Tuesday, 30 August 2011

Keeping on Track in a Downturn

The following contains details of the initial discussion undertaken during a group session I facilitated using the FCP process some time ago that I've sent to a few people recently and thought may provide insight at this time too.

Here's the first few insights - if you're interested in further insights then there's a link to the remaining pdf containing the full notes at the end.

You broke through your closed shell of isolation into a true understanding and experience of team work.

There are 3 aspects to this card:

  • breaking through the closed shell of isolation

  • true understanding of teamwork

  • true experience of teamwork

  • It’s certainly very difficult to keep on track if we isolate ourselves, so too if we experience teamwork where everyone operates in their own silos.

    Perhaps we’re being asked to consider what breaking through our closed shell of isolation into a true understanding and experience of teamwork would look, sound and feel like or perhaps it’s a reminder we’re already doing it.

    It’s very easy to think we’ll calm down or take time out once we’ve finished everything, once the downturn is over. Here we’re being asked to bring a quality of peace into our lives now. Knowing that from that place of peace we’re more likely to make better decisions and wiser choices.

    The session concluded with the mentor of Authenticity ....Continued

    The process, the insight, setback and mentor cards used here are from the Frameworks for Change © Innerlinks -

    Image from Andrew Jones Photography (my brother too :-))

    Monday, 29 August 2011


    I was asked today for a copy of a story I'd written and thought I'd share it here too.

    Here's the first few para's and then a link to the full version (It's a short story so only 2 pages long).

    “iPhone iPhone in my hand who is the fairest in the land” Eleanor said out loud hoping against all hope that the answer would be “Eleanor is the fairest in the land” and was therefore very disappointed when the answer was someone in Norway she’d never heard of.

    Like a lot of people Eleanor had been delighted when a new iPhone application has been launched. It was a comparison application but instead of comparing prices it compared skills and attributes. Within a week she’d discovered that she didn’t have the thinnest ankles, the glossiest hair, the whitest teeth or the most perfect breasts. She’d also discovered that she wasn’t the best nonfiction writer, communication trainer, motivational speaker or career coach. With every question she asked she found out that someone else was better than her. Her mood therefore took a huge turn for the worse and friends and family got very wary of speaking to her. Nothing they said seemed to make any difference. In fact it made matters worse because when they listed something they thought she excelled in – she just asked the iPhone and it gave her the name of someone else. To her every name was more evidence that she wasn’t good at anything even if she didn’t always agree with the answer the phone gave. To Eleanor there was a whole world out there better at everything than her with better skills, better minds and certainly better bodies. Whenever she thought she might have found a question that would give her the answer she craved she was always disappointed – the best bathroom went to a couple in Hong Kong and even the cleanest small bedroom window facing west (when she’d started to clutch at straws) went to a man in Canada.


    Thursday, 11 August 2011

    Bad apples just get more rotten – it’s time to change the metaphor

    I have been inundated with examples of the different ways we can view good and bad over the last week and thought I’d share the thoughts that have arisen for me:

    One key conversation was with a friend about being a ‘good person’ vs a ‘bad person.’

    I agree certain behaviours are bad (although I’m pretty sure we’ll all have different scales for what goes where) but that doesn’t make the people doing them bad. If we continue to label others as bad then it’s not long before we continue with that metaphor and believe them to be rotten, like an apple, and therefore useless. The only option then is for them to be discarded. As a metaphor it’s not got a lot going for it, it certainly doesn’t provide a lot of options other than perhaps to bury the apple and hope the seeds have some life left in them!

    I wondered what might be a more helpful and resourceful metaphor – what about:

    Tomatoes – because they need the right soil, nutrients, feeding, watering, heat and light. This is they need TLC and the right conditions to enable them to flourish. Although perhaps unhelpful when thrown at others rather than eaten as part of a healthy diet.

    Flowers – what I like about this metaphor is flowers can flourish in many environments despite the lack of the ‘right’ conditions. But constant lack of any of the right conditions will certainly not allow for a flourishing, vigorous and beautiful flower.

    With both these examples at least it’s easier to understand what is needed to ensure the plant flourishes and contributes to the garden. It’s also useful to consider the impact of the greenhouse, the gardener and tools used because ultimately these too will determine the extent to which the plants flourish.

    What metaphors do you use to describe others and in what way might these be unhelpful to finding a solution to the issue.


    Alison Smith
    Helping Teams see the Wood for the Trees

    For more on the Landscaping your Life metaphor I use with individuals and teams do visit my facebook and youtube pages. You may also like a recent blog on Growing your own stakeholders on Supply Management.

    Tuesday, 9 August 2011

    Nettles and Dock Leaves

    One way of interpreting this combination of plants is that an opportunity to solve a problem is never that far away. To explore this more fully I thought I'd use the Frameworks for change Coaching Process to see what other insights might be available especially on this #riotcleanup day here in the UK:

    Insight: You express honesty and truthfulness in each moment.
    When ever I look at nature I am always reminded that each flower and plant offers it's own uniqueness and ask myself why we constantly try to be like other people rather than accept we are who we are in all our uniqueness. Of course this is also true in reverse why do we so often try to get everyone to be like us and not not accept and embrace their uniqueness?

