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Maintaining employee engagement in growing and large organisations

By Elisabeth Goodman, 25th November, 2018

Small SMEs, large organisations, and a “microenterprise” model

One of the aspects I enjoy so much about working with smaller Life Science or Biotech organisations* is the level of energy, enthusiasm and connection that every employee seems to have with their company’s purpose.  The people we encounter seem to demonstrate a level of autonomy and independent thinking that is sadly so often lacking in larger organisations.

[*Typically referred to as SMEs – Small or Medium Enterprises.]

When I’ve worked in and with larger organisations it’s been more common to encounter “us and them” mentalities, cynicism, a lack of connection with the company’s purpose and objectives, and a lot more bureaucracy.

So I always enjoy Gary Hamel’s articles in the Harvard Business Review when he describes organisations that have found other approaches to management that mitigate the disadvantages inherent to larger organisations.

In this latest article, co-authored with Michele Zanini, Hamel writes about a Chinese white goods company, Haier, that has achieved significant employee engagement for its 75,000 global workforce, by developing a “microenterprise” (ME) management model.

“Haier’s empowering, energizing management model is the product of a relentless quest to free human beings at work from the shackles of bureaucracy”.  Gary Hamel and Michele Zanini. The End of Bureaucracy, Harvard Business Review, November-December 2018, pp. 50-59.

The microenterprise model: autonomy instead of bureaucracy

Haier’s model is an extreme version of an approach that GSK trialled, whilst I was working there, with its Centres of Excellence (CoEs).  In that model, there were about half-a-dozen CoEs, each with about 350 people.  They set their own goals, and managed their own budgets.

In Haier’s model, there are about 4,000 MEs, most of them with 10-15 people.  There is a strong emphasis on autonomy, with the ME teams setting their own, very ambitious, goals, and managing their own budgets. The MEs also set their own pay rates and distribute bonuses, dividends and profits based on their performance against goals (or “lead targets”). Ultimately, employees behave and are treated more as owners and members of start-up organisations than as employees of a corporate organisation.

The MEs demonstrate a more autonomous approach in other ways:

  • Groups such as HR, Finance, IT, legal affairs etc. are set up as “node” MEs instead of the centralised or shared service model common to larger organisations.  These node MEs have to bid as suppliers to market-facing MEs who can choose between competing support services within or even outside the organisation. Contracts or agreements are then put in place to ensure that expected standards of service are maintained.
  • MEs can change their leaders if they are under-performing, can recruit new leaders in an internal selection process, and can accept take-over bids from leaders elsewhere in the organisation.

Collaboration, open innovation and intrapreneurship in the microenterprise model

There are risks as well as benefits from Haier’s microenterprise model.  The MEs form a sort of network which the authors compare to the internet, or the web.  They have evolved this model to ensure that it works to their advantage as follows:

  1. Collaboration.  Haier’s MEs were initially very competitive, and risked losing the benefits that could be gained from pooling their efforts and expertise.  Haier formed “platform” MEs to address this.  These platform MEs are somewhat akin to the “Communities of Practice” known to Knowledge Management practitioners.  The platform MEs are of two types, one type addresses categories of product or technologies, the other addresses capability development or competencies that might cross several products.
  2. Open Innovation. Haier adopts all the practices available to tap into sources of innovation beyond the boundaries of its organisation. It invites potential users to provide input on needs, preferences and problems.  It accesses a world-wide network of experts for creative problem solving and to support R&D and eventual sales and support.
  3. Intrapreneurship.  As the HBR authors point out, one of the consequences of  bureaucracy in large organisations is that the organisations can become very conservative.  Haier encourages a start-up culture whereby employees effectively act as intrapreneurs to pitch for and launch new MEs. These new MEs are often initially externally funded, to prove their viability,  before Haier pitches in with internal funds.

The results…

As Haier’s CEO, Zhang Ruimin told one of the authors on an earlier occasion: “We want to encourage employees to become entrepreneurs because people are not a means to an end but an end in themselves.  Our goal is to let everyone become their own CEO – to help everyone realize their potential.”

Apparently, Haier’s resultant growth in gross profits, revenue, and increase in market value are unmatched by any of its domestic or global competitors.

Zhang believes they have achieved this through their practice of rendanheyi – a tight association of “the value created for customers with the value received by employees”.

As the HBR authors point out, most companies have focused on optimising their operations, and, more recently, on digitising their business models.  Haier’s microenterprise approach would appear to be a unique route for achieving employee engagement in a large organisation.

There could be some interesting ideas here for managers and leaders to explore in growing Life Science SMEs:

Could finding ways to continue to work and think like a start-up mitigate against the otherwise inevitable increase in bureaucracy, and decrease in employee engagement inherent to large organisations?


About the author. Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting., a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We support our clients through courses, workshops and personal one-to-one coaching.)  Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  RiverRhee is a member-to-member training provider for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals). 

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner. She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) in which she was a founding member of the Enabling Change SIG.

What to do when the difficult person is your boss

By Elisabeth Goodman, 19th December 2016


My Associates and I at RiverRhee have a module that we explore with managers on dealing with difficult situations.  It is also something that can crop up in our one-to-one coaching.  Our delegates often have examples of situations that they have encountered with colleagues that they would like help with how to address.  Those colleagues are often peers or direct reports, occasionally they are their own bosses.

