Working for the customer

My Blog

 Working for the Customer, Not ‘The Man’

I was one of 6 authors who collaborated on this publication


Bosses aka “the man” frequently blur the line of sight to the customer forcing people to choose between meeting the needs of the boss or the customer. The fact that the boss doles out reward [raises, good evaluation, promotion etc.] and punishment [poor assignments, no raise or even firing] based mostly on their ‘subjective’ evaluation sets up a power dynamic that all too often focuses on the boss’ needs rather than the needs of the customer.

The focus on the needs of the manager shifts the energy away from the customer in subtle but powerful way.  The job, as defined by the manager, is written with the ‘real’ customer in mind and usually describes tasks and duties that deliver ‘something’ [product or service] to the customer.  The employee is told their job is to serve and meet the needs of the customer.  However in practice, the employee is frequently tasked with work (or working conditions) that obscure the goal making it difficult to meet customer expectation or even worse conflict with delivering quality product to the customer.

This dynamic is reinforced by the way we define jobs and measure performance where the manager is at the center.  Developing customer-focused job description moves the customer to the center, increases role clarity and shifts the power from the boss to the customer.


Systems Thinking

I was one of six authors of the below publication

 Hacking HR  to Build and Adaptive Advantage and  Systems Thinking


Deming and others showed that when you look at the performance of an organisation, about 85% to 95% is due to the system. That leaves roughly only about 10% that is due wholly or in the total control of the person doing the work. How often have you heard people say in their 1:1 appraisal “that goal was out of my total control to deliver”.

Deming, John Seddon in Vanguard, Senge, Ackoff, Scholtes, and countless others have demonstrated many times over that :
• you need to get people to begin recognising the organisation as a system,
• understand human motivation (Dan Pink),
• look at the design of the work from the outside in,
• focus on what is the real purpose and what matters to the customer, and
• creating the opportunity and permission to allow people to re-design the work and then getting out of their way!

systems thinking art - Copy
(Open)6 authors, including:

The Power of Storytelling

Once Upon a Time.

Once Upon a Time”- when we hear that phrase, it brings back magical memories of someone reading a story to us during childhood. Suddenly, we have warm thoughts of fantasies, fairy tales, princesses, and pirates.

Story telling plays a big role in the Art of Participatory Leadership I was inspired to write this blog after  meeting and hearing Bob Keiller talk delivered in story form about  leadership and the core vales.  Bob is the Chief Executive of Wood Group plc, a British multinational oil and gas services company with its headquarters in Aberdeen, Scotland. He truly engaged the audience with the  two stories he told,  sparked by a sat-nav and then a banana, the later  was the spring board to the groups  core values the DNA of business – they’re a global gold standard that guides thinking, determines  behaviour, and allows the Wood Group to adapt to local needs.

Stories and storytelling have always been part of how human beings pass knowledge, share wisdom, and create new ways forward.  Our brain are simply wired for stories and that’s why they work in so many contexts.  .

There are stories we need to stop telling – stories of fear, of hate, of divisiveness, blame and shame. But there are also those we need to start telling. We need to tell about what’s working, about collaboration, about our dreams and the power of relationship. If we do, then connection and engagement will follow.

In an age of 24/7 news cycles, an increase in media channels which didn’t exist a generation ago, and the connections that technologies allow us, there are also key reasons for us to be aware of, work with, and shape own stories.  When we incorporate storytelling practices and techniques into our organisations, our lives and our family, we are more able to grasp the attention of those around us.

story tellingWhen we unleash the power of people through storytelling, we build connections in a world that may be connected but not necessarily communication-rich.
Where do we find our stories?  Stories are hiding everywhere! Think of yourself as the Chief Story Archaeologist, the maker of a story.  Perhaps you need a story about one of your organisational values in action or how someone overcame a challenge. When you know what you are looking for, you’re more likely to find it.

Look, listen and ask, observe people in action. Where could  that story be hiding? Listen to what people are telling each other; perhaps the story is embedded in what they are saying. Ask questions to find out where a story might be found.

Explore your own life experiences; our lives and families are a rich source of material, especially when you can tell stories about what worked, what didn’t and what you learned that made you who you are today.

