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Wednesday, 22 March 2017

No one is a 100% brick wall

"It's just talking to brick wall" They said

"What would you do if they were a brick wall?" I asked
You have to be careful what you say in front me - especially if you're describing a situation you're wanting more insight on, or wondering what to do next about.

I have a belief, that the words we use to describe challenges we're facing also contain the solution.

You might be thinking you're stuck when you use the words "they're like a brick wall", but what happens if those very words contain the solution too?

This is the 11th in a series of blogs applying unconventional tools to procurement and business challenges. Each post is given an unconventionalness score out of 10 to give you a sense of how far from conventional thinking the post might take you. Some guiding principles are also available to help you get the most from these posts.

I'll repeat the premise of this post:

If you're describing someone as being like a brick wall - those very words will also contain the solution.

To make the most from this exploration think of a situation you feel like you're talking to a brick wall about, and identify a score out of 10 on how satisfied you feel about the situation, and another score out of 10 on how you feel about the current solutions that are available.

There's two different ways we can use the words to get a different perspective on the situation. The first is a 3/10 on the unconventional scale, and the second is an 8/10. Not unsurprisingly, let's start with the 1st perspective.

1. What would you do if you did really have a brick a wall in front of you. 

In reality if we were really just trying to talk to a brick wall we'd at best laugh, and rush away quickly wondering why we even thought that was a good idea. Alcohol might be involved too !?!

I'd suggest therefore that what we're really saying is there's a brick wall between us and the other person ie if the brick wall wasn't there we'd be able to talk to them?

Which means the words we're using are saying it's the brick wall we need to remove.

As with any metaphorical exploration we need to put the real situation to the back of our mind as we explore the metaphor - we'll come back to real life strategies once we've finished with the metaphor.

If there was real wall in-front of us how would we get around it:
  • Walk around it
  • Climb it
  • Jump it
  • Hop over it
  • Find a door in the wall and open that and walk through it
  • Use a ladder to help us climb it
  • Fly over it
  • Glide over it
  • Hammer holes in it
  • Tunnel under it
  • Grow ivy up it to help us climb it
  • Be catapulted over it
  • We could knock it down
  • or drive a car through it! (not the most safe choice it has to be said)
We could spend more time getting more ideas, and the more people the merrier to help because as with any creative session be get ideas from hearing other people's ideas, and sometimes you have to wade through the obvious first before the more creative ideas emerge.

The aim is to identify all the different ways of getting around a wall. Like we did in the post where we said we felt like we were talking to a brick wall because people ignore experts, we then need to take all these ideas and see what they mean in reality. Which would start to look like the following list:
  • Ignoring the silence and keeping talking (walking around it)
  • Trying to understand the reason for the silence - ie get a different perspective (flying over it)
You may think flying over the walls would mean a totally different solution and that's perfectly fine. The premise of all of these tools is to allow the part of you that does have access to solutions to provide them to you. Which means our brains will each go off at different tangents, and all suggestions are good suggestions. We can always decide which ones make most sense later.

You may also have already tried some of these ideas - this is just a different technique to more conventional ways of getting a longer list of potential options.
  • Trying different strategies to motivate the other person (find a door through it)
  • Asking for help from others to win the person over (put a ladder up it)
  • Learning new skills to help convince the other person (jump over it)
  • Not trying to do it all at once and take one step at a time (grow ivy up it)
  • Addressing all the reservations the other person has (knock it down)
  • Trying different communication methods (hammer holes in it)
We could keep going, it would certainly be easier if there was a few of us doing this together.

Do you get a sense that by doing this you could discover the one strategy that would make a difference and remove the wall between you and the other person? After all by using the words "It's like I'm talking to a brick wall" I could surmise you've sort of given up. Easy to do in the circumstances I'm sure, but along with it comes the "I've tried everything", "they're just resistant" and a spiral down into a belief it's impossible to change. By using metaphor we ignore the reasons for thinking it's impossible and remind ourselves, via the metaphor, of why it might just be possible.

Do you remember your scores from the start, as you reflect on the above ideas and any suggestions you came up with as your read mine what's your score out of 10 on how satisfied you now feel about the situation, and your score on how you feel about the current solutions that are available?

Now for something completely different - option 2.

2. Change the image you've got of the wall that's in-front of you

Remember this is going to be a 8/10 on the unconventionalness score so you may want to refresh your memory of the guiding principles for getting the most out of this series of posts. which includes staying open to new ideas, playing lightly, allowing yourself to go down the tangents your mind presents, and noticing what you notice.

The premise of this option is that it's our own perception of the situation that is getting in the way of finding a solution - the brick wall is of our making not the other person. (In NLP speak we're going to explore the submodalities you have for the metaphor you're using to describe the situation.)

It's similar to all those occasions when you'd been struggling with a problem for hours, days or even weeks and a friend or colleague comes along and tells you what they'd do, and you say " Why didn't I think of that?"

You didn't think of that solution because of a variety of factors:
  • Values 
  • Beliefs 
  • Assumptions
  • Judgements
  • Past history
  • Relationship with the other person 
  • State of mind and body
  • Personal preferences 
  • and so on
It's as if in this case each of these factors are the bricks in the wall we've constructed between us and the other person. Although, you'll be glad to know that to find a solution you don't need to logically understand what these bricks mean in reality nor how they got there, just be able to visualise the brick wall!

To make the most from this exploration please do think of a situation you feel like you're talking to a brick wall about, and identify a score out of 10 on how satisfied you feel about the situation, and another score out of 10 on how you feel about the current solutions that are available.

Let me ask you - that brick wall that you said you were talking to - could you describe it?
  • How high is it
  • How wide and long is it
  • What is is made of 
  • How far in-front of you is it - or perhaps it's off the side of you, above or even below you
  • What colour is it - or is in black and white
  • Is it in or out of focus
  • What about the contrast between colours
  • Is is a picture or are you in it as if it's there in front of you
  • Is there anything to notice about the top of the wall, or the bottom, or the middle 
Stick with me - it's an 8/10 but it's a very effective tool for unlocking situations. Also remember its okay to only know the answer to 1, 0 or all of the questions I'm asking - no right or wrong just a different way of exploring the situation.
  • Are there any sounds associated with the wall (perhaps it has a sound track, or the wind makes a noise as it blows around it) are they loud, soft, from a specific instrument or direction? 
  • Or perhaps it's more about feelings - what about the temperature of the wall?
  • What's the weather like by your wall - if it has one
  • Is there anything else that you think would be helpful when you describe the wall between you and the other person?
  • Are you seeing the wall through your eyes or can you see yourself as if in a picture?   
The theory suggests that if the current internal representation you have for the situation means you're stuck, then making changes to it might help shift the situation. (We're doing this all the time unconsciously when we change our minds about anything, we're just using the process very consciously to help us.)

