1. Editorial: The impact of a new environment – Richard Winfield
I have had plenty of reason to think about the impact of environment on other levels in the neurological levels model this week.
The Neurological Levels model helps individuals and teams align their environment, behaviours, competencies, beliefs/values, identity and purpose, challenging them also to consider a higher purpose – whether work-based, family, social or spiritual in which they make a contribution outside the day to day demands of life.
This is a really useful model for studying organisations. It can be used for collecting information, identifying lack of congruence between levels or between organisations, for deciding the most effective place for an intervention to achieve change, or for preparing a specification – e.g. a job description or mission statement.
During the week we ran a course in consultancy skills, that paid considerable attention to the logical levels as a means of collecting information and assisting in the investigation phase of the consultancy cycle.
I have also spent the weekend moving into our new office in central Birmingham. Clearly, this is a new working environment, but how does it impact on the other levels? Let's combine the editorial this week with some coaching notes and do a standard review of how it will affect me personally:
The new environment is in a city centre location with new furniture, storage and equipment. As well as being a Brefi Group office, it will be my working environment and I will bring my history with me by hanging a large number of certificates and pictures from our photo gallery – helping to establish and reinforce my "identity", and generating discussion with clients about different services that we offer.
The office will be in a sociable context, where I can easily meet potential clients and networkers. It will provide excellent facilities for executive coaching.
The new office will immediately require a series of new behaviours. It is the first time for many years that I have worked more than a short walk from home. Previously, if I was working with American clients, I would be able to return to the office after my evening meal for an additional shift in different time zones. It was also easy to call in at the weekend to catch up. Although I shall have an alternative workstation at home, a city centre office will require greater work discipline and improve my work life balance.
Mixing with commuters and other professionals will help me generate other social skills and stretch my identity. I shall be more inclined to delegate negotiations in London and the regions to our local teams, applying the skills that I expect of clients.
I shall have to learn new skills in managing documents and data as I operate both a laptop and a desktop computer in different locations and transfer my diary and contacts from paper to a PDA. Access to broadband will ensure that I keep in touch with the demands of an ever improving Internet. It will also require me to be even more sensitive to security issues.
Whilst continuing to value travelling to projects across the country and overseas, particularly in America, I will begin to place a higher value on local contacts and involvement in a new community. Indeed, the move is based on a belief that even a virtual team needs a prominent base.
There is an opportunity to test a different belief about abundance – that work will 'flow in', as well as there being plenty of work 'out there'; that the less travelling I do, the more work will appear; that focus will achieve a greater critical mass than dispersal.
I strongly believe that the benefits of the work I do flow out from the workplace through families into the community at large. As I commit a greater proportion of my time to one location, I shall be more able to commit to some pro bono mentoring. I might even be sufficiently consistent to be able to join a choir and pre-book for theatre and concert performance – fulfilling some of my cultural values.
Having left Wales after 27 years I am already challenged with becoming an urban/suburban man.
Here is an opportunity for a major change – from an outsider to an insider – from peripatetic to office-based – from a supplier to a community to a member of a community – from a specialist professional to a fellow professional.
Purpose in the logical levels model includes links outside the system and into society. My purpose remains to help individuals and teams to discover and achieve their potential, to bring alignment between who they are and what they do, and thus to improve corporate performance.
I have done this in conjunction with a team of associates who already fulfiled our criteria on appointment. The opening of a new head office is the first stage of a plan to expand our effectiveness through a more formal structure in which we train and coach others to become associates, thus multiplying our impact for congruent change.
Choice of a base in Birmingham, with its excellent road, rail and air connections, also lays the basis for more overseas business.
Perhaps, any of these could have been achieved from a different base in a different location. But the character and balance of the business would be different.
The implication of this review is that the change at the environmental level will lead to changes at the other levels. But, of course, some changes in other levels have been required in order to achieve the change in environment – especially in beliefs, behaviours and competences, just to decide on and implement the new office.
How often do you refer to the logical levels model when reviewing the impact and management of change?
2. Learning notes: Self managed learning
Carol Newland, Brefi Group
Organisations these days face growing pressure for increased results from fewer people and therefore need to invest heavily in learning and development. Yet expenditure on training and development does not always produce results for individuals or their organisations. Neither does individual learning always integrate with organisational needs. Something different is needed.
Self Managed Learning is a way of creating a situation where learning is owned by the individual and aligned with organisational needs. Individuals take responsibility for decisions about what, why and how they learn, and then do their learning in the real organisational world. Their learning can involve a wide range of activities, including reading, being coached, observing or shadowing others, projects or secondment.
They join groups of five or six people and the group supports them in their learning as well as providing challenge. Individuals negotiate a learning contract and report progress on it.
Each group has an advisor to take them through the process, which usually involves meeting about every six weeks over a period of nine months.
Organisations using self managed learning cite business benefits such as cost savings, improved customer relations, lower staff turnover and an improved organisational culture.
The Brefi group can advise on establishing a self managed learning scheme, provide set advisors and a one day foundation skills course for people who join groups. These can be within organisations or one of our business support groups for SMEs in which entrepreneurs meet together to spend the morning learning together and then the afternoon addressing a common problem or coaching one individual on an issue relevant to that person's organisation.
We aim to make the Brefi Group web site the premier UK developmental site for teams and individuals in organisations, so do please send us your suggestions and requests for further development. And let us know what you think of this newsletter, and comment on the content.
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We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield