Friday, 13 December 2013

Bookboon have made my book, NLP - Skills for Learning, their book of the week!

Bookboon have made my book, NLP - Skills for Learning, their book of the week!

Here's the interview they've put on their blog...

Peter Freeth on how to enhance your potential

NLP - Skills for learning interviewed author Peter Freeth
Ever heard of NLP (Neuro-Linguistic Programming)? author Peter Freeth answers a few of our questions around his book  ”NLP – Skills for learning” and explains how progress starts with what you tell your brain. Take a look! 

1. Can you tell us more about what a “labelling system” is? You mention it in the context of how people develop behaviours throughout their lives.
One of the most important mental mechanisms that we develop from early childhood is the ability to represent the world as a series of symbols. Starting perhaps with ‘mama’ and ‘dada’, children quickly move onto ‘cat’, ‘dog’ and then actions such as ‘give’. Just think about your computer – there are several different symbols that you understand for the command to print something, including a menu action, the keyboard action ‘control P’ and the printer icon on the toolbar. As we grow and learn, we have new experiences and have to figure out how to symbolise those experiences and communicate them to other people. When you describe a holiday, you don’t just say, “We went to Spain on August 30th and returned on September 14th. The weather was mostly warm and sunny”, you tell people how you felt about it, so that they can better understand your experience.
Our labelling system is therefore a vital part of how a trainer can begin to interact with a learner’s inner world. By paying careful attention to the language that people use, we can gain valuable insight into how to help them learn new behaviours more easily and effectively. And by behaviour, I mean anything from ‘leadership’ to computer skills – all involve the learner doing something, so by definition this is a behaviour which is underpinned by the learner’s model of the world.

2. When coaching, why do you think it is a good idea to include physical versions of exercises into a session? Can you give an example of physical exercises?
When a coach works only conversationally with a client, all they get in response is words, and perhaps some facial expressions. A significant proportion of the client’s communication is therefore inaccessible to the coach or trainer. When the coach asks a question, the client has too much time to think of the ‘right’ answer rather than saying what’s really true for them.
Here’s an experiment that you can do. Next time you give someone a choice and they say something like, “I don’t mind”, such as where to go for dinner, or which film to watch, hold out your two hands, palms up. Tell them that, for example, your left hand is pizza and your right hand is Chinese. Look them right in the eye and ask them which they want. A second or two before they answer, you’ll see them glance, very quickly, at their preferred choice. What their body tells you is often very different to what they say.
So physical exercises help in three ways; firstly they enable the coach to get the answer that is really true, rather than the answer that sounds good. Secondly, they enable the client to answer without having to actually answer, which is a big help when they’re discussing something emotive or traumatic. Thirdly, it enables the client to uncover information that the client may not themselves be consciously aware of yet, such as reaching a decision that they have been mulling over for a long time.

3. You mention the difference between someone saying “I can’t do…” and “I don’t do…”. How are these two types of declarations different?
These declarations are called modal operators, and they modify the way in which a verb works. I can play badminton, but I’m not doing it right now. However, I can’t play squash. When you listen to the modal operators that a person uses, they tell you how that person organises their memories and abilities around a certain task. You perhaps already know, at least instinctively, that if a person says that they’re going to try to do something, it means that they expect to fail. “I’ll try to come to your party”, or, “I’ll try to get my report finished” are ambiguous, and the listener will typically hear what they want to hear, instead of hearing the “try” for what it really is.
Many people will be making New Year’s resolutions soon, so this is a good time to notice modal operators in practice. “I really ought to lose some weight”, “I want to start cycling to work again”, and “I must get round to booking myself onto an art class” all say very different things about the speaker’s confidence in their resolution.
Trainers can use modal operators in two ways to overcome barriers to learning. The first involves listening to modal operators and adjusting their approach accordingly. The second is to modify modal operators to get a desired result. If a learner says, “I can’t do this, I’ll never get it right”, then the trainer might respond with, “Yes, I can see that you’re not quite there yet, that must be frustrating. Sometimes, people get frustrated just before they find the solution, don’t they?”. The trainer has converted the learner’s “can’t”, which means “never” to a “not now” which presupposes that success is just around the corner.
Probably the biggest difficulty with using language in this way is that, in the cold light of this sentence, it seems like it can’t possibly make a difference. But you’re not in the state of mind or the situation of the ‘stuck’ learner, so you interpret the language very differently. The important thing is to have a go and see what happens for yourself.

