Some Recommendations

“Get Mike involved and he will tirelessly, creatively, and knowledgeably solve the problem, and improve the situation whether in the private or public sector. His ideas on management training are up-to-the-minute and effective. His team’s find him inspirational, and his client’s find him effective because he applies real business acumen in such an original way.”
Max McKeown, Innovation & Strategy Coach, Facilitator & Speaker, Maverick & Strong Ltd

“Mike is an extremely professional consultant and facilitator. His approach is thorough; his knowledge and skills are at the highest levels, and his style balances both support and challenge. He is extremely effective at what he does and having had the pleasure of working with Mike on a number of projects, I can safely say that I know from first hand that clients benefit greatly from his work.”
Mike Notman, Director, wbs Consulting

“Mike cuts through the organisational BS to deliver projects that really make a difference. I’ve worked with him as a consultant in two different organisations and always found him to be easy to deal with and a great people manager. He also knows the difference between processes and goals, inputs and outputs – no prizes for guessing which he regards as the more important.”
Andy Maslen, MD, Sunfish Limited

“I had the pleasure of working with Mike for several years in the BLU – Business Link University – a virtual “corporate university” for small business development professions which was funded by the Government’s Small Business Service 2002-06. Mike was initially one of the service providers / BLU associates and later became director. I served as BLU Principal and was impressed by Mike’s commitment, hard work and creativity.”
David Grayson, Principal, BLU

“Mike Chitty is an outstanding practitioner. He has the rare talent of seeing beyond the obvious to the heart of an issue and its potential solution. He is imaginative, challenging and always highly practical. He provides projects with insight, experience and facilitates intelligent solutions. A voracious learner, he is a cut above the norm. Someone I have admired for years and with whom it has always been a stimulating pleasure to work.”
Jim McLaughlin, Managing Partner, Optima + Co

I worked with Mike when I was a member of the key associates’ group of the B.L.U., the development arm of the Small Business Service. Mike was both an excellent facilitator and strategist, identifying needs within the service, sourcing potential solutions and identifying channels to ensure that those solutions reached individuals who were directly involved in delivery.”
Dick Willis, Senior Consultant, CN Resources Ltd

“Mike is a skilled people developer and learning facilitator. Good to work with, he delivers outcomes you can see and measure.”
David Gee, Interim Waste Strategy Programme Director at Essex County Council

“Mike is very knowledgeable on social enterprise and down-to-earth management skills for progressive managers – his workshops are full of well-researched content and are great value for money :)”
Lee Jackson, Motivational Speaker

Twitter and the Progressive Manager

Over the last couple of weeks I have been checking out the latest (?) web 2.0 phenomenon that is twitter.  (As I write these words I am so aware that at some point in the future, like  a week on Thursday this will seem so very dated!).

I mean really checking it out.  Giving it  a thorough workover, experimenting with it.  Seeing if I can use it for anything helpful and productive.

And I love it!  Well, most of the time.

Twitter is a simple blogging site with one very severe restriction.  Each post has to be less than 140 characters.  That is about two short sentences.

Check out my twitter page here to get a feel for it.

I can choose to follow peoples ‘tweets’ and they can choose to follow mine.  Each time someone I follow tweets – I can see what they are up to.  If they bore me or aren’t relevant then I stop following them.  If they are interesting, relevant, entertaining, resourceful or in some other way they bring colour to my day then they stay on the follow list.

Easy to set up and addictive to use, already twitter has helped to me connect with a whole bunch of people that I would otherwise not have found.  A Llama farmer in North Devon who is passionate about small business; a sheep dog handler in Northamptonshire who loves facilitation; a rugby loving family man from Exeter who earns his living trying to make local strategic partnerships work. I know more about the workings of the #uktrains than the fat controller.

All of these and many more have provided me with information, insight and opportunities.  I am currently following about 200 people and being followed by a similar number.  As I get more efficient in using twitter I will be able to follow more without it taking more time as I get better at filtering and searching for stuff that connects.

