February 9

Seeing patterns

A Romanesco close up sitting on a textured red mat
The beauty of pattern

I was fortunate to attend the London Bateson Salon at the British Museum on Tuesday. It was a mixed group of consultants, academics, therapists, and a play worker, all connected by an interest in the work  of Gregory Bateson. It was delicately facilitated by Nora Bateson who managed to carefully relate the work  of her father and the work she  now does in her own right.

Many things were raised during the session that have since reverberated with   me.  We explored the patterns that might connect  the clock room, a crouched statue of Venus, the Elgin Marbles, a statue of Shiva, the Chinese figure and the gigantic Scarab.

When I bought this Romanesco yesterday it transported me straight back to the Museum and our conversations, it is such a beautiful example of pattern – the beauty of systems.

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February 3


How do you make your connections?

Do you actively seek them out or do they find you?

Do you have a friend or colleague who is an important hub in building your connections?

Is it something you actively think about and manage or do your connections grow organically?

The likelihood is you probably use a combination of all of these things. I am aware that I probably don’t think enough about how my connections happen and who I should be linking up with. I am trying to be more active about building some diverse connections and moving beyond my usual sectors.

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January 30

In conversation

In conversation
In conversation

How often do you think about the quality of your conversations? How often  do you find you are telling your story rather than listening to someone else’s?

A few years ago I was lucky to hear someone talk for whom conversations really counted, he had been a hostage negotiator and he used an expression that has stuck with me ever since.

Make every conversation count


I admit there are times I forget such wise advice and find I am rushing to tell rather than listen, but when I do remember the quality of my conversation definitely improves. I really like Susan Scott’s principles for ‘Fierce Conversations’ too:

  1. Master the courage to interrogate reality
  2. Come out from behind yourself into the conversation and make it real
  3. Be here, prepared to be nowhere else
  4. Tackle your toughest challenge today
  5. Obey your instincts
  6. Take responsibility for your emotional wake
  7. Let silence do the heavy lifting

The conversation is not about the relationship; the conversation is the relationship.    Susan Scott.



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January 29

Mystical intuition

There is something mystical associated with the word intuition, and any experience becomes mystical in the degree in which the sense, the feeling, of the unlimited envelope becomes intense – as it may do in experience of an object of art.

 John Dewey, (1934) Art as Experience: 201

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January 28

Change of scenery

A view across muddy puddles between trees and out across common landThere is a serene and settled majesty to woodland scenery that enters into the soul and delights and elevates it, and fills it with noble inclinations.                      Washington Irving


After a number of days tied up at my desk I finally ventured out today and got the change of scenery my soul badly needed. It was raining for most of the time but I stuck with it and enjoyed the puddles and the air.

Which calls you the most the ‘grass being greener’ or the bare spots that need filling with growth?

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January 22

What has your gut taught you?

Try and recall:

A. The gut feel that worked

Think of an instance where you relied on your gut feel that resulted in a positive outcome. What was the context? What happened and what were the consequences? Try to identify the assumptions and inferences that led you to follow the gut feel. What were they?

B. The gut feel that failed

Think of an instance where you relied on gut feel that resulted in a negative outcome. What was the context? What happened and what were the consequences? Try to identify the assumptions and inferences that led you to follow the gut feel. What were they?

Source: Sadler-Smith, E., & Shefy, E. (2004). The intuitive executive: Understanding and applying ‘gut feel’ in decision-making. The Academy of Management Executive, 18(4), 76-91.

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January 21

Logic and Intuition

A couple of years ago I attended a great presentation by Prof. Sadler-Smith on intuition. It was lively, visual and intriguing. What struck me as particularly interesting was that it was given at a conference not on the creative industries or the arts but on human resource development. We all know that there is a difference ‘between the cerebral, which is based on words and numbers, and the insightful, which is based on images and feel’ (Campbell, 1991: 109)

Yet our formal learning environments often foreground the rational–analytic paradigm—the “diagnose, decide, design, and decide” approach. (Mintzberg & Westley, 2001) That is not to say there isn’t a role for that approach but it is most appropriate when;

 the issue is clear, the data are reliable, the context is structured, thoughts can be pinned down and discipline can be applied. (Mintzberg & Westley, 2001: 93)

There are of course many situations that do not have these characteristics, much of what we experience in our daily lives is open ended, ambiguous, fuzzy and messy. This is where the creativity and divergent thinking of our intuition come into their own. Where our emotions and gut feelings allow us to sense the situation and weigh up the options.

It also seems to me that the way our educational disciplines have evolved have further shaped these divisions – with science and management being mainly associated with the rational and the arts and design, and to a certain extent entrepreneurialism, permitted to be intuitive. It is also my experience that for the most part one is valued more than the other.

Surely what we need is not the either/or approach that has tended to dominate but a both/and approach. I know I have a natural bias towards an intuitive approach so I am mindful in my own development of reflecting on how I achieve an appropriate balance between my rational and intuitive domains.


Campbell, A. (1991). Brief case: Strategy and intuition – A conversation with Henry Mintzberg. Long Range Planning, 24(2), 108 -110.

Mintzberg, H., & Westley, F. (2001). Decision making: It’s not what you think. Soan Management Review, 42(3), 89-93.



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