Archive for July, 2012

A game changing strategy..?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

A desperate mother has come up with a new way to communicate her needs and feelings to her kids….  They came down to breakfast to find this note on the fridge door.

Simple, clear and persuasive. 

You have to communicate with your audience in terms they find compelling and relevant.  You need to reward positive behaviour to help embed it. 

Perhaps she should run courses for businessmen?

How could you turn things on their head and get more of what you want?

The NHS could save 6,000 lives a year with one small change!

Friday, July 27th, 2012

The Royal College of Physicians and the Royal College of Nursing have announced today that simply agreeing to use one single, common patient bedside health chart (instead of the more than 100 currently used) across the country could save up to 6,000 lives a year!  It seems amazing that in the 21st century this is news.  Obviously staff move from one hospital to another and to see the same information presented in the same format everywhere they work obviously saves time and confusion.  Imagine if car manufacturers kept changing where they put the steering wheel or the speedometer…? 

It is a breath taking example of how steeping back and simplifying can save time and money.  I have no doubt it will take a lot more time time and money before the various authorities manage to agree to move forward with this simple step but of course, there are examples closer to home, probably within your own business.  Where can you simplify your processes?  Where can you introduce single common systems across your organisation?   Having worked in large corporations I know there is a constant tension between local ‘big wigs’ who want information presented how they want it and the Head Office who want single systems, but these often move far too slowly and are unresponsive to their users needs. 

Systems should be reviewed regularly to see if they are fit for purpose, users should be involved as they will know where there are problems.


  1. Telegraph article
  2. BBC Story

“Simplicity is the ultimate sophistication.”  Leonardo da Vinci

“Everything should be made as simple as possible, but not simpler.”  Albert Einstein

Graduation, a milestone

Wednesday, July 25th, 2012

Today I was one of many proud parents watching their beloved offspring don gown and mortarboard and be presented with their degree.  My daughter had quite a lot to overcome to reach this milestone.  She lost her mum a matter of months after starting, then broke up with her boyfriend of seven years shortly thereafter, after her second year she felt she needed to change her course and as a dyslexic she had to do a little bit more to present her written work.  She managed all this and today got the piece of paper that has cost her tens of thousands to say that she has achieved something important.

We tend to hand out bits of paper to acknowledge these changes in our status, driving licences, marriage certificate degrees etc.  A small thing really to mark a landmark in out lives.  We change day-by-day, but in such tiny increments that we don’t really notice, so it is important periodically to take stock and recognise that change has happened.  To tell the world we are ready for the next level of challenge.

It is so easy to be cynical about the value of this kind of ceremony but they do have social and emotional value.  When I qualified, I just got an envelope through the post, but I knew that piece of paper was a key turning point, and whilst I wasn’t sure I wished to follow that profession, I was very clear I had joined a relatively elite group, and had won the right to play in that league. 

Change happens whether we like it or not, some changes we work for, and others happen despite our best efforts, but in order to master Change we need to acknowledge it and our small victories.  So I send out my congratulations to all of this year’s graduating students

Always uphill?

Tuesday, July 24th, 2012

I was out walking on Sunday, and as we trekked uphill through mud and cutting sedge grass, I mused out loud “Why do we always go uphill?”  It certainly felt that way, even at the end of the walk, but my ever wise companion said “You just don’t notice the downhills”.  I paused and considered that there was much truth in this even though I will swear that our walk was 75% going up hill! 

In life and in business, as in walking, we tend to ignore the times when we are cruising within our capacity, so it feels like we skip from crisis to crisis.  The thing is, if during the ‘downhills’ and along the ‘flats’ you aren’t taking the time to improve your act and performance and prepare for the bad times, then each crisis will be just as nasty as the one before.

So in business, as in the boy scouts, Be Prepared!

The Importance of Describing Behaviour

Sunday, July 15th, 2012

Today we have another guest blog, which I really like.  Jo Berry reminds of the power and importance of our language in avoiding conflict and resolving issues 

I have been working in the world of conflict transformation and communication and have been understanding how I can challenge behaviour so that I have most chance of being heard. So that the ‘other’ will most likely want to change their behaviour which I am finding difficult.
I know when I label someone as a bully, bad, stupid, their immediate response is to be defensive or to attack. I do that as well.
When I describe the behaviour and share the effect of the behaviour on me, then the person has a choice to change and also will understand exactly what it is they are doing that is upsetting me. Our relationship may even be deepened through transforming this challenging situation.
I was at a conference yesterday and there was a group there who were using the language of blaming. I noticed how they were attached to being ‘right’ and making everyone else ‘wrong’. They were labelling some behaviour as justifiable and the rest as demonic. The effect was a huge chasm opened up between them and others. I left early so I am writing now on how we can move on together.
I have come to know that in difficult situations I can be violent, be unkind and hurt others. I know that when I empathise with others I realise that if I had lived their life I may have acted in the same way. This was tested recently when I was in Rwanda listening to the story of a Hutu man who had been caught up in the hate ideology and had been violent. After hearing his story I could empathise and see the potential is in all of to be behave in that way.
It is hard and yet possible to challenge behaviour without blaming or demonising. It requires me to give up my righteousness and to want to ‘teach’ the other a lesson. Change happens when we feel good about ourselves. Describing behaviour allows both of us to have dignity.
Change happens when I allow your truth and acknowledge your humanity.
I have a bully in me and that is the part I can change.

Learn more about Jo and her work here

The 12 Laws of Karma

Friday, July 13th, 2012

I saw these posted today and obviously they have all sorts of major religious and philosophical importance, but if you are able to set that aside and just think about them, they contain not just wisdom but some pretty practical tools for Change.  They are worth dusting off and and applying.


