Posts Tagged ‘forum’

Be clear about what you can actually manage

Monday, August 2nd, 2010

I was reading some posts on a Forum at the weekend relating to a person wanting some ideas for running a ‘Time Management Course’. I’m sure that you will have seen such events advertised. You may even have attended one yourself. The one thing that you will not have learned on the course is how to manage time.

Do sailors and mariners attend Tide Management courses? I don’t think so. I’m aware that King Canute piloted such a course back in the eleventh Century, but it turned out to be a bit of a non starter. He quickly realised that he was struggling to achieve the stated objectives and delegate feedback wouldn’t be good. There are certainly none that I can find on the internet. That’s probably because everyone knows that it’s not possible to manage the tide – you have to work within around High and Low tides.

I have been in cars many times when it has been getting dark and the driver – whether it has been me or someone else – has turned the lights on. As I turn the lights on, I don’t think to myself, “Oh, I’ll just manage the sunset”, I think (something like), “Oh, it’s getting dark”.

As a slight aside to that, who thought it would be a good idea to teach children about the sun rising and the sun setting? And then just when they understand that – or they think they understand it – teach  them that actually the sun stays exactly where it is – it’s us that moves …

Anyway, back to time management … So why do we talk about time management?

Not only is it an impossible task, it actually detracts from what anyone attending such a learning event is probably intending to address. If the event was called something like “Effective Task Management”, then this would more accurately summarise what the event is all about. And – more importantly – it would keep the learner focused on what they should really be seeking to achieve.  

The clearer we are with communication, the more we can achieve.


A point to share

Saturday, June 5th, 2010

According to Liam Byrne, when he and his colleagues left government there was no money left. All gone. Over the coming weeks I’m sure we will find out how the Government is going to re-fill its jam jars and piggy banks. And I’m sure it will impact on us as individuals and within our workplaces. Lots of us will be looking to cut costs. Here are a couple of ideas that may assist you in saving money at work (or ‘generating efficiency savings’ if you work in Finance).

If you are a CIPD (Chartered Institute of Personnel and Development) member, do you ever use the Communities Forum? If you’re not a CIPD member and don’t know what I’m talking about, it’s an area on the CIPD website where you can pose questions or ‘discuss’ issues with other CIPD members. I suppose it’s like the ‘’ forums, but for HR matters. There are some fantastic discussions (or ‘threads’ as they are correctly called) and they generate so many different ideas – and it’s all free. Well, free if you have paid your annual subscriptions.

I know that lots of non-CIPD members would also find that facility very useful – and that the majority of delegates I have trained are not CIPD members. So if you’ve got a development type question, post it on the blog or send it to me in an email, and we’ll see if people can contribute suggested ideas or actions, and get some discussion going – and here it really will be free!

The theme of sharing is one that I want to have running throughout this blog, and so (in addition to my thoughts) I will also be sharing material that I create and which may be of value to others. Sticking with the cost saving theme, my first practical offering is a Learning and Development Costing Model.

About 10 years ago, I was looking for something that would help me quickly and accurately calculate how much it would cost to train a group of people. I wanted this for when I was in meetings and other senior managers were deciding on a whim to suggest giving 3,000 people one day’s training – with no thought for the cost. I particularly wanted the ‘lost opportunity cost’ including – in other words, the cost to the organisation of the delegate not undertaking their usual work whilst undertaking the training.  I couldn’t find anything, so I created my own. I know that a few other training managers now use it, and they find it useful, so others might too. And I have now added comments to explain how to use it.

I wish I could attach it here, but my WordPress learning for today has been that you can’t uplaod MS Excel! – ansd it’s in Excel so that it does all the calculations for you. However, if you would like a copy, please drop me an email or reply here and I’ll gladly pass it on. 

What other free resources would you find useful?


Great Railway Stations of the World

Wednesday, June 2nd, 2010

Outside the UK, I find travelling by rail so much more enjoyable than by air. Yes, it’s slower, but it’s exciting, refreshing, romantic and so many other things. The main pleasure for me is the stations themselves – often towns within cities, sometimes cathedrals of their time and built recently enough to have a place in the modern world yet old enough to remind us of another era.

Take New York’s Grand Central Terminal. For starters, what a name – so much more appealling than Birmingham New Street or Wakefield Westgate!  The largest station in the world, marble everywhere, complete with a barrel-vaulted ceiling containing 2,500 stars, a Whispering Gallery and 22 restaurants.

Times have changed since Lauren Bacall – in her wonderful autobiography, “By Myself and Then Some” – describes how she left New York by train as a young actress to go to Los Angeles (and then meet and marry Dirk Bogarde ….). Three days on the train to get to Los Angeles – “The station was large, but nothing like Grand Central”, she writes. But no station is. It now  serves only the northern suburbs and Connecticut, but it still has a magical feel to it. I’m lucky to have been to it a couple of times, and if I ever go back to New York, Grand Central Terminal (along with the Brooklyn Bridge) are the two places I would always go back to.

Closer to home there are still stations that do offer that opportunity to get on a train and arrive the next day in another capital city. When I stand it a Parisian Station and see all the exciting places I could get to by jumping on one of the trains that are standing there, I get a shiver of excitement. A couple of times I have used European overnight sleeper trains and whilst they can seem like they are verging on Dickensian in their facilities, I don’t care – it is just such an evocative way to travel!

And so unlike the Eurostar experience. Generally efficient, but not a lot of fun. I feel like I am being herded, as at an airport. I can feel my enthusiasms for all things trains oozing out of the palms of my hands as I think about Eurostar, so enough of that.

Even closer to home we have the London Underground. I always enjoy going on the Underground as it reminds me of visits to London as a child, but I’m aware that people living in London may have a different take on it! I visited the London Transport Museum in Covent Garden earlier this month and was really surprised to see how many underground stations had closed over the years. For some reason I only thought that had happened with over ground trains.

And I see blogs being like railway stations. Virtual stations for the 21st century. People come and go – some people are regulars, some people visit occasionally. Some have a real hustle and bustle about them, others are less frequented. Some grow in size and are updated, others fall into disrepair and are closed. Some have a real ‘wow’ factor to them, others … well, others just don’t.

So what’s your favourite railway station and why?