Essentially I use twitter as a flow of information and intelligence into me.  It is a great tool for what the strategy bods call ‘environmental scanning’.   I learn a lot of very useful, hard edged stuff that helps with work.  But I also learn some very human stuff that keeps things compassionate and warm.  I know that one of  my fellow twitterers has a son who is hospitalised with asthma at the moment, I know another has just relocated from Seattle to Washington DC.  I learn about the human being as well as the professional which, while it might annoy some, I love.

I am also followed at the moment by a couple of hundred people.  Some of these just follow anyone.  The more you follow and are followed the better is one viewpoint.  I am more discriminating.  I only follow people whose tweets work for me!  Some are following me because they are interested in my work, my ideas and what I am doing.  Some follow me because each tweet acts as a little nudge – perhaps reminding them of something they learned from me.  (I am considering set up a specific PMN account to tweet daily reminders about the power of 121s, giving feedback, coaching etc).

Having a community of followers, albeit small but perfectly formed is very flattering.  And another useful little community for me to test ideas on, ask for help from (yesterday I got a great response for requests for good online whiteboards that allow me to co-create and talk about diagrams with others on the web!) and generally commune with.  A plea for examples of social media being used to good effect in community development has unearthed several leads for me to explore.  Another twitterer has put me in touch with a consultancy looking to showcase great enterprise projects.  As a marketing tool, twitter is working for me.  It  does takes time – I reckon I spend an hour a day twittering – but it doesn’t feel like work – and it ‘fits’ wonderfully into the spaces between bigger pieces of work.

At the moment the twitterverse seems to be overpopulated with techy types. Twittering about twitter the way that bloggers used to (and still do) blog about blogging.  You can always ‘unfollow’ them.  But there are also different themes emerging, such as:

  • How can we use web 2.0 to get better at what we do – whether that is management, education and training, providing services for mental health, starting businesses, researching markets or whatever.
  • How can we use web 2.0 to engage more people
  • What role can the web play in community capacity building, economic and social development.

These themes engage me.  Knowing about them helps to pay my mortgage.  IT is not all about web 2.0 – but if you are not thinking about how web 2.0 impacts on what you are trying to do in life then I think you are missing a trick.

So for the manager twitter can:

  • improve communication with the team, peers, customers and the competition
  • help get early warning of problems and opportunities
  • portray a more human and rounded face of you and your organisation

So at the moment twitter gets a big thumbs up.  I won’t be deleting my twitter account just yet.


Just a gentle reminder that we have some ‘buy one get one free‘ offers coming up on PMN workshops.  This means that when you book a place at one of the BOGOF workshops you get another place free.

I have also developed 2 new workshops which have proven very successful.  The first is on effective partnership working – giving you the skills and knowledge you need to make the most of your partnerships at work. Whether you have to work in a local strategic partnership (LSP), a sub-regional partnership or a purely private partnership this workshop will give you the tools you need to become much more effective.  Dates for this workshop will be published shortly.

The second is on Managing Underperformers and looks in detail at practical and effective ways to  make sure that underperformers don’t drag down the performance of the team.

BOGOF workshops:


22nd (pm) Stop Hate UK/Unity Business Centre – Brilliant 121sBOGOF


20th (pm) Stop Hate UK/Unity Business Centre –  Giving and Getting Great Feedback – BOGOF

You can see the full schedule of PMN workshops here, and book places here.  If you have done these sessions and found them useful then please do recommend them to others.

Many thanks.


Find Their Enterprising Soul

Enterprise is not the same as entrepreneurship.

Being enterprising has little to do with starting businesses.

Enterprise is ALL about:

  • recognising how things are,
  • recognising how you would prefer them to be
  • having the self confidence, ideas, plans and taking action that helps to narrow the gap.

If we start from this premise we will find that we can engage far more people in learning the skills of enterprise than if we start with the tired old ‘Have you got  a great business idea?‘ line.

We enterprise professionals might even find that we get taken seriously by educators and community activists.  We might even find that we have something really powerful to offer to the social and economic development of communities.

And if we engage  people in ‘finding their enterprising soul’ then there is a good chance that some of them will go on to start businesses and social enterprises as they start to exercise their enterprise muscles.

Sounds exciting?  Then PLEASE leave a comment, get touch and ask others to the same.

Let’s reclaim enterprise from the ‘men in suits’.