“As you sow, so shall you reap”. This is also known as the “Law of Cause and Effect”.
Whatever we put out in the Universe is what comes back to us.
If what we want is Happiness, Peace, Love, Friendship…Then we should BE Happy, Peaceful, Loving and a True Friend.


Life doesn’t just HAPPEN, it requires our participation.
We are one with the Universe, both inside and out.
Whatever surrounds us gives us clues to our inner state.
BE yourself, and surround yourself with what you want to have present in your Life.


What you refuse to accept, will continue for you.
If what we see is an enemy, or someone with a character trait that we find to be negative,
then we ourselves are not focused on a higher level of existence.


“Wherever you go, there you are”.
For us to GROW in Spirit, it is we who must change – and not the people, places or things around us.
The only given we have in our lives is OURSELVES and that is the only factor we have control over.
When we change who and what we are within our heart our life follows suit and changes too.


Whenever there is something wrong in my life, there is something wrong in me.
We mirror what surrounds us – and what surrounds us mirrors us; this is a Universal Truth.
We must take responsibility what is in our life.


Even if something we do seems inconsequential, it is very important that it gets done as everything in the Universe is connected.
Each step leads to the next step, and so forth and so on.
Someone must do the initial work to get a job done.
Neither the first step nor the last are of greater significance,
As they were both needed to accomplish the task.
Past – Present – Future
They are all connected…


You can not think of two things at the same time.
When our focus is on Spiritual Values, it is impossible for us to have lower thoughts such as greed or anger.


If you believe something to be true, then sometime in your life you will be called upon to demonstrate that particular truth.
Here is where we put what we CLAIM that we have learned,
into actual PRACTICE.


Looking backward to examine what was, prevents us from being totally in the HERE AND NOW.
Old thoughts, old patterns of behaviour, old dreams…
Prevent us from having new ones.


History repeats itself until we learn the lessons that we need to change our path.


All Rewards require initial toil.
Rewards of lasting value require patient and persistent toil.
True joy follows doing what we’re suppose to be doing, and waiting for the reward to come in on it’s own time.


You get back from something whatever YOU have put into it.
The true value of something is a direct result of
the energy and intent that is put into it.
Every personal contribution is also a contribution to the Whole.
Lack lustre contributions have no impact on the Whole, nor do they work to diminish it.
Loving contributions bring life to, and inspire, the Whole



Is 60 just another birthday?

Thursday, July 12th, 2012

I celebrated my 60th birthday a month ago.  I can’t say it was a milestone that I was looking forward to reaching.  I grew up when the Beatles sang “When I’m 64..” when we all considered that unimaginably old!  It used to be that the one good thing about this landmark birthday was you got a free bus pass.  It seems that that too has changed.  What did I get to mark my 60th from officialdom?  A bowel cancer self test kit!!  I went straight to the cellar and broke out the Moet!  I can’t argue that they are not a good idea.  Bowel cancer is a preventable killer, and my own father died from it, but you certainly get a funny looks when you you show it to the driver of a number 64 bus. 

I’m lucky in belonging to a generation for whom 60 is not really that old.  I certainly have less hair, and it is somewhat greyer, but by and large, I’m still fit enough to enjoy the extra time and resources I have as my children begin to march into adulthood; two have now finished uni’ and the youngest has  only a year to go.

I’m wondering what advantages there are to being 60?  Is it really a big change or just another day?  I’d love to hear your thoughts and experiences.

Change Lessons from Harlequins – Tony Copsey (ex MD)

Wednesday, July 11th, 2012

This is the second in a series of interviews where I interview a number of the people who played a part in Harlequins remarkable turnaround from the team that was relegated in 2006 to the team which won the premiership this year.  This was a 10 year journey and it can teach us come interesting lessons.

Tony was a professional player for Llanelli, Saracens and Wales.  He came to Quins a few months after Mark Evans to help him in the transformation, with Tony focusing on the off-pitch aspects of the change.  Whilst one might imagine that a rugby club is all about winning on the pitch, the interesting thing is that in order to do this they require resources to invest in players and facilities, both for the team and the spectators.  Unless you have an owner with deep pockets, there is therefore a very strong link between their ability to generate income and the on field results.

Tony’s job was to ensure that the Stoop (their ground) was a place that people wanted to come to, where they enjoyed their match day experience regardless of the result on the day, because this bought the Director of Rugby time to get the right players in place.  Over their tenure Evans & Copsey drove the gate up from 3,000 to nearer 12,000 a game.  He also pointed out that he had to try to make the facility make money during the week when there was no game from things like conferences and events.

Effectively, there was a team behind the team on the pitch who sold the tickets, did the marketing, wooed the sponsors and did the PR, in addition to feeding and watering the public on match day.  Tony explained that a lot of work went into ensuring no one was more than 40 yds. from a beer or a sausage (metaphorically speaking) and that they didn’t have to wait too long to get served.

They did a lot of work on what the brand Harlequins stood for and what their values were and how this translated into the day-to-day behaviours of the staff.  He also explained the importance of senior players in helping to model the ‘right’ way to behave and help discipline the youngsters about what it means to wear a Quins shirt.  There is a lot of talk about their exciting brand of rugby, and the press is full of people singing the praises of Chris Robshaw, their captain, who now also captains England.  He is a walking embodiment of these values and is fine example of what Tony was describing.

An interesting observation was that emotion is a powerful force in buying decisions where sport is concerned so if you want to attract sponsors, you have to create a club that people care about, and are excited by. 

Tony was also constantly reviewing the back office team’s roles and tuning them to the needs of the club as their situation changed.  Getting the right processes in place and the right people was key.  He aimed to try and make his staff the kind of people that got headhunted.

I hope to be able to continue this analysis over the coming weeks

Previous interviews:

  1. Mark Evans