I should co-co: Co-Lead a Team (Warning: this is essentially vitriol. Kittens are available)

“We don’t lead alone. We lead with others. The days of the ‘Great Man’ theory of Leadership – where one sole leader rules over the masses from their ivory tower, are long gone.”

Deep. These words of wisdom were leading edge when first published in Fast Company, circa, 1997; and here they are again, in HBR, this month!

“Some of us quite literally lead with another person – we co-lead a project, a team, or an organization with a peer. A study by Pearce and Sims (2002), published in Group Dynamics, found that shared leadership is a useful predictor of team effectiveness.”

Wow! Literally, wow.


It’s a BuzzwordBingo fest, made from tired corporate last century dinosaur drivel.

This is PaparazziManagement: Take a long lens photo of a happening party in a penthouse. Then tell us what’s going on behind the glass as if you have a clue.

Then, stick the prefix co- in front of a few Buzzwords. How about Co-lead? Cool. Co-ol. Co-cool!  Co-commitment. Co-co-operation. I should Co-co!

Blog 22


“The numbers are lower at the adventure playgrounds. Parents are worried about letting their children out and children are worried about going out. Regular users and those children who are dropped off and picked up are coming but there are no passers by.

Islington feels like a quieter, sadder place.”

Very well said. There is the proof, if proof were needed, that without playable streets to access our provision we cannot create a playable society

Originally posted on Islington Play CEO:

The numbers are lower at the adventure playgrounds. Parents are worried about letting their children out and children are worried about going out. Regular users and those children who are dropped off and picked up are coming but there are no passers by.

Islington feels like a quieter, sadder place.

I have been speaking to people living and working in the borough as much as I can, there is sorrow but there is also fear. One mum said she no longer feels able to let her son go to play with his friend on the local estate – an estate where there have been a number of knife attacks. Knife attacks by children on children that are not reported on the front pages because nobody died. Another mum talked about her fear when she knows her son is walking back home at 10.30pm from his class. She knows she can’t…

View original 364 more words

Icebreakers? Ball Breakers


This is why I don’t like icebreakers* or warm-ups.

“Back to 1999. It is the residential weekend of the counselling diploma course I was on. The whole Saturday was given over to a Psychodrama workshop. People are understandably apprehensive. These workshops can strip you naked and leave you there. The tutor pitches up, takes off her shoes and announces that we need to connect. We need to centre. We need to disinhibit. She then gets her portable cassette player out and puts on Rocking All Over The World. She then launches herself around the room like a kangaroo on whizz. One by one, people nervously follow her. Some just copy what she is doing. Others start dancing like they’re at the scout’s disco. I cannot move. I am gripping the side of my chair and I don’t have enough hands to cover both my ears and my eyes. My best friend is a genius. She makes an excuse to go to the ladies and reappears a couple of minutes later and starts throwing cushions at all and sundry. The song finishes and everyone sits back down. Deep discomfort rules and the nerves about the psychodrama are more palpable than ever.

The workshop is awful. Unboundaried. Exploitative. Very upsetting. It was a vehicle for the tutor’s ego. After lunch we have a review of the morning and I offer my feelings of disquiet. The tutor then invites me to work through my feelings of unease in a psychodrama. Checkmate. We have a tense standoff for a few minutes but she can see that I’m not going to move out of my chair. By the end of the afternoon, everyone is wringing wet. Any protective layers we had when Francis Rossi started singing had been ripped from us.”

Read on, follow the link…
* unless I’m on a frozen-in Russian trawler in the Arctic, feeling the cold, in which case I really like both.

Originally posted on Love, Belief and Balls:

Oh my. Just when 16 years of intensive therapy seemed to have cured me of the trauma of a therapeutic encounter back in 1999, two events this week have set back my recovery by decades.

My problem? Spontaneous (?) expressions at group togetherness and being urged to shake off my shackles before I can engage in a life changing experience. I’ll come on to what caused this later but firstly, the two triggers.

