How do we learn when it’s all so complex?

profileLearning by not getting stuck in a loop

Learning both in individuals and organisations is often undervalued and not fully acted upon because we don’t take the time to work through all the learning loops

Firstly lets look at the questions we ask ourselves.

Single-Loop Learning

Are we doing the right things? This is the single loop where we compare actions to results. Single-loop learning assumes that problems and their solutions are close to each other in time and space .  We are primarily considering our actions. The small changes that are made to specific practices or behaviors, based on what has or has not worked in the past. this is where we do things better without necessarily examining or challenging our own underlying beliefs and assumptions. The goal is about improvements and fixes that often take the form of procedures or rules.

Are we doing things right? (procedures or rules)

Double-Loop Learning

Double-loop learning leads to insights about why a solution works. In this form of learning, we are considering our actions and our assumptions. This is  where people become observers of themselves, asking, “What is going on here? What are the patterns?” We need this insight to understand the pattern. this level of learning will help us to change the way we make decisions and deepen understanding of our assumptions. Double-loop learning works with major changes, like redesigning an organisational structure.

Are we doing the right things? (insights and patterns).

Triple-Loop Learning

Triple-loop learning involves principles.  The learning goes beyond insight and patterns to context. The result creates a shift in understanding our context or point of view. We produce new commitments and ways of learning. This form of learning challenges us to understand how problems and solutions are related. It also challenges us to understand how our previous actions created the conditions that led to our current problems. The relationship between organisational structure and behavior is fundamentally changed because the organisation learns how to learn.  The results of this learning includes enhancing ways to comprehend and change our purpose, developing better understanding of how to respond to our environment, and deepening our comprehension of why we chose to do things we do.

How do we decide what is right? (principles).

Double and Triple-Loop Learning are essential

Organisations and lives are becoming ever more complex and with complexity comes indecision and reduced decision making.

When the levels of complexity in our work and the issues we are working with are high, it becomes more critical for us to be able to also use double- and triple-loop learning to:

  • succeed in new contexts,situations that we might not have experienced before
  • make learning an integral activity to our work and lives by reflecting more and
  • ultimately to achieve results that are appropriate to the context and principles.

Often solutions are adopted that are merely different forms of sticking plaster and as we all know the plaster some picks off.The future is becoming evermore unfamiliar and unpredictable. Solutions cannot be calculated in advance based on what has worked in the past. Emergent solutions have to worked out as situations unfold.(through exploration and realisation)

I have incorporated the single, double and triple loop learning approach to help clients and organisation gain the most from the coaching and mentoring programme and to ensure that we all avoid getting stuck in a loop.

Asking the right questions, helps to move people through the loops and gain deeper more fundamental forms of learning, its where coaching can create the space and opportunity for real changes to be undertaken. So if learning is the key, coaching is the hand that helps the key unlock insights and different thinking.


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One of the most inspirational poems ever

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What do we really value in humans?

Humans are underrated or are they?image-indiv-sub

My passion is helping leaders develop and for this to be really taken seriously What’s happening?

Lets put these views in context

A complex digital world where ‘faster and faster’ are the buzz words, 24/7, the now mentality

Organisations are scary places full of traps and pitfalls for those who don’t know the rules of the new age

Geoff Colvin argues in his new book that ”Humans Are Underrated

  • Computers are evolving faster than we are
  • So what will the high value skills of tomorrow be?
  • Are we growing an army of experts or luddites
  • The surprising value of our deepest nature
  • Why the skills we need are withering
  • Empathy lessons from the army
  • Teams work because they are human

The future will be about what you’ve like rather than what you know

  • People are strange
  • Relationships are what matter

It’s tough out there, humans are feeling replaced

Harvard business school and Henley management centre talk about directors CEOs feeling isolated at the top trust is diminishing different layers have their own agendas unity is a pipe dream

Some questions

Was trust really there in the first place?

Who can we trust?

Can we trust ourselves?

How do we realise our potential?

What gets in the way?

What helps us?

Former Google CEO Eric Schmidt says the best advice he ever got was to get a coach. Bill Gates emphatically says everyone should have a coach. Venture capitalist Fred Wilson advocates coaching too, especially for first-time CEOs.

