No more posts here

Hello! I wrote a while back to let you know I’ve moved my blogging to my website.  I now have a sign up option which was missing before – you’ll find it towards the end of my blog page.

I think most people have been moved over automatically but if you didn’t get my latest post about Chaos then pop your email address in over there for all future updates.

Thanks, Helen 

Been a bit quiet?

Hi! If you’re following my blog here you might have thought I’ve been a bit quiet lately. That’s because my blog’s now moved to here. And I’ve noticed I have a lack of option to “follow” the blog from that new place. I’ll get that sorted. In the meantime, check back every now & then, or keep an eye on my Twitter & LinkedIn activity if you’d like to see my latest stuff. 

Thanks for following 🙂


What do you value really? 

I write this as an imperfect human being. Some of this I’m doing better at than others. I’ll never be perfect, none of us will. So I’m noticing, challenging myself and practicing different beliefs….. My personal development areas are at the end and I hope this might generate some thoughts for you.


In work we value :

Money. Being right. Long hours. Seniority. Intelligence. Data & facts. Work over anything else.

This means we strive for more money, to climb the ladder, and to work long hours, always protecting ourselves by not letting others see our mistakes and flaws – which leads to errors and unethical behaviour.  Because it means we compete to win above all else which puts us in an ‘I’ instead of ‘we’ mindset.

It means we think people with degrees are better than others. That what those people say is more valid.

It means we make decisions from bullet points & spreadsheets, ignoring what it might mean for the employees/customers/suppliers at the other end of the decision.

It means we sacrifice time with friends, family & loved ones because work is the thing the world values – if you tell someone you can’t do something because you’ve got a big presentation to finish – then ‘oh yes, very important, you must do that’. Tell someone you can’t do something because you need to look after the kids – then ‘oh, that’s disappointing. Those kids are a bit inconvenient’.

It means we believe we’re only ‘good enough’ if this is how we live. It means that who we are is judged by ourselves and others based on what we do, how much we earn, how much fancy stuff we have, how many qualifications we have, how senior we are.


What if we valued :

Equity. Learning from mistakes. Outputs. Diversity of thought. Emotion & feelings. The whole person.

We would do the work we’re great at & that we enjoy (no matter what that job is) because we don’t need to earn more / climb the ladder to become a worthy human being / gain respect.  With less ‘winning’ needed to be ‘good enough’ our mindset would be more often in the ‘we’ space.

Instead of only wanting to hear good news and glossy ‘managed’ messages we’d be open to hearing the dark side too, the ‘what’s not working’ which means we learn and which makes for improved services and greater satisfaction for all.

We’d give people responsibility to get their work done on time to deliver our products & services to our customers. Developing them and then trusting them to think for themselves about how they do that.

We’d really listen and value a variety of perspectives. No matter what the person’s background, seniority or education.

We’d care about people beyond our own needs when making decisions and we’d listen to our own hearts and guts as well as our heads. Accessing all our information. Borrowing from Roger Steare – is the decision logical, does it follow the rules / law and is it the right thing for others?

We wouldn’t be afraid of our own or others’ discomfort or emotional responses to something. We’d see that as great information and go towards it to inquire into it, learning more about it to enable more conscious choices in what we do and how we do it. Also then enabling change to happen more easily by acknowledging where we, or others, really are instead of squashing those feelings deep down and ignoring them. However good we think we are at doing that it shows up somewhere, leaks out in a different way or a different part of our life.

We’d value people having variety in their life and see that being able to fulfil their outside interests or commitments would help them to be at their best more of the time in everything they do. Aspects of them which aren’t met through work being met elsewhere. Priorities of the other people for whom they’re responsible being valued as an important contribution to the future of this thing we call society.

So for me……I see in myself a pull towards work instead of my kids – I’m practising to shift that. I feel in myself a little buzz when a senior leader follows me – I’m noticing and challenging myself on what I’m making that mean. I hear myself talking about the big businesses I work with because it makes me feel important and think it will impress – I can’t influence what others will think as important, I can notice how I feel and challenge my thoughts. Work in progress – always learning.

[Photo credit –

This is me…

WFS Tree

Religion – a new way

This is a post I’ve been going to write for a while – in fact nearly two years! I’ve delayed writing it for fear of offending people but after a bit of tweet chat a while back I decided to step into the #ldbravery space and share my thoughts.  Plus it’s nearly Christmas so it seems relevant!!

Having feared writing this, what I discovered was that my fear was coming from my non-religious upbringing and my concern that I would write this with a mindset of ‘we don’t need religion, we’re just fine thanks’. What I’ve discovered through writing this is that much of the great stuff we do and seek today has origins in religion and so what I’ve learnt instead is that we might just do well to look to those who practice for more inspiration. And with my daughter now deciding to be a Christian I may well be learning more over the coming months!

