Tag: behaviour

There are 4Gs in Happiness

Front foot, Personal productivity No Comments

Much has been written about what might seem like a modern indulgence: the aim of being happy. I have previously added to the many, many articles online. And I enjoy (!) researching the topic, including articles on what makes us unhappy.

 

But, did you know that quite simply there are just 4 G’s in “happiness”?

 

First, Give: the importance of performing acts of kindness for others actually helps us be happy too. I was reading recently of a local recording of the TV show “DIY SOS” where volunteer tradespeople give their time to help a family facing difficult circumstances.  For this episode, they needed 100 people over 9 days.  Nearly one thousand plumbers, electricians, carpenters and gardeners applied to give their time and talent.  Week after week the volunteers say how working on the project has been the most enjoyable initiative of their lives.  Many organisations have schemes to encourage staff to give to local initiatives or charities.  These have spinoff benefits for both staff and employer wellbeing. This blog explains a bit more about giving.

 

Second, are you Grounded, with realistic expectations?  Mo Gawdat has written how manging our anticipation in situations is the easiest way to create joy.

 

Thirdly (and two G’s in one here), do you have clear goals for growth?  One client I am working with is investing in helping all individuals (in all teams in all of their distributed locations) be really clear on their chosen goals and their plan to achieve them during 2018. They believe this will promote role and life satisfaction.

 

Finally, Gratitude: the importance of counting our blessings.  Watch this space. My festive Business Briefing due in a week shares the twelve things I am grateful that 2017 has brought me.  What are you pleased for?  How do you keep focused on the good things in life, even when the journey is a bit rocky?  One colleague regularly, even religiously, completes the journal book Two Minute Mornings.  It asks you to jot down what you are grateful for (as well as what you will let go of and focus on) each day.  She loves the impact it has for her.  Leading speaker Michael Heppell shares how his Grateful List of 5 things to be thankful for each and every day is his most important ritual in life.

 

So, the 4G of happiness.  Do they work for you?  Does it give you the bandwidth for the life you want to live? So much better than GPRS (grumbles, pessimism, rumination and shame), I reckon.

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Just Governance

Measurement, Meetings, Organisations, Teams No Comments

My colleague David Dowe and I were chatting recently.  We got onto thinking about what it takes for an enterprise to be ‘governed’ well and to avoid governing systems going wrong (or at least not work well enough).

 

There is a wide variety of ways organisations are established and led from owner run SMEs to the largest offices of State. ‘Governance’ is more likely to be explicitly discussed and not just assumed where there are formal structures such as Company Boards with non-executives, Charities with Trustees or campaign Steering Committees.

 

For many years now, there has been a bit of a fashion for ‘Good Governance’.  What does that mean – and how can it be assured?

 

In answering this question, we have drawn on our experience of working in all sorts of environments over the last couple of years: from technology accelerators to school systems; professional associations to conservation charities; improvement projects to academic institutions.

 

So, this is our governance ‘top ten’:

1)   The FRE framework for organisational success brings three fundamental roles for governing groups to mind.  The first part of FRE is thinking of Focus: is the purpose of the organisation shared? Is the strategy clear – is it understood? Has the governing group set out its intentions (and limitations) for the wider staff to work toward and within? Second in the FRE framework is taking Responsibility: do governing boards avoid overstepping the mark and resist micro-managing the executive? The third part of FRE is the Example of senior leaders, including board members or trustees, in setting the cultural tone for an enterprise.  This is a crucial, and often neglected, role of those involved in the governance of an organisation.  The remainder of this checklist probes further into this territory of direction, scope and culture.

 

2)   Governing groups are often expected to be many things: a sounding board giving advice; maybe providing a sort of litmus test before an idea is rolled out; and frequently a decision-making body too.  It is a heady mix trying to be a critical friend to the executives and part of checks and balances in securing the best decisions and way forward.  It is necessary to be clear on the scope of the governing roles – and to be sure that the governing group has the skills, and more important, the attention and awareness to do the job.  Is the group clear what its primary purposes are? Does it spend time giving an overall direction with an overall strategy?  Does it recruit and support a good CEO and then give them a clear sense of their autonomy and limitations, including how their performance will be reviewed?   How far is the governing group involved in assuring itself that overall goals are being achieved, the finances are secure and the best possible organisational culture is established?

