This Little Thing Inside

No Fear No Career Gaping Void

The best business people, artists, etc., live in that uncomfortable space of never feeling quite good enough.

They know that the biggest rewards lie in the things that terrify us.

Everyone’s afraid. Not everyone lets it stop them.

The above picture and words appear courtesy of the lovely people at gapingvoid. Thanks for the permission to reproduce them here.

One Day At A Conference…

I spent a day last week in some lovely company at Workplace Trends 2014. In the middle of the conference – the first ever Workstock popped up. Workstock 2014 was a series of pecha kucha stories – each only just over 6 minutes long, bound together by a series of even shorter tales, written by someone thousands of miles from the event, who had never met any of the speakers. Confused? I don’t blame you – so maybe hop over to Neil Usher’s blog or Richard Byatt’s and get a feel for what when on at the event. 

Creativity Constrained

I’m a fan of the pecha kucha format – 20 slides, each on the screen for 20 seconds – 6 minutes and 40 seconds to tell your story. Constrained by the timescale, your creativity is driven to the fore. The format doesn’t appreciate umming and aahing, you need to be on your game, and you have to be prepared. PK is just not a format that tolerates winging it. And it’s hell on your nerves.

Nearly my turn. I stood at the side of the stage, nervously waiting as my short story was read out loud. Words I’d not heard before now – but somehow strangely familiar. Truthfully I struggled to take them all in as my heart pumped, blood thumped, nerves jumped. It’s only natural to be a little scared. This little thing inside.

I was nervous for three reasons. One – the PK players that went before me were excellent. Despite the constraining format everyone had breathed their own life into their tale. Two – I could sense that everyone in this group of 11 storytellers was on edge, I think we were subconsciously fuelling each other. Three – I was planning to do something for the first time – a PK mix of slides, live music and live drawing. Why make life difficult when you can make it even harder?

Feel The Fear – And Do It Anyway

Time to go. I can’t quite recall what happened next – I just fell into the performance and blended a rehearsed sequence of thoughts with adrenaline, and a wonderful sense of support from the people in the room.

Pecha Kucha Clash City Rockers

photo c/o Rose Haslem

I rattled, buzzed and hummed, and I was done. My final words as I left the stage – ‘Thank f*ck that’s over’. This little thing inside – subsided again. As I sat down – a lovely lady handed me a piece of paper:

Workstock Appraisal

This sheet of A4 instantly and forever became the best appraisal I’ve ever had. Timely, encouraging and to the point. Thank you. I enjoyed as much of the rest of Workstock as my gratefully slowing heart would allow me, and the day went on. We were all filmed so I look forward to reliving the whole thing again soon in a slightly more relaxed state.

Since Workstock I have been bowled over by the reaction to it, both as a complete performance,

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and to my contribution.

Speak To My Soul

Currently I am struggling, at times I find it hard to process why my work, particularly the work I’ve done in recent months, has provoked such strong reactions in the people around me. I am both excited and scared by what is going on. This little thing inside.

Yin/Yang/Belief/Doubt/Nerves/Excitement.

A bit like how the hotel staff gently slide the express checkout envelope under your room door, its arrival barely detected, so I’ve gently snuck this little thing inside into a few recent conversations. And it turns out that most people I speak with about this feel similarly, to a lesser or greater extent.

Yin/Yang/Belief/Doubt/Nerves/Excitement

Does this make you or me me feel any better? I’m not sure – I suppose a doubt shared is a doubt halved. It certainly won’t make the little thing inside go away, which on reflection is a good thing. As I am finding out – when we feel the fear, and do it anyway, we are making a difference.

The best business people, artists, etc., live in that uncomfortable space of never feeling quite good enough.

They know that the biggest rewards lie in the things that terrify us.

Everyone’s afraid. Not everyone lets it stop them.

Not good enough. Says who?

On the Fringe – In Manchester

This year the CIPD conference is back in Manchester on November 5th and 6th. Over the past few years I’ve enjoyed helping out at this event, and I’m really pleased to be going back again in 2014. In previous years I’ve done a lot of blogging, given talks on social leadership, culture and HR, and last year I had a lot of fun curating content for the CIPD on their tumblr channel. Things need to move on, things need to change, and so 2014 is going to be a little different for me. In addition to meeting lots of lovely people and learning something new, I’ll be playing a bit closer to the fringe this year, most of the time with my friend Meg Peppin.

Early Start

I’m heading to Manchester the day before the conference, to run an Art for Work’s Sake session. This is an interactive, useful and fun workshop to help you think about ways to be more creative at work. Here’s a review of the last Manchester session and if you’d like to come to this one, tickets cost just £80 and you can get £10 off by using the discount code CIPDConf when you book.

Reflect and Connect

Reflect and Connect

Meg and I have been asked to facilitate some open space conversation around what people are learning and how they might apply that learning in their work. Reflect and Connect takes place on the CIPD stand between 1pm and 1.30pm Wednesday and Thursday. These sessions are open to all, and we particularly hope that people attending the event on their own will take part and meet new people. No ticket required for this one – just turn up, meet people and share something interesting.

Street Wisdom

On the Wednesday morning – there’s a chance to hit the streets, and walk and talk and think. Tickets for Street Wisdom, which runs from 10.45 to 13.45 are available here. To be clear – I’m not taking part in this – I can’t fit it into my diary – and I see it as part of the wider fringe activities so I am listing it here for anyone who might be interested.

The Art of Conversation

Everyone in HR appreciates the power of a good conversation. Join us for a drink and a chat, and play with some simple ideas to explore the art of good conversation. Come and reflect on the conference and exhibition so far, and connect with other professionals in a social setting. This is an early evening get together at Epernay between 18:45 and 20:00. It’s free to attend, please grab your ticket here so we know how many people to expect.

HR Unscrambled

HR Unscrambled is back for it’s second year. What is it? A mini unconference, where you help set the agenda, and then talk about how to make work better with your fellow HR professionals. Last time out – we spoke about connecting, sharing and learning, and the future for the profession. HR Unscrambled is on Thursday morning between 08:00 and 09:15, it is free to attend and you will need a ticket, available here.

If you are going to the conference this year – it would be lovely to see you at some of these sessions. In addition to all this, I’m particularly looking forward to hearing from Rita McGrath as she asks, ‘Are We All Entrepreneurs now?’ and explores how small changes mean so much for business agility. Small is the new significant – a favourite subject of mine. What are you looking forward to?

Creativity Constrained – HR Tech Haikus

Haiku: Noun. A Japanese poem of seventeen syllables, in three lines of five, seven, and five.

Today my blog post
Is based on the haiku form
Will it work or not?

I spoke with Heather
Tweeting from a conference
About HR tech

She encouraged me
To give haiku tweets a try
Here are some of mine

Data has a soul
And to find it you must search
Way down in the mine

Data makes patterns
Numbers as flow and beauty
Your work is your art

Human capital
A name devoid of feelings
I’m not a number

HRTech Haiku
Sort the data from the flow
Aha! Now I see

Data in the cloud
It’s raining information
Drowning in numbers

Heather wrote some too
She said I could share with you
OK here we go

Data are just bits
Of fact, wrapped up in stories
Truth requires both

Data cannot drive.
It doesn’t do anything
Unless asked nicely

Workforce analytics
How do we measure spirit?
With data ripples

Engage your data
Algorithms need love too.
No more lonely code

Great #HRTechConf
Have a people hangover.
My brain is too full.

Creativity
Ofen driven by constraint
You do more with less