Tag Archives: training

Curiosity, continuous improvement and innovation. RiverRhee Newsletter, September-October 2018

By Elisabeth Goodman, 8th October 2018

Francesca Gino’s article on “The business case for curiosity”, in the September-October issue of Harvard Business Review (pp. 48-57) is my source of inspiration for this issue of our bi-monthly newsletter.

The newsletter also includes details of our remaining scheduled courses for 2018, and some early plans for 2019.

2018-10-08 12.59.13

Key points from Francesca Gino’s “The business case for curiosity”, Harvard Business Review, Sept-Oct 2018, pp.48-57

Francesca Gino’s article has lots of great fact and data from surveys and studies and case studies – which make the article a fascinating read should anyone wish to take a look for themselves.

I’ve pulled out the conclusions under three main headings: how curiosity leads to better performance, the barriers that can get in the way of curiosity, and how to encourage greater curiosity at work.

Greater curiosity leads to better performance

Curiosity in practice equates to an interest in new ideas, learning and development, continuous improvement, creativity and innovation.

Individual team members and leaders who demonstrate curiosity in these ways are more likely to:

  • Be more collaborative as they listen to and build on each others’ ideas
  • Demonstrate less un-constructive* conflict (for the same reasons)
  • Gain more trust and respect from their colleagues
  • Make more effective decisions (as they consider a wider range of alternatives)
  • Enhance their personal (or ‘soft’) and technical skills
  • Better position their organisation for success

[*We at RiverRhee strongly believe in the value and power of constructive conflict as a way of encouraging the open exchange of ideas, feelings and opinions – as described in this blog “Conflict is the lifeblood of high performing organisations”]

The barriers that can get in the way of curiosity

As with so many things, a leader or manager can easily discourage curiosity by their behaviour towards it

A leader or manager will put barriers in the way of curiosity if they are overly concerned about:

  • Timelines and efficiency
  • Avoiding potential chaos or conflict

How to encourage greater curiosity at work

And so a leader can do much to create a culture of greater curiosity at work.

Managers and leaders can role-model curiosity

A manager or leader who asks questions. listens to and acknowledges what others have to say will demonstrate what it is to be curious.  This, rather than telling, is likely to lead to trust and respect from others.  It’s OK to not know the answer, especially if that is followed-up with a desire to find out and learn from others.

Managers and leaders can give individuals the time and resources to explore

Key performance indicators are important drivers of performance, but so is the opportunity to learn and be creative.  If individuals and organisations are focused solely on meeting deadlines, there will be little scope for reflection, exploration and innovation.

Francesca Gino quotes Ford’s and Toyota’s approaches to process improvement and one of the principles that we teach is that it should be used to free up people’s time for reflection and creativity.

Dan Pink also emphasises the importance of giving people time to explore to satisfy their motivational need for autonomy and mastery. (See Motivation – a refresher… eight years on..) Some organisations go as far as giving people a periodic creativity day when they can do this.  Or they pay for learning and development opportunities that might be outside the immediate scope of the employees current role.

Hire for curiosity

There are some suggestions for how to do this in the HBR article:

  • Ask the interviewee about their interests outside work.  What they enjoy reading or learning about can be a good indicator of curiosity – especially it this goes beyond their area of expertise
  • Assess them on their collaborative skills as well as the depths of their skills (described as ‘T-shaped” skills by IDEO.  The horizontal stroke is the collaborative capability which should include empathy and curiosity.  The vertical stroke is the depth of skill.)
  • Listen to the questions that the candidate asks – especially if these go beyond questions on the immediate role – as another indicator of curiosity.
  • Administer a curiosity assessment (of which apparently there are many validated examples…)

(We have more tips on the interview process in our training on Recruitment and Interview skills.)

Teach and encourage people to ask ‘Why?’ and ‘How could we?’

The ‘5 Why’s’ that we teach in our Lean and Six Sigma training echoes one of Francesca Gino’s recommendations.  We also teach managers on our management training courses the value of asking open questions to promote the sharing of ideas by their direct reports.

“How could we?” is a great way of engaging people in finding ways to address problems – and one that Ludo Chapman of The Innovation Practice use in a recent strategy and team building event that I co-facilitated with him.

Create an environment that supports curiosity

We know that people learn and explore in different ways.  Some people do so more through individual research and reflection, others do so through their interactions with others.

