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A selection of articles on topical and emergent themes in Creative Management and Strategy Innovation.

After the Pandemic

We all hope for an end to the pandemic, although the effects of the global economic crisis it is causing will undoubtedly be with us for years to come. All of this gives us an opportunity to reflect on our current reality and what might emerge from it. Instead of thinking we can quickly get “back to normal”, can we maybe use the hiatus to make a more wholesome society? There is no doubt that there will be people struggling for both these outcomes. How can we influence what future will emerge? Read this article

ArticlesOrganisational Development – 50 shades of teal

It is quite possible that our economy and our expectations will change beyond recognition as society tries to mitigate the effects of climate change. Life as we know it may be coming to an end. We have a society that is deeply divided and becoming increasingly polarised. Insects are dying out and we may be on the threshold of a Great Extinction. As in the boiled frog syndrome, most of us continue with business as usual. Perhaps a technological solution will arrive in the nick of time? However, technological innovations can be dangerous unless we also evolve the minds that can use them for the greater good. Are there clues in the history of organisations that will guide HR to take a bold evolutionary step that will help avert disaster?  Published in HR Director Magazine July 2019, issue 177.

Aligning Strategy, Vision and Purpose

In this article we explore the Why, How and What of Strategy, Vision and Purpose. These terms are often used in confusing ways which obscure the simplicity of their relationship.

Read this article and get a grasp of the way in which our actions in the world are a reflection of our inner self – and hence why authenticity matters!

ArticlesA deep learning desire

In order to thrive, any organisation (and hence the people in it) must be learning and developing. But learning is not all of a kind and higher levels of learning are often neglected. Learning is the means of addressing the triad of ways in which we act in the world and also the corresponding triad of inner capability. We can develop the two together by developing high-performing teams. Published in HR Director Magazine June 2018, issue 164. See article online

ArticlesTeamwork – Key to Collaborative Achievement

We live and work in an increasingly fragmented and dislocated world. The practice of teamwork reverses this trend, restoring balance and taking us towards integration and wholeness in our relationships and collaboration in our endeavours. Teams bring together individuals to produce the emergent qualities that make them stronger and more effective. Through teamwork people are able to collectively meet extraordinary challenges. Published in HR Director Magazine April 2018, issue 162. See article online

ArticlesSpirit of Wholeness

Resilience is an internal quality that enables an entity to survive and even to benefit from stress and change. It is an emergent quality of teamwork. By emergent we mean that the system as a whole has characteristics that were not there in the parts – in other words an effective team can have more resilience than any of its members.

The wholeness of a team is a function of the wholeness of the people within it. You cannot have a mature team of immature individuals so teamwork must be developmental for all involved. If we want to survive and thrive, we need to work on our own maturity and contribute to the maturity of teams. In this short article we explore these qualities as they emerge in teams and as they mature in individuals. Published in HR Director November 2017, issue 157

ArticlesPattern Thinking

By observation of what goes on in the world we make sense by creating corresponding patterns in our mind. Referring to this patterning of knowledge we decide how to act, thereby projecting the patterns in our mind out onto the world. Can we get better at such processes and would doing so make our actions more beneficial and more effective?
This short article raises such questions and suggests possible answers, provoking us to think differently about the patterns behind events. By becoming more aware of the patterns underlying our behaviours we can get better at what we do.

ArticlesLogoVisual Thinking (LVT)

CMC has been instrumental in the development of LVT, a kind of Visual Thinking that encourages structural re-arrangement. In LVT everyone’s ideas become shared material from which new patterns of meaning are fashioned from ‘old’ ideas. Everyone learns, improves their thinking, develops understanding and builds relationships. They own their results without issues of transfer or communication. Groups are able to act effectively because integrating diverse knowledge and experience rapidly produces shared understanding.

ArticlesWork the Empathy Muscle

Empathy is what we cry out for when we are hurt or we feel inadequate. On the other hand it can seem over-indulgent when offered to those who fail to help themselves. When should we feel empathy and when might it be appropriate to turn away? In this article we look at where to place our empathy when we wish to develop people’s potential.

