December 2009

The editor has had his turn, so we’ve sat each of our consultants on Santa’s knee and asked them what they’d really like to see in the year ahead. (If you’re wondering about their conspicuous absences, Michael and Robert are currently ‘missing presumed fed’ out there somewhere in the snow.)


Ring Out the Old

So another year almost done and dusted. We’ve left the review and the prophesies to others, by and large (see our Christmas Crackers post), and we’ll be signing off for the year later today. We hope you have survived the year – one of the most testing many of us will have had – and at least hoping to optimistic in the year to follow.

Colleagues here will be chiming in later in the day with their own versions of ‘three things I’d like to see in 2010’. But as Editor, I get first crack:-)


When work isn’t just what you do, but what your work is about (am I the only one thinking about the oozlum bird?), a certain attraction to milestone dates is inevitable. And for all our talk of habits, the world is not about to give up spending the last two weeks of the year reviewing the last 12 months and peering into their crystal balls for the next one. (To make the exception that proves our own rule, we’ll be blogging soon about what we’d like to see next year: suggestions welcome, by the way …). So rather than our usual Crackers, here’s a round up of some the most relevant or interesting reviews and predictions we’ve spotted in the last few days.


In January 2010, The European Mentoring and Coaching Council (EMCC) – an organisation of which ASK is proud to be a member – will be holding an event in London called “The Myth of Non-directive Coaching”. Guest speaker Steve Nicklen, an experienced Executive Coach, acknowledges – to quote EMCC’s promotional email – that

non-directive therapy/counselling is a good thing because the power relationship between therapist/counsellor and client is such that the latter is often too suggestible for anything else …”

but that this is not the case where the coachee is a Senior Executive. And we’d agree – and not just because of the inherently different power relationship.


I hope it’s not indicative of our recent past, but the Index to the Oxford Dictionary of 20th Century Quotations doesn’t list a single entry for ‘encouragement’. OK, so that doesn’t mean no-one had a good word (as opposed to a merely appropriate one) for anyone else for a hundred consecutive years, but the lack of anything the editors considered memorable is quite worrying. Goethe may have observed that “Correction does much, but encouragement does more” a century earlier, but has human nature changed that drastically since?

While I’m conscious that our remarks about carrots and sticks have attracted comment elsewhere, that doesn’t mean I don’t believe in carrots anymore. There may be a whiff of biblical retribution about the cliché, but we do generally reap what we sow: if all you plant is sticks, well …


In the second of our ‘Q&A’ style interviews, we talk to John Best – former CEO of Milton Keynes Council – about his personal experience of and reflections on comparisons between the private and public sectors (including their unhelpful stereotypes of each other, and their attitudes to L&D), and what organisations of whatever sector might usefully learn in – and for – the future. John’s answers to our questions are shown below: you can also read a brief biography and his responses to the Don’t Compromise Personal Learning Profile.


I’m not a sociologist, nor even a psychologist, but I do sometimes wonder if human beings have an innate problem with two-way communication. It first dawned on me as I was working in website development. As I gathered clients’ requirements and diplomatically offered advice on best practice, I began to realise that there was something about ‘interactive’  – something they all agreed was a good thing, like ‘dynamic’ and (ugh!) ‘sexy’ – they just didn’t get. Interactivity, it seemed, was fine as long as it meant end users interacting with pixels. Speaking back wasn’t on the agenda (far too scary), and other people existed to be broadcasted at. All of which puzzled me, as I thought a big part of marketing was learning to understand your target audience, which I guessed would be more difficult if all you really wanted to tell them was ‘shut up’.


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