Friday 20 May 2011

Vagaries of Tendering

A couple of tender results in recently.  One client, with whom I have worked for many years, can no longer use me for some programmes they want to use me for, as their tendering process failed to differentiate on quality (loads and loads of people got 100 % on all quality measures) so they are having to use the cheapest.  They are nervous of this...

Another client had a more discriminating process, which did differentiate.  I got some of the programmes I bid for, but not all.  Some were good calls - the presentation skills workshops are being done by Simon Raybould of Aware Plus, who will do an excellent job for them.  Others went to people I don't know who may well be good too.  But what I did notice was that the of programmes I got, only one is really playing to my core strengths - the others I will do a decent job of, but are a bit tangential for me; but several I didn't get are much closer to my core skills and experience.

It's an odd process: not sure it works well for either buyer or seller...

Monday 16 May 2011

Roger Steare on Love in Business

I went to the York St John's Business School Annual Lecture last week.  Both speakers were very good, but I was particularly struck by Roger Steare (who was the reason for my going at all).

I had been intrigued and impressed by his book Ethicability, and his work as a corporate philosopher.  On this occasion he was talking about the Power of Love in Business.

His essential thesis was that if we leave our emotional self at home when we go to work, we lack integrity - in its meaning as wholeness - and that lack of integrity is costly for ourselves, our colleagues, our organisations and the world.

This was explored in some depth and from a number of perspectives: if I understood correctly, we were being taken through his new book: the Power of Love. On the basis of the lecture, it should be well worth reading.

Thursday 5 May 2011

Narrative Training

I recently completed the 5 day Narrative Training programme offered by Professor Liz Todd and her colleagues Charmian Hobbs and Cate Crallan at Newcastle University.

It was an excellent grounding in Narrative therapy, and really fascinating for me.

We covered some fo the background ideas, particularly deconstruction, de-centred working and externalisation, and then worked through the Statement of Position Maps.

One of the interesting discussions was around the different uses of maps: to orientate, get an overview of a territory, plan possible routes, become aware of hazards, find out where we are if feeling lost, review a journey retrospectively, and so on.  We also discussed the need for a compass in order to use a map well in practice: a rich metaphor for the need for some guiding principles for our work.

The programme was rich in input, discussion and practice; which really helped me to deepen my understanding.  Significantly, I found that I was reading some of the texts (eg Michael Whites and ALice Morgan's) in a much more informed way: making more and different sense from them.

It was also helpful to clarify for me some differences and distinctions: between my work as a trainer and coach, as opposed to the therapists who were the others on the course, and also between my approach to using Narrative (and my underlying assumptions and philosophy) and that advocated by White the Narrative Therapy movement.

So an extremely useful five days - thoroughly recommended for anyone else interested in this approach.


Whilst I do a lot of work solo, I really enjoy collaborating with others - and tonight have just come off the phone from a great call with Mike Cockburn of Sogno and Alan Sides of Sides Partnership.  We've been putting ideas together for a potential programme for a client, and have come up with three very different approaches, each one of which would be great to run with these guys.  Let's hope the client likes them...

Moving Mountains

Today's Moving Mountains (Influencing and Negotiating Skills) programme ran very well.  Unusually, it was an entirely female group (apart form myself) - there was a question raised about gender differences in terms of influencing and negotiating...

As ever, different people found different elements of the programme useful, but overall they all found it helpful and really entered into both the practical exercises and discussions, and the conceptual frameworks we were exploring.

As well as Harvard's classic negotiating model, and the push/pull influencing skills, I can't resist introducing the Multistory ideas.

This remains one of my favourite programmes, because people demonstrably find it so valuable...

Academic Leadership

The second day of both cohorts of the Academic Leadership programme went very well this week.  Both modules were joined by the VC for a session on leadership from his perspective, and also each by a different Dean to share her experience, and a different PVC to take feedback and questions.  These were all useful sessions, but equally valuable was the learning generated by the groups form their own experiences and observations: they had had an assignment to look out for examples of good leadership in HE, and also to gather others' expectations of themselves as leaders, and both of these topics led to fruitful and interesting discussions.  Looking forward to Day 3 for each cohort, in June.