The idea now is to make changes to your image of the wall and notice what happens
  • The size, shape, height etc
  • The location or distance from you 
One change that often makes a difference is distance and size - ie zooming your image of the wall out far into the distance so it's very small. You could even bring it back as something totally different that's more helpful - a bench for you both to sit on perhaps?  
If anything negatively impacts how you're feeling just change the representation back to where you started.

The key is trying out the suggested changes to your own representation - it won't work if you logically read the list, and then decide "this won't work" . Try it and notice what you notice. Remember it's 8/10, and so I don't use it that often, and it won't work for everyone. For example there are some clients I would never use this tool with, and apologies if you might just be one of those clients, and thank you for persisting and reading the post.

Continue to review the first list of questions to understand what changes you might want to try.
  • The colour or no colour
  • The level of focus and contrast 
  • The sounds - on or off, up or down
  • Temperature up or down or off
  • Different weather or time of day (trust me this can make a huge difference) or year
  • Add or change the sound track  
  • Move where you're located with respect to the wall
Keep going until you have an internal representation that looks, sounds, and/or feels different, with new solutions starting to emerge.  

If that last exploration wasn't absurd enough, and it's certainly easier to do when being guided in person rather than here in the post, absurdity and laughter can also help shift something if the solution is being a little resistant to emerge. 

Let's therefore go a little more playful with the changes that we make: 
  • What happens if the bricks are made of marshmallow, or
  • We fix a hot air balloon to it and it floats the wall away :-), or
  • Blow it up with air, and let it float away all by itself 
  • Make it a rainbow wall, or
  • Dissolve the bricks, or 
  • Make the ground very muddy under the wall so it falls down it self, or
  • Give it bouncy castle like walls 
  • And so on. 
The more absurd the better, anything to jolt the current way of thinking from one track onto to another.

Once you've had a play with all these ideas go back to those scores you had for the situation. As you reflect on the above and any changes you made to the visual representation you had of the wall what's your score out of 10 on how satisfied you now feel about the situation, and your score on how you feel about the current solutions that are available?

I can't say what scores you've got after reading this post I just know having used this process with 'oos of clients for over 17 years that many of you will have noticed a positive difference, and will as a result have identified some actions to progress the situation that were previously eluding you. (It is however always easier to help you do this in person.)

I hope this has given you food for thought on how the language we use, and the way we think about a situation can contribute to our ability to find solutions. Changing either the language or our internal representation can unlock what ever blocks we've had to accessing the solutions. The index of blogs has many other examples of applying unconventional tools to our language and beliefs - with many 2-3 / 10 too.

Do get in touch if you'd be interested in coaching, facilitation or training, whether using these unconventional tools applied to challenges you're facing, or more conventional soft/people skills training. An earlier post described the outcome from a team building day I facilitated some years ago.

I do also provide category management and supplier management training and coaching too, directly or as an associate via other procurement consultancies (and I am always open to discussions about being an associate, partner or collaborator with others too) alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking personal, procurement and organisational potential using unconventional tools 

Hypertext links take you to posts on the subject highlighted.

Tuesday, 21 March 2017

Standing in their shoes

“What would happen if a relationship in your life was significantly improved? What would the benefits be?”

Consider your own answer to that question for a moment – personally, departmentally, organisationally?

“Would you be willing to do what it takes to obtain that improvement?” 

More here on a Linkedin article written today on standing in the shoes of other people to help find resolution to often long standing issues. 

Monday, 20 March 2017

Improving team relations

"Wow - team communication is noticeably much better since the session" said one CPO after a workshop I'd facilitated.

Yesterday I shared the outcome of a workshop where a procurement team were invited to consider how they were setback by arrogance. Use of some unconventional tools allowed the team members to give themselves advice about how their language and behaviours might be getting in the way of them positively influencing their stakeholders (follow the link to find out more).

One of the other agenda items was on communication preferences - on face value something that's fairly straight forward:
  • We all have different preferences on how we take information in, process it and make decisions. 
Not so easy to adapt our style though when we often think other people just need the same information as we do. It's simply too easy to think our stakeholders will need the same perspective of the info that we find interesting or enlightening, or will understand the information to the same level of detail that excites us, in the same format that pushes our buttons, etc.

If other people in our lives are like a door - then understanding between us and them can only be achieved if we can open the door.
You only have to think therefore about all the doors you've opened since leaving home this morning to realise how making an assumption that one size key fits all is ludicrous - with respect to opening doors and therefore, by implication, when communicating with others.
  • Pull back the bolt
  • Turn the key(s)
  • Push up the gate lock
  • Car door released when the key was in proximity of the car
  • Or pressing the 'door open' button on the key fob (not as I can do when tired and press the door lock button!)
  • Or if you went by bus - you had to put your hand out to stop the bus to get on, or press the bell for the driver to stop and open the door for you
  • Or if on a train press the top button
  • or is it the bottom button
  • Hover the electronic pass over a sensor for the car park
  • Push the revolving door 
  • Press the lift button for it to open, then push the floor level button to get the lift door to open/close
  • Push or pull the office door - with handle or not
  • Or use an entry 4 digit code, or thumb print or retinal scan (I may be going a little far with that)
  • and so on
There will be as many ways to open a door as communication preferences those you're wishing to influence will have such as:
  • Detailed & specific/global & big picture
  • Visual/Words/diagrams
  • Benefits you'll be getting (toward /the carrot)/ things you'll be leaving behind (away/the stick)
  • Motivators of achievement/affiliation/influence
  • Options/ procedures
  • Sameness/ difference
  • Primary interest: people/place/thing/activity/information  
  • Matching/mismatching
  • Proactive/reactive
Other strategies we need to consider might include someone's
  • Frame of reference - do they need others to tell them what to do - or do they only listen to what they want to do
  • Decision making: looks right, sounds right, feels right or makes sense
  • Relationship to time: in time/ through time
  • Learning styles: activist/reflector/theorist/pragmatist
  • Convincer strategy: the type of information needed to do this (see it/hear it/do it with them/read about it) + the process we adopt to be convinced: automatic/x times/y period of time/ consistency   
  • Response to stress: feeling/choice/thinking
  • and so on and so on
If you're familiar with Bolton & Bolton, DISC, Insights, Myers Briggs and other personality profiling tools, these each in their own way try to pull the above individual preferences into some common stereotypes offering a continuum of preferences which might include:
  • Judging/perceiving
  • Sensing/intuiting 
  • Thinking/Feeling
  • Introverted/extroverted
  • Assertive/unassertive
  • People/Task 
  • Cooperativeness/Assertiveness
It was one such preference the CPO had that made the biggest difference to team communication after the workshop.
  • Time required to make a decision
The CPO was unable to make a decision unless they had time to weigh up the information - so sending the information ahead of a meeting, preferably allowing it to sink in over night, resulted in more positive outcomes of meetings.

