Tuesday, August 2, 2016

A mark in stone

It's been some 4 years since posting here. I had tried to log back into this account a few years back without success ... but just tried it on a whim today, and *presto* here I am!

A lot has happened in that 4 years. I still have my small firm, Bumble Creek Initiative. Mostly, these days, Bumble is my landscape maintenance company.

2 years ago I went through the life-transforming experience of becoming an EMyth coach. I had been interested in business design for some time, and was gently urged towards becoming a business coach. 

I am now partner in a small but growing practice, working with two people who are a thrill to work with each day. We get to walk with others whose long for their lives and businesses to be more intentional. It is wonderful work.

I don't expect anyone will read this, but it just somehow seemed appropriate to stop by and leave this note, like a chiselled mark on stone ... even if it just sits here and slowly weathers away. The life is not in the mark, but in what the mark points to. And that is alive!

Thursday, April 19, 2012

A new day: Bumble Creek Initiative

As of 12.32pm today, I've got a new name to work with.

It's a new chapter. Not really sure which one, or how far through the story we are, but it's a new name to live and work with.

At lunchtime I registered 'Bumble Creek Initiative' as my business name. It was a strange feeling walking out of the Office of Fair Trading having exchanged $160 for a new piece of paper to adorn my home office wall.

There is no website at this stage, but something may change on that front some day soon.

Registering a business name is an odd thing to do when I'm still sorting through exactly what I want to offer the world. There are a few options afloat, but whichever way I choose to jump the passion is to work profitably for the good of people and planet. Good design is central to that.

Some of what I choose to offer is the development of business proposals. I've already recently begun my Cert IV Training & Assessment (TAE 40110), and have an opportunity to develop some training at a local government level.

So many people have nurtured the seeds of hope along the way. We're still in seedling stage in many respects but it's good to be alive, to be growing, to be contributing.

'Grateful' and 'hopeful' are words that have a special resonance this afternoon.

Tuesday, December 20, 2011

Saw handles

While going for my lunchtime walk the other day, I noticed a stack of bric-a-brac piled out the front of someone's house with a large 'FREE' sign on it.

Making the assumption that 'FREE' referred to the stuff, and not the sign, I picked up 2 old Disston handsaws.

If you've ever spent money on a handsaw from any hardware shop these days, one thing you'll notice straight away is how blocky the handle is.

Henry Disston - quite apart from being a fascinating bloke to read about - made great saws. And a key part of a great saw is a great handle. Almost all the old saws have them.

The two saws I picked up both have apple handles. Apple wood (yes, from apple trees) makes great handles. The oldest saw of these two, which I date somewhere between 1878-88, is both comfortable and elegant.

As Disston's descendants carried the business on, the handles slowly lost their elegance and their comfort.

It is a lovely thing to be able to pick up a saw - even a rough one - 120 years after its birth, and feel a bond with it. A good saw feels like an extension of your arm.

I'm looking forward to restoring this one, cutting new teeth, and pressing it into service.

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tools to build a new tomorrow

The world is full of designers. People who get paid to engage their brains and hearts to take concepts, understand their parameters, imagine possibilities, and translate them from mind to paper or screen.

Design is part of the basic package of what we, as human beings, do. It's a key part of how we make stuff happen in the world. From music, to buildings, to cars, to kitchenware, to urban planning, to making a sandwich, it's what we do.

Except when we don't.

Probably around 1/3 of the clients I currently work with are paid to design. I love walking into the workspaces of designers. It causes you to ponder about the measure of the people who create stuff there.

One observation I've made in the last 4 years is that many of the people we work with excel at making 'hard stuff' - landscapes etc. But a qualification in design doesn't necessarily mean you design strong processes - or as I heard one designer call 'the soft infrastructure'.

My contention - and I've said it often in recent times - is that what a lot of designers don't design well are conversations that help us achieve outcomes. A friend who is an industrial designer insists otherwise. He says design tools are the designer's working tools, so of course they bring design processes to their exchanges; they cannot do otherwise.

