I Love it When a Plan Comes Together

The A Team

Truth be told I did not plan everything that I’m about to tell you, but enough was planned to warrant trotting out the famous A Team saying. The past week has been overwhelmingly excellent.

It exploded into life last Friday as Ailsa, Jose and I sat on the 12.06 train as it slid out of Paddington. The prosecco cork popped and we were on our way to a camping weekend near Croyde to which we and many others had been invited through connections made on Twitter. The camp was a blast and I suggest you read Mel’s blog post about how she came to be involved.

Everyone who went contributed to the fun, the food and the fooling about – it felt like a real community gathering. Lots of high quality goings on happened and I want to tell you about two things which people said to me about me that were truly uplifting. I’m not going to mention names but I’m so motivated by these two things I can’t resist sharing them.

On the Friday evening I got my guitar out and tuned it then played for a while. I just fiddled with a few tunes then someone stuck an Ipod on so I stashed the guitar. I lack confidence at times and this was one of those times. The following day one of my fellow campers referred to my playing the night before and he used the word magical. I’m grinning as I type. His feedback was magical and helped motivate me to lead a good 90 minute singalong later that evening.

Shortly after camp closed I dropped a line to a fellow camper to say thanks for the fun, great to meet you and all that. I got a lovely reply:

It was lovely to meet you and I found your willingness to just have a go and learn new skills quite inspirational!

This was in part a reference to my latest experiment where I’m teaching myself how to paint. These two moments stood out for me in an aready outstanding weekend.

On Monday I had a bit of a whinge about a poor customer experience. What’s so excellent about that? The company involved picked up on it via Twitter and engaged and went above and beyond the call of duty to fix things. As a direct result they now have a happy customer, me, at least one more new customer, and hopefully a bunch of curious people keen to find out more about them. Read all about it here. Well done Naked Wine.

On Tuesday my laptop went pop. What’s so excellent about that? Well not much but a lack of readily available technology got me talking on the phone with folks and scribbling instead of typing. It’s easy to forget the art of conversation and writing, this minor bump in the road steered me in enjoyable directions (though if you’re reading this mister repair dude I’d really like it back soon, thanks).

On Wednesday I met Rob for lunch. We had a great conversation that focussed largely on how to grow my business. It was fabulous to get such constructive, useful straight talking from someone I know and respect. Cheers Rob, you are a super star.

On Thursday Alex sent me a box of brownies. Delicious chocolate brownies. What a fabulous surprise. Go here, buy some, enjoy. Later that day I collected Keira from school which is always a real pleasure. We concluded our time together that evening with a storming game of Super Mario Bros on the Wii – what a laugh!

Today is Friday. I’m heading into town to meet Flora for lunch. Trust me that is an exciting and motivating treat in itself. Then, after lunch I’m off to Never Records to take part in the Merge Festival. I’m going to record the wonderful Human Resource and it wil be pressed onto vinyl. No need to panic about me storming the charts there will only be two copies pressed. One for me, one for Never Records. I am superexcitednervous about this – I hope it will be enormous fun.

So there you have it. A somewhat indulgent post about a somewhat excellent week. All made possible through high quality relationships and practice. The more we practice the luckier we get folks. Have a stunning weekend, I couldn’t have done this without you.


As many of you know, I dashed off to the New Forest for summer camp after last weeks singing appearance at the Social Recruiting Conference. This camp is organised by a couple of friends for around 250 friends and family. It’s an amazing, friendly, wonderful event. The only fly in the ointment is that I get asked to kick off the entertainment on the Friday night. I’ve previously found this a hugely nerve racking, almost vomit inducing fright. And as a result my nerves have affected my performances. This time – it was going to be different. I decided that if people were going to watch me I owed it to them and me to have a good time. I’d also met up with Natasha Stallard earlier in the week and she’d spoken enthusiastically to me about challenging emotions more productively. So I gave it a go.

I think I did much better this year (and before you say it yep – there is still loads of room for improvement, and I’m motivated by that) and there are a few short video clips on this post for you to look at and listen to if you like. Oh – and the picture at the top of the post is me and two good buddies in a short play called The Dukes of Has-Beens, in case y’all are interested.

I plan to use this fantastic experience to think more carefully about how we integrate a sense of community into other places too. A great example of community crossing into the workplace for me is ConnectingHR. If you have any examples of workplaces behaving like a community I’d be pleased to hear from you.

Being a part of a community is the best!

Playing With Time

One day last week I spotted someone dragging a huge sheet of brown paper around with them. Being curious I followed this guy and started talking with him. Turns out that Ed, for that is the name of the brown paper guy, is helping people to play with time. A bit like Doctor Who, but with fewer Daleks (although I’m sure I’ve spotted the odd alien lurking…) and much more focus on practical application. So what is Ed up to?

playing with time
playing with time

Ed is helping people to sequence and prioritise stuff in a participative way. So he fixes this great long piece of brown paper on the wall, and teams use it as a timeline to stick up notes about what they want and need to do, with whom and by when. Once every one has flung their stuff at the wall, so to speak, the team then thinks about the resourcing of the work and the timing of the work. Then they play with all the stickies and try to reach agreement about what to do, when to do it and how to do it.

What emerges is a useful plan which sets things out for the next few months. Importantly the playing and discussion creates a sense of collective ownership. That’s not to say that everyone owns everything – all the stickies are the responsibility of individual people. And because the timeline has been played with by everyone and the tensions which originally appear are discussed by everyone, there is a sense of community about the outcome. I was going to say a sense of “we’re all in this together” but HM Government has shattered the delightful High School Musical association I previously had with this phrase and forever made it a no go zone.

I’d not seen this method before and I quite like what Ed has helped to make happen here. It’s certainly a whole lot more fun that staring at a spreadsheet! Have you got any examples of enjoyable and effective planning you’d like to share?

Dalek image c/o Jim’s Dalek Site