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Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 12: Books

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight


This unconventional tool relies on the fact that our brain is a meaning making machine, and if we tell it that it will find a solution within a book - it will find one. (It also assumes that conventional thinking has been unable to provide a solution, and is why I often consider the applicability of an unconventional tool or two in any situation I'm wanting more clarity on, because they provide us with a different perspective).

Yes you read right - think of a situation you'd like more clarity and insight on, open a book, any book, and notice what you notice. You may just be surprised.

I have used this in creativity sessions in procurement workshops a lot over the last year, and one group were so surprised they'd found a solution so easily they kept opening the book to try to find catch the process out, and got more and more annoyed that it kept on working.

Let me show you how it works........

Think of an issue you'd like more clarity on, and let's see what these festive books have to offer:

I'll highlight what I notice, and yet you may find you may notice something different even from the short extracts I've provided:


"Mr Muddle had decorated himself (not the tree)" My take on these words and the image is, how can I make it less about me, and put the focus back on where it should be? That is, I need to focus on the task in hand not spend time worrying about whether I look or sound the part or not!
"it's the hap-happiest season of all" reminds me is that there's the right time and circumstances that support every state of mind and body ie the external environment can provide a nudge in the right direction. Which might have us considering what external environment helps us achieve the state of mind and body that's currently eluding us? Going outside for a walk is what's coming to mind for me.
On first opening the book I noticed "admiration and gratitude" and took the picture accordingly, and wondered if it was inviting me to get back into writing a daily gratitude log to get me into noticing all the good things I already have in my life. Which links to the post from Window 10.

As I posted the image here I noticed "single-minded" and think that feels aligns with the earlier comment about focusing on what needs to get done - especially with Christmas approaching! What can be left until January, and what needs to done before I leave for my Festive break?
Hmmm ... what have I forgotten I wonder because if "A Christmas tree isn't complete without angels" then what essential component have I forgotten in the current situation - gratitude possibly? communication? respect? a grin?  hmmmm or patience perhaps :-)
"Couldn't have met in a better place" is perhaps reminding us about choosing the right place for what ever we have in mind to take place, or perhaps a reminder to oil the hinges to stop it skreeking!
"What a tangle" reminds us to untangle that which is tangled. Certainly not to keep skipping, but to put the skipping rope down and then decide what to do.
"He shed a shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good humour was restored" Not sure this is suggesting we take to drink, but it is suggesting we find some means of restoring ours or other people's good humour.
"The knife sharpener" reminds me of Steven Covey's 7th habit of sharpening the saw. ie "preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have - you".
"Simplicity lends itself to all sorts of approaches"

In short, I'm taking away the need to:
  • Stop and put everything down first
  • Focus on the task in hand
  • Have patience
  • Access an appropriate state of mind and body for the task in hand
  • Ensure the environment supports the desired outcome
  • Keep things simple, decide what needs to be done now and what can wait 
  • Focus on what I'm good at 
Obvious perhaps, and yet isn't it the obvious things staring us in the face that we're ignoring that can often make the difference?

What did you take away from this exploration of a few festive reads?

Alison Smith
Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 11: Pipe Cleaners

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

Whilst not as new a tool in my toolbox as blackout poetry, pipe cleaners have only been with me for just over a year. Here's notes from that first session exploring improving communication with internal stakeholders.

It never fails to amaze me how effective this tool is at allowing people to develop a plan to resolve a problem they've been struggling with for some time. We've had a few great sessions recently during some procurement workshops. One team even left the workshop keen to use the pipe cleaners with their stakeholders to help shift a problem they'd been facing :-).

Here's the journey I took with pipe cleaners a few weeks ago, just before this series of posts started:


There's no reason for me to understand why this represented the current stuck situation, but it did! 

That's how the unconscious works - there's no need for the logical brain to know - so long as the right more creative side does!

I was grappling with making it something else, something less stuck and boring, and more motivating and able to stand up on it's own (rather than use the candle holder you can see in the image above).

As I did this I found myself turning it upside down and, perhaps because I'd started to think about this advent series of blogs, the idea of a Christmas tree came to mind.

Here's the journey of that idea...  







