Saturday 29 May 2010

Perfect Timing

Just as I was finalising the bid which Stuart , Glyn and I have been working on this week,  the phone rang.

It was cpcr, a great consultancy with whom I've worked in the past, and with whom I plan to work in the future.  'Andrew, we're just putting a bid together and want to include you.'

Of course it was the same opportunity they were bidding for: Murphy's Law...

The Book

As half term arrives, and I'm taking the weekend to spend some time with my family, I am also determined to find some good thinking time (probably in part  in conversation with my wife and children as we stride the fells) to get my ideas about my new book sorted.

It's going to be about Story - the items tagged Multistory Development give some clues...

Further news will follow as it devlops - I'm aiming to get it out by next summer.


Great awayday with the newly-formed Learning and Teaching Academy at Northumbria University.

We spent the day starting their planing process; looking at why (and why not) plan, understanding what they actually do, what the University wants and expects them to do, what they aspire to do and to be (purpose, vision and values and all that kind of thing...), and how to develop as a team and how to take all those strands forward.

A really good, committed set of people, whom I am sure will develop into a strong team; they entered into the day with good spirit and good ideas, despite having learned immediately previously that they are to be the subject of an internal review a mere 6 months after being established (not as a result of anything they have done or failed to do - but that's life in large organisatoins!)

Monday 24 May 2010

Bidding (Again)

Spent a happy day writing a proposal for an ancient university...  Put a good team together - Glyn Jones, Stuart Hunt and me, and came up with a programme that should deliver real change.  Looks good to me - I hope it does to them.

I guess the good thing about rejected bids is that it helps one to empathise with academic clients submitting research proposals and papers to journals etc...

Thursday 20 May 2010

A Story of Failure... The Offstage Character

I've posted a few examples of the Multistory approach working.  Here's an example of it failing - I am always wary of any approach that seems to be a panacea, and I also believe we can learn a lot from failures.

One failure I learned a lot from was in a social work setting, where a new manager had been appointed over a team involved in some quite creative approaches.  The senior practitioner was unhappy with the financial constraints suddenly placed upon her and her team; but that was the very job the new manager had been appointed to do.  The relationship quickly deteriorated and by the time I was asked to help, the two were not prepared to speak to each other.  The boss was also involved, and I included him in the process.  However what I failed to pick up in the early stages was the key role of an off-stage character, who used to share an office with the new manager, and who was still very influential with her.  
I managed to get all three individuals to the stage where I - and they - believed that it might be valuable to sit down in the same room and explore their stories.  However, the manager, who had shown some signs of movement and willingness to discuss by the end of our one-to-one conversation, now dug her heels in and refused to listen or to open up and discuss here real perceptions.  I later learned that her friend and old office-mate had spent some time with her advising her not to give an inch, as the boss and the practitioner would both take a mile if she did.  Had I realised earlier the degree to which this off-stage character was actively involved in the dispute, I should have included her in the process.  In the event, we got nowhere, and the two people who had been prepared to move a little felt very bruised and abused.  The manager was eventually re-assigned to another area: most organisations’ default response to difficult relationship issues.

Wednesday 19 May 2010

Hey Jude! - An inspirational head

Yesterday's Essex Futures day on Teaching and Learning was fascinating.  It was hosted by the Sir Charles Lucas School, and its inspirational head, Jude Hanner, who has turned a challenging school round successfully and told us how she had done so.  I am always humbled when I meet head teachers like Jude: the dedication, courage and sheer tenacity required to do what she has done are exceptional.

We also heard from the PVC for T&L, Andy Downton, who set the context - and some interesting challenges for the participants, and from Maria Fasli, a National Teaching Fellow and Head of School at the University, who shared some innovative approaches to getting learning internalised.

As usual, the other stars were the participants themselves, who came up with some great ideas for the T&L agenda, as well as bringing us up to speed with some excellent projects they have been undertaking as part of the programme, which are now coming to fruition, and their own personal journeys in the ActionLearning sets.

All in all, an extremely positive and enjoyable day: I am so lucky in the work I am asked to do, and in particular in the people with whom I work!

Friday 14 May 2010

New Business and Potential New Business

One of those weeks when a lot of new and interesting stuff emerges from almost nowhere (this is why it's tempting to be lazy about marketing!)

Cleveland Police want me to do a series of awaydays for teams embarking on major changes: to celebrate success and plan for the journey ahead.

Another client has asked me to sketch out ideas for a very interesting project which they wish to keep confidential, as they don't want their competitors to get wind of it until it's delivered sensational competitive advantage.

Someone else who I coached a while back is now 18 months into a new leadership role in a complex environment and wants me to undertake a 360 feedback exercise for her.

And I see St Andrews has issued an invitation to tender for some interesting coaching work. See my previous rants about the bidding process: this one includes words to the effect that only those with a good understanding of the culture of ancient universities need apply. Does that mean if you have not worked with them, Oxford or Cambridge you are wasting your time, I wonder. Will probably give it a shot with a couple of colleagues (we all have extensive University experience - but maybe not ancient enough....)

Wednesday 12 May 2010

Research Leadership

A couple of Research Leadership workshops last week: as ever struck by the richness and diversity of the projects people are involved in.

My favourite was a project that looks at whether teaching autistic children to draw perspective drawings from different points of view will also help them make the mental leap to see things from other people's point of view.

My diary broadcast

Struck by the brilliance of this blog, Radio Cumbria asked me to keep a diary for a week for their Little Cumbria programme. So I will be in the studio this Friday recording that. Have warned the postman to get in training so as to be fit to carry all the subsequent fan mail up the hill...

Saturday 1 May 2010

Moving Mountains

Moving Mountains is what I call my Influencing and Negotiating Skills workshop. Just ended a three day programme with a great bunch of people from the Adult Education world in the North East.

Keen and committed learners, they pushed their boundaries, tried stuff out, laughed a lot, and learned a lot too.

Joined on the last day by Clare, Peter and Simon from Curved Vision who used their acting skills to help people practice putting all the skills together to address real work scenarios. People always dread this in advance, but afterwards agree that it really helps the learning process.

Certainly the feedback from this programme was very positive, which is always pleasing.