How might you benefit from another viewpoint?

Being a leader requires you to choose a particular view of your organisation.

When was the last time you considered your viewpoint or invited others to showcase theirs?

Using perspective enables you to choose the best vantage so that when you view the same data and information from different positions, a different picture will emerge. And what insights might become obscured?

How will you choose and secure the best position from which you and your team can view the most important insights for your strategic intent?

Perespective Poster A4 01

Is there another way to view your organisation?

When you look at a picture how do you classify the work? What you do is based on existing knowledge.

Is the way you see your organisation; your existing perceptual framework: appropriate? How do you know?

By engaging in creative endeavours your organisation can unleash the potential of your team and conceive new ideas.

Changing the way that something is perceived can develop reflective practice so that your organisation can embrace an uncertain future.

Classification Poster A4 01a

Art in Strategic Thinking Revisited.

Since I first posted about the program I am developing I have been involved in a lot of research, reading, analysis and development. As a result, I have revisited the original material I wrote on Art in Strategic Thinking and updated it as follows:


“So what does participation and experience in the artistic endeavours bring to the development of strategic thinking? It has nothing to do with artistic talent per se; the aim is not to achieve fame and fortune as an artistic master but, rather, to develop the attributes and critical reflective processes necessary for strategic thinking. An arts experience ‘opens the doors of perception,’ as poet William Blake wrote in The Marriage of Heaven and Hell.”
(Learning to Think Strategically. p233. Julia Sloan. 2006)

In order to open the doors of perception, I am suggesting an experiential learning program where participants are introduced to the concept that artistic endeavour and the aesthetic mind are as important as the scientific theories of leadership and management and the logic of rational thinking. Participants are invited to explore and undertake a variety of artistic endeavours and relate these activities as prompts, metaphors and tools for learning to think strategically.


Since I was 8 years old I have held the belief that everyone (limiting physical and mental disabilities acknowledged) has a degree of artistic ability. However, within western society at least, this artistic ability becomes subservient to the scientific rationale of absolutism at the expense of a heuristic approach embedded within an aesthetic mindset. Put simply; it is my view that ‘Anyone can draw’ but the critics need to keep quiet.

In 2003 I happened upon ‘Drawing on the Right Side of the Brain’(2001), by Dr Betty Edwards which became the foundation for a personal development course; ‘Anyone can draw, the art of challenging self-limiting beliefs’. The course is not about developing techniques or skills; it is about implanting a notion that a participant may well be able to draw. When delivering this program, I was asked on a number of occasions whether the premise could be implemented in business. This set me on a journey to explore whether artistic endeavour could provide enlightenment within the rationalistic endeavour of managing and leading an organisation. In 2017 I finished formulating the principles of the business program ‘The Art in Strategic Thinking’ (AiST), and set about searching for and analysing any relevant material that might support the proposition. It turns out that the subject of aesthetics within the organisation is of mounting interest in today’s (2018) age of increasing uncertainty

In the past three or so decades there has been a growing movement looking at the relationship with and the implementation of aesthetics within management and organisation. From early material such as Degot’s ‘Portrait of the Manager as an Artist’ (1987) through John Dobson; The Art of Management and the Aesthetic Manager (1999), Strati’s; Organisation and Aesthetics (1999), on to Chytry’s ‘Organisational Aesthetics: The Artful Firm and the Aesthetic Moment in Organization and Management Theory (2008) and Groot, Weggeman and van Aken; Aesthetic Experiences of Professionals in Organisations, to name just a few, we have a body of works that explore and explain that the leadership and management of organisations is a whole lot more than the learning and implementation of rationalistic and scientific theories and models espoused by the traditional business school. Indeed the report on a study by Page et al (2008) at the UWE, cites the traditional approach to ‘higher’ learning as didactic and explores the emotional aspects of a student centred approach and learning from critical reflection on experience.

The material I have discovered and read; whilst not (explicitly) proving the principles of the program I have developed, the writings of Dr Betty Edwards and Julia Sloan, does lend credence to the idea that this sort of program has a place in leadership and management training by encouraging perception through the use of the visual sense. Again, the program is not an art course and does not attempt to teach technique. The program engages participants in creative thinking; activating the aesthetic mindset, by experiencing eight principles of artistic endeavour and applying these principles to strategic intent.