It won't win any prizes but that's not the aim - the aim it to explore an issue without words, without logic, and to allow the unconscious to guide the exploration, and in so doing to release the blocks to progress, and for insight, inspiration and action to arise.

I can't say I felt any great insight at the time, but as I reflect on what's happened since then I'd suggest life has given me:
I can certainly see these outcomes in the resulting Christmas tree.

I'm afraid the only way to truly understand how effective this process is, would be to have a go yourself. Do let me know how you get on.

Alison Smith
Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here.

Sunday, 10 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 10: Gratitude

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

Yesterday's window asked us to 'take time to acknowledge, savour and celebrate your team's successes' and I was reminded of another tool that can arise as an action in coaching. 

Perhaps not a tool that's unconventional in the conventional sense, but something we forget to do which means I firmly believe it merits a mention.



Gratitude

Whether a gratitude log done at the end of every day to remind you of the things you're grateful for, or a reminder to show gratitude to others - not just when they've done something but just for being in your life.

Thank you for being in mine.

Alison Smith
Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here.

Saturday, 9 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent window 9: FCP

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

Today's advent window uncovers a tool that's a firm favourite of mine and clients - in 1:1 coaching and facilitation with groups - it's the Frameworks for Change Coaching Process *.

It's such a pity that writing about it often fails to truly demonstrate how effective this process is at getting to the heart of the matter. Thankfully that won't stop me trying ;-)


There are 3 types of cards used in the FCP deck: insights, setbacks and mentors.

Insights (I). These either indicate a direction, attitude or behaviour you can take, highlight a truth you need to remember or remind you of a time when you demonstrated a particular quality or behaviour to bring it in to the now.

Setbacks (S). These may indicate a particular attitude that is unproductive, identify a habitual way you react that restricts your effectiveness or presents its self through someone who displays a behaviour that sets you back in this way.

Mentors (M). These are either real people who already model this quality that can act as an example for you at this time or reminds you to express this quality.


Before reading my own insight from the FCP cards I've pulled you may want to reflect on them yourself. Here they are:

(I) You take time to acknowledge, savour, and celebrate each of your teams successes
(S) You are set back by the inability to communicate in the current situation
(I) You value and express the quality of Faith in the current situation
(M) Willingness

What action do these words inspire in you at this time, how may that lead you back on track and towards a remarkable 2018?

Here's my personal take on these cards:

(I) You take time to acknowledge, savour, and celebrate each of your teams successes.

A reminder perhaps to review the successes achieved in 2017 rather than focus on what didn't happen. Too easy perhaps to focus on the destinations not visited that were on the plan, and forget all the new destinations that appeared as life got in the way!

A reminder too to acknowledge the people who have supported me during the year. More of that tomorrow.

(S) You are set back by the inability to communicate in the current situation

I've got a playlist of happy songs playing in the background as I write this. It's not something I do very often at all, as music normally distracts me. But today it just felt right.

As I jig about on my seat, and sing loudly as I listen to these tracks that I love, what comes to mind for me is the means of communication.

Saying the same thing even if with different words might not be what's needed - perhaps a more whole scale shift to how I'm connecting with the communicating is needed - whether that's singing or dancing.   

In truly connecting to the communication in every part of my mind and body perhaps the words I wish to share will truly pour forth?

And as I do that then the words of the track that has now started playing will perhaps be as true for me as they are for those singing them for themselves.



(I) You value and express the quality of Faith in the current situation

Often with these cards we're asked to tap into a time in the past when we expressed the quality written on the card.  However, as I looked for an appropriate picture and waded through a plethora of religious themed images, I came across this one which had me going in a different direction.


This reminded me to have faith in humanity, and the earth and nature's ability to find equilibrium, for peace to win the day over war and negativity. A little more spiritual than you'd expect in a business blog, but an insight for me that allows me to sleep at night and not buy into the doom-mongers.

The Rhythm of Life has just started playing on the playlist - which also has the same energy to it.

ie let's not forget to follow the things that give us a tingle in our fingers, and a tingle in our toes.


Oh dear, sorry, the next song on the play list also applies - its Seasons of Love from Rent, and ask us how do we measure a year - coffees? sunsets? midnights? miles? tears? bridges burned? minutes (525,600 of them), or love?


