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I’m not made of cardboard.

I get looked at a lot.

I’m not hard to ignore mind.

Rugby player build (with own love handles) and boxer’s nose. Spiky hair. Earring. Flamboyant dress style.

I court it you say. Else flatten your hair; remove the ear stud and blend in.

But I don’t want to blend in. My desire to be individual drives me to want some degree of noticeability.

No, for I am talking about “that” look. The one of minor contempt. Judgement. Suspicion. Bewilderment. Ridicule. Frowning curiosity. Condescendence.

How you look when you look is a huge signal to your attitude and your approach to life.

When we think about differences in ourselves and in people and it can be an uncomfortable feeling. People NOT like us make us stare; pass judgement and form opinions.

Being looked at though can prove another thing beyond given physical attributes. You stand for something.

If you chose a hairstyle; jewelry adornment; tattoo; clothing it is a statement of you.

People notice and some may get it and tip their head or smile admiringly.

Others pass judgement at your indiscretion. Your flagrant sense of identity.

Stuff them.

Wear what you like.

Celebrate your individuality else be made of cardboard. HT @andyswann


I’ve taken to tumblr as twitter’s 140 constraint just won’t let my thoughts out and this space feels right.

And space is the thing that’s going through my head.  Here at Workplace Trends 14 conference where we’re looking at the working environment of the future.

We’ve already had the generational stereotypes; and the Google slide; and the agile working shift.

What keeps popping up in my head is apart from equipment or the purpose of the job needing you to be at a place, why should people feel the need to travel, turn up and work in an office space/working environment?

What’s the big lure?  Attraction?  Purpose for a workplace?  In a “knowledge” role and office environment work can be done anywhere.  It’s easy for me to say that as a selfie because I’ve made the choice to work as a solo player and don’t WANT a fixed asset I occasionally land in.

I think the big lure, purpose and attraction has to be to be around, interact and share with PEOPLE.

Yes those resources (people) that costs company capital in salary and benefits but of course deliver and make the company’s purpose for being actually come to life and exist.

If you can work anywhere why would you painfully (at times) travel for hours to be at a place where the IT isn’t as good as that in your bag or pocket?

Where the rules appear to be more about prohibition than liberation.

Why would you rock up to your brown desk, with colleagues you may or may not enjoy being around to indulge in the hunkered down work systems and emails and rock up at meetings and formal get togethers that largely are unproductive and waste time and suck energy from your very life?

The workplace (where equipment or service delivery is the critical factor) is increasingly a construct of a past way.

So I cannot escape the thought that we’re talking the game of agile, inclusive and choice yet our physical assets provide a lesser proposition by each day.  And we don’t appear to spend the right amount of energy and time to decouple from this lock-in we’ve had created for us.

So can we say to ourselves “we have this big building in a business park in Anywhereshire that we don’t REALLY need in total.  So how can we make it an alluring, inviting, inclusive and enjoyable place to come so people who do turn up are choosing to do so, when it’s right for them and us.  Where the place exhibits human factors.  It is designed to create a flow for people.  To choose their spots.  To  congregate and socialise.  To build connections and to contemplate.  To spark and to focus.”

Ultimately, if we really are better together, can we start to unpick our machine legacy and create a place where we can thrive and not just transact.

I am sure there’s so much human potential we fail to unleash due to the construct of our physical spaces and we surely are in the best position ever to radically change what we’ve hard wired into the environment we’ve created

Isn’t it time we stopped the roundabout of thoughts, research and discussion and move to action, activities and even experimentation?

With every new build, refurb, restructure, merger and acquisition, demerger, expansion into new territories, legislative demand, scale down or start up can we not think “what’s the best way to configure space for human beings to be the best they can be in working with us?”

Because if I see another…

- gleeful tour of an office building with rows of cream desks manned by people with headsets on; or

- small startups in a neat little office that looks like an out-take from a Blakes 7 set; or

- a panel beaters workshop with no space for 5 people to sit, relax, share a coffee and wash up properly

I might just have a sensory underload and shut down.

#nzlead Is HR Dead?

So today in the quite marvellous #nzlead Kiwi-based twitter chat on all things HR; Work and People at work we are taken over by a Scot. On the ironic occasion of a vote to decide on decoupling or retaining Scotland’s connection to the United Kingdom.

The topic “Is HR dead…” perhaps symbolises another decoupling. From old organisational and management orthodoxies.

Or a strengthening, reinvention of a corporate profession that has the focus on work’s most amazing, most unpredictable and most baffling entity: Human Beings (aka Resources).

Questions being asked and my thoughts are

Q1) What is the state that we (HR) are in?

A somewhat confused, underpowered function lost in its own identity crisis yet coupled with a passion and an ability in places which is unrivalled. HR often compares itself to other functions and comes up short. Yet I recall IT, Finance, Marketing, Change, Projects even operations and customer service having similar crises.