You may find a source of inspiration in the news, in a movie, in a book or a conversation that occurred over dinner. The themes you find will help to spark new ideas. Setting out your intention and staying curious will help you find the bones of a story, then it is up to you to arrange them in order to make your point.

Well-told stories will always have certain traits in common, which are layered and woven in such a structure: use of key characters, a theme or plot and a cultural setting.  These traits eventually come together to create a narrative that is:

Credible, Compelling, Consistent, Coherent, Character-Driven

Stories, whether written down, acted out, or delivered orally, form the backbone of any society. Stories communicate cultural value and important myths, and often convey history from the point of view of the storyteller. They engage our interest on a primitive level, and they act as a filter for new information. They are a connector, and a powerful way of synergising what’s going on. The key is harnessing their potential.

Unlock an organisation’s capacity to solve complex problems

New solutions are needed … Increasing complexity compels us to find new solutions. Participatory Leadership is crucial to unlock your organisation’s capacity to solve complex problems and create success in the 21st century. “Just do your job” may have been a default response to dissatisfied workers in times gone by, but not now.

Gallup did an extensive study of the effects of high employee engagement in 2012. They looked at over 50,000 organisations and one and a half million employees in 34 countries, and discovered that organisations that score in the top half of employee engagement have double the likelihood of success of those in the bottom half.  Not only that, but those in the 99th percentile of engagement had four times the success rate.

Is your organisation in the 99th percentile?

Increased complexity compels us to find new solutions for the common good in business, healthcare, education, local and national government and in our communities. Solutions are more comprehensive and readily found and owned if they are co-created by stakeholders. Tapping into the potential wisdom already held in the organisation is crucial; inviting participation with diverse perspectives is key to realising potential.

New solutions grow between chaos and order. If we want to innovate, we have to be willing to let go of what we know and step into not knowing.  Innovation happens in the space between order and chaos – “the chaordic path”.  It is here in the chaordic space that new possibilities emerge. The way to major change goes through chaos and order.




Conversations matter…. It is in our DNA to bring people together in conversation, within the chaordic space  . It is the human way since the dawn of time, gathering around fires and sitting in circle. Conversations are how we create meaning together and build strong relationships that invite collaboration.

Organisations are living systems. When people join together in an organisation they have more in common with a living system than with a machine. Living systems are intelligent and capable of self-organising their own solutions. The way you manage a living system is radically different from operating a machine.

Co-design Health and Social Care Services

Citizens’ power and participation are essential to co-design the integration across Health and Social Care Services in Scotland.  The forthcoming Community Empowerment Bill lays out that “public service providers should give communities a say in how services are delivered. Examples of public service providers are hospitals, schools, police, and local councils.”

The Healthcare integration is complex and multi-layered and requires a series of participative open public events that generate discussions among communities about the possibility of exploring whether the people of the region might be able to create a new response to the impending Health and Social Care Iintegration.

How can we together create Affordable and Sustainable Integrated Health Care for all in Scotland?your health

The traditional method is to gain input and solve complexity by breaking the whole down into parts and to segment the market by various means.  Key stakeholders stand above the process and give presentations to targeted audiences, and then a question and answer session is invited, surveys undertaken over the internet or articles published in newspapers.

People are hungry for more effective meetings where all stakeholders can participate and work better together amidst times of change and high complexity. If the integration across Health and Social Care Services in Scotland is truly to meet the needs of us all, we need to move beyond the legacy method of broadcast to citizens.

If public service providers truly wish communities to a have say in how services are delivered, a process of co-learning and co-evolution needs to be implemented: processes and engagement strategies that bring out the best in our communities and that foster collaboration.

Do you enjoy being in conversations where your voice is heard?  Do you appreciate time to think and value being offered a new perspective? I do!

How do we together “do” collaboration and achieve participation?

The answer: create a series of unconferences. “What is that?” I hear you say! An unconference is a participant-driven meeting. At an unconference, anyone who wants to initiate a discussion on the overarching topic can claim a time and a space.