 

3)   There are many cautionary tales of governing groups failing to take an interest, or get an accurate impression of, organisation culture (for example).  Many boards govern through dashboards and metrics – but organisation leaders can game the measures and Boards find them hard to discern.

 

4)   The mechanics of governing group meetings can be inefficient with an astonishing amount of managerial time spent preparing for board meetings, reporting, following up issues.  There can be a degree of gaming and a seeming disconnect from the actual business sometimes.

 

5)   Finding ways to keep in touch with both team delivery and organisation performance without overstepping the line into micro-management is a key balance and challenge for governing groups.  Boards tend to deal in papers and presentations.  It is very hard to really understand what staff are feeling and know whether the CEO is doing a great job or not. Their information often comes from others inside and outside of the organisation which introduces a time lag.  Finding ways for the Board to get early warnings of unrest, confusion and non-attainment are important. Useful indicators can be the experience of interacting with staff who are only occasionally and unexpectedly encountered further into the organisation, spending time out and about and being alert to ‘weak signals’ (e.g. through complaints).

 

6)   In doing its difficult work, is the governing group willing to have Critical conversations not just around issues of strategy and organisation process but also culture?  For true consensus to emerge important issues need to be named and given sufficient air time on frequently packed agendas.  In shaping the agenda and discussion it is important to recall previous discussions and reports – not just taking ‘matters arising’.  Finding ways to remember previous promises made by the executive and have time to explore and question that productively and collaboratively.

 

7)   Given these challenges, there are often choices about how to arrange (or, frequently, rearrange) governing systems.  In our experience, there tends to be an over focus on the structural options at the expense of the behavioural.  For example, a committee structure is more likely to be reviewed than the sort of decision making and scrutiny discussions to achieve a real improvement.  There is a sort of ‘Inverse Attention Law’: where the changes that are most needed are less likely to be considered. Using a biological metaphor, sometimes the ‘Anatomy’ (that is, the structure of a board or its sub groups) needs changing, but more often it is the ‘Physiology’ of how the existing parts work together that is crucial.  Getting the governing groups ways of working right is often more necessary than the overall wiring.

 

8)   The role of the Chair is crucial. There are many high-powered Boards where strong personalities are quite deliberately given a platform to speak as separate voices.  It is possible for the management team to take away different opinions on direction or performance. It is easy for chairs to either let all the voices speak (wishing to be seen as inclusive) or become too dictatorial.   Pulling together a wider ranging debate into a clear corporate line can be difficult to achieve.  This summing up is sometimes avoided to allow personal agendas to be pursued through the ‘smoke and mirrors’ after a meeting.  Chairs are often chosen for their sector knowledge.  However, the key role is to manage a good discussion and lead the development of a strong team (where you can disagree well en route to agreeing a collective line that all are publicly committed to, and where the group holds each other to using the best possible behaviours).

 

9)   It is possible to invest too much power in the board, council or steering committee.  Sometimes board members are very high powered and sit on lots of governing groups, possibly collecting too many appointments and not having sufficient time to give to their role.  So it can be useful to find other ways to improve the advisory architecture so that checks and balances are in place.  Setting up working groups and advisory groups can be used to show organisations are engaging more widely – but they can run into the many dozen, leading to a lack of consensus or good ideas get lost.

 

10)   Given all this, what is a useful way forward?  Well quite simply, take time to review how you are doing.  Be prepared to question the “Inverse Attention Law”: the structure might need rejigging and processes rewiring.  However, it is likely that securing the best behaviours will be a key task: achieving the physiology rather than the anatomy.  Do you meet well?  Do you have good conversations?  It might seem a bit prosaic, but reviewing how your meetings go can be a good place to start, using something like this assessment – which can be presented in a variety of ways including as a wheel, and can be tracked over time.  It is a simple first step: governing made easy.

 

So “Just Governance”?  It is not necessarily simple and straightforward.  And yet it needs to be thought through and fair.  It can then provide amazing value added oversight with a light touch.  Helping the right things to happen, and helping avoid things going wrong.

 

 

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The four essential preconditions for system transformation

Front foot, Improvement, Noble Purpose No Comments

Around this time last year I was reflecting in a concert. I discovered FRE. Focus. Responsibility. Example. Three attributes for organisation success. That framework has guided my work this year. And carries on into 2017. I have had much positive feedback about it.