What IS evident is some tired models, some low adaptability and under whelming approaches taken which hold the professions reputation in check and have it ritually questioned by harder edged functions.

In its defence I feel it has spent too much time focusing on fixing and not enough on its own capability to really drive business, people and organisation change and success.

Its time to sharpen our axe so we can better secure the woodcutters and crafts people needed for a modern work proposition. People matter. Resources count. We have been too intent of resourcefulness and less intent on people powered brilliance.

Q2) Do you worry about the prognosis for HR and it’s future?

I worry about work’s future full stop. We see too much old orthodoxy still at play. Like trying to fuel an eco-diesel car with leaded petroleum.

HR has an unbelievable gift of an opportunity to show its merit and deliver success with the changes we are seeing in society, wealth, expectation and even meaning.

In its current guise HR is not adequately stocked or equipped to deliver the newer and needed working propositions.

Q3) Can the profession truly embrace multi-disciplinarity ? (See Neil’s logasphere concept)

In patches yes. Generally not. The lack of research gives some people a chance to hide away from experimentation, discovery and iteration. Technology advances not on the back of research but on science applied, product and service build, iteration and fix and release and deploy. We in HR need more experimental, iterative and success I deployable ways to get the best from people at work. For them and for the business they serve.

Q4) If we organised a small global summit to re-think HR, who should be involved?

I think it takes a mixture of a series of divergent and convergent groups made of interested practitioners and wider interested groups to work with bigger more established institutes and academia along with entrepreneur types, researchers and businesses of all types and sizes. Think big: act small: do well. It is - overall - down to us to put petty squabbles, turf wars and mistaken loyalties to factions within out profession and pull us up by our bootstraps and kick down some doors of misconception. Yes. We. Can.

People and Place. Aka Work. Please join #BTWC

Are you interested in why workplaces and the provision of space given to people to work hasn’t changed that much in the last 30 years?

Technology, what we call work and where we work are all very different now than when I entered the workforce environment in (coughs) 1985.

That’s why 2 bodies - for people and place - the CIPD & BIFM have come together to declare their interests in jointly improving what constitutes the best possible environment to “do work”.

To help us do this we need your help. Join us below if you can get to Sheffield on 12 September.

Ian Ellison picks up the story… 

We have a FANTASTIC event planned in Sheffield city centre for Friday September 12th early afternoon, and still some spaces available. The event is called ‘Street Wisdom’ and is part of a growing movement that you can read about here: Learning is taking to the streets, and the answers are everywhere!

If you are interested (from any angle or professional perspective!) in making a difference to the world of work and workplace, AND you could do with some headspace to tackle a particular problem or question that has been on your mind for a while – which can be anything, but ought to be a bit bigger than ‘cappuccino or latte?’ and most definitely smaller than ‘how can we achieve world peace?’ – then this event is for you. Trust me.

If you haven’t been keeping your eye on the FM social media over the past few months, at the BIFM ThinkFM conference in May 2014, the ‘Beyond the Workplace’ movement was launched, supported jointly by CIPD and BIFM:

It’s all about people and place, you see, if we are genuinely going to improve our world of work. Since then it has morphed into the ‘Beyond the Workplace Conversation’ with significant Twitter activity (#BtWC: and a Linked In page ( Chris Kane (currently BBC Commercial Projects) is a key lynchpin in the movement, along with some other key FM and HR social media folks. You can read more about everything here: 

A range of initiatives are underway and the movement will only continue to grow. In particular, Chris collaborated with the Street Wisdom creators to use their great idea to help catalyse new thoughts about people, work, place and their interrelationship. Following the fantastic sellout event at Trafalgar Square in July, the next event is in Sheffield on Friday September 12th.

It doesn’t matter whether you are a BIFM member, a CIPD member, or neither at the moment. This is an open invitation to get involved in a brilliant, inspirational and above all very different three-hour experience that will send you home smiling. Which is why we scheduled it for Friday afternoon :)

All we ask is that if you sign up, you definitely attend, preferably with an open mind. No-shows mean someone else misses out. Get involved in the Street Wisdom and #BtWC movement. You won’t be disappointed.

Sign up via Eventbrite by clicking the link at the top of this message. Further details will then follow soon.


Why CIPD Manchester and #SocialHRMcr is a good thing

I have the privilege - and I don’t use that term lightly - to keynote and facilitate a session at a conference on 16 October at Lancashire Cricket Club organised by CIPD Manchester Branch.  

The conference has been entirely put together to discuss, debate and put to work Social Media, connecting technologies, digital tools, apps whatever you like to call them.

Why is this a good thing?  There are people who’ve been using social media in HR to recruit, engage, development, share, network, create, learn, build relationships for AGES so this is no new thing.

Except it is STILL not a norm.  

OK it’s growing.  