Unconferences typically feature the following timetable:

Arrive. Meet people. Decide on some good topics to talk about. Find a process (eg Lightning talk /Open space/Fishbowl/ World Café/ Round Health-and-Social-Care-2table/ Q&A/ just having a chat).Talk about the topics. Use post it notes and puzzle things out. Learn. Think. Talk more. Stuff will happen. Lunch will happen. More good topics will be decided upon; another process will be chosen to “host” the conversation. The collective knowledge of the group will emerge, innovative thinking will happen, and there will be more participation, learning and peer review. Gather together say goodbye to new contacts.

Diverse stakeholders in the same space together will have participated, discovering different perspectives and ways of thinking, sharing ideas, and it’s in this space that innovation emerges. You can ask for solutions to the relevant issues in your organisation and the integration across Health and Social Care Services in Scotland can truly meet the needs of the people.

At the end of the unconference we will collate all that has taken place and send this out to you. Key themes of what citizens what from an integration of Health and Social Care Services in Scotland will have emerged. This process has been successful around the world, including for Affordable and Sustainable Health Care systems. It can be here!







UnconferenceHaving attended conferences all over the world at great expense to my employers, I was  often left with the feeling that I was a visitor, a non-participating onlooker into other people’s stories & material.

If you’re like me you will have wanted to get the best you can out of the event, and you sign up to a timetable. You go and listen to a “sage on the stage” – sometimes a excellent one – you take notes, nod, frown a bit at their version of a story. You won’t talk much during the sessions.

When you are not in a session, you stroll around the exhibition collecting freebies. You speak to your favourite suppliers and explore new suppliers to gain an idea of what is out there in the market, then grab a coffee before the next session. More listening, then lunch and the exhibition.

You may attend a workshop which is more participative and do some stuff which stimulates your thinking and then you repeat the activities – speakers, exhibition … it’s as if you are on a hamster wheel and then it’s time for the closing key note speaker.

At the end of the conference, you have sore feet, a goodie bag, a full brain and notepad and at least a few new people to continue talking to. Have you really enjoyed the conference?

An alternative …
Do you enjoy participating, appreciate time to think and value being offered a new perspective? I do. In today’s hectic world we need to ensure we get the most out of any event we attend so why not create an unconference? Or add a one day unconference to a 3 day event? Why? This is great value for money and inexpensive to deliver. There are no expert speakers. Just some great facilitators!

I hear you say ‘what is that?’! An unconference is a participant-driven meeting
At an unconference anyone who wants to initiate a discussion on a topic can claim a time and a space.

Unconferences typically feature the following timetable:

Arrive. Meet people. Decide on some good topics to talk about. Find a process (eg Lightning talk /Open space/Fishbowl/ World Café/ Round table/ Q&A/ just having a chat).Talk about the topics. Use post it notes and puzzle things out. Learn. Think. Talk more. Stuff will happen. Lunch will happen. More good topics will be decided upon; another process will be chosen to “host” the conversation. The collective knowledge of the group will emerge, innovative thinking will happen, and there will be more participation, learning and peer review. Gather together. Say goodbye to new contacts.

At the end of the unconference you have a brain full of ideas, a notepad with scant stuff in it because you were too busy listening and talking to write. We will collate all that has taken place and send this out to you.

You have met diverse and interesting people, participated, and interacted with more people than you would at a traditional conference. At unconference, you get to know what people THINK rather than just what they DO. It’s a different connection.

You spend time sharing ideas, discovering different perspectives and ways of thinking. You can ask for solutions to the relevant issues in your organisation or business. You get to try out new methodologies, or practise old ones again.

Unconference invigorates and challenges you. It connects you and helps you stay sharp and curious…..