Community Development Principles and Practical Actions

Julian Dobson usefully reminded me this morning;

Cracking on with ideas is good. Rooting them in community development principles and practical action is even better.

But what are these principles?  A quick bit of web research found this list from CDX in Sheffield:


Community development workers support individuals, groups and organisations in this process on the basis of certain values and practice principles.

The values at the core of community development are:

  • social justice
  • self-determination
  • working and learning together
  • sustainable communities
  • participation
  • reflective practice

The practice principles that underpin these values are:

Social justice

  • respecting and valuing diversity and difference
  • challenging oppressive and discriminatory actions and attitudes
  • addressing power imbalances between individuals, within groups and society
  • committing to pursue civil and human rights for all
  • seeking and promoting policy and practices that are just and enhance equality whilst challenging those that are not


  • valuing the concerns or issues that communities identify as their starting points
  • raising people’s awareness of the range of choices open to them, providing opportunities for discussion of implications of options
  • promoting the view that communities do not have the right to oppress other communities
  • working with conflict within communities

Working and learning together

  • demonstrating that collective working is effective
  • supporting and developing individuals to contribute effectively to communities
  • developing a culture of informed and accountable decision making
  • ensuring all perspectives within the community are considered
  • sharing good practice in order to learn from each other

Sustainable communities

  • promoting the empowerment of individuals and communities
  • supporting communities to develop their skills to take action
  • promoting the development of autonomous and accountable structures
  • learning from experiences as a basis for change
  • promoting effective collective and collaborative working
  • using resources with respect for the environment


  • promoting the participation of individuals and communities, particularly those traditionally marginalised / excluded
  • recognising and challenging barriers to full and effective participation
  • supporting communities to gain skills to engage in participation
  • developing structures that enable communities to participate effectively
  • sharing good practice in order to learn from each other

Reflective practice

  • promoting and supporting individual and collective learning through reflection on practice
  • changing practice in response to outcomes of reflection
  • recognising the constraints and contexts within which community development takes place
  • recognising the importance of keeping others informed and updated about the wider context

This looks like a pretty good list of design criteria.

  • Anything missing?
  • Anything better?

Reading through this list and reviewing some of the current enterprise and entrepreneurship programmes being delivered in the name of community development and regeneration I am finding it hard to find (m)any that don’t significantly fail several of these tests of principles and values.

Unlocking the Talent

Just re-read the Unlocking the Talent paper from HMG March 2008.

Here are some of the bits that have stuck with me.

This is a government committed to unlocking the talents, not of some of the people, but of all of the people. We want to see every region, city, town and neighbourhood do well, not just the few. Our national prosperity and competitiveness depend on our ability to tap into the creativity, energy, ingenuity and skills of the British people.

Well yes – but we have got more prosperous over the last 30 years but much less happy.  The drivers for this are not purely economic…

We need to unlock the talents of the British people, so that each of us may rise to our full potential, for the benefit of all of us.

But this is about more than individual fulfilment and success – it is about our place in the new world developing around us. Britain can no longer be a country held back by disadvantage and unfairness, but instead be a nation firing on all cylinders, and ready to embrace the future. With the rise of the economies of China and India, we need to unlock British talent so we can be competitive in this rapidly changing global economy.

Ditto comments above – this is not all about global competitiveness and ‘laggards’ holding us back.  The rationale for fulfilling potential is not about prosperity – it is about humanity, becoming, identity etc.

Government at all levels must be focused, imaginative and courageous to create opportunities for people to flourish. A key element of this is to forge more influence, control and ownership by local people of local services such as employment, health, education and transport.

To tap into the talents of all of the people, not merely the few, we need to involve people actively in:

  • improving deprived areas through regeneration and promoting work and enterprise
  • encouraging active citizenship, and reviving civic society and local democracy
  • improving local public services by involving local users and consumers; and
  • strengthening local accountability.

Community empowerment is the process of enabling people to shape and choose the services they use on a personal basis, so that they can influence the way those services are delivered. It is often used in the same context as community engagement, which refers to the practical techniques of involving local people in local decisions and especially reaching out to those who feel distanced from public decisions.