4. Let’s talk about the “images” you refer to as ways to create confidence. How does this work? Seems like a great method! Do a lot of people use it?
In fact, I would say that everyone uses it, because every person on the planet is goal oriented. We think about what we want before we take action to get it. That might be months ahead of time, or it might be just milliseconds. However, every action is preceded by a thought – an idea, a need, a desire, even a fear or an instruction from someone else. That idea usually takes the form of either a feeling (like thirst) or an image (like you winning the lottery).
It seems that many people worry, and worry is just an application of the same process – you imagine something that hasn’t happened yet, you picture it turning out badly, and you act as if it is happening now. If the things that you worry about were to really happen then your reaction would be entirely appropriate, however they haven’t happened, and so your response is more likely to make them happen. Going to a job interview under a dark cloud because you’re sure you won’t get the job gives the interviewer a sense that you’re pessimistic, negative and withdrawn. Not the kind of person they want to hire, and also not the kind of person that you are!
The simple trick that I’ve developed to help people with worry is this. Most people will ask the worrier, “Why are you worried?” but this is an unhelpful question because it confirms the worrier’s fears. Instead ask, “What do you imagine is going to happen?” The worrier then describes their image, and you ask, “Is that what you want to happen?” The worrier answers, “No!”, and you say, “Well, imagine something else then!”
It’s important to be realistic in all of this. If you imagine winning the lottery, it might encourage you to buy a ticket, but that’s not really an ideal way out of financial difficulties. It’s better to picture yourself taking action, getting results that you’re in control of and feeling good about yourself as someone who can set goals and make them happen.

5. When did you discover NLP? What were you doing/using before?
From when I was at school, I read books on psychology and sociology as I was interested in how people worked. In 1992 I went on an internal training course in the company that I worked for which turned out to be about NLP, and from there I just used the little that I knew in everyday meetings and so on. In 1999 I started running a large practice group in London that attracted some very well-known International trainers and up to 90 people each month, and from there I took a voluntary redundancy opportunity and started my own business. So I think that before I discovered NLP, I was just doing what most people do, learning to get through human interactions by trial and error, mostly error! I started writing about what I’d learned in about 1999, really as a way to help me to organise my own thoughts and capture some of the interesting discoveries I’d made. However, other people seemed to like my books too and it all grew from there. Today, I concentrate more on ‘modelling’ with NLP, which is a process for getting inside the heads of experts and figuring out what they do. It’s the process used to create all of NLP’s techniques, and I use it to model high performers and create custom training programs for corporate clients.

If you want to learn more about NLP and coaching, download Peter Freeth’s book “NLP – Skills for learning” right here.

Friday, 15 November 2013

Peer to Peer Learning

So what steps do you need to take if you are looking to implement a peer to peer learning programme in your organisation and what are the main pros and cons of doing so? “The first thing to understand is that your organisation already has a peer to peer learning programme,” says author and L&D consultant Peter Freeth, “So what you're actually aiming to do isn't to introduce it, but to recognise and support it.”

Unlike the more traditional learning routes, such as classroom training and e-learning, formalising peer to peer learning does not necessarily work, according to Freeth.  “The whole point is that it's totally demand driven; people learn when they need to know something, and they seek out the people who can help them,” he notes.

Identifying the key influencers within your learning network and ensuring you provide them with some training delivery skills is the next stage, says Freeth. “Remember that an expert is someone with knowledge, not necessarily someone who knows how they acquired that knowledge,” he adds. So the learning needs to be facilitated by someone who can bridge the gap between the expert and the learner, rather than becoming a demonstration by the expert.

Read the full article at the ILM...