Francesca Gino puts more emphasis on the latter: giving people the opportunity to network with others, creating collaborative working spaces, promoting cross-training.  We also believe that people need the opportunity for individual reflection, and encourage our delegates to find creative ways of scheduling such opportunities into their agendas.


Our schedule of remaining courses for 2018 and early planning for 2019 can be accessed on our web site and is also shown here:

For those on a management journey:

  • Introduction to Management (11th-13th December). An in-depth three-day course for those who are new to management or have been doing it for some time
  • Transition to Leadership* For those moving into a leadership role
  • One-day Supervisors’ course (10th January 2019). If all you want is one day of training to get you started
  • Coaching Skills for Managers (11th June 2019) To further develop your coaching skills
  • Recruitment and Interview Skills* Essential skills for managers involved in the recruitment process

For day-to-day process and project management:

  • Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma (6th November). Explore how you can gain up to 20% savings by improving your processes
  • Introduction to Project Management (8th November). All the basics for managing your projects effectively

For essential capability and confidence building skills in other aspects of your work:

  • Assertiveness*
  • Effective Influencing and Communication*.
  • First steps in selling (7th November). Building effective relationships with your customers when selling is not necessarily your thing
  • Presentation skills (13th November).
  • Managing change (15th November). How to deal with and lead change in your organisation

* Please enquire for dates in 2019.


All of RiverRhee’s courses can be scheduled on demand, either to run in-house for your company, or to publicise as an open course for other delegates. We can also explore most topics in one-to-one coaching sessions.

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com or contact Elisabeth on 07876 130 817.




Filed under Newsletter

Training the trainer – our top five tips. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, May-June 2016

By Elisabeth Goodman, 1st June 2016

Why share our tips on training?

One of the cornerstones of RiverRhee’s way of working is that we pass on the capabilities that we teach, through our training and coaching, for our clients to support themselves after our work with them is done.   So it was with some pleasure that I learnt recently that the US colleagues of one of our regular clients in the UK are now running their own version of our one-day Introduction to Lean and Six Sigma course.

It also made me realise that one capability we had not explicitly shared was how to deliver training. Perhaps our client had learnt this through emulation of what had worked well when we worked with them.

For the benefit of this client, and for others, here are our reflections on what we believe contributes to effective training.

  1. Use a why, what, how, so what format
  2. Include a combination of approaches to support different learning styles
  3. Share stories and case studies
  4. Create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere
  5. Make it easy to take away key learnings
Meena Chidambaram receiving her certificate after completing one of our courses

Meena Chidambaram receiving her certificate after completing one of our courses

Use a why, what, how, so what format

I learnt this approach in my NLP Practitioner training and have found it invaluable ever since. When introducing each topic in a course we either ask the delegates, or suggest reasons ‘why’ this particular subject might be important to them – so that they want to find out more. For Lean and Six Sigma it’s about finding ways to streamline and improve the way they work so that they can consistently deliver value to their customers and make better use of limited time and money.

The ‘what’ is a description (only as long as necessary) of what the topic consists of – perhaps with some background on its origins, the key principles, frameworks, tools etc.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training on Lean and Six Sigma

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training courses

The ‘how’ consists of the ‘nuts and bolts’ – how to apply the principles and tools.

The ‘so what’ is the opportunity for delegates to consider what they will do with their new knowledge once they are back at work.

Include a combination of approaches to support different learning styles

We learn from a young age to “show and tell”. It’s because some people learn more easily from being able to see things (visual cues), others from hearing (auditory cues). There are also people who are more kinesthetic – so that being able to touch things will help them, and auditory-digital people will benefit from more detailed explanations and examples. These different representational styles are also ones I learnt about in my NLP Practitioner training.

We cater for these different styles through the use of visuals on slides or flip charts, giving presentations, using videos. We have lots of discussion and examples. And we have hand-outs and various study aids that people can handle and refer to.

MBTI - Step II Facet Feedback Cards provide compelling visual and kinesthetic support for learning

MBTI – Step II Facet Feedback Cards provide compelling visual and kinesthetic support for learning

Honey and Mumford’s Learning Styles describe preferences for theory, reflection, action and pragmatism. So we give background on what we teach, allow time for private reflection, practice in pairs and small groups, and we base all our courses on people’s own challenges, projects, processes and situations.