I believe everyone is entitled to live their life and believe in what they want to believe* without judgement from others – because what works for me may be different to what works for you. This is therefore not about judgement of religion or non-religion, this is just about things I see taking the place of religion today and I’m really curious to learn what this means to others.

My religious background? I wasn’t christened or anything. I had a Church of England mum and a lapsed Catholic dad, the latter of whom resented his religious upbringing and didn’t want to enforce anything on his own kids. Plus they couldn’t have decided what to make us! I dabbled with religion around 16 when a couple of Christian girls at school made a good effort to convert me but it just wasn’t really me. Plus I was then starting to get into a phase that didn’t sit so well with the other young people in the circles where we were meant to share our experiences of keeping away from the evil of alcohol and certain movies. I didn’t feel I was on the same wavelength.

The other time I had my interest piqued into religion was at my sister’s wedding – I loved the symbolism of the Hindu ceremony and the spiritual nature of it. The joining of two families and the welcome for my sister into her new one.

I’m now finding that spiritualism… Buddhism…. I’m not sure what exactly, holds interest for me and it’s a wonder I’m just letting sit there for a while to see what emerges – like this fascinating movie The Shift. Thank you Amanda Sterling for sharing.

So please read this with full awareness that I’m not an expert in religion in any way and that these are a layperson’s observations.

In recent years religious participation – at least Christian participation in the UK – has decreased and we’ve sought out other things to take its place. These are some of the things I think we’ve found….



A couple of months back, I heard on the Radio about an event by Action for Happiness with the Dalai Lama in London to mark World Peace Day. Action for Happiness provide opportunities for people to connect and meet on subjects such as family & friends, the world, bouncing back, and more. Something which would have previously been achieved through prayer groups, or just talking to trusted friends and family at the regular routine of weekly church.


In work, the place where we no longer loyally follow one organisation for our whole career, we look for purpose – a meaning beyond just a job. Something beyond profit that has us feel we’re making a difference in the world. Something to suggest that our life on this earth matters. Needs which I’d offer were traditionally met through serving God, through believing that in meeting His expectations we’d be fulfilling our purpose on earth.

Praying and Signs from God

Friends of ours a few years back moved city to establish a new church. They talked of praying to God and being guided by Him to the place where their church should be. In that moment I had a sense that praying and coaching have similarities – speaking our thoughts, possibly out loud but not always, to enable us to make sense of a situation. Those thoughts ‘spoken’ in the presence of someone who believes in you and who listens to you without interruption to enable you to do your best thinking. Sometimes clients will talk to me after a session about the idea I gave them, when all I’d done was listen and ask questions. They had the idea in themselves all along. How much of this is what praying offers?

Street Wisdom has similar parallels to the situations where people talk of God having spoken to them, or being given a sign. Street Wisdom is all about spotting the signs around us to answer questions that we’ve been grappling with. Again, accessing our fantastic subconscious that so often gets drowned out by our conscious mind (read Timothy Gallwey, The Inner Game of Tennis if you’d like to learn more about this). Given our subconscious works better with images it makes sense that visual signs in our surroundings are able to connect with it and give us these messages.

Human Connection

In the past: Every Sunday, 10am, best clothes on, meet and connect with familiar and friendly faces at church to look for inspiration in the teachings of the bible.

Now: Every Saturday, 10am, best clothes on, meet and connect with familiar and friendly faces in town, at the shops to look for inspiration in the latest clothes and shoes.

Although this particular modern form of inspiration has (IMHO) taken a drop in meaning, connection is essential to us.  To thrive we need to make sure it’s part of how we spend our time – whether that’s shopping, going out for meals, cups of tea at home, or indeed going to our preferred religious centre.

And now there’s this new option for not just human connection but singing, appreciation, gratitude, inspirational talks but minus religion – the Sunday Assembly.  Thanks Phil Wilcox for telling me about this one. 
Given there are so many aspects of life today which appear to have originally been instilled in religious rituals and which are now being met in ‘new’ ways – perhaps there’s more to learn by looking to religion for inspiration.

What do you think?  Leave a comment!


Photo credit –

*I don’t extend this to those that believe causing harm – of any kind – to others is justified.

This is me………

WFS Tree


#barefootwinterconf Reflections

Last week I attended the Barefoot Winter Conference at Prestwold Hall (beautiful location – and yes I’m slightly biased because it’s where I got married!).  This post is a collation of my thoughts and reflections from the day which I know will help me learn and absorb, and which I hope will have some nuggets of interest and insight for you.

On the practical conference front, it was a brilliantly run event with good amounts of time for each workshop – all of which were interactive, learning sessions – no sages on stages chalking & talking.  And a good long lunch for quality network time.  A definite focus on quality not quantity all day.

Keynote – Prof Roger Steare – on values-driven orgs, leadership and ethics

Since the 2008 crash stories have continued to emerge of unethical practice in organisations.  Read about Roger’s keynote in my Storify and how we helps organisations back to ethical decision-making.


