Proximity Problems 

I’ve got a longer post written on the issue of what I call ‘the proximity problem’ within organisations that I’ll release next year. For now I have this. 

When my mother had late stage cancer her spine was hugely weak. She risked a broken back or ribs with any small collision. She also had poor balance due to the impact of her treatment.  Walking with her around a city or town centre, or when using public transport, I used to be hugely protective of her and furious with the people who would jostle and push just to get somewhere faster. I formed the best protective barrier I could.

I also became far more aware of the difficulties people have moving around in public spaces. I became more tolerant of missing a tube because I was held up by someone walking slowly through a tunnel. I accepted and was aware that I should never be in such a rush as to see other people as simply impediments to my progress. 

My mother passed away two years ago and I’m aware of that intolerance and lack of awareness creeping back into me. Impatience and frustration take its place. 

The lack of proximity to the the problem – through distance or time causes lack of understanding to grow and for empathy to fail. 

I’m a worse person for not appreciating the struggles of people – whether in the bustle of a crowd or an organisation – more keenly. 

So the next time you feel frustration with progress or people, just try and imagining how you would feel if they were the people that mattered most to you, rather than on the fringes of your awareness. 

And check out #hrrandomactsofkindness too

CIPD Branches, doughnuts and strategy

This morning I’ll be hanging out in the cafe at CIPD Towers and calling it work.

We are attempting to write the first draft of our business area’s strategy out in the open with the entire organisation joining in. I look after, amongst other things, making sure we are communicating well with our branches. We are better than we were before, we are not there yet.

The feedback from our branch network has been they want to be confident that the work they do lines up with the CIPD strategy, so we’ve invited the entire CIPD to come down, have a doughnut and share their thoughts.
I have no idea if it will work. I have no idea if there will be a giant crowd, a steady stream of people or tumbleweed. But there are a few benefits

  • Things created together create shared accountability
  • Doing things in the open creates trust. No rabbits out of hats (when nobody asked for a rabbit)
  • If people suggest something that won’t work then we can explain why and then they understand decisions a bit better
  • If someone suggests something that would work then that has saved me some thinking – or done some thinking I wasn’t capable with
  • It should be fun
  • It’s a good opportunity to showcase the amazing work the branches do – and my team does when I’m not getting in their way
  • It’s a good excuse to have doughnuts
  • When people, our volunteers, are giving their time up the least we owe them is making sure it is being spent on the right things

Once we’ve got the strategy draft we can share more broadly and see where we get. We speak to branches everyday about what they want to see, this is about making sure the organisation is joined up too and we are all pulling in the same direction.

And doughnuts.