Last month, away from home, on a morning run along the Thames, I was thinking…

I work helping systems improve. This support can be in my main sectors, be it fashion or conservation; education or health. Or it might be in the events I run, from team time outs to larger conferences; individual coaching to speaking. I am concerned with helping the smaller temporary systems, such as in a workshop. I am also focused on improving the larger, well-funded and enduring systems, such as a fashion supply chain or a programme on bio-diversity.

After over 30 years helping in complex environments I have identified four pre-requisites for system success. You might even imagine these as four bases to get a ‘home’ run. Four capabilities that are needed to be widespread in a system for progress. Or you can consider them as a personal manifesto – highlighting the four personal disciplines leaders in all roles need for achievement. They are shared here to help us all make different and better choices.

I summarise them as CHHH. That is curiosity, holistic (whole-sighted) attention, honesty and hope.

Let’s unpack these four themes a little. Each helps progress. I have had positive comments on this from some of the many people I know who are working hard for improvement from deep within the systems they are committed to.

CURIOSITY

Deepening curiosity helps us get beyond certainty and avoid hubris. There can be a pretence of motivation. There may be an interest in innovation in one’s own work, that is undermined by the failure to search out and copy what others are doing. In my decades of practice, I think low curiosity is the most striking and common observation – it limits progress, it leads to ‘reinvention of the wheel’ and the consequent waste.

Addressing a low ‘pull’, where colleagues are not bothered and not interested in what others are doing is hard. Ways to fan the flames of interest maybe through protected study time and positive reinforcement, including awards for copying! Crucially, leaders need to model curiosity themselves – asking questions, showing they prize imitation as much as invention, avoiding routine pet answers, working in a spirit of humility and avoiding arrogance.

Curiosity gets us on the journey. But it is only the first base.

HOLISM

Once there is some curiosity, then finding ways to see the whole is important. However, looking beyond one’s own tribal allegiances can be a challenge. Building empathy with ‘the other’ is difficult. However, this is critical if the system is to operate for the end user or end purpose, and not the ‘core group’ who have much to benefit from things as they are. Connection is personal, and takes time to develop and deepen. Spending time exploring WITOS (what is the other side) is key.

HONEST

The ‘third base’ is concerned with enabling important discussions beyond positioning and spin – having critical conversations

This is important for authentic attempts to make things better rather than cosy speaking in the groove, repeating nice sounding platitudes. This might involve a risk – especially when systems have a habit of spewing out whistle-blowers as ‘troublemakers’. Prophets and Radicals (tempered or otherwise) need to be sought and valued. Curiosity and Holism helps to nurture the empathy necessary for honesty.

HOPE

Finally, and maybe paradoxically given the tone of this piece so far, being positive is important. Burnout is a risk in system work. It is easy to end up with no hope for the system or even for oneself. Accepting critique, but looking beyond criticism and cynicism is the better route. Being personally buoyant in the face of all that needs to be done. Looking to encourage each other.

I increasingly use these ideas (CHHH) as a frame and even as ‘ground rules’ in my workshops.

I find them a useful diagnostic tool too.

If systems are perfectly designed to deliver what they achieve, then the basic design rules need to be shifted. Might CHHH help?

Inertia and entropy are design flaws to be addressed. If something seems impossible, start small. Where does CHHH point you?

So, I offer CHHH a way to start or sustain the journey of improvement.

Travel well.

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Making the hard stuff easy?

Improvement, Personal productivity, Teams No Comments

You have probably come across the business adage, “the soft stuff is the hard stuff”. Like a number of famous quotes, is not quite clear to me who first coined the term – there is quite a lot on it online. But was it Covery? Enrico? Anyhow…

When thinking about organisations I like the distinction between structure, process and behaviour.

In one meeting last week I was challenged: “so, are you an organisational behaviourist?” Normally, I prefer to use Edgar Schein’s language and see myself as a ‘helper’ – and not even an OD specialist or Change Manager, which LinkedIn endorsements tend to say I am. So, I wasn’t sure I wanted the Organisation Behaviourist tag. But I guess I am the OB title. I see behaviour as key for it provides the physiology of organisational life – ways of working that can make any ‘anatomy’ work, or not. If I ask people to think of a leader they admire or a team that is performing well, and then write what it is about them down that impresses them, it is clear that the vast majority of the positive attributes are attitudes not technical skills, behaviour not knowledge.

There are some notable approaches to orchestrating behaviour shifts through ‘nudges’. Also, there is lots of training offered to change behaviour – from ‘difficult conversations’ to ‘line management’ to ‘team working’.