Workshop 1 – Clean Language – Revealing Mental Models through Metaphor 

This session was with Sue Sharp and Tamsin Hartley from Clean Learning.

I chose this session for what might seem odd reasons.  I’d once been coached by someone who’d just done a Clean Language course and I really hated it.  So, because I believe it’s good to challenge our assumptions, I went along with the intent to learn more and open my mind to the possibilities of how I could use it in my practice.

What was great was that the session was involving and interactive from the start.  Lots of play with the approach, group discussion and conversation.

To give some context, the purpose of Clean Language is to find out how people work and think to raise their awareness to that and understand themselves (and others if a team thing) better.  Its purpose is also to remove assumptions from our own language which could (inadvertently) influence a client’s response.

A (made up) example of a clean language interaction could follow this flow –

  1. For this meeting to go as you would like, it will be like what? > It will be fun and interactive and we’ll get through everything on the agenda.
  2. And you will be like what? > I’ll need to keep an eye on the time while also checking everyone’s OK, and I’ll need plenty of energy.
  3. What kind of [energy] is that [energy]? > It’s the kind of energy that bubbles away. It doesn’t spike up and drop down, it’s infectious and consistent.
  4. Bubbles. Infectious. Consistent.  And is there anything else about that [energy]? > It’s natural.  It’s not forced.  It’s a natural result of wanting to be there in that conversation with those people.
  5. Natural. Not forced. And where is that energy? > It’s in my heart and my head.  A sense of happiness and a buzz.

And so on…..

When we practiced in the room I found it OK asking the questions and found the flow helped my buddy go deep into his stuff fairly quickly.  I found the same when the roles were reversed and liked the simplicity of the questions for keeping cognitive noise out of my head that might otherwise have been there if I was having to process what the question actually was!

The bit I’m still not so keen on is the way you play the client’s words back to them.  They used the phrase Parrot-phrasing rather than Para-phrasing.  You can see it above with the words played back as individual words.  I believe in using a client’s own words as much as possible, again because it avoids a cognitive hurdle having to be jumped over.  However I find with Clean Language it’s very easy to sound patronising or condescending by saying the words back in their pure sense rather than in a ‘normal’ sentence.  A discussion in the room landed on the belief that it takes practice to hold an authentically curious place with this Parrot-phrasing approach, to avoid the patronising.

A great benefit of this approach is that it can enable people to get into metaphor which helps them give form to the intangible and connect them more strongly into their subconscious mind – the part of our brain that really makes us effective or not.

It can also be used with teams to enable them to describe how they want to be together – spotting the different ways people think and whether they stay with the conceptual or go into metaphor is itself a great team awareness and valuing difference exercise.

In fact, Sue and Tamsin have used it in many contexts for many situations, including with their kids, and find it to be very effective.  If you’re interested in learning more, they run training events – more info on their website.

Workshop 2 – Theatrical Approaches in Coaching

 The session was run by Sam Chittenden who owns Different Development and, with her experience in theatre, brings fun energy to her work.

To begin with Sam talked about how actors, to give a great performance, learn their lines and get into character for who they need to be on stage.  In doing so, all they’re doing is bringing a different aspect of themselves to the fore.  We are all a mixture of many different facets but we tend to fall into habits of certain versions of ourselves in certain situations.  In organisations we don’t often stop to think who we need to be in a particular moment or for a particular meeting.  Sam invited us to explore different aspects of ourselves to see what we might be missing by always playing the same role, or to discover whether our comfort zone lies somewhere we didn’t expect.

All with the intent of raising self awareness and emotional intelligence for improved performance.  Sam also talked about how her creative approaches help clients get from a place of feeling stuck into a place of action, and transferring what they spend time on with Sam into the real world.

First we did an energiser called the Fruit bowl.  Worth a go if you want to have some fun – and to learn a bit about yourself.  Everyone sits in a circle.  One person stands in the middle and says a truth about themselves e.g. ‘I have brown hair’.  Anybody else with brown hair has to stand up and swap seats (including the person who was in the middle finding a seat).  One person will be left in the middle again to share a truth about themselves.

From this we made observations of our sense of comfort or discomfort with standing in front of others, the impact on us of having to think of a truth with everyone watching – and one that we wanted to share > and therefore the different levels of open-ness that people displayed.

Next we played some roles from a classic fairytale story – the Mother, the Child, the Devil, the Crone, the Hero, etc.  For each character our energy was in a different part of our body and we had a phrase to say as we walked around acting it to each other.  Yes, we felt a bit daft and there were lots of giggles but it was really interesting – and heartening – that in a room full of coaches there were quite a few of us who felt quite uncomfortable being the soft, understanding Mother and that in fact we felt more comfortable being the empowered Hero.  A helpful place if we’re to move to a world where coaching isn’t seen as a soft ‘tea & chat’ activity.

