Tag: behaviour

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.


A recent blog about formal meetings from Roy Lilley.

And a tweet of one way of thinking about meetings.


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.

Tags: ,

The sound of (more than) one hand clapping

Feedback, Meetings No Comments

There are (at least) 10 uses of applause in a conference:

1) To thank a speaker (“let’s applaud…”)
2) To appreciate someone you have just done group work with (“let’s acknowledge…”)
3) To reach out to someone who has just frozen in ‘stage fright’
4) To encourage someone stumbling in a language that is not their own
5) To acknowledge the whole group
6) To vote (noting the relative volume)
7) To express frustration (the slow clap)
8) To warm up (clapping more than just hands)
9) As part of a listening or co-ordination game

I was at a meeting where nearly all of these were used at one time or another.

And at one point someone said “at the end of the day we are all here to make money”. Most nodded vigorously. A few clapped.

Then something happened.  There was a spontaneous round of applause.  And I was I was left thinking “what a lovely clap”. Which one? Clap 3.

No noble purpose in sight. Money was in focus. And yet there was care…for a stranger. At the mic.  Stuck in the headlights. Frozen with fear when it was their turn to speak.  Helped out of that hole by the generous applause of the group.

Tags: ,

Graduation speeches…so what?

Improvement, Personal productivity No Comments

I enjoyed this talk by Tim Minchin earlier this week.

It reminded me of this aspirational graduation speech by Don Berwick last year to a bunch of medics in the US.

And this one by JK Rowling a few years ago, on the benefits of failure.

At one of my daughters graduation ceremonies last year David Downton summed up many of these sentiments quite pithily – arguing for the use of the Andy Warhol mantra of “So what” when things don’t go right.

Tags: ,

Fake compassion (in)action?

Organisations, Values No Comments

I am just back from Sweden, where I found all train, hotel and airport staff hugely kind and helpful.  I loved the cheery greetings of ‘hay’.  I was so struck by the culture that I looked on Google to see if online troll-like behaviours, or ODE, were less likely in the land of the Trolls .  Sadly I couldn’t find anything to support this hunch!

However, when on the train to the airport (with phenomenally fast internet speeds, by the way), someone sent me this piece on compassion in health care from the Daily Mail.  At the end of the piece, I note some comments verge on the uncivil – and interestingly the ‘worst’ rated comments are the ones supporting Dr Smajdor (with some of the early trollish ones apparently removed at the time of publishing this blog).

Having read the piece, it makes me wonder more about what the vilified author was actualy trying to convey.  For me, the piece made me reflect on the difference between compassion (a feeling) and kindness (an act).

You might know of our interest in compassion in health care, at www.idenk.com/compassion from 2008 and this, a bit more recently. Actually, with hindsight, we would have probably been much better to be part of a social movement for greater warmth and kindness…and maybe the NHS Constitution is not that helpful using the ‘C’ word.


Some days it is hard to feel compassion (even after hours of mindfulness or Buddhist meditation)….and some people are hard to love at any time.

So kindness is good enough.

Actually this is true in all sectors: civility and helpfulness is the benchmark in a shop or restaurant too. The author Caitlin Moran argues that at the heart of all civil rights movements is the demand to be nice to each other. US academic Bob Sutton points out that jerks in teams are the bane of organisational life.

So all any of us need to do (in any sector and any role), is to act kindly to our customers and co-workers – act warmly, even if frustrated.  This is something I have personally learnt (and keep relearning) the hard way (!) through conflicts and judgements I would now rather avoid.

And what we might find is, that when we overrule our emotions with our logic (as in CBT), our feelings actually change.

For a few decades now, in western countries, we have all had to to be nice in public to those who are gay or from a minority ethnic community, for example. I don’t think it is unrelated that now opinion polls support gay marriage and we are more tolerant to people with different non-white skin colour.

This ‘fake it till you make it’ route might work in health care too…

…in today’s UK health system, post Mid Staffs, it is increasingly the case that staff are no longer allowed to appear unkind. However, it should be ok not to feel compassion I reckon – and be open about this in 1:1 supervisions, for example (honesty that will help avoid burnout and cynicism along the way too).  This act first (and feel it later) approach will end up shifting the culture faster, I predict.  And if you are doing this surrounded by colleagues acting the same, it actually might be quite easy…

Tags: ,

Aiming to be authentic

Facillitation No Comments

In our facilitation training we make a big deal of finding your authentic style – you don’t have to pretend to be someone else! Authenticity even gets a whole domain to itself in our facilitation assessment. We believe that to be really useful to someone else (whether we are consultants, managers, caring professionals etc) there needs to be some congruence between our values, how we live our lives and how we try to help others. Working for that alignment requires feedback, awareness, honesty and, probably, time.

I like the work of Mike Robbins on authenticity , see this Huffington Post article for example.

