Please?

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I was at  a Napier University Event at the Scottish Parliament last night – I’m alumni of Napier  and it  holds a special place as one of the four Universities in Edinburgh – much of the emphasis is on knowledge & research into practice –  linking students with commerce & work, but with an academic underpinning. It’s a model  that worked well for me when they put me on placement in HR at Russell Athletic and I was shadowed by an excellent HR professional, who really helped me see how the theory needs to be adapted and used lightly to fit with the reality of the HR Practice ( a Twitter conversation I sort of had with @HR_Cass recently about using SWOT & PESTLE lightly… anyway)

Professor Helen Francis is passionate about dialogue. Through Napier University business School and the Edinburgh Institute, she is looking to set up a cadre of practitioners that can work with big business and SME’s in Scotland to improve the quality of conversation, raise the capacity for holding difference and debate in the workplace and get a better working life for the majority of people in organisations. This is music to my ears. I attended her Professorial debut a few weeks ago where she mapped her research and thinking for the future and I got really enthused about what could be on offer here in Scotland. Helen used to tutor me when I studied my CIPD at Napier, back in the day and I have the utmost respect for her, so I sought her out at the Scottish Parliament event we attended last night.

We started talking Dialogue – what fuchsiablue is up to, what Napier & the Edinburgh Institute are up to – and  we reached a conversation about David Kantor’s 4 player model of conversation ( a foundation stone in some of the work we do – much like the GROW model in Coaching or SWOT in strategy). I’m fond of the Kantor model. I like it’s simplicity, it’s fluidity…. so I’m nodding as we talk about how this can be used….

and then we reach a point in the conversation where Helen is talking about a questionnaire and tool to help measure the extent to which folk move, follow, bystand….. and how we can use this tool to analyse conversation in organisations and offer gap analysis to Boards… and I  made this noise: ” nooooooooooooooooooo”  and then I blushed deeply…..

here was my response ( not all spoken out)

Please? Please not another tool to measure and analyse? Not another MBTI/ Here is your box solution?  Please don’t let’s keep going to Boards and pointing out the gaps? Please let’s not do this with Dialogue? My Dialogue is lively and human and contextual. My Dialogue depends on who is in the room, who speaks, who shuts up. It is dynamic and unpredictable. It is emergent and creative and connected and argumentative and edgy. As a practitioner, I want to be able to stand in front of Boards and say quite simply and categorically that you cannot measure the dynamic of a team. You can watch it and nurture it and nudge it and challenge it but you cannot quantify it.

this is about joie de vivre, je ne sais quoi, magic, chemistry – the chemical reaction you have in your body when you are angry or lit up. The chemical reaction I had in my body when I said NO and blushed to the roots of my hair at the boundary I’d overstepped.

Please? Can we just trust ourselves as human beings that we “know” intuitively, intellectually, emotionally – what is going on around us and whether that is right or wrong, with out a measuring stick or a sodding tick box?

And trusting ourselves, can we then go back to leaders and Boards and shareholders and say “you know what? this just doesn’t feel right”

Oh Lord… I can Hear John Lennon again…..

 

The Marvellousness & the Minutiae – What do you bring?

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There seemed to be lot of interest and comments on this week’s blog post, which is always satisfying.

And there were some great examples of how people are contributing – what they are bringing to organisations or organisational conversations…..

and yet I find I want to re-press the point, ask again to see what comes back from readers of the fuchsia blue blog:

What is your contribution to being agile or adaptable in your work? What do you bring to your work conversations that is different or useful or necessary?

Are you innovative? Do your bring order? A good grip on data & measurements? Are you provocative? Political? Can you raise a smile in the midst of heavy conversations? Do you handle conflict well? Can you sit with difference? Is it good public speaking? Or the ability to have small, trust-filled conversations? DO you have a fantastic eye for commercial potential? can you tap into the “feel” of a conversation well? Do you bring compassion? Practicality? A particular interest?

I’m looking for the marvellousness and the minutiae. What do you bring?

I’m asking because I’m genuinely interested . I suspect your stories will be lifting. I suspect there are wonderful positive stories from people about what differences and contributions people are bringing to their work space.

I’m particularly mindful there were no comments from women, this week, other than via DM or conversation and I REALLY want to bring those voices forward, because I don’t feel I have and have a suspicion there is a rich narrative there.

and in case anyone is feeling self-conscious about stating their contribution, I offer Come To The Edge as an enticement

Come to the edge.

We can’t. We’re afraid.

Come to the edge.

We can’t. We will fall!

Come to the edge.

And they came.

And he pushed them. And they flew.

Guillaume Apollinaire

So. Friday/ Weekend invitation to bring your contribution stories here. I would, simply, love to hear from you.

Day One – Why Dialogue ?

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Back in September, I posted a blog on Visibility. It was the first time I’d really spoken out to the wide world about the work I  wanted to do – work with Dialogue groups and support consultants and leaders to “talk well” together. At the time, I was aiming to run sessions in December….turns out it takes a little longer than that to gather courage and content – 2 months longer to be precise – and now Exploring Dialogue has dates and a London home in February and March.

