Special Spring Cleaning Offer: 5in1 Ecosystem Wash

I am currently half way through a rather good marketing training course from Blue (generating profitable sales through marketing) Dolphin of Peterborough. So far we have covered product differentiation and customer segmentation and a whole lot more, especially about emphasising the benefits not the features. So here is my homework so far, based around my new Ecosystem offering that was launched at Henley Forum earlier this month:


How often have you felt you would rather be changing the world with your products and services

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you will begin to use your growing knowledge assets to your strategic advantage.

By measuring your external impact in a way that does not undermine your delivery,

you will be able to focus on the benefits that you desire.

With your new, powerful, world class problem solving method

you will generate more creative ideas than you have time to implement.

Then you could become truly sustainable and deliver

twice as much at half the cost.

Order a years supply now:

contact details

Storytelling for a Greener World

greenerworldHeard the great news today, by way of my invitation to the London launch, that my good friends involved in the Tales to Sustain gatherings I previously attended in 2008 (and again in  2009) are about to publish this wonderful book.

Titled ‘Storytelling for a Greener World’ it covers the what, why and how of storytelling and storywork to promote environmental mindfulness and sustainable behaviour in adults and children. Written by 21 cutting-edge professionals in story-based learning and pro-environmental change.

The book shows how to apply this practice, indoors and outdoors, in organisations,NGOs, schools, colleges and communities.
A treasury of over 40 stories, many creative activities and detailed descriptions of inspiring practice for both new and seasoned practitioners. Clearly explains how this practice works, why it is effective and how to adapt the ideas to the reader’s situation.
Powerfully endorsed by leaders in sustainability, conservation, organisation development, drama and performance, play-work, health, child development, community outreach and education.
“If we are to be able to move to a more sustainable, more resilient future, we first have to be able to imagine it.We need to be able to tell its stories, weave its magic, bring it alive so we can see, smell, hear, taste and touch it. ‘Storytelling for a Greener World’ does just that, showing the powerful role storytelling can play, and the rich insights the storytellers bring with them.It is rich, powerful and of immense importance.”
                                                         Rob Hopkins, Co-Founder, Transition Network
This unique resource offers new ideas, stories, creative activities and methods for people working in conservation, outdoor learning, environmental education, youthwork, business training, sustainability, health, social and economic change. It shows how to encourage pro-environmental behaviour in diverse participants: from organisation consultants and employees, to families, youth and schoolchildren. The stories and their exploration engage people with nature in profound ways. The book describes how this engagement enhances participants’ emotional literacy and resilience, builds community, raises awareness of inter-species communication and helps people to create a sustainable future together. Its innovative techniques establish connections between place and sustainability. Facilitators can adapt all of this to their own situation.
“A scintillating handbook to recover meaning in troubled times.”
                                                 Alastair McIntosh, author of Soil and Soul


….and if my hero Alastair thinks it is scintillating that’s good enough for me.

Cynefin on Fire – Complexity science to guide managers thoughts and actions

During the latter part of last year I facilitated three consultation workshops for the fire sector. At the one in a fire-station in Moss side, Manchester we were doing an anecdote circle to explore the narrative landscape and the subject of wildfires arose. Because fires figure regularly in my explanation of the chaotic domain of the cynefin framework I must have given a more impassioned set of examples that day, as I was asked soon after if I would write an article on cynefin for the Alert magazine (The Journal of the Institute of Civil Protection and Emergency Management). I am therefore honoured to be in the latest edition concerning itself with Resilience against the floods, the Glasgow Helicopter Crash, Crisis Management, DNA profiling and a whole lot more.


I can’t say it was easy to write. In my head I knew exactly the stories, concepts and uses I wanted to include but “we know more than we can say” and at five pages long I struggled to remember and cross refer what I had already included. Anyway, to cut as long story short, the article appears on page 40 of the current edition and can be downloaded for free here (5mb PDF)


Any feedback on the article would be much appreciated.

