More with less – really?

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About three years ago I went to a conference. The promotional strap line included the term ‘doing more with less’. Now you know that feeling you get when you read or hear something and think – ‘not quite sure about that’?

I was at a meeting last week and again the term was used; “we are in unprecedented times – we need to do more with less!”  I heard it used by someone on the TV news this morning too.

I recently read a post by Paul Taylor which included a section ‘Language matters’. Much discussion followed another great post and for me, that section and title says it all.

Language really does matter, especially if you are in a position where you need to enthuse and encourage others to get through tough times and need people to be innovative and creative in how they do things. Statements like “we need to do more with less” really don’t help – they might even have the opposite effect.

Sentiment aside, is it even possible to do or get more with less?  ‘Work smarter with less’, yes. ‘More for the same’ – dig deep, share things out, perhaps. ‘Work together and pool smaller budgets for a better deal’, okay. But more with less? Really?

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A different faith

yemenOf all the films I’ve seen, the one that made me think the most was Salmon fishing in the Yemen. I don’t know what the pull to this film was as I’d not heard others rave about it and it didn’t catch my eye when it was a trailer to other films. Fishing is not my thing either. I’ll come back to why it resonated with me shortly.

This has been an unusually tough week for me and perhaps others I work with too.  I’ve attended two leaving dos and have two more before the end of the month. I know a fair few people who will be leaving next year also. I realise it’s tough for everyone, however national and local messages about difficult times to come in public sector service provision are increasing and are clearly changing in tone.

The implications, and weekly reality, of less folk to do what is needed are increasingly being felt. Some things need to change to accommodate this.  ‘More with less’ isn’t going to work and hearing it being said switches people off rather than engages them in what might be. ‘Less with less’ is the reality, and isn’t universally recognised as there’s perhaps still too much “we’ve always done it this way.” 

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Becoming an older person

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We often use the term ‘I feel old’ rather than ‘I am old’. Maybe there’s something telling in how we express our age. My gran always dodged the age question by responding with “I’m as old as my tongue and a little older than my teeth.” Never would she tell us her age.

In six months I will be 50. Five. Zero. That’s a notably half decent number in cricketing terms but not so much if you were playing darts. I suppose it’s a significant number, as is any birthday with the zero on the end, apparently.

When I fill forms in I know that shortly I won’t be in the 45-49 category anymore but I’ve never really felt different because I’ve reached a certain age. With everything I’m involved in at work with colleagues and at home with family and friends, I’ve really not thought about it as ‘the big Five O’. Until today that is.

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The kite

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I was rummaging around in our box of family photos, (from before digital!) when I came across this image. One of those chance shots that captured everything. So I took a photo of it with my phone, made it square and there it is; digital.

Reducing devaluing friction

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Use words like ‘disruptor’ or ‘activist’ when talking about organisational development or business change and there will probably be a few eyebrows raised.

“Disruption! – we’ll have none of that round here thank you kindly even though we want to change things”

It’s been a year since seeing the sun go the other way across the sky showed me that being prepared to see things differently can make a huge difference to how we interact with others. Well, another penny dropped whilst on my travels; about how what we value might be perceived as different to what others value or see, even when it’s the same thing. That how we demonstrate what we value might be the important part.

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Urban dream or realist reality?

20140726_155818Seldom do I go anywhere without noticing comparisons or otherwise to where I live or places I know. I’ve always had this fascination about how places come to be and how they change or adapt. I suppose it comes from my liking of geography at school which lead me to study land use.

This year’s summer hols were no different. We went to Zakopane in south Poland and spent some time in and around Kraków. I tend to share photos of my travels when I’m out and about, hoping others might find what I share interesting or useful in some way; my way of attempting to make the world a smaller place perhaps.

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Little boxes

A61 sign

They say ‘build it and they will come’ however I spend most of my working day convincing folk that’s bunkum. Tell people something is being built, explain why, invite them to be involved; then they might come and even tell others.

It’s been a week since 198 cyclists paraded along my street. I say my street because from my house I can see the place where me and my family stood in the central reservation of the  A61 to watch the Tour de France pass by. It’s the street down which I get the bus most days into Leeds where I work. It’s the street up which I brought my youngest son home after he was born. It’s our street.

The estate is bordered by Scott Hall Road to the east, along which the Tour de France will come.

This is my view every morning as I wait for the bus. There’s usually a fair bit of traffic. Last Saturday however, the road was closed all day in both directions. The Tour de France came by in the outward lane and on the inward lane, children played on their bikes and people walked in the road without worrying about traffic.

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