Ten questions to ask, to gain clarity in your business

Glasses, Reading Glasses, SpectaclesWhatever stage we are at in our social business endeavours, ill-thought out action or inaction, can lead us down metaphoric roads that we may not intend to travel.  Ideally, we would ask a plethora of questions (because after all, questions often are actually the answers) and get really clear at inception, with regular reflective pit-stops along the way. This reflective process, often best undertaking with a skilled professional, such as a mentor, is useful in relation to the business as a whole, or for individual projects/new service developments.

Whether these questions are couched within ‘discovery’ sessions, strategy sessions, leadership coaching or professional supervision, they need to be asked.  Before I continue, I am not suggesting that there is no difference between these session types because of course, they each have their own specific function.  However, what they do all have in common, is that they require us, as business owners, leaders and managers, to take a step back and explore some fundamental considerations, summarised in a sample of questions, listed here:

  1. What is your service offering and how does it benefit end users?
  2. How will your service or product be financed – will it be purchased by or will you source funding and it be offered without cost to commissioner/end user?
  3. What is the legal structure of your business and how does this impact your funding options? Do you have the skills base and capacity to apply for funding? (if not, outsource it)
  4. What are the considerations within the wider social landscape? Are there regulatory or legislative aspects?  How do these impact the service offering or organisation?
  5. What are the strengths and areas of development for your business and how will you bridge the gap between what exists and what needs to be developed?
  6. Do you have a ‘soft’ heart for the work, or are you motivated by other factors?
  7. Do you have a ‘soft’ heart for the work, or are you doing what you have always done and/or feel you ‘should’ be doing, or are expected to do as a career?
  8. How does your business contribute to a broader social narrative and is what you are doing (or planning to do) congruent with that?
  9. How would you describe your business in 60 seconds? (Yes, I know, the elevator pitch but it is a good way of tying us down to the bones of the matter!)
  10. How does your business contribute to your own trajectory – for instance, if it is a time-intensive business that is not able to be automated in any way, how does that fit with your life goals?

This list is in no way exhaustive, neither are the questions relevant to all business scenarios but they form a great basis to begin a grounded and focused process. Feel free to consultachameleon to get the ball rolling for your business.

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Consult This Chameleon

How I’ve enjoyed the last eighteen months.  I feel as though I have been on an adventure….a kind of reflective luxury cruise around this land called ‘Me’.

Actually, under the theme of ‘Working with what’s in my hands’, I have illuminated corners and uncovered some little treasures and allowed gems to sparkle.  I have declared God as my Director and He has lit this wonderful guided tour.

I am now so much clearer about where I want my focus to be and who I can be of service to.  I am also more than happy with the diversity of the people I serve.  ConsultAChameleon can now really step forward in all of  it’s technicolour glory….being what it needs to be, to whomever it needs to be.  It’s so exciting.

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The Heart Flow Business Growth programme is my main space as we head into 2016.  I cannot wait to start helping people to develop their inevitably bespoke, heart-flow approach to building their business ventures.  Helping people to work with what’s in their hands is a real passion.  This is a membership programme, so hop on board.  By doing so, members have discounted and gratis access to other ConsultAChameleon programmes and services…it’s a no -brainer.

Building your business involves developing leadership skills…..But not just any leadership skills, some heart-led, authentic ones.  This is crucial….leadership has very little to do with power and everything to do with respect.  Come and join me on my Heart-led Leadership Programme.

Whoever and wherever you are in your business and life journey, gaining skills and confidence in public speaking is an important tool for anyone’s toolkit.  I have many years’ experience as a speaker, trainer and lecturer….I can help you express the fullness of who you are.

Personal Development through my ‘Grow Free From Shackles’ programme, offers a life-changer for people wanting to let go of those ‘things’ (experiences, memories, habits, attitudes) that are preventing them from stepping into themselves and being who they really are.

Utilising the fabulous C9 cleanse programme, I offer people wanting more than external change, a 9 day Grow Your Colours Programme in addition to the cleanse, to really maximise the transformation!

The Chameleon Collective is a powerhouse committed to challenging myths around mixed race ‘identity’, educating and motivating and inspiring people to develop a new mindset.  Watch this space for conference and seminar dates.

ConsultAChameleon Copy Creation (and proof reading/editing) can help move ideas from your mind’s eye, to the public eye.  Submit those bids and tenders with my help; get that book written; review that webcopy….don’t be let down, when you can be elevated!

Wow, this has been one adventure, yes….and the fun has only just begun…

 

 

Follow the leader?

Okay….so the next stop on the Chameleon train is a special guest speech about business leadership at the MployMe business and enterprise conference.  Read more here about the speaker line up: http://www.mployme.org/#!speakers/c1ke1

Getting into the zone about what I will be speaking about, I began to think ‘who are the leaders anyway?  And who decides that they are leaders?’  As usual when I’m in the contemplative planning stage, I thought of key words and googled associated images…it gets my creative juices flowing.  These are the images I chose and my interpretation of their meaning:

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The leader at the centre of the organisation….with the rest of the team as captivated audience.
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The leader in it’s purest sense, leading from the front….pulling the rest of the team along…they dutifully and it appears confidently, follow.
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The leader, larger than life, leading from the side…directing the rest of the team towards the vision.
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The leader inviting interaction from the team, buoying them up, building momentum……procuring support and membership.
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The leader, directing from behind….shepherding the team towards the vision, ensuring everyone is moving in the right direction.
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The leader, using strong arm tactics to keep the team in line….making sure their voice is heard and the team do as directed. The team dutifully do as told…head down, no interaction.
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Leader, leading from the front….and from a place of warmth and passion…..seeming to be beckoning to the team ‘come on team, let’s go’.

