Rational, Emotive, Cognitive & Behavioural (RECB) Business (and Life?) Planning

October 22, 2016

method1As a Business Consultant and advisor I often found myself caught between the different entrepreneurial stances to planning. Some entrepreneurs like the idea of a detailed, full and complete planning others, seemingly ‘fly from the seat of their pants’ casting off the constraints and effort involved as ‘too time consuming and restrictive’.

The great strategic management guru, Mintzberg, termed the first approach ‘Rational Planning’ – ‘Set your mission, identify your critical success factors (and measures), analyse your environment (SWOT), choose your best approach (strategy) implement it (take action) and feedback on progress (control)’ he lectured. It makes good, logical sense.

I call the latter one ‘Reactive’, not unlike the ‘Behavioural Response’ the psychologists Skinner (stimulus leads to response) and Pavlov (the bell driven salivating dog) describe to us. It goes like this – something happens in the business (‘ding’) and the entrepreneur responds (‘dong’).  I guess they are not really planning just reacting!

My experience has taught me that two further planning positions or entrepreneurial types exist between these extremes:

  1. Those who concentrate or focus on just on a few ‘Critical Drivers’ when planning their business. I term this ‘Cognitive Planners’. This saves time, but benefits from a degree of rational evaluation of what is important to the business (I mean, of course the egotistical entrepreneur!)
  2. That ego is not necessary a bad thing; it has often been honed through experience and instinct that means the ‘opportunist’ is not lucky, but simply confident in responding to their ‘Gut Instinct’ – I term these ‘Emotional Planners’.

This worked for me because as an executive coach, business psychologist and consultant, I was able to link my own  psychological research and RECB (Rational Emotive Cognitive Behavioural) and approach directly into tailoring the business planning intervention that best works for my client. Neither of the four approaches is any better than they other. The efficacy depends on context and the risk profile and ways of the entrepreneur.

It has worked for them and my suspicion (and further research focus) is how such an approach can support us all in understanding how we approach risks in and planning of our lives.


To Brexit – and Beyond!

October 9, 2016


“The empty raincoat is, to me, the symbol of our most pressing paradox. If economic progress means that we become anonymous cogs in some great machine, then progress is an empty promise. The challenge must be to show how paradox can be managed”

‘Just telling them about yourself and what you will do in the community!’ came the response to my question ‘what shall I say about English life 2020 onwards?’

‘Ahhhh….’ I pondered as I looked at great and the good with whom I would share a stage; a Conservative MEP, a president of the British Chamber of Commerce, a migrant County councillor and two EU grant funded University lecturers. Yours truly brought up the rear.

Being in such salubrious company, I further pondered what I had of merit to say about myself, which I posed to my friends. ‘Tell them you are generally a good egg, grandfather, business lecturer, executive coach and a volunteer with trauma victims. So I did, linking those aspects of me to my concern to see the future unfold safely for all of us, be it young, fair to middling or old.

In that vein, I went on to talk about the great social philosopher Charles Handy who (in his book the ‘Empty Raincoat’) predicted that we would have three careers:

  1. Firstly, one in which we make our money (I was a CEO, I explained)
  2. Secondly, where we follow our passion (I am a lecturer, coach and therapist)
  3. Finally, how we make good use of ourselves in retirement (I am in training to be a Bournemouth Deckchair attendant – but I won’t work Bank Holidays, or weekends, or in the summer – I will, however, do double shifts in January!)

My real point was, that for me, ‘2020 and Beyond’ has to undeniably be about our youth, cushioned with in the wisdom that us, ‘wanna-be elders’ can bring to the table. We best do that by not being a burden on our society, by doing work that shares that wisdom (or brings rest and respite to the weary) and in encouraging them with hope.

Which we can do, because the forecast are that for the UK employment will grow, the Government will do less of it, and more of us will be self-employed or on close to zero contract hours. The youth will be far more responsible for themselves than my generation was – it will be ‘their gig!’.

UK Employment  TRENDS:

    • Grow in 2025 by 3m to 37m
    • Public Sector fall to 4.5m (from 6m)
    • Micro Business Grow to 7m plus (from 4m) – ‘It’s My Gig’
    • 3m Knowledge Workers
    • 4m Contingent Workers*

My suggestion from this was that: Those working for themselves will be a ‘powerful economic & political force’ and will demand:

    • Tax & Administrative Burden Cuts
    • Welfare needs to match their Work Life Balance
    • Being part of a COMMUNION

And concluded that can be achieved locally through ‘Community Hubs’ that deliver:

COMMUNION – through the sharing or exchanging of intimate thoughts and feelings by having:

    • Good Conversations
    • Personal Development – Fit for Life
    • Business Development – Fit for Purpose
    • Training
    • Advice

Leaving them ‘COMMON, UNITED & COLLOBORATING’. It felt like a good future – see here http://www.communityhub.live. There need not be a paradox.



Balancing People, Planet and Profits – A solution?