The eight artistic principles

Looking and seeing; the art of challenging limiting beliefs

A question of style; the different strategic objectives

Negative space and what isn’t there

Light and shade, the blindingly obvious and darkest recesses

Colour, where cold, calculating and warm, fuzzy have their place

Perspective and the changing power of detachment

The medium; a look at tools to create a strategic plan

Big picture and ignoring what isn’t needed


The program is conducted over two days and at the end participants will have:

  • engaged in producing an accurate piece of artistic endeavour as an exercise in challenging self-limiting beliefs
  • curated different styles of artistic endeavour in a number of different ways and related these to different types of strategic objective
  • demonstrated the ability to observe all elements of a scene and reported on the importance of accounting for what is not evident
  • enriched an image by adding tone and identified which dark recesses of an organisation might shed light on or assist in supporting strategic intent
  • described the relevance and impact of colour and documented the rich reserves of staff with different temperaments, behaviours, knowledge and skills
  • described different art medium and related these to the variety of analysis and planning instruments and tools available for different strategic objectives
  • identified how a different viewpoint changes what is observed and suggested how they might get a better view of their strategic direction
  • selected one or more elements of an image on which to focus and assembled or disassemble the scope of strategic intent

By actively engaging in the eight sessions participants will have added to their ability to think strategically. As strategists, they will have considered and practised a variety of creative and innovative endeavours. They will have been prompted to think differently. And as with any endeavour, whether aesthetic or logic, the seeding of the experience in their mindset is intended to prompt them to practice which will be the key to making the new way of thinking, the normal way of thinking strategically.


No more death by PowerPoint

Extract from Air Law InforGraphic
Extract from Air Law InforGraphic

For the past few months, I have been working on a major project for a drone training company in the UK. The vision of the business owner was to develop a course that was as far removed from what appeared to be common the marketplace. Let me explain.

Some time ago I went through drone training to get my permission for commercial operations from the Civil Aviation Authority (CAA). There was about 25 of us in the classroom, just like being back at school; being talked at for a day and a half with the instructor reading from 200 or more PowerPoint slides. It was a good thing he was reading from the slides as the text was so small on some I could not from the back of the room. The two-day course included the exam in the afternoon of the second day so the material I had managed to memorise was still fresh enough in my short-term memory, and I managed to pass the exam. This was classic ‘death by PowerPoint’.

Within a few days much of what I had learnt (out of context) I had forgotten. This is a typical shortcoming of the traditional type of instructional course. Reviews of social media sites would suggest that there are still courses being run where candidates have remembered sufficient to pass an exam but then need to ask basic questions on topics such as air law because they too have forgotten, or were not instructed in the material.

An acquaintance who experienced the same training had a vision of setting up an NQE (National Qualified Entity) but one that would do things differently. They knew I came from a learning and development background and asked if it was possible to develop a course that fulfilled the requirements of the CAA but was different from and better than the rest. I made a few suggestions and earlier this year we started to develop the course that would use experiential and accelerated learning techniques.

The first big hurdle was to abandon the reliance on PowerPoint slides. In a conversation, I stressed the importance that the predominant vehicle for candidate learning must be through active engagement with the material and in some sort of context. The client had already devised the idea of a ‘Workflow’ covering all aspects of a project from client enquiry to post project administration. This provided a perfect platform upon which we started to create an experiential learning programme that was integrated across pre-course learning, ground school and operations manual development.

In August, the client had their NQE audit with the CAA where the Air Law module was trialled. The auditors were taken by surprise by the level of engagement and immediately recognised the power of the technique. They commented that this was the first time they had encountered this method and praised the client for their unique approach.

I’ve been away – sort of.

I haven’t posted here for a while; not because I have been idle but because I have been soooooo busy.

Over the past few months I have had the great pleasure in combining two of my favorite interests: learning and development and aviation.

I have been heavily involved in developing a drone training program for a new UK NQE plus most of their required documents including technical and reference material.

This project is coming to a close as submission to the CAA is due by the end of July 2018.

I look forward to being able to exploit the huge range of knowledge that I have accrued through the research I put into creating some 30+ documents.

And I can also now divert some of my attention to the personal projects I have had to put on hold for the past 4+ months.

Exploratory training course

Would you be interested in being part of an exploratory training course that creates an environment to practice an innovative way of learning to think strategically?

I am looking for between six and eight corporate individuals, from one or more organisations who can provide space to conduct a one day Art in Strategic Thinking programme.

