Thoughts, Uncategorized, Wheresmylunch

Apps to distraction

Empty train (explored)

Photo courtesy of mescon(CC Attribution)

Working from home can have many benefits – but also many challenges. You are yourself accountable for your own time management, and how you choose to explore learning.

It has recently been suggested that there is no such thing as multi tasking but that actually the real skill is to be able to switch from one task to another as quickly and as cleanly as possible.

I caught a train this morning, and although I had bought a ticket, I didn’t realise that the ticket was actually the one I was going to use at a later date. The train was on the platform and I had to run to catch it. I had to pay at the other end.

I look at my iPad screen and see a plethora of Apps ranging from useful business productivity tools to games haphazardly displaced on the screen. I see one that catches my eye not remembering what that one was that I downloaded.


How many of us find ourselves distracted by stuff? Stuff that causes us to sidetrack. 

For me, its about paying attention to the train times, delete those apps I don’t use, and re organise the rest into groups so I can remain focused. What is it that you find is causing you a distraction from your main mission or plot?


Creating a Coaching Culture (Resource)

The ILM Report, Creating a coaching culture, reveals the state of coaching in Britain and how leading businesses are turning it to advantage.

ILM’s coaching research investigates the extent to which organisations are embracing the development practice of coaching. The survey of learning and development managers, decision makers at 250 large organisations, revealed a number of important findings.

Most companies use coaching as a development tool: 80% of organisations surveyed had or were using coaching. Another 9% were planning to. The more employees in the organisation, the more likely it was to use coaching. 90% of organisations with 2,000+ employees used coaching in the past five years, but just 68% of those with 230–500 employees.

It is mostly middle managers and above that receive coaching: More people should be able to benefit from coaching in organisations. At present only 52% of organisations make coaching available to all their staff. Whereas 85% of organisations said that coaching was aimed at managers and directors, and middle management.

Organisations source more coaches internally, but use external coaches to coach senior executives: 83% of organisations surveyed source coaches internally, while 65% hire them in. External coaches are used primarily to coach senior managers. Interestingly, there is more rigour over selecting external service providers, benchmarks of quality are still needed though in an unregulated coaching industry.

More support is required for internal coaches: Coaching is a discipline, a complex practical skillset that requires hands-on experience, evaluation and refinement. A greater focus on developing internal coaching capacity is needed. Most organisations recognise the value of coaching qualifications. Two-thirds (66%) offer development options for coaches such as in-house training (20%), management development programmes (11%) or one-to-one train-the-trainer support (8%).

One third (34%), however, do not offer any support or development for internal coaches.

Broad consensus on the benefits of coaching: The benefits that are obtained are well recognised and varied. 95% of organisations believed coaching as a development tool benefited the organisation, and 96% believed it benefited the individual. A broad range of specific benefits were identified including improvements in communication and inter-personal skills, leadership and management, conflict resolution, personal confidence, attitudes and motivation, management performance as well as preparation for a new role or promotion.

Coaching is aimed at improving the individual rather than the organisation: At its best, coaching addresses personal skills and development, as well as business and work skills. More organisations use coaching for personal development (53%) than for improving specific areas of organisational performance (26%).  On an individual level, though, more organisations (95%) use coaching to focus on business and workplace skills, than personal skills (70%).

Not a remedial tool: Many organisations still view coaching as a tool for correcting poor performance. However, good coaching is about achieving a high performance culture, not managing a low-performance one and should not be seen as a primarily remedial tool.

Better measurement of coaching’s effectiveness is needed: While most organisations (93%) measure coaching outcomes, evaluation approaches are inconsistent. Some organisations simply use internal appraisal systems (70%) or 360 degree appraisal (40%), only two-fifths undertake ‘specific evaluation of coaching interventions’, while just under half (49%) assess against business KPIs and goals.

A coaching culture:  Organisations wishing to maximise the benefits of coaching, should focus on increasing its scope and availability to create a coaching culture that permeates throughout their workforce. This means that coaching must be supported at the very top of the organisation, but not limited to senior executives, and that organisations must devote resources to developing their internal coaching capability.

If you want to receive the complete report, please complete box below. You will then receive a downloadable PDF.

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Walking Coaching – An opportunity for breakthrough

Walking CoachingWhen I was completing my coaching training, we practiced coaching whilst walking. We were lucky enough to be in the middle of the countryside, with winding lanes and fields as well as an abundance of wildlife.

The coaching that I enjoyed was one of the most liberating sessions in the course.It allowed me to explore a subject that had definitely been giving me concern and get to a place that I was OK with it.

Coaching outdoors allows not only a bit of exercise, but also an excuse to get away from the distortions that work and life can provide us with.

The sounds of the wind, and the smell of the fresh air all lead to a liberating space for self expression and breakthrough.

So – I want to be able to offer this out to clients so that you can also benefit from this. Initially, I am offering 1 to 1 sessions. They could be based locally to you or perhaps a bit further a field.

I will provide you with a basic kit list of ‘stuff’ to take (basics such as waterproofs, boots etc.) but I will take care of the other bits such as maps, compass, route plan etc. I will act as your guide through the walking coaching, to help you explore and be challenged on a subject using what we will have around us.

