Tuesday, January 31, 2006

Rogue Project Leader

I am delighted to promote an online magazine called Rogue Project Leader for a friend Dan Ward from America.

Dan has published one of my articles in his latest edition and you can see the journal at this link –

Happy reading and thanks again Dan for the plug about my Simplicity Manifesto where you can still vote. Currently my proposal is in second place so I need a few more votes! – Help!


Monday, January 30, 2006

Spend time with your patients

For many years as a manager in the National Health Services I listened to regular complaints from doctors and nurses that things were ‘measured’ so much nowadays that it left them with little or no quality time to spend with patients.

The obsession of accountants and managers to measure everything often overlooks what is sometimes referred to as the ‘softer’ stuff.

That 'stuff' which I believe is at the heart of excellent healthcare - the ‘art’ of listening and most of all spending quiet time with patients.

Of course in the modern world everyone is busy and of course we have to be efficient with our time. I don’t believe I am seeing the world through rose tinted glasses when I suggest we can learn from stories like the one re-produced below.

I would ask you to read this carefully at least twice and ask whether this is the sort of experience we should aspire to in the world of healthcare.

This is all about the gift of time and attention

The story is told of the visit of Yeshi Dhonden, the personal physician to the Dalai Lama, to a hospital in Connecticut. The notice was posted saying that at 6.00 am the next morning he would make his rounds and any doctors were invited to observe him.

Promptly at 6.00 am the next morning he appeared in the room of a woman patient to examine her. There were no signs or obvious symptoms to give the clue to the nature of her disease. Dressed in a sleeveless saffron robe, the short tubby man whose only visible hair was his eyebrows stood and looked at the patient for twenty minutes. Not a word was spoken. Not a soul moved in the room. Then Yeshi Dhonden moved forward to the bed took the woman’s hand and with his head drawn down into the collar of his robe, he closed his eyes and listened to her pulse for, half an hour.

One woman doctor observing said “All at once I began to feel envious – not of Yeshi Dhonden and his skills, but of the patient. I wanted to be held like that, touched so, received.”

As the Tibetan reached the door, he turned and bowed to the patient. Still no word had been spoken in fifty minutes, but at last she broke the silence. “Thank you” she called out “Oh thank you.”

Extract from ‘The Choice’ by Sister Kirsty
Hodder Christian Paperbacks 1982

Friday, January 27, 2006

What gets to you?

What are some of the craziest, annoying or frustrating things you come across in everyday life?

I have noticed a few and I get baffled by them. Am I the only person who has these thoughts? If so maybe I should get out more.

Why are some toilet roll holders positioned in places that make it almost impossible to get to unless you are a contortionist? - Who selects those places?

How come announcers on trains speak in a way that is unclear, muffled and too loud and even if they spoke clearly the loudspeakers are so poor quality that we wouldn’t hear anyway? - What is the point? Does anyone on the staff ever think about listening to the message as a customer?

Why do some drivers get a kick out of driving so close to your rear bumper that if you opened your boot they could drive right in? - Are they Psychopaths?

What is the point of some driver sounding the horn repeatedly when another driver makes a mistake? Someone who has made a mistake doesn’t need reminding. Did the person sounding the horn ever make a mistake?

Why is it that some people seem content to simply ignore e-mails until I chase them at least three times? This is just bad manners - no excuse - no defence just bad manners. To me it is no different than looking someone in the eye, saying 'hello' and the person ignoring you completely.

What annoys or frustrates you?

Now .... Just to bring a little light relief to this:

How do ‘Keep off the Grass' signs get there?

Why is there always a teaspoon left at the bottom of the washing up bowl?

How come non-stick labels stick to non-stick frying pans?

Wednesday, January 25, 2006

Sven Goran Erickson

Was he treated fairly or unfairly by the tabloid press in England?

Fair or Foul?

England Football Manager Sven Goran Erickson has resigned and will leave his job after the World Cup in Germany this summer.


Sven has an excellent record of results as England football manager by any measure. England won their qualifying group for the World Cup and results under his leadership compare favourably with all previous England managers.