For me, the most significant improvements in organisation come from a disciplined focus on behavioural improvements around R and E in FRE – that is ‘responsibility’ and ‘example’. But I know from my work that the ongoing curiosity and empathy that is needed for this sort of sustained shift isn’t easy to generate and maintain.

A recent HBR study shows that even the most thoughtful training approaches bring about minimum behavioural changes long term, in the absence of a shift in the example of senior leaders. This makes sense – at least it confirms the finding from my decade-old research about getting values into practice, see this.

So these ‘soft’ shifts are hard. That is clear.

On a recent trip to Australia I saw a new way of promoting a long lasting shift in the culture of organisations in action. I saw it at work in settings as diverse as a bank, a commonwealth department and in a food manufacturing plant. The ‘Blue Bus’ approach started out in steel manufacturing and mining. It is spreading. It is a sticky idea. There is a pull. It seems to be passing the Chili Test. It makes the distinction between ‘hardware’ and ‘software. Between the ‘spaces’ leaders regularly ‘play’ like strategy, tools and systems and the area that is really needed for individual, team and organisational performance: mind-set, values and behaviour.

If you are in Asia or the Pacific (or even Australia!) and want to find out more, do let me know – I can make an e-intro. As there is deliberately almost nothing about it online. And, looking ahead, the guys (in a gender neutral sense) will be over in Europe in 2017.

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Are you FREe?

Checklists, Front foot, Improvement, Organisations, Reflect, Teams, Think, Values No Comments

Earlier this week I attended a concert at Kings College Chapel. As I sat there in the dark stillness a storm raged outside that rattled the ancient doors as a nearby college clock chimed the hour. I recalled how exactly 27 years before I had first been in that place.

I remembered I had been a little shocked to find myself in higher education – as a working class lad who struggled a fair bit at school. Yet in my mid 20s I had applied to study at tertiary level. When interviewed, some of the alternative angles I shared from my experience as a front line NHS worker, plus the insights from my union activism seemed to appeal to those who selected students.

Over the years I have found sitting in that building to be a powerful place for reflection during times of significant personal change.

So, I was thinking – but on this occasion about my work. My studies all those years ago were the start of my deeper interest in how organisations perform (or don’t). Over the last few months I have been crystallising what I now know about institutions – from larger networks to smaller teams, from commercial enterprises to noble purpose initiatives – based on my experience of working across sectors and continents. What makes an organisation worthy of commitment? What are the features that make them likely to succeed? And fail?

After a quarter of a century, I think there are just three things that are crucial. I summarise these with the word FREe (actually FRE, as you will see below).

Firstly, FOCUS. Is the purpose of the organisation shared? Is the strategy clear – is it understood? Has the governing group set out its intentions (and limitations) for the wider staff to work toward and within? Do individuals know how their particular role contributes – and do they realise where their personal motivations fit, and where they do not?

RESPONSIBILITY: are staff expected to use their initiative to sort out issues? Do they have freedom to act? Do governing boards avoid overstepping the mark and resist micro-managing the executive – and do line-leaders avoid constraining their staff with overly detailed instructions or the expectation of involvement in all decisions? How clearly are all staff held to account for how they have used their autonomy?

Crucially, EXAMPLE highlights the role of senior leaders in setting the cultural tone for an enterprise plus the part played of line managers in re-iterating this – and the importance of peers in reinforcing the ‘right’ behaviours. Most of us are not saints or sinners, rather we absorb the ways others work. This extends from basic ‘pro-social’ interactions to do with decency and civility through to the modelling of focus and responsibility and other important attributes like curiosity. ‘Example’ also concerns how the implied attitudes at the core of a business’s purpose are demonstrated by staff in their dealings with each other as much as with customers: be that caring in the case of health services, learning for an education provider or speed for a high street fashion brand, for example.

I am discovering how this simple framework is powerful in a range of settings.

It helps individuals: it is useful in ways from coaching leaders through to prompting those being interviewed for new jobs to ask useful (and interesting) questions.

With teams it is a checklist to test that the platform for achieving positive results is in place.

For organisations it highlights three important factors to work to get right in all places – to ensure well-served customers, content staff and a fulfilled mission.

Are you ready for FREe business?

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Big on Burnout?

Personal productivity No Comments

In the last week I have spoken with a few people who have felt a bit close to ‘burnout’. This has been clear in conversation and as indicated by this tool, developed with my colleague Steve in Australia.