Participatory v Conventional Groups

Participatory  Groups

Conventional  Groups

Everyone participates, not just the vocal few The faster thinkers and the most articulate speakers get more time
People give each other room to think and get their thoughts all the way out People interrupt each other on a regular basis
Opposite views are allowed to co-exist in the room Differences of opinions are treated as conflict that must either be stifled or solved
People draw each other out with supportive questions “is that what you mean?” Questions are often perceived as challenges, as if the person being questioned has done something wrong
Each member makes the effort to pay attention to the person speaking. Unless the speaker captivates their attention, people space out,  doodle or check the clock
People are able to listen to each other’s ideas because they know their own ideas will also be heard. People have difficulty listening to each other’s ideas because they’re busy rehearsing what they want to say
Each member speaks up on matters of controversy. Everyone where they stand Some members remain quiet on controversial matter. No one really knows where everyone stands.
Members can accurately respect each other’s point of view – even when they don’t agree with them. People rarely give accurate representation of the opinions and reasons of those  whose opinions are at odds with their own.
People refrain from talking behind each other’s backs Because they don’t feel permission to be direct during meetings, people talk behind each other’s backs outside the meeting.
Even in face of opposing from the person in charge, people are encourages to stand up for their beliefs. People with discordant, minority perspectives are commonly discouraged from speaking out.
A problem is not considered solved until everyone who will be affected by the solution understands the reasoning. A problem is considered solved as soon as the fastest thinkers have reached an answer. Everyone else is then expected to “get on Board” regardless of whether they understand the logic of the decision.
When People make an agreement, it is assumed that the decision still reflects a wide range of perspectives. When people make an agreement, it is assumed that they are all thinking the exact same thing

Tips for working the chaordic stepping stones:

Chaordic Stepping Stones: Notes Derived from Dee Hock, Visa CEO; embracing chaos and creative order. When individual purpose becomes social (event and process planning) Nine steps of project management Need, purpose, principles, people—the first four steps; collectively, the invitation; iterative. •Create buzz, excitement with the invitation; pitch it •Articulate your need; if the need isn’t valid, pressing, relevant, you have no meeting/project •Recruit the system to fix the system •Core team as a series of conversations •Who should come? Brainstorm with post it notes; proceed from the center out to concentric circles •Invite actual people, not roles or job descriptions How people show up is critical to the energy in the room; energy at the beginning of the meeting is directly proportional to the level of effort in the invitation. Engage people long before they arrive. Concept, limiting beliefs, structure—planning the meeting/project. •What makes you tremble? •If you don’t address limiting beliefs, fear is built into the structure •Believing you’re in control is a limiting belief •Believing you need to control is a limiting belief Structure •Everything must have a need •Everything must be harvestable, provide value •Planning spreadsheet •Activity, purpose, harvest, lead logistics •If there is no purpose, no harvest, no one willing to assume lead, the activity doesn’t happen •Recruiting leadership of activities is a harvest •Never fail to prioritize next actions •Another meeting is also an action

How are your New Year Resolutions Progressing?

New Year resolutions

Of those who set resolutions (these add to more than 100% because some people set multiple resolutions): 34% set resolutions related to money

38% set resolutions related to weight

47% set resolutions related to self-improvement or education

31% set resolutions related to relationships

But here’s the thing, only 8% of people are successful in achieving their resolutions!

Do you want to be one of the 8% who are successful at achieving your resolutions? Well, say goodbye to failure and hello to success. With the Mind Detox method I can help you transform old habits to constructive new behaviours. You will be able to install positive learning, inspirational thoughts, energy and actions, to focus your mind and gain your desired results. For more information about Mind Detox subscribe to my news letter and get helpful tips for successful living.

THE BUTTERFLY STORY – symbolises positive change

“The idea of change is most often symbolised by the butterfly which takes a completely different form, “trans-forms,” from one part of its life to the next.”

In its earlier form it is usually a slow, “dull,” earth-bound consumer. caterpillar
By going within, into its dark chrysalis, for a period of time,
the butterfly emerges to take flight into beauty and grace.

In Norie Huddle’s book, “Butterfly” she writes:

“The caterpillar’s new cells are called “imaginal cells.”  They resonate at a different frequency.  They are so totally different from the caterpillar cells that his immune system thinks they are enemies . . . and gobbles them up – Chomp!  Gulp!  But these new imaginal cells continue to appear. More and more of them! Pretty soon, the caterpillar’s immune system cannot destroy them fast enough. More and more of the imaginal cells survive. And then an amazing thing happens! The little, tiny, lonely imaginal cells start to clump together, into friendly little groups.  They all vibrate together at the same frequency, passing information from one to another.  Then, after a while, another astonishing thing happens!  The clumps of imaginal cells start to cluster together!  A long string of clumping and clustering imaginal cells, all vibrating at the same frequency, and all passing information from one to another there inside the chrysalis.

A wave of positive energy travels throughout the system – of the caterpillar  . . . but not yet aButterfly butterfly.