    Setback: You are setback by ARROGANCE in the present situation
    I wonder whether this a continuation of the last point i.e. it's easy to believe we're a Dock Leaf providing healing balm to those stung rather than accept that we might just be the nettle. Isn't it useful to be reminded that sometimes we're the ones capable of stinging others too? We may have other virtues but we all come with beliefs, skills or behaviours some might perceive as negative and unhelpful. To move forward it's about us all releasing the setback of believing we're better than others and accepting and embracing ours and their uniqueness.

    Insight: You value and express the quality of SUPPORT in the current situation
    You might see that the Dock Leaf supports the Nettle and perhaps that's the point - that we each need others around us who can support us and point out our less positive traits so that we may learn and grown. This of course is infinitely more possible if we've let the arrogance go. Who are you supporting today?

    Mentor: Transformation
    If we took on the beliefs and behaviours of our role model for transformation what difference would that make - what would we be thinking, what would we be saying and what would we be doing differently? One question - What's stopping us?

    I hope you found this helpful. If so you may find the notes from the session entitled 'Keeping on track in a downturn' helpful too. I love that the final mentor was Authenticity. It's certainly a great process for use in groups as well as in coaching sessions.

    Helping, ok nudging, us all to realise our potential
    Alison 07770 538159

    The process, the insight, setback and mentor cards used here are from the
    Frameworks for Change © Innerlinks -

    Thursday, 4 August 2011

    Nameste or Oel ngati kameie

    Someone tweeted "Namaste" yesterday and I was reminded of my blog from a few years ago and wanted to share it again here today:

    Nameste or Oel ngati kameie? Both of these are greetings and I wonder how different our relationships at work would be if we used them – although I would suggest that Namaste might be easier to say :-)

    When you greet someone with hello what are you thinking about? I’d suggest very little. It’s often just a word at the top of an email or the start of the conversation and is simply a means to the rest of the conversation. I wonder if the other person even registers it.

    When I watched the film Avatar I loved the Na’vi’s welcome “Oel ngati kameie” which translates as “I see you.” I see you feels to me like an appreciation of the person with whom we’re communicating. Surely such an appreciation would be a great way to start any conversation - in spirit if not word.

    The Sanskrit word Nameste has a similar meaning. One translation I particularly like, although perhaps not strictly grammatically accurate, is “I honour the spirit in you.” On researching for this blog I realise there are other words that are used around the globe for hello which have similar meanings and these include Aloha, Shalom, Salaam etc.

    I like that these start the conversation recognising and appreciating a connection between both/all parties. I just wonder what difference it would make if we used them more regularly at work - even just in our heads.

    The responses to the blog at the time suggested that just remembering to say "good morning" could make as much difference and my response to that was:

    It's perhaps not the word but the intent that matters. Hello can illicit the same response if said with meaning and a desire to connect as much as any of my other suggestions.

    Au Revior (until we meet again here or in person)

    Wednesday, 3 August 2011

    Let go

    At this time of year I get quite a few butterflies in my office. They generally flutter about the room and then head back off to the window.

    The common trait as they search for the open window (at the bottom) is they head up to the top panel of glass, then they come down and then get stuck between the 2 panes of glass. Once they stop trying so heard to fly up and relax they fall through the very small gap between the two panes as this video shows.

    Next time you're stuck in a situation it might be useful to consider there may be less obvious options available that require no effort at all.

    Do come visit me on YouTube or Facebook for more on #Landscapingyourlife.

    What ends up in your personal junk folder

    I tweeted recently that unless we follow people we disagree with our twitter feed is likely to represent and not challenge our view of the world. That’s no different in other areas of our life. That is what we pay attention to will normally support our worldview.

    There’s approximately 2 billion pieces of data coming into our senses every second!! With that much data available it would be easy to get overloaded. It’s our Reticular Activating System (RAS) that acts as a filter – it’s a tracking system that brings to our attention data that it thinks is important to us. It’s basically a SPAM filter which bases its assessment of importance on if:

    • It is important to our survival
    • It is different or out of the norm
    • It has emotional content for us personally
    • It supports our beliefs
    • It helps us achieve our goals

    And everything else ends up in Junk mail.

    This is why, once we set goals, we start to notice information that will help us achieve them – whether that’s useful information or people. Or why suddenly there are more cars the same as our new one on the road.

    There’s much we can do to become more aware and even set our own SPAM filter to ensure we’re not missing vital information. I just wanted to remind you that your beliefs will determine what you notice. For example I bet you can give me recent examples of drivers of white van's (hijacking a common belief here in the UK about their bad driving for a moment) who were driving recklessly and didn’t notice the larger percentage of occasions where they were courteous.