You probably have met someone who has become burnout through their work, or maybe exhausted from some of their voluntary roles and obligations.

You will know it is a tough place to reach – and getting back from that point can take a while.

As this 4 step model illustrates burnout can be the ‘natural’ result from a stress response to pressure.

So, if ‘prevention is better than cure’, what are the options?

1) avoiding pressure might be useful – for example if you are hugely overburdened and are only coping by sleeping less, ‘running faster’ and cutting corners. Here you are looking to change your context. Maybe changing your job or negotiating some different obligations at work and home. This may be a temporary thing after a period of grief, for example

2) however for many of us pressure is inevitable (and to a degree desirable), so how to cope with the resulting stress becomes the key place to focus. Here you are looking to change your response – for example with exercise, meditation, reflection, coaching (or supervision or counselling), hobbies. This self assessment might be of use in thinking about your personality and how you respond. As this classic – and old – 1983 advert illustrates, some people have sources of personal energy that will keep them going longer than others. “Know Thyself” is key. Which sort of ‘bunny’ are you?

3) one self-preserving and common response to stress amongst staff in many organisations – especially those with an (?initially) attractive noble purpose – is cynicism: to management, to colleagues, and even to the end user such as patients or clients. However, this response can make the work and working environment more wearing and stressful for colleagues (and often to the cynic too). So cynicism isn’t sustainable for an institution long term, nor probably to the individual themselves either – as cynicism can be associated with over-eating, drinking too much, misery etc leading to ill health.

4) Once burnout is reached the key actions are acknowledgment, seeking help – and being kind to yourself and stepping back from the patterns that created the situation. Please let me know if you would like more information on this.

Being a bit self-focused maybe…
Be Ambitious in your plans.
Be Insightful about your capacity.
Be Kind to yourself (and others).

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Front Foot NPOs?

Front foot, Noble Purpose No Comments

In the late noughties I was watching the box set of West Wing. It took quite a while. I was impressed by the dynamic of the way the White House team worked for and with President ‘Jed’ Bartlett.

Having viewed quite a few episodes one weekend I came up with an alliteration I quite liked: how the team from CJ to Josh, from Leo to Sam was fast and focused, with some fun at times as well. There was lots of feedback to each other (even if it wasn’t wanted!), yet this forthright way of working was quite forgiving too (at least to those in the team).

I called this the features of the Front Foot Organisation (FFO). Over the coming months we developed the initial ideas into a set of actions to help achieve these characteristics – actions to achieve greater direction, momentum, co-ordination and balance within a team or organisation. We provided an assessment and even applied the FF idea to the family as part of a talk for fathers and sons at a school I was working with.

The FFO idea has proved to be one of the most popular and enduring of idenk ideas since first outlining it in 2008. Despite the fact that the genesis of the ‘front foot’ idea is unclear (though it is rooted in sports and even politics) it has a broad face validity and is widely used. You regularly hear how people want to put their ‘best foot’ forward, not be on the ‘back foot’, avoid being ‘wrong footed’. Our feet are in our mouths, literally!

I truly believe that each and every Noble Purpose enterprise should be a FFO. People who join them certainly expect them to be. The standard we assume is high – very high. However, often Noble Purpose Organisations are far from beacons of front footedness.. And when that happens, as we have noted, expectations are dashed and cynicism grows.

The CEO or Director of an NPO is actually their ‘chief culture officer’. The ideas on the FFO provide a handy checklist for that senior person to start working on the awareness, alignment, attitudes needed. They provide pointers about what to tolerate and what to hold firm on.

Social workers use a simple acronym to think about what to do ‘upstream’ to achieve the results that are needed when working with a young person. For example, when supporting a child in care they try to consider any Antecedents to observed challenging Behaviour and the negative Consequences that can result for a child and those helping them.

The Front Foot ideas offer some pointers to Antecedent Actions that leaders can use to get the outcomes they want. Results that achieve the purpose of the NPO.

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An example of shattered expectations in an NPO

Noble Purpose, Organisations No Comments

Bob, is a well-qualified clinician in his thirties. He has wanted to help development work overseas since a teenager.

He has been waiting for THE job. In an organisation doing the most important work. Somewhere that would be a joy to work for.

And then he got it.

In one of world’s leading development charities.

But Bob became deeply unhappy with what he considered the personal empire building amongst some of his colleagues plus some of the narrow rules and systems that seemed designed to control the many motivated middle level staff.