There is no direct trainer cost to this course. I will need to recoup expenses such as travelling and or subsistence. It is developmental and will inform further work in expanding the course and other material I am writing.

Email me direct if you would like to explore this idea further.

Looking for co-authors

The Art in strategic thinking

Art as a vehicle for learning to think strategically


A call for anecdotes

For the past 15 or more years I have been periodically exploring the opportunity to relate artistic endeavour with organisational development, in particular strategic thinking. Finally in 2017 I came up with a framework that connects the two thought processes. I have a creative background and have substantially developed the principles of artistic endeavour and now welcome others’ thoughts from a philosophical, artistic and organisational standpoint. I have some education and experience in strategic thinking, however to fully explore, expand and embed the premise of creativity in learning to think strategically I feel I would benefit from dialogue with others who have anecdotes to explore.

The requirement

I am looking to engage with between three and five individuals who have been or who are currently involved in the strategy element of business development. Two or three of these contributors will take a key role in developing the book and be co authors. The other contributors will be acknowledged as such for their input but will not be expected to have input into developing the overall narrative.

There is a fuller description of the principles and an outline of the book at:


The rewards

Rewards for any engagement will be highly speculative. The contributors who are co authors will be rewarded though the sale of books and any speaking, consulting or training engagements that are derived from the publication. An option for this is the creation of a company. The other contributors will be rewarded with book credits and a batch of the first published edition for their own use.

The process

Potential contributors should email me ( with a brief overview of past or current involvement in leadership and organisational development. Also include an anecdote that might fit one of the following principles:

  • Looking and seeing; the art of challenging limiting beliefs
  • A question of style; choosing the strategic objective
  • Big picture and ignoring what isn’t needed
  • Negative space and what isn’t there
  • Perspective and the changing power of detachment
  • Light and shade, the blindingly obvious and darkest recesses
  • Colour, where cold, calculating and warm, fuzzy have their place
  • The medium; a look at tools to create a strategic plan


There is a fuller description of the principles and an outline of the book at:


Train the trainer course outline

Recently I have started to work in a regulated environment where a number of instructors originate from military service. My experience of attending a number of courses delivered by these highly experienced subject matter experts is that military instruction does not always ‘fit’ with modern, experiential learning and development practice.

The following outline is a suggestion of knowledge and skills that could be gained from an intense TtT course by up to three, possibly four subject matter experts who may not have previously been involved in an instruction role. The focus of the sessions is knowledge of learning and development delivery, learning evaluation and management of the learning environment. This course does not tackle learning analysis or design which one would normally expect of a conventional train the trainer programme.

TtT Course outline v2

Session title

Learning outcomes and topics covered

09:00 start


A quick overview to the day, the context of adult learning and the learning objectives.

Case Study: What went wrong

List areas for improvement of a course, session, module or activity that was unsuccessful and why. (Participants should arrive having considered this element).

Relate understanding to what is to follow.

The environments

Demonstrate how environments can be made more effective.

Space, location, scene setting, layouts, and other assets. Dealing with elements outside instructor control.

About the candidates

Identify how candidates learn, and how to manage them professionally and diplomatically.

Personality of candidates, learning orientations, is a candidate difficult.

10:45 – 11:00 Break

Developing participation

Use different methods to encourage participation in training and recognise and manage a lack of participation.

Removing barriers to participation, enhancing participation, humour and banter.

Visual aids

Demonstrate effective use of flipcharts, slides and other display assets.

Flip chart management, holding areas, AV protocols, displaying material.

Fail to plan, plan to fail

Be able to follow the plan, demonstrate confidence in delivering from trainer notes.

Structure of the plan, trainer notes and their importance, getting back on track.

12:30 – 13:15 Lunch

Activities management

Recognise the importance and benefit of activities and how to manage them.

Activities or games, types of activities, getting buy-In, activities toolkit.

Facilitation Skills

Develop active listening and clear questioning skills through facilitation.

Question types, probing: digging deeper, questioning as a learning technique. Your listening skills, active listening skills in training

Has learning taken place

Conduct evaluation to continually confirm learning has taken place.

The difference between formative and summative evaluation, methodology.

15:00 – 15:15 Break


Learning by doing. Engage in a learning activity to practice some of the knowledge gained.

Participation, facilitation, action, management.


What have you learnt from today. What more do you want to learn.

Evaluation in action, pointers to other materials. CPD

16:30 Close