Then at some point, the entire long string of imaginal cells suddenly realises all together that it is Something Different from the caterpillar.  Something New!  Something Wonderful!!  And in that consciousness is the birth of the butterfly!

Since the butterfly now “knows” that it is a butterfly, the little tiny imaginal cells no longer have to do all those things individual cells have to do. Now they are part of a multi-celled organism – a family who can share the work. Each new butterfly cell can take on a different job. There is something for everyone to do.  Everyone is important and each cell begins to do just that very thing it is most drawn to do and every other cell encourages it to do just that.

There are the equivalent of imaginal cells within each of us and within  our organisations, the bodies of our society.  Transformation is about allowing those new ideas, those “imaginations” to emerge and grow.

Individuals and organisations that have the “ways” and the courage to do this will emerge with greater magnificence and ability to soar to new heights of success.


Your Automatic Goal Seeking Mechanism

The vital impact that a negative or positive self-image has on your success or failure in achieving goals you set.

Part of your brain is known as the Reticular Activating System – or RAS. Your RAS plays a vital part in your ability to achieve goals.

What is this RAS?

Reticular Activating System - or RAS.

Reticular Activating System - or RAS.

Imagine that you’re at a busy noisy airport passenger terminal waiting for your flight.

Imagine all the noise – hundreds of people talking, announcements, bags and many more distractions.

So much going on, then a noise is brought to your attention? Not a huge amount .

Correct, you can hear a wide-ranging backdrop of noise, not many of us bother to listen to each individual sound.

However then a new announcement comes over the public address system – it’s your name or possibly your flight.

Abruptly your attention is full on. Your RAS is the automatic mechanism inside your brain that delivers  relevant information to your attention.

Your reticular activating system acts as a  filter between your conscious mind and your subconscious mind. It takes orders from your conscious mind and passes them on to your subconscious. For example, the instruction might be, “pay attention for anyone saying my name”.

There are some interesting points about your RAS that make it an important tool for achieving goals.

First, you can intentionally program the reticular activating system by choosing the precise messages you send from your conscious mind. For example, you can set goals, or visualise your goals.  However, this process works both ways, lurking in most people’s subconscious are negative recordings of conclusions/ beliefs we have come to when we were young ,which are sent to our conscious mind. These recordings stop us from moving forward and achieving success and ambitions in certain areas of our life.

Second, your reticular activating system cannot distinguish between ‘real events’ and ‘synthetic’ reality. In other words it tends to believe whatever message you give it. Imagine that you’re going to be giving a speech. You can practice giving that speech by visualizing it in your mind. This ‘pretend’ practice should improve your ability to give the speech. The same technique can be used to visualise your New Year Resolution. Take time to write down you New Year Resolution, look at your New Year Resolution  several times a day, and take time out each day and play the tape of living and visualisation of what it will be like once you have achieved this change.

I  will set you on the path to achieving your New Year Resolution

Six Functions of the Unconscious Mind

Memory bank
The unconscious is the store-room of the mind, all memories are stored by association and every memory we have is stored there. Some of these memories are hard to retrieve consciously and others are easy. We can get access to these memories using hypnotic regression techniques. Some of these memories may be real events and others may be fantasy or misinterpretation.

Controls bodily functions
The unconscious keeps a check on the body and tries to keep it in balance so that we are not too hot or cold it tells us when we need to eat, drink,. go to the toilet. It protects us by monitoring our immune system and sympathetic nervous system. It contracts and relaxes our muscle when we move without even having to think about it.

Seat of emotion
The emotions we feel are generated by our unconscious and then we get a feeling at the unconscious level. If we have two conflicting emotions the strongest one will always win.

Seat of imagination
Imagination will always overcome will power. Your imagination can work for you or against you if you do not learn how to use it in the right way.

Stores habits
We go through a process of learning that take us through unconscious incompetence, conscious incompetence,  conscious competence and unconscious competence. Once we go through these stages an activity becomes a habit.

Directs our energy
The unconscious mind will direct energy to wherever it is told to, this could be good or bad because the unconscious mind does not have a way to know which it is, it just chooses the easiest way  possible to direct the energy. It carries out orders without thinking about it.