Butlins Rock and Blues Festival – Skegness 2014

“We built this Skeggy, we built this Skeggy on Rock and Roll”

This was my tenth year at the Great British Rock and Blues Festival.

butlins 01

First up were Slack Alice who had some impressive new material. Not sure about singer Cliff Stockers new hat which he seemed reluctant to wear in case it gave him ‘hat hair’.

butlins 02Then came my mate Rob and Dr Feelgood. I really don’t know where he gets the energy. It was exactly forty years ago that I was playing the drums behind him at the Melody Maker Folk/Rock Competition at Newcastle Polytechnic. We didn’t win but he prowled the stage exactly the same as he does now.

butlins 03

Last up was the Quireboys who were exceptionally good. I saw them at CRF last year but this was a different kind of show and they really do play to entertain.

butlins 04At Butlins the music never stops so at 12:30 we were off into Jaks bar to catch Blues Commotion. Well it was my mate Tims 50th birthday after all.

butlins 04bThats Tim on the left (age 50 and one day). It has become part of the ritual to get out to Gibralter Point NNR to do a bit of bird watching and although the hides and lakes were disappointingly devoid of birds we did spot (or at least David pointed us towards) a pair of little egrets, a merlin and a flock of scotas.

butlins 05

We had to get back to camp swiftly to catch Stray who were originally responsible for me growing my hair and joining a band. Del was joined on stage by Pete Dyer for this gig which directed the set, quite rightly, towards the 1975/76 albums. Joined by Cherry Lee Mewis for a couple of songs this was an event rather than just going through the old songs.

butlins 06Next up Groundhogs who, given we knew Tony McPhee had had a stroke a year or two ago, did remarkably well. Eccentric Man, Split parts 1 and 2, Cherry Red.

After dinner we were back in our seats for the Yardbirds (I forgot to get a photo) who have a great strategy to keep their music sustainable, recruit twenty-somethings as replacements. At first we thought this was a travesty but the quality of singing and guitar playing was stunning. The whole place sang along. I was especially pleased to see them play ‘Back Where I started’ as drummer and original Yardbird Jim McCarty was in the Box of Frogs (the 1983 Yardbirds re-union album which I love).

butlins 06bAnticipation was high just watching Carl Palmers drum kit being assembled. I saw the ELP at Newcastle City Hall back in 1971 and, shhhhh, I never really liked them, but tonight I was forgiving and as the set went on through Welcome, Pictures at an Exhibition, Fanfare for the Common Man and a whole lot more it was great to see Carl enjoying it so much. So much that he overran ridiculously and still demanded a double encore. It is a great privilege to see such talent at these festivals.

butlins 07Much later than billed on ran Eddie and the Hotrods who were fantastic. Such a fuller sound since (John Otways) Richard joined them. Barrie Masters has a great trick with his braces to get the females at the front of the stage to participate in the fun. His T-Shirt reminded us that not all rockers survive long enough to play Butlins in their eighties and RIP Hotrods founder Dave Higgs who died just before Christmas last year.

butlins 07bSunday was dull and wet outside, we never even got out onto the beach, but inside the Reds Arena, everyone in the camp was in early to see Wilko Johnson. He certainly didn’t disappoint. Touring relentlessly despite being diagnosed with pancreatic cancer refusing any treatment. Roxette, Back in the Night and just about everyone in the place wiped a tear from their eye as an elongated Bye Bye Johnnie Be Good had some of the fans waving to him.

Trever Burton of the Move replaced Stan Webb and Chicken Shack who according to Twitter had mistakenly arrived a day earlier and then gone home.

butlins 07cI think we all thought that the next late addition to the line-up might be ‘good fun’ but no-one was prepared for the style and delivery of Ray Dorset and Mungo Jerry who had many people saying he was in their top three acts. In the Summertime, Baby Jump, Long legged Woman dressed in Black and a terrific Roadhouse Blues. Another star who seemed amazed at the great atmosphere and response he would not leave the stage. A lot of this reticence to leave was due to being joined by Stevie Smith on harmonica, as they and never played together since 40 years ago so another great moment to savour.

butlins 08After Sunday dinner and a very flat Auburn Acoustic who walked off early (everyone was next door watching Chantel McGregor, it was a bit disappointing that Jefferson Starship were without Paul Kantner after all the advance publicity. This was quickly made up by the thrill of seeing David Freiberg, a founder member of Quicksilver Messenger Service especially when they played ‘What about Me’ which was a track from 1970 that took me back to the old Arts Centre in Sunderland. Singer Cathy Richardson didn’t disappoint either and her Janis Joplin on ‘Me and Bobby McGee was sensational, not surprising as she was in the Broadway musical ‘Love, Janis’ in the US for years. For some reason they do not play “We built this City”.