What is key to this process is the awareness that there is not one type of leader….and what I have found interesting is the role of the leader is in part dependent upon the culture of the team….and the expectations of the team.

I’m not a fan of ‘how to’ when it comes to people based stuff…whatever we do needs to be genuine, it needs to be congruent, it needs to be real. I’ll give you an example that illustrates this and the former point: I always say thanks to the wider team when we achieve an organisational success.  The success is a shared experience…just as the effort made to achieve it.  There’s two things I’ve noticed about this.  Firstly, that the team will often respond to a thank you email with ‘well done Jo’….the second is that other leaders will state that they need to do more of that type of thing themselves.

There’s two reflections I have about this.  First….team….I really, really, really mean it when I say ‘didn’t WE do well’….second, leaders….the recognition I give to the team is not a ‘note to self’, it’s a genuine and natural response to our success.

In view of my resistance to ‘how to’ guides, I’ve created a ’10 ways to Grow Your Business Leadership Colours’ for anyone who emails me at joanna@consultachameleon.co.uk to request one.  These are ways….not rules, not laws – ways.

The other key aspect to this topic is that business leadership does not necessarily involve team leadership….so I suppose I need to be clear that much of what I will write and speak about does involve team leadership.  With further reflection, I can recognise the transferable skills to leaders without a team.  Whenever do we ever work in absolute isolation?  And if I’m honest, at the very core of my ‘ways’ is a fundamental commitment to treating people as unique individuals, to investing in their growth and development and to being respectful of them as people…beyond their job titles.  As a business leader, with or without a team, these ‘ways’ are, in my view, essential ingredients for transparent business partnership, where integrity is a key driver.

As I launch myself into this creative phase of conjuring up my speech for the MployMe event, organised by the dynamic Winsome Duncan, I look forward to my own growth and development through the process. ‘Tickets please!’

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Like keeping your balance on a floating raft

imageToday’s climate is turbulent to say the least.  It is ever changing, fast moving and unpredictable, with the underscore of seeming never ending layers of bureaucracy and dwindling sources of funding.  In my doctoral research, I explored what it is that enables people and organisations to not only survive but to thrive in such uncertain situations. What is it that contributes to the resilience that provides the stability to counteract what can feel like what one of my research collaborators referred to as ‘keeping your balance on a floating raft’.

The main and consistent feature was, perhaps unsurprisingly, flexibility and responsivity.  Interesting.  In changing and challenging times, it can be difficult to simply ‘change gear’, especially when reliant upon commissioning others to help you to reach your business goals.  Often, at the point of commissioning services we can have an agenda in mind and feel clear about what and where to invest time and money.  However, the process needs to be exploratory….it needs to be reflective, enabling a change of direction and detours as necessary to respond to the unfolding dynamics and narrative twists.

Consultachameleon is a one-stop-shop for people who seek the responsivity that is necessary in the current changeable climate. It’s a flexible resource that enables the resilience to ride the waves and survive the storm and even to maximise the energy of the undercurrent.  So, if you commission Consultachameleon to write a funding bid and it is found that in order to achieve success, your policies need updating, or you need a staff handbook, or a statement of purpose, Consultachameleon can take care of that.  Saving time, saving money and surely saving additional headache.  Consultachameleon can help you to keep your balance.

Peppering the pedagogic cake – the acknowledgement of diversity in learning and development contexts

imageWith an increasingly regulated world and in certain work contexts, a never ending requirement to meet CPD criteria, there is the temptation to create a generic coverall to tick the necessary boxes.  When it comes to learning and development, this can lead to a somewhat bland recipe for an even blander pedagogic cake.  The title of this entry is an adaptation of a narrative interview undertaken as part of my doctoral research study…where the collaborator I was interviewing called for a ‘peppering of the cake’.  To not acknowledge the individual learner, to not make the recipe relevant to those partaking in the metaphoric eating, to not consider culture, race, age, gender and any other demographic, is to offer plain sponge to everyone….like it or not.  Of course, in the said regulated context, the main ingredients need to address the compulsory checklist but once that is covered, it’s important to add flavour.  To spice it up a bit.  If the pedagogic cake is bland, or dry….then it will not really feed the participants.  In reality, if participants are not fed, they will not retain what they have ‘learned’.  It’s natural that if we are served bland food, we may go through the motions of eating….so we don’t starve (replace with lose job/not reach targets/not make promotion/not gain qualification and so on) but we aren’t really eating.  We aren’t relating the learning to practice, to our lives….in fact, the learning is so far removed from our lives that we are barely attached to it.  Anyhow, you get my drift.  Bespoke, person centred, spiced-up-pepper-cake is the speciality of ConsultAChameleon.  And of course, we also do a commendable Madeira.