RiverRhee logo

Click here for information on RiverRhee’s training, workshops and coaching for managers and teams

So it was with interest that I read Manfred F.R. Kets de Vries’ article in December’s Harvard Business Review, “Do you hate your boss?” (pp.98-100).  The article is based on his work as a researcher, management coach and psychoanalyst, and includes some illustrative case studies.

People leave their boss rather than their job

Kets de Vries started by quoting some statistics that confirm the common maxim that people leave their boss rather than their job.  He stated that 77% of people in a Gallup survey said that they were engaged with their work and had positive interactions with their manager. Only 23% of those who were not engaged with their work had the same degree of positivity.

“Is it me”? Consider your own behaviour first

It was good to read Kets de Vries echo some of our guidelines: to consider whether it might be your own behaviour, rather than your boss’s, that is contributing to the difficult situation. He suggested that you reflect on the feedback that your boss has given you about your work to see if addressing that might make a difference.  Asking colleagues about and observing positive ways in which they interact with your boss, and asking them for feedback on your own behaviour could also help.  Asking your boss directly for ways that you could be even more effective in your work is an additional option.

Empathy is a great aid for achieving mutual understanding and rapport

I liked Ket de Vries’s suggestion that you should use empathy to put yourself in your boss’s shoes.  This could help you to understand what pressures your boss might be under, and how this in turn may be affecting their behaviour towards you.  After all we are all subject to stresses and strains, and we can’t always put them to one side.  An open question during an informal occasion: travelling together, over dinner, etc. may provide just the opportunity to show interest in what your boss is currently dealing with and so pave the way for a more positive relationship.

Of course you could seek a more direct way to open the discussion about how the two of you are or are not getting on, but the situation may have become too difficult to do so.

Waiting for an opportune moment to have a non-confrontational ‘debrief’

So, if neither of the above non-confrontational routes work, then Ket de Vries suggests waiting for an opportunity where you have worked with your boss on a project, or with a client, and perhaps things have not gone to plan, may lend itself to an ‘after action review’ style discussion.  You could suggest that the two of you take some time together to reflect on what happened, and on what you could both have done differently.  Again, this can be handled in a non-confrontational way.

Last resorts..

Ket de Vries’s final two options are to either organise a formal protest to HR, with the support of your colleagues.  Be careful to have facts and data to support you! Or you could start looking for your next job.  The author suggests that waiting for things to get better is only recommended if you give yourself a timeframe for that, rather than waiting indefinitely.


Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads on Membership, Communications and Events for the Enabling Change SIG committee.

Engage with your stakeholders more effectively – stop talking about communication!

Guest blog by Fran Bodley-Scott, 25th August 2016

Editorial note: I came across Fran in my work for the APM Enabling Change SIG. She has developed an ‘ABCDE’ model for communication, which she offered to coach me on in support of a publication that we are preparing.

ABCDE logo for shaping communications, from Fran Bodley-Scott

ABCDE model for shaping communications, from Fran Bodley-Scott

I was very impressed by the effectiveness of this model at taking us through a structured process for thinking about our stakeholders and how we would engage with them. It’s a model that I think would help any line or project manager plan their communication activities. I asked Fran to write something about her approach. This is what she wrote…

Communication plays a big part in the ability of managers and teams to influence others.

Click here for information on RiverRhee's training courses for managers

Click here for information on

RiverRhee’s training

for managing change

Managers and their teams don’t operate in an isolated world. They operate in and are influenced by their environment, and the ability of the team to deliver services and benefits depends on their ability to influence other people (their stakeholders). Partners, suppliers, sponsors, clients, experts and operators need to be engaged, persuaded, informed and supported. So, communication plays a big part in enabling a team to perform effectively. Unfortunately, poor communication can throw all sorts of spanners in the works:

  • Information can be misunderstood or interpreted in different ways depending on an individual’s expectations, assumptions, bias, prior experience or what’s going on around them. Making assumptions or not asking what people understand can result in confusion and mistakes.
  • Too much, too little or complex information can create a barrier to productivity: people become disinterested in working with you leading to delays, duplication of effort or poor quality.
  • A report can go unread, or a business case be rejected simply due to the way information is presented. The subsequent rework, delay and loss of confidence add cost and risk to the project.

Poor communication continues to be an issue

Poor communication costs money and impacts the team’s ability to be effective. This is not new: people have been saying it for years and yet it continues to be an issue: why? I believe there are three fundamental reasons:

‘SOS’ – sending out stuff: We’ve become accustomed to thinking of ‘communication’ in terms of output not outcome. Communication is defined as a two-way process of reaching a mutual understanding, yet discussions about communication frequently centre on what’s going to be produced: a website, a brochure, an email, a newsletter. People leap straight into writing content before considering who it is they need to reach and why.

Complexity: Communication is actually quite complicated. There are a lot of factors that need to be taken into account even for something as seemingly simple as getting a yes/no answer from the client. Without enough information about who you’re trying to engage with, it can be easy to overlook key issues that may help or hinder.

Difficulty: Communication also involves a number of different skills. An individual’s ability or confidence can affect whether they perceive ‘communication’ as an opportunity or a problem. The challenge of using social media, creating a video or emailing a senior executive can be a barrier if they feel they don’t have the skills, lack the time to work it out, or don’t want the risk of making a faux pas. If it’s not a priority for them, communication will just not happen.

Focus on attitudes and behaviours rather than communication.

So, if you want to improve the effectiveness of your team, my recommendation is that you stop talking about ‘communication’! It puts people in the wrong frame of mind and introduces all sorts of problems. Be confident about this: the raison d’être of your team is not to do communication. Focus instead on what attitudes and behaviours you need people to have and exhibit in order for your team to be successful.