A reminder perhaps to not measure my year in turnover and profit but in laughter, support and difference made, and even aspirations.

(after all the start of the year started with a post of me not wanting us to leave our humanity at the office door,


and continued by realising that if humanity could go to the moon, humanity could blinkin' get into board room.)

(M) Willingness

In another set of cards the word willingness is accompanied by the picture of an angel doing the washing up! A reminder perhaps that even the angels have to get their hands dirty and do the jobs that won't go away and we just need knuckle down and get them done!


Hmm I wonder what that's inviting to do..... I'm starting to think it involves those board rooms!!

More here using the FCP* many years ago on keeping on track in a downturn with a group of professional speakers here in Scotland.

Alison Smith
Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here.

* The process, the insight, setback and mentor cards used here are from Frameworks for Change © Innerlinks - www.innerlinks.com.

Friday, 8 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 8: Metaphor

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

Behind window 8 of the Purchasing Coach advent calendar we're going to explore what we can learn from cooking, and apply it to a situation we'd like more clarity on.

I love using metaphors in my coaching and facilitation work. They're just sooo effective, quick and work around barriers we've put up to seeing solutions or making necessary changes.

Metaphors crop up frequently on my blog, whether it's using gardening as a metaphor for procurement, landscapes when we're stuck (over on my Landscaping Your Life blog), or a mix of metaphors to improve management of emails! If you're unsure of why I love them therefore you may want to read this post.

To make more of this exploration you may want to think about a current situation where additional insight might be helpful. Then put that situation to the back of your mind. We'll come back to it later.

Let's now consider cooking, and more importantly what you need for success when cooking, and what contributes to failure and how to avoid it.

In preparation I watched a number of Christmas cookery shows, and here's what I discovered, and in no particular order (if you were doing this as a brainstorm it's certainly how the the ideas would emerge):
  • The aim seems to be to deliver edible food - additional criteria can include caring for others, proving comfort or delight, making it tasty, or memorable, making it visually appealing, healthy and/or stretching ourselves etc
  • There's some great descriptions given to recipes, ingredients and the end product - special, ultimate, seriously good, vibrant, awesome, classic, hero's. (Which reminded me of the tool behind window 3 earlier in the week). This article about the seductive names used in food and the impact they have on consumption is very interesting and, pardon the pun, certainly food for thought.
  • Preparation comes in many veins - cut, peeled, blended, mixed, diced, carved, rolled, combined, tossed and so on. 
  • And what about the numerous ways something can be cooked - baked, steamed, roasted, broiled, grilled, boiled, fried, BBQ'd, and even sous vide!!
  • I was surprised at all the different tastes and textures - hot, cold, sweet, salty, spicy, sour, soft, crunchy and so on 
  • And what about all the colours
  • Recipes seem to be essential, and where to start on any culinary adventure, even if some invention is then a prerequisite for these shows. 
  • Even if we want to experiment later understanding the underlying rules about the perfect mix of dry ingredients to fluids and the impact the fat will have is essential.
  • The level of skill, attention to detail, time, quality of ingredients differs between every day consumption to those used for festivals and high days like Christmas and Thanksgiving? 
  • Patience, attention to detail and confidence all very helpful attitudes to have access to.  
  • Reinvention is a frequent activity, with many chefs at the moment sharing their recipes to get us all loving brussel sprouts (roasted is my new method of preference here - do try it).


As you reflect on my own insights, and any that came to mind for you, how can you apply these to the situation or challenge you were wanting insight on? What changes to your thinking, acting or way of being might be necessary to facilitate a shift?

