Posts Tagged ‘Learning’



August 21, 2013


After many years of being away from holding an operational management role in both the private and public sectors here in the UK, I find myself once more managing, facilitating and leading a team of people.

They all have a role to play in the development of services and products created within the LearningVoice family of brands.  However, things have changed considerably since I left permanent employ as a senior manager back in 2002.

Firstly, these are not employees, but independent freelancers who are specialists in their own fields of expertise.

Secondly, none of them work full-time with me and all have their own businesses to run.

Thirdly, they live and work in many different office locations around the world:

Alison, Ann, Ces, Rowena, Anita, Jakki, Geoff, Richard and Venita are in the UK. 

Sarah, Judith and Beata are in Spain.

Greg, Astri, Azizah, Stefano, Dody and Irsyad are in Indonesia.

Pascal is in Dubai.

Manar is in Kuwait.

Gonca, Gurcan and Nazan are in Turkey

Maxim, Pavel, Oksana and Natalia are in Russia.

Adela, Evija and Vanda are in Latvia.

Fourthly, and most importantly, they don’t actually need to work together to undertake their role.

So what do they have in common?

Well, they are all now part of my ‘virtual project team’ supporting LearningVoice development.   There is no requirement for them to work with each other, however, there is a need for some inter-dependency as opposed to solely independent working.  This is vital if the brand and focus is to be maintained.  Too many strands can dilute the brand and steer us ‘off message’.

So, is this is a team or simply a group of people that I have brought together under the one umbrella that is LearningVoice?  What skills must I now dust off and re-use from my managerial days?  Should I focus on leading rather than managing?  What about quality and consistency?  How do other people management skills get employed in this very different situation?

I have spent the last ten years working for myself and on my own.  Like many other sole traders, I had to adjust to this way of working.  Now, the trend is to utilise other people and NOT do it all yourself.  Seems like it is time to brush up on my own managerial skills and re-learn and re-use what I know and have taught others on management and leadership programmes, but with a twist so as to adapt to this more flexible agile way of working with ‘virtual teams’



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January 12, 2013

2013 on fire

This picture taken one minute into Jan 1, 2013 in Les Arcs, some 2000 metres up a French mountain, signifies the business mood I want to adopt during this coming year.  Just like the numbers burning brightly in the dark against the snow and cold of the air, during 2013, LearningVoice is going to be ‘on fire’.

With so many exciting activities already planned, alongside new opportunities, this year looks as if it is going to be the year that training, learning, knowledge, voicing and quality will feature strongly in organisations around the world as part of their re-growth plans.  To lift our fortunes up from the dying embers of a long and devastating world-wide recession, we need to have more than just a ‘can-do’ attitude, we need to raise our game, leveraging our opportunities and thoughts higher than just one level. Forget about simply setting goals and creating impossible lists of (sometimes) unattainable milestones.  Spurred on by a recently featured quote by Carl Jung “Who looks outside, dreams, who looks inside, awakens” – my mantra for this year is :

Keep it real!

Keep it focused!

Keep it going!

In order to make a real difference and affect change, we need to be ‘on-fire’ ourselves – so come on 2013, bring it on!



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January 22, 2012

And the learning journey continues…

It seems that UK weekends are becoming ever more eroded by business conversations, and the line between home and work is blurring faster than perhaps we care to admit.

Of course, technology has played its part in this shift, but so has the way that people are choosing to work these days.  As an independent practitioner, I now work around the world and am starting to experience different cultures and business practices.

This of course means time zone changes.  From the UK, I might be having a business meeting with someone who is at least 4 – 6 hours ahead of me – early morning meetings around 5am GMT are now becoming a regular thing.

The other change that I’m finding is that many countries in the Middle East operate on a different working week to the UK.  In Kuwait and Dubai, Sunday is their Monday morning.  In Saudi Arabia, I discovered yesterday from a new work contact, that Saturday is their Monday and their weekend is Thursday and Friday.

Working across time zones and cultures, that is one thing, however, I have also noticed a shift in UK working practices too.  Maybe heavily influenced by an American marketing approach, newsletters from people here in the UK that I have subscribed to are being sent to my inbox on Friday night or early Saturday morning.  The last two that I read claimed that they did this because:

1.  They were too busy during the week and good intentions to get it done on a Friday night were thwarted because they were enjoying themselves in a social setting with friends

2.  They were trying out a new format and instead of a mid-week newsletter, they were sending it on a Saturday to be more assured of it being read in an inbox

Hey, wait a minute… this in MY best interest, or theirs?

Do I really want to be bombarded with business newsletters at the weekend? Is this trend going to catch on?  Will it start a backlash and will more and more people (like me) cancel subscriptions because the trend isn’t welcome?

Here in the UK working weekends were instigated by the UK Sunday Trading Act 1994 and I remember at that time being wary of it.  So much so, that my husband and I made a conscious decision for him to get out of retail where businesses were already insisting managers did their fair share of Sunday working.