Sunday, 27 October 2013

The People Cycle

The people cycle is a model for aligning the way that you build a high performing culture within an organisation.

Simply, you attract the right people, develop them to behave in the right way and align them to build the right culture.

The cycle feeds back on itself when your culture defines who the 'right' people are, because cultural alignment is a far better indication of success than the criteria that most companies' hiring managers recruit for.

Wednesday, 23 October 2013

New Review for Genius at Work

Genius at Work takes a fresh look at how to build an effective and committed workforce. Through relevant case studies Peter Freeth illustrates a sensible and engaging way to maximise the existing talent within an organisation rather than relying on the constantly changing trends of business and talent management theories.

The theories and case studies Peter uses in his book demonstrate to be highly practical with a very positive impact and outcome. I would recommend any HR professional who is looking for insight into building a talent management strategy to read Genius at Work.

Andrew Howatson, Head of Talent Acquisition, AOL Europe

Tuesday, 6 August 2013

How Do You Know What You Know?

Recently, we've been working with a company that is a long established and widely respected supplier in a specific industry. We've been helping them to develop a new staff and management development program which is planned to roll out in the New Year.

Writing the program is an ongoing challenge, because the way that they have trained staff in the past is what the majority of companies do - let them pick it up as they go along. Even something as simple as operating a till is a complex task, but nothing is written down in a form that would enable a new member of staff to work autonomously. Therefore, new staff need a lot of supervision, which takes up management time.

A formal induction and training program seems complex and it seems time consuming, yet in reality it will save time and simplify staff training by making it highly focused and - most importantly - consistent.

As we've worked through the program design, we've been asking how certain things are done. It turns out that there are broadly two ways; firstly, the way that's in the procedures manual and secondly, the way that most managers do it because they can't be bothered to follow the procedures manual, and no-one makes them.

So we actually have two issues here. The first is designing and delivering a new staff training program. That's the easy part. The second issue is the change in management culture required to support a program. The worst thing that can happen is that a newly trained assistant goes back to a store, to be told by the manager, "yeah, yeah, that's all good in theory but the way we really do it round here is..."

That would make the training program an absolute waste of time and money.

But to return to the title of this post, just writing something as simple as a procedure for processing a till transaction is a challenge. You just press this, and go into this, and click this. Oh, and don't forget to do that. Oh, and if you forget to do that you can press F2. Or you can do it at the beginning. But if you press Enter you have to press F1 and go back. Or something. And don't forget the promotional codes. And don't forget to look first if the customer has good credit.

The point is that experienced staff and managers don't remember learning how to use the till, they just picked it up as they needed to. They know how to use it, they just don't know how they learned to use it. So because they don't know how they learned it, they can only explain what they do now, not what someone without their knowledge needs to know.

The result is that the learner needs spoon feeding, which is very time consuming for the manager.

Imagine teaching someone to drive who has never been in a car before. "OK, change gear"

"How do I do that?"

As an experienced driver, you collapse all of your years of learning into the command 'Change gear', which involves using the clutch, gearstick, knowing when to change, knowing which gear you're in, knowing which gear to change into, and so on.

What has been lost in your years of experience are the details of how, and the why. Without knowing why they're changing gear, the learner will never be able to drive autonomously.

So central to every program that we design is a simple rule of thumb.

We aren't trying to find out how someone does something.

We're finding out how they learned to do it.

The subtle difference makes the process easier, faster and better, because it creates a program designed for people who are still on that learning journey that the experienced staff take for granted.

Finally, using the Genius at Work methodology, we build in the why, so the learners don't just learn how to do something, they learn how to do it for themselves.

Tuesday, 25 June 2013

Canon Learns the Six Secrets of the Best Sales People

As part of Learning at Work day this year, we spent some time with Sales Managers at Canon, sharing what we've discovered about high performing sales people over the past 12 years that we have been researching high performers.

Catherine Noel, Canon's L&D Business Partner, says:

"In the fast paced environment we work in, the senior sales managers really welcomed the opportunity to spend an hour thinking about how they manage talent and can get the best from their sales teams.  The concepts were simple to grasp and apply whilst being easily overlooked!