Here are three simple steps to get you started:

  1. Measure outcome not output: Output is a measure of the team’s activity, what ‘stuff’ has been sent out. Outcome considers how effective the activity has been, whether the intended objective has been achieved. Choose criteria that help you understand how your activity has performed. For example, instead of a tick-box that checks whether a brochure has been received, evaluate how well the information provided has been understood, the level of confidence about using a new process, or motivation to change behaviour.
  2. Create solutions not challenges: Make it easy for the right messages to reach the right people at the right time. For example, provide team members with ready-to-use messages and guidelines for different platforms; format data to integrate automatically with another team’s process so that cascaded information is accurate and consistent; facilitate client feedback by being visible, accessible and flexible.
  3. Be audience-led not technology-driven: Instead of simply doing what’s convenient (eg. sending an email) or what everyone else does (eg. social media), take time to consider who it is that you need to reach and the most effective way to impact their behaviour or attitude. For example, seeing the finished product can influence confidence and commitment much more effectively than receiving a picture via email.
    “If the best way of reaching and influencing your audience is to stand on a box with a loud hailer, do that.” Stephen Hale, Head of Digital at the Department of Health

About the Author:

Fran Bodley-Scott is passionate about helping individuals and teams use communications effectively to achieve business goals. As a Chartered Engineer and Chartered Marketer Fran’s approach is both customer-focused and systematic, applying core marketing principles and the ABCDE communications process in order to drive business performance.

Her company, Marketing In Control Ltd, provides training and coaching in communications effectiveness and stakeholder engagement, as well as consultancy and marketing services. If you are interested in talking with Fran about your project, email


Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that specialises in “creating exceptional managers and teams”, with a focus on the Life Sciences. (We use training, facilitation, coaching, mentoring and consulting in our work with our clients.)

Elisabeth founded RiverRhee Consulting in 2009, and prior to that had 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry in line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  

RiverRhee is a support supplier for One Nucleus, a quality assured training provider with Cogent Skills and a CPD provider for CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals).

Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in Lean Sigma, in Belbin Team Roles, MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and is an NLP (NeuroLinguistic Programming) Practitioner.  

She is a member of CILIP and of APM (Association for Project Management) where she leads on Membership, Communications and Events for the Enabling Change SIG committee.

Exploring NLP for enhancing team effectiveness

I recently graduated from Advance Coaching Consulting‘s and Magenta Coaching Solutions’ 7-day NLP Practitioner course in Cambridge.  It was a wonderful opportunity to explore some new resources for my work as a trainer, coach and consultant whilst also achieving some invaluable personal developments.  We discovered that the opportunities for applying NLP for enhancing individual and team performance are extremely diverse.

In this blog I will use examples of what we learnt to explore how a trainer could apply NLP tools and techniques when working with teams to enhance their effectiveness.

(N.B. We covered a lot more than is included here.  For more background on NLP and on some of the concepts in this blog see an earlier guest blog from ex-RiverRhee Associate Lucy Loh.)


A mind map of possibilities

A mind map of possibilities

How could NLP be applied to a trainer’s work with teams?

There are many courses and books devoted to the subject of training with NLP so this is very much a snapshot from my practitioner’s learning and experience so far that I have captured in my mind map. The headings in the mind map are courtesy of Bevis Moynan who ran the course alongside Lorraine Warne.

Bev categorised what we discussed in terms of:

  • The strategies we unconsciously adopt for how we go about tasks and decisions
  • Our sensory acuity – the various cues we pick up to detect the responses we are getting from others
  • Language – how we and others use language to convey subconscious as well as conscious meanings
  • The ingredients and magic of building rapport
  • How focusing on desired outcomes can enable you to achieve what you want
  • The sub modalities of how we internally represent our experiences and how we can change those (anchors) to give us more choice in our emotional and behavioural responses

The last bullet point in particular starts to get into very deep material, and is an area we each personally experienced during the course, and which Lorraine also applied in my follow-up one-to-one coaching session with her to great effect.

Strategies for tasks and decisions

Whether we are choosing an item in a shop, or carrying out a complex surgical operation there will be a sequence of internal and external behaviours that determine our approach.  Many of these will be subconscious.  As with driving a car, we may once have consciously learnt the steps involved, but once we are skilled in them they are simply automatic.

A trainer wishing to enhance the work of teams could use NLP techniques to help them break down and identify the sequence of steps they use for all aspects of their work.  They would go beyond the obvious steps in an SOP to the more individual thinking patterns, emotional responses and behaviours involved for example in how they collaborate, share their knowledge and expertise and make decisions.  In this way the team could choose to change and improve on their performance, and also more consistently replicate what they are already doing well.

Using sensory acuity to detect the response we are getting

We know that the words people use are only a small proportion of how we communicate.  Tone of voice and body language account for the rest.  On our course we also practised picking up even smaller visual cues such as changes in breathing patterns, skin colour and facial movements.  These are signals that we might normally detect subconsciously in our interactions with others. With more practice and attention our sensory acuity can become an even better resource for team members who are aiming to achieve a high performing teams.

Making more effective use of language in our two-way communications

This subject is vast! We explored such topics as representational styles and predicates, linguistic presuppositions, meta models and the use of metaphorical storytelling, all of which can enhance how team members communicate amongst themselves and with their stakeholders.