Pricing will be dependent on your location or the location that you want to explore.

First step is therefore to ge in touch with me using the contact form after which we can arrange a telephone / Skype / Lync / Hangout call to sort out the details.


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The train and the MVP

I am on a train just after rush hour.

A box of tissuesThe seat next to me is empty until a person places a packet of tissues on the seat with a laminated label saying that they are selling the tissues to help them eat. A few minutes later, the person comes back and picks up the tissues, making eye contact with me.

I am building an online business and the analogies don’t escape me. Put the sales pitch out there and gain a reaction. This is their MVP or minimum viable product and their approach will get returns. The seller is casting their net wide and allowing people to see their merchandise although I guess trying before you buy might be an offer too far.

But, the seller is not concerned about this.

They get my trust.


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Return on Investment for Coaching (The ROI debate)

Senior managers and leaders often tussle with the benefits that coaching can bring to an individual or an organisation. Perhaps this tussle is about justifying the costs of using an external coach, or perhaps it could be about justifying the incorporation of internal coaches in their organisation.

Whichever scenario, it is good to remind ourselves of some of the headline benefits of how the coaching profession can assist organisations. Of course, we are making an assumption that the coach that is providing these services is competent, and is receiving regular development and supervision to keep their clients experience of a high quality.

The benefits typically are

  • Improved performance (both individual and team)
  • Enhanced bottom line, including profit, quality, productivity, innovation, and other measuresImproved performance through coaching.
  • Improved customer service and enhanced public perception
  • Professional development, including
  • Enhanced goal setting and attainment
  • Increased confidence and empowerment
  • Skills development, especially when coaching and training are combined
  • Leadership development
  • Preparedness for advancement
  • Enhanced balance and morale
  • Enhanced relationships
  • Improved retention of quality employees

These are easy throw away statements,  but exploring some grounded research could be also of benefit.

In 2010, Simon Hague completed an MBA project considering the benefits of executive coaching to leaders of industry. In this thesis, he interviewed 9 directors of significant organisations. The outcome of the thesis was in support of the benefits highlighted above but also linked the benefits to the change curve (sometimes referred to as the grief curve).Wheresmylunch Logo He linked that the impact of coaching during a change cycle was to help people to achieve acceptance quicker, recover quicker, and potentially due to an increase in awareness, achieve a higher output than at the start of the engagement. Indeed, this has become the logo for this business. The red line represents performance without coaching and the blue line represents performance with a coaching intervention.

Additional work by others also leads us to understand that the benefits to coaching are significant.

  • Metrix Global (a fortune 500 company) calculated the ROI for coaching as 530% based on 43 qualitative interviews at Nortel. Interestingly, this jumped to 790% when staff retention was taken into account.
  • Although dated, Wayne McFarlane from PWC stated “The return on investment (ROI) in a coaching or mentoring initiative is something in the order of six-to-one pay back“.
  • A study by Manchester Consulting in Florida (2001) shows that the return on investment (ROI) in Executive Coaching was over 5.5 times the initial investment in Executive Coaching, with an average return of nearly $100,000. While the size of the benefit will be partly related to the size of the company, the study shows that the benefits of Executive Coaching are substantial. According to Manchester Consulting, the most important tangible benefits of Executive Coaching are higher productivity, greater quality and increased organizational strength; while the most important intangible benefits are improved communication, greater teamwork and higher job satisfaction.

There are differences between internal and external coaching. This will be explored in different piece of prose.

The take out – coaching does good for all the benefits listed above. The ROI shows a significant return on the spend to provide coaching and justifies itself.



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Pushing through personal and challenging boundaries

On Saturday evening, I listened with fascination as a friend of mine relayed his memories overcoming of challenge as he completed 2 legs of the Round the World Clipper Race earlier this year.

He had an audience of 100 captivated in his every word as he detailed his journey experiences. He shared with us what being on a 6,6,4,4,4 shift pattern like, what ‘hotbunking’ is and what it really meant to have sleep deprivation. He caused consternation as he talked about issues with the ‘heads’ (toilets) and how he became known ‘Head of heads’ due to his learned ability in being able to fix the toilet.

It was fascinating to hear how human endeavour gave them permission to overcome personal, boat and sea issues. He shared amusing stories and reminded us of the caution needed when existing in such an inhospitable place. The unrelenting sea did take people during this race (although not on his boat),  and credit to him, he did not dwell on this. Just as a mountaineer focuses on a hill, he was focused on the sea and the living in the now. He left the worry and concern to others maybe thousands of miles away on land back home.

This was a tremendous battle for him.

A battle that brought him back an even larger man, with sea stories to captivate and energise us all. A journey of preservation, caution and respect for the elements, as well as a journey that has helped him to respect some of life’s natural boundaries.

I am in awe, full of respect and driven to translate this great experience of another, and learn from the natural metaphors that co-exist with our business life. He challenged his personal boundaries, and is better for it and the talk reminded me of this need to challenge personal boundaries in our business life.

We need to continually strive to do stuff better, whatever that stuff is and whatever better means to us.