Having recently gone through a merger, it was an ideal opportunity to consider how the culture of an organisation can facilitate or hinder successful performance. Your session was thought provoking and well received and the Sales Manager’s are interested in getting your insights to a wider audience within Canon.

Thank you for your time and I look forward to working with you again."

Tuesday, 18 June 2013

My amazing father's day card...

Surely, that counts as Genius at Work!

Thursday, 30 May 2013

A good example of the "black box"

When we model high performers, we need to find out what's going on inside their heads, because you can't tell just by looking at them. We call this the 'black box':

The contents of the black box link together the high performer's perceptions and responses, and are a set of rules which enable the high performer to act in such a way that they achieve outstanding results.

We've recently been modelling high performing mediators and facilitators who have to work with some very strong minded industry representatives in often contentious and confrontational meetings.

A good example of the black box has come up in the way that they prepare. A poor facilitator doesn't prepare for a meeting, so let's set that aside. Both the average and the best facilitators prepare, but the difference comes in what they are thinking as they prepare.

Both the average and best facilitators read the agenda, previous minutes and papers prior to the meeting. But they read them differently, and they think differently while they are reading them.

You can't see them doing it, and when you ask them what they're doing, they both just say "preparing".

Without applying the Genius at Work approach, you'd never know the difference...

Thursday, 23 May 2013

Learning at Work with Canon

To celebrate national Learning at Work day today, we've been spending the afternoon with sales managers at Canon, sharing the results of our past 12 years of research into the innate qualities of the highest performing sales people.

Everyone joined in and shared some very valuable insights from their own experiences, and five lucky managers won a signed copy of the book, Genius at Work.
Our research into the underlying thought processes and perceptions of the highest performing sales people shows that they have six consistent secrets which you can test for at interview and also develop in existing sales teams.

It's not uncommon to find sales teams where the number one sales person outsells the entire rest of the team put together. At Canon, the difference between the number 1 and number 2 sales people in a team was similarly significant, with the number 2 hitting 150% to 180% of target, and the number 1 hitting 250% of target.

In Genius at Work, I show you how to model high performers, which means getting inside their heads and understanding the unconscious decisions that lead to high performance. If you only copy what you can see, you create two problems.

Firstly, you don't know the difference between what's important and what isn't, and secondly, you can't see what's going on inside the role model's mind.

Imagine that you have never cooked anything in your life, but you would like to learn how to bake a cake. You find a chef who always bakes perfect, delicious cakes and set out to copy everything that he does. You watch carefully how he sets out his kitchen table. You write down the ingredients and how he combines them. You note that he stirs the ingredients together. And you carefully observe how he dances round the kitchen, singing, "don't stop me now" using the wooden spoon as a pretend microphone.

Because you have no idea how he bakes cakes, you have no way of knowing which of these steps are important and which aren't.

Once you have a little knowledge, you start to make assumptions. You see the chef mixing the ingredients and you don't write it down because it's obvious.

You just write down the ingredients because that's all you need to know. You know how to bake a cake, so the secret must be in the recipe.

Yet, when you try the recipe out, you don't get the same result.

Why not?

Perhaps you mixed the ingredients in order to mix them, so you mixed for five minutes. However, the chef didn't mix the ingredients to mix them, he mixed them to aerate them. He mixed the ingredients for fifteen minutes.

The same is true of a high performing salesperson. She spends the last ten minutes of every day making tomorrow's 'to do' list.

You don't write that down because it's got nothing to do with selling.

When she closes a deal, she asks the customer when they made the decision to buy from her. You don't write that down because it's irrelevant, you only want to know how she closed the deal. You just want her recipe; what she said, what she did. You want a short cut.

There is a short cut, but it doesn't come from copying the obvious stuff. It comes from learning how she chooses which of the obvious stuff to do at what time. Learning the obvious stuff is easy.

Anyone can mix the ingredients and bake a cake. But to create a masterpiece? That takes real genius.