I remember one person asking "Are you telling me if I give you 24 hours to read my report first I'm more likely to get a positive response"

"Yes" was his reply.

The team all looked at each other and shared their frustration that sometimes it felt like they were not
trusted, that the CPO just didn't like their idea, or was just being awkward.

None of these were true for the CPO. The way their mind was hardwired just meant they couldn't say yes or no without giving the info time to settle, to weigh it up, and perhaps even view it from all angles.

Such a great example that we judge others based on our own preferences rather than take time to understand what will best facilitate increased understanding and therefore improve influencing.

I wonder might this be the underlying reason for your 'resistant' 'awkward' or 'difficult' stakeholders, suppliers or colleagues - you're just pushing and you should be pulling!

As with any door when you've got the right key and use it correctly the door opens easily and effortlessly.  

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking personal, procurement and organisational potential using unconventional tools

This is the 9th in a series of blogs applying unconventional tools or thinking to procurement challenges. On a scale of unconventionalness this post only comes in at a 1/10 - there are others in the series that are much higher, and require an open mind in order to obtain maximum insight from them.

Sunday, 19 March 2017

Are procurement setback by Arrogance?

"Are procurement setback by arrogance" was a question I asked a procurement team a few years ago.

Their initial response was "who us? ....never", and slowly as the day progressed moved to "Oh - I can certainly see why some of our stakeholders might consider our language and behaviour to be arrogant." Which then allowed them to develop a different strategy for stakeholder engagement than the one they'd been adopting.

As part of discussions around the Procurement challenges series of blogs I've mentioned the outcome of a session I facilitated with a procurement team a lot so thought I'd share the highlights here.

The title of the session was:

Our Journey to world class - making the boat go faster!

And the CPO's stated objective was:

Bringing the team together, and understanding what needs to happen to ensure team behaviours support achieving personal and stretching objectives.

The agenda included a mix of sessions: communication & influencing training, facilitated discussions/breakouts, and some unconventional tools.

The underlying structure of the day followed the process I'd developed for when you're feeling like you're up a creek without a paddle (follow hypertext for more on the use of this saying, which also explains why we used the 'how to make the boat go faster' in the workshop title).

Use of the saying meant agenda items included putting the anchor down and taking time to consider: how to get back into the main flow of the river, what was needed to keep them afloat, what guides and travellers were there to help them, calibrating their compasses, and taking paddles in hand and getting going. (More here on why I use metaphor in much of my work, and why it's such a powerful, and yet under used, change management tool.)

As part of the day I used cards from the Frameworks for Change Coaching Process *, and the following setback cards came out in succession. As setbacks they're inviting us to consider how the behaviour on the card might be setting us back from achieving our stated outcome/goal.
When the two cards were selected by two team members in succession, whilst some team members were open to the suggestion, I was also met with some dismissive statements.

Even when I asked "How could your behaviour be seen as arrogant" some responded with "It can't".

It would have been easy for me to label some of the things I heard as potentially arrogant, but how easy would anyone find receiving that feedback? And would that facilitate the change in behaviour needed?

I then decided to use another unconventional tool and asked them all to all stand up and move to one side of the room. I then talked them through the standing in their shoes exercise.

In this exercise they imagine looking back at themselves, and noticing what it feels like to be their stakeholder, on the receiving end of their own words, tone and behaviour. It was then that the penny started to drop - a realisation emerged that some of them were stuck in a stereotype of what procurement should, ought and must act like, rather than be more flexible in their approach and use the different communication and influencing styles we'd discussed earlier in the day.

As a coach my role is not to tell others what they should think or believe. My role instead is to provide the right environment and stimulus for them to tap into their own inner knowing and potential. Thus facilitating change inside and out for themselves. (It's certainly why I use the unconventional tools that I do - because they're great at helping people to unlock their own potential rather than have someone force the locks for them!)

As you consider standing in the shoes of your stakeholders, suppliers or colleagues would they consider your behaviour to be arrogant, and in what way might that arrogance be setting you back? As a result of that insight what advice could you give yourself to allow changes to be made that engender a more positive relationship with those individuals you wish to be influencing?

Another insight of the day significantly improved team working with their manager, and involved a conversation about the communication preferences of their CPO. I'll share that in tomorrow's post.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking personal, procurement and organisational potential using unconventional tools

There's an index of posts that I'd adding to as I write post like this - using unconventional tools to unlock procurement potential to resolve challenges faced. The challenges addressed are being provided by responses to a LinkedIn discussion.

* Frameworks for Change Coaching Process (FCCP) copyright Innerlinks www.innerlinks.com I used the FCCP process more fully in a post earlier in the series - more here

Wednesday, 15 March 2017

Ten out of ten on unconventionalness


7th post in the series applying unconventional tools to procurement challenges - with scores from 1-10 on the weirdness unconventional scale. You'll find more advice on how to get the most from these explorations here. The premise is to use the tools to obtain a different perspective on a situation - one that you're currently unsure what direction to take in. 

Be warned I'd suggest this exploration is a 10/10 so approach with an open mind, and be prepared to be confused a little before clarity emerges. I've certainly not found it an easy topic to explore on my own. 

So let me begin, and let's see what emerges ....

As we returned to the hotel after the walking meeting breakout in Warsaw during a category management workshop I said that walking could be used in other ways to find the solution to problems we encountered.

I've written previously about walks taken to resolve personal life challenges (‘not wanting to burn bridges’ and a more general ‘what next’). Today I want to share a walk to identify alternative strategies for the provision of ‘spare parts’.

This metaphorical walk would generally take place as part of the creative options generation session, ie after an indepth analysis of data has taken place. More here on the need to do this thoroughly, in a post written for a procurement consultancy I'm an associate for.  

