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Fire Safety For Your Business

Is Your Business Fire Safe?

Whether your business is your shop or a factory, insuring against fire must be a top priority. Both commercial and business properties should be protected by installing extra safety measures to ensure that you and your business is as safe as it can be. Hopefully these measures will prevent or at least, reduce or contained the fire completely. I have chosen 5 ways which you can protect your business against fire!

These are some of the most common and effective fire safety measure which will give you passive fire safety! The great thing is these can all be implemented during your just starting up or retrofitted if you are already established.

Passive fire protection

Passive fire protection is an all encompassing term which categorises any method which provides inherent safety, where no action is required once it is in place. It is where fire safety and material science meet. Choosing materials which reduce the sources of ignition, slow down how fast the fire can spread or contain the fire completely. All of these allow the fire to be dealt with in a controlled and safe way.

The layouts of your buildings can have a significant impact when it comes to fire safety and fire control. Ensuring there is spaces between buildings so that the fire cannot spread from one building to the other is an age old practice.

Acoustic Sealing Services

It might sound like something that is more suited for your neighbours garage band than your business but this passive fire safety technique is very effective at controlling fires. They stop the spread of smoke and flames inside buildings.

There are 3 common types of fittings for acoustic sealing. Slabs, Curtains and Sealant. Usually a mixture of the 3 would be used to ensure every inch is sealed perfectly!

 

Cavity Barrier

Cavity Barrier Systems are used to prevent the spread of fire and smoke in roof and ceiling cavities. This system typically increases fire protection by 4 hours! This will prevent fire spreading to other parts of your business during those hours. This practice is typically found in industry and is a leading solution which makes the most of modern day material science, engineering and fire safety practices.

This solution provides a safe and non toxic replacement for asbestos, which was used for many years.It is lightweight and easily installed. These fire retardant materials also reduce or completely negate any heat which is escaping stopping it from transferring through buildings.

Firestopping Solutions

Firestopping Systems are similar to acoustic sealing services and reduce or completely stop harmful gasses escaping and fires spreading between floors or rooms of a building. These is a particularly resourceful solution for pipes which penetrate through walls or floors or pass through multiple rooms.

These are perfect for ducts, pipes, electrical cables and much more.

Intumescent Coating

Intumescent Coating is a reliable solution when protecting against fire. During any fires, these systems protect and insulate any structural steelwork, maintaining the strength of the components which should eliminate any potential collapse. This coating can add up to 2 hours of extra protection against fires.

 

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Is Investing Simple?

Types of investment fund

Investing your money sounds complicated and risky, but choosing the right fund manager to help you along the way is key to increasing your savings while you grow your business.

There is more than 1 type of private investment fund and they all have different risks and potential rewards. Some require millions (which can be shared among a group of investors) and some require much less Here are the most common types of private investment funds.

Money Market Funds.

 

These are funds are regarded as one of the safest investments. Being compared to storing your money in a bank but with a higher ROI.

Money Market Funds are a type of fixed income mutual fund that invests in debt. The aim is to pick debts which have short maturities and minimal credit risk, this ensures that the return is least risky.

When you buy this debt, you ensure that the creditor (person loaning money out) gains money (not all of what they are owed) and you take on the potential for the debtor (person borrowing money) to give you what you paid plus the interest that the creditor (now you) is owed.

This category of funds are known as Fixed Income Funds, and are basic. Buy investments that pay a fixed rate of return. They aim to invest in return for regular payments into the fund. This is achieved mostly through interest that the fund earns.

Equity Funds

 

Equity funds are mutual funds that invests solely in stocks. Equity funds are also known as stock funds.

Here, money is pooled together by investors to purchase a variety of stocks to diversify investment portfolio. Basically a group buys stocks from multiple companies and not just a single company.

Increases in one stock price might not have a significant impact on the portfolio growth and these funds are more time intensive to manage. You will need private investment fund management.

 

Balanced Funds

 

This type of fund is a mixture of both fixed income funds and equity funds. Most of these funds follow an analytical approach to split money among the different types of investments. They usually to have more risk than fixed income funds, but less risk than equity funds.