I was also intrigued to read this week about the Brazilians.  Apparently they are overworked and a new law has been introduced in a bid to push back the intrusions of the digital age on Brazilians’ personal lives.  With my HR ‘hat’ on, this is going to be interesting to watch how it unfolds and the extra costs to an organisation of such a law.

Will it’s ramifications travel over here to the UK too?

So, I am publishing this post on a Sunday, in keeping with the trend that is growing but with a certain degree of skepticism as to whether I think it is a good thing,  or not.


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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






March 31, 2011

I am starting a nine-month study into what makes some organisations successful in their use of the Corporate University approach and why some are not so successful. I am doing this slightly differently from the normal standard “survey” and from three different perspectives.

In order to gather the data that I need, I am looking for people who are interested in being part of this study and therefore am inviting expressions of interest from:

1. Organisations that already use the CU approach and believe that it is successful and meets their business needs

2. Organisations that would very much like to adopt the CU approach, but have yet to get started

3. Independent training, learning, HR and knowledge management practitioners that provide training design and delivery or e-learning programmes that are used in a CU LMS or are involved in creating knowledge sharing networks or putting in place talent management schemes or onboarding programmes

The interim results of this research will be presented at a forthcoming conference currently being planned to take place in Dubai in 2011 and a follow up final presentation at a conference in Zurich in 2012.

Please write to me for more information Email:



February 27, 2010

>The learning journey continues…

…and so it does following my recent business trip to Antalya in Turkey, where I stayed in what must be the most extraordinary concept hotel – ever!
Really a ‘couples’ hotel, the Adam & Eve, was chosen by my fellow European project partners as a welcome change from the norm, and this it was.
Outside walls lined in astro turf, inside all white and mirrors, a bar the length of a football pitch and black dark corridors leading to your room. The concept being that you leave your negative vibes outside your white mirrored room. Of course, as you enter the room, you have the choice to impose whatever mood you like and change the colour accordingly. From black to white, to red, green, blue and pink!

Needless to say, having a jacuzzi in a totally red room with all the bubble flying everywhere was a surreal experience.
Given that the nature of the European project is about quality and excellence of management, it would be good to question, was all of this ‘luxury’ high quality? After all, what is quality and of value to one person might not be so for the next, and is it sustainable?
I have to admit, that after just three nights, I felt that was enough of the multi-colour rainbow experience and longed for normality (and a good old B&B again).
What did I learn?
Well we were all much more creative and I learned not to put a whole bottle of bubble bath into the jacuzzi  🙂


April 26, 2004

>The learning journey continues…

As an active member of no less than 6 online discussion forums, the issue regarding the use of language and participation level across large diverse online communities begs further consideration. For me it raises the question as to how well we actually understand each other and highlights our ability (or lack of it) to clearly communicate what we are trying to say through such a limited vehicle.

Recently I find myself witnessing a rising number of these online forums falling fowl of many, if not all of the following:

• Poor, incomplete and duplicated communication
• Lack of responses and singular self-absorbed postings
• Use of complex and confusing language
• Cultural differences and interpretations
• Arrogant on-line behaviour.

Worth noting that two of the forums are American, one is European and three are UK-based, and all have at some time experienced the above.

You could argue that normal meetings produce the exact same problems and this is true, yet these online forums are established to develop better knowledge-sharing and communication opportunities and are totally dependent on voluntary contributions. What appears to be occurring, in some of these, is a decline in contributions and worse still one or two individuals ‘battling it out’ in full glare of other ‘lurkers’ who watch from the sidelines and wonder whether to get involved or not. Others just decide that it is not worth the investment in time or energy and adopt the ‘two feet principle’ and walk away.

An online community is not a community if its players don’t contribute!

I found a very astute and accurate comment about one such forum yesterday that is worth reproducing here as it hits the mark very well. Putting this comment into context, the forum it relates to is specifically about improving electronic communications and in particular relates to Language Engine (LE) technology that is designed to help adapt highly context specific language into a common vocabulary. Here is the comment:

“In the ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy’ the Babel fish sat in your ear and translated any language into your own. Your [forum] headline article highlights the proportion of projects that fail to deliver the expected benefits. I believe that the problems often stem from the sound bite language used to promote projects. For example, your article carries the following quote about the benefits of standard medical terminology: “to transparently standardise information against a consistent knowledge base to drive decision-support and outcomes-based analyses.” The irony that I need my Babel fish to translate a statement about improving the use of language is not lost on me, and I can see the funny side. But how will I know whether the project has delivered if I don’t really understand what it’s all about?

Telling isn’t it?

Why not go to the brilliant Plain English Campaign website, which is an independent pressure group fighting for public information to be written in plain English, with more than 6000 registered supporters in 70 countries, it is worth a look!

REFLECTION AND LEARNING STOP: Ask someone you trust to feedback to you their impression about the way you communicate, are you clear and concise, is what you say understandable and more importantly, what does the way you communicate say about you? Only do this is if you are ready to hear what they say and take action upon what you learn!