Then we sat in small groups with a card each that had an image of a person on it.  We had to talk about an issue as ourselves and then talk about it from the perspective of the person on the card.  I found it desperately uncomfortable talking about my issue from my character because it was so untrue to how I really feel (or ‘felt’, given that my wonderful partners then did some speedy coaching with me to reframe my challenge).  One of my partners had a similarly uncomfortable experience as his card was displaying anger which is an emotion he doesn’t display and doesn’t feel comfortable with .  This led to an interesting conversation about the emotions we’re taught to suppress as we grow up because they’re ‘wrong’ and because we believe we can’t control them (“I’ll lose my temper” – really? How could it be lost, you can’t even see it? “if I start to cry I won’t be able to stop” – really? Ever??).  Our emotions drive every action and every decision we ever make.  We can’t ignore them.  Sam used a great analogy for anger – if anger is petrol then if you carelessly chuck it around it can be very dangerous but if you put it in a petrol tank it will get you from A to B.

All in all a great day!

And next one will be 26th April next year if you’re interested.  You can sign up for the Barefoot newsletter here so you’re the first to hear.

This is me………

WFS Tree


Restricted or Bountiful?

We moved house on Monday!  We’ve been living with my mum for over 7 months – she’s definitely gone above and beyond the job description!  Now that we have our own place again I popped to a large wholesale store yesterday to stock up on exciting things like kitchen towel and loo roll.  This is the second big batch of kitchen towel I’ve bought in my life – 20 in a pack!!  #awesome  When I used to buy 2 or maybe 4 rolls at a time I would save it for real necessity, using it only when it really felt like the best thing to use.  Otherwise reaching for a cloth.  Since switching my shopping habits my attitude to kitchen-towel-use has changed*.  There’s something about knowing you have a bountiful supply of absorbent paper available that makes you free and easy with its use.  Split some milk there, no problem, let me wipe it with some kitchen towel.  Red wine on the carpet, no worries, kitchen towel will soak that right up.

Kitchen Towel

When something’s in plentiful supply we feel we can do anything!

I experienced this effect with my perspective on time after my op-recovery when I went from things being hard work, kinda painful and taking a long time to suddenly being able to do lots, quickly and pain-free – this sense of maximising my time was also assisted by more exercise which boosted my resilience, thinking abilities and sleep quality.

We all have a finite amount of time in a day, and a finite amount of money or resource to do things with.  So here we have a choice – we can choose to think we don’t have enough of either, or we can choose to think that we can invest what we have in a way that is most important to us.

So, what is there in your life that you feel is in short supply?  What do you feel you’re most restricted by?  Find that and then do something with it.

Oh, but there’s a thing there.  Choosing how we invest our time / money / resource needs us to know what’s important to us so it can act like an anchor for our decision-making.  What’s most important to you?  What are your big priorities or goals?

How clear are you on this?  How clear are those around you?  Are you and your team aligned on what counts as important right now?  And if you’re working in a business where ‘important’ can be dictated from elsewhere, outside of you, it will change – sometimes frequently.  How will you know that it’s changed and adjust your sails accordingly?

So there’s another thing, stuff changes – frequently – so to help our thinking on that I rather liked this image from Carl Richards (HT Brene Brown for sharing) because sometimes we can’t be absolutely, definitely sure that what we’re choosing to do is the most important right now.  At those times, embrace the uncertainty, choose to do something and do it.

Carl Richards Embrace Uncertainty.png

[Here’s Carl’s article if you’d like to read it]

I’d love to hear about what restricts you and how you have, or are going to, choose BOTH what’s important to you AND embrace the uncertainty.

* P.S. – I appreciate this attitude to kitchen towel probably isn’t best for the environment. Sorry about that.

This is me……

WFS Tree

#CIPDMAP15 My Beautiful Career

My second seminar choice is My Beautiful Career – messing around with narratives of our careers with Prof John Arnold of the School of Business and Economics at Loughborough Uni.  With a surprising foray into standup comedy!

How do we tell the story or our career? How could we tell it differently or better?  To both ourselves and to others.  Do we have different versions for different audiences?  And how might we tell it instead?

First career and story –

Career : “The evolving sequence of a person’s work experience over time” (Arthur et al, 1989) – John likes this one because there’s no assumption about upward promotions.

It’s the life story that holds together and provides a biographical bridge to cross form one job to the next (Not exact quote) Savickas, 2009.

We use our career stories for many uses e.g. to get a new job but also to impress friends, family, a new date.

John asking audience to wok in pairs, 1 person spend 5 mins to tell the story of their career – objective facts & subjective emotional / motivational aspects, don’t get hung up on details of dates, etc.  Listener – keep time and listen really well, suspend judgement, keep quiet.  Their ‘hearing’ of the story will be used later…  Then swap.  Lots of buzz in the room.  Seeing lots of great listening too!  Lots of matching, mirroring, nodding.  Only a couple with their hands over their mouths – watch this one, you might unintentionally be sending the message of ‘stop talking!’

Now John’s going to introduce some different ways we can think about our career.  Features of a successful story?  As for everything, that’s context-specific.

