Create the conditions for others to be their best selves.
The world has changed. The new working norm involves sharing the same space with partners, kids and animals.
There has been an order of magnitude increase in the use of instant messaging, chat channels, multi-topic email chains and overlapping meeting requests. Few can give up 2 hours in a single block, never mind 2-3 days of their time to plan the future with colleagues.
Dropping by someone’s desk to ask a question and that pivotal 5-minute conversation by the water cooler or coffee machine may be a thing of the past. Shared working spaces where we can “belong” are an evasive prize. There is an absence of that blank flipchart or clean whiteboard we can gather around simply to explore. Technologies like Microsoft Teams and Slack seemingly offer a solution, but they can make it harder. There are simply too many ways to share stuff and too much information being generated. There are too many questions trying to be discussed and answered concurrently.
The online working environment has become noisy and crowded. The simplistic beauty of the clean whiteboard with a single question in the center has been forgotten.
A paradigm change creates both challenges and opportunities. Full engagement in both is the path to evolution.
In serving you, those of us in the business of intervention design and delivery have had to evolve too.
The emergence of Laser Coaching over the past few years has forged the path. It is ideally suited to the new work paradigm. Laser Coaching is delivered as a series of online 30-40-minute-long 1-to-1 coaching sessions. This approach is highly efficient and highly effective in bringing about personal change and growth. It also works indirectly in influencing the success of the entire organisation.
Laser Facilitation is only just emerging and the obvious next step. This transparent, efficient and agile model delivers results for geographically dispersed groups. The program of 60-90-minute online groups sessions and offline collation and prioritization, enables groups to share thoughts on a challenge, explore the options, prioritize and produce concise action plans.
The new work paradigm has landed. The next step is yours.
We still need to make our way down a path, even in times of extremes.
Volunteering my skills feels like the obvious way to use the additional free time afforded to me by the Covid-19 pandemic. My intention is to give in this way partly via private client Laser Coaching and partly via Laser Facilitation for small to medium businesses.
This gift is for you if you fit into either of these categories or know someone who does.
- You are an individual in the Republic of Ireland or UK, who has recently been let go, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, or you are still working but doing so remotely whilst home schooling.
- You are the owner or principal of a Republic of Ireland or UK based small or medium business with 20 or more active full-time employees.
Details for Individuals
I have capacity to deliver up to ten 4-session Laser Coaching programs for private clients.
This coaching is available to private sector individuals who are Republic of Ireland or UK based and have recently been let go, owing to the Covid-19 pandemic, or who are still working but doing so remotely whilst home schooling. All other employees should encourage their employers to contact BetterUp as they are already well based to help.
This offer is available on a first-come-first-served basis and the offer may be removed at any time.
In preparing to contact me, consider the answer to this question: What one thing, if achieved, would make the world of difference to you, right now?
See "how" for more details on what is involved in Laser Coaching for private clients.
Details for Small and Medium Businesses
I have capacity to deliver up to five 2-session Laser Facilitation programs.
These pro bono services will be offered to Republic of Ireland or UK based small and medium business owners or principles with 20 or more active full-time employees. If you have less than 20 active full-time employees, I encourage you to consider the Laser Coaching offer above.
To qualify you need to have 12-20 staff members who can join you for two online sessions of 60-90 minutes in length. In addition you need to put the time into co-designing the sessions with me.
This offer is available on a first-come-first-served basis and the offer may be removed at any time.
In preparing to contact me, consider this question: What challenge do you and your team need to urgently explore?
See "how" for more details on what is involved in Laser Facilitation.
Together we will return to thriving.
I am providing these services on a voluntary basis. My time under this offer is pro bono, but if you would like to support me during this time please consider contributing towards my running costs. I have been doing freelance and part-time activities for several years. Initially that was to enable me to be a stay at home Dad for my five wonderful children. However, things changed dramatically since my separation. So, if you want to help, it would be greatly appreciated.
Disaster creates the opportunity for change. The dawn of Laser Facilitation is upon us.
