Monday, April 27, 2009

Taking a look from outside

An excellent discussion this morning on Radio 4's 'Start the Week'.

Gillian Tett is credited with being one of the first financial journalists to spot the credit crunch coming. How did she do it? It was her experience of social anthropology - she spent a year in Tajikistan during for her PhD - that gave her the insight that there was a common delusion going on.

The Radio 4 programme is currently featured here:
http://www.bbc.co.uk/programmes/b00jwxz0

And this Guardian article also gives an insight:
http://www.guardian.co.uk/business/2008/oct/31/creditcrunch-gillian-tett-financial-times

So I find this interesting as a consumer, but even more interesting as an educator (hooray for the concept of a liberal education) and a coach of managers who have precious little time to look at things from the outside.

Thursday, April 23, 2009

Walking and change

The fantastic walkit site and blog has inspired me to think again about the effect of the environment on our thinking. Walkit is essentially about urban journeys by foot. It's a great idea.

Urban earth takes a different slant of the experience of cities as a kind of art. Go straight to one of their films to get the feel: this one's set in Bristol.

I'm going to be doing some research in this area (starting - ahem - when OUP send me the books they owe me for a review I did), and I'd really like to hear from people about their experience of walking, whether in the urban or rural environment.

Here are the themes:
physical activity and effects on emotion and thinking
location/environment and effects on emotion and thinking
and if anyone can make a meaningful link to psychogeography, I'd be grateful.

Thursday, December 18, 2008

What happens when managers listen

I'm reading Carl Rogers' 'On Becoming a Person' at the moment. It's a remarkably readable, human and tender book collated from a number of writings and lectures.

In one piece Rogers outlines what he has observed from his years of counselling practice, and amongst them is the observation that the more honest he is, the more present, the more he is 'himself', the more he is able to help his clients.

If it works in counselling, does it not work in management? What about just listening to understand and if you're distracted by the current management agenda, just saying so without trying to influence what the other person is saying.

Worth an experiment.

Friday, February 15, 2008

Performance is the enemy

What do I mean? Well it's golf, I'm afraid.

I like a bit of competition and find it motivating. But I've noticed recently that focusing on my score is slowing down the improvement in my golf. I had a lesson with the pro this morning and we changed one or two things. I can see they work and I can see why they work. I was pretty pleased actually.

So I go out to play one or two holes and wouldn't you know it ... put a flag in my eyeline and the desire for a score overwhelms the desire to improve.

The bottom line is you can't learn if you're scared to make a mistake.

Friday, February 01, 2008

Peek-a-boo ... learning is fun

I've been reading up on theories of intellectual development. Hmmm. As with the way with these things, ones mind wanders.

So at one point I found myself reading a description of part of Piaget's thinking about children's development, and I realised why peek-a-boo makes sense. But we all play peek-a-boo with babies ... we don't need to know that there's a theory. So why do we? Is it because it makes the baby laugh? And why does the baby laugh? Is it partly so that we'll play with them? It makes all sorts of sense. Learning is fun!

How quickly we can forget, though.

Wednesday, January 09, 2008

Questions that move you forward #2

In the same way as we tend to focus on shortcomings when we think about goals, we can very easily focus on the barriers when we think about actions. And again, how you ask the question can really help. What about...

"What do I need in order to do this?"

or

"What would really help me?"

These questions focus both on what can be done and imply/encourage the taking of responsibility.

Do you have any useful questions?

Monday, January 07, 2008

Questions that move you forward #1

Well, new year again, and like everyone else I've been thinking about what's been and what's to come. I commented this time last year on new year's resolutions and some of the ways our goals are undermined before we even start.

But being happy and effective is not just about challenge, challenge, challenge. Sometimes focusing on goals can skew our perspective towards what's not happening rather than what is: what's not happening now, or what went wrong with our efforts. Of course goals drive us onwards, but this holiday I've been thinking about what questions we can ask that reveal values as much as targets.

So when it came to new year, I started asking my kids what they want for this year. What came out was a pretty predictable mix of wish lists for birthday presents and goals for themselves. But I've noticed that they've already been pretty engaged with working towards some of those goals. Almost as if the question, 'what do you want?', put the idea in some kind of 'want' box, rather than an 'ought to' box. Well I know which box I'd be inclined to look in first.