Representational styles are how we take in the information around us and represent this internally.  These representational styles are visual, auditory, kinaesthetic (touch and feel) and auditory-digital (self-talk).  Whilst we are likely to make use of all or most of these at some time, there are often one or two that we favour.  These preferences often manifest themselves in the language (or predicates) that we use, as in the following examples:

  • That looks right to me (visual)
  • That sounds right (auditory)
  • That feels right (kinaesthetic)
  • That seems right (auditory digital)

We can make our communications more effective by listening out for other peoples’ linguistic cues, and using some of them in return. It may aid their understanding of something we are trying to explain.

There are a vast number of NLP meta models – the way people use language to represent what they are often subconsciously thinking such that they may distort, generalise or delete information in their communications.  We learnt about a range of examples and how to challenge them, such as:

  • Mind reading: “She doesn’t like me” – challenged by for example “what makes you think she does not like you?”
  • Presuppositions or assumptions: “If he knew how uncomfortable that makes me he would not do it” – challenged by for example “How does what he does make you uncomfortable?”
  • Universal quantifiers: “He is always late with his data” – challenged by “Always?”

Although we might not encourage team members to be quite so direct in their responses, having a greater awareness of what is happening in these kinds of communications could enhance team interactions.

Finally, we had great fun experimenting with the use of metaphorical stories to convey an underlying message and also to create atmospheres that are conducive to learning.  We are conditioned from childhood to enjoy and pay attention to stories.  Being able to create and use metaphors and weave in the different predicates, as well as using different tones of voice and body language are powerful features of good storytelling. Storytelling is an approach that is already being used in business for such things as knowledge sharing, and managing change – important aspects for enhancing team performance.

Building rapport

All of the tools that I’ve already described in this blog can be effectively used to build rapport within a team and with their stakeholders.  Paying attention to and matching the words, tone of voice and body language in normal conversation will rapidly enhance the relationship between people. However if it’s too obvious it could backfire as people may think you are either making fun of them or manipulating them!  We did not explicitly discuss how to apply rapport in conflict situations so this is an area for me to reflect on further..

Focusing on outcomes

Anthony Robbin’s book, “Notes from a friend”, was one of the ones on our pre-course reading list.  He graphically described how focusing on what we don’t want – such as not to crash into a wall when going into a skid – will invariably focus our attention and result on us crashing into that wall.  So we were encouraged to articulate goals that we would like to achieve in terms of a positive outcome that we were personally accountable for, to represent it as powerfully as possible in visual, auditory and kinaesthetic terms, and to also break it down into the steps for getting there.  This is essentially an enhanced version of writing the strategic and tactical goals of a team, or individual SMART objectives.

Anchoring sub modalities

This really starts to get into Master Practitioner territory!  However we did explore our finer internal representations of likes and dislikes, and states of mind, and were guided through different techniques for ‘reprogramming’ ourselves.  Classic examples are reducing anxiety before presentations, helping with anger management, reducing long-lasting sadness.  These types of applications will be more appropriately addressed in one-to-one coaching rather than as a general team building activity.

So what if you were to apply some of these NLP approaches to enhance team effectiveness?

You may already be doing so either consciously or unconsciously, and might have called your approach by a different name. If so there may be something here to help you do this even better.

If much of the above is new to you, what could you try? What difference might that make to your work?

As ever, I’d love to hear from you, read your comments, share your experiences and learn from you too!


Elisabeth Goodman is the owner and Principal Consultant of RiverRhee Consulting and a trainer,  facilitator, one-to-one coach, speaker and writer, with a passion for and a proven track record in improving team performance and leading business change projects on a local or global basis. 

Elisabeth is an expert in knowledge management, and is accredited in change management, Lean Six Sigma and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator).  She has a BSc in Biochemistry, an MSc in Information Science, is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Information and Library Professionals (CILIP) and of the Association for Project Management (APM) and is also a Growth Coach with the GrowthAccelerator.

Elisabeth has 25+ years’ Pharma R&D experience as a line manager and internal trainer / consultant, most recently at GSK and its legacy companies, and is now enjoying working with a number of SMEs and larger organisations around the Cambridge cluster as well as further afield in the UK and in Europe.

Umbrella 2013 – a view from a CILIP trainer

By Elisabeth Goodman

The last time I attended a ‘CILIP’ conference was in the days of one of its predecessors: The Institute of Information Scientists (IIS).  So it was a real treat to have the opportunity to catch-up with so many people (about 600) practicing a range of careers relating to Library and Information Management.

The following blog is based on my tweets, and those of others that I re-tweeted in the sessions that I attended.  (There were many other sessions running in parallel and after I left which you will no doubt be able to catch-up on from other tweets and blogs from the event – just follow #UB13).

Training for Library and Information Professionals

On @CILIPinfo stand until conference kicks off if anyone wants to discuss training

I am one of CILIP’s ‘on-site’ trainers so this conference was also invaluable for networking with and meeting people with an interest in some form of training.  I had lots of great conversations and I’m looking forward to more of these with the CILIP team.

Born Digital?  The British Library at 40

I had not realised quite how wide the British Library’s scope is, and all the ways in which it is developing.  The following tweets just give a flavour of what Roly Keating, the Chief Executive, managed to convey of its 40-year history (and of what is to come) in just 40 minutes.

Really inspiring keynote @rolykeating digital melting the boundaries between departments & institutions & the BL’s fantastic projects! PTEG ‏@cilippteg19h

@rolykeating excellent opening speech – good challenge for British Library to “connect as well as collect”

@rolykeating great achievements re: British Library in helping new businesses and fostering learning

News has broken its print mooring & this reflected in BL building new partnerships with BBC and new media and news centre Phil Bradley ‏@Philbradley20h

Focus session: Future skills and future roles

This was one of 4 parallel focus sessions to choose from, and it consisted in itself of 3 presentations – lots of very rich content in this conference!

