Handpicked: My Week of Learning

This is the start of a weekly post on what I have been reading or listening to over the week.


Book am I reading?

Secrets of Consulting by Gerald Weinberg.

Favourite Highlight?

“In the end, the most important part of overcoming resistance is to prevent it from becoming frozen in place. That’s why I must always avoid “resisting the resistance.” I may win the argument, but I may also place the clients in a position where changing their mind is a form of “losing.” The risk of losing face in the here-and-now always seems bigger than the risk of losing a million dollars in the there-and-then.”

There is little to gain by ‘scoring points’. The aim should be to keep dialogue open if you are going to be effective. If you experience resistance, acknowledge it, listen. If you push too hard you may make it too hard for change to happen.


Podcasts I Listened To

I listen to podcasts on the way into work, when I walk at lunch, on the way home, when I cook, basically when ever I can. Here is a selection of the episodes I listened to that are worth mentioning. Continue reading Handpicked: My Week of Learning

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Can You Learn from Your Own and Others Resistance?

What do you do when you feel offended by a comment or resist a point of view?

Have you ever paid attention to that feeling and asked why?

In her interview with  Tim Ferriss  on his podcast, Tim asks Whitney Cummings  what question she would ask of his audience.

Her first response is ‘Watch Comedy. It’s good for you.” (2:29:26)

Tim then says he will dig on that for a second. He asks what some new to comedy should pay attention to or asks themselves if they want to see another layer.

Whitney says “Look at what Offends you.” (2:30:00)

She continues “If something offends you; Watch Richard Pryor, watch Daniel Tosh, watch the most incendiary comedians, Bill Burr, maybe Louis CK …”.

“If something offends you, look inward. That’s a sign that there is something there. What offends someone says a lot about them.”

That question has stuck with me ever since.

Pay attention to that feeling of offence. That feeling is telling you something about yourself. About your own views and values. 

Similarly, someone else’s offence, or resistance, tells you something about them and what they value.

Continue reading Can You Learn from Your Own and Others Resistance?

What Can You Learn From Watching a Five Year Old Play Soccer?

My son started school this year. As he turned five our weeks started to fill with sporting commitments. In particular for us hockey (the field/grass/artificial turf kind) and soccer.

Every time I watch one of his games of either hockey or soccer I am reminded of this post Business Strategy and Kindergarten Soccer by Nick Malik

On the Inside Architecture blog for Microsoft, Nick writes the following back in July 2011:

It is interesting to watch very young kids play soccer, because the instructions are so simple: kick the ball into the goal.  With instructions like that, what do you get?  Bumblebees, of course.

Continue reading What Can You Learn From Watching a Five Year Old Play Soccer?

The Exam Question: Home Ownership

He likes to ask his teams ‘What is the Exam Question?‘.

Muktesh Ghatak was my Project Manager on a Finance Transformation project in 2008 while I was at IBM Global Business Services.

When team meetings and other conversations would get mired in confusion and ambiguity he would ask us ‘What is the Exam Question?’.

It was a great question. Great at pulling you back from the detail. Great for re-orientating your perspective. Great at reminding you to get back to why you are here in the first place.

When you are stuck in the middle of it. When it is too confusing and ambiguous, remind yourself what you are trying to do.

What problem are you trying to solve?

Why are you here?

Where are you trying to get to?

That is the exam question. A question specific to the current situation and context.

Now keep that in mind and as I dive headfirst into a political and generational minefield.

Continue reading The Exam Question: Home Ownership

Show Early, Show Often

I once worked on a team supporting an internally developed and maintained application.

This application was the beating heart of the organisation. Every organisation has one of these.

You know the application at your company, the one that can’t be bought off the shelf? The one that reflects your company’s business model?

That one.

Continue reading Show Early, Show Often