As we walked back to the hotel, having discussed earlier in the session about the process to develop more conventional strategies for buying spares, and upon seeing the multitude of cars – parked and being driven -  I said “let's assume the cars are the spare parts”. Due to time constraints the exploration that day didn't come up with a conclusion – so this blog is my response.

Once we've selected the landscape we’re going to use as a metaphor for a challenge we're wanting more insight on, the aim is to then discuss the metaphor without reference to the problem. 

In this instance to discuss how to manage cars in the city without wondering initially what that means in reality for a procurement strategy for spare parts. In fact it's crucial that the real life situation is put to one side whilst the metaphor we've decided to use is fully understood.

From my perspective the aim for cars driven on the Warsaw roads would be to:
  • Efficiently get where they're going
  • Reduce holdups and delays
  • Minimise cost of travel
  • Obtain access to fuel/energy
  • Find adequate parking when needed
  • And to do so safely and sustainably
This could be achieve by:

Efficiently get where they're going
  • Use of well maintained cars
  • Satnav set to efficiency setting
  • Accurate and timely signposts
  • Appropriate use of roundabouts and traffic lights
  • Traffic lights with correct timings to manage traffic flow at different time of day and week
Reducing holdups and delays
  • As above
  • Speedy response to breakdowns on the roads
  • Prohibit parking in some sections of the city
  • Encouraging use of others transportation - possibly even offering park and ride
Minimising the cost of travel
  • Use of efficient cars
  • Effective policy for replacement of cars – assuming fuel efficiency increases as a car ages
Obtaining access to fuel/energy
  • Appropriately positioned petrol startups
  • Conveniently positioned charging stands for electric cars
Don't judge the suggestions just yet – the beauty and simplicity of metaphor is keeping the judgements about what is or isn't applicable or practical to one side. Remember this is a situation we're struggling to find a solution for. I'd suggest stuck because of the assumptions, musts, oughts, shoulds, resistance, fear and / or barriers to change we’re throwing in front of us. That is our current thought processes are what are keeping us stuck and unable to find a solution.

Metaphor allows us to put those doubts and barriers to one side and explore a totally different situation with the belief that once completed some of the solutions found in the one situation can be used on the currently stuck situation.

Yes it feels weird – it is weird – or should I say unconventional but since when has weird or unconventional automatically meantineffective? The first time we do anything new it feels weird, until it's the most natural thing for us to do. Most inventions and innovations are weird at first.

Let's continue ....

Finding adequate parking when needed
  • Do we charge for it
  • It is street parking or via multi story car park
  • What about out of city centre park and ride to reduce traffic in the city
Safely and sustainably
  • Set appropriate speed limits
  • Provide adequate road signage
  • Ensure satnav information re one way streets etc are up to date
  • Ensure drivers have a valid driving licence
  • Provide city driving lessons 
  • Provide fuel efficient driving training
  • Provide road safety police or cameras
Queries then arise about whether it's important to:
  • Reduce the number of manufacturers of the cars used
  • Reduce or restrict the colours of cars driven – or are your cars already just the red ones on the streets? with other colours of cars representing other buying organisations? 
  • Mandate the route taken by drivers
  • Prohibit certain vehicles from certain locations
  • Charge for access by vehicles negatively impacting the environment 
And to consider whether the following are important:
  • The building/offices and shops people are visiting
  • The other vehicles on the road
  • The pedestrians
  • The condition of the road
  • The control centre looking after the traffic lights etc 
If we apply the objective we normally have for spares to the cars then what does that mean to the above thoughts? It seems to be more about how they move about rather than what they are - is that right? Could that be right? What might it be suggesting we do differently?  

I wonder too whether I was too quick to decide the cars were the spare parts? After all the aim of the cars is to get the people where they want to go? Which would bring in other considerations such as:
  • Car sharing
  • Using the subway
  • Using other means of transport – bus, helicopter, bike, and so on
  • Reducing the need for people to come into the centre of the city – which could mean exploring the different ‘why’ for people travelling
  • Exploring the different options for accessing a car - buy or lease or simply rent it daily when needed
Once all the possible ideas about moving cars and passengers around a city centre have been explored then it's time to consider what insight we may be able to offer to the situation we're wanting more clarity on. Having access to the conclusions arising from the research & analysis, and strategic analysis phases will certainly help in being able to do this better. So too having a breadth of category stakeholders involved.

Suggestions might be:
  • Don't worry about the cars just concentrate on the traffic lights – ie what would the control centre for the cities traffic lights be like in the spare parts situation – a centralised delivery or payment process for buying spares
  • Or perhaps the control centre is where the store-men need to be located to ensure they're involved in the movement of the cars 
  • Set up park and rides in the suburbs and bring everyone into the city centre by bus – which might involve centralised distribution for spares
  • Ensure everyone has accurate satnav – ie do the stores managers know who the potential suppliers are 
  • Ensure everyone complies with safe driving standards - ie it doesn't matter who they buy from just as long as certain criteria are met
What I find interesting is this exploration would suggest reducing the make or colours of car are impossible to do. So it's very much about managing the flow of cars better, and getting inefficient cars and unsafe drivers off the road. Does this mean we shouldn't spend time trying to reduce the number of spare parts suppliers? 

Working in a group with this would allow for richer ideas, analogies and solutions. It's not so much about the new options definitely arising from the exploration of the metaphor, as much as following up on any ideas / tangents that emerge as a result of spending time looking at the metaphor.

I'd love to hear from those involved in buying spares to see if this has shed any additional light on the subject.

Other posts using metaphor which were a little easier to understand have used gardening as a metaphor for procurement, and applying thoughts about weather, busses and dancers to procurement talent.  

I'll get back to a 3/10 later this or next week as I continue with the series applying unconventional tools to procurement challenges.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking personal, procurement and organisational potential using unconventional tools

Hypertext links take you to posts written on the subject highlighted.

Tuesday, 14 March 2017

How to have a flourishing procurement garden

Metaphor is such a powerful tool for facilitating change - it can get overlooked as too fluffy or even too unconventional.

I believe you ignore metaphor as a business change management tool at your peril.

Ignore it at your peril that is if, where you or your team currently are is not where you'd like them to be.

Change is hard, and resistance to change all too common, and yet change management is often overlooked when exploring either how to bridge the gap from where you are to where you want to be or, how to resolve the challenges being faced to get there. (Follow the hypertext link for more on Implementing change using Kotter's 8 step process for leading change).

