Brilliant letter this morning from a Mr Dave McGovern (airline pilot) who moaned about an article bemoaning radio-telephony language.  He signed off:

Bravo Yankee Echo Foxtrot Oscar Romeo November Oscar Whiskey (BYE FOR NOW – just in case you didn’t get it!)

(Ideas are all around us…)

(But did you see he managed to get Foxtrot Oscar in the sentence – which is not a very nice set of initials and a bit of a put down – on purpose, I believe?)

This made me think of about three things at once (Yes, it’s yet another one of those what I learnt today moments, if you look about you there are ideas and lessons everywhere!)

  1. There is always a chance that when you talk in techno speak or in acronyms, some of your listeners may not know what you are on about – always take care to check
  2. Humour helps to sell ideas – to adults especially
  3. A bit of pride in what you do or your organisation (as this writer certainly had) goes a long way to giving you believability and credibility
  4. Always think of your method and route of communication – is it appropriate for what you are trying to achieve?  I’m guessing Dave McGovern doesn’t speak like this when he is down in the pub?
  5. (and if he did do, I hope his friends would give him feedback on how annoying it was – depending on how they handled conflict!)
  6. As an outsider, it is easy to assume you know as much as an expert insider (like the article writer who annoyed Dave).  Always beware of expressing opinion as fact – people get annoyed if you keep doing it.

OK – that’s more than 3, but I got carried away.  Look for ideas yourself – and put me out of business!

Cattle Market Visit

“It’s like a cattle market here”.  never a truer word spoken!  I visited one of my local markets today (I have been doing some work with them), and, as I’ve said before, you don’t have to look or think hard to find lessons everywhere – every day is indeed a school-day!

"Ready and waiting!"

“Ready and waiting!”

WILT – what I learnt today –

  1. Auctioneers really do speak that fast and that incomprehensibly to us folk who are not tuned in.  Those in the know – all knew what was going on
  2. It’s a real team effort to make sure there are no snags or disasters.  If everything runs smoothly, nobody notices
  3. ‘Buying and selling stock’ – that is what you would say was the main business?  As ever, it is the people who make the business, not what it does.  From stock men to back office checkers, to auctioneer to the farmers – everyone plays their part – and it wouldn’t work without everyone knowing their job and knowing that everyone else knows their place in the jigsaw
  4. A lot of being on the farm must be fairly lonely – these sorts of gatherings give people their human fix.  The networking was quite astonishing
  5. Everything happened so quickly – as a newbie, I didn’t quite know what was going on, so it seemed even faster…
  6. When the auctioneer took me around the place before the sale started – I couldn’t help but be impressed by his deep knowledge of all the people there – “Are they like I described them on the phone?” “Yes – thanks”. Then an aside – “They are down from Cheshire – and I know which lot for, so that will sell well…”
  7. I felt welcomed, not intruding.  And the bacon bap (and tea) were definitely up to scratch.  (I am making a sensible assumption that the bacon was not Danish?!)
  8. There was an awful lot of banter and playfulness – it does seem to help.

So we have, communicate at the right level for your audience; look after and include new people; knowledge and networking help to oil the wheels of commerce; people need people; people make organisations flourish.  And finally – having fun makes the world, and the world of work, go around.

(And someone did bid on a lot whom I was sitting next to – I really did not breathe or blink for 2 minutes!  Anyone know what I can do with two store lambs?) (Joke…)

(Thanks for looking after me, Simon and the team.)

P1050865 P1050869


NHS: The Front-line?

So, we have had the government response to The Francis Report on Mid Staffs. Of all 179 recommendations, only 1 seems to have become the most contentious arena – legally binding safe staffing levels. The money people and apologists keep saying that setting a minimum would fast become the maximum norm. We all know that Intensive Care is likely to need higher nurse to patient ratios. 1:1 is not an uncommon need level. We also know that once something as big as the NHS starts measuring stuff, we get two problems:

  1. We measure what’s easy to measure and fit the figures to make sure no one asks questions
  2. We do things for the figures, not what is in the best interests of the patient

Fiddling, and fiddling whilst Rome burns will be the repeated norm.