As I reflected on these insights I couldn't help but wonder what Procurement could take from this exploration - if successful procurement required the same characteristics to successful cookery what difference might that make.
  • We have to understand what our stakeholder find tasty - otherwise it might feel a bit more like Oliver's gruel, where the fat cats providing the food won't touch it! 
  • I'm very taken with the idea of reinvention - to take something previously hated and make it a new favourite. It's certainly not achieved by continuing to do the same thing, and just call it something different. New and additional ingredients are needed to reignite the interest.
  • What difference would it make if if were a little more liberal in our use of adjectives - awesome suppliers, stakeholders who are heroes, vibrant objectives - anything to add a little colour into our thinking, and the thinking of those we're wishing to influence.
  • One size does not fit all - in so many different ways.
  • It's essential to know how things work and to walk before you can fly.
  • A known and agree process is essential.
  • We have to decide whether we aiming for something more like Nigela's home cooking or Heston's theatre and magic. Both work, but I'm unsure how good Nigela would be if she was handed some liquid nitrogen and told to get on with it.
  • Are we here for general every day consumption, or only here for the festivals when we can really show our talent, or wanting to push the barriers of creativity and innovation in Procurement like Heston?
  • and so on
I'd love to hear what you discovered as you read this post.

Here's to all our procurement souffles rising perfectly.   

Alison Smith
Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here.

Thursday, 7 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 7: Do Something different

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

No blog today - see you tomorrow.

Wednesday, 6 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 6: Collage

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

Window 6: Collage

Level of unconventionalness out of 10 = 5

==========================
Process:
  • Identify a situation you'd like more clarity about. 
  • Put the situation to the back of your mind.
  • Explore a collage - logically first, as that might identify some insight. (see my festive one below although Pinterest is a great source for collages - here's my board with some pretty way out options.) 
  • Explore the collage more intuitively - what would the advice be from the collage, or certain aspects of the collage ie what would it/they say to you?
  • Follow any and all tangents - as they're your subconscious's way of showing where the solution may be found.
  • Keep going - sometimes the real juice comes after the obvious has been exhausted. You may also find that on a different day with a different challenge that you will notice different aspects of the collage - which means you may also notice different things from me in the example below.
  • Pick another collage. 
  • Or maybe, make a collage to express the current situation and/or the desired outcome (I now have about 120 that I've made that I use in workshops, meetings and coaching sessions.)   
  • Return to the original situation and consider what advice you have given yourself.
  • What action will you take, and when?   
Festive/Holiday season example: 

Here's a collage I made for Christmas:


You may want to reflect on your own observations before reading mine.

Logical observations

After making the collage, I realised there was a lot of pairs in it - so one piece of advice might be not to try to do everything on my own. What would partnership look like in the situation?

Another element I notice is the light, and am reminded to follow the light - ie follow my passion not that which brings greyness to my day.

One picture is of a chocolate cake, and eating a slice would certainly give me great joy - so there's also something there about following our bliss too. Not making it all about the shoulds, oughts and musts.

These are observations that I am making based on my current life situation. When applied to your life or another situation these observations might not make sense. It's why, as with many of these tools, it's always useful to apply it to a situation you'd like more clarity on rather than just reading about mine.

More intuitive reflection

Relax, and the fun will come to you.

Let even more sparkle into your life.

Mind, body, heart, and soul isn't an either/or - they can and do coexist! (Blimey - that's something for me to reflect on), and also perhaps a link to the insight from yesterday's blackout poetry.

When reviewing the other collages I'd used here on my blog I found this one.

Whilst I think it reflects much of the advice I've obtained from the first collage, it has more of an energy about that I can take into 2018 with me. Perhaps using it as a screensaver for a time to remind me might be helpful. 

As a result of reading these thoughts, and observing the collages what insight(s) have come to mind for you at this time? What action can you take to help the insight enlighten the current situation? 

========================

Benefits: Helps us tap into the part of ourselves that does know the answer. Helps to bypass resistance to hearing alternate views.

Uses: Strategy and Vision Setting, Coaching, Problem Solving, Creativity & Innovation

Participants: Procurement, internal stakeholders, external supplier stakeholders. (It never fails to amaze me how open business leaders and other participants on workshops are to using this process, and the level of insight gained.)

Alison Smith
Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159


Here's a post I wrote after facilitating a session using the collage cards I've developed at the Scottish Institute for Business Leaders.

Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this advent series to common procurement challenges - more here.

