Archive for the ‘Learning’ Category



February 11, 2014

My learning journey continues…

One of the most exciting things about working as an independent learning practitioner, trainer and consultant is choosing when, and who, you want to work with.  Sometimes it’s lovely to design and work on your own and serve your clients with solutions that meet their business needs.  In our super-fast connected world, social media means that you’re never really that very far away from a professional colleague – or two, especially when working on your own isn’t motivating enough for you anymore.

Remaining independent and working for yourself can be exciting and lonely in equal amounts.

Now it seems, it’s becoming more and more popular for independent practitioners to work collaboratively.  Whether it’s working together on a client project or speaking at conferences on the stage with a colleague,  learning to work as part of a team again after spending time on your own, can be challenging.

team working independently

  • How do you retain your hard-fought independence when you now face working within someone else’s business brand?  And do you even want to?
  • How do you feel about having to discuss everything with others before making a decision, when you could do this on your own before?
  • What if you get too used to working as a team player and it makes it hard for you to work independently again?

These are great questions and certainly ones to be considered when you work as an independent practitioner.  Since I started working on my own in 2002, there have been many times when I am asked to be part of a short-term project-led team, and I love the challenge.  Even more so when the team members come from many different disciplines and cultural backgrounds and countries.


Well for three reasons.

Firstly, it is great to re-use the very management and leadership skills that I train others in and remind myself of the days when I was a real manager of people (in my last substantive role before becoming an independent).  The text book tells you how to manage people, however, really managing people is such a fluid and changeable skill that it needs to be practised regularly to keep it fresh and current and in order to understand its complexities.

Secondly, it is so easy to become insular when you work independently.  We would all like to think that we retain a certain level of objectivity, however, it can become harder and harder the longer that we work as an independent.  Seeing things from a different perspective and acknowledging feedback from others without feeling like we want to defend our position is very often what we ask learners to do in a training session.  Working in a team again can revitalise this skill in us once more.

Thirdly, being held accountable for your actions (as part of a short-term team working arrangement as opposed to being part of a mastermind group which approaches it a little differently) re-teaches us the very skills that we trainers pride ourselves in. Skills such as listening, communicating, project managing, time managing and negotiating.

Working as part of a team again after time on your own can be challenging, but so rewarding.  I am really looking forward to my next new adventure working with two of my trans-national project team members PLUS a virtual team of twenty trainers, coaches and facilitators on a new and exciting project funded by the European Commission.

Fingers crossed that we all come out of this enriched by the experience.





August 5, 2012

The journey continues…

I am delighted to be still working with one of my first and oldest clients since I started as a freelancer back in 2002.  Newham University Hospitals NHS Trust, as it was known then, and I, have embarked upon many different training courses and research and analysis over the years.  However, the one that brings me most pleasure is the ‘Being An Effective Manager’ programme that we designed together over 5 years ago.

Having just finished cohort #5 last week with our now traditional individual presentations, it never ceases to amaze me just how much of an impact this programme has had on those who attend.  Not just the enjoyment from the interactions, or the Action Learning Sets they are part of that support the programme input – but the changes in their work behaviour as a result.

Being a manager in the NHS is continually challenging, in the middle ranks, even more so.  Those who progress within their own teams face particular hurdles, moving from one of the team into a ‘managerial’ role that needs to make decisions, often very difficult ones that have huge implications for the care of the patients for whom they are responsible or the carers of those patients.

Many congratulations to this last cohort for facing some of their difficulties and sharing them with me, and more importantly, overcoming them to slowly make things better – not just for themselves and their teams but also for the patients, the most important people in the NHS.

I very much look forward to meeting my next cohort #6 next January and continuing what is the never-ending journey that is the management of people in an admirable profession.


Founding Director & Learning Specialist








March 19, 2012

Just spent two days working with the European Patent Office in Vienna and who did I meet there?  A lovely lady called Josefa.

In all of my working life, I have never actually met another Jozefa and so I am delighted to introduce one to you from the EPO Vienna.

This was a great experience, not just for meeting her, but also the opportunity to run a training workshop with a superb group of experienced trainers.

I was covering how to design training that will prompt people into action and change their behaviour – focusing on Instructional Design approaches that really work!

