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Let’s Communicate Well With Our Colleagues too

March 16th 2011

Through one of our partners, we were recently asked to run training to help graduates in the banking industry improve their communication skills. We went through a two day plan which included Insights Profiling (to understand how to communicate best to different personality preferences), Telephone Techniques and Questioning and Listening Skills. Then the client informed us that half of the delegates would not need to attend the second day of training, which would focus on questioning and listening skills. We were told that this was because those delegates were being trained for positions as traders, and would therefore not be client facing. The implications of this decision seemed clear:

‘We know we need our people to practice good communication skills when we interface with our customers, but when we interact with each other, who cares?’

As communication experts, this is the kind of attitude which drives us around the bend, as we know the profound impact person to person communication has on all aspects of an organisation. We felt inspired us to write the following letter.

Dear Clients and Prospective Clients,

The way you communicate with each other on a moment-to-moment, day-to-day basis is critically important. It can determine how effectively you realise your strategic aims, align people behind critical objectives, how quickly decisions can be taken, how people engage with each other and with the organisation as a whole. Is this not worthy of your attention and a day or two’s tailored and incisive training?

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STOP SMOKING

February 25th 2011

We recently had an opportunity to support Pfizer at a Smoking Cessation Event for the Barnet Health Authority. The featured speakers provided a powerful illustration of how a combination of counseling services and medication, including Pfizer’s Champix are giving people the best chance of succeeding at giving up smoking.

Spoon is currently offering Pfizer ideas on how to use emotional intelligence, empathic communication and storytelling techniques to enhance the rapport between counselors and clients, in order to improve quit success rates.

The event was also a sobering reminder of the long-term effects of smoking on patients and the correspondent impact on health-care services. My father had been a pack a day smoker for 30 years. Then, one night, my 12 year old brother Stefan woke up in the middle of the night shouting, ‘My dad is going to die.’ This led my father to begin a succession of attempts to quit that finally proved successful when my father was in his early 50s. On April 21st of this year, my father will celebrate his 90th birthday, and still sings in a barbershop men’s choir once a week. This shows me the value of all our efforts in helping people quit smoking.

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Partnership Announcement

September 14th 2010

Spoon is delighted to announce that we have recently linked up with Executive Learning Partnership to together design and deliver a wide range of powerful solutions for our clients.

Executive Learning Partnership (ELP) is one of Europe’s most innovative management consultancies. From its bases in Holland and Belgium, ELP has spent over 10 years improving the intangible assets—leadership, strategy, corporate culture, team dynamics, brand and reputation—of Fortune 500 companies, government agencies and NGOs.

Our partnership is a natural extension of the programme design and delivery we’ve been doing with ELP over the past five years, for clients including Philips, Fortis, MTN and Leaseplan.

ELP features an extensive network of respected thinkers in business and academia. This cutting edge expertise, coupled with Spoon’s creative, dynamic, experiential learning approach, will extend and deepen the range of training and development initiatives we can offer to enable you and your organisation to become more successful. We’d be happy to let you know more about the exciting programmes we’re developing together.

You’ll also notice a new look to us, as we’ll be calling ourselves Spoon, Member of  the Executive Learning Partnership Group. Spoon will also sit at the centre of ELP’s new operation in the UK.

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POWERFUL ALTERNATIVES TO POWERPOINT

August 6th 2010

It’s the most powerful business tool developed in the past 30 years…

It’s in widespread usage in every single Fortune 500 company…

It helps several hundred million people in organisations in every one of the world’s 162 countries organise and communicate their thoughts, plans and strategy….

It’s the thing people dread and fear when they go into a meeting or conference room…

It’s boring more people at this very minute than you’d ever imagine…

I am of course speaking of Microsoft Powerpoint.

Powerpoint’s ubiquity is irrefutable: it is indeed used everywhere. When was the last time you went to a conference or even a meeting that didn’t feature powerpoint? Apparently Steve McClaren persuaded the English Football Association to appoint him as manager by presenting a dazzling series of powerpoint slides.

At Spoon we see a lot of Powerpoint. Yet while everyone seems to be using it, no one seems to like watching a powerpoint presentation. ‘Death by Powerpoint,’ is a phrase we commonly hear people describe their last meeting as.  And as one of our clients told us recently, ‘Powerpoint should be used as a sleep aid.’

Ouch!