If you’re considering coaching, here are 10 ways you might benefit:

  1. Hard results – greater productivity, faster promotions, bigger profits
  2. Deeper learning about yourself, how you’re perceived, where you can improve
  3. Faster action with greater precision
  4. Space to hear your own voice to talk something through and gain perspective
  5. Awareness of beliefs, and attitudes that may be holding you back
  6. Clarity on your values and what you stand for, the real you
  7. Ideas for ways to improve that you may not see – awareness of blind spots
  8. Emotional support, empathy, and encouragement – feels less lonely and isolated
  9. The cold truth others won’t tell you
  10. Support for improving specific skills – communication, delegation, conflict management, team building, persuasion, etc

What coaches are not?

Cheerleaders, therapists, counsellors, friends, spies, my plea to you is get a coach, try it out, to be unafraid

To thyne own self be true” ok then what is thyne own self?

What makes your heart sing?

What nags at you in the middle of the night?

What is this imposter doing inside you head?

It’s good to talk, it’s even better to talk and be really listened to, challenged and understood

A coach should have two prime skills above all else 1. How to question and 2. How to pick up what remains unsaid

A coach’s job is to

  • Notice
  • Listen
  • Challenge
  • Support
  • Create a safe place

Humans are not underrated, just human they need to grow their own self belief and with that their own self awareness

This is an extract from ‘The Hole in the Sum of my Parts’ by Matt Harvey

“Part of me is truculent: don’t look that way at me

Part of me is succulent – suck it and you’ll see

Part of me’s detestable – or so people have said

And part of me’s suggestible – or so people have said

Part of me’s competitive – it only wants to win

And part of me’s repetitive – or so people have said

Part of me’s interminable – it goes on and on and on

And on and on and on and on and on and on (and on)

This part of me’s prolific – it writes reams and reams and reams

And part of me’s terrific But most of me is dreams”

Another Poem Prelude – The Dance

What if becoming who and what we truly are happens NOT through striving and trying but by recognising and receiving?

How would this shape the choices you have to make about how to spend today?

What if you knew that the impulse to move in a way that creates beauty in the world will arise from deep within and guide you every time you simply


So executives, managers, leaders take up the challenge of having someone challenge your thinking and question your actions and reignite your dreams, get a coach

FCI launch 2

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Are we really human? some great food for thought

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What do you think of current trends on problems for companies and people?


For organisations
Larger organisations are looking for more tailored and integrated ways of driving action. When trying to marshal large scale diverse and remote work forces the one size fits all doesn’t work. Localized, targeted and aligned programmes have a far higher chance of success.

Sometimes organisations rely on shuffling the pack to solve the organisational ills, this form of illness shows itself in dysfunctional behaviours, over competition, in fighting and empire building, which results in a lack of trust and a huge waste of resources.

Looking for a magic bullet has long since been a recipe for failure, so what is driving the lack of progress within organisations?
The same old gets the same old
Being covert instead of explicit
Following a process blindly without full examination of the risks; being a robot not a human. Allowing senior people to work by cliques and head / horns approaches; everyone must be like my own image, speak the same jargon and not be a threat to me in any way.

Organisations need to regenerate a sense of belonging and re-establish trust and integrity levels. Having open and clear conversations has an enormous pay off. Collaborative and collective forms of leadership are the key a common message in a common way with personalized emphasis

To use a football metaphor, when the team doesn’t perform there’s always another manager with a great reputation ready to step in and save the day. The boss stays for a shorter time, the MD is on the line, too, and their time may be short. Some organisations are becoming skeletal in nature; too thin to survive. Therefore, there is no room to anticipate or deal with any fluctuation of the plan.

Risks and experimentation are at a minimum. Innovation is marginalized and the same old gets the same old. Change is not getting any slower and shortages exist at all key levels, so perhaps getting the best from people is not such a costly idea and practice after all. The world is small and big at the same time; speed and flexibility are the key.

So how can these patterns be avoided? Clarity and trust are the keys; clarity about what the organisation is about and trust of the people to be involved, engaged and a part of the organisation.

For individuals
Resilience is the key. Keep learning, take care of yourself, both physically and mentally. Look for the good in what’s happening and have realistic expectations. Enjoy the now.