If we are going to design training, then we have to be more than just “enter-trainers” – it must have substance, be based upon sound pedagogical constructs, but responsive to adult learners.

I thoroughly enjoyed myself helping the group to work through a detailed case study and the resulting examples were fantastic!  I am back in Vienna at the end of April so will see my fellow Josefa again 🙂

Józefa (Fawcett) in UKLearningVoice



February 29, 2012

I am off into London today to meet up with one of my very first mentors, Steve Collins which has sparked an opportunity for me to reflect upon our relationship which has spanned some 22 years!

I first met Steve when I went to work for him in the NHS in 1990.  I had come from a private-sector retail training background and he was from an academic background – surely we were from completely different worlds and would never get on?

Yes, that is me 22 years ago!


Quite the opposite in fact.  Steve was looking for someone who didn’t have a healthcare background so that he could inject some new thinking into the NHS at that time.

Little did I know that when he retired some years later, that I would take on his position as Training Manager and he would shift to a new role, that of my mentor.

I think people underestimate the long-term benefits of a really good mentor, and I have never forgotten what Steve did, and still does, for me.



After all these years we have both moved into the final phase of our relationship, that of friendship.

Many of the work principles that I use these days were influenced by Steve.

Did he impose these on me?  No

Did he teach me to do the things that I do now?  No

Did he practice these principles himself?  Yes

This is where I think his greatest success lay.  He practiced what he said.  He operated as a professional practitioner and admitted his mistakes and not try to cover them up, but he learned from them too – and changed his behaviour and practice.

I owe a great deal to my former mentor and am now looking forward to enjoying a lovely lunch with someone who now, I am proud to call my friend.

Cheers Dr Steve Collins – see you later!


Józefa Fawcett still on a learning journey…



January 13, 2012

My learning journey continues….

Listening, now that IS an interesting word.  With talking and communicating being made easy and fast these days via so many different mediums – it is a fair question to ask, who is listening?

Technically, it is a verb, the present participle of to lis-ten.  It is to give your attention to a sound: “sit and listen to the radio”.  It is to take notice of and act on what someone says; respond to advice or a request: “I told her over and over, but she wouldn’t listen”.

Listening is an important element of the audio learning programmes that I am currently producing here in Latvia.  Making the programmes interesting enough for people to want to stay with the information is just part of it.  Helping ‘listeners’ want to take action is another part.

I have had such a fabulous time again here in Riga.   This short film brings together so many aspects of what each day has been like over the last 72 hours – I hope you enjoy it

Home on Sunday and then editing and post-production of all the raw recordings.  Huge thanks again to my wonderful colleagues here at Eurofortis, signing out now from your Józia

Józia (Józefa)



August 24, 2011

THIS IS DAY 2: And we worked late into the night yesterday in the Eurofortis offices in Riga to lay down the first few tracks of the POWERFUL PRESENTATIONS audio learning programme, and in particular, the introduction and first few sections – job well done,  Evija, a really good start!

Here she is getting her voice ready with a little practice.

It has been such an interesting experience to translate words and meaning from English into Latvian.  As it turned out, we are working on the very best first topic because the Eurofortis team are preparing to do a major presentation to Latvia’s educational specialists next week, so this is serving as good training as well – talk about making full use of the time we have together!

Józefa Fawcett






August 23, 2011

This is an amazing experience and opportunity for me.  I am taking audio learning programmes that I am currently producing in English at and re-recording them in Latvian and Russian.

I am working with Eurofortis a fabulous young and vibrant company based in Riga, Latvia who are supporting schools across using their own quality assessment tools in conjunction with European Foundation for Quality Management (EFQM) and Moscow State University for Economics, Statistics and Informatics  (MESI) who are currently developing their International Student Programme plan.

This is a VLOG (video log) of my journey into the wonderful world of bi-lingual product development!

Józefa Fawcett






April 28, 2011

One of the skills needed by good trainers and educators is the ability to make the complicated, simple and easy to grasp.  This is more than just getting people to commit things to memory and then testing that memory.  It is about helping people understand and apply this new learning to different situations as needed.

Take the new AV voting system being introduced in the UK — here are a series of different ways to explain it —  in my opinion, the kids have it every time.


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March 17, 2011

Wow, this week has been more than hectic so far and it is only Thursday.  The last 72 hours have involved a great deal of travelling, a significant amount of talking and some deep and meaningful learning.