So he left. Disillusioned. Almost burnout. Definitely dispirited and pretty cynical.

There are at least two interpretations to this sad tale.

First, Bob doesn’t like fitting in – as a ‘true believer’ he sees himself as highly motivated and wanting the space to determine his own priorities. Others in the organisation, especially those more senior or long toothed, know the value of management systems in these difficult roles as a way of holding to account young, self-centred idealists.

Second maybe Bob was just overwhelmed by the self-interest of others, just as he said. Frued is reported to have said in the cliché: “sometimes a cigar is just a cigar”.

Knowing him (and the organisation), I think the it is probably latter. Others might say former.

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NPO? Here we go…On the way, to the Triple A?

Improvement, Noble Purpose No Comments

Today I start a series of blogs on Noble Purpose Organisations.

The world of worthy work can be perplexing. They can be hard teams to lead, not easy places to work in. And yet…they can provide a way to achieve some of the most beneficial gains for humanity and the planet.

In my pamphlet from earlier this year I define the range of organisations (from small charities to the fairtrade arms of major multi-nationals) and describe how:

“the common feature in many Noble Purpose Organisations (NPOs) is what I call the ‘Noble Purpose Paradox’. In a nutshell, it is a pattern that not only bewilders and frustrates long serving managers but also comes as a shock to new recruits. Why is it that the more compelling the mission, the more tricky it can be to get the best collaborative behaviours and the necessary focused action? And how can some places that are trying to achieve the most crucial and needed changes to the world we live in can be so riven with petty politics and driven by individuals sometimes ruthlessly pursing their own agendas?”

Do you recognise that? In this case, this series is for you. If this doesn’t echo your experience, please do challenge me!

I don’t want to come over too negative or bleak: my aim for this series is to be an encouragement. I will raise some challenging issues – but mainly as questions for further research and reflection. Overall, I want to provide ideas for action. Ideas to inspire…

So, getting going – his is my version of the Triple A rating.

A quick test…do you think your team or organisation
1) Has clearly Aligned staff?
2) With an embodiment of the Attitudes that you are promoting more widely (eg care, learning)?
3) And an Awareness and acceptance that not everyone has to see things the same way?

I am going to guess that 1 and 2 are hard.

However, for me the key place to start is at 3: exploring how people see things differently. Asking what others see – not advocating a point of view. My recent business briefing provides some pointers.

Once that sort of curiosity is in place it is possible to pursue a balance that is at the heart of positive working experiences and outcomes in NPO. I believe truly excellent results come when staff have the autonomy to follow their passion and use their initiative – whilst working within the systems of accountability to guide that energy. That balance brings us back to the leadership work needed to ensure aligned action (1) and appropriate attitudes (2).

[To be continued!]

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The mosquito and the meeting

Checklists, Personal productivity No Comments

The night before the start of an important 3 day meeting.

At 2am.

A mosquito arrives.

Buzzing my ears.

I tried some things suggested by colleagues (catching it with the light off, looking for it with the light on, putting a light on in another room to attract it…). None of them seemed to work – but maybe there was more than one mozzie! The next night I would be fine – with an anti-mosquito machine to plug in and infuse the room with smelly vapour.

But on this night…? Before a crucial meeting? An event was already on my mind…

I decided to ignore it – and even sort of welcome it and the warm night it was part of. I drifted back to sleep – a buzzy, dozy sort of sleep.

The lesson? When we have a problem, do pool the ideas for solving it. Meetings can help that.

But sometimes we have to draw a line and move on. A meeting might work but groups of people can get stuck and demotivate individual action and movement, if not very carefully handled.

Caution: meeting, handle with care.

****
ON MEETINGS…

A recent blog about formal meetings from Roy Lilley.

And a tweet of one way of thinking about meetings.

****
ON SLEEP….

And a method for getting to sleep from my psychologist colleague Steve Bagi:

Work through this when you have finished all you need to do. It is an exercise which helps to clear the thought congestion of so many things in our minds.

While in bed in the dark…

1…identify three-four things that you can hear e.g fan, clock

2…identify three-four things that you can see e.g. some street light, shadow

3…identify three-four things that you can physically feel e.g blanket on me, pillow

Then ask yourself the question “what do I want to do now” with the answer “I want to go to sleep”.

This should clear some of the congestion.  Repeat as many times as needed.

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