I don't want to repeat the whole of an earlier post on metaphor, but if you'll forgive me repeating the main reason why metaphor is so good at facilitating change, it's because it bypasses the following beliefs:
  • We've always done it like this
  • If it ain't broke don't fix it
  • We tried that before, and it didn't work then
  • But what will I do then
  • I like doing it this way 
  • It won't work
  • We're not going there 
  • I don't want to talk about it
  • I'm bored about talking about it
  • No
Or other variants in the same vein that mean we defend our position, and reinforce our current point of view. All beliefs that make it hard to be able to stand back, get some perspective and find a solution.

When using a metaphor we are asked to put the current real life situation to one side, along with those unhelpful beliefs, and consider what a solution within the metaphor looks like. As we explore the art of the possible within the metaphorical situation we leave our resistance and preconceived ideas to one side. 

Metaphors also carry a large amount of information within them - I like to say if a picture paints a thousand words then a metaphor paints a thousand pictures. Which means it's laden with potential to be unlocked and applied to the real life situation we're comparing it to.

For 20 years I've successfully used gardening as a metaphor for supplier management with non-procurement managers. It has worked because those managers know more about gardening than they do procurement. There's much to learn, especially when they realise we do mow, prune, weed, feed, mulch, water and put plants in the greenhouse, and yet often fail to do the same for suppliers.

No surprise therefore that non-procurement managers become more accommodating of procurement's involvement once they've explored a garden full of suppliers in a session.

As part of the series where I'm using unconventional tools to provide a different perspective to procurement challenges I wondered what gardening might have to add to the resolution of these challenges.
     
First a more general exploration of our procurement garden full of suppliers with a few vlogs from the archives:

The challenge many of us face is we may have a procurement garden like this:
Or suppliers who are just like these dandelions: 
Or this rhubarb
The answer may lie in companion planting
or ensuring adequate KPIs are implemented?
or providing sufficient support to suppliers? 
Examples that I hope have provided you with an understanding of the power of metaphor.

You may find reading the guiding principles will also help provide guidance on beliefs or actions that will help you in getting something from the above or following explorations. In essence using these tools just provides a different perspective from which to view the current situation - which may or may not provide additional insight.

I wondered how might gardening apply to some of the challenges people raised in the LinkedIn discussion I posted. 

We'll only know if I try.... Although first I think we need to put the idea of suppliers being plants to one side and explore gardening afresh. 
  • Behavioural procurement: All plants are unique. A successful gardener needs to understand the different needs of the different plants, and to then provide the right conditions for growth for each of them. The same is certainly true when dealing with people, and yet easier to remember when dealing with plants than dealing with people. Perhaps because as a fellow plant we assume other plants. think and behave the same as we do. (Another post in the series takes an alternate viewpoint to consider how we can release the bad cop image.)
  • Talent: Plants also meet different gardening needs - for example you wouldn't expect a rose bush to do the same job as an oak tree. We do however sometimes expect this of our teams. Which is okay if all you want is ground cover, or to simply fill up the garden. If you want variety, year round colour, highs and lows, interest, features, fragrance or simply grass that will cope with the kids playing football on it then you need to careful select your plants/people. One size fits all will never work. (Another post in the series takes a different perspective to look at how to resolve the issue of talent.)      
  • Talent: Plants grow if we give them the right conditions for growth - we need to understand what these conditions are, and which of those conditions we can realistically provide. Living in Scotland I certainly know many plants I could grow in Yorkshire would just not survive here. It's the same with people - each person is motivated by and requires different things. We can't just provide a sheep dip like approach, and hope to keep everyone happy. 
  • Expanding the vision of what's possible: If we're doing this in the context of a garden then I think of Kew gardens, Chelsea Flower Show, or someone going on expeditions into the Peruvian mountains to bring back cultivars to experiment with in the greenhouse - where success and failure are close companions. For me 'expanding the vision' doesn't get done within the garden but outside it - and if successful is only then applied to a small part of the garden first to see what happens. If as a result of a successful trial we bring in new plants, the old plants being replaced are composted or moved to another garden. Interesting to consider this applied to our teams - where expansion of the vision can't come when they're doing their day job. Only by having time outside the garden can they hope to develop the skills, to test, trail and be able to get things wrong so that their vision of what is possible is expanded. If we've changed the vision we may also need different plants. (Another post in the series has taken an alternative view on how to get procurement to expand their thinking about what's possible.)
The aim, as with any of the unconventional tools, would be not to critique nor judge the ideas just yet. To continue with the metaphor and expand the options and perspectives. To keep going, be open, have fun, and just use the metaphor and dig into those thousand pictures to unlock what may be hidden - to find and nurture that kernel of an idea that might just make a difference. There will be plenty of time to critique later, and that's when you can discard the unhelpful.
  • Shape the strategic agenda: Let's assume the garden is part of a wider stately house and garden that's open to the public. The aim of those responsible for running the garden then becomes ensuring that the paying public want to visit the garden as much as the house. They'd achieve this by having year round interest, interesting and rare plants, well maintained gardens, a great set of web pages showing the results of their efforts, special events (for red nose day, bank holidays, Chelsea flower show, quizzes for children and so on). As a result of these efforts there would be no possibility of being omitted from the strategic review for the stately house, because the garden would be a key part of the leadership team. Isn't that true for procurement? If we focus on the reliance on the organisation of the suppliers we engage then we should be a key part of the strategic agenda. Perhaps that's where we've got it wrong in the past - focusing on the price of the plants rather than their positive impact once planted! I suspect there could be much much more behind this exploration if a few people were to get into a room to expand it further. It's one drawback of trying to share the efficacy of the tools here - it's just me typing, and therefore just me inputing ideas too! Events and internal marketing come to mind too. Although there is a whole other exploration we could have about whether procurement are the general gardeners or the landscape gardeners - although I suspect landscape gardeners don't worry about whether they're part of the strategic agenda or not? (A post from the archives on No seat at the table may also provide an alternate and unconventional perspective.)
  • Maximising value rather than minimising costs: I think the above exploration provides some insight to this. We're focusing on the cost of the plants, as are some of our stakeholders. Where the focus should be is on the performance of the plants once they're planted and in situ. Use of metaphor might be a useful means of conveying to stakeholders where the focus is currently, and where it should be. (Although a more conventional means might be to show them the horror stories of procurement gone wrong.) 
  • Getting early engagement of stakeholders: I think these last 3 points are aligned when viewed from the stately home/garden metaphor point of view. Early engagement is a given if plant selection, location, and the general theme of the garden and it's events are seen as central to stakeholders doing their job well. We just have to find a means of doing this within our own organisations. (Another post in the series has taken an alternative view to why experts are ignored.)
How did you get on? What did you notice?