His 9 points ofr success –

1. Authentic

2. Credible

3. Agentic (the person telling it is actve in it!)

4. Situations and opportunities required you to take action

5. Obstacles and tribulations

6. Key turning points

7. Triumphant success or tragic failure

8. A lead charcter we can warm to

9. Flexibility so it can be told in different ways for different reasons/contexts.

Now inviting pairs to get together again to discuss how evident those features were in the story they heard a few mins ago.  What was there, what wasn’t, what could there be more of?

John’s heard from people’s conversations that some great feedback and collaborating on option and opportunities.

Moving that forward now is to use metaphor to enable our stories to be more memorable – our brains connect to images and emotions and these things stick in our heads – worlds and lists of bullet points don’t.  Engage others in your stories  using –

Spatial – pyramids, ladders, climbing frames

Journey – paths, roads, in the driving or back seat

Horticultural – growing, flowering, blossoming and then pruned / discarded

Competition – rat races, uphill struggles, tournaments, fast tracks

Aquatics – charting progress, rocking the boat, treading water, stuck on rocks

Linked to this there are cultural career scripts that convey our story simply and say a lot in a few words – Rags to riches, The hero who saves the day, The stranger in town, Like a farce, Local boy/girl made good.

Watch out using ‘luck’ too much in your career story – can suggest you believe you have no control over your own life and are possibly a bit incapable.  Or could suggest you’re humble bragging and come across as big headed.

Everyone talking about their career and where metaphor could be used.

Final word – shameless plug – get in touch with Loughborough Uni School of Business & Economics for leadership development programmes.

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDMAP15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.

#CIPDMAP15 Rethinking the future of Workplace Learning

I’ve joined a seminar session with Andy Lancaster, Head of Learning at the CIPD.  As someone who’s passionate (and a bit excitable!) about what he does I’m looking forward to a lively energetic session!  And the first evidence of that – he’s going for a #periscope experiment to live stream on twitter!

A thank you from Andy for CIPD MAP inviting him and to the audience for being here on a Saturday with commitment to their learning.

He’s going to be talking about the next 5 years of workplace learning.  Andy’s been in learning for 25 years and see the world changing more than ever before.  Good old VUCA!

L&D must evolve to stay relevant as tech evolves.  Flexible working – the standard 9-5 day, 5 day week, is reducing more and more.  Day courses will decline with this.  Digby Jones of the CBI is saying we’ll all have at least 7 jobs in our careers.  Learning can’t stay the same.

And yet we still have classrooms that resemble Victorian school rooms – based in a time when there were few resources and relied on 1 person at the front with the book / knowledge.

Andy’s sharing his experiment with  He came up at 43 (he’s happy, his age starts with a 5) and his friend came out at 13.  He’s asking the delegates to estimate the average age of the people on their tables.  Who said average age was 40? 50? Further into 50’s?  So this room is around 45 – this is a consistent theme for Andy at conferences when he’d done this before.  He’s working on retiring about 67 which means we have about 20 years left of career.  How much has changed n the last 20 years – so how much will change in the next??

1 in 5 under 5’s access the internet every day.  These people will be in the workplace before we all retire.

Using #MAP15Predict – what will be the learning-based headline on People Management in 10 years’ time? – “Learner Chip Upgrade” > “What’s your robot colleague going to teach you this week?” > “Where’s the human gone?” > “Hollogram Horrors” > “No Offices”

We’re in a changing, disorientating period at work.  Andy has 10 shifts for workplace learning – he sees it as a Carrot issue, not a Stick issue.  We need to think forward about where things are going.  Minimise threat response of change, or removal of the safe and familiar for ourselves and learners.

Learning Shift 1 – BUSINESS not L&D Priorities – the future of learning has to be about a focus on business performance and how the learning we provide is relevant to the org strategy.  Cant just offer a suite of options anymore.  To do this we need to be more like consultants.  This is seen in 70% of the top orgs already – ‘what do we need to fix?’

Learning Shift 2 – we’ll be informed by metrics, not guesses – e.g. retailer’s loyalty cards, fit bits, mobiles with location trackers, Google have developed a contact lens to measure glucose levels for diabetics.  We need to be informed by data to make informed decisions.  Only 1 in 5 are currently doing this currently!

Learning Shift 3 – Science underpinning learning approach – neuroscience is telling us that a lot of what we’ve been doing is good, but now we have scientific evidence for this stuff.  We can now go to those who value research, with research.  Only 1 in 5 using science at the mo.

Learning Shift 4 – Curator-concierge not just creator – 50% of content is developed from scratch.  Plus we’ve got an explosion of info online.  Whatever you’re writing will be available online.  Instead of re-creating the wheel every single time, curate content for people, bring it to others, point people and signpost people to where they can find things that will meet their needs.