Tuesday, 5 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 5: Blackout Poetry

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

Window 5: Blackout Poetry (using Frosty the Snowman)

Level of unconventionalness out of 10 = 8 (you've been warned)

NB: Conventional thinking and tools are likely to just give us more of what we've already got - which is OK if that's the outcome we're wanting. Otherwise a more unconventional means of accessing potential solutions might be helpful.
    ==============================
    Process:
    • Identify a situation you'd like more clarity on.
    • Put it to the back of your mind.
    • Print out or copy one page from a newspaper, magazine or a page of a book. 
    • Blackout a majority of the words, leaving certain words that make 'sense' /'feel right' as a poem/prose.
    • Reflect on the poem, and consider what insight it has to offer on the original situation.
    • Identify any actions arising from this reflection - when will you take the first step?  
    • NB: I went through 6 versions as I was too heavy handed with the black pen so copies allow for that. I also suspect starting with so few words limited my creativity - a whole page of print is much more helpful.
    Festive/Holiday season example: 

    The original page

    My blacked out version


    The Man
    A soul with two eyes
    Some magic placed on his head
    And here, in the moment
    Saying "again".

    Which reminded me of the saying by Pierre Teilhard de Chardin:

    “We are not human beings having a spiritual experience. We are spiritual beings having a human experience.” 

    A great reminder for me anyway that I need to be in the moment more, and connect with that inner Magic! 

    As it's a very personal activity, I'd suggest you'd need to try it for yourself to understand the efficacy of the process. It's not something I get out of my toolkit very often.

    =============================

    Benefits: It's just a means of giving your left more logical side of your brain one thing to focus on, whilst allowing the more creative right brain to find a solution / insight that has been eluding you.

    Uses: Coaching, Problem Solving, Creativity & Innovation

    Participants: In 1:1 coaching or on your own as it's a very personal experience - I suspect if you tried to do it as a group/team it would remain at a very logic level (not that I've tried).


    Alison Smith
    Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
    Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
    alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159


    Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this advent series to common procurement challenges - more here.

    Monday, 4 December 2017

    Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 4: Role Models

    25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight
    Window 4: Role Models, Mentors and other people (real or otherwise)
    Level of unconventionalness out of 10 = 2 (I'm still being kind)
    =======================
    Process:
    • Identify a situation you'd like more insight on.
    • Identify what other people would do in the situation, what advice might they give you (e.g. role models, mentors, celebs, authors, sports people etc).
    • Have fun.
    • Get absurd. 
    • Keep going. 
    • Reflect what actions you may be able to take from these suggestions.    
    Festive/Holiday season example: 

    What advice would the following festive characters have to offer us?
    • Rudolph - ignore the naysayers and doubters, you do have talents that others can use to great effect.

    • Santa - Have you been good this year because there will be consequences of not being good?
    • Carol Singers - Be of good cheer and do things for others. Make sure you have your song sheet with you.  
    • Shop workers - Please don't leave everything to the last moment. Have more patience. Gratitude and appreciation goes a long way. 
    • Delivery Men - Please do leave us a note of where we can leave your parcel if you're out.
    • Dr Who - You can count on me to be there on Christmas day.
    • Snowman - Please let the conditions be good for me.
    • Elves - Don't ask for so much - what do you really need? 
    • Scrooge - You'll see the light eventually, and realise grumpy, pessimistic and mean isn't worth it! 
    • Wise Men -We saw the sign that foretold of your great endeavours.
    • Partridge in a pear tree - Where are the pears? How did I get up here? How do I get down? What am I going to do with turtle doves, french hens, calling birds, gold rings, geese a laying, swans a swimming, maids a milking, ladies dancing, lords a leaping, pipers piping, drummers drumming? 
    • Kids - is it Christmas yet? Next! Just another one. Please. 
    • Turkey .........
    Which might have us realising the solution to the challenge we're facing involves:
    • Confidence
    • Patience
    • Gratitude and appreciation
    • Planning
    • Communication with others about the options available to them
    • Ensuring we sign post what were up to 
    • Facilitating the right conditions for growth
    • Rationalising the to-do list
    • or something else entirely
    The list of potential role models/mentors you could use is endless - book characters, TV characters, friends, enemies, celebs, family, friends, business leaders, authors, sportsmen/women, politicians (one group on a workshop earlier in the year got some great insight from what Donald Trump would do!) and so on.

