Lets draw a tree


I have just spent half a day with Doug Shaw attending his workshop Art For Works Sake.

Following an introduction from Doug and considering how art might influence collaboration, innovation and creativity in the workplace, we were invited by Doug to draw a tree.

This was an interesting exercise for me, as my immediate thought was to produce a “doodle” or something that looked like a logo for the Conservative Party (have they ditched the tree yet?). But as I reflected further, I was drawn toward a dead tree, and one that represented one of those magical days that I experienced a couple of years ago whilst out on a family walk on our Hill. (We don’t own Bredon Hill but as we live on the side of it we just call it our hill).

To the boys, the tree became the Far Away Tree, and they proceeded to spend around an hour and half playing on and around the tree. They played, Kathryn and I got a chance to have a proper conversation, and for a short while all was well with the world despite a whole load of stuff going on for us.

So why am I writing about a tree. Because the exercise for me, reminded me and reinforced Doug’s message about our capacity to be creative and more importantly to create alternatives. My immediate response to that exercise was to draw what I knew, what came top of mind immediately, but the nature of the environment and the fact that I had invested my time in Doug meant that I paused for a moment and considered an alternative.

How often do we consider alternatives, that there might be at least one other answer to the question, problem or challenge that we face as coaches, facilitators, trainers, leaders, managers, parents and friends? What about even considering multiple answers before we dive into action?

I can feel another blog coming, but I am not ready for that at the moment. I’ve got some more trees to draw!!


Number 1 challenge is to develop talent?


An article in todays HR Magazine “CEO’s to focus on people issues in 2014 as a route to growth” reported on a survey by the Chartered Management Institute (CMI).

Based on a survey of CEO’s, presidents and chairs from more than 1000 employers around the world, the report found the number one challenge being how best to develop, engage, manage and retain talent. Close behind was corporate brand and reputation.

Of course I am biased, and welcome reports like this that highlight the need to address this and of course I would be happy to talk to you to see if I could help you and help you address your own unique challenges in this area.

But I would like us to stop and ponder before we head long into what might be another panacea for some of our problems. The report seems to indicate that its findings are in the context of achieving growth, and therefore talent will be clearly part of the recipe for success, but it can’t be the only ingredient. Talent, or people as we might call them, are only one part of the mix. It surely also has to be about systems, processes, product, design, marketing, managing supply chains etc etc etc…….

So for me the need to develop and engage people is a given in todays business, but please lets remind ourselves of the context. Our role is to make work better, faster, cheaper, value adding, and in the end its about producing products and services that people want to buy. Simple!?

So yes, talent and people has to be on the agenda, but its just part of the mix.

Is it number 1, I don’t think so, but maybe its the glue for the other stuff to happen.

I look forward to your thoughts……

“I’m not rubbish just cause I had lessons”


As we were sat on a ski lift today Tom said to me, “I’m not rubbish just cause I had a lesson”, and then went onto describe how his two private ski lessons had transformed his skiing over out ski trip so far. It has too. Having had a six year gap and skiing again last year with not a lot of confidence he asked if he could have some lessons.
So from little confidence to regularly going off piste today in freshly dumped snow is quite a transformation.

So I wonder how we see lessons for ourselves. I took some mountain biking lessons a few years ago that raised my skill levels, and actually the speed I could go downhill safely. I wonder what pastimes and sports do you do that you might benefit from a lesson?

What about work? What development, coaching or feedback might transform your performance like Tom has achieved today?

Admitting that you need a lesson does not mean you are rubbish. If my pubescent teenage son can recognise that what’s stopping you?

Skiing is about going down a mountain


Tom came back from his private ski lesson today really chuffed with his progress. His ski instructor had given him two thoughts to help his skiing. One was “headlights” which was about imagining his hands were the headlights of a car, and he had to point his headlights down the hill rather than swinging his shoulders to make his turns. The second was a quote from the instructor which was “remember skiing is about going down a mountain”. Tom like many new to skiing are hesitant at the start of a slope, and as a result start slowly on a very shallow angle. The result being not enough speed to make the first turn, and most likely a fall.

This phrase really helped Tom today in his skiing, he came on leaps, and he did really well in really challenging conditions all afternoon of falling snow and low visibility.

It also struck me as a powerful metaphor for many of our challenges that we face. We can think, strategise and plan, but sometimes we need to just get going, pick up some speed and momentum and make the first move!



I’m in France at the moment, away with my eldest son Tom, his best friend and her dad. We skied with them last year and it was such a great success we came away again to St Gervais Mont-Blanc this year.

This afternoon, I really felt like I was in a state of flow skiing. The snow is powdery and we are expecting a fall again tonight, so should be excellent tomorrow.

So flow, that state which I define when the challenge is significant, and you feel that you have the competence and confidence to meet the challenge, pushing yourself far enough but not into a place that’s outright dangerous so you become apprehensive and make errors nor too easy that actually it becomes a little dull.

This trip has become a fantastic way to kick off the new year. It’s not for me about writing a list of resolutions or concocting a set of numbers for a business plan, but a fantastic way of getting into a rhythm for the year ahead.

So a few more days skiing, then back to work proper, but not yet. The slopes beckon tomorrow. More flow hopefully!

Blogged live while David our host cooks our dinner.