What has undoubtedly been the ‘Achilles heel’ for Sven are his ‘off the field’ activities in his private life. He has been in the tabloid newspapers news far too often for non football reasons.

Those reasons have nothing to do with his management ability in football. It seems he has decided enough is enough and has resigned blaming the press for intrusion in his private life.

The question that intrigues me – and I have no real answer is:

Does it matter what he does in his private life if he delivers good outcomes in his job or do we expect more integrity from people in such high profile positions?

I would be interested in opinions on this thorny question. The same question applies of course to people in high profile jobs in the world of business, entertainment and politics.

Monday, January 23, 2006

Are you a product of a speck of dust?

I recently watched a TV documentary about the relative arguments on the merits of religion and science.

The presenter - a scientist - clearly felt everything in our past has a scientific explanation and he dismissed any spiritual component out of hand.

I surprises me anyone can be so arrogant.

I prefer this quote;

I do not feel that I am the product of chance, a speck of dust in the universe, but someone who was expected, prepared, prefigured. In short, a being whom only a Creator could put here; and this idea of a creating hand refers to God.- Jean-Paul Sartre

'Simplicity is the Key' - Now Easily Available

I recently set up a PayPal account which now enables me to easily supply direct to customers a copy (or copies) of my book Simplicity is the Key.

In simple terms payment can now be arranged very easily through a secure system (PayPal)

All I need is an e-mail address and of course a postal address for mailing.

If anyone would like a copy of my book please let me know by e-mail at
trevor.simplicity@gmail.com and I will arrange despatch immediately.

I have been selling the book direct for the last few months to many people in various parts of the world but this new PayPal system makes it much easier for customers and for me to organise payment.

Please advise me if you want a book by contacting me at this e mail address:

Thursday, January 19, 2006

I promise we did plenty of exercise over the weekend at Center Parcs including cycling a few miles!

We did however consume a wee bit too much food and the odd bottle (or two) of Red so we need to get back into our fitness regime quickly. The scales don't lie!

What is deprivation?

We had a brilliant weekend – pictures will follow when we can get organised.

I am finding it hard to make time to do my Blog as this is another very hectic week on the road with workshops; talks and lots of work to do. Never mind – I have to work to eat and it pays the bills :-)

Moving on to a really serious topic that has got me thinking hard about deprivation.


I was watching BBC News last night and saw dreadful images of the suffering in Pakistan following the earthquake; pictures of people struggling to survive another day in their temporary tents in freezing cold weather and snow. As these people try to recover from a natural disaster their main priority is to try to stay alive. Thousands of homes have simply gone. That is real deprivation.

My mind then wandered to the many projects I have been involved in during my career addressing what we in the UK call deprivation. Our projects are about families who are struggling in poor accommodation - often overcrowded; people who are homeless; single parent families; people who are unemployed; people in poverty.

Then I thought about those people in Pakistan again.

I conclude that deprivation is a relative state to the picture in your local community, the national picture in your country or the wider world.

When I see images like I saw last night on TV I can't help feeling slightly guilty when I have a little moan - like we all do - about how it would be good to have more of something.

I think it is good that modern media allows us to see images of real suffering in situations like the aftermath of the earthquake in Pakistan. This enables us to reflect – hopefully - about how relatively fortunate we are in the UK .

I hope we can all say a prayer for those poor people whose homes have gone as they face another day, wondering if it will be their last.

I know we are constantly being asked to contribute financially to various good causes but last night on the BBC most of the experts trying to offer help in Pakistan seemed to be saying the best thing we can do is donate some money to help.

Donating money and praying are ways we can contribute in a practical way. We can all do one of those two things.

Friday, January 13, 2006

Our tranquil, relaxing and peaceful weekend at Centre
Parcs will be great. This is a typical activity - it looks great fun!!

A lovely weekend beckons.

Later today we are leaving for a three day short break to Center Parcs in Sherwood Forest near Nottingham – home of famous English fictional hero Robin Hood!!


We keep saying it will be nice to have a relaxing time to catch up on reading those 6 books started and not yet finished.