Do we have anything to make us feel like things might change? I’m getting heartily fed up with the only answer being yet another enquiry.  Most people I work with in the NHS are totally committed and professionally focused on just doing the best they can.

Nurses, Midwives and Care staff bosses have come up with a plan for compassionate Care.  6 C’s are the headlines, and here they are.







I’m just a bit surprised this isn’t just day to day in these professions.

We just need t stop interfering. Let local real managers manage.  And let them do what they do best – and get rid of those who can’t – be they the uncaring uncommunicative nurse, or the manager who can’t.

Have a great (and safe) weekend.

More “What I Learnt Yesterday” (WILY)

WILY – great name for a twitter account, I think!  (Yes, I do tweet too…)

Carrying on the theme from my tangential thoughts after Kevin Pietersen story broke – it just shows how much you can take as lessons for organisational life from daily news.  Just think a bit…

  1. “Pietersen calls shots as lucrative offers come in”. (PR department?  Handling bad news well?  Social Media power?
  2. “Railway to nowhere – storms destroy key route” (Long-term planning, short-term fixing…management versus strategic leadership?)
  3. “Laws: Give Ofsted power to inspect Tory flagship academies” (What gets measured gets done?  Do we have the right performance indicators?  Are we just checking what is easy to measure?)
  4. “NHS faces unprecedented squeeze, warns IFS” (Budgeting in constrained times?  Living within an imposed environment – not worth worrying about what we can’t do – let’s be creative about what we can influence?)
  5. “Obesity leads to trebling of insulin use in last 20 years” (Can we do anything to help increase the healthiness of our whole staff?  Stress management workshops?
  6. “Tube Strike chaos” (When two tribes go to war – do we have factions like Boris and Bob?  Are they being destructive?  Communication issues? Dispute resolution skills needed?)
  7. Winter Olympics begins…(Discrimination?  Homophobia?  Group-think? Security?)

(from my friends at Glasstap / Trainers Library)

Look – I’m only on page 10 of my newspaper (The i, since you ask), and I have been very extensively thought provoked!

Wednesday’s blog caused one reader (Nick – thanks!) to send me this story – again, very instructive:

“Your insightful article reminded me of an experience from which I can draw comparison. A couple of years ago, I had working for me, probably the most talented engineer I have ever come across. Absolutely brilliant with a super quick and efficient methodology in a variety of disciplines. Tragically his talents did not incorporate any ability whatsoever to work and get along with his, technically lesser but collaboratively superior, fellow employees. In hindsight I tried too hard and for too long to keep this guy but eventually for the good of the ‘team’ the brilliant maverick had to go…….”

My thoughts?  Learn from those sorts of thing – and grasp the nettle earlier!

Have a great weekend.


Sports learning Kevin Pietersen

Lots of comment and lots of thoughts sprung to mind when I first heard the news that Cricket test all rounder Kevin Pietersen had been ‘sacked’ by the management.

It went further than that, though. The rumours have abounded all day that the rest of the team were asked to vote if they would want him to stay or not – and no-one voted to keep him. Now, this may not be true, but think – are there any members of your teams who might fall into that category?  Or any individuals in the team you are a member of?  Or even, yourself?  News always makes you think, doesn’t it?  Even if you don’t like cricket, just watch the news tonight or get some on-line stuff – you will be amazed at how divisive a figure this ‘talented maverick’ seems to be.

“He just needed to be managed well” , said his first test captain, Michael Vaughan.  You have to be able to manage , mavericks – you can’t have clones all round”.  Hmm.  Got you thinking again?

He had been criticized for repeatedly failing to reckless shot-making.  So, not a team player?  Annoyed the others?  Not worth keeping however great he was on occasions?  Are some people more trouble than they are worth?  Or do they just need better management and leadership?

Do you see what I mean?  Read and watch his story with your organisational hat on, and  yo will be amazed how much learning is deeply embedded in there!

This sort f thing (although this is easier to pick over than some stories) does happen every day (Tube strike yesterday; NHS A&E problems, Boris – any day, really).  Just look at stuff from a different angle.  You will be pleased at this cheap way of enhancing your thinking.  WILT – what i learnt today – will become very easy for you – and you may want to put up a guest blog here!