We often meet people who are preparing to give a presentation that they are absolutely, 100%, certain is going to bore their audiences. But here’s what we find amazing.: Even knowing this, THEY DO IT ANYWAY.

Ouch! Ouch!

For a moment we’d like to borrow the saying of the National Rifle Association:*

‘Guns don’t kill people, people do.’

We know that ‘Powerpoint doesn’t bore people, people do.’

That’s why we have developed a programme designed to help anyone who delivers presentations to use Powerpoint more efficiently, or to get their messages across using no Powerpoint at all.

We can show you how to:

  • Avoid the seven deadly sins of Powerpoint
  • Distill the information on your slides (and use far fewer slides, if any)
  • Master the 6 core essentials of a powerful presentation
  • Make your ideas ‘sticky’
  • Better engage the curiousity of your audience
  • Make your material so memorable you won’t have to refer to your slides to remember it yourself!

We’ll also debunk the myths about Powerpoint, including:

  • ‘If I don’t use a Powerpoint presentation people won’t take me seriously.’
  • ‘Without Powerpoint people won’t think I’ve prepared my material.’

Our clients tell us that this course has made their presentations more engaging, memorable, and fun to deliver. We know your personal, team and company success often relies on your ability to communicate effectively—and this means energizing your audiences and maintaining their interest throughout every presentation.

*For the record, Spoon is firmly in favour of gun control, and do not endorse any of the policies of The National Rifle Association.

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YOUR COALITION ALLIES

June 12th 2010

Here in the UK we’ve got a coalition government, a strategic alliance that is vowing to tackle the very pressing issues Great Britain now faces.

We know that the most successful people are always good at forming strong strategic alliances with those around them. especially in challenging times. We often remind managers and leaders to make a map of all the people they can call on as allies. When the going gets tough it’s good to remember how many people from all the walks of your life are there to support you. Here’s how to do this:

Get a blank sheet of paper, and put your initials in the centre. Circle them. Now noting all the people you can call on for support. These can be current and past colleagues and mentors, friends and family, even inspirational leaders you may have only met in the pages of their books. Write each of their initials around yours. I bet you’ll be surprised by the number of people who are eager and able to support you, with advice or practical help.

And once you’ve completed a draft of you allies chart, think again. Are there any unexpected allies you can recruit to support your current efforts?’ Stay on the lookout for people who think differently than you do—these people can become your most useful allies, because they’ll  see the things you miss and may have other capabilities you lack.

At Spoon we aim to be vital allies for our clients. We see our role as partners, co-designing training and development work that is focussed on each clients’ particular pressing issues and challenges. Like the best allies, we’re in it for the long-haul success of our clients, and everything we do is designed to promote this. We know this is what makes our business a success.

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NEW POLITICS

May 15th 2010

Here in the UK it’s been an exciting time politically, in the wake of this month’s inconclusive election result. In the days after the election we followed with interest as the Conservative and Labour parties climbed over each other to court Lib Dem support and votes. Never before had it seemed like the third place finisher had indeed won the gold medal.

We’ve now got a working coalition, although Conservatives and Lib Dems are certainly unexpected bedfellows. It was even more remarkable to hear members of our new government proclaiming that they will create a ‘new politics’ based more on cooperation and compromise in their unlikely alliance.

We often hear people complain about ‘office politics.’ For some ‘office politics’ means the most capable people don’t get promoted. For other ‘office politics ‘ creates an atmosphere of fear in which people are more willing to tell their bosses and colleagues what they want to hear, even if its not in the best interests of the team or organisation.

Might it be possible to create a ‘new politics’ in your organisation? If  the government can do it, why not? But ‘new politics’ means a change in company culture. We know that culture is driven by behaviour, and this is where Spoon’s work is focussed: on creating the behaviour change that will drive organizational change. Is it easy? No. Is it worthwhile? Always.

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The Impact of One-to-One

April 8th 2010

Connection and communication are essential to our being and our greatest impact is achieved when we are absolutely present.

Spoon’s Personal Impact and Presentation Skills coaching is effective because of the focus and attention our experts give to our clients. Each session is tailored to suit the individual’s needs and supply them with practical techniques that transform their lives. Everyone can benefit from the work and the effect is extraordinary:

“I came through the selection process with flying colours! I even  received quite a few comments that I was the best speaker on the night. Thank you for your help in achieving that. I certainly feel I can attribute such a strong performance to the work we did, and directly to your help.”