Did any of these suggestions help you understand what you might be missing? Or perhaps reading these ideas had you going off on a tangent that provided some additional insight? There's no right or wrong just thought processes that take us on a journey that may uncover something we've been missing, and that may just be the difference that makes the difference. 

One of these days I may think of a way of getting pipe cleaners into this series :-). They're certainly a very powerful coaching tool that removes the blocks for individuals in their 1:1 and 1:3 coaching sessions - if the evidence of recent weeks are anything to go by.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking personal, procurement & organisational potential using unconventional tools  

Hypertext links shown in the post take you to blogs on the subject highlighted.

I'd be very happy to further discuss your 1:1 coaching, 1:3 coaching, training, facilitation needs to support your team unlocking their personal, procurement and organisational potential. alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

Sunday, 12 March 2017

"It's like talking to a brick wall"

Lee Jackson, PowerPoint surgeon and presentation coach, asked LinkedIn "why are managers reluctant to ditch their bullet heavy dull slides." ie why do they ignore best practice?

I read the responses to Lee's question and realised it added a different perspective to one particular procurement challenge provided in answer to my own question on LinkedIn, where I asked for challenges faced by Procurement one of which was "why do people ignore procurement best practice?"

In this series of posts I'm demonstrating the power of using unconventional tools to provide a different perspective to the procurement challenges we face (ie when the conventional way of solving a problem means the solution is still eluding you, and an alternate perspective may just be the thing you need to get you back on track.). This is the 5th post in the series.

  • Challenge 5: Why do people think they can do something better by themselves, and not need the support of those with expertise. In other words it can feel like "we're talking to a brick wall".
  • Unconventional tool to be used: Standing in your own shoes/metaphor.
  • Unconventional score (potential weirdness you might feel using it): 2/10 
  • Things that will help you get the most from this post: Read the guiding principles - these principles outline the aims of these posts, and identify things that will help and can hinder you getting the most from them - especially for those 7/8 out of 10 tools.
As PowerPoint surgeon and presentation coach Lee was obviously asking his question from a position of expertise - in the same way that Procurement may ask the question "why are managers reluctant to follow best practice procurement?" 

My assumption is that, like many skills, people assume their own skill set is something only they can do, and everybody else's is something they can have a go at, and even do well.  

If that assumption is true then the answer to why this happens can be found in why we ignore best practice advice for skills other than the ones we have expertise in.

Let's see therefore what insight we can get by exploring why we ignore advice from others.

As with all the tools I use it's better to come up with a list of suggestions first, and only once that's complete, to consider how to apply these different perspectives to the real life situation - ie why people ignore procurement. 

Example 1: Powerpoint - why stick to boring & dull bullets and ignore advice about doing it differently?



Suggestions from the LI discussion include:
  • Because the way I know how to do it provides me with a crutch
  • Habit
  • I don't understand the difference/potential
  • I don't understand the benefits - it might look better but does that really make a difference to what I'm saying, or the message I'm making? 
  • Too easy to keep doing what I've always done
  • Keeps me in my comfort zone
  • The process/tool I'm using leads me towards doing that
  • I don't care 
  • It takes more time than I have available to learn to do it differently
  • Lack of confidence
  • Herd instinct
  • and so on
Let's consider another example - the gym.

Example 2: Gym - why do your own routine rather than the one provided by a personal trainer?

I remember my personal trainer getting very frustrated with those attending some of his Body Pump classes because they ignored his advice. They refused to increase the weights they were using incrementally over time - despite using the same ones for months if not years, and in his expert opinion diminishing the effectiveness of the class.

  • I don't have the budget to pay for one
  • I know my body better than they do
  • My friend said I should do it this way
  • Because I don't want to build my muscles
  • I saw a programme on TV once
  • I like / enjoy / gain satisfaction from doing it myself 
  • I don't like being shouted at (see post "are procurement the bad cops?" for a different perspective on this)
  • I don't like dealing with arrogant people (see post "are procurement set back by arrogance" for a different perspective on this)
  • I don't like being told what to do
  • I've read all the books and know what to do
  • Because that would make me look like I don't know what to do 
  • I get bored doing the same routine every time (see post on getting procurement to expand their thinking for a different perspective on this)
  • I like flexibility
  • What do they know - is personal training even a real profession? 
  • What's to know - it's common sense - it's simple and obvious
  • and so on
Example 3: Diet - why eat what you want rather than listen to the advice of your doctor, dietitian or health professional?
  • I know my body better than they do
  • They can't make their mind up what good looks like - fat, no fat, good fat, bad fat
  • It's hard
  • It will take more effort than I am prepared to put in
  • They're just telling me to do it that way because they get benefit from my taking their advice 
  • There's other factors at play
  • I don't have the time
  • My mum, dad, family and friends all do this and they're fine, healthy, and have lived to an old age
  • I want a quick fix - results now - not something that means I have to change what I do for life 
  • I didn't hear what the doctor said 
  • I didn't understand what the doctor said - it just sounded like lots of jargon and gobbledygook 
  • I didn't know there was any advice to be had
  • I don't think I'm doing anything unhealthy
  • I don't know there's a different way to eat
  • The advert for x (any unhealthy foods) say its good for me
  • I'm in a low risk category so dont need to listen to what they say 
  • Because my diet is taster and more enjoyable
  • Because I enjoy myself more when I do it my way
  • My alternative strategy is better
  • and so on (I add more every time I reread the post)
An addition made on 14th March 2017.
Example 4: Why do HGV drivers ignore the restrictions on the nearby Forth Road Bridge when its windy, and endanger their own lives, those of unsuspecting road users around them, and those who have to sort the problem out. (Video from earlier in the year where the bridge was closed for 19 hours following a lorry getting blown over in high winds. The driver received a 2 year ban from driving, and a £1k fine.)
  • Thinking they know best
  • Complete lack of respect for others and even themselves
  • Not caring about other people
  • Not taking seriously the implications of not following the law
  • Not realising the implications if the wind hits them - as those living locally get to see a little too often
  • Under pressure to get somewhere by a particular time (it's a 40 mile detour over much slower roads)
  • Not seeing the signs
  • Not being able to read the signs 
  • Thinking there's going to be a more obvious place for them to pull in and wait
  • Expecting someone to show them where to park up
  • There was nothing prohibiting them from driving over the bridge 
  • Not realising they've got to the bridge
  • Being confused by the road works for the new bridge that seem to result in a slightly different route every time we approach
  • and so on
If you were doing this exploration in a group you could add more to these lists, or pick other areas where you ignore best practice and do your own thing. The aim is to get a lovely long list of reasons you have for ignoring others, which in turn will be the same reasons people have for ignoring procurement.