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Innovation and when is the elephant getting too heavy?

One of the great things about running your own business is the ability to innovate. To come up with new concepts and not be restrained in thought by ‘red tape’ or ‘we cannot do that’ type comments that one often comes across in business. The challenge of managing your own business and being your own boss allows one the luxury of making and stretching the rules, of enabling innovation and choosing the great people that the company wants to work with.

The challenge in innovation for me though is not the coming up of ideas, it is the analysis of what it is that is going to take something from ok to amazing. A coach friend often asks me whether I get attached to projects that I am working on. In a coaching context, as a professional coach, it is advisable not to get attached to the business challenges as this would dilute if not destroy the impartiality and effectiveness of the coaching discussions.

Elephants too heavyThis is the same with innovation. Sure, one needs to have the drive and tenacity to keep with the focus that any innovation needs, however, the ability to not be precious about a concept or an idea is equally important. This allows one to rationalize how good an idea is without the emotional baggage that comes with ownership that can distort this view.

One needs to understand when to let go of the elephant that is weighing heavily on the creators mind, and move onto the next one.

After all, how often do you see an elephant that flies?


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The inner drive overcoming personal challenge

Summit of Mt Toubkal - 4167m or 13667 ftOver the past week, I have been in Morocco climbing Mount Toubkal. This mountain summits at 4167m and although not technically challenging, does have less Oxygen than we find at sea level. This means that altitude sickness can appear.

The day before we summited, we were crossing a pass at 3600m. We had already completed 1000m up a path that zig zagged 104 times, and the last 200m I found particularly tough.

I soon became aware that  was suffering from altitude sickness. To put it in context, this is like having a bad hangover, suffering from

  • headache
  • nausea and vomiting
  • dizziness
  • tiredness
  • loss of appetite
  • upset stomach
  • feeling unsteady
  • shortness of breath

Many times did other members of the party ask me if I was OK.

This was meant with the best intentions but it did leave me with a question in my mind – Am I alright? The question reiterated and stamped its authority on what my body told me. The answer “of course I am not OK.”

Another approach, adopted by my wife was one of gentle encouragement that we were nearing the top and a slow approach would be best. This worked for me- it encouraged me to dig into that inner drive and engage the little energy that was there.I reached the col at 3600m and collapsed.

On the ascent, I had remembered that if the sickness got really bad, I could always drop altitude and I would feel a lot better. This was indeed the case, as I virtually ran into camp that afternoon which was at 3200m.

Overnight, I was having concerns. We were to summit Mount Toubkal the next day and if I faced this altitude sickness challenge again – I may not be able to get up the extra 600m to the summit.

However, with the next day sunrise and early breakfast came a new belief. A belief that I would make it, that I would push through any obstacle in my way and achieve the summit. On the walk we pushed through 3600m, then 4000m at another col, and hit the summit at about 11am. No symptoms of sickness, no issues with fitness, no issues with nagging voices in my head.

My take out and learn from this episode – we might find that we are thrown something that is really tough to achieve, it may be the journey that is the toughest to overcome. For me, being questioned as to my well being did not work, but being aware of a strategy (small steps) did work. The achievement of summiting, was to be celebrated and this I gave.

Mount Toubkal – Done …. but more importantly … I have found out even more about my personal drivers, levers and motivations.


Zig Zag Hell from Google

Zig Zag Hell



Pre conceived ideas

Everyone is a genius - changing mindsetThis is an exercise that can help demonstrate the impact of fixed points in life. I recently tried this with a group of 50 and the impact was fantastic.

The exercise helps people to park internal voices to conversations that they may have. You will need 3 flipchart pages and a marker pen.

Introduce the exercise that we all have our own way to deal with the complexity of life. This is born about from experience gained from things that have happened as well as learnings from reading etc.

But, sometimes we need to park these views and feelings to help get breakthrough.

Now, on flipchart 1, draw 3 dots and ask a member of the group to come and draw something on the page. Be really clear to point out the 3 dots.

On flipchart 2, draw 2 dots and ask a member of the group to come and draw something on the page again being clear to point out the 2 dots.

On the 3rd flipchart, leave blank and ask a person to come up and draw anything they want.

What is expected is that the first two people will draw something involving the dots, as you have highlighted this to them. Although you have planted suggestion, this is no different to life.

The 3rd person is likely to have drawn something else. As there are no dots, it is likely to be original and not involve any points. This is a true blank canvas.

So, now ask the group to turn to the person next to them and ask them
1. what their dots are?
2. what would be the impact for them if the dots werent there?

This is one of the many things that we do.

As a coach (in my view), we help to unclutter the dots and help people see the blank canvas.



Twitter Mashup – This Friday

Putting together the piecesRunning a self organising twitter mashup on Friday 18 July @ 11am UK time for 1 hour.

Keep an eye on what is happening by searching #grtcoach on Twitter at this time.

Simply fire up your Twitter and use hashtag #grtcoach in what you tweet. Share resources, practices, stories, suppliers, experiences and engage with some of the best coaches out there.


If you want a transcript of the Tweets – simply let me know below.