ArticlesLessons that cannot be Taught

People often talk about personal development but this term covers a wide range of possibilities from polishing up your job skills on the one hand through to life-changing inner transformation on the other. Without reflecting on the purpose of personal development, isn’t there a danger that we are drifting towards banality? This article explores something of what development needs to mean in the context of our post-factual society.

ArticlesNew leadership for new leaders

A colleague asked if he could quote from an article of mine in a paper he is preparing. The article, ‘The New Leaders’ was published many years ago in ‘The Manufacturer’. We could not find it on the website but found the magazine in our archives. Much has changed since 2002 but the message and tone of this article on leadership is as relevant today as it was then. No shame in posting now what was well ahead of its time when written!

ArticlesReluctant Leadership

A conversation about courage and leadership on LinkedIn reminded me that I had written an article on the topic. Although it was written long ago, the observations and arguments are perhaps even more relevant today. People in many walks of life are torn between groaning about lack of initiative and accepting responsibility for making things happen. It is a dilemma of our times – who has the courage to shape the future?

ArticlesWhat does it mean’ “to raise your game”?

The concept is common in sporting circles but is even more appropriate in organisational life. In this article we look at a framework that shows clearly how raising your game changes the world in which you operate. To raise your game you need to become more conscious and take charge of your life.

ArticlesBelbin and CIPD roles in creative process

People have different talents in relation to how they manage processes. Before you can assess those talents it is useful to understand the structure of processes. Different schemas explore the roles and behaviours required to achieve successful outcomes. What insight can we gain by exploring the relationship between Belbin’s Team Roles and CIPD’s Professional Behaviours in the context of the processes they are supporting?

ArticlesSeize the Day Create the Future

When circumstances change, the old game-plays are no longer effective. Smart people change the game. Turn your senior people into a dynamic, responsive and engaged leadership team.


Talk of exploration brings to mind images of brave men riding out into unknown territory, trekking across continents with simple equipment, entirely self-sufficient. Exploration is linked to discovery and a sense of adventure.

ArticlesDare to dream!

Release energy and imagination to create the future you want. This highly successful whole-system process will be customised to your needs. An initial residential off-site workshop will firmly establish Purpose, Vision and Values to give the team identity and clarity. This is the key element in a developmental journey comprising the following steps… [read more]

ArticlesDeveloping Capability

Capability is the sum total of our ability to respond to challenge and change. Leaders need to maximise the capability of their organisations and the teams within them. In this article John Varney describes how this can be done.

ArticlesTapping Creativity

This article discusses the nature of creativity and enquiry and why people are sometimes less creative than they need to be. It argues the work of leaders is to use ‘serious play’ to release the spirit of creativity in the culture of their organisations.

ArticlesSerious Play

What is serious play and why does it help with strategy? This article, originally published in Business Executive Magazine, shines a little light on processes that help leadership teams meet modern organisational challenges.

ArticlesBringing Ideas to Life

Places and spaces can live. Ideas can live. Organisations can live. However, the difference seems to need people to have a particular kind of intention.

ArticlesResilience – and how to survive in tough times

In his article for the Banff centre’s Leadership Compass magazine John Varney relates nine factors that research suggests enable humans to survive in emergencies, to the organisation.

ArticlesAccessing the Power of Vision

In his article for the Banff centre’s Leadership Compass magazine John Varney shares his perception of a vision being a vital means of raising aspirations and aligning energies with the common intent, enabling people to bring their endeavour to life.

ArticlesREFLECT! The art of purposeful non-thinking

John Varney advocates finding time to stop and think and offers a useful metaphor of how we take an illusion for reality, how we can intuit causal patterns and how, with intention, we can gain insight.

ArticlesAuthentic Leadership

To lead is to go first and bring others along. Authentic leadership, it is argued, is exhibited in our behaviour.

ArticlesStrategy as Fiction

Dare we believe in what we dare to imagine? That is a question that is answered through the flowing pattern of relationships we tend to refer to as leadership or teamwork.