Also, this YouTube clip is a great TEDx video of Mike – don’t worry about the wobbly footage (you will learn to ignore it or can just listen in and look at something else). There are a number of powerful stories to make you laugh, and maybe cry, that illustrate his points – and not a PowerPoint slide in sight. Listen out for his iceberg ‘icebreaker’.


On the purpose of rules

Reflect No Comments

Rules can help us achieve at least two things…

Here are some suggested new rules for urban (cage) cricket – designed to broaden the appeal of the game.

And here are some rules for great fiction advocated by the ‘Dickens of Detroit’, who died earlier this week.

In your workplace, what rules would you like to
1) Break – to bring down stuffy barriers and increase inclusion of those who don’t normally get involved in things?
2) Suggest – to improve quality of various work outputs?

Tags: ,

Learning from success…from skill and style to strength and stamina…through the team

Front foot, Teams No Comments

Well, what can we learn from Andy Murray’s win at Wimbledon – and the renewal of his reputation over the last few years?

1) He had a natural talent and temperament – but that wasn’t enough.

2) He kept trying – determination and a desire to win shone though (though he seemed diffident early on once he withdrew a bit, after early brushes with a carnivorous media)

3) He didn’t let the early tragedy and trauma in his life hold him back – maybe it was a driver? Or maybe well dealt with?

4) He surrounds himself with good people – from family and long standing friends to a team of specialist to increase his fitness, focus and popularity.

5) He has taken his natural skill and added personal training to create supreme physical fitness, to boost that talent with strength and stamina.

6) He has added PR advice – to secure the right interviews, documentaries, appearances, photo shoots.

7) He chose a new coach who knows all too well the journey and who through this empathy and reputation has helped rein in his negative emotions.

8) He can play the inner game as well as the physical one – and he has learnt to do that, it wasn’t there innately, as it isn’t for most of us.

9) He has shown you can turn around your public persona and popularity – he is now a national treasure (and actually was a year ago, after sharing his emotions and thoughts on failure in the speeches on centre court). Like Camilla and David Beckham before him, he shows you can change how others see you.

10) The relationships between the on court competitors is cordial, warm and respectful , after years on the circuit together – a nice illustration of the ideal balance between collaboration and competition in many industries.

Which do you think is the most important? I am not sure…like success in many sports lots of little changes can amount to a breakthrough – actually by being just slightly better than your opponent is enough (a shot here, a second there). But, if I had to choose one, it would be 4 – the team – as they has helped with most of the others (especially 5-9).

Tags: ,

The chief culture officer?

Organisations, Think No Comments

In our work, as regular readers will know, we support senior leaders in shaping the thinking (creative exploration, option generation, decision making) and behaviour (values, ways of working, culture) of their senior teams and organisations. Many years later, we still find the 4i model helpful in framing this task.

As a colleague pointed out to me this week, one of the early management theorists, Jacques, made a big deal of getting the right sort of thinkers at the appropriate level in an organisation (noun) with the right degree of ‘requisite organisation’ (verb) – see this  and this.

However, this more modern piece – actually published this week – is a more contemporary account, with the role of CEO as the guardian of not just the thinking of an institution, but of its behaviour too. We like this – as do a number of clients we have shared it with over the last few days.

We have long believed that what leaders say and do matters – more than their ability to personally think clever new ideas. This twin focus (on thinking and behaviuour) is part of the way we like to develop teams in what we sometimes call our ‘Team Gymnasium’ of several development sessions linked to specific readings, assessments and conversations. Some of the ideas that are core to this process are those of Lencioni (for his team model), Heron (for the 6 interventions), Fairtlough (for responsibility autonomy) – alongside some of our ideas on VIP (values into practice), FFO (front foot organisations) and NPO (noble purpose organisations).

As always, we are happy to share more on any of this FOC (free of charge)…

That is enough TLAs for now – by the way there are ‘only’ 17 thousand possible permutations I read recently! So a few more to go…(even accounting for a couple more here)

Tags: ,

A brand is…

Measurement, Personal productivity No Comments

A brand is (at its core)…a promise. What is it you or your product commit to doing for, or adding to, someone’s life?

We like this actual stated ‘promise’ on the contact card for our local noodle bar:

“ to serve great tasting noodles, in generous portions, using high quality ingredients and outstandingly fresh produce, giving our customers outstanding value for money each and every time.”

And like the way the manager responds to even critical reviews…all part of the promise…

Makes me want to go back soon.

Tags: , ,

Makes you think

Reflect No Comments

Is this teaching, community building, marketing, engagement, trust building?

This video on empathy from the States is powerful stuff.

A bit on the back story here.

Tags: ,

Phil's Blog

Sign up for Phil’s regular blog.

Email: phil.hadridge@idenk.com