with their team. They had heard and read that psychometric profiling often helped teams understand each other better. But they were stuck comparing the pros and cons of the various profiling methods and hoped I might be able to shed some light on the subject.

I explained that I wasn’t a great fan of psychometric testing as a rule. I said this was because people already tend to put other people into ?boxes’ and „leave? them in there – inevitably stunting their growth (or at best, not promoting potential development). I knew they would hear this view as contrary to their beliefs, and said so. I also said that, as they had already been doing some upfront research, trying to weigh the pros and cons of the various schools of thought out there, I wasn’t about to say that the process couldn’t be useful sometimes.

I acknowledged how popular the process seemed to be with senior management teams – certainly in the corporate world. And I said that I wanted to respond favourably to their request because they had taken the initiative to do some up-front thinking and research on the subject. So I asked them to set aside an afternoon together and to let me know when they had done so.

The team had already decided that what they really needed to do was to learn about their strengths and weaknesses, so that they could work together with greater awareness. And I also wanted them to see themselves in an expanded light as well. So I decided I would do something for them – albeit it something they were not expecting.

We didn’t have budget or time to do the normal deep psychological analysis that many consultancies offer. Yet I wanted them to have something to reflect on together, while still focusing on their individual strengths. Plus, they’d been -through the mill? and were already predisposed to blaming each other for their collective situation.

So I came up with an intervention for a two-hour session that fully engaged them, brought humour into the frame and also revealed each other’s unique personalities in ways that helped them reflect on themselves and their interactions with others as well. This is what I did…

In advance, I asked them to tell me where they were born and at what time of day. I provided this data to a third party who produced (for each of them) a uniquely written fifteen-page report. This report was an in-depth computer-generated astrological horoscope, covering many dimensions of their life.

When I got the reports back, I collated them into collections according to the syndicate/break-out groups I planned to divide the staff into for the two-hour session. Then

I removed the front cover identifiers, handed them out and told each group that it was their job to figure out which report best reflected which person in their group.

I pre-framed the exercise by saying that ALL psychoanalytical approaches are seriously questioned by the proponents of the others, so I decided to take one that was universally in -disrepute? as the basis for the session. The truth was NOT the issue as far as I was concerned – what DID matter was that they use the reports as a CATALYST for discussion to develop mutual understanding of each others’ perceptions. They LOVED it, came to understand themselves and each other better and many bonded in a way that was only possible while having to deal with an externally -ridiculous? situation together.

What did I learn?

1.      When people bring something that is challenging to you, they may have already done their homework. So take the time to acknowledge and respect where they are coming from before launching into a solution.

2.      When people are in debate at the level of -Truth?, ask them to identify a context in which all sides of the current debate are -true? or at least equally relevant.

3.      Then ask, -Given this shared context, what is it that we will together most benefit from, if we take the right action.

4.      Once this shared benefit (within the shared context) has been collectively identified, you’ve got a shot at identifying a useful way forward.

You can download more stories about being inclusive using this short link:

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Being Inclusive Amidst Cognitive Diversity

Posted by admin on 6th June 2011

Here’s an example (at Board Room level) of being inclusive amidst cognitive diversity….

It’s springtime in Scotland, early 1990’s. The dark cold indoor winter days have opened up into warm daylight hours with flowers blooming in the parks, birds twittering in the trees and people strolling through the meandering walkways feeling and smelling the promise of the season.

A nice scene – but not the one I am in. I am in a still-cold boardroom, witnessing the potential demise of a recently formed team of directors who have universally disappointed their Managing Director (MD) on a continuous basis for several months now. The atmosphere is frigid and words are being spoken through clenched teeth.

No one sits near the MD – the chairs at that end of the table where he is sitting are in arm-swinging distance. This MD is physically expressive.

The height of frustration is clearly expressed in the pallor of his skin tone and the sweat on his brow. He waves his arms in the air, calls a halt to the meeting, tells his (also frustrated) Directors to leave and tells me to stay behind. This is my first meeting in this board room and so while I am a little worried about what he might say to me, I am not worried that it will be about me. It’s clear that the relationship with his Directors is the source of his distress – not me, the newly hired-in consultant.

He tells me that time and time again, he’s asked his Directors for section development updates and strategic planning information. He tosses what he’s been given

today across the boardroom table and using his right hand to karate chop his left palm several times says -I ask for explicit information and this is what I get – this is all I ever get – from them! I look across the table and see pages of diagrams and illustrated cartoons. -They’re not taking me seriously at all. This is crazy – half of them are even doodling during our meetings3!!!

