Shawn Callahan sometimes shares this little video clip with people without much preamble, and then asks them what they see happening: OK, most people ascribe human emotions and actions to the shapes. They say things like, “the big triangle was bullying the little triangle and the circle but the little triangle saved the circle.” Or […]

Playing with reluctance

Many of friends will admit they used to think of me as a brain-on-a-stick. And I certainly used to be one of those folks who acted as if my body was mostly just a device to carrying my brain around allowing it to get on with the serious business of thinking. Over the last couple […]


I’ve been paying more attention to contempt recently. Noticing others expressing it, often in small ways, and catching it in myself. So this article about the work of John Gottman caught my eye. It gives chapter and verse on his work showing how contempt is strongly correlated with the failure of relationships. On one level, […]


I don’t think I’ve ever linked to the Weekly Standard before but this debunking of the overplaying of neuroscience is a good read. (I’m overlooking the anti-liberal dig at the end). I tend to agree with the takedown of “learning styles” which don’t seem that well-rooted in science and tend to encourage wooden leg thinking. […]


Perhaps connecting through ideas is over-rated. This may sound almost sacrilegious or insane. Surely the whole of civilisation rests on ideas? Ideas having sex etc etc. And don’t get me wrong, I get as excited by new ideas as the next man, so I’m not pointing the finger at anyone in particular here. But we […]

London facilitation workshops

I’m going to run a couple of open workshops in November. They’re in London on November 6th and 7th. They’re for anyone who wants to get more out of meetings. I’ve developed this approach with Viv based on working in all sorts of places from Scotland to the Solomon Islands and with all kinds of […]

Leadership, narcissism and what we really want

Tomas Chamorro-Premuzic suggests why we end up with incompetent leaders making a point about a bias towards men in the process: In my view, the main reason for the uneven management sex ratio is our inability to discern between confidence and competence. That is because we (people in general) commonly misinterpret displays of confidence as a […]

Not villainous, not heroic but epic?

Tony Goodson found this article and Facebooked it: Terrorism Trauma and the Search for Redemption.  It’s the remarkable story of Silke Maier-Witt, her traumatic upbringing how she ended up in the Baader-Meinhof gang – and how she now devotes her life to working with victims of trauma in Serbia. Trying to regain some kind of […]

Talk and action

Here’s the next video in my series reflecting on working with people and groups: It’s about the way we sometimes talk about Talk and Action as if they are separate, even opposite, things. It’s inspired by this classic Monty Python clip:

Group size

I’ve been doing some coaching work with facilitators lately and I found myself talking about group size. The short version is that I often find groups of over five people tend to have relatively stilted conversations, which at their worst become what I call a plenary vortex: the fight for attention starts to diminish the […]