Up first was an overview of CPD23 – 23 things for continuous professional development and a self-help programme of learning initiated by Niamh Tumelty and others, which has experienced a tremendous take-up and success.

Niamh and Jo Alcock compared CPD23 with CILIP’s wheel and diagnostic tool – PKSB  (Professional Knowledge Skills Base).  It seems there are tremendous opportunities here for harnessing people’s enthusiasm for learning, the resources from CPD23, the use of the PKSB diagnostic tool and the range of onsite training available for both continous professional development, and chartership.

“@RareLibrarian1: Didn’t know about PKSB online – excellent CPD tool to target your professional weaknesses” for library / info mgmt

Great to see positive take-up of CPD23 & strong mapping with @CILIPcpd PKSB for professional development

We then heard from…

Keri Gray from Sue Hill talking on managing change Jane Roberts ‏@jane_roberts8519h

This is the subject of one of the courses that I offer through CILIP – Achieving successful business change.  The following tweets tell the story …

People are scared of change (especially mothers!) – huge topic affecting everyone in all sectors of libraries. Hannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Big themes for change in Library & Info Mgmt are budgetary cuts, use of volunteers & non-professionals, digitisation

Barriers to change similar to other sectors/professions: reluctance, resources, time, expertise, accountability, need to self-promote

Coping with change – requires a change in mind-set (yes!) – many in room having to manage teams with fixed mindsets

Successful change projects place users at their heart, are aspirational, engage internally as well as externally

And last but not least in the session was Ka-Ming Pang’s truly inspirational presentation (and there were a few other inspirational talks during the conference) about how she initiated the tweet chat #uklibchat – and how it has simply taken off as another forum for sharing learnings and knowledge, and for CPD.

The prezi for my #ub13 presentation is up on the #uklibchat page: … Ka-Ming @AgentK23

The power of SM is demonstrated by #uklibchat to get librarians talking about topics that interest them Jo Whitcombe ‏@jowhit19h

#uklibchat summarised online and archived so always available as a resource. Free way to meet other professionals with new approaches! Hannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Uklibchat – a way to share expertise on library topics on Twitter. Check out  Alan Brine ‏@alanbrine19h

#uklibchat recognised as counting towards CILIP chartership. Meaningful conversation with structure and professional inputHannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Liz Jolly: As information professionals we can’t afford to not use social media

Jo Alcock: I have some very valuable conversations on Twitter and these occur during work time

Information professionals – using our own information management skills to manage our own online presence. Hannah Thomas ‏@RareLibrarian119h

Where does internet end and library begin?

This was one of the debate sessions taking place during the conference, although sometimes, as in this one, it was just fascinating to sit back and listen to what the speakers had to say!

Session on “Where does internet end and library begin?” Access to knowledge & community coming together are common themes #kmers

@librarygame Interesting perspective on how activities such as book borrowing can be gamified: they have challenges, rules & actions

RT @librarygame: Here’s our new site —hot off the coding table  Unbrella2013

Focus session: Beyond Information Matters

Next up “@gig_cilip: Reflecting on Yesterday, Understanding Today, Planning for Tomorrow: Brian Kelly, UKOLN”

Brian’s was a very enjoyable exploration of this general theme.

[Incidentally, Brian mentioned that a paper has been prepared to raise the profile of Information Management within CILIP…

As ex-IIS member – good to hear that @CILIPinfo pushing for more emphasis on Information Management]

Brian was followed by…

Graham Monk, DWP speaking on Sharepoint though not (yet) using it

And these tweets tell the story…

Do we need sharepoint to do our job? Personally think share point needs info professionals to properly exploit it.Simon Edwards ‏@SimonEdwards7515h

Key challenges with implementing #Sharepoint are collecting & cleaning the content & aligning work practices

Again – reasons for information technology (#Sharepoint) given as managing content & enabling communities (virtual teams

Other reasons for #Sharepoint: information overload, finding info, rework, waste of resource, inability to answer questions

Simon Barron followed…

@simonxix common tensions tween IT & librarians/information mgrs yet increasing emergence of cybrarians

Speaking at now on librarian-IT hybrids, technology in LIS, and transhumanism. Follow along at home:  Simon Barron ‏@SimonXIX15h

Nice representation of librarian / shambrarian overlap by @SimonXIX accredited to @daveyp #ub13 Karen Bates ‏@karenfbates15h

@simonxix: we need to be where the users (of library / information services) are and they are on the internet

Is it a bird?  Is it a plane?  No, it’s a librarian!

This was the final session of Day 1 and a wonderful case study of the work of a Clinical Librarian, Victoria Treadway, from the Wirral University Teaching Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, jointly presented with Dr Girendra Sadera, a Consultant Critical Care & Anaesthesia there.

RT @charlotteprew Fantastic & inspirational .. talk by @Librarianpocket & @sadera65 .. about developing role of a clinical librarian

Subject librarians / information scientists could learn lots re: delivering business impact from @Librarianpocket @sadera65 case study

Here’s our film on the Clinical Librarian supporting ward rounds in Critical Care: Victoria Treadway @Librarianpocket

Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a librarian! View my Prezi from Umbrella 2013 here:  

Storify: Is it a bird? Is it a plane? No, it’s a librarian!  Victoria Treadway @Librarianpocket

An evening at MOSI (Museum of Science and Industry) –

This was our evening outing with the Library Awards ceremony  (won by @SurreyLibraries)

Now watching video clips about projects short listed for Libraries Change Lives awards… niamhpage

… and dinner followed by enthralling talk by Fi Glover of the BBC.

