Webs of human conversations


“An organisation's results are determined through webs of human commitments, born in webs of human conversations.” - Fernando Flores

I love this quote because it says to me that the kinds of organisations we create and the way they perform are based on the conversations we have at work. During these conversations we debate issues, agree courses of action, make promises, commitments, agree to deadlines and so on.

Forget what you learned at school – try creative conversations


We are taught at school to think logically, in linear steps; if A then B. We are encouraged to look for problems, to conduct ‘root-cause analysis’ of failings and problems. To analyse and learn from past patterns and to provide clear explanations of what went wrong, and then to suggest the steps required to fix the problem and mitigate against similar issues in future.

Leading Conversation in turbulent times


Those charged with employee engagement and internal communication might readily agree that communication is the lifeblood of a company, but senior managers are more concerned with strategy, performance and results.

Strategic intentions are no longer annually reviewed plans, but flexible approaches to turbulent markets and rapidly changing growth areas. Strategy needs to shape the direction of the company, and respond to changing requirements. A challenge for leaders is communicating the developing strategy in a way that’s meaningful to the diverse groups of people that make up the company.

Derek Ross


Derek Ross died recently. He was 47 and to him I owe a lot. It was Derek who hired Banner McBride and became one of our largest clients many years ago when he was at Airbus. He shared openly and honestly his views as a friend and a client, and I valued hugely his candour and wit.

The Big Conversation Company


I am very excited to announce that I have set up a company called The Big Conversation Company as a sister company to Couravel.

The Big Conversation Company’s purpose is to encourage the use of conversation as a way of engaging people, and at its heart will be the
use of Big Pictures to support local conversations. It helps bring strategy to life.

Engage for Success


I went to the launch of Round 2 of Engage for Success - feedback from the task forces - at Queen Elizabeth Conference Hall yesterday.

The Big Conversation


I was in Hanover today testing the appetite in Germany for The Big Conversation approach. We were slightly worried because some members of the client's leadership team had expressed concern about whether the approach would 'land' here.

Engagement process drives performance and wins awards


“The Big Conversation" has won both the 2012 IABC Gold Quill Award– it is the second time in three years that Couravel, with Hilary Scarlett, has won this.

We have also just learned that the work has won the IABC EMErald Award of Excellence – making it one of the top pieces of work in Europe, and that it has been shortlisted for an HR Excellence Award by Human Resources Magazine. What is more important than all these awards is that this work played a major role supporting TUI during tough trading conditions. We helped a wide range of people in very different roles understand the business strategy and how they delivered it. Click here for a detailed case study which tells a compelling story about the link between this engagement of TUI’s people and the company’s performance.

Keep reminding people of the reasons for the changes


We have done work extensively in the public sector over the last few years although I do not think we will be doing much over the next two.

One of the biggest challenges will be asking managers whose jobs are at risk to lead teams who also face uncertainty, all in a climate where clear cut decisions about stay or go will be made more difficult in many organisations because the public sector finds redundancydeals prohibitively expensive.

Internal communications after a crisis


During a recent conversation with an old friend who used to work at BP I was struck by something he said about the oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico.

“The people I feel really sorry for are the employees. I can imagine how they are feeling – they will be devastated and right in the front line of public anger and outrage.”

I had not thought about this before. With news pictures of struggling birds, ruined coastlines and destroyed businesses, you tend not to focus on the engagement of the employees of the company that is perceived to have caused the problem.


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