– Ross Grant, Councillor at Leicester City Council and Parliamentary Candidate for Conservative Party

It is essential that the individual is ready and committed to the journey ahead, before embarking on a change. To effect tangible change, practice is an imperative. No one else can do this for you. Our coaches offer tools and skills to aid your progress and your dedication to their rehearsal will enable them to become a part of your personal toolbox. An athlete’s performance is directly related to the hours of training they undertake!

Applying the techniques our experienced coaches offer requires developing a high level of self-awareness. Being conscious of how you appear to others is the first step to expanding your repertoire.

To change one’s behaviour takes determination and, sometimes, a bit of courage. For the many clients we have coached, the positive transformation has been well and truly worth it.

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MASTERING THE FUTURE

March 15th 2010

We’re watching the UK gear up for what may prove to be the most interesting election in decades. The polls are see-sawing back and forth, and no one party is making decisive gains.

A friend of mine recently shared a theory he’d heard which explained the successful election of Barack Obama. Much has been made about Obama’s brilliant use of social networking sites and ground roots network of attracting voters, and of his oratorical skills. But this theory was much simpler.  Obama’s biggest advantage was that he chose to focus on the future. Both of his opponents—Hilary Clinton in the primaries and then John McCain in the general election—tried to win voters by emphasizing their long experience compared to younger, relatively neophyte Obama. But Obama kept pointing the lens at the future—not at what he had done, but what he would do on the journey ahead.

One of the great challenges in any organization is to blaze (and stay on) a trail to a compelling future while at the same time focusing energy and resources on what needs to be accomplished this day, this week, this month in order to realise that future. At the same time one needs to examine and prepare for all the different scenarios that may exist in our markets and regulatory environments. It’s a full time job, and one that we at Spoon regularly are helping our clients master.

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A Happy and Heroic New Year

January 8th 2010

As 2010 slowly gets into gear, we at Spoon have been asking all our clients –whether they are individuals or large companies—one simple question:

What do you want to accomplish this year?

For some of our clients this will be completing an important project, or a series of interconnected projects. For others it will mean seizing a new opportunity or facing up to an unavoidable challenge. For still others it will be realising a personal, team or organisational transformation.

We often support our clients by helping them conceive of their current challenges and aspirations as a story—a story in which an individual, team or an entire organisation embarks on a journey of discovery and transformation. This is a tried and trusted formula: ever since we stood up on two feet and started speaking to each other, we humans have been using stories to help ourselves and others understand where we’ve been and where we want to be.

Every inspirational story has its high points. But even more important are a story’s low points—where protagonists must find new ways of being and behaving in order to overcome obstacles and solve seemingly intractable problems. It is at these low points where ordinary men and women discover and engage their own heroic qualities and turn new insight into action designed to serve the greater good.

Some of Spoon’s highest impact work supports clients who need to take decisive action to most effectively respond to the challenges that will determine the level of success they will enjoy.  Our intention for 2010 is to show companies how to create inspirational stories that will drive their performance.

At Spoon we’re looking forward to celebrating and recounting our clients’ success stories this year.

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The Three Types of Consultants

November 8th 2009

There are thousands upon thousands of consultancies throughout the world. Indeed, even more have been cropping up recently as leaders and managers, made redundant as a result of the credit crisis, turn to consultancy as a means of earning their income. Despite this abundance, most consultancies follow one of the same two models.

The first, and most traditional, type of consultant follows the business school model. Their work consists of sharing their own or others’ research on effective business practice and behaviour. They then leave it up to their clients to find ways to apply and implement the models that they share.  Once their consultancy is finished, they rarely follow up with clients to see if their programmes have led to changes in behaviour or improved results. 

The second type is favoured by large international management consultancies such as Mckinsey.  These consultants develop a model to analyse a company’s performance and behaviour. But they don’t share the model with their clients. Instead, they use the model to diagnose an organisation’s strengths, weaknesses and challenges and then suggest solutions. They deliver a written report to the senior leaders and encourage them to implement their suggestions.

We at Spoon like to offer our clients a bit more. We recognise that new models, tools and techniques need to be delivered in active, experiential ways that engage participants, embed learning and enable people to do their best work. All training also must be cost and resource effective. We know that new ways of working need to be practiced before being taken into the workplace and then must be integrated into the day-to-day workings of the organisation. We also believe that those who learn our models and techniques should be able to teach it to others. That’s why we offer Train the Trainer programmes to provide real, lasting value and impact for our clients.

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