Many of these approaches sound simple to do, but often the complexity and pressure of organisational life means that we are distracted and unable to focus because of fears, real or imagined, and in this position of weakness people are expected to give of their best? Really?

Be self reliant, self motivated and self developmental, because in some strange way this is what the organisation wants from you, and it’s what you want for yourself.

Learning is the key. Keep being open to new and different things; give the brain something to work with.

The more we express our concerns and see the reality of them, and the more we develop our dreams, the more they turn into reality.

Time is finite, most other things can be adjusted.

Let me know what other problems are holding your organisation back from within.

Five Top Tips
1. Encourage your staff to voice their opinions and thoughts.

2. Reward creativity, even if at first it seems like a mad idea.

3. When reaching consensus give time to overcome obstacles or you will only come back to them later.

4. Recognize that learning takes place every day and encourage everyone to share what they have learned this week or month.

5. Start with trusting yourself and finish with trusting the team and the organisation.

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Can personal and professional change or transition be separated?

Well, it depends on how extreme either is. Even the most motivated, driven and/or successful person has a tipping point.

So, what do people do to get in their own way?
Sometimes it’s about making connections when there are none
Sometimes it’s about failing to make connection
Sometimes it’s about thinking without feeling, not drawing upon all the information you have.
Recognising closeness to the tipping point:
Being stressed. By this I mean seeing the stress negatively or not listening to yourself
Withdrawing becoming hyper self critical.
Stop panicking
Throughout our lives and careers we all have to cope with times of change, either of our own making or where we are pushed into it.

There’s no denying that change can be scary, but that’s normal. There are several perfectly justifiable and normal stages that we go through. The first is normally panic, followed by confusion and then a need to find out more information. You can’t subvert those stages, but by helping people through that process and by encouraging them to do things that are positive and productive it can change their view of the situation.

When career coaching, the first and the only piece of advice I would give would be to stop panicking. Of course, that’s very easy to say and quite hard to do. In my experience people tend to react far too quickly. For example, if they are losing their job they will often write their CV the day after they know they are going and send off several applications straightaway. But they are still at the very beginning of a personal change process where they are learning about what they need to and how to get there.

By really taking some time to explore what they’re good at, what they enjoy doing, what the most important thing for them is about their new role and what outcome they want, is a vital process. It provides the best possible start to know how to move forward and I’ve found that getting this key stage right saves people huge amounts of time, effort and anxiety later. If it’s not carried out properly they’ll keep coming back to it.

It’s also often the case that things are not as bad as they seem. So it’s a good idea for people to write down the worst case scenario. After writing it down and thinking about what would be the worst that could happen, it usually doesn’t seem as bad and some of the anxiety disappears and it becomes more manageable. We have a tendency to over think.

I also like to challenge people’s assumptions about what they can do and help them think things through calmly and rationally and above all to do things that are productive to help them change their view of what’s around them. By following this process it’s possible to start that person’s own journey to where they want to go by helping them come up with the solutions themselves.

My 5 top tips for transition and resilience

1. Establish goals, both small and large
Crisis situations are daunting. They may even seem insurmountable. Resilient people are able to view these situations in a realistic way, and then set reasonable goals to deal with the problem. When you find yourself becoming overwhelmed by a situation, take a step back to simply assess what is before you. Brainstorm possible solutions, and then break them down into manageable steps.

2. Keep working on your skills, everyone is a work in progress
Resilience does not involve any specific set of behaviours or actions, but can vary dramatically from one person to the next. Focus on practicing some of the common characteristics of resilient people, but also remember to build upon your existing strengths.

3. Embrace change and look for what you are learning
Flexibility is an essential part of resilience. By learning how to be more adaptable, you’ll be better equipped to respond when faced with a life crisis. Do something different every week!

4. Build positive beliefs in your abilities
Research has demonstrated that self-esteem plays an important role in coping with stress and recovering from difficult events. Remind yourself of your strengths and accomplishments.

5. Invest in and look after yourself
When you’re stressed, it can be all too easy to neglect your own needs. Losing your appetite, ignoring exercising and not getting enough sleep are all common reactions to a crisis situation.

