Category Archives: Learning and Development

Be more dog!

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As a long term cat owner I heard about the ‘Be more dog’ ad campaign from O2 from a friend and wondered why over 1 million people had viewed it on YouTube. Apart from the fact that the video is funny showing a cat acting like a dog the message from O2 launching its 4G service this summer is about encouraging Britain to embrace the new, have a go with the unknown and dabble in innovation.

I’m a fan of new technology and also very interested in why people (including me) find change so challenging. I first got involved in this area through Joel Barkers ‘Business of paradigms’ and have worked with several thousand people in workshops asking them to picture the future and then plan to make it happen. As well as seeking to change ourselves we work with businesses in many markets who seek to change consumer behaviour but face resistance from people reluctant to leave the safety of what they already know and do. Having just enjoyed reading Charles Duhiggs book ‘The power of habit’ which helps to understand why we do what we do and how our habits can be changed. There are many examples of innovation happening around us such as 3d printers (now on sale for £700), smart phones, blogging (!) and soon driverless cars…. so go on ‘Be more dog’ and embrace new technology before it overtakes you!

P.S This is a photo of our (sadly recently departed) cat Ali who wasn’t too keen on dogs but she happily had a microchip under her skin in case she got lost, so she was a bit more dog too!

Your Work and Life is More than a Juggling Act!

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The last few weeks have been frenetic at work so I had to sacrifice several weekends on the altar of work as it had a clear priority over play. I am also aware that my Blog has suffered even more than my weekends as I neglected to add a new post during this extremely busy time!

There are many books and courses on time management but one of the most useful tools that I have come across is the Stephen Covey matrix of viewing tasks as either Important/Not Important and Urgent/Not Urgent. This simple and visual depiction of your work tasks enables you to prioritise and plan what is Important and Urgent that needs to be done now and what is Important and Not Urgent (for example, personal or product development) which you must invest time in for the future.

However, the Covey tool on its own will not magically put you in control of your life or your work and at times you may feel that managers or even customers and not you decide on your schedule and workload, which can under extreme pressure lead to personal frustration, exhaustion and demotivation.

In my experience this is where you need to tap into your own personal matrix of what is important to you in your life, which will be more than just your work, to also include your social, physical, emotional and spiritual needs. Give yourself time to reflect on what your special gifts and strengths are and how best you can use these to help yourself and at the same time others, to achieve goals at work and outside of work. By knowing the answers to these questions you can then follow your personal path and when things get tough you can review your situation and either say to yourself that you have chosen to do this because it’s important to you or that you have the option to make changes if you find that you are not doing what’s important to you.

I was happy to be busy at work but my Blog is also important enough for me to put time into it and the next one will be higher up my to do list!

Assessing then Developing Performance

We have all heard the research that successful companies continue to invest in marketing and training even when there are economic difficulties because there is an opportunity to win and retain customers from competitors who are reducing their spend on marketing and training their people. The problem is that during recessions there is huge pressure to reduce ‘non-essential’ spending which may include most marketing and training activities. It can be very difficult for most businesses to identify what the return is from their investment in training unless they have identified and measured what outcome they are seeking to achieve.

In the past the key measures were ‘happy sheets’ that rated the training course and more recently feedback and short tests with webinars and e-learning but have these interventions actually improved the competencies of people and moved the business forward? We have recently started working with an online tool that assesses both individual and team capabilities against clearly defined competencies. The tool then directs individual’s to the training resources (self-development, coaching, online, workshops etc.) that are appropriate for their specific needs and it can then measure their progress after this support to identify the training that is most effective.

When the capabilities are closely linked to business-building performance both the people and the sales grow together. As you can imagine it’s proving very popular in these challenging times!