With the greatest respect, I cannot agree. My contention is not universally true - we get to work with some wonderful exceptions - but the trend is plain enough.

Yes, they know the language of project management. Yes, they can navigate council through the D.A and C.C. phases. But this is different to designing the conversations requisite to good outcomes that preserve intent, and utilise the best of each party for the good of the project's end users and owners.

Our passion is in finding the right questions that would help to drive the process forward while keeping the voice of intent alive.

Most often these are the exchanges that don't make the official register. They are the 'between the gaps' conversations, the links between silos.

We need to harness those gaps for the good of the project. And to do that we need a set of good conversational tools to carry us forward. This is a key part of a toolkit for tomorrow.

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Small decisions

Motivational speakers.

There -- I just polarised my readers.

I'm leary of motivational speakers. They make life's problems sound so predictable, and easy to solve. Just follow these 12 steps ...

My boss left something on my desk recently; an audio book titled 'The Slight Edge' by Jeff Olson.

The slick presentation style was nearly enough to result in an early 'bust off'. The sweeping generalisations made me cranky. The simplistic and formulaic approach of 'Do this, and these things will follow' annoyed me.

But I pushed through. I'm glad I did.

What Olson 'sells' here is the 'slow way to success'. It was his basic premise that kept me listening: that achievement in life was not about 'lucky breaks' or windfalls, but about discipline in making small decisions well.

Decisions like, "Will I eat the cheeseburger or the salad? Will I get up early or sleep in? Will I walk for 20 minutes today, or will I drink a beer and chat on the phone? Will I read a good book or watch television?"

At some points he feels way too dismissive of the choices of others, too ready to make value judgements. But his big idea has stuck with me, and has impacted on my decisions.

Failure in life does not occur in one bad decision but in 10,000 small decisions. So it is with those who build lives that we applaud. It's an exponential curve thing.

Olson has observed a pattern here. The book is the result of watching 'how it is' in the world. Small decisions, deliberate decisions, each day. Moving steadily in an upwards direction, no matter where you're starting from.

The packaging did not appeal -- nor did quite a few of the ideas. But the core idea stuck. And it's been worth the listen for that.

Tuesday, November 22, 2011


For the past year I've had the privilege of serving on our local school's P&C.

They are a very committed bunch of people, and are responsible for so much of the good that happens in our school community.

Meaningful actions have been driven by caring and considerate thought or concern. It's been great to be a part of.

We have a wonderful, dedicated principal whose actions demonstrate that he cares about his staff and teachers very deeply. We have staff who turn up day-after-day, often dealing with the complaints of ungrateful parents, and still faithfully carrying forward the job of educating kids.

And then there are the other parents in P&C who dig deep to get other things over the line. School banking. Uniform shop. End-of-year concert. Building repairs.

The savour for me this year in P&C has been the way we have been thinking about the question of engagement. It's been exciting to watch the conversation unfold. To have the P&C wrestling hard with such questions is a rich space to be in.

There is much to be grateful for. We get to have a say in the shape of the future. We get to form something, to think, talk, create something for the kids. We get to work alongside amazing, dedicated staff to do this. I am grateful.

Thursday, November 17, 2011

Consider it [visually] noted

Last week was my first attempt at sketchnoting a conference. It was an ideal conference to try my hand at sketchnoting as the content of the sessions provided plenty of scope for pictures and mental play. This was always likely to be the case, given it was the annual conference for Green Roofs Australasia.

I'm happy with my first attempts at sketchnoting, but I see a lot of room for growth. That's okay -- there's plenty of time for learning and improving.

It would be really nice to be as good as these guys one day (I think Eva-Lotta Lamm's notes are especially awesome), but in truth, I am the only person these notes need to matter to.

(It has largely been the impact of a 27-year-old book that has led me down this road.)