Learning Shift 5 – user-choice not prescription – retail knows we need personalisation.  Learners also want this – and organisations like to sheep-dip because it’s simple and easy and controllable.  Learners learn through different methods in their personal lives and we need to bring this into the work world. Links back to curation – getting content from learners and making that available / pointing others to that.  Two-way.

Learning shift 6 – social not just formal – people watching from afar by taking learning online grows the connection and allows physical barriers to not matter anymore.  And think about social settings so learners get the chance to connect as humans.  Of top 10 learning tools, 7 are social, top is Twitter.

Learning Shift 7 – Just in time in the flow not delayer – waiting 3 months for a course isn’t good enough.  Things will have moved, the need will have changed by then.

Learning shift 8 – Bite size, not just feast – we would stuff people full of content in a day to maximise the opportunity of getting people together.  Not good for brains!  We need to make this bite size – lunchtime learnings, breaksfast briefings, short bits here and there. 75% of people now learn on the way to work.

Learning Shift 9 – Digital not just face to face – Face to face is great and human connection is important to us –  and we can’t make this work all the time anymore – time and resources don’t allow, and why should we when digital learning can support us – like #periscope today.  Make learning available to more people more easily.

Learning Shift 10 – Measuiing Value Not Volume – it is NOT about bums on setas – what we help people learn needs to be relevant to the business and we need to be able to show the difference we believe this is making to the business.  It’s can be hard to make a direct correlation but we can measure a number of indicators to give a rounded view.

Andy’s asking everyone to rate themselves 1 to 10 on these to spot their gaps.

He’s hearing that HR and L&D are shifting more and more on this and that sometimes it’s the business / senior leaders who are resistant to change – it feels scary and risky.  This is where the roe of consultant comes in where we provide options, broaden mindsets, bring examples and evidence of where this stuff’s been done before successfully.

Creatures metamorphosise without even realising it!  Think caterpillar.  They just do it.  It happens in the natural word because if the creature stays in that existence there’s more probability of dying.  Tadpoles change into frogs at different paces by sensing their environment and whether it’s right t change.  We’ll all change at different rates

CIPD are providing more online learning – their CIPD Level 5 in L&D got 18 people in 2013/14 and the online one now has a cohort of 220 (first one got 58 people)!  People from round the world can access – fantastic opening of the opportunity to more!

Insights from audience questions – future learning isn’t all about tech – maintain social, give knowledge one way, maintain social/interaction/debate/discussion in another. Keep learning blended – some employees won’t have the skills or access to tech to engage with this in the same way.  Play the role of consultant to help leaders become aware of the different options to an all day course, the stories and benefits seen by other orgs, the benefit for your org – ideally not just about cost/resources saving.  Find new ways to measure the impact of learning – bums on seats definitely won’t work with this.

Final thought – this is moving fast.  CIPD is tracking these 10 key shifts that have been hared today.  We now all need to think about how we shift from the old ways to these future-focussed ways.  Your learners will love you for embracing some of these new things.

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDMAP15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.

#CIPDMAP15 A Professional Approach to Development

First up for the 2015 Midlands Area Partnership Event is Louise Fisher, HR Director of Xerox Europe, talking about a professional approach to development.

Louise is going to talk about her career and she’s going to share what the CIPD is doing and has done to help everybody here with their careers.

Louise’s Career

Spent in retail management at the start.  Louise learnt so much about business and making money – from high street fashion – leartn about speedy decision making.  Next a business that had a valued brand that actually wnet on the balance sheet.

Sector most enjoyed in early career was hotel industry – thought retail was tough until worked there.  365 days a year.  Lots of learning about scheduling and rostering.  And great opportunities for holidays.

Having dne management training, Louise then moved into PErsonnal and stayed there ever since but specialised in L&D, Mgmt dvlpmt, Org dvlpmt.  She took risks with her career choices – she went to different sectors, did different roles – you learn so much by getting out of the familiar.

She regrets never working abroad, learn a language and be immersed in a whole different culture.

Louise’s qualification was the IPM which had a lot of basis in psychology and human behaviour.  Great knowledge to gain early and to help in her roles.  Then in the 90’s she did a masters degree – another injection of knowledge and insight to apply back at work.

Louise is now the chair of the CIPD.  In the 80’s and 90’s she sat on a branch committee that positively influenced her day job.  Then she was appointed as a board member of the CIPD.  For the first few months she behaved like an HR person when in fact what they needed was the focus on the governance of the charity.  She was also on the audit committee for 6 years.  All giving a completely different experience than she would ever have gained from a normal day job.

Benefits of volunteering with CIPD – shows flexibility, commitment, desire to learn, a breadth of experience and knowledge.

When at the start of her career Louise felt frustrated because she felt she had lots more she could do.  and she did but she needed to become more mature, to take more time to stop and reflect.  She did this in her 4th year in this role to consolidate – this frustrated her but it was the right thing.  Gave her time to think broader than the day job.

Being a director was an huge eye opener being out of the day to day.