Learning at Work with BI Worldwide

We've just spent the day with managers at BI Worldwide, sharing the Genius at Work methodology with them.

HR Director Karen Minto says, "It was very  thought-provoking, and yet was also run to demonstrate and prove how extremely simple it is to apply and achieve results!

The interaction and participative examples you gave us were great for bringing home the message/s. Without exception, we have come away with techniques and ideas of what and how we can apply our learning to make improvements in our various areas of the business.

Thank you once again for a very useful day’s activities that we can all utilise in our different roles."

Monday, 29 April 2013

Behaviour and Results

We were speaking recently at a sales conference in Kiev on the subject of sales management, and one of the important decisions that a sales manager has to make is whether to direct behaviour or results.

If you direct behaviour then you have to be sure that your directions are perfect and that the world doesn't change in between you deciding what your sales people should do and them actually doing it.

Directing behaviour is the sign of a controlling sales manager who essentially says, "I'm perfect and I know how to do your job so just do what I tell you and it will work".

The biggest problem is that when your directions don't work - and they definitely won't - your sales people will hold you accountable. By trying to take control, you actually lose control.

In Genius at Work, this approach creates Rituals and Incantations; magic spells which must surely produce results. Except they don't work.

The alternative is that you direct results. You dictate what the end result needs to be, such as the sales target, and you leave the sales person to decide how they should achieve it.

However, this approach has its problems too.

When you don't specify any conditions for hitting target, your sales people may employ questionable methods in getting there.

Therefore, the ideal option is to specify the end result and set rules for how to get there. Once you've done that, you need to regularly measure activity and refine your rules as you go along. It's no use waiting until it's too late and then saying, "I didn't want you to do it that way so I won't pay your bonus". You have to bite the bullet at every measurement stage, accept responsibility for the targets you've set and then refine them for next time. The shorter you make those measurement periods, the more quickly you can make changes. However, short measurement periods doesn't mean weekly targets and bonuses, it just means that you review the results that the sales people are achieving and adjust activity as necessary to get the right result in the right way.

Saturday, 27 April 2013

The Unsticker is Back!

My unique and, frankly, amazing problem solver, The Unsticker is coming back!

An Android and possibly iPhone app is being developed as I write this, and it will be available very very soon through the Google Play Store (and obviously iTunes if you are an Apple fan and if we decide it's worth the extra trouble).

The Unsticker is a problem solving tool. Not only that, users regularly report that after only 4 or 5 questions, they can't even remember what their problem had been, and they certainly feel very differently about it.

You'll be able to use The Unsticker with yourself to solve everyday problems and dilemmas, you'll be able to use it with your team for creative problem solving sessions, and if you're a coach, you'll be able to use it with your clients to literally unstick them.

We'll also be sending the app to some carefully selected reviewers so if you have an Android phone and you would like to be considered, get in touch.

Friday, 12 April 2013

Genius at Work joins BI Worldwide for Learning at Work Day 2013

This year's Learning at Work Day is on May 23rd and Revelation Consulting Ltd will be supporting the Campaign for Learning's annual celebration of workplace learning by spending the day with BI Worldwide, helping a number of their managers to understand how to use the modelling toolkit from Peter Freeth's book Genius at Work.

Karen Minto, BI Worlwide's Head of HR & Development, said, "I felt the offer was very topical for us as we are in the midst of some real growth in the business and are on course for a stretching set of targets and goals in 2017. Going hand in hand with this, the managers have been so busy managing the work and operational perspectives, the people side may have been overlooked, or not running as efficiently as could be. This is confirmed in some of our Best Companies results we are just starting to review."

Peter Freeth of Revelation says, "All too often, companies look externally for knowledge and skills, bringing in consultants and trainers to provide easy answers. However, the most valuable knowledge of all is already within your business, and it's evolving every day as staff interact with customers, solve problems and make business processes more efficient. Getting access to this tacit knowledge means that the whole business can benefit from this ongoing process of learning that always takes place within any organisation, and the skills to do so can easily be learned so that staff don't just know 'what' to do, they also know 'how' to do it successfully."

