About Mike

Throughout his 25-year career, community development – specifically, working with people – has been a recurrent theme for Mike. Early on, he spent time teaching and doing voluntary service overseas in Africa. He first saw the futility of well-meaning top-down development programmes when the Overseas Development Agency wanted him to teach chemistry to the children of sub-Saharan farmers. English and oral rehydration were what they actually needed.

An introduction to entrepreneurship

Mike first became involved with the business support sector when he developed a functional map and a set of standards for Barnsley and Doncaster TEC. This became the organisational framework for Barnsley and Doncaster Business Links. The work was picked up by the Department of Trade and Industry (DTI). The next step was for Mike to undertake a national tour presenting the work, and later developing a set of National Occupational Standards for Business Links. As Government policy developed, these were expanded to include the functions of the TECs, Chambers of Commerce and Enterprise Agencies.

Commercial experience

Mike has plenty of commercial experience working in small businesses, serving as a Director of one for several years. In May 2003, he set up his own company, Realise Development, as a vehicle to pursue his own interests. From the very start the DTI remained a key client. Mike worked as Head of Leadership for BLU, a corporate university established for business support in the UK.

Working at the heart of business support

In 2004 Mike took over as Director of BLU. He was responsible for leading a team of civil servants to administer a £2m annual budget. In the two years he led BLU, the team significantly reduced running costs. They increased the take up of services. And they introduced a number of new products and services. The civil servants also won a Top Team prize in the DTI.

Sirolli Institute

While working for BLU, Mike had the opportunity to meet and work with Ernesto Sirolli from the Sirolli Institute. Mike worked with Ernesto and the other Directors of the Institute for two years and was closely involved with the development of projects in Kintyre, Dundee, Perthshire, Bradford and Tynedale. Mike alsohad the opportunity to visit a number of projects in North America. Mike left the Institute in January 2008.

Enterprise Island and Iain Scott

Mike has helped to deliver elements of the Enterprise Island Challenge in Blackpool, Wansbeck and Leeds.

Realise Development - Aspire – Believe – Achieve

Mike has run his own consultancy, Realise Development since May 2003. It provides a range of Learning and Organisation Development services intended to help managers and leaders to imagine a better future and then act on their imaginations!

Progressive Managers NetworkManaging People with Passion

Mike set up the Progressive Managers’ Network in May 2007 to provide ‘better management development’ for less. Looking at management from a distinctly positive view of human nature and potential PMN provides managers with practical tools to help people to excel in their work.

  1. chris Onyango
    March 9, 2009 at 6:53 pm

    Hey Mike, I like everything about your blog. It has given me so much insight. I work as a community volunteer in Kenya( My home area). I would wish to come up with community capacity building program on entrepreneurship yet I dont have enough resource materials and knowledge in this field. How can you be of help to me and my community?
    Kind regards
    Chris
    Forum For Action on Sustainable Development(FASUD).

  2. February 23, 2010 at 10:03 pm

    I always love to see Faith in action, thank you fro sharing your expertise.

  3. April 30, 2010 at 6:25 pm

    Hello Mike

    Following the recent enterprise coaching conferance in Derby earlier this week and listening to the panel including yourself speak, i thought i would just like to add a couple of points to your blog! which i think is a great idea by the way.
    Firstly not all enterprise coaches (especially the 42) of us here in County Durham are trying or being instructed to re- package and deliver the old style business support under another heading “enterprise coach) Yes it does seem to be a “buzz word” and seems to be very high on a lot of peoples agendas. This is because we produce results, and not the sterile outputs or outcomes which the funders are looking for but real results at ground and community level. People in my remit dont ask for the County Councils Be Enterprising Coach, they say go and see Michael in the resource centre and see if he can assist, i have helped in areas i have no experience in, just by listening and understanding the persons needs, and having the ability to talk to them at there level (street) most of the time. I have many clients who keep in regular contact and tap me for advice 24-7 this to me is a coaches responsibility to be there at all times, as being self employed can be a very daunting and lonely experience, Having been a self employed animal for some 21 years with 12 retail outlets and over 25 full and part time staff across the north east, and also experiencing bankrupcy and the loss of my home through some side swipes that took a lot of my businesses from under me, and finding myself in a place i never want to revisit. I have had 21 years self employed and 4.5yrs as a coach, not an adviser, consultant or mentor and may i say enterprise coaching has to be the most enjoyable and fulfilling role i have ever done. But to me there is starting to emerge a league of the original pedigree coaches and the new kids on the block aspiring to be enterprise coaches dont get me wrong everyone has there niche areas of expertise but too many are using the banner and fragmenting and dissolving the coaches true role.
    LISTEN,REACT,COACH AND KEEP COACHING, for gods sake keep coaching as in my view a person who has had your shoulder to cry on, ear to listen to, and every word to hang onto, cannot be left out with the vultures to trade and any outputs/outcomes should if neccesary be judged on any one persons journey and sustainability after 12 months + as every person has a story to tell and a differant road to take. Thats my rant and it was a pleasure to listen to yours on Tuesday, both in the hall and the afternoons workshop.
    Cheers Mike.
    MICHAEL

    • paul burr
      September 16, 2010 at 12:12 pm

      Michael Smith, very similar experiences. I’d have to agree on the fulfilment side of giving the help. I’ve been self employed in one form or another for 25 yrs. Empowering some of the young excluded people over the yrs has been real good soul food, whilst giving a helping hand. Still get visits from people who I’ve interacted with, it’s always a gr8 joy.

      I’ve also been there 24/7 for the 140 or so business’ I supplied with the franchise system I set up….all of them on a first name basis with the joy and shared tales.

      Good to read your response above.

      Paul Burr

  4. Ivor
    March 22, 2012 at 4:54 pm

    Hi Mike,

    I don’t know how often you visit this site – probably more active on Twitter. However, I wanted to say more than Twitter will allow.

    I am someone who is deeply passionate about People – Social Justice, Community Development and Enterprise. The passion and ambitions I have, reflect the skills I have gained over the previous 25-years.

    I would like to send you my CV and Covering letter. I would also like to send you a couple of reports that I produced in relation to Confronting the challenges out there.

    It is amazing how experiencing success and adversity can make one a ‘matured candidate’ for Raising Aspirations and Improving Outcomes in the Community. This is my passion – this is my aim.

    As a Londoner, I seek opportunities in this area – as well as events that will enable me to share this enthusiam – as well as the knowledge that I have of the challenges people are facing in the community.

    I know I can make a difference, so I seek opportunities that will enable the Empowerment, Engagement and Outcome-based Solutions – though lets not forget that ‘LISTENING’ is the ultimate tool to achieve such aims. I am also of the knowledge that ‘everyone wants to tell their story.’ and, I strongly believe, Progress starts from here…

  5. Hazel
    March 23, 2012 at 1:53 pm

    Hi Mike,
    Can i use your diagram of the cycle of change in an article I am writing on dental health please? I will of course site my source.
    Thanks,
    Hazel

  1. April 27, 2011 at 3:46 pm
  2. May 31, 2011 at 9:40 am

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