And this week, to support the programme and generate interest, I’m running a short blog series to map my thinking and understanding of Dialogue. I’ll look at dialogue through a few lenses – business, brains, body and beauty – in the hope it generates some discussion and new thinking about how we talk and work together in organisations.

Why dialogue?

I was drawn to dialogue work partly because so many coaching clients or teams I worked with described patterns of stuck conversations, difficulties in changing a relationship or skewed dynamics in a team. My coaching training meant I believed the answer was in learning to ask more and better questions, to inquire well in the world – and this helps, of course….. but often the issue was clients could not get themselves heard well.. and asking questions didn’t scratch that particular itch. They couldn’t advocate or speak out their own perspective confidently or clearly – either that or they advocated too forcefully – which led to frustration, misunderstanding and some very tense interactions.

And this resonated deeply with a story I have about myself – one that says I lost my voice for a time. Somewhere in the midst of working in organisations and consulting and lifestuff generally, I found myself rendered quiet. I had become uncertain as to how to offer what I thought and knew effectively. I found myself either saying little or, if I did find the courage and opportunity to speak, I’d say everything really really quickly … and would then experience the conversational equivalent of tumbleweed… silence…awkward…

This would, in turn, of course render me unable to speak well.

Through working with and practicing techniques, models and thinking around dialogue – advocating well, inquiring well, listening well, understanding my responses and assumptions in conversation, reflecting carefully – I began to reconfigure how I spoke and interacted with the world around me and I began working with clients to do the same. And I want to share what I have learned – what I’m still learning

An Invitation

So this is an invitation – fuchsiablue is running two 2-day workshops designed to encourage attendees to think well and talk well together. It plaits together thinking from Nancy Klein and David Kantor and embodied work from Amanda Ridings and has pinches of Gestalt thinking and understanding Group Process…. and it is more than the theory, it’s experiential – designed to allow you to explore and practice talking well. We’re determined the Exploring Dialogue days will be enjoyable, challenging and offer some deep, long-term lessons in talking well… and cake will figure somewhere, doubtless.

You’ll find more details about Exploring Dialogue here The flyer looks like a flyer – a conversation will be more satisfying, I’d offer…so I’d prefer to talk to you, if you are interested in attending.

If you are curious to know more please get in touch.

Please also pass this on to someone who might be or comment and let me know your thoughts – and no matter what, I hope you enjoy the blogs over the next few days.

It’s that time of year…

So I can get a little sentimental at this time of year – long dark nights & mulled wine might do that to a person.

At the risk of getting a bit Oscar Ceremony, I want to pause and take a moment. In August, I wrote the Kindness List post  and I want to do something similar now – A thank you list….

So to family, friends, clients, colleagues, peers, classmates, tutors, teachers, collaborators, contributors, commentators….

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The Thank-You List 2012

I am thankful for the people who have made me stop, think, reconsider.For those who make me realise how clumsy and careless I can sometimes be. For those who see the opposite. For those who have taken the time to walk with me, talk with me, hear me, see me. For those who have allowed me to do the same back. For those who recommend me on or come back to work with me. For those who don’t understand what fuchsia blue is about. For those who have made me belly laugh with my head thrown back. For those who have made me cry. For the people who have put up with that scary frowny thing I do when I’m REALLY concentrating. For those who have had no time for me at all. For the folk who took time to read and comment on this blog. For the people who refuse to read the blog because they’d rather not go virtual.

For the people I love and who allow me to love them…..

Thank you.

And if you are reading this, I’ll take the opportunity to wish you &  yours all the very best over the holidays & into 2013… and if you’re not, I’ll catch you somehow.

Seasons Greetings.

ps: I won’t just be doing the thanking via the blog – there will be more specific thanks offered via phone calls and emails and meet-ups and letters….Few Christmas cards, though this year, it’s a donation to Alzheimers Scotland.

pps: Image courtesy of caroline gardner

The Worlds Worst Drug Dealer

I had the pleasure last night of meeting the Worlds Worst Drug Dealer

A little context: It is 7:45pm Friday evening, St Andrews Square, Edinburgh. I’m heading to catch the last bus home (oh yeah. My life is rock & roll.) Liz & I have spotted some sunshine for the first time in 4 or 5 days and we’re standing outside Louis Vuitton, faces pointed towards some actual beams of light, being fairly cynical, laughing, being ourselves. Yes, we have been on the Cab Sauv, rather successfully, and have spent most of the evening putting the world to rights. In short – it has been a brilliant night.

And this wee, hoodied, hip-rolling, pants-showing guy comes wandering up to us and says, in the MOST extraordinary I’m-from-da-hood-proper-London-me accent (forgive the phonetics here):

“Ekx uuuzzz meee laydeeez. Bu’ can ah interet’st yooou in sum weeeeeeeed”

Only he sounded a lot Scottish.

Now at this point, I guess we had choices. We could have politely said “No. Thank you for your generous offer, but we must decline”

We could equally have been a bit uncomfortable and looked at the floor and wished him elsewhere – muttering horrified “No” and hoping he carried on his way.

Did I mention we’d had wine?