Include stories and case studies

Telling stories also dates to our childhood and indeed to the early stages of humanity. Just beginning a story triggers a different level of alertness and receptivity. Stories are fun to tell, and fun to listen to. They are an extraordinarily powerful way to get a message across. They don’t have to be strictly true.

Case studies are a form of story – the fact that they are based on something that really happened is what gives credibility to the lesson that you wish to reinforce. Again having visuals will help to give them strength, as will testimonials from the people who were involved.

Create a relaxed and enjoyable atmosphere

People will learn most effectively if the atmosphere is right. Our favourite training venue has lots of natural light and space to move around in. It is far removed from our delegates’ normal place of work so that they can focus with minimal distractions. Refreshments are close to hand.

We often use two trainers and play off the dynamic between us to create a sense of fun and relaxation. We believe people learn better when there is laughter. We watch out for body language and other cues that tell us when people are engaged, confused, need a rest or change of pace.

Delegates enjoying a moment at one of RIverRhee's courses

Delegates enjoying a moment at one of RiverRhee’s courses

Make it easy to take away key learnings

Coming on one of our training courses is an opportunity to take time out to reflect on challenges and learn and practise new skills. The price to pay is the extra work to catch-up on when back in the office or lab, with the associated risk of all the new learning being buried in a drawer along with the course notes.

We ask delegates to complete some pre-course questionnaires and exercises to help them identify what aspects of their work they will focus on during the course. We pause and encourage them to record key insights and actions they would like to take at intervals throughout the training. We make time for them to recap, share and so commit to what they will take away do at the end of the day.

What will you do with these training tips?

How do these points relate to your own views on what makes for effective training? Which if any are you applying, or will you apply?

We always welcome conversations around what we share in these newsletters and what we do.

For those of you based at the Babraham Research Campus near Cambridge, UK, do come and see us at our exhibition stand in the Bennett building on Thursday 30th June.

And of course you are always welcome to sign up for one of our training courses to experience our approach for yourself. Our next one is the Introduction to Management on 21st-23rd June and details of this and our other courses can be found at http://www.riverrhee.com

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers and teams.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsletter

A second look at project management. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, November – December 2015

By Elisabeth Goodman, 26th November 2015

Why a second look at project management?

We have been running an introductory course on project management for Library and Information Professionals for a while now, through TFPL. This has just been rebranded as Successful Project Management.

We also include a short module on “Managing Projects, Processes and Problems” in our Introduction to Management course and find just this summary slide very effective to tease out challenges and opportunities for managing projects more effectively.

Project Management summary slide

One slide overview of some of the key components of project management

And our one-day course on project management for those working in science based industries has just been quality assured and approved for addition to our offerings via Cogent Skills.

Many people are expected to lead projects without having received any or very little formal training.  Although there are a lot of in-depth courses available for project managers, we’ve found we can make a big difference with just our one-day overview of the basics.

This newsletter picks up on four aspects of project management that have been cropping up quite regularly in our courses.  It also builds on one of our previous newsletters: Notes for the occasional project manager.

Working in a matrix environment – project charters

Many of the people we work with are both line and project managers.  Or they are managing people who also report to someone else in a matrix environment.


Managers exploring aspects of their responsibilities during RiverRhee’s November 2015 Introduction to Management course

Either way, it can be quite challenging to ensure that project team members have the support from their line managers, and are themselves committed to providing the time and attention that the project leader needs.

Individual project charters are a relatively simple tool that can facilitate conversations between the project leader, individual team members, and relevant line managers to discuss and agree roles, responsibilities and time commitments.

We recognise that project priorities will change, and individuals may be involved in more than one project, but the project charter provides a starting point for facilitating further conversations and agreements.

What to do if the project is not initiated by the project leader; how to influence your business development team

Many of the managers that we work with ‘inherit’ their project from someone else.  Sometimes this is the business development team who liaises directly with the company’s customers.  Or it may be another member of the management team.

The consequence is that the project comes to the project manager with the timelines, budgets, resources already defined.  They are not necessarily realistic, and may not be open to renegotiation.

In the spirit of sharing knowledge and experience, continuous improvement, and learning in general, one approach might be to invite those who initiate projects, such as the business team, to project reviews. That way they can hear first hand what the impact of pre-defined timelines, budgets and resources have been on the project, what happened in practice, and what might be done differently next time.  There is more on learning reviews below.