Fi Glover doing our after dinner speech! So funny! anniemauger

Firgrove Mill tandem compound condensing engine made by J. and W. McNaught, Rochdale, c.1907

Firgrove Mill tandem compound condensing engine made by J. and W. McNaught, Rochdale, c.1907

Day 2 – Highlighting and using your expertise

We had an inspirational keynote from Janice Lachance, CEO of the Special Libraries Association International.

Look for opportunities, take risks, make a difference not just a living, Janice Lachance daveparkes

Great to hear @JaniceLachance talking about non-traditional roles for library and information professionals and using our expertise joeyanne

@JaniceLachance Think holistically re: information needs of organisation & align your inner entrepreneur w/ its & leadership’s goals

(There was quite a lot of Twitter chat about her comments on the word “Librarian” – a great word with a strong historical tradition but a limiting definition?  Maybe?)

Focus session: Information to support society

I was keen to attend at least one of the sessions organized by the Information Literacy group, as I also run training on how to promote IL to end users (a combination of change management and marketing approaches that is also picked up in a UKeIG course that I run jointly with Shaida Dorabjee – Marketing and internal change: a case study based approach…).

Next up: ‘A critical approach to information literacy’ with @walkyouhome CILIPNWBranch

@walkyouhome Advocating better information literacy training thru’ pedagogical approaches, critical thinking & democratic engagement

RT @calire: A critical approach to information literacy… ijclark

Debate: community managed libraries

The last session that I was able to attend before heading off home! It seemed like a change programme in itself…

Community managed libraries a change programme for the community – librarians can support through consultation & on-going sustaining

Terrific turn-out on a dark evening at consultation on Community Managed Libraries in Yorkshire was early indication of engagement

And so home…

On my way home from excellent @umbrella_2013 #UB13 conference – will be writing my blog on the train! [which I did!]


Elisabeth Goodman is the owner and Principal Consultant of RiverRhee Consulting and a trainer, facilitator, one-to-one coach, speaker and writer, with a passion for and a proven track record in improving team performance and leading business change projects on a local or global basis. 

Elisabeth is an expert in knowledge management, and is accredited in change management, Lean Six Sigma and MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator).  She has a BSc in Biochemistry, an MSc in Information Science, is a full member of the Chartered Institute of Information and Library Professionals (CILIP) and of the Association for Project Management (APM) and is also a Growth Coach with the GrowthAccelerator.

Elisabeth has 25+ years’ Pharma R&D experience as a line manager and internal trainer / consultant, most recently at GSK and its legacy companies, and is now enjoying working with a number of SMEs and larger organisations around the Cambridge cluster as well as further afield in the UK and in Europe.

Collaborative working – UkeIG 2012 post-AGM briefing (#ukeigagm)

Tweets from a presentation by Angela Ashenden, Principal Analyst, MWD Advisors entitled: Building a collaborative culture: people, processes and technology

(to be read from the bottom up!)

@aashenden #ukeigagm #km #CM

Collab tool strategy (2): identify & address resistance; incentivise collaboration; lead by example

Collab tool strategy (1): clear business goals; sponsorship throughout org; focus on practical examples

Main pitfalls collab tools (2) Doing too much too soon; trying to replace e-mail; creating new info silos

Main pitfalls (1): collab technology is not the main focus; viral [change management] is not enough; not a cheap option

Team workspaces vs online communities – currently different but coming together e.g. IBM Quicker / Connections

Sees social tools as layered above other tools e.g. ability to annotate content or associate profiles w/ people

Problem is large number of collaboration tools & what they do e.g. communication vs content creation / editing

Collaborative tools are not extra to what we do: they capture knowledge, process, people involved as are used

Technology makes collaborative working possible (!) – social tools, conferencing tools, SaaS and the “cloud”

cf #swchat who have weekly tweet ups e.g. on teaching better collaboration – best is to demo relevant examples

Problem w/ turn-over of CIOs who are often the sponsors of collaborative working – but can leave before…[embedding]

takes time and sustained approach to change behaviours to collaborative working

strategic issues: lack of top level support, mid mgmt blockers, inadequate education / support, unmanaged…

barriers – still knowledge is power, habits – email vs collab tools, WIIFM, not a priority, collab tool fatigue

flatter hierarchy, culture of sharing / trust & desire to create engaged workforce also impact collaboration

innovation, supporting distributed teams & need to work closely w/ customers also increasw import of collaboration

pressure of doing more w/ less, greater turn-over, retirement are making knowledge sharing harder and more important

collaboration = practice of people working together to get the job done

@aashenden just beginning her talk @ukeigagm on the ‘softer’ aspects of collaborative working

The future of Social Media? Notes from a recent NetIKX seminar

By Elisabeth Goodman1

Adapted from the original NetIKX blog: Social Media – what next and what can we do with it?

This was the 3rd of NetIKX‘s seminars on the theme of social media, a topic which sits in the group’s 2010-2012 programme framework for Information and Knowledge Management under “Harnessing the web for information and knowledge exchange”.

Previous NetIKX seminars on this theme have explored whether social media should be taken seriously, and how social media could be used to achieve organisational goals and the implications for organisational IM / KM policies and strategies.