Specialty funds

This type of fund has a focus on specialised agendas such as real estate investments, commodities or socially responsible investing. For example, a socially responsible fund may invest in companies that support environmental protection, human rights and diversity, and may avoid companies which are involved in industries such as alcohol, tobacco, gambling, weapons and the military.

 

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Gamification for Business:

Why innovators and changemakers use games to break down silos, drive engagement and build trust

As I prepare to present to my fellow HR and L&D colleagues at the World of Learning event (16-17 October 2018), I have been reviewing my 18 years’ experience of how our business games and simulations have helped organisations change their strategy, culture or undertake a major transformation. At the event I will be speaking about why we use games and introducing an exciting, new publication, “Gamification for Business” (Kogan Page 2018), which we are proud to have contributed to.

Games and Learning – it’s a tried and tested approach

Games and simulations have been around for centuries and have been used by different cultures to teach practical and social skills. For example, Senet, an early board game discovered in Egyptian burial sites dated between 3500 BCE and 3100 BCE and Knights practising their jousting skills before tournaments, which were themselves preparation for battle.

In the UK, the Early Years Foundation Stage (EYFS) recognises the importance of play within children’s education.  Children learn as they play without even realising it. They learn how to count, how to communicate and how to interact socially. As adults, we demand that learning should be structured and controlled. The term ‘games’ when applied to an adult activity implies no learning is taking place.

However, research shows ideas and experiences offered through these methods result in higher retention and transfer rates. A good game or simulation is a blend of structure with directed learning and fun, providing the opportunity to learn through discovery and interact with others.

The benefits of using business games and simulations

Considering all the benefits of learning through games why wouldn’t you choose to use them in your business to increase the effectiveness of training or change programs? Some of the issues games and simulations can address include:

1. Breaking down silos

Rapid change generates a greater need for collaboration across an organisation. The exploratory setting of a game or simulation extends the boundaries of discussion.
Management games stimulate discussion amongst participants. People are exposed to different ideas and can see beyond their own silo. This reduces communication problems and encourages cross functional collaboration.

2. Making discussions meaningful. Words with action.

Experiential learning is an alternative to traditional teaching methods and truly engages participants. PowerPoint presentations and demonstrations can be very dry when used primarily to present information.
Research by the National Training Laboratories suggests passive learning models like lectures drive only 5% retention, whilst experiential learning engages participants in ‘learning by doing’, driving at least 75% retention.

3. Break the stalemate of ongoing operations vs. innovation

Games can reach people with different learning styles. Simply telling people how to do something isn’t going to work for everyone and doesn’t allow anyone to “give it a go.”
Business games allow concept testing in a safe environment.

4. Untangle complex problems

Business games allow participants to take risks, practise new ideas and skills, show imagination and solve problems (individually or as part of a team). We value exploration and provide safe but challenging environments that support and extend learning and development. There is an opportunity to reflect on the outcome. People have a chance to think about the consequences of their actions and come up with alternative approaches.

5. Shake up the roles we play in an organisation

Everyday organisational politics can stand in the way of meaningful conversations that will drive an organisation forward. Taking people away from the daily routine and structure of their organisation and creating a ‘level playing field’ gives everyone the chance to contribute whatever their job role or title.
A game or simulation provides a structure within which new conversations can occur.

6. Bolstering trustworthy relations

Increasing complexity means the product or service that one organisation offers is often closely linked to the product or service offered by another organisation.  In this climate there is a need to develop solid relationships not just within an organisation but between organisations.
Traditionally, business games have been used internally within organisations to develop leadership and management skills or help an organisation communicate a key message. However, as business partnering becomes more important they offer a fantastic way to engage and align suppliers, business partners and even external stakeholders.

Our business games have been effective across many industries

Business games and simulations are effective within organisations across industries, international borders, as well as applying to corporate and academic fields. We have worked with a variety of organisations. Here are just three examples of how we have successfully improved performance for our clients.

Oracle

We worked with Oracle, the world’s largest enterprise software company, when they wanted to make a strategic change and to transform the organisation’s cultural mindset.
Peter MacNaughtan, from the Oracle project team said, “The power of being able to develop a simulation that reinforces a message of a particular training or development programme is shockingly powerful. I was amazed at the effect it had.”