I spoke at a conference on Wednesday and was tipped off before hand that just prior to my talk, the audience would be led in one of those making a lot of noise, moving about a lot sort of exercises that are meant to leave your problems behind and bring you firmly into the room. For me, this kind of exercise takes me firmly out of the room and freezes me to the point of total disengagement…

View original 496 more words

Power Games

“At our playground there is a 7 year old girl who fiercely defends her independence, even when she is really struggling with something.”

via Power Games.

Go read this beautiful wabi-sabi piece of authentic playwork writing.

The word ‘witness’ as used by Sturock and Else* springs to mind here.


*who wrote it – was it Lennon or McCartney, who cares?

Curing kids of the notion that they suck at science – Boing Boing

Q: “Can a new computer-assisted teaching program rid us of the cognitive errors that lead to students believing they suck at math or just aren’t cut out to study science?”

A: No.


How would playworkers do it?


Fascinating. School learns to problem-solve kids behaviour collaboratively, rather than punishing it.

Reminds me of a certain play blog, which featured a 12 year old boy swinging a ‘teepee cane’ about, like it was a samurai sword or a lightsabre, which of course it was, despite some control-freak grownup having designated said bamboo cane to be a ‘teepee cane’. It was, as Wittgenstein would have reminded her, a cane and as such it will remain a fungible ‘loose part’, whilst still embodying its essential caneyness. I digress.

“Can I help you?” said the playworker, momentarily forgetting that she wasn’t working in Boots. Not very playwork.

So how would the Way of Playworking tackle the examples raised in this article?

This is the first question to interest me for a long while.

Over to you dear readers….

Climbing the tree: the case for chimpanzee ‘personhood’


I’m serious. Grant chimpanzees human rights, before they all get killed and eaten. ‘Bush meat’ is cannibalism.

The Latin name for our species is Homo sapiens. “Wise man”.How does that grab you, ladies? Rubbish name. Excludes 51% of the frugging species.

And ‘wise man’? You’re having a laugh, mate. Homo ludens? Better. We is good at laughing, telling jokes and stuff. Showing off. Ladies seem to like that. Homo bellicus? The warlike man? That too. As Douglas Adams pointed out, we think we are more intelligent than dolphins because all they do is fuck about in the sea and eat fish, whereas we invented war machines and nuclear bombs. Dolphins think they are more intelligent than humans because all they do is fuck about in the sea and eat fish, whereas humans invented war machines and nuclear bombs.

An actual wise man, IMHO Jack Cohen, suggested that we rename us Pan Narrans, the storytelling ape. Because we share 99% of our DNA with 2 other chimpanzees, the famous chimpanzee, Pan troglodytes, and the critically endangered, polyamourous, feminist, peaceful Bonobo, Pan paniscus, the gracile ape. We are just the third chimpanzee. We stand upright, lost most of our fur, talk and invent stuff. Big hairy deal.


The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal by Jared Diamond

(“Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen are the source of the coinage Pan narrans, of which they say
”We are not Homo sapiens, Wise Man. We are the third chimpanzee. What distinguishes us from the ordinary chimpanzee Pan troglodytes and the bonobo chimpanzee Pan paniscus, is something far more subtle than our enormous brain, three times as large as theirs in proportion to body weight. It is what that brain makes possible. And the most significant contribution that our large brain made to our approach to the universe was to endow us with the power of story. We are Pan narrans, the storytelling ape”… “…if you understand the power of story, and learn to detect abuses of it, you might actually deserve the appellation Homo sapiens”


The Science of Discworld II: the Globe, Terry Patchett with Ian Stewart and Jack Cohen, Ebury Press 2002 )

I don’t need to remind my management consultant chums of the power of storytelling. Or my politician chums, if I had any.


‘Bush meat’ is cannibalism. Show that we are wise and compassionate, that we deserve the label ‘sapiens': grant chimpanzees human rights, before they are all  killed and eaten.

Those Planet of the Apes movies don’t help either.