Creating fresh from wisdom

Processes are great. They bring efficiency. Processes are awful. They drain the life out of life! Processes, as a human-created concept, contain no truth either way. Instead look for fresh wisdom.

When I began my coaching business five years ago, I thought I would have standard processes for everything (my background in corporate HR & OD had trained me to see process as good for efficiency and therefore profit)…keep reading on Medium… read more

HR in SMEs – CIPD Conference Next Week!

Having had a fantastic time blogging at the CIPD L&D Show a couple of weeks ago I’m really looking forward to going to blog in Sheffield next Tuesday for the second of a two-part CIPD event “HR in SMEs”.  The first day was on Monday in London and it looks like it was a huge success with some great tweets on #cipdsmes14.

My favourite from @HR_Cass


With a great programme for the 20th, I couldn’t wait to share a couple of snippets to get your conference tastebuds watering!

In the morning we’re going to hear about the Importance of Leadership and Innovation within an SME – a perfect topic for all organisations as the world continues to change at an increasing pace.  As well as hearing from Connor Moss (@conossy) and Alex Prince of Sheffield Hallam University, Keith Jackson, MD of JRI Orthopaedics Ltd, will speak about what they’ve been up to in their business.  To do that Keith’s going to take us on a journey!  Starting from a time when they were a traditional, autocratic business where employees would wait to be asked to do something and then they’d do it, but also where things not working out as expected were seen as failure, and treated as such.  As you’d expect, not the most fertile starting point for innovation and ideas!

Which makes the transition to where JRI is today all the more brilliant!  It’s not been easy all the way and it’s certainly not been a ‘one silver bullet’ quick-fix solution.  It’s been about making the culture all about innovation – defined for them as ‘doing things differently and doing different things’.

They’ve got some great practices in place, many of which hinge on working across disciplines both internally and externally, so that there’s raised awareness of what others are up to and what could help elsewhere in the business.  A great example of this has been developing a brand new shoulder replacement (apologies Keith I may have my technical jarogn all wrong!) which was done in collaboration with both Newcastle and Nottingham Universities.  I’m sure Keith will be sharing more on the day!

I can’t wait to hear more from Keith as he espouses a core of always striving for more – whether it be in products, service or  learning – and with a culture of inclusion, supported by a situational leadership style.  Facebook, Google, Zappos – you are ‘all that’ of course but so are JRI!  Inspiring!

A few more sessions, a bit of lunch and we’ll be starting the afternoon with Ben Saunders speaking about Attracting, Retaining and Selecting the Best Talent.  Ben is Head of HR and Learned Society for IMarEST – or in the non-shortened version ‘The Institute of Marine Engineering, Science and Technology’.  Yep, we’ll stick with the short one!

Ben describes IMarEST as the CIPD of the Marine community and with 125 years under its belt it’s going from strength to strength!  You could be forgiven for thinking 125 years = stuck in the industrial revolution era but far from it!  I got a real sense from Ben of the flexible and adaptable approach they take to everything they do:

– Responding to the requests of their members to ensure the organisation is represented in the right places globally.

– Setting up overseas – but not being concerned about ‘proper’ offices as these don’t equate to success.

– Writing HR policies as they’ve grown – but only the right ones for them and written right for their business.

– Formalising recruitment practices – but in a way which still allows them to spot talent and offer alternative career routes to the person’s ultimate job, even if it’s not the perfect job today.

– Having a core team of 50 – but hiring-in expertise on a retained basis for key projects.

The organisation has travelled a well-worn HR road with having an Office Manager…..become Personnel……to HR, Ben will be able to share that journey and what they’ve learnt along the way no doubt bringing a great level of experience to those starting this journey, maybe offering a different route to this one.  But also bringing some refreshing insights to those who are further along and perhaps getting caught in the ‘we’ve got bigger, we must put in process and controls’ approach, which is the norm.

As I write this today there are still tickets available so get yourself booked on (, it would be great to see you there.  But if you can’t make it, keep an eye on #cipdsmes14 for the tweets and blogs.

It’s going to be good!



Stop…….take a look around…….is what you’re doing crazy?

Today I looked at my sad, crumpled, paper poppy and, as I took it off my coat, I accidentally pricked myself with the pin and threw both in the bin.

What’s it all about? I love the good old paper poppy for nostalgic reasons – standing in the cold and rain in the school playground, while my friend fainted in front of me from standing too long! But really, there must be…..there are…..better poppy options!  So why do the poppy people keep making paper ones that get damaged within about 2 minutes and which are not only ‘lethal’ (possible dramatic licence there!) but are also a waste of metal – how many pins get made and thrown away every year?  Crazy!

It got me thinking about a few other things I’ve been collecting in my head recently – daft things that if we stopped and thought about them we’d think – that’s crazy!

Yellow pages for example, and the BT Phone Book for that matter. I dutifully keep mine each year when I get the new one, sending the old one to the recycling. Friends of mine I know just chuck the new one straight in the recycling and don’t even keep one in the house. Although I may be able to feel smug about my ability to tell other people a phone number if there’s an apocalypse, and no wifi or 3G, I’m not sure we need these anymore. So why is all this paper being wasted? And why are these organisations paying people to trudge the streets and deliver them by hand to people who don’t want or need them?  Crazy!

Another one I came across the other day was a trailer for the BBC show, The Call Centre.  One of the supervisors was saying that he needs to keep things fun for his team because of the drudgery and demotivating experience of being told ‘no’ or being hung up on, repeatedly, every.….single……day. I’ve not watched the show, and no doubt the TV folk chose an especially wacky call centre team to follow, and of course it creates employment for the people who work there which is great, but even so I wonder how many call centres there are around the country where it is actually just drudgery without the fun.  This scattergun approach to winning business is so out-dated – not just because of its random approach of who to call but also because when they do get to speak to a human being they’re using a ‘selling model’ more suited to the 1970′s.

As Dan Pink told us at #CIPD13, customers are more savvy now, we have more knowledge, we aren’t the polite Brits we used to be and we will just hang up on cold callers.  There’s a new way!  One where you as the seller have an intuitive human conversation with me as your customer, you listen to me and understand my needs, you consider what I’m thinking, you help me with the key information to focus on, you talk about my options, you give me the space to choose and you behave like an adult if I don’t choose to buy today – the opposite of that by the way is the childish petulant response of someone who just lost a commission payment…..don’t even get me started on that one!!

So next time you’re doing something for your customers just stop…….take a look around…….is what you’re doing crazy?