    Did any of the advice from these role models resonate for you in the current situation? Perhaps you thought of alternate advice or alternate role models? What action can you take to allow that insight to percolate into your life?  

    We're going a little more unconventional tomorrow!

    =======================

    Benefits: Finding solutions we might not think of when we're simply being us!

    Uses: Strategy and Vision Setting, Coaching, Problem Solving, Creativity & Innovation

    Participants: Anyone


    Alison Smith
    Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
    Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
    alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159


    Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this advent series to common procurement challenges - more here.

    Sunday, 3 December 2017

    Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 3: Words

    25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

    Window 3: Words (because they have power)

    Level of unconventionalness out of 10 = 3 (because it's harder to do than we think)
      Benefits: Ensuring that your words don't have a negative or unintended impact on yourself or your readers/listeners. Improved motivation, communication, relationships, influence. Reduced conflict and misunderstanding.

      Uses: Any and all communication, and motivating yourself.

      Participants: Everyone

      ========================

      Process to use for yourself:
      • Notice when you're not motivated or even demotivated about doing something.
      • Consider the words you're using to describe the current situation, the solution or the desired outcome.
      • Brainstorm alternate words and explore words that might inspire action or provide an alternate more positive reaction.
      • Replace the unresourceful word with the more resourceful one (this more work-like post on exchanging 'solutions' with 'answers' may shed some light too).
      • Notice what you notice. 

      Festive Example:

      Wishing people a 'Merry Christmas' might not feel right for you for a variety of reasons. Which may result in people picking up you're not really very sincere when you say it.

      To find a more sincere alternative:
      • The first option is to swap out the word merry. Words might include happy, sparkly, great, splendid, fabulous, awesome, special, cosy, dreamy, festive, productive, social, restful and so on. (I sometimes say "wishing you the Christmas you'd wish for"). 
      • Play around with these words and notice the impact each has on your ability to say them and mean it.
      • The second option is to swap out the word Christmas. Words might include holiday, break, festive break, time with your family, and so on.
      • The third option is to swap them both around.     

      When I was 'playing' around with some letters I discovered that on it's own GREAT felt - well great. until I read it out loud:

      and yet once I exchanged great with FABULOUS that was simply fab!


      What words do you use that just don't resonate for you, and how might they be changed to make it a more enjoyable exchange for you and the other person?

      Wishing you all a fabulous festive break when it comes.


      Alison Smith
      Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
      Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
      alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

      Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here.

      Saturday, 2 December 2017

      Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 2: Walking Meeting

      25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight
      Window 2: Walking Meeting 

      Level of unconventionalness out of 10 = 1 (I'm starting with the less unconventional to wean you in gently)
      =============================


      Process:
      • Instead of sitting in a meeting room get up and go for a walk - inside the building, around a museum, outside in nature, outside in the city, or even in the gym on treadmills next to each other!
      • Tip: I bought some A5 white boards with pen attached that groups could make any notes of actions as they walked along. I'm sure a phone app or two would also facilitate this.
      You may want to wrap up warmly if you're going during the colder months - it's also best not to spring it on someone unexpectedly as comfortable footwear and warm coat are often a necessity. 

      There's a video blog of a walking meeting we did in Warsaw where we explored use of walking meetings during a category management workshop.


      ===========================

      Benefits: The same as any meeting - with the added benefit of getting some steps and fresh air in. It also seems easier to get everyone involved (lack of eye contact, and facing in the same direction seems to encourage the less vocal attendees to get involved and/or ask questions etc.) It's also great for topics that could involve some defensiveness as it's often minimised when walking, or at least managed more easily (perhaps because silence whilst walking, as we think about things, isn't as uncomfortable as when sitting face to face). 

      Uses: To replace any meeting where discussion, rather than presentation, is ideal. To shift the mindset of those attending the meeting. To solve problems or identify a wider range of solutions (moving our body helps to do this, so too the input from new surroundings).   

      Participants: Great for groups of 2-4. Larger groups may need to be split up into smaller groups.
      Do let me know how you get on. 

      No peeking at Window no 3.

      Alison Smith
      Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
      Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
      alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

      Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here.