August 24, 2016

Social-Enterprise-MarkSocial enterprises face unique challenges. They need to keep their customer satisfied, have contented staff, make a profit and have a positive cash flow – all responsible businesses need to do that! But the additional burden – or exhilaration if you are truly passionate – for Social Enterprise is to satisfy your social aspirations too – whether that means serving your community, protecting the ecology or re-solving a social problem.

For me, how I prefer like to serve my community is in helping families to have calm lives. I believe that families, regardless of how you define them or indeed whom you choose to be in your family, are the bedrock of community cohesion. When we feel secure in our family environment, we can step out and do good work in our community.

My community work is focused on families suffering with the effects of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and with single mothers wanting to build a career or business. Neither myself nor my colleagues are wedded to those groups, it just happens to be an area of specialism. Therefore, we also support other social entrepreneurs who want to have and make their own and unique impact in the world, through consultancy

I do this by running a business that provides consulting, therapy and coaching. The business uses its profits on a ‘third, third and third’ basis i.e. that is equally into:

  1. Funding free and reduced rate work for those in need
  2. Investing in the business to build for the future
  3. Rewarding those who invested in the business

I would recommend this as a model for other social enterprise’s as it has proven to be sustainable, enabling us to take on and provide our service from premises rather than compromising and working from ours and clients homes.

Purpose of this post? To raise the profile of social entrepreneurs and ask you to find ways to help me raise the profile of the work that we do. Can you help?


People, Planet and Profits

August 23, 2016


There is a tension in the world, particularly the Western World, which often bubbles up into political trouble. At its extreme the Capitalists (‘hurrah for profit!) stand deeply opposed to the Ecologists (‘humans are just one of many planetary species!’)

Standing between these two extremes of ‘Profit’ and ‘Planet’ are the ‘People’ those of us who are the beneficiaries of profit (from the exploitation of natural resources) and who accept we have some responsibility and obligation to care for the planet (‘we are all valuable!)

It’s not difficult to see that ‘Pristine Capitalist’ of ‘Profit Rules’ might align to Right Conservative politics (in the UK). Their key argument is that people have an obligation to use resources for best effect and that the best way to decide that is if people are willing to pay more than the costs of providing the good or service. Capitalists argue that by employing people and paying taxes they are making their adequate contribution to society and the planet. They assert it is for the Government to decide the priorities for a social and ecological agenda.

The extreme opposite is the ‘Deep Ecologist’, maybe those on the political left, such as the Green Party. They place a much greater burden on the people to elect and choose the planet over profit. They might even feel there are far too many humans, demanding too much from the planet and that short term profit is simply indulgent and short sighted. They argue we will eventually out-consume the ability of the planet to provide.

Most of us ‘People’ can accept both arguments and stand some where in the middle.

We might advocate a ‘Social Contract’ that is an obligation to balance the requirements of the three factors of production; capital, labour and land (Profit, People and Planet). The writer is excited at the animated debate around these issues and feels that the younger generation (despite their Gaming and Pokemon ways) are much more capable of taking forward the sustainability debate (‘How to meet the need of the current generation with out compromising the needs of any future generations’) than are the older team, of whom the writer is a part.

Why? Because the older team grew up with ‘Profit as a God’ which recent ecological focuses have demonstrated is not always sustainable. The other reason is that the generation following us are ‘Feminine’ in their approach. They take a whole and holistic view, balancing the three P’s.

No wonder the cry in any catastrophic situation is (save) ‘Women and Children First’, they are the future.

Linking, learning, laughing & the like

August 3, 2016


“The true business of people should be to go back to school,” wrote the great architect Buckminster Fuller, “and think about whatever it was they were thinking about before somebody came along and told them they had to earn a living.”

The irony is, that people need go about the business of learning, because things are changing:

1. In the future, people will have shorter and more careers, and they will do more part time work and volunteer work.
2. More people will work independently in small businesses where they contract out their services to larger organizations.
3. More workers, especially women, will work from their homes.

With the move toward more self-employment and more work from the home and away from the organization, comes more choice and more responsibility, for both worker and employer. Individuals will have more freedom to shape work to fit the way they want to live instead of fitting life into a work schedule.

But they also will have the freedom to do poor quality work, by cheating or by laziness. The organization will have more flexibility but can abuse that flexibility by exploiting the outsider, tightening its conditions, and reducing the rewards. How important it will be that employees and employers can engage in trust confidence, finding ways and means to  talk.

I expect I will also have to work longer; the social philosopher Charles Handy explained we are likely to have three phases of work life:
1. Our main career, where we make our money (I am grateful to have been a CEO)
2. Our passion career, were we enjoy our work (I love teaching and coaching)
3. Our retirement supplement work (our pensions simply won’t be big enough to support our long lives).

I am hoping the Community Hub will help me explores the way in which the world of work is changing and what the thoughtful individual’s choices and responsibilities should be. I a looking forward to having ‘Good Conversations’.