London Borough Newham

More recently, we worked with London Borough Newhamat a time when they were making organisational changes. Using a business simulation game, we helped the organisation to assess Commercial Awareness, identify areas for development and build competency amongst existing employees.

O2

We are very proud to have worked with O2 to help them develop the commercial awareness of their store leaders. Using a business simulation, we were able to support their stores’ succession programme.
Feedback was positive from participants and the learning and development team. Mark Spiller, O2s learning consultant, said, “Business simulations as provided by Elgood are a step forward into new ways of learning at O2. We found that not only was the simulation a great learning aid for those that took part, but it also was engaging and thought provoking too. Many of the participants rated the simulation as excellent and some said that it was the best part of a year-long development journey. Working with Christine and team to develop the solution that we delivered together was simple and rewarding.”

To read any of our case studies in full, please visit our website.

The future of games

I think there are a number of reasons why the use of games and simulations remain relevant and valuable in today’s environment.
Technology is constantly changing which affects the world and industries that we work in. Mobile and social electronic learning programmes can be used to help communicate new information, learn factual information and some new skills.
However, they do not offer the depth of social interaction of experiential learning. To be successful in a work environment most people need ‘people skills,’ they need to be able to clearly articulate their viewpoint, have a robust debate and work collectively to solve complex problems. This requires basic learning but also practice, to develop solid skills.

My experience of working with diverse clients over many years has shown that business games and gamification really do have the power to break down silos, drive engagement and build trust. It’s a subject I am passionate about and I will be at this year’s World of Learning event on 16thand 17th October at the NEC Birmingham. If you would like to meet up and discuss our experience, the book or how gamification can drive your business outcomes get in touch.

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Systemic Team Coaching

Developing the Leadership Team for Business Transformation

“We know we need the leadership deep in the business to respond quickly to emerging possibilities and shape the future.  We know we cannot do it from the centre.”  Head of Learning for a FTSE 100 business.

The biggest challenges facing businesses now are transformational rather than simply performance (see first blog – “Thriving in a VUCA World”).  Teams are the energisers for change (see second blog – “Leadership Teams as the Energiser for Systemic Change”). This raises the challenge of developing the capacity of teams to provide the leadership needed for business transformation.   This includes but is certainly not limited to the top teams as recognised in our quote above.  The challenge is for leadership teams across the business but also lies in the relationships between teams and into the wider business ecosystem.

A great deal of the practice around team development focuses on business performance goals and the dynamics between team members.  This is important but not enough if the team is to lead transformational change.  It is important to start with an “outside in” perspective ie what is needed for the stakeholders around the team.  These stakeholders will include people in the business, shareholders, customers and regulators, but needs to extend much wider.  How about our customer’s customer?  The wider society in which our people and customers live and work?  The business ecosystem on which we depend?  The more than human world; the planet on which we depend for survival?  All of these are in contention.  Often different people in a team will voice these interests when considering substantive change; informing priorities and approaches and also creating a dynamic tension in the team itself.

The team also needs to consider different timeframes.  There is a need for a future back perspective.  What is our purpose and vision?  Where do we think we need to be in future?  Complexity thinking teaches us to start by developing a deep understanding of where we are now, building on a perspective of where we have we come from and what led us here.  What has shaped us as an industry, business and team?  Transformation means we are asking people in and around the business to change how they see and feel about things.  We cannot do this unless we appreciate what we need to let go of and unlearn.  Also, what we need to preserve for the future.  The stepping-stones forward from where we are to our future vision will not all be clear.  The team needs to step out in the right direction and recognise they are immediately reshaping the future.  Of course, they have to simultaneously continue to deliver on performance now; to ensure this is attended to and working well but without it consuming all of their time.  Too often, leaders are drawn back into the familiar and achievable rather than the ambiguous and uncertain.

The role of a team coach is to grow the capacity of the team to take leadership.  They may do this in 3 ways:

  1. Provide space, structure and interactive processes for the team to consider the issues and build shared insights and commitments on the journey.
  2. Surface the challenge to the team themselves; what is the change in them, needed to generate the difference in the business to create future shared value with its stakeholders.
  3. Sustain their development through time; offering support, challenge and encouragement as they progress and build their capacity to learn and adapt for themselves, without the coach.