This guy looked about 12. He’s got that almost-blue paleness about him which can be so quintessentially Scottish. He’s carrying the malevolence of a marshmallow. He’s puffed up and moving about in front of us with REALLY crazy boxer shorts showing and is, frankly, fascinating.

I can’t help myself:

Me: Is that your genuine accent? Where are you FROM?

(oh God. I sound like my mum)

Him: Yeah Man. I’m from Peckham, ain’t I?

Me: You’re SO not from Peckham… that accent’s all over the shop. Where are you ACTUALLY from?

Him: (now looking a bit uncertain) Ah AM. Ah’m from Peckham. Ah’m jist up ‘ere tryin’ to dooooo sum deals man. Then ah cannn gowww home.

Liz: (warming to the theme): Would that be via Leith?

Him: (Sort of laughing) Nah nah nah. I’m from London city. Good and truuuuu.

Me: (frowning) No you’re not. You look Scottish, You sound Scottish….. Are you Scottish?

Him: (now looking a bit peeved) Do yoooo whaaaannnt sum weeeed or not

Liz: Not, I think.

Me: (now fully warming to the theme) You do realise you’re trying to sell weed to two middle-classed women outside Louis Vuitton in broad daylight? Really? You can’t be doing very good business. I can’t image we’re your target market….How are sales doing?

Liz: hahahahah..

At this point he crumbled. In a perfect, broad Scottish accent he said:

“Sales are shite. I need to up ma game, man.”

And the three of us started talking. Liz got maternal and asked him why was he selling drugs for Christ sakes and I was giving him grief about his shocking wannabe accent. As ever my rally cry was “you have to speak with your own voice. Why are you pretending to be someone you are not?”

His Auntie sat him down a few days a go and told him he had two paths in front of him – one was a good path and he could get a job, have family – live a life. The other was a bad path – selling drugs, probably ending up in jail. He said he wanted to choose the good path, but there are no jobs; he’s already been to prison and now he feels stuck. He wants to make his Auntie proud… but he wants money and status too… it’s hard.

His name is Mark. He’s 19 years old and he has some tough choices to make.

Liz and I were clear with him: he’s not cut out to sell drugs. He’s a guy who has potential – but he shouldn’t ever try to be an impressionist. (We suggested acting might not be his thing, either.) We told him to go speak to his auntie and do something – anything – else

OK, not the most practical intervention ever; but at least we got to talk to him as a person and that was, in the end, very cool.

So the Worlds Worst Drug Dealer is on my mind this morning as I sip my morning cuppa and reflect on the fact I’ve never had to make the choices he has. I wish him well and I kind of hope his sales were terrible last night and that, when he does up his game, it’s under the watchful eye of his Auntie, not his Boss.

 

Change Starts In The Heart

So it looks like I’m going to start Blogging.  Interesting turn of events.

Late last year I was in conversation with an experienced blogger explaining plainly how this on-line virtual world malarkey wasn’t for the likes of me. “I can’t think of a single thing to say that people would actually want to take the time to read. What on earth do you SAY that is clever and engaging and… well, worthwhile?”

Cautioned by the over-sharing nature of some of what I’d seen on Facebook; baffled by Twitter (but WHO READS IT??? What is the POINT?) I was, frankly, disheartened.

Sam was, as ever, encouraging and practical. Look at Blogging as the start of a conversation – a means to discuss or share information. It’s not about being clever. Though engaging is a good idea…..

On 16th December 2011 on a slate grey, freezing Edinburgh afternoon, I walked through St Andrews Square. In the midst of the Christmas chaos and bitter winds, I saw this hand painted banner in the Occupy Edinburgh camp.  I was so struck by the words – they resonated with me so strongly – that I pulled off my gloves & took a snap with my iphone:

Change Starts In The Heart.

And I’m thinking “Yes. It just might. I think that to really shift or change anything – your hearts needs to be in it.  I feel that and I think that. “

I sent the photo to a friend and the response came back almost instantly: There’s a blogger in you somewhere.

And that stopped me in my tracks. I suddenly felt the very opposite of disheartened – I felt engaged and enlivened…..Because I found I really wanted to say more about the image – about what it said to me. I wanted to share my views… so maybe there was a Blogger in me somewhere.?

It’s taken me months to build up the courage to Blog.  To be bold and share my thoughts, experiences and words out into the virtual world. I’ve played about on Twitter (@fuchsia_blue) and I’ve started a new Facebook page where I try to post stuff which has genuinely moved me, or made me laugh, or given me pause. I’m trying to find my virtual voice – one which is authentically mine and reflects me. Through finding my virtual voice, I find I strengthen my actual voice…. I find finally I have something to say and, even if it isn’t clever, that the words are mine and I can share them gladly and openly – as the start of a discussion.

And people have responded back – comments and re-tweets and coffee & a Facebook chat about  physical memories and journaling with all 5 senses.

And I find I only really want to post things that have touched my heart – that mean enough to me to show my passions and my concerns; or the things that lift my heart and make me smile ( or fall about laughing, of course)

So… it looks like I’m going to start blogging.

Change Starts In The Heart indeed.