‘Keep it hup, two three four…’

July 9, 2016


So said Colonel Hathi (of Jungle Book fame) ….on the march with his community or herd …….It has been a joy to observe over the last few months, the community program has begun to become established, in particular there are now four ‘Peer Support Groups’ running whereby women, particularly those who are having to keep a family and a job, career or business running, come together in facilitated group to lead and support each other.

What I have witnessed is groups of individuals, often temporarily lacking in confidence or skills sharing what they know and feel, in a calm and gentle manner and in the process developing personal resilience for the future. The striking personal realisation has been how a sense of interdependence in the group leads to greater sense of independence and confidence outside of it.

That is of particular interest to me, being engaged in action research on how the simple and practical Human Given’s (HG) approach (See http://www.counselling-directory.org.uk/counsellor-articles/what-are-the-human-givens) to leading a calm life, getting clear thinking and developing new skills.

The peer support group meets a number of human needs identified by the HG approach; for belonging to community, for status and to be able to give and receive attention. And more! As the group develops it also begins to provide a secure and safe base, which for some of us that may have felt lonely or vulnerable, can make a big difference to how confidently we can approach life’s challenges, with more resilience.

The groups also provide an opportunity for the participants to demonstrate and hone some of their key resources. I particularly enjoy watching them use their imaginations in telling, re-framing and re-telling their stories. It never ceases to amaze me that calmness and emotional health improves as we each learn to tell ourselves an empowering narrative (whatever you do don’t listen to anyone who tells you everything is doom and gloom, or you are rubbish – they will put you under a gloomy, disempowering spell!)

And this story continues to unfold in an empowering way too. Like the neural brain connections that form and create our new learning, the individual peer groups will come together to create a larger hub. This will deepen and widen the network of collaboration, which on the same day will also host commerce focused events, as well as provide other opportunities for us all to come together, because People and Business Matters – which reminds me, I recall establishing something similar in the businesses I used to run; Communities of Practice we called them. It sounds like a good theme for the hub day.



Family and Community – The Root of it all

May 15, 2016



My simple belief, as an ‘Anarchist in Truth’ as I term it, is that each of us deserves to have personal democracy, that being the right to make good choices for ourselves, in essence to be free. With that comes responsibility which, as I was taught it, is to ‘take care of yourself and your family, create a surplus and support the vulnerable; be ready to sacrifice and go to war if you must’.

I won’t wax lyrical about who taught me that or that he (my Dad) fought long and hard as a Socialist against the 1980’s seemingly Thatcherite approach of the ‘individual before all things’ – I actually believe that Maggie naively trusted the human response to having ‘more than enough’ to be the cascading down through family and others of profit into a fairer society – which sadly did not work.

Why? Maybe because ‘Big Government’ had and has set itself up as a big shop, with lots of free, but basic brand goods, that may have stuffed the ‘striving for my family’ out of some of us and certainly seems to have stuffed society.

In my simple view, without a cohesive family unit (to be politically correct) of two adults and a child(ren) the idea of ‘profit’ cascading into society stumbles. Maybe those that are ‘stuffed’ don’t know about their obligation or maybe they don’t care. Families can end up fatherless, mothers can end up run ragged and some fathers can end traumatised.

However, I personally prefer the focus on family over both ‘individualism’ (Tory Righto’s) and Big Government (Labour Lefties). And therefore I care. Given that we can’t be all things to all people, we can only make sensible steps, and we in the Just Clarity Group Social Enterprise focus on what we can do in manageable chunks, for those that are struggling. In the main that is single mums whom we counsel, coach, peer support and help build their careers or businesses. In many ways we act as the stabilising, father-like force.

Sometimes we help the challenged Fathers (through PTSD Resolution) recover their responsible behaviour and sometimes we help the children (say through Transitions-RTC) to overcome addictions, and because we are a community of volunteers we might be said to have created a small ‘social family’ of “Sisters and Brothers!”.

I like that idea because each of us deserves the support of our community to help us achieve our potential, to be able to work with our passion and to lead calm, balanced family lives (in Catholic Social teaching that is called ‘Human Dignity’).

It is from that calm place that individuals can make better decisions (personal democracy) and maybe volunteer to take on responsibility for meeting more of their local community’s needs, ‘Combing Individuals’ and taking social services back from ‘Big Government’ – subsidiarity that is called! I think an association like Links4Growth has the potential to be an organising force for that subsidiarity energy.

It could even then move on and focus on bringing families together and sustaining them through the many challenges and changes that families (and their societies go through). This would be good for Just Clarity Group, who stand ready to build on to supporting families too through its ‘People and Business Matters’ program. An organising force needs People and Businesses to organise for! How would it be to able to contribute and  profit from many small families, collaborating together and that are part of a bigger tribe? It’s been done before!

As for profit? For this I will be held accountable for the performance of Just Clarity Group by our Chairman. I will talk about income, costs, profits and cash, but he will be equally interested in the Social Capital we have generated; happier, confident working mums, spending time with their contented children. We can give back by measuring our social profit rather than just the £.