Saturday, May 15, 2004

Spent 3 days in the company of Nick Bates, founder of Strategic Edge this week. Nick does a brilliant job of teaching people how to get the most out of their lives. He is very well read and has a great range of techniques and strategies for improving your own quality of life, your career, and so on.

One of my favourites this week was an approach to thinking round problems. Basically it's putting yourself in someone else's shoes so that you can see things their point of view which may help you find a different perspective. We had to build up our own virtual advisory team drawn from any period of history, fact-or-fiction, alive or dead. The idea is that you would have a range of opinions to try and draw on - "what would Aristotle have thought of applying the object-oriented
modelling approach to our agent-based cross-organizational workflow system?" Well, you get the idea.

Initially this was quite a challenge as there were a number of people I liked and/or respected but didn't really think they would have any advice for me and the sort of issues I see - WARNING - Limiting Belief Alert - WARNING. So, on reflection, I was wrong. For example, I didn't want Sir Ranulph Fiennes on my advisory team as he is a bit too ... focussed ... for me. I would prefer challenges where there is a good chance I return in one piece (no missing extremities from frost-bite, for example). But then I find that he is one of the world's top inspirational business motivational speakers so what do I know!

We only had a short while to create the list and all I could come up with initially was Rincewind. Other people had Winston Churchill, Richard Branson, Bill Gates and a host of others. I only had Rincewind. (Oh, and my wife for "local knowledge"). He represented "logical negativity" and would be a vocal participant in assessing risks. Nick Bates had just reviewed Edward DeBono's "Six Thinking Hats" so the picture of a nervous chappy in a black hat with the word WIZZARD emblazed across it in sequins immediately leapt to mind (even though it is really red in the bookend on the right). I find it quite revealing that on a 3-day self-development workshop I come up with a cowardly failed wizard who dreams of a boring life.

Next we had to nose around and find out what other people had and why. This gave me a few more ideas and I quickly added Jamie Oliver to the list - some people don't like him but I find his enthusiasm and drive very refreshing. ((Isn't the Internet great? Had to use this Swedish photo of Jamie with käk written on it. Apparently this is not a comment on Jamie but means "grub" as in "lovely grub". Nice one. While we are on the subject of food, my favourite recipe of his is Midnight Pan-Cooked Breakfast. Pukka.))

I needed a creative "Green hat" to join the table and so quickly
signed up Dave Gorman. Not only does Dave come up with off-the-wall ideas but he goes ahead with them too (or that's how the story goes). So far I've seen the following DG theatre shows : Googlewhack Adventure,Better World, Reasons To Be Cheerful, and Are You Dave Gorman? - his performances never cease to amaze me.

Akira Kurasawa, for the style he put into his movies - although I have seen only a pitiable few (Rashomon, Seven Samurai, Kagemusha, maybe one or 2 others).

I was on a roll here - Billy Bragg was enrolled for his passion, if not his politics. Wouldn't have even been short listed if I hadn't been reminded how good he is when we saw him at Southampton in March as part of his "Essential" tour.

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