Monday, 26 July 2010

Editing non-fiction

Effective writing requires effective editing, and I see that Oxford Continuing Education is running a course on editing non-fiction. It's a three day course this October - November, and maddeningly I can't make the middle day. :( But perhaps you would want to know and can go so I thought I'd mention it.

It's called Effective Writing 1: editing non-fiction, and here's the link. The brochure says it aims to teach students "how to turn drab and listless writing into material that is correct, effective and eye-catching". The timing is right if you're in third/fourth year PhD and writing up.

I've done other OUCE weekend courses, starting with their excellentintensive language weekends some years ago and last year a maths day soI know that they've had some wonderful tutors.

Last year I tried to sign up for their course on Resounding Results of Resourceful Researchers , but they were overbooked. See here. That's probably a useful course for first year and MRes students, and the OUCE description makes their course sound rather different and tempting, but the OU library covers searching and literature reviews here. And the OU costs me nothing. But I'd still like to do the OUCE RRRR. Anyone else going to do it?

Friday, 23 July 2010

NLP how?

Over the last few months I've spent several long weekends on a neuro linguistic programming (NLP) training course and am pleased to have successfully received the certificate today.

This NLP course was practical training about the structure of subjective experience, training I would have used when interviewing my case study participants because I would have used slightly different follow up questions. The most difficult question to answer is 'how?' which is capability and one of five logical levels of structuring behaviour. My research question is 'how' question, and I'm finding it really difficult to get the answers out of interview data. Perhaps with NLP practice I might have asked more eliciting questions.

Too bad - that's learning. And I do have a new certificate :)

Monday, 19 July 2010


To change business, people need to think.
Adaptability seems to be in words like
  • learn,
  • change
  • know
  • make
  • think
  • take
but these words are modified by words like:
  • need
  • want
  • able
  • try
  • might
  • probably
I picked up all the phrases I'd coded as being about adaptability, then picked out the verbs from the phrases and fed them into Wordle. Doodling with the data might be creative. Maybe I'll get new understanding.

Sunday, 18 July 2010


Sharing is about people working together.

(Thanks again to

Making sense

People want a way to understand things.

Back to analysing the data to find my final findings - was this any use? I picked out all the phrases I'd coded against sharing, against sense-making, against adaptability. I split them into lists and checked them for verbs. Here's what the sense-making list looks like when you put it into

It summarises making sense as people wanting to understand things by being honest and learning and working.

Thursday, 15 July 2010

Appreciative Inquiry

You can get some good practical stuff off the practitioner sites on line, like this pdf file about appreciative inquiry from the Asian Development Bank knowledge solutions page here.

I'd thought of appreciative inquiry as like action research, and not something I was doing, but according to this paper I am because appreciative inquiry "studies the positive attributes of organizations" and that's what I'm studying - exemplar case studies of organisations where their projects or programmes were perceived as successfully completed. I like the idea of learning from what succeeds instead of from failure (so depressing that you want to hide away and forget it). I had access to my case studies because the participants were so pleased and proud of what they'd done that they wanted to be appreciated. Isn't that what appreciative inquiry is about?

I don't know, so I guess I'll have to check the academic literature too.

Tuesday, 13 July 2010


Supervisors advise me to restructure my case studies, which I understand because I can't have five chapters, one for each case study, at 8,000-10,000 - it doesn't fit in with a balanced thesis. To structure it I should write round the framework I have built from the literature and the case studies and answer four questions:
  1. Which conditions were important for producing qualities of engagement
  2. What else made it possible for people to produce these qualities?
  3. Which qualities of engagement emerged over time?
  4. What kind of value resulted and how?
I should answer the first and third questions together because they address the components of engagement, what preconditions or steering factors were there initially and what emerged. The second and third questions address how these components/conditions/factors connected.

That's the idea. I'm just not quite sure what I'm doing.

Saturday, 10 July 2010


The OUBS has been recruiting tutors for its new MBA foundation course, and requires tutors that not only have business knowledge but also recent experience of coaching managers, so the coaching industry is growing, growing so rapidly that Henley now offers an MSc in coaching and behavioural change. It's an MSc course that includes a module on neuro linguistic programming.

Whilst on an NLP course recently, I've met, worked and conversed with people who are following this coaching MSc. They tell me there are all sorts of coaches including life coaches, leadership coaches, executive coaches and even gestalt coaches. Because of the coach's need to know the limits of his/her abilities, the Henley students have to write assignments on differences between coaching, counselling and therapy and I don't know how well they have to assess their alliances with their coachees and how effective the coachee consequently becomes. How do you assess the effectiveness of coaching?

On last week's (8th July) The Bottom Line, discussed working with people you don't like. One of the guests, John Atkin, chief operating officer of Syngenta, denied ever working with people he didn't like, and another suggested using coaches for senior workers to do 360 evaluations - a long process to tell the boss "actually you're not behaving very nicely". But will coaching always produce the outcome you want?

Coachees' self-efficacy is the topic of a paper to be presented at the up-coming Academy of Management conference. The presenters (Baron, Morin & Morin) find that coachees who worked with a coach who overestimated the working alliance, experienced less growth in self-efficacy than coachees who work with a coach who either accurately estimated or underestimated the working alliance. It seems to me that finding suggests
  • coaches have moral and ethical responsibility for their behaviour
  • organisations that use coaches must be aware of the conditions under which coaching works

Wednesday, 7 July 2010


Supervisors now have all five rewritten case studies and we meet next Monday. That's a lot to read, even though they have the same ten sections five times:
  1. Background
  2. Programme description
  3. Interviewees
  4. Key parties
  5. Programme outcome
  6. Case discussion
  7. Review of case
  8. Value from engagement
  9. Appendix
  10. References
Figures include:
  • key parties
  • participants
  • governance structure sometimes
  • states of engagement
  • template for engagement that I developed from the literature
  • framework against the template for each case
Tables include lists of interviewees, sources and of actions people took to engage (NAO, 2006). The cases should be comparable and the writing should take the reader through description to analysis and findings.

NAO. 2006. Central government's use of consultants: Building client and consultant commitment. In National Audit Office (Ed.), Vol. I: HMSO #109

Saturday, 3 July 2010

Weekend writing

I haven't posted for a week, but I've been writing. I've rewritten all my case studies, and three of them I've sent to supervisors. Who've cancelled next Wednesday's supervision meeting. :(
So I'll have time to send them the last two before the rearranged meeting. :)

Rewriting each case study takes a long morning, with the computer off, a pencil in hand, scribbling over the last printed copy. Sometimes, when working at home I can stare down the garden, if the hop plant isn't dribbling over my window blocking the view.

I find as I write that some words leave me wondering, as if they're not quite right, not quite saying what I want them to say. Focusing on those niggles helps sort them out. Perhaps rewording or reordering helps, or finding a reference to support a point. In one case study, my interviewees knew their management theory and talked about it, so I'm looking up the relevant literature, and the less obviously relevant literature to turn the argument the way I want it. Looking up literature takes time, and means switching my computer back on. I try to delay that because the computer distracts me to email, or here blogging, so my time is less productive. The productive time leads to more than just rewriting, but to analysis too.

To check literature, I search my Endnote database to see I've already read and what notes I've added and occasionally I search this blog to find where I'd remarked on some literature or commented on analysis a year ago or more. I surprise myself that I'd thought that and find the blog more useful than I'd realised.

Now, no more blogging. Rewrite.