OK we know a lot of the tricks now of how to mine LinkedIn, use Facebook graph searching and tweet our way into some higher form of enlightenment.  

Yet it isn’t a norm for many of our fellow practitioners at all levels.

People are still afraid, concerned, sceptical, overawed, dismissive, annoyed and just ambivalent about social technologies.

We have seen some useful research by Jonny Gifford from CIPD about how social networking is viewed by our working population via a YouGov survey and from case studies of how Enterprise Social Networks are being put to work.  If you’ve not seen it, do check it out from the CIPD’s Website here.

So why make a fuss over a CIPD Branch event in the NW?

Well I’m not making a fuss but I am calling this a great thing for a branch to do - not just because I am on the bill - for its members.

Now, CIPD Branches are run by volunteer enthusiasts.  So before anyone shouts them down, these people are doing things in THEIR time, for no extra reward other than putting something back into their profession and their locality.

Members are the recipients and beneficiaries of this network of volunteers efforts through

- events with guest speakers on themes and topics pertinent to their profession, through

- networking with other practitioners to help and collaborate when its needed support in times of challenge and

- chewing the fat and making sense of this crazy world of work we now operate in.

So it’s that which makes this event all the more special.

A group of volunteers, who truly get the need to raise the game on use of social and digital technology for their members, to enhance their credibility and viability in the places they work.  That is the good thing.

We have had people love, hate and everything in between the term #SocialHR.  I like it for it says something about not the use of Social Media but the use of socialised ways to be and do, if you’re in the HR game.

So scoff, ignore, criticise, all you like.  CIPD Manchester Branch is  doing something here for its members, through the unwavering efforts and belief of their volunteers about something which will be useful to many people struggling to get their sea legs in this wavy world of digital connectivity.

When was the last time you gave something to others you might now take for granted yourself?

I’m glad to give to #SocialHRMcr and I hope the participants will then want to change their work for the better, one social media post and online conversation at a time.

Coolest twitter things to ever happen to me

So I totally got favourited by Jane McGonigal today. Jane has a couple of immense TED talks and books on Gamification.

I am also being followed by Tom Peters.

I am also followed by 70s soul singer Melba Moore.

I got several RTs; Faves and DMs even from trend spotter, keynote legend and futurologist author Magnus Lindkvist.

I was tweeted, followed and DMd by Penny Haslam - BBC TV Breakfast presenter on business.

I am sure there are others but it shows what a cool place Twitter is to bring you closer to people you admire, that are in high profile public positions and so on.

Can I get a blue tick anytime soon Mr Costolo..?

D. A. F. T.

So the Department fot Arborists, Foresters and Tree-Scientists had their annual gathering the other day.

They talked about an alignment with nature, about the regulation being followed by the FSC and the need to “think evergreen”.

Then a bit of a falling out occurred.

The Foresters were expressing frustrations that the Tree-Scientists didn’t think big enough. Forests are massive literally and there’s not enough science being put into the “Forests of the Future”. All the scientists seemed to focus on was pocket parks and plant a tree in your garden initiatives. “We need more forests so bigger thinking” they cried.

Then the Arborists got on their high horse about how limited a range of qualifications the Foresters held. “They just plant away, dropping firs and deciduous wherever with scant regards for other fauna and smaller orchard type trees.”

The Tree-Scientists replied with a lack of underpinning nature-based study and called the 2 practice fields “overly romantic Ents who haven’t based any of their practice on research or academic longitudinal, root and branch facts”.

They all ended up disagreeing on blogs and in letters to the Times whilst the FSC just called the whole thing “a ridiculous scenario akin to intellectual dutch elm disease”.

Right, so this is fiction. Might be real but I doubt it.

HR, L&D, OD, Coaches, Trainers, Reward Specialists, Recruiters whatever you are called. If you have something to do with people power at work stop calling each other “crap” and work out how you grow Oaks from Acorns or be pruned to within an inch of existence.

Link arms, branches and roots before someone chops us all down.

Posts that hype up #generationblah

PLEASE don’t keep writing posts that have something like this in them…

"So the workplace is changing as the Gen Ys and Millennials take up posts with their…" blah blah fricking blah.

You might have some research to backup your claims but if you ONLY ask a certain age demographic then how are we to judge that it is so different?

I’m (cringes) Generation X but I am digital first, loathe hierarchy and detest open plan offices with grey carpet. I am not alone.

It is more than 24-28 year old people wanting different it’s a lot of us including we 20+ years in the workplace types who thankfully never had to put up with anyone ever saying “ooh watch out Gen Xers might wear colourful shirts…”

Most of this stereotyped tosh leads us no further to enlightenment and reeks of “they’re so different, be careful.”

We’re ALL different but that doesn’t suit a tidy little over-generalised post does it?

Writing a #generationblah post is a crime against stimulating blogging. So stand guilty as charged.

Now go sit on your bean bag and put some socks on.

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