Blimey, in the process of changing all my passwords I noticed a metric of “been busy last qtr”.  I hadn’t added anything to the blog in 2 months. The other metric was rolling through “photos in Facebook”. I see we’d had a busy life as well as a busy work life! So much so we cancelled a weekend in Krakow just now to stay home and just do nothing 🙂

Which brings me to why I wanted to blog. I’m a prolific poster but blogging on a phone just isn’t practical. Today I’m working at home. I don’t have a specific deadline today. It’s a first for  a while. I reviewed my diary for the rest of the quarter on the flight home yesterday and decided I should breathe today and make the most of today.

For me, blogging is a good way of breathing, of getting thoughts together, deciding what I think. Thinking deeper. It takes time to do this. And I need to take time out to do it. I was reminded of this by 5 sets of great and wide ranging conversations in the last 2 weeks. Most of which had no predetermined objectives or agenda, but led to better thinking, to learning new stuff, to exploring old stuff and recognising the joy of keeping your eyes open when work and/or life is busy.

IMG_6607– A trip inside 10 Downing Street with the Growth Britain initiative. Amazingly relaxed once inside those big bad gates. Brilliant to meet fellow entrepreneurs of all ages, learning all those lessons  from dot.com times in 2000, the hard way. Interesting to see how listening with political ears works. Or not. I’ll keep working on the idea I took: Corporation Tax/Employment tax offset. A whole blog on that required. But simply put: don’t drag big cash-flow out of small businesses in January to pay CT. Let them use that money to fund new jobs. But only as long as the net new employment taxes offset the CT so HMRC is no worse off. Simples. Or so I thought….. Get in touch if you are the leader of a political party and want to use the idea! But how far detached is their world…..”How do you solve a problem like Maria?”… sorry DC it’s just not that complicated. As the Beatles said: Head in a cloud, The man of a thousand voices talking perfectly loud, But nobody ever hears him, Or the sound he appears to make, And he never seems to notice…… But the fool on the hill……..

– A 40 year  reunion of first meeting college friends (16 years before I was born of course – LOL!). Of course it’s surprising to see a hall full of old people, but luckily no one I knew got old  (c’mon think about it….. you know the person, you see the mental age. You don’t know the person you see the physical age). Fascinating conversations on Lamborghini pensions, atomic energy, laments on education. And of course the odd drink was taken. It was interesting to hear the different reactions to those with private pensions and those with company pensions not affected by the Lambo scheme. Such anger at the  scandalous behaviour of pensions companies has been tapped politically, whatever you feel about the long term effect.

– A dinner over Pizza in west London last week with lovely folk helping the “Pro Bono Professionals” initiative. It’s a group formerly known as Customer Experience Pro Bono ….. If you’re in it, don’t worry we haven’t changed anything yet as we’re in testing or a new platform to launch so we can scale the initiative beyond the 100 or so people now donating 2 days or time at a time to help good causes. The conversations ranged about books, experiences, what personally changed in the last 2 years since we paused to talk at the same “BYO and all you can eat” pizza restaurant in Gloucester Rd.

– A session from the excellent Euan Semple at our Chief Customer Officer Forum in Oxford last week. Ranging from social outside & inside work, to the nature of management and business. These CCO Forum sessions leave plenty of time just to talk. And living for 24 hours in the beautiful setting of an Oxford College, participants were charging batteries, renewing thought processes and building ideas.

warsaw skyline– A shortened trip to Poland, just to Warsaw, to deliver a conference keynote. The conversations across 1 evening and 1 morning ranged across history, language, politics, economics, psychology and people. And then there was work too – talking about people’s passions or “pasja” in Polish. What was very interesting was what the world looks like when you walk in their shoes. Physically you could be anywhere with high rises, the odd old soviet era building. As with Asia, a passion for education as the way out of living memory of harder times. And a long memory of geopolitics affecting perspectives of today. For example young people know their history: how the Russians stayed on one river bank whilst the Germans annihilated everything on the other bank in Warsaw. How there was nothing in the shops to buy. How the Brits signed away Poland to Russia without a thought despite so many Polish people fighting in the RAF. So you can’t  blame them for being nervous about what’s going on in neighbouring Ukraine.

So what’s the common theme here?

The nature of unstructured, ill defined, messy conversations. How they give satisfaction to people, they give rise to understanding, ideas and motivation. Which later can become results of one kind or another. Sometimes look up at work and say is this working. Does a diary of back to back meetings meet my needs? Meet my company’s needs? If not, then what?

It’s hard to describe what the alternative looks like, but you know it when it happens. You’ll have your own experiences such as mine above. But can you construct work to feel that way?

When we build unconferences, it’s like that. It’s scary at first. It’s not for everyone. It’s uncertain. But afterwards it feels brilliant. But you have to get onto that wavelength. These video clips from the last ‘Stop Doing Dumb Things” unconference as part of the PPF annual conference perhaps get across some of what happens, not what it is. The next one is coming up on the 29th April in Brighton as part of a mass of customer & contact events attached to the PPF annual conference again. It was  the best thing since sliced bread at last year’s conference according to the feedback. Sometimes you just have to go with the flow and see what happens. But if you’re down in Brighton, like the ideas, just come and join in for a fun few hours and see what you experience.

Now where did the morning go…. back to structured work time LOL 🙂