It has been very tough getting back to adequate income levels after putting my corporate career on hold to focus on family. It has been a complete nightmare, but at the same time, an awesome environment for learning and self-discovery. However, none of that could have prepared me for the ramifications of Covid-19. It has been like being hit in the back of the head with a rubber mallet – It hurts bad, and whilst it doesn’t kill you, well not initially, and may knock you out briefly, it does leave you dazed and confused.
The start of the decade was shaping up to be something special. I was at near capacity again and finally turning the finances from red to black. January numbers were looking great. My freelance partners were lining up workshop bookings well into late Spring. The corporate world was switched on again. Leadership teams in all quarters were keen to get together for strategy and planning sessions of 2-3 days in all corners of the globe. Then it all changed. First, multinational clients restricted international flights. Then came the local workshop cancellations. By mid-February, everyone was scrambling.
We all experienced what happened next. As things progressed from social distancing to lockdown, the corporate world and their service partners, rushed to explore what could be done. Initially, the thoughts were on doing the same activities as before, just without the travel. Pretty quickly that exploration moved from local offices to home, as remote working became the new normal. Obviously, the idea being that if you could not bring everyone together physically, you would need to do it virtually with personal video conferencing tools. The world of workshop facilitation was no different.
The big question in the workshop facilitation world, at least initially, was to determine if the personal video conferencing tools could be used to manage typical workshop sequences, specifically breakouts. The tried and tested method, in addition to deep co-design, relies heavily on breaking up the large cohort of participants into smaller teams of 4 or 5. This is so they could work together in ideation, problem-solving and strategizing, as examples. It was immediately apparent that there were tools that already supported this. Zoom is the obvious contender. But there were others too. However, answering the personal video conferencing question was not enough. It was immediately clear that there was more to it than just moving participants in and out of breakouts. The co-design and bespoke workshop method that had been so very successful for near 30 years, was adrift and unable to find a port.
When my workshop partners pulled back completely, I was left with far too much time on my hands, again! That space created the opportunity to step back and look at things from a different perspective. I took a blank sheet and started over. I looked at the core philosophies within the workshop method. It was there that I saw it. In the mad rush to keep clients engaged, a crucial element had been overlooked. This realization had me in stitches. So much of the past while had been helping corporate clients bring attention to the customer experience. So many of the workshops over the last few years had focused on putting the customer experience at the centre. And, that was all that was needed to see how to move the method from in-person to online. With the customer experience at the centre, two things were apparent.
Firstly, few can give up 2 hours in a single block, never mind 2-3 days of their time. The new world just did not allow it. The new working norm involves sharing the same space with partners, kids and animals. The physical boundary afforded by going to the office is gone. Even if you discount the distraction of loved ones and homeschooling, the work practices have changed. Dropping by someone’s desk to ask a question is not possible anymore. That pivotal 5-minute conversation by the water cooler or coffee machine is a thing of the past. Instead, we see an order of magnitude increase in the use of instant messaging, chat channels in Microsoft Teams or Slack, multi-topic email chains and overlapping meeting requests.
The second thing that became apparent is that video conferencing calls lack a sense of shared working space. When in a physical working space together, we can gather around a flipchart or whiteboard. We can use markers and post-it notes to share our ideas, clarify our strategies and communicate the path. That shared space becomes somewhere that the team feels they belong to. Many times, I have seen small groups of people, even complete strangers, come together around a space and make it their own. Within minutes there is even an element of territorial behaviours surfacing should anyone outside the team approach the space. Technologies like Microsoft Teams and Slack seemingly offered a solution, but they just make it harder. There are simply too many ways to share stuff and too much information being generated. There are too many questions trying to be discussed and answered concurrently. The online working environment has become noisy and crowded. The simplistic beauty of the clean whiteboard with a single question in the centre has been forgotten. With this discovery in hand, I got to thinking.
Separately to the workshop facilitation, I have been doing personal and executive coaching. Until last summer, that had involved sitting with a client for sessions of up to 120 minutes in length, every few weeks. Then I came across Laser Coaching. Laser Coaching offers a method to coach others, but with zero travel and with less disruption to the work activities of those being coached. This is because Laser Coaching is delivered online over video conferencing tools. As well as being done online, Laser Coaching sessions are shorter. Sessions are typically between 30-40 minutes. The magic of this form of coaching is in the tools used between sessions and the design of the programs aligned to the 1-to-1 sessions. Laser Coaching delivers personal change, effectively and efficiently. Those two words, effectively and efficiently, stuck with me. If a new model of workshop facilitation was going to emerge, it had to be effective and efficient within the context of the new ways of working.