Cutting to the chase, this scene has been replayed out many times in this start-up organisation – the MD asking for explicit, bulleted information (as expressed by his body language), and his Directors (all hired for their track records of creativity and innovation) expressing themselves visually. The MD instinctively distrusts pictures due to their lack of detail, while the Directors see imagery as the only way to convey the whole picture in line with their evolving vision in an efficient manner.

The thing is, they were naturally expressing themselves in their preferred, sensory-specific styles. They were very comfortable with each other doing this. But they were not adapting themselves to their MD’s needs to see and / or read their informational updates differently.

As soon as we figured this out, we asked our selves how we could accommodate the communication gap between the MD and the Directors without compromising preferred styles of expression and information gathering. The solution in this case was to add bulleted lists to the illustrations – thereby retaining the big picture while adding in the necessary level of detail for the MD to feel that he had what he needed to assess the situation properly and make informed decisions.

The doodling during the meeting, by the way, was a perfect example of how some people doodle to learn and think while others doodle to distract themselves. You can guess who in the boardroom had which habit.

Lessons I learned?

1.      The response you get from others tells you what you are actually communicating to them – intentionally or otherwise.

2.      Others’ perceptions of your intentions may not be accurate, but their responses to those perceptions create a reality you will have to work with.

3.      Until you step into another’s shoes, listen through their ears, see through their eyes and feel through their emotions, you are effectively operating in a manner that can be regarded as dumb, deaf and blind by those with whom you are interacting (or not, as the case may be).

4.      A simple solution with immediate impact may be possible – even if there’s a history suggesting the contrary.

You can download more stories about being inclusive using this short link:

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Presenting to Large Audiences

Posted by admin on 21st May 2011

I’m reviewing my recent “performance” on to help others that I work with learn what they might want to do or to NOT do, when speaking to large audiences.

It was a room full of librarians, in my case…so…shoosh!

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Representing Yourself in the UK’s Civil Courts

Posted by admin on 21st May 2011

Over the last few months, I’ve been working on a project to help Litigants in Person represent themselves in UK Civil Courts more effectively than they have done historically.

We “released” a beta website to help the process along this month. You can check it out at:

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How to Leverage Live Training

Posted by admin on 21st May 2011

A legal team has asked me to help them digitaly leverage an aspect of their live training programme. How? Check: 

These days, it’s so very easy to get this type of work done without all the overhead of just a few years ago…


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Feedback from Facilitating

Posted by admin on 15th May 2011

I’ve been meaning to post some fo the feedback from the group work I do….


“Good work all round”


“Structure of planned day still made sense even in light of the morning’s revelations”


“A sign of a well-thought-out day”


“A lot of good planning with the appropriate style of day for the department”


“I appreciated time given to let certain areas expand even if they were outside scope of the day”


“We talked about frustrations regarding wider organisation but not sure we fully explored possible tensions between teams and individuals but maybe we’ve created something to build on”


“Discussion in threes helped generate insights. It helped provide comfortable safe environment to discuss difficult issues”


“Very positive and very well facilitated. Also unexpectedly cathartic”


“Really positive day”


“Enjoyed the frank session in the morning where we could all talk openly about issues over the last year”


“Follow up on what ideas arose from today’s away day”


“I liked the way the trainer allowed the group to divert from the agenda set and talk openly about really important issues”


“Discussion before lunch was very illuminating and helpful”


“Hope that the issues raised can be taken forward and not just left”


“Glad not to repeat the 3 minute session in the pm – wasn’t looking forward to it”


“Good issues but still very little that was concrete”


“Domination of group discussion by people in front of room”


“Being able to go off the printed agenda to explore an issue that was relevant and had caused some concern to the team and having time allowed to do this without hurrying back to the agenda”


“Useful and enjoyable day”


“I felt we are more comfortable as a team now”


“Able to speak openly and understand everyone’s roles and ways of working together. The only other thing I wanted was decisions and plans for definite follow up. So we’ll have to plan some meetings…”


 “The opportunity to openly discuss issues we all have in a constructive and supportive way was very positive”


“Really good to move around and discuss things in small groups with people we would not normally discuss these things with”


“The whole day felt very unifying”


“Open, frank discussion worked very well and I feel we should have these discussions on a regular basis”


“Good day to get to know all members of the directorate and appreciate some the otherwise unknown aspects of their jobs”


“I enjoyed the larger group discussions and hearing about what obstacles they had to overcome and ideas they had”


“I would be happy for the day to run to 5 pm to squeeze even more in”


“More opportunity to discuss cross team work”


“Suggestions made to group as one thing they can take away from the day”


“Really good content and ways of working together”


“Opportunity to work with different teams and to share ideas”


“People have a lot of insight and creativity”