I suspect however we will get caught up in the excitement that Center Parcs water activity features offer to adults who want to be children. That fits both of us perfectly.

Isn’t it just wonderful to act like a big kid occasionally?

Next posting on Simplicity will be on Monday or Tuesday next week.

Have a wonderful weekend wherever you are and whatever you are doing

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Digital Camera - changing
the traditional world of photo
processing. An example
of technology rocking the
very foundation of business
as we know it.

The onward march of Information Technology - Nothing is Untouchable!!

Myself and four colleagues from various parts of the world are currently writing a paper about what we call "The New Local"

In my latest contribution to our paper I write about the pace of change and its impact on the business world. I quote a few examples of how things are changing so dramatically that it makes me think nothing in business is sacred any more.

All companies, products and services are in danger of becoming obsolete unless they get up to speed with technology in my opinion. Because if you don’t some competitor or some technological development will make you ‘out of touch’ very quickly.

I genuinely believe nothing is 'untouchable'.

One example I write about in The New Local is the revolution that digital photography has brought to the world of traditional photo processing which relied on people and heavy industrial equipment. Nowadays you as the customer are in charge with various options to develop your own digital pictures including;

  • Editing your own photos before printing
  • Printing your own photos
  • Uploading your photos to an organisation like TruPrint who send high quality printed photos back to you – usually within 24 hours.

Interesting then that today when I received my regular e-newsletter from Blue Point Leadership http://www.bluepointleadership.com/ there is a lead article about Leadership and Innovation within Kodak.

Kodak acknowledges the need to be thinking ahead as the market is totally turned on its head in the world of photograph processing. I rather like the six points suggested in the article about how Kodak embrace innovation to try and keep ahead of the market.

I like the language used and it indicates to me very vividly how we all have to start thinking about new options rather than carry on doing what we have always done. I particularly love numbers 3 ,4 and 6.

The article extract is as follows:

To stay in the picture, leaders today should consider the following:

1. Look to create the future, not just follow the emerging trends.

2. Stretch yourself, imagine what is impossible and make it possible. Note: Strategic planning is great, but not if it only focuses on what you are certain of.

3. Remember that today's cash cow may be tomorrow's steak dinner.

4. Know who the potential new leaders are in your organization and develop them now.

5. Get everyone involved in "trend analysis." Cut out headlines, pass them out, ask people how that headline might impact the business. Be open to the "off beat" ideas.

6. Embed innovation into the culture - your next great product may already be hidden in your company

Peter Kay's Universal Truths

Sharpening a pencil with a knife makes you feel really manly.

You never know where to look when eating a banana.

It’s impossible to look cool whilst picking up a Frisbee.

You can't respect a man who carries a dog.

You've turned into your dad the day you put aside a thin piece of wood specifically to stir paint with.

Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; Wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad.

Sunday, January 08, 2006

Simplicity - 10 Practical Tips

I am currently writing an article that will be published in March or April and the editor of the magazine asked me to include practical tips that healthcare managers can follow to implement simplicity.

This is a brilliant question to challenge me because I guess everyone can say ‘lets simplify things’ but what managers are looking for apparently are practical tips about what they can do personally to simplify the workplace.

Based on my own experience there are many things managers can do and here are 10 for starters. These tips relate to healthcare but I suggest they apply in any organisation – for ‘patients’ and ‘carers’ simply read 'customers'

Let me know what you think of this list – it is no order of priority;

1 When you have written your next report ask two people who are paid significantly less than you to tell you honestly if they understood it fully

2 Make time in your diary every week to ask a patient about their recent healthcare experience

3 At least once a month ask a carer to explain to you how they became a carer

4 At your team meeting every week or every month depending on the frequency of meetings, ask someone to do a five minute presentation called (without using PowerPoint) “My big simplicity idea for our team is …..”