The idea of Laser Facilitation was an easy jump. In the end, it was obvious. In similar fashion to coaching, the facilitation world needs to move to shorter sessions, conducted in sets, using technology that creates a sense of being together in a shared space. Facilitation needs that clean whiteboard for participants to gather around but in a virtual mode. The video conferencing and ability to do breakouts is still important, but secondary. This all brought me to formulating and testing the following proposition:
"Laser Facilitation is a framework for geographically dispersed groups who need to collaborate urgently to share thoughts on a challenge, explore the options, prioritize and produce concise action plans. The framework is delivered as a program that involves co-design, a set of 60-90-minute online sessions and offline collation and prioritization. An example program could incorporate an online open question & ideation session, offline prioritization and an online next steps planning session. Laser Facilitation differs from more typical online meeting formats because of the greater focus on transparency, efficiency and agility. This fully digital method is delivered online and works well with groups of about 12 to 20 people."
The most surreal thing about all of this is the idea of convergence. For years, I have felt like I have been playing catch-up. Shifting to coaching and facilitation, it was unclear as to the usefulness of the twenty years prior, spent building deep knowledge of information technology and applying it to business process. That tech-savviness was handy, but not a differentiator. That has changed. This new world of Laser Facilitation requires skills in both technology and intervention design. Twenty years in technology followed by six years in intervention design and delivery may finally be the right combination.
There is no doubt that this is only the beginning. Things are moving fast and will continue to evolve. Even when Covid-19 lockdowns are no more, the world we knew is gone. Air travel may take years to be at affordable levels again. The economic and pending financial crisis will put efficiency and effectiveness in front of mind as organizations of all types, fight for survival.
The scope for change here is immense. Obviously, there is a commercial opportunity for tech-savvy facilitators like me. Then there is the opportunity for business leaders, decision-makers and process pioneers to jump-start their activities and do it in an effective and efficient manner. And there are opportunities for humanity. There is the potential for doing more with less, and in a way which is less detrimental to the world, we occupy. And because of the time savings potential, we will have more discretionary time, and that gives us better options in terms of volunteering and helping others.
See "how" for more details on what is involved in Laser Facilitation.
What is going on with this remote working malarkey!
Being someone who has spent 10 of the last 11 years working remotely in some way or another, I know exactly what challenges many of you will be facing for the first time right now! And, I am sure that is the least of your troubles as we all stare into the darkness that is Covid-19 and the possibility of another global recession.
So, before things go totally pear shaped, get some clarity on what’s important and where you must focus your attention.
If you are an individual, get yourself an online coach, like me.
If you are responsible for a load of individuals, get in touch with BetterUp and get them all coached online!
If you are a decision maker and are wondering how in the world do you get everybody aligned and back to work whilst they are sitting in their houses juggling home schooling, get in contact with Starfish Taylor and explore their virtual, all digital workshop approach.
We are going to get through this, but it will require focus. Do yourself a favour and those dependent upon you. Get the help you deserve!
It is time!
Nearly everything we do and say, offends someone.
We don’t know if we are to be men or women or something else.
It is time! Time for men to be their real selves again!
Being real as a man is being true and good, but without the egotistically driven bravado.
Being real as a man is about operating with integrity and respect for yourself and all those, you cross paths with.
Being real as a man is about operating with compassion and empathy for your fellow human beings, both men and women.
Being real as a man is standing up for yourself and those who depend on you.
Being real as a man doesn’t involve allowing yourself to be put down and made feel weak, even if the person doing that to you is stressed and overworked doing things for your good and those you care about.
Being real as a man doesn’t include saying nothing when it is insinuated that you are a less than capable parent, because of your sex.
Being real as a man is being willing to make hard choices and stand-up to those wishing to bully you away from the right path.
Being real as a man doesn’t include allowing yourself to be left out of shared decisions, relating to family, finances, career, friendships, well-being or anything else that impacts you and those you care about.