Louise believes every HR person should have a specialism in one of the HR disciplines.  Stands you in good stead.  Underpinning her’s was L&D and it enabled her to be more strategic, stepping away from the reactive day-to-day to think bigger, to research, to think, to gain time to make conscious choices and to work to a longer time frame than just ‘what’s happening today’.

Louise has spent time as the No2 to a couple of HR Directors and enjoyed it, had a lot of freedom, was responsible for lots of interesting projects.  And always wondered if she could do a No1.  She did her first HRD role in a printing role, as a 1200 employee business she was bored after 6 months.  So she then started to work with each of the MDs within the business to help them think more strategically about their people.

She then went back into corporate – a very different environment to a small privately owned business – both helpful and demonstration of flexibility.

Plus, as before, Louise advocates getting voluntary experience – and for us to encourage that in those around us where we work.  Her plan is to move into non-exec director roles as she gets towards the end of her ‘rat race’ working life.

Her advice – get out with managers, with sales people, with customers.  Learn about their worlds, broaden your horizons.  Louise recommends getting out of HR for a while to gain a completely different experience.

Tips on successful career management – (1) Prove you’re valuable, flexible, fun (2) Take some risks – risks that are a risk for you (we’re all different) (3) Get a voluntary job to develop outside of work (4) Get customer-facing experience and spend time in sales – learn the business inside out (5) Your career is YOUR responsibility and nobody elses! (6) Network – plagiarism is productivity and goodness knows we need to improve UK Productivity!  Someone else here will be doing what you need to do and can hep you – and you can maybe help them or someone else #payitforward

CIPD Professions for the Future (PFF)

Louise has used the CIPD framework to inform her activity in Xerox –

  1. Insights on Changing Context – where’s your industry / market going, what does that mean for people?
  2. Science of Human and Organisational Behaviour – understanding this so we can motivate and engage more effectively
  3. HR and Learning Processes, Practices and Policies – how can technology help you to make processes simple and efficient so people aren’t spending time there.  The ore global the org, the more essential this is
  4. Business, Commercial Insights and Analysis – know your business, get into the stuff the CIPD are doing and saying around HR analytics, how do you analyse data and WHAT WILL YOU USE IT FOR (my emphasis! – a pet hate about not doing data for data’s sake)

So why is PFF important?

CBW&WL (Championing Better Work and Working Lives) requires good HR and ppl dvlpmt  > but good HR is context-specific > move from prescriptive best practice to broader principles > but it takes time to apply those principles in practice > so we need to build and maintain professionalism in HR > so HR remain trusted & credible.

The aims of CIPD membership – differentiated member proposition, promote HR as a conscious career choice, provide relevant support and to grow all levels of membership.

What’s been done in 2014/15 –

  • Work
  • Whistle blower advice line
  • My CPD Map
  • New networks
  • Career support – Career hub
  • Student bursaries – first come first served to new Level 3 foundation students and <£25k a year. Covers tuition and membership fees.
  • Student recruitment activity
  • Member research – migration, zero hours contracts, valuing your talent, CIPD Manifesto for Work, sustainable performance, neuroscience
  • CIPD voice in the media (online press, radio, TV)
  • +2.8% on membership
  • +16.7% on student recruitment
  • £900k investment in new activity

And the offer for fellows – focus on professionalism, more strategic content, work journal, fellow networks, opportunity to give back, mentoring, input into research, integrating a fellows policy group.

What the CIPD are doing to help you get value from your membership and help you get in and get on in the HR profession –

Needed to retain people after their study, give people reasons to go up through levels of membership, make HR a credible career for life.

CIPD are looking at the touchpoints where they can connect with people about joining HR.

They’re using website – plotr – like old fashioned careers advice but that’s actually helpful!  Takes about half  an hour but good fun and informative.

CIPD are going into schools and colleges to talk to students, they’re connecting with people in different places, they’re offering webinars for career advice, they’re running a mentoring scheme for people in HR, working with Penna to help people back into HR if been out for 6 months or more.

And more to come e.g. MOOCs, development in CPD area. Piloting 2 tools at the moment.

Final word – network, network, network!  See #cipdmap15 for a pic of Louise’s top tips if you’re not sure where to start with this (11am 3/10).

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDMAP15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.

#CIPDOD15 Aligning Teams and Building Collaboration for Performance

Final piece goes to Rob Jones from Crossrail and Ally Salisbury from Sheppard Moscow.

Building a sustainable culture of collaboration in Europe’s largest infrastructure project and creating alignment across boundaries and conflicting agendas.

Focus for last 3 years has been creating space for new tracks and stations – finished tunnelling in June this year!


Have an integrated client delivery team – 1600 people needing to be aligned to 1 set of objectives.  Those 1600 people work for 3 different partners who work for 9 different employers.  Different bonuses, different performance mgmt. processes, etc.  Our aim isn’t to align systems and processes.  It is a challenge and it continues to be a challenge.  And then we have 27 contractors and 10,000 people working for them!