      NBConventional thinking can simply give us more of what we've already got - which is great if you're happy with the current situation otherwise you might just be surprised with where a little unconventional thinking will take you.

      Friday, 1 December 2017

      Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 1: Problem Reversal

      25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight


      Window 1: Problem Reversal

      Level of unconventionalness out of 10 = 2
      ==========================
      Process:
      • Identify as many ways of making the current situation worse - ie how can you have more of the problem, 
      • Have fun and get absurd, 
      • Mind maps on a flip chart are great for this with everyone contributing (as you'll discover below, it's not such a creative process with one person doing it alone!)
      • Once you have a lovely long list identify mitigating actions to ensure the suggestions don't trip you up, nor are the reason for your future or continued failure.  
      Festive/Holiday season example: 


      How to have the worse Christmas/holiday ever.

      Before the holiday
      • Leave everything to the last minute
      • Be very unclear with others about your plans 
      • Don't listen to what others want
      • Steam roller ahead with your own plans
      • Say yes to everything - work and personal 
      • Say no to everything 
      • Say yes to things you don't want to do
      • Say no to things you do want to do
      • Set unrealistic deadlines 
      • Focus on one task to the exclusion of everything else on your to-do list 
      • Have no idea what preparation you need to have done
      • Do no preparation
      • Put pressure and stress on everyone around you ahead of their holidays 
      • Start to erode into other people's holidays by giving them work at the last minute (e.g sending out a tender on Christmas eve with a deadline of 2nd Jan - but you'd never do that would you?)
      • Party hard every day running up to the holiday (although I realise for some this might make for the best holiday ever)
      During the holiday
      • Read your emails daily
      • Interrupt other people's holidays with work
      • Ignore and don't speak to anyone (again this might be someone's idea of bliss)
      • Spend most of your time head down in social media 
      • Do nothing you enjoy 
      • Ensure only those that don't get along are invited to the same party/meal
      • Focus on the negative to the exclusion of any positive
      • Spend lots of time with people you don't get along with 
      • Be ungrateful for everything
      • Eat and drink nothing you enjoy 
      • Play at being Scrooge
      • and so on.
      Solutions might include:
      • Be grateful every day 
      • Plan to do what you enjoy doing
      • Be clear about the criteria for success for you for the holiday
      • Understand other's criteria for success
      • Plan ahead
      • Develop and prioritise a to-do list - NOW
      • Identify things you can do in spare moments throughout the weeks running up to the holiday
      • Delegate if possible
      • Say no, or ask if it can wait till Jan
      • Use your out of office to manage expectations
      • Ensure people know now when you're planning to be away.
      • Don't go cold turkey with your emails - wean yourself off them slowly over December (other suggestions for email management can be found here)
      • and so on
      If there had been a few of us doing this exercise we would have had a little more fun with it, and have identified some ludicrous suggestions that no one would ever do - and yet ......

      You may also find that these suggestions could be applied to a challenge you're facing. As you reflect on that challenge review the above suggestions and notice what you notice. You may just be surprised with what you discover.

      ============================

      Benefits: Fun means of finding solutions without the defences going up about the reason for the current situation. Great way of uncovering the obvious we're ignoring/have forgotten about!

      Uses: Strategy and Vision Setting, Coaching, Problem Solving, Creativity & Innovation

      Participants: Better when there's a few of you to bounce ideas off each other and have fun together.

      Alison Smith
      Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
      Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
      alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159


      Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here. Otherwise, I wonder what will be behind window 2, and what tool will get the coveted 10/10 on the unconventionalness scale!

      NB: Conventional thinking can simply give us more of what we've already got which is why I always consider the applicability of an unconventional tool or two in any situation.

      Purchasing Coach: Advent Calendar 2017

      25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

      NB: The links won't work until the date on the window

                                                      No 22                                                 No 19
             No 12
                                                       No 17                                         No 9                 
      No 2                                                                                                                            No 13

                                                        No 6                                                                                  No 15

      No 21
                                                         No 5                                        No 25                         

      No 23

             
                                                 No 10                                               No 1

      No 18
                     No 16                                                                             No 24
       



                                                         No 8                                                                         No 14


      No 20




      Alison Smith
      Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
      Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
      alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159