Learning reviews

How to capture and make optimum use of learnings from projects is a perennial topic of conversation amongst both project and knowledge managers.  Project teams often do not make the time to reflect on how the project went, and to identify what successes they might build on in future projects, as well as what they might do differently.  Where they do capture such learnings, organisations seldom have a mechanism to act on these learnings in their future work.

We recently provided advice, organisation and facilitation for a retrospective learning review workshop for an organisation. The workshop participants identified 21 recommendations to act upon as a result of the learning review.  The organisation will also be adopting a simplified version of the learning review to support all future projects.

Risk management is not just for Health and Safety, nor just for Quality Assurance audits.

There is a lot of cross-over between the different disciplines that we support, as illustrated by a couple of seminars that I have recently co-led for the APM in my capacity as committee member for the Enabling Change Specific Interest Group (SIG).

We introduce our delegates to the FMEA (Failure Mode Effect Analysis) matrix used in Lean and Six Sigma.  It is a variation of risk management tools used in project management, in Health and Safety, and for Quality Assurance audits.

Risk analysis matrix or FMEA

Risk analysis or FMEA matrix

Project teams that take the time to go through this kind of analysis at the start of their projects, can do so with the insights that they and others have learned in previous projects.  Like all project management tools it is one to keep very much alive, constantly referred to and updated throughout the life of the project.

Other news

We also continue to be included in the ‘on demand’ course list for CILIP, and are in fact one of the first CILIP recognised CPD providers.  Our courses with CILIP include:

RiverRhee’s 2016 course and date list for Life Science companies is now available.  It includes the details for our one-day Introduction to Project Management course.

We are in the process of developing half-day versions of “Effective Influencing and Communication” and “Time and Meeting Management” to deliver to a local Life Science company and would be glad to discuss either of these with any one else who might be interested.  We are also able to provide training / coaching in Sales and Marketing.

We have also had expressions of interest for our new half-day “Management Development” workshop which uses the Myers Briggs (MBTI) tool to help participants gain more in-depth insights on their style as a manager and how to interact more effectively with others.  Do get in touch if you would like to join us for this.

Last but not least we could not resist sharing this wonderful testimonial from one of the delegates at our November Introduction to Management course: “I have been on numerous courses and this was by far the best.  Fantastic content, delivery and above all instructors.”

If you would like to find out more

Do get in touch if you would like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to create exceptional managers, enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.


Filed under Newsletter

Learning alliances and the coaching continuum. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, May-June 2013

Giving teams the time, environment and skills to reflect

As Elisabeth Goodman wrote in her recent blog – Feel the fear and do it anyway – our work at RiverRhee Consulting is all about giving teams the right conditions for thinking about their work and dealing with the challenges that have been getting in the way of their productivity and positive morale.

It is a kind of facilitation that sits at whatever point in the coaching continuum, from the most directive, where we are in instructive mode, to the least directive where those that we work with can simply reflect on what they are doing.  And it relies on forming a strong ‘learning alliance’ with our clients, so that we can listen and respond to exactly what they need.

Lorraine Warne and Elisabeth had the opportunity to provide just this form of blended and responsive approach in a recent 1½-day workshop for an EU organisation. Our combination of presentations, interactive discussions and break-out groups enabled the team members to develop fresh personal insights on their communication styles and values, build a stronger team spirit and collectively identify solutions to improve their efficiency and performance.

The teaching end of the continuum

Although our workshops usually combine teaching new skills with opportunities for practice and reflection, we do occasionally put a little more emphasis on the teaching.  John Riddell did just this in a 1½-hour taster on Lean and Six Sigma for people in Abcam, one of our existing client organisations, who had not yet attended one of our 1-day workshops.  We’re hoping they will be amongst those signing up for a further workshop for the client in the autumn. (A full case study of our work with Abcam was included in the June issue of the One Nucleus TrainingNews.)

Mentoring our existing/returning clients

Four years into our business and our list of returning clients is starting to grow.  John and Elisabeth previously introduced a client to Lean and Six Sigma.  Elisabeth has now begun mentoring them as they work their way through the DMAIC approach to define what constitutes value to their customers, and how they can deliver that more efficiently.