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Teams being dysfunctional, really, really? some great observations and stories

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Looking for inspiration

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Creating the collective space for genius


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Leaders are like icebergs

October 2015 Newsletter

What’s going on in the innovative leader’s mind?
When thinking about an Innovative Leaders mind-set, what else is going on inside the leaders mind?
I started to wonder what might be the top five characteristics for leaders with an innovative mind set, so just for a moment I thought about being innovative and some themes emerged: stillness, daydreaming, sketching for the mind, lot of questions. So for me, being curious, bouncing back and being flexible and being my true self come to the fore.
So how would you rate yourself on having a innovative leaders mindset say on a scale of 1-10, with 10 being very well? Rate yourself against some of these key indicators:
1. Curiosity the ability to explore without judgment and preconceived ideas
2. Encouragement the ability to nurture the new and small seed of an idea
3. Resilience the ability to keep going, viewing mistakes as learning
4. Flexibility the ability to be agile and adapt to the current and future demands
5. Honesty the ability to be authentic and true to yourself and others.
The Innovative Leaders mind-set – what’s at the corner of the page? What’s just within your memory but not fully formed?

Quality thinking
When thinking about this article I became drawn to a book Time to Think: Listening to ignite the human mind by Nancy Kline ISBN-13: 978-0706377453 on my bookshelf that seemed to be summarizing many of the areas that came to mind when pondering about an innovative leadership mind-set. In particular, many of the thinking principles, for example:
1. Everything we do depends for its quality on the thinking we do first. Our thinking depends on the quality of our attention for each other
2. Thinking at its best is not just a cool act of celebration it is also a thing of the heart
3. A thinking environment is a set of ten conditions under which human beings can think for themselves with rigour and imagination, courage and grace
4. Listening of this calibre ignites the human mind
5. Between you and a wellspring of good ideas is a limiting assumption. This assumption can be removed with incisive questions
6. Incisive questions increase the functional intelligence of human beings.
Sounds like some reflective coaching is in order to help tease out what has not quite yet been discovered, so to quote Steve Jobs, “Your time is limited, so don’t waste it living someone else’s life. Don’t be trapped by dogma – which is living with the results of other people’s thinking. Don’t let the noise of others’ opinions drown out your own inner voice. And most important, have the courage to follow your heart and intuition.”

profileVision, Mission, Ambition and Role
So, if leadership is ‘the capability to express a vision, influence others to achieve results, encourage team cooperation, and be an example’, as Robert Dilts says, then an Innovative Leader’s mind-set encourages what’s not been tried, what else is possible, and so by reviewing your biggest success and pinpointing the smallest steps that created it you can develop a model for success.

Dilts refers to these factors as:
What do you want to create in the world through you but that is beyond you? What services, benefits and contributions do you want to make to your customers, society, the environment, etc.?
What is your unique contribution to making the vision happen?
What are the special resources, capabilities and actions that you will develop, mobilize and apply to reach the vision?
What type of status and performance do you want to achieve with respect to yourself and others (stakeholders, competitors,etc.)?
What type of individual (or organization) do you need to be in order to reach the status and level of performance you want to achieve?

We can consider the mind-set aspect of the Innovative Leader’s mind-set by looking into the latest research and thinking in Neuroscience. Neuroscience is concerned with improving understanding of the brain and how it works, how we process information and the reason we make some basic cognitive mistakes (limitations), why change is so hard and how to better manage change, why we react negatively in certain situations and how emotions can be better regulated.

The brain is actually never at rest but actively processing and internalizing existing knowledge (to make sense of the world). When you stop processing external information, quality internal processing can take place. For example, daydreaming, envisioning the future, retrieving memories, and gauging others’ perspectives.

Leaders are like icebergs (learning is what lies beneath the surface and much is hidden).
What we can see (above the surface):
traditions, symbols, artifacts, behaviours, customs, and symbols.
What we can’t see (below the water line):
perceptions, world views, attitudes, motives, values, beliefs, thoughts.

With the ever evolving nature of business, leadership and the work environment that we live in, the need to be more innovative and understand how we think and improve our own thinking processes are ever present.

I hope this article has intrigued you, made you think, want to know more So if this collection of thoughts and observations has sparked your interest get in touch and  share some insight and discover how to release innovation in you.



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