Being real as a man includes having equal say in the number of children you co-create.
Being real as a man means you apply yourself and works smart, the right way.
Being real as a man doesn’t include making unreasonable career sacrifices for the sole benefit of your partner or those dependent on you.
Being real as a man doesn’t include putting your re-education and future employability aside for ever, even if it’s more financially viable for a time to step into home duties.
Being real as a man is making mistakes and being allowed to own them, and not tolerating those who make you feel otherwise.
Being real as a man is sharing what you feel, openly and honestly, with compassion and humility.
Being real as a man is accepting that you get the blues, are willing to share that you do, and not tolerating those who make you feel it should be any other way.
Being real as a man is choosing what you do, say, experience, eat and drink, guilt free.
Being real as a man doesn’t include allowing your partner’s interests to create distance between your friendships.
Being real as a man is about taking care of your body and mind.
Being real as a man implies you search for your purpose.
Am I doing enough
As I shared what I was doing with my book with trusted friends and family, I got feedback. During those conversations I’d get ideas and insights. One of the key insights was the concept of “imagine”, which became the starting place for my promotional material.
The way that insight came to me was a truly surreal example of how the world works. It was a lovely reminder of how chaotic the events in our journey appear if we aren’t willing to ask and listen. (read ...)
Show your cards
Even of those that I have coached and facilitated, few will truly know who I am. The main reason being that I have kept my cards close. I got it wrong!
There is a philosophy that says hold your cards until you need to show them. It's based on the idea that if you have good cards you should only show them at the right time to ensure victory! I get that; however, I now feel that when it comes to the cards that show what we are good at, we need to stop hiding them. (read ...)
Choose awesome over good enough
All things are not equal, when it comes to choosing a coach.
Coaches are, by definition, supportive. They provide structures for thinking and acting. They bring their experience to conversations. They enable us to explore what we desire and want. They enable us to find the right path and to follow it. A good coach or mentor will do all that. However, an awesome coach goes further. (read ...)
Rent is crucial for Abundance
In the absence of Rent, Abundance becomes an insurmountable concept. From there, life becomes a chore.
Abundance in all that we are, is a requirement of a purposeful and engaging life. It's not a nice to have. In the absence of financial, cognitive, emotional, social and physical Abundance, we are limited in what we can do for ourselves and others. With an Abundance of means, friendships, health and Love, our choices become vast and unlimited. When means, friendships, health and Love come effortless to us, we our free to fully engage whole heartily in our purpose. When that happens, everything looks brighter and richer. That is a life worth experiencing. (read ...)
Embrace the wobble
We may feel aligned. We may feel we have clarity. We may have confidence in the effectiveness and efficiency of our structures and systems. We may feel on top of our exercise, eating, sleeping, relationships and Career. No matter, how good things are going, we always experience wobbles.
Watch a professional sports person doing anything and they are constantly correcting. Watch someone that is good with a skateboard and the same things happen. You may even know the feeling. At one moment you are cruising, the wind is in your hair, you are looking good, you are feeling good. Life is good. It couldn’t be better. However, (read ...)
Using your magic to help others be their best selves
Do you believe you have magic within you? Stop, let your mind think about that for a moment.
So, if there is a yes or even the smallest feeling that it could be possible, keep reading. Otherwise, stop reading now. Your time will be better invested elsewhere. (read ...)
"Hard work" - Where it demotivates!
Using the phrase "hard work" is potentially demotivating. Realising this helped me see more learning opportunities in the challenges before me.
A coaching friend recently helped me look at the way I was using the word "hard" when I described something that I needed to complete or focus on. It became clear that I could find an alternative that motivated me towards where I wanted to go, and not away from it. If we look at the definition of "hard" we get something like solid, rigid or not easily broken, as well as something needing a great deal of effort. (read ...)
Using the moment to build a better self
Being our best selves is both easier and harder than we think.
Life is such a wonderful collection of experiences. Experiences that beckon us to engage with them. Sometimes we do and sometimes we don't. The journey to being our best selves is aided by focusing on engaging with those experiences more often than not. Also when we do engage, we must allow those experiences to change us. It is through the change that we are our best selves. (read ...)