Blogger: Fiona

Co-creating Participatory Workplaces

How much more successful would your organisation be if everyone was;

  • More passionate about their collective purpose
  • Using their skills and expertise to their full potential
  • More  trusting of their colleagues
  • Able to step out from behind their professional mask and be their true self

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Why do conversations matter?

The word ‘conversation’ derives from the Latin con versare – to turn or to dance together. Are you kept on your toes when you feel deeply that the core of your activity is participating in ‘the dance’?

Conversation is the single greatest learning tool in your organization—more important than computers or sophisticated research. As a society, we know the art of small talk, we can talk about the weather or our holidays. But when we face complex or contentions issues, when there are feelings and different opinions, our defence mechanisms surface and this can impede communications.   Besieged by data, seduced by knowledge from books and the internet, many people seem to have forgotten the value of the wisdom gained by ordinary conversations. Continue reading

Systems Thinking

I was one of six authors of Systems Thinking, published by the Management Innovation Exchange. You can find the full publication here


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’. Continue reading

Unlock an Organisation’s Capacity to Solve Complex Problems

New solutions are needed. Increasing complexity compels us to find new solutions. Participatory Leadership enables collaboritive change is crucial to unlock your organisation’s capacity to solve complex problems and create success in the twenty-first century. ‘Just do your job’ may have been a default response to dissatisfied workers in times gone by, but not now. Continue reading

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.” Continue reading

Collaboration v Conventional Groups

Collaboration 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
let the workers do their job!

Working for the Customer not ‘The Man’

let the workers do their job!Recently I collaborated with 6 co-authors to produce Working for the Customer, Not The Man


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.


The Butterfly Story – 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:  Continue reading

Six Functions of the Unconscious Mind

Old habbitsMemory 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. Continue reading