“Opportunity to be honest in a safe environment”


“Opportunity to hear others’ points of view”


“An empowering day”


“Amazing conclusive working environment”


“Location, food , ambience was great”


“Drifted at times but some key successful outcomes”


“Renewed sense of possibilities going forward”


“Smile face with big hug”


“Felt really good that everyone was open and honest and was able to express thoughts and feelings that needed to have come out a long time ago”


“Felt much more part of the direct and feel confident that I’m working with dedicated and talented individuals”


“Made good progress on future direction of directorate”


“Less jargon in the workbooks please (I didn’t understand all the terminology)”


“good opportunity to come together to share opinions and ideas”



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20 Lessons for Third Sector Facilitators

Posted by admin on 30th January 2011

1. The overall objective for a Directorate’s “Away Day” is of primary importance – yet this must be separated from the initially imagined process design for achieving it.

2. The person holding the overall objective (e.g. the Director) may well not be the best-placed person to design the day, though their ideas will help the facilitator notice important nuances of their support needs.

3. Designing the day requires an understanding that goes deeper than the vocalised objective. It requires attention to the un-vocalised dimensions of the overall objective as well.

4. If you don’t pay attention to the un-vocalised dimensions, and you only do what is ‘logically’ expected, then your process design and the Away Day’s outcomes will simply be “as expected” (at best).

5. An Away Day is not time-bound to “the day” away. It begins in the moment of its inception. This is because the twinkle in its sponsor’s eye contains the DNA of its success.

6. The facilitator’s “DNA analysis” of the twinkle in the sponsor’s eye will reveal the undercurrents that are influencing the overarching objective. These undercurrents are the necessary ingredients of a recipe for success.

7. The moment someone is made aware of the pending Away Day (and their expected presence in same), the Away Day has in fact effectively begun – and with it, the undercurrents that will be affecting the actual day away will have as a result broadened, deepened and sped up.

8. Navigating the surface requirements of the design and development process – while adjusting to the changing undercurrents as additional people come into the frame – requires more than meets the eye of a casual onlooker.

9. Like a duck moving smoothly forward on the surface of a stream converging with other streams, a lot of swift and artful paddling may be required beneath the surface to maintain both balance and momentum.

10. Managing this discrepancy between observable activities and the actual underlying momentums can result in a greater time and attention investment than logically predicted at first. Each time new undercurrents are identified, another review and revision process to the process leading to – and then flowing into – the day away is required.

11. Additionally, the time required for the actual “Away” period itself may not be optimal, as its duration will have likely been set from logical (rather than psychological) parameters. But chances are, you will need to deal with this time constraint – and design for the pre-set duration, e.g. and “away day”.

12. During the away day, if you have designed it well, the process can essentially run itself, freeing the facilitator to provide appropriately subtle steers in directions that increase the potential for realising the desired outcomes in support of the overall objective.

13. Providing “appropriately subtle steers” (aka skilfully facilitating) is easiest when the facilitator is free to observe and interact with everyone present. The administrative side of event management is therefore best handled by another person. This will leave the facilitator free to focus on the human dynamics as they are shifting in every moment.

14. When facilitating for sustainable change, the following perspective on human dynamics can be helpful;

  • An emotional state, repeated over time, creates a mental state.
  • A mental state, repeated over time, creates a behavioural pattern.
  • A behavioural pattern, repeated over time, creates a personality.
  • A personality, repeated over time, creates a character.
  • A character, repeated over time, creates a destiny.

15. The destiny of a Directorate is the result of the diversity of characters making up the Directorate. Sustainable change across a Directorate can only come about constituent-by-constituent. It’s very valuable therefore, to check in with and account for the emotional state of the Directorate’s constituency.

16. Sustainable change at any level (individual or group-wide) requires a continuous re-aligning of emotional, mental and behavioural patterns. Without this internal aligning, any suggested external “process” changes that come out of an “Away Day” are likely to be still-born or not survive the first week back in-office.

17. Back in the office, it’s survival of the fittest. The fittest suggestions for change coming out of an Away Day will be the ones most closely aligned with the emotional well-being of the Directorate’s constituency. There’s little point extending out beyond the Directorate with a change suggestion unless the Directorate is itself strong about the change in relevant ways.

18. When reaching out beyond the boundaries of those involved at the Away Day (where they recognised and acknowledged the need for a change and identified the next steps towards making this happen), it’s important to keep the following four challenges in-mind;

  • “Not True” (re: accuracy of situational assessment)
  • “So what?” (re: logical/organisational importance)
  • “Do I care?” (re: personal relevance)
  • “Who are you?” (re: your personal state of engagement with them)

19. You can verify this for yourself by recalling the response everyone had to the last “communication” coming down from your Executive Group. Any two of these challenges can kill a change initiative dead – sometimes slowly, sometimes quickly. So plan in advance for these challenges, so you can detect and respond to them effectively when they come up.

