Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

New Site

February 9, 2012 Leave a comment

I am in the process of consolidating all my work on one site.

Please consider subscribing to to keep up with my work.

I don’t expect to be doing much with this site in the near future at least.

Many thanks.

Categories: Uncategorized

A City of Entrepreneurs

December 12, 2011 Leave a comment

They have of course got this wrong.  Their ambition should be to become the most enterprising city – because though business is important it should not be the be all and end all….

Categories: Uncategorized

Dumb Strategy and State Funding

August 29, 2010 1 comment

I am hearing a lot at the moment from people and organisations that face a scary future because at some point in the past they chose (consciously or not) to develop a business model dependent to a very great extent, in some cases entirely, on public funding.

And right now that looks like a dumb strategy, because the development of mission, the pursuit of purpose, is regulated by a bureaucracy that makes political decisions about what to fund and when.  It decides how success will be measured.  In essence they are in control.

They hold the strategic reigns.

Intervention Styles for Enterprise Coaches and Business Advisers

  • Ever wondered what to say or do next to help a client make progress?
  • Or got frustrated when a client does not do what they said they would do?
  • Or had a client that said all the right things but never seemed to make any progress?

In this one day workshop I will introduce you to 4 styles of intervention that can really help your enterprise clients to make progress. Whatever the situation that faces you one of these styles will provide you with the way forward.

Early Bird Tickets Available until the end of this week – Friday 4th June.

Based on the values of person centred facilitation, the 4 styles will provide you with a set of informed choices about how to work with your clients to make progress.

  1. Acceptant – how to help your clients to open up about their ideas and see things in a fresh light
  2. Catalytic – how to help your clients to ‘see the wood for the trees’ by using simple modles, theories and ideas to clarify their thinking
  3. Confrontational – how to work with clients when their words and actions just don’t add up. Perfect for challenging cleints without you or them ‘losing the plot’
  4. Prescriptive – how to work with clients when it is imperative that they do what you say – you really do know what is best for them.

These styles are specified in both the SFEDI standards for business advisers and in their endorsed award for enterprise coaches. I have been using them in my own practice now for well over 15 years – and they work.

At the workshop you will learn about each of the 4 styles, how and when to use them, and you will have the chance to practice some or all of them to see and feel how they work in practice.

Book Now for an Early Bird Ticket

What Others Say…

“Mike Chitty has not only helped me become a better coach, he’s also helped me unlock my personal potential. Wonderful, inspirational trainer!” Jason Martin – Senior Enterprise Gateway Director – Business Link South East

“Working with Mike Chitty has been the most important investment in my career to date. The quality of each client interaction has really gone up; we learned and practiced a coaching model to add some structure and science behind client meetings in real scenarios and I also left the sessions with a host of new analysis tools to help clients make sense of how they can make progress. Furthermore it was an opportunity to experience some high quality coaching for myself from, which I got tremendous value. This experience has also greatly enhanced my strategic contribution to enterprise development in my area.

Mike Chitty is at the forefront of enterprise coaching in this country as a practitioner, trainer and strategic influencer. If you are an enterprise coach, you simply should experience Mike’s training as soon as possible if you want to have the greatest possible impact.” – Simon Paine – Enterprise Gateway Director SEEDA

“The enterprise coaching training was excellent. The subject matter covered theory and included practical application, it was thought provoking. It challenged my perception of my coaching style which I had become comfortable with, and tested my limits in terms of acceptance. It provided a number of tools which I was then able to use in a positive way with my clients. I would recommend the course for continuing professional development.” – Barbara Morton – Enterprise Gateway Director – Business Link South East

“Having experienced Mike Chitty first hand running enterprise coach training, I found him to have a wealth of knowledge. Knowledge that wasn’t just theory, but strong, practical and powerful ways of engaging people from priority groups and delivering enterprise coaching.

These ways of engagement and delivery have been put to very good use in the work that I do, helping people to achieve their objectives. Mike balances his training with getting you to think very carefully about what you are doing, challenging how you are doing things and challenging why you are doing things. Mike’s prolific writings (check out his blogs and tweets) on the subjects such community development, personal development and enterprise development make engaging and thought provoking reads. Mike has been a very positive eye opener in many ways and will turn your thinking on its head. I relish the next opportunity to experience Mike’s training, consultation and knowledge.” Gareth Sear – West Sussex Enterprise Gateway Director

The Education Plot…

May 22, 2010 1 comment

Bob McKee talks about the education plot as one where the protagonist ‘changes their attitude towards life’.  Sounds like the work of the true enterprise coach…

Junior Apprentice and Gekko Breeding

So Lord Sugar (is he still our enterprise czar?) is working with junior apprentices because it is up to them and their generation to ‘rescue and revitalise’ our country.  Surely it is a simple equation – more entrepreneurs, making more money, leads to a growing economy, more tax take and a better society.  Hmm.  Don’t expect much here about social justice, sustainable economics and steady state economies.  This is a stack ‘em and sell ‘em business model with no need to worry about the long term.

If we can just breed a generation of Gordon Gekko’s; back-stabbing, blame-shifting, glory grabbing and profiteering then perhaps we can develop a  tax base that will allow us to chip away at the national debt.

  • Is this how to ‘revitalise and rescue’ our country?
  • Is this how to encourage more people, young and old, (wouldn’t an intergenerational version of the apprentice be much more interesting?) to explore and develop their enterprising souls?

Methinks not.