It is complex.  We talk about the United States of Crossrail.  The CEO is the President.  Helpful to have an analogy to make this size of challenge real and understandable.


Needed people in the OD team, needed someone to help Rob make sense of it for himself.  Found support in Ally from Sheppard Moscow.


Investing time and energy in understanding the context before trying to be understood – spending time finding out what the questions were.  What help is required and what will success look like?

There’s an overwhelming complexity of politics and power.  Some want a safe railway, some want to make money.


The big milestones were really clear but the smaller milestones are where conflict and misunderstanding have come.  They’ve worked on trying to build trust and unlock entrenchment.  Helping people focus on what they have in common rather than on their differences.  Tried to use simple interventions to allow vulnerabilities to be shown and trust to grow.

If you talk to the engineers about what we do they’ll acknowledge that the soft stuff is hard to do.  Have asked questions like what do you care about and why to get them out of their trenches.

The Audible Gasp

Didn’t tell people their issues & challenges – they discovered they were very similar but at different ends of it.  Took 2 project teams, working at different ends of the same hotel, 2 independent facilitators – very important especially for the Joint Venture team.  Did an exercise around looking to ourselves first – what do we need to do to get better at what we’re doing?, what are we doing as a team to get in the way of our partners?, what would we like them to do differently to improve their team effectiveness?

Brought the teams together for the afternoon and each team read the other flipcharts and they were amazed – an audible gasp – that what they’d said in Q2 was the answer for Q3 of the other team.


No one party can solve an issue – it needs 2 or more every time.  Their aim was to get common understanding of the issues and to give permission to ask for help.  Engineers’ natural position is to be right and to assert for their position.

Safe to Fail Environment

These people understand how to deliver, everything is a to-do list.  Getting them to take themselves out of that to take time, courage, be vulnerable and share things is a big challenge.  Rob realised he was taking the risk in it failing so they didn’t have to.  He needed to give them permission to not be right first time.  Creating a place where they can explore and have space to do that.

Elephant in the Room

Helping teams t admit there is an elephant was one of the biggest things – the need to be right was very prevalent.  To see it and decide together what they were going to do about it.  Less comfortable with climate & relationship – taking it away from process and task.  Goal to get this stuff out rather than being talked about at the coffee machine or down the pub.

Used pre-interviews in one to one or small focus group to identify elephants safely and confidentiality ahead of the group interventions.  Accelerated the openness and diagnosis felt shared.

Wicket Rolling

The background work was essential to success and included helping leaders to take responsibility for the effectiveness for their teams – they had to be the driver even if we were in the car with them.

Know When to Fold

Takes courage to realise the hand you’ve been dealt with isn’t right and you need to step away to take a different angle and come back in.  Sometimes it was hard to get the right people in the room.  Sometimes sponsorship was patchy.  Some leadership capability was low.  Rob had to go back to the business to challenge whether the right people were on the bus.

Scar Tissue

We were new, they all knew each other – worked together for years, if not decades.  Huge consistency in the contracting industry.  Often the issues dealing with were from 5-10 years ago, nothing to do with Crossrail, issues of corporate reputation rather than individual – they did this to me.  Had to clear the crap out of the wounds to allow them to close over and start healing.


We’re not doing it for them but they get used to having us around as a sounding board to help them frame their problems.  Been vital to stick to terms of engagement – the eyeball agreement about what we’re here to do – and when that’s done – get out!  Unles it’s a fresh problem the ‘client’ needs to face up to this for themselves.  We aren’t there as a sticky plaster, they need to feel capable to take this forward.


The people who need the most help are the ones least likely to ask for it.  Important to ensure not just the needy to get the help and important to differentiate between needs and wants – what’s at the root of this?  Get the reality before intervening.  Go out and find where the issues are.


Rob and Ally have become effective partners by communicating openly and frequently.  Ally’s previous experience is that the internal partner gets the inside track.  Can create a dynamic about vulnerability, side-lined.  Got round that with lots of coffees, lots of trust both ways, feeding back to each other – work by Proceed Until Apprehended! (Stolen with pride from Doug Shaw).

The Long Run

It’s not a sprint, it feels like a hard slog, it’s not easy to train for – felt like this in the early days.  Lots of emotional energy and investment and not getting much back.  Kept just putting one foot in front of the other.  Small successes build more success and credibility.  People now call on them to go to other teams.


Versatile toolkit – team coaching, conflict resolution, goal alignment – we don’t lead with any of the theories.  Sometimes because when you get in there it’s not what you’ve planned for anyway.


Key to achieving has been sponsorship – if you haven’t got it – pull stumps and get some

Keep it Simple Stupid

This project isn’t about OD – it’s about clear vision and leaders that can engage people and manage the environment and system – step back and keep it simple.

This post has been live-blogged from #CIPDOD15.  I’ve done my best to represent the content accurately and fairly but some errors may exist.  Most of it is the speakers’ content and I aim to show the bits that are my opinion.