5 Invite a patient or a carer to read three e mails or letters you have sent in the previous week and ask them to give you feedback about the language you used

6 Invite two 16 year old students who are friends to attend your team meeting and ask them to give the team members honest feedback at the end of the meeting about the language used

7 Find a report about absolutely anything two sides of A4 long. Send the report to a colleague and ask him/her to return it to you reduced to one side of A4. Judge for yourself whether one side is adequate to get the message over

8 Ask one of your team members to write a story on one side of A4 called “A complicated problem in this department/team explained for an audience of secondary school students (11-16 year olds). Send the story to a local schoolteacher and ask for feedback from the students at his/her school

9 Send a report you have written to;
2 Cleaners
2 Clerical staff.
Ask the four of them to rate your report on a scale of 0 to 10.
0 = I did not understand it at all
10 = I understood it completely
Think about how you can improve your score in your next report. If you score 40 points congratulations you are the new Simplicity President :-)

10 In your next written report of more than 200 words do not use any acronyms

Thursday, January 05, 2006

Then ....... And Now

Just over a year ago I decided to leave a massive organisation – the National Health Service which is the third largest employer in the world after the Chinese Army and Indian Railways.

Here are just a few unstructured random thoughts about the differences I have noticed between working for the NHS – and working for myself.

  • I used to have a boss – now I am the boss
  • I used to believe I was accountable – now I am accountable – If I don’t work, I don’t eat
  • I used to have appraisal meetings with my boss – now I just look in the mirror and ask the person I see – ‘did you try hard enough Trevor?’
  • I used to work in an office – now our front room is the office – budgies, music and all
  • I used to work the hours the organisation expected of me – now I work when I want
  • I used to frown a lot – now I smile a lot
  • I used to dress within organisational requirements – now I may not shave for three days
  • I used to work through lunchtimes – now I might take a three hour break with Annie to go to the gym in the middle of the day and we both might then work till midnight
  • I used to have a Finance department – now I am the Finance department. I used to have a Human Resources Department – now I am the HR department. I used to have a Complaints Department – now I am the Complaints Department. You get the picture, etc., etc.
  • I used to sit on groups and committees – now I wonder why we needed them
  • I used to regularly feel negative stress – now I am always excited about possibilities
  • I used to believe I took risks – now I try something new almost every day
  • I used to feel controlled – now I feel free
  • I used to feel there were things I could not say – now I say what I like
  • I used to think there was a place for planning – now I realise John Lennon was right “Life is what happens while we are busy making other plans" – well said Mr Lennon
  • I used to get angry and frustrated – now I know I control my own destiny
  • I used to think I might be in the wrong place – now I know I was in the wrong place
  • I used to be sad quite often at work – now I am happy

And finally, but most importantly - I used to be not in love – now I am in love.

Tuesday, January 03, 2006

Annie and I raising a glass to Simplicity in the summer of 2005 .

I hope to see Simplicity promoted in all walks of life in 2006.

Welcome to Simplicity 2006

It feels like we are getting back to something resembling normality after the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

This year I want to promote Simplicity wider still. I am always on the look out for opportunities to write and promote Simplicity thoughts with the intention of making business, leadership and management more understandable to the majority of people. Please let me have your ideas about how I can promote Simplicity.

On a personal front I hope to see my new grandson Sebastian continue to thrive and travel that wonderful individual journey of discovery we all make. He is now 8 months old and crawling. Isn’t it incredible how with each passing milestone our children move away from us as parents and begin to find their own way in life?

From the moment of birth it seems to me children psychologically ‘move away’ from us. Steven Covey describes how we move from a state of dependence to independence and then to another state called interdependence.

I suppose interdependence could be a very formal sounding word to describe love and that brings me nicely to my greatest wish for 2006 – the continuing love I have with and for Annie.

A request from Dan Ward

This morning I received an e mail from Dan Ward a 'virtual' colleague in America with whom I have recently started communicating about our shared interest in simplicity. I hope regular visitors to Simplicity Blog will vote for Dan's proposal. Here is what Dan wrote:

'Good morning & happy new year!

I hope you and your family had a great holiday season - and I look forward to much expansion of Simplicity in 2006!

I was wondering if you might be willing to invite your blog readers to check out/vote for the Simplicity Cycle proposal I wrote for ChangeThis.com


At the moment,I'm a somewhat distant second place, so I'm beating the bushes for others who believe simplicity is the key... Cheers! - Dan'