Revelation's research over the past twelve years shows that the performance of an individual is the result of a unique combination of their attitude, their practical skills and the culture within which they're operating, so part of the Genius at Work modelling process also involves mapping the organisation's culture so that it enables high performance rather than getting in the way.

"One thing that we have consistently found about high performers is that their results are achieved in a counter-intuitive way. They rarely set out to achieve the result that they are recognised for, and so it's understanding these hidden thought processes that is at the heart of the Genius at Work approach.", adds Peter. "When organisations work so hard to develop intellectual property and business processes, it's absolutely vital to protect and develop that knowledge so that it continues to serve as a valuable asset, supporting current and future staff and helping the business to deliver real value to its customers".

Thursday, 11 April 2013

Culture Transplant?

"There have been a lot of stories written over the last few days analyzing the departure of former Apple Inc. executive Ron Johnson from the top post at J.C. Penney Co... The New York Times cast Johnson’s stint as a clash between fast Silicon Valley ways and the stodgy culture of a 111-year-old retailer."

In researching high performers in different industries for the past 12 years, we have always found that high performance is not solely down to the person, it comes from a combination of a person within a culture. Put a person in Apple and they get results because their attitudes and behaviours are aligned with the culture. Put them in JC Penney and you see the opposite; the culture becomes a barrier.

I agree with someone who commented on the above story; that the problem is related to attribution error. When people perform badly, it was the culture's fault. When they perform well, it was all down to their personal excellence and, surely, they can apply that anywhere, right?


Friday, 29 March 2013

National Learning at Work Day - Free Workshop

Peter Freeth to Support National Learning at Work Day this May

In partnership with the Campaign for Learning, Peter Freeth is supporting this year's national Learning at Work day on May 23rd with the offer of a free Genius at Work workshop for one company.

Learning at Work (LAW) Day is an annual awareness campaign organised by the Campaign for Learning (CfL) since 1999. LAW Day promotes and supports workplace learning events across the country, and this year’s theme is 'Many Ways to Learn'.

In partnership with the Campaign for Learning, Peter Freeth is supporting this year's national Learning at Work day on May 23rd with the offer of a free Genius at Work workshop for one company.

Peter says, "In any business, there are individuals whose performance is head and shoulders above their colleagues. They seem to have a gift for delighting customers, or motivating staff, or gaining commitment from even the most evasive customers. And yet, on the surface, it's not immediately obvious what they're doing that's different. If you've ever wished that you could get inside their heads and 'clone' their talents then this is your opportunity to do just that."

For Learning at Work Day, Peter Freeth, author of Genius at Work, and his team are offering companies a free training workshop for their business leaders and managers to show how they can develop the performance of a team or business by discovering and sharing talents. The workshop can also be delivered to a cluster of small businesses.

Visit to find out more about Revelation Consulting Ltd and the Genius at Work book and talent modelling approach. Learning at Work Day is co-ordinated nationally by the Campaign for Learning as part of Adult Learners' Week

Friday, 8 March 2013

Corporate partners sought for book launch

Now that Genius at Work is out there and getting good reviews, it's time to run some book launch events, and I'm looking for corporate partners to work with.

The concept is very simple. You want to get your customers into your offices and you also want to provide important new learning experiences for your staff. So I run a workshop to launch Genius at Work in your office and you invite your customers and staff.


Saturday, 2 February 2013

Learning Styles

The issue of how people learn is often debated, usually by training providers who want to show that their way is best so that they can continue to make money out of it. Also, Universities need research projects to fund new buildings and foreign trips, so what better subject to research than how people learn?

Kolb's theory of learning has been around for almost 30 years, and is, in my mind, analogous to Newton's laws of motion. Newton didn't invent the laws in a cave and then impose them on the universe, he merely thought about what he observed and found a way to encode patterns so that they could be shared with others. A few hundred years after he did that, NASA were able to throw a tin can out into space and make contact with the moon, all using Newton's calculations.

Friday, 1 February 2013

Book Launch: Corporate Partners Wanted

I'm planning a book launch series for Genius at Work, and I'm looking for corporate partners.