You could be less tangential, and think about the reasons you give for thinking you can do a better job than other departments in the organisation - HR? Catering? Facilities Management? Engineering? Or why we undertake other business activities without asking for any help from those who are qualified Communication? Project Management? Coaching? Training? Management? Public Speaking?

Alternatively you could pick individual competencies within 'procurement' and understand why we think we can do them all well, rather than just some of them e.g. negotiation, legal, stakeholder engagement, data analysis, market analysis, project management, CSR, creativity and innovation, change management, and so on. (Which could develop into a lovely CPD plan with everyone supporting each other in areas they're an 'expert' in).

If you're still open to exploring new ideas, the next step is to review the suggestions and understand how this might relate to why people act the way they do towards Procurement (or what ever discipline you have expertise in, or example you have in mind as you're reading this), and more importantly what that means with respect to a potential strategy to turn the situation around.

Solutions might therefore include: 
  • Ensuring your stakeholders know the risks of getting Procurement wrong (when they don't understand the difference/potential)
  • Remember we have to take people on a journey starting with where they are at - which might be in unconscious incompetence (when they want to stay in their comfort zone).
  • Review the process and ensure it supports your involvement early enough in it (when the process/tools leads them towards doing it themselves).
  • Find out about stakeholder objectives and motivations to make them care (when they don't care).
  • Use unconventional tools to help them learn quicker - for example using gardening as a metaphor for supplier management speeds up their learning (when it takes more time than they have available to learn to do it differently).
  • Ensure you shepherd the herd in the direction you want them to go (when they're following the herd).
  • Ensure they understand what the competencies are for procurement (when they don't value procurement as a profession or think it's common sense).
  • Ensure they understand we'll be using their expertise alongside ours (when they say they know the category/dept better than we do).
  • Demonstrate the other value benefits you deliver. Even better - show them KPIs that support that lowest price isn't the only objective (when they say they don't just want the lowest price).
  • Find ways of supporting them to make the right decisions themselves (when they don't like being told what to do).
  • Ensure modulation is built into your process (when they like flexibility).
  • Develop a communication strategy and find different ways of communicating with them (when they're not listening to Procurement advice or hearing what you say). We can't just give them what we would want either - our plan needs to address all communication preferences. 
  • Develop a sales and marketing plan (when they don't know you're there to support them).
  • Ensuring the policy and procedures are clear and have been tested to check for clarity (when they're confused about what procurement are telling them to do and when.) 
  • Develop a rule book that makes it clear what the repercussions are of ignoring advice (when they don't realise the implications of their actions). Not a very Alisony thing to advise but after the guy in the lorry today I could have come back with something much stronger! Although I suspect he'll lose his job and certainly be taken to court - which are also real implications for your stakeholders if they ignore your advice in some areas. 
Are these all strategies that you already have in place?

I'm sure you will have some of these - the key to unlocking the situation is realising that each one of the ideas above only addresses one reason for not using procurement. We therefore have to have a broad range of actions to cover as wide a range of reasons as possible.

What did you notice about obtaining a different perspective in this way? Can you think of other situations you could apply this unconventional way of thinking to?

Next time you have a challenge you might want to consider how you are already demonstrating that behaviour yourself just in another area of your life. You can then use that perspective to change how to relate to the challenging situation you're facing?

An additional strategy would be to take the statement literally and think about what you'd do if your stakeholders were really a brick wall (or perhaps the other side of the brick wall you're talking to!). It is in the region of a 6-8 out of 10 on the weird/unconventional scale I'm using in this series of posts.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking personal, procurement and organisational potential using unconventional tools

Just a thought: I'm a procurement professional of over 30 years, who started to develop an understanding of soft / people skills 17 years ago and obtained a qualification as a result. Since then I've undertaken certification on training, coaching and some unconventional tools. I'm a very effective category manager, great and enthusiastic procurement and soft skill trainer and coach, and an expert at using unconventional tools to help unlock potential. Differentiating your skills set in a similar way might help you understand more about why people ignore us, and how to communicate the procurement skill set to stakeholders.

Whilst I'm reminded of the Forth Road Bridge here's a post I wrote sharing insight for procurement after the bridge was closed for 1 month for all vehicles, and for 3 months to HGVs in Dec 2015. It was all about planning: communication planning, contingency planning, exit planning & transition planning. 

Friday, 10 March 2017

Are Procurement the bad cops?

I'm using unconventional tools to provide alternative perspectives to challenges you're facing (ie when the conventional way of solving a problem means the solution is still eluding you, and an alternate perspective may just be the thing you need to jolt you back on track) 
  • Challenge 4: How to get rid of the bad cop image Procurement has
  • Unconventional tool to be used: language/absurdity
  • Unconventional score (potential weirdness you might feel using it): 7/10 so stick with it
  • Things that will help you get the most from this post: Read the guiding principles - these principles provide the aims of these posts, and identify things that will help and hinder you getting the most from them.
For more on the series of blogs of which this is the 4th please see this post.

The language we use, or our stakeholders use, is such a useful means of finding potential solutions. I could easily for example have skated over use of bad cop and concentrated on how to raise procurement's profile, or improve our marketing, or even how to get a seat at the table.

However from the view point of one of the unconventional tools - language has power - every word we use has power - and therefore the solutions may lie in exploring the language, in exploring the symbols and metaphors used.  

Let's therefore consider use of the term bad cop.

It's generally used to describe a role someone takes in a negotiation. The person often taking that role is procurement. Which means over time bad cop is not just a role we put on occasionally, but the name we go by - an identity that many in procurement I suspect like to be associated with.
However bad cop has many associations which I'd suggest are unhelpful when we're wanting to develop relationships with the very people calling us those names:
  • Foe
  • Angry
  • Not listening 
  • Police
  • Force
  • Enforcement
  • Shouting
  • Brutal
  • Psychological tactics
  • Interrogation
  • and so on
And could even extend to bad cop becoming a rotten cop which expands the description to include:
  • Liar
  • Fraudulant behaviours
  • Looking after them selves
  • Bypasses the rules 
  • and so on
Which means if we associate, and our stakeholders associate, our identity and who are are, with the term bad cop our ability to collaborate and work with our stakeholders is significantly and negatively hampered as a result.