This seminar took a broad look at emerging trends and products, their likely implications, and how social media are being, or could be used.

The two speakers were Steve Dale, “a passionate community and collaboration ecologist, creating off-line and on-line environments that foster conversations and engagement” and Geoffrey Mccaleb who describes himself as a social media  / mobile consultant.

The common themes arising from the presentations, break-out groups, and concluding Q&A were as follows:

1. Social media have been evolving into so much more than plain communication tools.

Most readers will already know that tools such as LinkedIn are now key reference points for recruitment, but Twitter is also a growing reference source for this.

The political and journalistic uses of Twitter are also well publicised.

And most people will be aware of the increasing importance of social media for managing an organisation’s reputation: monitoring and responding to comments made by customers or would-be customers, engaging with customers, and generally generating related publicity.

2. A broader exploration of how social media are evolving

Facebook lends itself well to sharing information on interests and hobbies.  In fact I’m having great fun at the moment with a ‘cooking enthusiasts” group that I’ve set up with my friends, and their friends. There are other tools, such as ‘Pinterest’ that take sharing of this kind of information to another level.,, Storify, Flipboard are all examples of how ‘social curators’ can bring together content from several different sources that may be of interest to their audiences.  Although we did not discuss this at length, this might be a tool that Library and Information professionals could use to help their end-users with information overload?

Some tools enable people to manage the sharing of physical resources (referred to by Steve Dale as ‘collaborative consumption‘).  Examples of this are ‘Boris’s’ bikes (the London shared bicycle scheme) and ‘airbnb’ to rent out ones house / bedrooms to visitors e.g. to the Olympics.  Might this be an alternative model for managing information resources between organisations?!

Managing big data is a pet subject of Steve Dale’s, with data sets such as medical and traffic data on the cloud becoming so large that they can no longer be managed with standard database management tools.  Visualisation and infographics tools are one way to make sense of them all.

Game-ification is an interesting exploration of how the ‘game’ attributes of user engagement, loyalty to brands, and rewards might be transferred to a professional social network environment.  In a previous seminar we heard how The Open University Library Services were already experimenting with using virtual reality tools as a support for their services.  Game-ification may take this further?

Augmented reality applications for golf let you know where the nearest bunker is and the direction of the wind.  Pointing your phone at the sky can give you information about the constellations. Augmented reality applications help you to look at your world in a different way.

Location-based tools such as Foursquare enable you to find out what’s near you, check-in, see who else is there, become ‘mayor’ of your local pub(!) etc.  ‘Easypark’ enables you to pay your parking fee and have a count-down to let you know how much time you have left to park.  There is potential for these tools to be so much more than a status update, because they tell others that you like something / somewhere.

3. Some final reflections on technology trends and implications

Technology cycles are usually 10 years long, and we are now 2 years into mobile technology and ‘apps’.  The anticipation is that mobile technology will overtake desktop technology within 5 years.

All the people that we interact with online represents our ‘social graph‘: who we know and who we respect online.  Our online contacts can have a tremendous influence on what we choose to buy – as I discovered when I found myself, somewhat to my surprise, purchasing something on Amazon that others had recommended without even ‘looking inside’ first.

4. Implications of what we heard

We explored several themes in our break out discussions and in the Q&A that followed:

  • The changing role of the information intermediary.  Are we being pushed out of our roles by these tools – or does our ‘cyberlibrarian’ or ‘curator’ role become even more important?
  • The associated information risk.  With a lot of personal information going on the internet / in the cloud, is there more scope for criminal activity and identify theft?
  • How to decide what tools to use and when?  The key is being clear about who we are trying to target and what tool(s) they would use.  Phil Bradley’s presentation and notes: “25 barriers to using web 2.0 technologies and how to overcome them” might provide some good insights on internal organisational barriers and how to address them.
  • Using social media tools within organisations.  ChatterYammer are Twitter like tools being used within organisations, and in some cases have a dramatic effect on lowering the use of e-mail.  Such tools could be excellent for idea generation and problem solving, or ‘crowd-sourcing’ within an organisation.


1. Elisabeth Goodman is Programme Events Manager for NetIKX.  She also runs her own business, RiverRhee Consulting.

2. See also Elisabeth Goodman’s blog on Social Media: putting you and your business at the heart of your community

Elisabeth Goodman’s 2011 blogging year in review

The stats helper monkeys prepared a 2011 annual report for this blog.

Here’s an excerpt:

A New York City subway train holds 1,200 people. This blog was viewed about 6,000 times in 2011. If it were a NYC subway train, it would take about 5 trips to carry that many people.

Click here to see the complete report.

Customer pain and customer delight – the economy airline way

By Elisabeth Goodman

As a trainer and consultant on Lean and Six Sigma, I’ll find examples of the principles and tools in practice in every aspect of everyday life.  The following blog illustrates the difference between ‘batch’ and ‘single piece flow’ that we might experience when the customer is what is being moved through a process!

Customer pain

Last Sunday I twisted my ankle coming off a pavement in the mad scrum to catch the airport shuttle between Gatwick terminal and my EasyJet flight to a work assignment in Barcelona.

Someone in a yellow jacket and a kind fellow passenger helped me onto the bus, got me a seat, and offered me water and pain killers.  Once arrived at the airplane, the same kind man in the yellow jacket cleared a space for me on the steps leading up to the plane. I collapsed with relief into a seat, bent over with nausea and faintness, whilst waiting for take-off, vaguely surprised at the absence of attention from any of the air stewards as they hurried up and down the aisle. Meanwhile the passenger in the seat next to me had a loud rant about how she hated economy airlines.