    How do your criteria need redefining to stop useful information going into your junk mail?

    Helping you realise the potential of Procurement


    Tuesday, 2 August 2011

    Effective Tweeting at conferences

    I’ve vicariously followed many conferences on Twitter over the last couple of years and the following is a summary of my tips on engaging more effectively for all involved (audience, speakers & organisers).

    NB: Obviously, in sharing, some of my own behaviours and beliefs about use of SoMe will become apparent. I’ve also made assumptions about the objectives of each of the groups involved. In other words these might not all apply – so do please share your tips so that we make this a more comprehensive list.


  • Understand your objective for tweeting from the conference.

  • Understand your preferred learning style and know if tweeting during the speeches will support or hinder the objectives you have for attendance – better to share learning and engage with twitter after the speech or even event if you know that will work best for you.

  • Find out and use the #conferencehashtag.

  • Find out and use the @speakerstwittername.

  • Tweeting “great speech from @speaker” is ok but does this meet your objectives and does it help your followers and the followers of the #hashtag?

  • “Great speech from @ speaker @#hashtag because I learnt this, will do this differently or even because he made me laugh, cry, jump up and down” is much better.

  • Remember the conference is a wonderful opportunity to talk to new people not tweet to people you already have a connection with – you can catch up with them as you travel home?

  • Speakers

  • Ensure tweet profile is up to date and ensure profile or more recent tweet provides links to website/blog or other means of finding out what you do (you might not use twitter but much of the audience might).

  • Ensure people at the conference know your @twittername – getting it into your intro would be GREAT.

  • Understand what your objectives are for your audience and encourage tweets that support or reinforce that.
    (My concern is if we’re busy tweeting what you said will that translate into insight or action in the future? I do think tweeting can keep us at theoretical level rather than applying it. Evidence from conferences I’ve followed would support that as there is a distinct lack of sharing on things beyond what was being said. I’ve often asked what will you do differently and get NO reply – is that because people don’t know because they were too busy tweeting what was said? I get plenty of engagement otherwise.)

  • Engage with those tweeting about your speech (More often than not I will follow someone who does that whether it’s my tweet they’ve replied to or someone else’s. It’s a great way of reinforcing a point or clarifying it).

  • If you’re tweeting about another speaker use their @twittername.

  • Organisers

  • Consider employing professional tweeters to raise profile of conference ahead of and during conference.

  • Agree and communicate in all marketing literature and tweet the #conferencehashtag – not halfway through the first day please.

  • Engage with attendees before the event (ask for twitter name in registration) – about #hashtag, speakers, venue, accommodation, food, networking opportunities etc.

  • Ensure all speakers know each other’s @twitternames.

  • Engage with those tweeting especially those using incorrect #hashtag.

  • Regularly tweet, throughout the conference, what the #hashtag means with links.

  • Ensure you have a transcript of #hashtagtweets at the end so those attending, those in different #timezones or those finding #hashtag later in day can review what’s been said.

  • Which is why employing a professional tweeter makes sense.

  • Hope something here has helped - do share your tips too.

    Monday, 1 August 2011

    Speaker Authenticity - it's more than truth telling

    Authenticity is something that is often mentioned as an aspiration of speakers. As a speaker myself and writing this to other speakers I think it’s useful to remember that we all judge others by our own definition. That is we each have our own definition, so too our colleagues, other speakers and audiences.

    I’d suggest therefore that understanding our own and other’s views on authenticity may be useful. Without that understanding how can we ensure when speaking we avoid following others’ advice to become more authentic when that very action could make us less so.

    This weekend I found myself tweeting the following in response to an exchange from other twits at @influence11 (see #nsa11) a conference of professional speakers in California:

    alisonrbcm: challenge is that sometimes following others advice can take you away from being authentic and make it more 'manufactured'

    alisonrbcm: wonder if telling it {the story} to be of service vs telling it to make more sales also makes a difference on authenticity felt by audience

    alisonrbcm: something about congruency with self and not congruency with what we think we have to be to be accepted

    These reflect the feeling I have that authenticity is more than simply truth telling, more than just not lying and yes even more than showing vulnerability. Looking on the internet for a definition I liked the one over on Wiki:

    "Authenticity is the degree to which one is true to one's own personality, spirit, or character, despite these {external} pressures."

    If this is true then it’s perhaps easier to see how we can determine whether we’re achieving this for ourselves – but how can we assess others against this? How can we know if someone is being true to their spirit? I’d love to know how YOU know.

    For me my assessment has an energetic component ie where do I feel the speaker’s communication is coming from: ie their head, heart, spirit or body and where is it going to: ie my head, heart, spirit, back of the room or someplace else? Which is why I will disagree with many when I only feel the connection from the speaker’s head to mine rather than more deeply heart to heart or spirit to spirit.

    I've raised a discussion in LinkedIn to share your thoughts - do join us there.