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Wednesday, 13 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 13: Do nothing

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

Following on from yesterday's insight I'm reminded of another tool - Do nothing.

Here, I don't mean do nothing about the problem and do everything and anything else instead.

I mean, DO NOTHING - zilch!

Put your phone down, turn your laptop off, or at least walk away from them all, and have a quiet few moments to your self.

A few minutes walking, or sitting with no talking, no thinking, just being in the moment, and taking deep breaths.

And then, and only after your few minutes away, notice what you notice.

Alison Smith
Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here.

Tuesday, 12 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 12: Books

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight


This unconventional tool relies on the fact that our brain is a meaning making machine, and if we tell it that it will find a solution within a book - it will find one. (It also assumes that conventional thinking has been unable to provide a solution, and is why I often consider the applicability of an unconventional tool or two in any situation I'm wanting more clarity on, because they provide us with a different perspective).

Yes you read right - think of a situation you'd like more clarity and insight on, open a book, any book, and notice what you notice. You may just be surprised.

I have used this in creativity sessions in procurement workshops a lot over the last year, and one group were so surprised they'd found a solution so easily they kept opening the book to try to find catch the process out, and got more and more annoyed that it kept on working.

Let me show you how it works........

Think of an issue you'd like more clarity on, and let's see what these festive books have to offer:

I'll highlight what I notice, and yet you may find you may notice something different even from the short extracts I've provided:


"Mr Muddle had decorated himself (not the tree)" My take on these words and the image is, how can I make it less about me, and put the focus back on where it should be? That is, I need to focus on the task in hand not spend time worrying about whether I look or sound the part or not!
"it's the hap-happiest season of all" reminds me is that there's the right time and circumstances that support every state of mind and body ie the external environment can provide a nudge in the right direction. Which might have us considering what external environment helps us achieve the state of mind and body that's currently eluding us? Going outside for a walk is what's coming to mind for me.
On first opening the book I noticed "admiration and gratitude" and took the picture accordingly, and wondered if it was inviting me to get back into writing a daily gratitude log to get me into noticing all the good things I already have in my life. Which links to the post from Window 10.

As I posted the image here I noticed "single-minded" and think that feels aligns with the earlier comment about focusing on what needs to get done - especially with Christmas approaching! What can be left until January, and what needs to done before I leave for my Festive break?
Hmmm ... what have I forgotten I wonder because if "A Christmas tree isn't complete without angels" then what essential component have I forgotten in the current situation - gratitude possibly? communication? respect? a grin?  hmmmm or patience perhaps :-)
"Couldn't have met in a better place" is perhaps reminding us about choosing the right place for what ever we have in mind to take place, or perhaps a reminder to oil the hinges to stop it skreeking!
"What a tangle" reminds us to untangle that which is tangled. Certainly not to keep skipping, but to put the skipping rope down and then decide what to do.
"He shed a shed a few drops of water on them from it, and their good humour was restored" Not sure this is suggesting we take to drink, but it is suggesting we find some means of restoring ours or other people's good humour.
"The knife sharpener" reminds me of Steven Covey's 7th habit of sharpening the saw. ie "preserving and enhancing the greatest asset you have - you".
"Simplicity lends itself to all sorts of approaches"

In short, I'm taking away the need to:
  • Stop and put everything down first
  • Focus on the task in hand
  • Have patience
  • Access an appropriate state of mind and body for the task in hand
  • Ensure the environment supports the desired outcome
  • Keep things simple, decide what needs to be done now and what can wait 
  • Focus on what I'm good at 
Obvious perhaps, and yet isn't it the obvious things staring us in the face that we're ignoring that can often make the difference?

What did you take away from this exploration of a few festive reads?

Alison Smith
Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here.

Monday, 11 December 2017

Purchasing Coach: Advent Window 11: Pipe Cleaners

25 unconventional coaching and facilitation tools to surprise and delight

Whilst not as new a tool in my toolbox as blackout poetry, pipe cleaners have only been with me for just over a year. Here's notes from that first session exploring improving communication with internal stakeholders.

It never fails to amaze me how effective this tool is at allowing people to develop a plan to resolve a problem they've been struggling with for some time. We've had a few great sessions recently during some procurement workshops. One team even left the workshop keen to use the pipe cleaners with their stakeholders to help shift a problem they'd been facing :-).

Here's the journey I took with pipe cleaners a few weeks ago, just before this series of posts started:


There's no reason for me to understand why this represented the current stuck situation, but it did! 

That's how the unconscious works - there's no need for the logical brain to know - so long as the right more creative side does!

I was grappling with making it something else, something less stuck and boring, and more motivating and able to stand up on it's own (rather than use the candle holder you can see in the image above).

As I did this I found myself turning it upside down and, perhaps because I'd started to think about this advent series of blogs, the idea of a Christmas tree came to mind.

Here's the journey of that idea...  







It won't win any prizes but that's not the aim - the aim it to explore an issue without words, without logic, and to allow the unconscious to guide the exploration, and in so doing to release the blocks to progress, and for insight, inspiration and action to arise.

I can't say I felt any great insight at the time, but as I reflect on what's happened since then I'd suggest life has given me:
I can certainly see these outcomes in the resulting Christmas tree.

I'm afraid the only way to truly understand how effective this process is, would be to have a go yourself. Do let me know how you get on.

Alison Smith
Unlocking procurement potential - using conventional and unconventional tools
Procurement and Business Speaker, Coach, Trainer, & Facilitator
alison@alisonsmith.eu +44 (0)7770 538159

Earlier in the year I applied some of the unconventional tools shared in this series of advent posts to common procurement challenges - more here.