Would you pick up the phone to speak to you if all of the above words came to mind when they thought about you?  Me neither. 

By identifying and using the term bad cop that's what we're doing - reinforcing a representation of procurement that is unhelpful. 

I remember talking to a procurement exec who had sat in on one of their team member's negotiations. They were flabbergasted about how badly their team member took on the bad cop behaviours. To the point of needing to take them outside to calm them down!

So the solution is simple - to write anyway - we and our stakeholders need to stop associating Procurement with the term bad cop, and release the stereotypical behaviours that are associated with it. To take bad cop out of our and our stakeholders vocabulary. 

There's lots of different ways this could be achieved. A large number of which involve: identifying, weakening and then replacing beliefs we have about why bad cop as an identity is good. Which would be a very wordy exploration, and increase the already high weirdness score above. 

I'm opting for absurdity instead.

Laughter and absurdity are always a quick means of shifting beliefs and thought patterns we have. And certainly easier to share in a blog. If I have permission to go a little absurd then read on. 

Let's consider what a procurement team could do to release bad cop - because they have to shift their thinking and behaving first.

Please note: This is not something I've thought about before in this way - I'm applying the belief that the words we use have power, and that bad cop therefore is not helping us. The rest of this post is where my thoughts go when given that challenge - for procurement to release their identity as bad cops. If you were to explore what the words meant to you you might go off in a totally different tangent and still find a solution - so you might want to think about what you think a potential solution might be to being seen as a bad cop e.g
  • Embrace it and run with it
  • Explore how to be an even badder cop - using problem reversal
Back to my own exploration and thought process.

Once everyone in Procurement agrees that bad cop is only one role we play and not an identity then you could as a group:
  • List all the other roles Procurement play - you could get silly with it
  • You could put them in a hierarchy
  • Draw pictures of them
  • Come up with catch phrases for each of them
  • Identify the strengths and weaknesses of each   
  • Identify positive and negative behaviours for each (some great opportunities for CPD too)
  • Have a super hero day (suspect it needs a different name - Mr Men and Miss day - XMen day?) - where people come dressed as different roles Procurement play? 
The aim is to weaken the hold bad cop, as an identify, has on procurement team members. For them to easily be able to swap between roles, and to demonstrate the positive behaviours of each of the roles. 

This image came to mind as a means of using a visual to shift the meaning of bad cop to something totally absurd!! Don't ask!
Less unconventional ways might include:
  • Picking a role you'd prefer to identified as 
  • Find a way of reinforcing the new role - pictures, screen savers, jigsaw pieces
Don't forget we're not letting go of the behaviour - there are times when it's useful - we're letting go of the identity. 

Once procurement have let go of the bad cop identity, and behaviours change as a result, it may automatically allow stakeholders and suppliers to react differently to them. If not, then a communication plan or influencing strategy is required. This strategy might include:
  • Having the same conversation with stakeholders about the roles you play
  • Discussing the positive and negative behaviours
In other words get their input into what they want the different roles of procurement to be. As they provide their input you have the opportunity to teach them about the wider meaning of procurement, and what benefits can be obtained if we're allowed to truly transform what we do. 

Of course engagement with stakeholders could include
  • Their involvement in the super hero / Mr men & Miss day
  • Sending post cards demonstrating a visual for what to expect from procurement 
Don't forget we're using absurdity as a means to jolt people's perceptions away from a negative one to a more positive one. What we're doing is sending their and our minds on a transderivational search to make new meaning of data we're giving them. 

As I said earlier there are other more conventional means of shifting people's beliefs, and in some organisations you may need to consider using those before the bad cop identity is something relegated to the past. 

I'm more than happy to be involved in facilitating a session with your team to explore the unhelpful roles, identities and behaviours that are stopping you really delivering value to your organisation. alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159   

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking procurement potential using unconventional tools

A previous post using a similar tool of absurdity and language is No seat at the table and is another 7, if not 8, out of 10 on the weirdness unconventional scale looking at the options to Procurement when they don't have a seat at the table and want one - or do they?

Another post (2/10 this time) was written for one of the consultancies I'm an associate for and uses Kraljic to understand why Procurement isn't seen as strategic by the board.

You'll find an index of posts sharing other unconventional tools applied to Procurement challenges here.

Thursday, 9 March 2017

Momentum provides motivation

I was listening to Brendon Burchard on a podcast and he said "momentum provides motivation".

Read that again.

"Momentum provides motivation"

He didn't say motivation provides the momentum, he said momentum provides the motivation.

A great reminder that taking action towards our goals every day can also inspire further action. Rather than just the other way around.

We don't have to wait for the motivation to take that action. 

One morning a few months ago, whilst mid vision setting and thinking I had to have the vision perfect before I took action, I woke with the following words in my mind.

"Put your running shoes on."

It didn't mean literally, it meant put them on metaphorically and do something every day towards the vision.

As I often do, when I may find great insight or advice hard to accept, I made a collage. I think it's as much about the act of making it, that changes the internal beliefs and mindset, as having the resulting collage card and leaving it somewhere where I will see it regularly.

This is the collage I made.
Another collage I made at the same time was made to act as a reminder for me to do my hip mobilisation exercises daily. Exercises I know help my knees (and one reason I knew the running shoes weren't for actual running!). Exercises that I don't however do every day - other than when I did the 28 day challenge.   

The smiling face in the collage was made by the 5 year old from next door and is of me - complete with purple fringe (bangs?). Apparently he "didn't need to draw the white hair because the paper was white" :-). 

The great news is that since making the collage I have done my hip mobilisation every day.  
For me taking the time to find the appropriate pictures, cut them out, position them, glue them, talk to next door's son and help him with his drawing, and make the card was the momentum that has since provided the motivation to keep me taking action.

What can you do today to start the momentum to get where you want to go?  

I also make collage cards to use as coaching and facilitation tools with clients - more here. They were certainly very popular in a recent session with the Scottish Institute for Business Leaders with one senior manager saying:

"I found the approach valuable, and an excellent framework to help develop solutions from a new perspective. It was interesting how apparently random pictures prompted highly relevant thoughts. Definitely recommended, and approach with an open mind" left in comments in a recent post.

Alison Smith
The Purchasing Coach
Unlocking personal potential using unconventional tools