One of the ways we help the team consider itself in its systemic context is through the 5 Disciplines Framework that we have developed with Professor Peter Hawkins as part of our team.  It considers the dimensions of task and process both inside and outside the team.

Applying the 5 Discipline framework from our colleague, Prof. Peter Hawkins (“Leadership Team Coaching: Developing Collective Transformational Leadership”: Kogan Page 2017) helps to understand where your team might need to be developed.  Often simple questions generate the best insights:Commissioning: Who does the team serve?  What is it there to do?  How does this align to the wider organisation purpose and objectives?
Clarifying: What is the team’s collective endeavour and core objectives?  Are team members clear about roles and processes?
Co-Creating: How is your team working together and partnering internally and managing its team dynamics?
Connecting: How is your team partnering with the various parts of the wider system and your key stakeholders?
Core-Learning: How is your team learning from its experience and developing as a team?

Surfacing the challenge is the second way in which the coach will help the development of the team’s capacity to lead.  In a recent discussion with a business leader whose team is leading a transformation effort, I heard him describe a very clear road map offered by the HR Director.  He explained how all the team agreed to the approach in a short session at the end of a 2 day workshop which was mainly focused on other business priorities.  My immediate response was to hold up the mirror and offer some feedback.  There was nothing in his manner that suggested real commitment to the road map.  He expressed it as just another set of tasks to add to the day job.  He was even a bit unclear about which areas he was sponsoring.  The proposed approach seemed perfectly logical and thought through but seemed focused on what they want others to do in the business.  For the journey to be successful, they will need to consider how they need to be different as a leadership team.  How they interact with each other; where they apply their focus and energies; who and how they connect with their stakeholders will all require personal and collective change.  The danger is it becomes a change initiative to which everyone agrees but nobody commits; doomed to be an action list that will be partially achieved while leaving the business unmoved – or perhaps just a little more cynical.We draw on a rich toolkit of activities and processes for developing the team in each area and the interaction between them all.   These includes different and engaging ways to bring-in stakeholder perspectives and the 3 time frames of delivering now; innovating for tomorrow and future foresight (Bill Sharp 1988).

In contrast, I have worked with a team leading substantial change in a bank where we started with them sharing some deep insights on each other and how they saw their roles.  We set this in the context of the business vision and the needs of their stakeholders.  From this, they set the challenge to themselves as a team and they shared some intense feedback on where they each needed to change and how they would support each other to enable it to happen.  As we worked thereafter we could revisit and revise this and I offered the processes for them to challenge each other about where they seemed to be stepping-up and where not – among themselves and with their stakeholders.

This third area a systemic team coach can play an invaluable role is helping to sustain the change through time.  Every coach should be working to make themselves redundant from their current relationship.  Success is measured in 3 ways:

  • Progress on the transformation agenda in the business.
  • The capacity for the Team to lead in new ways that are better for their context than before the coaching journey.
  • Their capacity to continue to learn and develop themselves and their business.

The route to this lies in helping the team to develop simple, energising learning processes that facilitate purposeful experimentation, reflection and lots of good quality feedback between themselves and from/to their stakeholders.  This should be embedded in the coaching process throughout the journey to develop the mindset and through the practice of tools and techniques.

As an illustration, I once worked with a team who noticed that their business meetings were more effective when I was with them.  This was because they were less likely to display their disruptive behaviours when I was watching; they knew I would interrupt the process.  So part of our shared endeavour became how they interrupted their own processes.  How they could surface and voice their internal frustrations or concerns in a way that was constructive for others in the team to hear and work with.  Also, how they could give constructive and challenging feedback as part of their team dynamic.  This enabled them to use their time together much more effectively, in service of their stakeholders.  It also meant they could rapidly learn and adapt their ways of working for themselves.

Systemic team coaching for business transformation is not a process where one can mechanically use a few simple tried and tested techniques.  Every team and business context is different and the interventions are customised.  It is a craft, which draws on a range of disciplines and skills with insights on strategy, systemic and complexity thinking, team dynamics, psychology, sociology and more.  The key for success is in building effective relationships with the coach standing alongside the team as they face the opportunities, challenges and uncertainties of generating substantive change in their business in response to as well as shaping the changes around them.

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