Coaching SMEs for business development and innovation

Elisabeth is now a registered and approved GrowthAccelerator coach, which means she can provide “expert, tailored advice to help ambitious businesses achieve rapid, sustainable growth”.  You can find out more about the programme at http://www.growthaccelerator.com

Other forthcoming and recent activities

We have several workshops and seminars coming up during June and July.

Two of these are new collaborations with The Training Manager when Elisabeth will be delivering introductory evening seminars in Royston on Social Media on June 11th, and also on the Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI) on July 4th.

(Elisabeth delivered a presentation on the ROI of Social Media to members of the Cambridge Network during April.)

Also coming up, for the third time, is ‘Getting Better at Everything you do: optimizing the way you work’, with UKeIG, on 19th June in London.

And finally, just to confirm that we are still busy in the Knowledge Management space:

  • John and Elisabeth’s series of KM articles has started to appear in Aslib’s publication (Knowledge Management Surgery – How to get started in Knowledge Management. Managing Information, vol 19 (8), 2012 pp. 54 – 55)
  • And you can view Elisabeth’s presentation Where does information management end, and knowledge management begin? from the APM evening seminar in Birmingham in May.

If you’d like to find out more

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house workshops, and how we can help you to enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

1 Comment

Filed under Newsletter

Developing your team in 2013. RiverRhee Consulting Newsletter, Jan – Feb 2013

Developing your team in 2013

When RiverRhee Consulting started up in 2009 much of the Western world was already experiencing economic problems. There has been little let up since.

Companies have a choice at this time to tighten their belts and/or to invest in the development of their staff in anticipation of better years to come.  Some of our clients have chosen to do the latter, and it is thanks to them that we can continue to offer a rich portfolio of training for the coming year.

Our January – February 2013 bi-monthly newsletter therefore focuses on our range of training, and how it could help you to develop your team in 2013.

Customer relationship management and change management

It may on first sight seem strange to discuss customer relationship management and change management in the same breath, but both of these activities require listening to and understanding your stakeholders in the context of your business objectives, and then shaping and delivering your products and services, communication, training and / or support accordingly.

Our revised UKeIG course Marketing and internal change: a case study based approach… , that Elisabeth Goodman is delivering in conjunction with Shaida Dorabjee, explores this association in more detail.

Our off-site Change Management courses have been amongst our most popular over the years.  Other courses scheduled for 2013 include:

As with all of our courses, we can develop tailored versions for delivery within your organisation.  Our course with CILIP is an example of one such offering:

We can also deliver an updated version of our original course for the CILIP East of England branch:

Operational excellence, Process Improvement, Lean and Six Sigma

Many organisations are looking for ways to ensure that they deliver quality to their customers whilst managing growing demands on their time, with limited resources (‘doing more with what you’ve got’).

The Lean and Six Sigma principles and tool-set are variations on approaches that people have used to improve the way they work over countless years, and they are continuing to evolve.

Our interactive workshops have been very popular, and have enabled our clients to identify ways to improve their processes and address their challenges, as they learn.

Our scheduled course for 2013 is:

Other courses a-waiting scheduling, available on demand or that can be customised for your needs include:

Knowledge Management

Although this concept has also been around for many years, project and operational teams still grapple with how to make the most of the internal and external insights and expertise available to them.  We have a course available through CILIP, and can also help people make the most of social media tools such as LinkedIn to meet this need.

Project Management

Project management techniques can be applied to individuals’ everyday work, to broader team goals, or to an organisation’s more strategic programme of work.  The approaches involved are not rocket-science – but with careful planning and on-going management, individuals, teams, and organisations as a whole can ensure that they achieve their operational and strategic goals to the desired time, cost and quality in as painless a way as possible. These are examples of the training that we provide or can customise for your needs:

Enhancing team effectiveness

Being able to help your team to work more effectively is what we are most passionate about.  All of our courses are variations on this theme.  But we can also address the effectiveness of your team as a whole: personal awareness, relationship building, team development and more.  Here are examples of the courses that we can deliver for you, including our first one to explicitly include MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator):

If you’d like to find out more

Do get in touch if you’d like to find out more about RiverRhee Consulting, our range of off-site and in-house courses, and how we can help you to enhance team effectiveness and create an exceptional team.  See the RiverRhee Consulting website or e-mail the author at elisabeth@riverrhee.com.

Leave a comment

Filed under Newsletter