butlins 09We decided that our final band should be a proper rock band and Oliver Dawson’s Saxon fit that bill a treat. I still think of them as Son of a Bitch, regulars at Sunderland Boilermakers in 1976. New singer Bri Shaughnessy from Barnsley has settled in well and is hilarious in his banter with the audience. This is the band that inspired Spinal Tap and they really do not take themselves seriously but they pack a real punch with some great songs. Rock and Roll Gypsy, 747 Strangers in the night and the endless singalong Wheels of Steel. Bri like Carl Palmer, Ray Dorset and many others actually said that he didn’t want to leave the stage, getting his picture taken with the audience. I was in the mosh pit and shook Steve Dawson’s sweaty hand as the feedback subsided. Looking at my photos I noticed that some bands pretend to throw their guitars skywards at the end but I caught Graham Oliver doing it for real.

butlins 11As I walked back to the chalet for a final sleep the place had a magical feel to it. Thank you Butlins for an unbelievably great weekend.

[all photos Rondon - Ecology of Knowledge Ltd]

[the following video by punkrocksal ]

As is: As could be – Duarte spark-lines

Just in case you have not seen this before, less than six minutes of video revealing the secrets behind great speeches and presentations. Nancy Duarte analyzes Dr. Martin Luther King Jr.’s famous “I Have a Dream” speech using principles from her (highly recommended) book, Resonate. Mapping the speech to her “presentation form”, Nancy reveals the magic that makes it memorable.

I love these previously unseen patterns. I am increasingly using this ‘as is : as could be’ pattern in my innovation ecosystem workshops as a template for action planning in a form that will have an inbuilt, empathising story.

Henley Forum 2014

WGW43After a couple of years away from the KM Conference circuit I am pleased to announce I am speaking on the first day of what looks to be a fantastic Henley Forum for Organisational Learning and Knowledge Strategies Annual Conference on 26th and 27th February 2014.

If you are not already aware of this forum, it is an excellent way to meet and connect with all the smartest people working in KM and Learning today. In particular Henley is renowned for its collaborative research and always features the latest reports and findings from their action research.

I am particularly looking forward to seeing sessions by Prof. Patricia Riddell on Improving Learning and Memory and Dr Nancy Dixon on collective sense-making.

My session after lunch on day 1 is tentatively titled ‘Sense and Sustainability’ which is now likely to consist of my favourite stories and experiences from working this year with a very elemental quartet of non-profits: ‘Friends of the’ EARTH; the FIRE ‘sector’; the NHS Respiratory Service (AIR); and the Newcastle Institute for Research on Sustainability (WATER). [If only I had been working with a WIND farm, AIR and WATER would not have had a look in. There is still time before February.]

Everything you might want to know about this event can be found here.

Doors of Perception

Can you remember that idea we had next door?
Can you remember that idea we had next door?

Reading the latest blog post by Lily of Oxford Creativity, with whom I co-midwife the final day of How to facilitate TRIZ I was reminded of something else we mentioned in passing last year.

We allow all the participants to facilitate a group at least once so that they can experience all the responsibilities that go with such a key role. Syndicate groups are allocated separate rooms and at the end of the exercise we ‘usually’ bring them back into the main room to reflect on the learning.

I had seen what I think was a section of a BBC Horizon programme in which crossing doorways was said to cause memory loss. I now know this to be the work of Radvansky et al and the PDF can be downloaded here. In summary Radvansky suggests that we connect our memories to the room we are in, and passing out of the door, effectively says those memories are no longer needed. Passing through the doorway is an event boundary, and a new ‘event’ is created, with a ‘cleaner’ slate.

I speculated that the groups might not remember all their learning if the reflection was done outside the room as Radvanskey had speculated, so we did each group reflection back in the original work rooms.

I have no proof whether this was more effective or not but …

My wife works as a Teaching Assistant and as such works one to one with children who have learning difficulties. The children are all given instruction, examples and guidance in the main room. Then my wife takes the children with learning difficulties out, through the door, to a private area where there is less distraction. Is this action making their learning even more difficult?  Because if it is, this is a common practice approach to school classes with differing abilities.

facilitating homo narrans towards an emergent Sustainocene future


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