The start and the finish

September 6, 2016

Today is my kids’ first day back at school and my second day back at work after returning from our holiday some silly time in the middle of Sunday night!

After time away, do you ever experience the “who am I and what do I do here” feeling? I certainly do! There’s the horrible discomfort that comes from being out of the habit: the work habit or the school habit…or the exercise habit, or whatever. It’s why we can often feel like we need a holiday just a few days after coming back from one!

The trick is to get straight back into starting and ending well. If you do that bit, the middle will mostly take care of itself. Avoid the temptation to put aside all those good disciplines. Make a list – yes, physically write it down! – of all the positive actions that have helped you stay productive in the past and make a bigger-than-usual effort to make sure those things happen again from day 1.

Get straight back into your ten magic minutes habit – review your goals, make a plan, schedule important tasks. Set an end point.

Re-establish your end-of-day routine. Review what’s gone well. Record today’s victories. Transfer unfinished tasks. .

This start well / end well mantra works! In fact, it works like a dream and you can apply it not just to organising your day, but to almost everything you’re involved with – staff one-to-one’s, monthly team meetings..the list goes on.

Decide how to start and how to finish. Do that routinely and the bit in the middle goes better and better!

Have a great start to autumn!

Mission 168

May 3, 2016

This is the start of a new topic that’s been on my mind for a while and I’ve just begun writing. I hope you enjoy. Feel free to join in using #Mission168 if you find it interesting and worth sharing!

There are 168 hours in a week. You may already know this. There are 52 weeks in a year. That’s 52 defined sets of 168 hours, every year for our entire lives.

This is why a week is my favourite block of time.

Months are good, but there just aren’t enough of them to create the same sense of rapid progress and achievement.

Days are good. There are loads of them. But they come and go so quickly, and there are so many variables on any given day that can lead to ending a day far from where you had intended to be.

Weeks, though, tend to be long enough periods of time to be reasonably predictable in the kinds of things going on and the amount of time I might have available to achieve something significant, but short enough to still feel like a new one is just round the corner, offering a fresh start and the promise of new opportunity.

This is why I think working in weeks is a good thing. I’d love to hear your thoughts too as this series unfolds.

Getting your work done 2 hours quicker!

April 19, 2016

Rock Solid Foundations

March 21, 2016

I’ve been using a training room on the 11th floor of a building in Fenchurch Street, London on a fairly regular basis for a little over a year.

Across the road is a building site which has been the fascination of myself and many course delegates during coffee breaks over this period. For months progress seemed painfully slow – not a lot happening. Just clearing the site and digging some extremely deep holes!

Suddenly, on my last two visits, I’ve been amazed how quickly things have changed. The foundations stage complete, now things are moving fast. The building is taking shape as its structure rises from well below ground level to form a new landmark on the London skyline.

The same principle that applies to buildings is also true with building strength in an organisation’s people. If the foundations are good, the sky’s the limit. If they are weak, inefficiency, stress, confusion and conflict abound.

When it comes to people and performance there are also ‘foundations’ that if everyone in a team understands and consistently does, make a huge impact on effectiveness and overall productivity.

Here’s a few ideas that help form that strong foundation:

  • The ability to set and work to clearly defined goals
  • Understanding ‘WHY’ – knowing the purpose behind the goal
  • The power of The Slight Edge & 1% improvements
  • Avoiding crisis mode & constant fire-fighting.
  • ‘High Payoff Activities’ & the power of 80:20
  • Effective, systematic daily planning & prioritising
  • Not living in your inbox
  • Choosing most appropriate means of communication
  • Sensitively handling interactions with others
  • Maintaining a healthy balance across all areas of life

I’m sure you could add others to this list and I’m also sure that few, if any, of these subject areas are things you’re not already familiar with. They are not the icing on the cake. They are the base-layer. The starting point. Like in the building project described above, disproportionate time and care should be taken to make sure they are properly laid.

It’s not complex but neither is it simple.

So many times I’ve seen that difficulties faced by individuals, teams and sometimes whole organisations stem from poorly laid foundations.

The magic is not in knowing about these foundational concepts but in the consistent application of these ideas in a consistent way by all members of your team!

It’s for the reasons stated above that the course I run most often, and am always excited by the results, is the half-day Foundations of Success workshop. If you’d like to know more about Foundations of Success, click this link

Remember when your history teacher kept interrupting?

March 4, 2016

A brief but important piece this time round.

Picture this – and you’ll have to imagine it because despite the question in the title, I bet it never happened. You are sat in a Maths class at school and just getting into some long division or a bit of algebra when in through the door bursts the history teacher who was teaching you the previous lesson.

“We didn’t cover it earlier but I just wanted to let you know, the Battle of Hastings was 1066 and Harold died when he was hit in the eye with an arrow!”

Then out she goes.

A little perplexed, your Maths teacher tries to remember where he was and carry on. Six minutes later, in comes your Geography teacher.

“I know I’ll be seeing you in class this afternoon, but I couldn’t wait to tell you that the best example of coastal erosion in the UK is at Barton-on-Sea and we’ll have a look later at some brilliant footage of the cliffs collapsing. Bye.”

“This is getting silly”, you think to yourself. And it is. Really silly. It makes the Maths lesson really unproductive for you in terms of learning anything, tires all the teachers out as they rush around trying not to forget to tell anyone anything that might be important, and generally leaves both teachers and pupils feeling stressed and like they’re not accomplishing important work nearly as fast as they should be.

Good job the workplace isn’t anything like this!

We talk a lot about this at our Foundations of Success workshops and it certainly stirs up some interesting conversations!



It’s boring but…

January 29, 2016

There are some very exciting subjects to be covered in the field of leadership and management and I love to get lost in these.

Vision, innovation, managing change, empowerment, releasing peoples’ potential, strategy, handling authority, relationship-building – all fantastic and very, very important.

My topic for today may not sound so exciting, but is equally important. Essential I would say.

Managers and Leaders must be organised!

By definition, you are managing and leading people, projects, assignments, resources and activities. You have lots going on. Things can easily get overlooked or forgotten. If there are even the tiniest cracks, important things will find a way of slipping through.

That’s why being organised is such a key foundational skill to have. Be organised. Help your team be organised. It’s the gateway to achievement and effectiveness in every other facet of your work.

That’s why personal productivity is the first step in LMI’s Total Leader process, and developing a system to handle all your day-to-day responsibilities well is covered in depth on our Foundations of Success workshop.

It might sound boring but…


The Alignment Triangle

December 10, 2014

Following on from the last post about the need for the large Tube map and the single line plan, here’s my ‘Alignment Triangle’ diagram which illustrates an effective process for keeping today’s activity aligned with the’Big Picture’ aims of the organisation. Every company knows they should be doing this, but I’ve come across very few that are systematically implementing this on a continual basis. That’s why a simple model to follow can really help.

Alignment Triangle

The Big Picture – start with defining the Mission, Purpose, Vision and Values (this is no twenty minute exercise – take time to do this well).

Create a Master Goals List – this is the place to record every significant goal that will help move your organisation towards the defined and agreed Big Picture.

Monthly Goals & Priorities – a refined and repeatable format to clarify the goals and priorities for Dec 2014 or Jan 2015 is essential. The Master Goals List will have far too much on it to be able to focus effectively. We suggest a 2 – 3 hour monthly planning process to set each month up so everyone knows exactly what they are shooting for in that 30 day period.

Daily Organising – it’s only when the above steps are done really well that organising your daily activity can be super-effective. Again, a repeatable format for planning your day in line with the monthly goals is essential for optimising performance.