Interesting that this empowerment stuff is only targeted at ‘deprived areas’.  Strikes me that doing this in some of the more affluent communities could produce remarkable results too.  This is about fulfilling human potential – everywhere.

Promoting work and enterprise and strengthening the economic base of an area – and so connecting the supply and demand sides for labour – will be central to reversing decline.

Yawn…..This is not about providing employment fodder…..

Effective regeneration:

  • relies absolutely on the active participation and engagement of local people and communities, and not on just the articulate and organised, but on the broad majority of residents and groups traditionally excluded from consultation exercises
  • creates lasting solutions by giving local people the power to control their destinies, create enterprises, channel investment and income, and to involve local people in social enterprises, mutuals, and co-operative ventures
  • tackles the underlying causes, rather than the symptoms of decline. Regeneration strategies will need to tackle market failures that act as barriers to economic growth and employment as a means to reversing decline. Evidence shows that those in employment are happier, healthier, and less likely to be involved in crime; conversely poor health can prevent people getting into work
  • targets investment at the appropriate spatial level, with effective co-ordination between neighbourhood, local, sub-regional and regional levels, as well as between national agencies
  • takes account of the fact that successful regeneration will require private sector investment, for example in delivering new homes and in creating jobs.

Recognising the Real Problem?

Regeneration aims to bring opportunity to areas that are in decline, and to empower people to take advantage of those opportunities. The decline of an area is often caused in the first instance by structural economic change and a reduction in employment. Parts of the UK have experienced substantial deindustrialisation and loss of jobs since the 1970s, particularly during deep recessions in the early 1980s and early 1990s. In some areas there has been a rapid turnaround in employment; in others a cycle of decline has been set off.

Unlocking the Talent of Communities – DCLG 2008

This is a fairly standard analysis of the reasons for decline.

When industries pulled out things went wrong.

I believe things went wrong when the big employers moved in.

Policy and practice focused on providing a largely compliant workforce that was fit for purpose.  Employer engagement ruled.  All parties were more or less happy with the deal.  At the time, and for many years after, it (arguably) worked reasonably well.

A bureaucratic mindset prevailed – characterised by patriarchal contracts between workers and employers which rewarded compliance.  Industrialists and managers came up with the plans.  Unions negotiated for pay and conditions and the majority just had to pick sides and choose leaders – on whom they felt they could depend.

A deep mindset of dependence set in. Dependence on employers, dependence on unions.  DEPENDENCE.  Generations learned how to successfully play the dependence game.  Many still play it.

Entrepreneurial qualities were lost.  Autonomy was devalued.

The genesis of the problem was not when the industries left, it was when they arrived.

For nearly 30 years now I think policy has largely neglected this deep change of identity, personality and self image that swept through many of these communities.

If we are serious about unlocking talent, then as well as providing skills training, CV clinics, classes in self employment, business planning and entrepreneurship we have also to tackle these issues of identity, personality and self image.  And this is best done through conversation – not classes.

Challenging, caring, compassionate but powerful conversations.  Conversations that accept, catalyse and confront.  Conversations that are characterised by high trust and strong relationships.  Conversations that are genuinely focused on helping to unlock potential and to enable potential to develop.  Conversations that start from where people are at – and follow them where they need to go.  Not the usual conversations that steer people towards opportunities predefined by the planners.

Instead we breeze into these communities and ask naive questions;

  • Have you got a great business idea?
  • Ever thought of starting a social enterprise?

Alinsky’s Rules for Radicals

Rule 2: Never go outside the experience of your people. The result is confusion, fear, and retreat.

Rule 3: Whenever possible, go outside the experience of an opponent. Here you want to cause confusion, fear, and retreat.

Wisdom from Thoreau

Is it true that I must limit myself?

Is it true that I have a definite “ceiling of potential”?

Are some people’s ceilings built higher than others’?

There are indeed, mental ceilings built above people, limiting them; limiting their potential, limiting their resources, and eventually generating their finalities.

These structures are not physical formations. It would take a man many days to build such a powerful, sturdy structure in physicality.

Ceilings of potential, on the other hand, are created in one’s mind simply by personal decisions. When we choose to harbour limiting beliefs we build our own personal ceilings. Therefore, we are only limited by ourselves.