05.00hrs: Up early to start my train / tube journey across the city to South East London client to focus on helping senior team of managers cope with impending change.  Using the ‘Future/Backwards’ approach from Cognitive Edge, the challenge was to encourage them to use a different way of thinking about the future – success, but for some it was tough.

13.30hrs: On the tube again from South East London to St Pancras International, to catch yet another train, albeit Eurostar, at 15.05hrs to get to Paris – shared train with William Hague MP – obviously he was in Business Premier whilst I was simply Standard Premier, but hey – wonder what he was going to do in Paris?  Arrived at Gare du Nord at 18.15hrs and then yet another tube, the Metro this time to Rue Saint Maur and short walk to hotel – phew, aching feet and tired!

For someone like me who drives everywhere and absolutely hates trains, I feel like I have had my fill of them today.  A few hours prep for important facilitation meeting Tuesday morning and then bed.


06.30hrs: Up early to breakfast and off in the rush hour traffic (taxi this time) to Restaurant Fouquet’s on the Champs-Elysees, founded by Louis Fouquet in 1899.  What an amazing place to have a learning event!  You pay dearly to sit in the deep leather armchairs – the espresso at €4.60 must be the city’s most expensive.

Just amazing venue and my client group were all eminent professionals including a Professor from the Sorbonne – such a collection of intelligence!

13.30hrs: After the event ended I had just an hour to myself before heading back to the Eurostar so grabbed a quick-lunch and sat under The Arc de Triomphe – commissioned by Napoleon in 1806 – in the sunshine.

15.30hrs: Worked on the Eurostar the whole journey back to St Pancras, writing up Monday session and Tuesday session.  Then spent an hour listening to voice training webcast, just unable to ‘practice’ as carriage too full and would obviously get some strange looks.  Arrive back in London by 17.30hrs to tube delays on Bakerloo line and broken down rolling stock on train back to home town, how lovely to be back in UK.


05.00hrs: Up early to drive to East London client to do evaluation with participants on the ‘Being An Effective Manager’ programme on which I deliver one session and facilitate Action Learnng Sets.  Wow, their presentations were fantastic!  Real transfer of learning and improvements in quality of service and management, cost savings and time (note to self;  must write this up in a more formal way so that training team can share this valuable feedback with Senior Directors of the organisation to demonstrate how training really can make a difference).

13.30hrs: Telephone conversation with brand new client about how to approach change and share learning and knowledge.  Got so engrossed we spent ONE AND HALF HOURS on the phone – can’t wait to do this work will be really interesting.

17.00hrs: Quick drive from East London to Central London (contradiction in terms) to get to University of Westminster where I teach Post Graduate HR students on an MA in HRM from 18.00hrs until 21.00hrs.  This session looked at methods for evaluating training and measuring return on investment.  Very lively class, but really tired and need to get home.

22.00hrs: Drive home hampered by ridiculous road works and three lanes down to ONE, and not one workman in sight, arghhhhhhhhh.  Arrive home, collapse in chair and then drag self to bed, phew, where did the last three days go?


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March 7, 2011

>The learning journey continues…

Last Friday, I attended another wonderful ‘Trainer Talk Live’ event with the superb Sharon Gaskin from the Trainers Training Company at which I met Jo Dodds, an authoritative and engaging speaker who proceeded to tell us all how to use social media.

Not only did we learn so much, it was fun too – a rare combination!

The important thing I reflected upon after the event is a) how much I already knew and was doing and b) how valuable it was to have what I knew endorsed – and then some!

It is so easy to assume that just because you have done something quite successfully for years and there are no particular problems, that you know it all – in fact it is quite dangerous as we can all slip into bad habits or even the perennial, “I know I should be doing X, but haven’t got round to it yet”. This can compromise the quality of what we do, which becomes much harder to rectify as time goes on.

This is also true when trainers start to think about their training, facilitating and coaching ability.  Those who have done it for a long time,  should also consider reviewing their skills and performance with another professional.

At the above event, I mentioned a brand new service that I have introduced whereby trainers can do just that, engage in Professional Supervision, to improve the quality of their provision.

“Learning is an ongoing process”, or so we say to those who take part in our various sessions – so then it must apply to us too!


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