This disagreeable experience was an extreme version of my previous unpleasant experiences of being treated as part of a ‘batch’ of customers in the airline process: a system generally adopted by other low cost airlines.

We seem to have relinquished the right to have any form of quality customer service in return for paying a cheaper fare.  Arriving early at our final destination (with a pre-recorded electronic cheer) seems to be the only other point of the quality, time, cost triangle that we have a right to.

Customer delight

3 days later, sitting in Barcelona airport with my colleague, waiting for my return flight (to Stansted this time), I was describing the wonderful queuing system I’d experienced with Southwest Airlines a few years ago.  We were assigned a boarding letter / number based on check-in sequence.  A line of posts at the departure gate reflected the letters and numbers and passengers calmly lined up in their pre-assigned sequence when it was time to board the plane.  No mad scrum.

What was our surprise this time, when we made our way to the departure gate 20 minutes before final boarding time, to find the a complete absence of people and queues.  We showed our boarding passes and were ushered onto an almost empty bus, whilst I carefully avoided twisting my ankle on the curbs (this time?) clearly marked with yellow tape.

There was no pushing or shoving on the plane as several passengers were already seated, and we found 2 adjacent seats and space to store our hand-luggage.  More passengers gradually arrived, and the plane left, and arrived early.  The general mood on the plane seemed relaxed and happy.

A stewardess joked with me about both of us being short as she helped me reach the overhead luggage compartment to replace my laptop that I’d only remembered to switch off just as we were preparing for take-off.

Although a question remains about extra fuel costs for more shuttle trips between the airport and the plane, for us as passengers, this economy flight experience managed to score highly on all 3 points of the quality, time and cost triangle: true customer delight.

A case study of ‘single piece flow’ rather batching?

Whilst the Southwest Airlines approach is simple and presumably adds no additional cost to the airlines, it will still result in everyone boarding the plane at once: in one batch.  So there will still be the queuing on the plane whilst people find their seats and somewhere to store their luggage.

EasyJet’s approach in Barcelona last Wednesday matched the flow of people boarding the plane to their arrival at the departure gate.  Although we didn’t see what happened when the first people arrived at the gate, what I and my colleague experienced was very streamlined, very simple, apparently very efficient and a real delight.  Of course I’ll be expecting something similar now next time I catch one of their flights!  The Kano model  in action..


Elisabeth Goodman is the Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting, a consultancy that helps business teams to enhance their effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. Elisabeth has 25+ years’ experience in the Pharmaceutical Industry where she has held line management and internal training and consultancy roles supporting Information Management and other business teams on a global basis.  Elisabeth is accredited in Change Management, in MBTI (Myers Briggs Type Indicator) and in Lean Sigma and is a member of CILIP (Chartered Institute for Library and Information Professionals), and APM (Association for Project Management).

GSK ‘Working in Partnership’ Networking event – with One Nucleus

By Elisabeth Goodman(1)

As a member of One Nucleus, I had the opportunity to join about 200 delegates from a mixture of Biotech, CRO, Biopharm, Technology, IT, Government, Academic and Business Consulting organisations at an open evening at GlaxoSmithKline’s Stevenage site on Wednesday 8th June, 2011

After an opening address by One Nucleus’s CEO, Harriet Fear, we heard a series of presentations by Damien McDevitt on GSK’s Business Development teams, Nicki Thompson on the Alternative Discovery and Development Group (for virtual and externalized drug discovery), Declan Jones on the Centre of Excellence for External Drug Discovery (Ceedd), Adrian Pritchard on Scinovo (for collaborative drug discovery and development). We also had some closing remards from Nicki Thompson, and a very brief introduction to Martino Picardo – CEO of Stevenage BioCatalyst.

The evening was rounded-off by up to 2 hours of networking amongst delegates, speakers, and other members of GSK who were present for the event.

As Damien McDevitt explained, with 70% of its current late stage pipeline being in-licensed, GSK’s ‘working in partnership’ model is about exploring opportunities for creative deal making with external partners.

Nicki Thompson spoke about how GSK has been moving from the Pharmaceutical model of centralized control and management, heavily reliant on internal resources, to a de-centralised ‘virtualisation’ of drug discovery (and development) relying more on external resources.

Declan Jones said that GSK are looking for companies with strong management teams, a leading position in a specific technology or therapeutic area based on first class science, and more!

Adrian Pritchard explained how Scinovo provides scientific consulting and advisory support from early discovery research, through non-clinical, and clinical development. They have hubs of experts in Hertfordshire, UK, on the East Coast of North America, and in Shanghai, acting as account executives, scientific consultants, and outsourcing managers working with global CRO / CMO suppliers. Access to Scinovo can be via the Alternative Discovery and Development Group (e.g. the Ceedd within it), through the Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst group, or directly.

All in all, an excellent opportunity to hear an update on GSK’s approach to working in partnership with external organisations, and to meet and network with others looking to participate in such partnerships.


  1. Elisabeth Goodman is Owner and Principal Consultant at RiverRhee Consulting– a Business Consultancy that helps business teams to enhance team effectiveness for greater productivity and improved team morale. She is also Co-Founder and Principal Consultant at OI Pharma Partners helping the Pharmaceutical industry, academia and the public sector use Open Innovation to accelerate drug development and leverage the power of underutilised Intellectual Property.