Here's the deal.

You supply a room and an audience, I run a daytime or evening educational event.

Why would you want to do this?

Well, let's say that you want to get a group of potential clients together, in your offices. They're not going to come for the offer of a sales pitch from you, are they? What about the offer of a free event where they can learn:

What saved Somerfield 25% on graduate development costs?

What increased Parker Hannifin's profitability by 700%?

What doubled Domestic & General's sales conversion rate?

What gave 83% of Babcock's future leaders a career jump start?

The opportunity to learn about the methodology that underpins these results, the methodology contained within Genius at Work, is a great reason for them to spend a couple of hours in your company.

Of course, for this to work for you, your target clients have to include people such as HR Directors, L&D Managers, Talent Managers and so on. If that sounds good to you then visit and let me know.

Thursday, 31 January 2013

Sales Culture

We've been working with an engineering company to develop sales performance, and I've just been speaking to a company that delivers market research services. Each has, on the surface, a very different issue.

The engineering company wants to grow, but its sales team don't yet have the skills to work at a higher level than they already are. They are moving out of the local economy and coming up against national and international competitors who are stronger, slicker and smarter.

The market research company wants to grow, but its market environment has changed dramatically in the past five years. Where the sales team used to account manage agencies, they now sell direct to end users, where they are facing competition from new market entrants.

Whilst these two situations seem very different, they are in fact examples of the same underlying issue; that sales is part of a culture, and when that culture changes, sales behaviour must change otherwise you'll be out of business.

Wednesday, 30 January 2013

Win a Copy of Genius at Work

Why not enter our brand new competition and win a copy of Genius at Work?

A book that will show you how to reveal and reproduce the hidden talents of your highest performers?

What do you need to do to stand a chance of winning this fantastic book, worth £20?

And that's a genuine paperback book too, not an ebook.


Think of someone in your organisation who does something special. Something that gets results that others can't even get close to. Perhaps they are able to diffuse tense customer situations, or perhaps they look at a problem in a totally different way to anyone else, or perhaps they are able to inspire even the most downhearted sales person.

Most of all, no-one can figure out exactly what it is that they do that is different to what anyone else does. It's as if they have a magic wand.

Then, send us your entry, describing what it is that this person does that is so special and why it would make a difference to you and your organisation if you could reveal their secret.

The winner will be judged as  "the person whose talent makes the biggest difference to their colleagues and customers".


Multiple entries per organisation are permitted

In the event of a tie break, we may select more than one winner

Entries must be made on the official entry form, available here

Maximum length of the entry is one side of A4 using the entry form

Tuesday, 15 January 2013

The Importance of Observation

A SME furniture manufacturer hired a new quality manager who had an interest in lean manufacturing, so he started watching people as they went about their jobs.

He noticed that one man walked 10 metres to pick up a piece of wood, brought it back to his machine, cut it and then walked 10 metres to the scrap bin to throw away the waste.

The man was walking 4 miles a day.

He wondered why the man was cutting softwood when chipboard would be more than adequate.

Apparently, 13 years ago, the man had tried chipboard and it caught fire during cutting. The man announced that you can't cut chipboard, and that was that.

The quality manager tried an experiment. He put the correct tool in the machine and set it to the correct speed. It has safely and accurately cut chipboard ever since.

The saving to the company just on one piece of wood for one piece of furniture is £700,000.

Over the past 13 years, that amounts to over £9 Million.

This is lean manufacturing, which in turn is very similar to the 'time and motion' studies of the 1950s that I mentioned in Genius at Work.

The manager is slowly revolutionising the whole operation of the manufacturing business. For example, a piece of furniture wasn't quality checked until it reached the end of the line. If the person doing the first part of the assembly made a mistake, the whole unit had to be taken apart to correct it, or the whole thing was scrapped.

By introducing a quality check at every production stage, the manager increased the company's quality rating with their main customer from 15% to 89%.

In every business, there are things that people have declared 'don't work', and no-one has ever asked if that is still true.

What are you ignoring in your business?