20. They will come up.

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enhancing the usage of eLearning

Posted by admin on 7th January 2011

A member of a Learning & Development team in a large consultancy was planning to “enhance the usage of their e-learning portal and bring in more awareness about this mode of learning”. He was looking for “material on enhancing an online training mode, and any mailer/ initiative that could help make this a success”.


I found myself feeling moved to offer up some thoughts. Here’s what I said;


Your query / request is easier to answer if you can clarify what “enhancing the usage” means within the context of your current organisation’s project. There are at least four dimensions for enhancing usage – each of which can be addressed uniquely. The dimensions are; quality, frequency, breadth and depth. While these dimensions are of course inter-related, each dimension requires your direct focus if you are going to establish the success metrics by which you can measure your project’s progress and ultimate achievements (and value).


I will hazard a guess and respond to an assumption that by “more awareness about this mode of learning” you are responding to someone’s request to increase the breadth of the “usage” community. So in this response, I’ll speak briefly to expanding usage breadth.


First of all, let me say that I speak from an experience of attracting circa 30,000 users to our digital learning medium out of a target group of circa 50,000 people. While the need for our learning-related work was initially recognised and requested by the Chief Executive, it was entirely up to our own efforts to make a go of it. We had to look to our own devices to attract and then satisfy people interested in learning what our team had expertise in. We soon realised that we could not personally, directly reach out and teach each one of the 50,000 people in our “target zone”. So we began exploring ways to become available via digital media.


Having your eLearning modules available is one thing. Making them attractive to those who come to have a look at them and hopefully use and learn from them is another.


But invoking enough curiosity in them in the first place, so that people decide to come to have a look at them is yet again another challenge – and a primary one. Without enough initial curiosity across your target group, you’ll find yourself recalling the old question, “If a tree falls in the forest but no one is there to witness it, did it make any sound?” In the words of my most recent client, “we need to get loud”.


So you need to ask your self variations of the following question, “What is my target group currently listening out for? What will sound like music to their ears? What will draw them out of the crowd and into my auditorium” Then learn to play that tune, to sing that song, to direct that chorus.  You need to become something like the siren call that causes them to look outside the blinkered pathways they are daily trotting along on. What will cause them to turn their head and look at you and your eLearning portal?


After a number of trials and tribulations, we discovered that for us, the simple answer to those questions was to make sure that the sincere inspiration that our subject matter experts felt about their subjects was conveyed within the modules themselves. Then we did the same within the communications about those modules being available.


And the very best way to capture that inspiration was using video. So our eLearning modules became video-centric and our communications and interactions about the modules being available utilised extracts from the video footage. We provided 45 second teasers of what the experience of each subject matter expert would be like. Over the next few years, 30,000 people came into our port as a result.

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Corporate Carnival events

Posted by admin on 29th August 2009

I am generally so busy (working hard) running my three micro-organisations that I don’t give myself much space to enjoy the food, music and cultural developments of my own family’s background (let alone others’ backgrounds)


So I have generally been intellectually bemused (at best) by the notion that ‘celebrations’ of cultural heritage / difference would or could make much difference to ‘doing business’. This in its own right has been a cultural (cultivated) bias of my own of course.


The few forays I have had (by invitation) into this type of celebration highlight to me a general one-way mentality – one of “tell me not what a  local culture’s influence on our ‘doing business’ has been, but do tell me how ‘doing business’ has influenced the cultures in the locations where we ‘do business’.


To the degree that leadership is about “energising people”, then to be sustainable in this dimension of leadership is really about helping people locate, access, release, enjoy and benefit from their own sustainable ‘energy source’.


Reflecting further, the human reality (or mine, at least) is that the energy of pleasure (almost regardless of source) improves both personal and collective productivity and thereby group performance capacity as a consequence.


The causative relationship is not logical – it’s physio-logical – and is essentially therefore unstoppable. You only need to consider how your personal life impacts your own work, to see where I am going with this.


You’ve got to explore the subsurface of a person, of a culture if you want to tap into the energy source(s) waiting – and wanting – to be released.


Then you have something to distil, refine and effectively convert into business benefits, to speak in a more financial / shareholder focused language.


Corporate Carnival events go some way towards opening this exploratory and expressive territory for its participants.


Tapping the energy flowing out of these events is an interest to me – especially in relation to amassing a collection of new stories from diverse backgrounds that awaken capacity and promote capability to improve performance in sustainable ways.

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