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…


Serious power upgrade

May 12, 2015

We just moved into a new house and I had some ‘dismantling’ to do of various items left by the previous owners, some of which involved cutting some metal frames.

My limited experience told me to go searching through my equally limited toolbox for a hacksaw – it would have done the job…but it would have taken me ages, and expended a lot of energy.

Enter the hero of the story, my brother-in-law who, on hearing about my intended endeavors, goes to his garage and pulls out one of these little beauties!

angle grinder

Upshot was that I got the job done in just a couple of minutes and it was loads of fun…so I’ve been dangerously wandering around the garden looking for other things I can remodel 🙂

It’s a simple analogy to what I find so often in my work with managers and leaders – there are some really powerful tools that are the equivalent of a massive power upgrade when it comes to handling their own responsibilities and the day-to-day affairs of the team effectively.

The only way to discover these tools is to pause from the hectic daily activity long enough to find out what they are and to learn how to use them.

That’s all for now – I’m off back to the brother-in-law’s garage to borrow the chainsaw!

Much more than time management.

November 13, 2013

Foundations of Success

October 24, 2013

FOUNDATIONS OF SUCCESS is a free monthly workshop for business owners, leaders and managers, as well as HR / L&D professionals interested in business performance improvement through developing people.

These two-hour events serve as an introduction to the concepts and practical tools that LMI have been using all over the world for more than 50 years in support of personal and organisational development for our clients – from sole traders and SMEs through to some of the world’s largest and best-known companies.

For full details and to book, visit our Eventbrite page:


A simple lesson from school we stupidly forgot!

July 25, 2013

Do you remember being at school and worrying about how you were going to fit everything in? I mean, it was crazy – so many different things going on, way too much to remember!

How on earth did we manage to fit in Maths, English, French, History, Geography, General Studies (!), Chemistry, Biology, P.E., R.E., Physics….the list goes on.

And yet, as I recall it, I never once fretted about how I was going to manage to squeeze in enough lessons of each subject to get through the curriculum and be ready for exams at the end of it.

Why not?

Simple. We had a timetable.

This is very profound. We had a schedule to follow that allocated blocks of time for each subject that would allow us sufficient number of hours working on the material that would prepare us for the end goal – passing exams.

Why is it then that having left school, and with just as many different things coming our way in life and in work, that we tend to wing it…hoping we’ll manage to fit it all in, responding to the things that shout loudest, often leaving insufficient time for seriously important things.

Solution? Simple. Timetable it.

The creation of a weekly timetable, or Time Picture, as we call is, is often one of those massive ‘light bulb moments’ for our clients as the realisation dawns…

“You don’t find time; you schedule it.”

We used to know that in school. We forgot.