Surely most decent folk would not choose willingly to enter such an environment?

Of course we know that the real world of enterprise is, by and large, nothing like this at all.  It is full of decent people trying to create real value and provide goods and services to the long term mutual benefit of buyer and seller alike, without further shafting the planet and the prospects of future generations on the way.

If ‘The Apprentice’ were a ‘one off’ perhaps it would not be big deal – but nearly all enterprise portrayed in the  media fits the backstabbing/profiteering stereotype.  With PR like this it is no wonder that so many good people choose not to make their living and make their lives in enterprise.

And it is no wonder that many educators continue to maintain stiff resistance to the introduction of enterprise into the curriculum.

Diving into #Enterprise Academia with Twitter

A pal of mine recently asked for some recommendations for academics worth following for a would be lecturer in start-up and enterprise.

I put out a quick shout on twitter and here is what I got back  within minutes:

I also find lots of interesting stuff by following the #enterprise tag on twitter (yes, I do see it as a serious if serendipitous research tool!)

Please let me know if you find any of this useful, or any other good stuff that the twitterverse has missed!

New Workshop – Improving as an Enterprise Coach

Early Bird Tickets are now available at just £199 (plus booking fee) to join me for a one day workshop in Leeds called Improving as an Enterprise Coach.  The workshop will be held on June 9th and will run from 09.00 to 17.00.

You can book your place here –

What Will We Do?

This one day workshop introduces a model of enterprise coaching that takes you from making initial contact with individuals and groups on the enterprise agenda through to enabling them to make real progress and managing a professional and ethical exit strategy.

The workshop will provide practical help with:

  • Making Initial Contact
  • Gaining Entry – Getting an Invitation to Help
  • Contracting – Setting ground rules for the helping relationship
  • Collecting Data on the Enterprising Goal
  • Generating Options and Making Decisions
  • Making and Implementing Plans
  • Managing Your Exit – Promoting Independence

It will help to increase the efficiency and effectiveness of your work as an enterprise coach.

It will also provide you with a framework for managing your own professional development as an Enterprise Coach.

Who Should Attend?

The event will help anyone who has to help others with their enterprise journey.  You may be a business adviser, an enterprise coach or act as a business mentor in further or higher education.

The workshop is relevant to any level of experience – as long as you are working to help others on their enterprise journey.

Some Testimonials

“Mike Chitty is one of the UK’s leading practitioners in design, development and provision of enterprise and entrepreneur coaching and support. Over the last ten years, from before he was a groundbreaking CEO of BLU, my organisations have been the beneficiary of Mike’s work. I still regularly read and learn about his contributions and programmes which are proven, practical and above all highly rated by the clients in making the UK a better place to start and run your own enterprise. We have a long way to go in the UK before we can proud of our enterprise and entrepreneurship offer but Mike’s work will get us there faster. Everyone I have recommended him to in the past has been very pleased that I did so.” – Tony Robinson, Founder & Executive Director (CEO), SFEDI Limited

“The enterprise coaching training was excellent. The subject matter covered theory and included practical application, it was thought provoking. It challenged my perception of my coaching style which I had become comfortable with, and tested my limits in terms of acceptance.  It provided a number of tools which I was then able to use in a positive way with my clients. I would recommend the course for continuing professional development. Mike is a great communicator and has a wealth of knowledge of enterprise coaching which he imparts in an innovative and thought provoking way.” – Barbara Morton – Enterprise Gateway Director  – SEEDA

“Mike is an expert in community development & a coach/trainer/ consultant of the highest quality. He challenges individual and organisational perceptions on regeneration issues and is among those leading the way. Looking forward to working with him again immensely.” – Simon Paine – Enterprise Gateway Director – SEEDA

Networking or Notworking?

‘Business’ networking seems to have stalled somewhat in this part of the world at least.

The referral networks like BNI merrily do their stuff and, judging by the sheer number of imitations that spring up, must be making money and providing value.  But there is more to business development than referrals and sales.

Then there are the publicly funded networks that seem to be ever more reliant on celebrity entrepreneurs telling their story to large groups, usually with limited Q&A sessions where perhaps 5% of the audience get involved.  The audience is usually entertained, sometimes informed and often well fed by the taxpayer.  The host organisation collects lots of ticks in the ‘business assists’ box and we move on.  Personally I enjoy them – but from a business development perspective I am not convinced about their practical value.

Last night at the Elsie Whiteley Innovation Centre in Halifax (a superb facility with PLENTY of space for new or growing businesses – no surprise that occupancy seems to be an issue) I’d guess over 100 people gathered to hear local girl ‘done good’ Linda Barker (Changing Rooms, I’m a Celebrity…) tell her story.  She was fine. It made a pleasant change to have someone spontaneous and not ‘over rehearsed’ in her delivery.  Linda was. I thought, natural, engaging and clearly pleased to be on home turf.  The room was full.  Vernon, our Business Link host, managed proceedings well and the sandwiches were excellent.  He never missed a chance to promote Business Link.  I did notice that Linda got her business advice from a ‘full blown Harvard MBA’ with a solid background in venture capital – rather than Business Link London.

This was the 10th event in the region in 10 days to mark ‘Creative, Digital and Cultural Week’ or something like that!  That could be seen as a wonderful boost of knowledge and opportunities to a key sector, or (but only an old cynic would think this way) a push to get the numbers up and on track with targets.  Either way it does feel a bit like the London Bus syndrome…

Personally, I think the time is right to move networking to the next level.  As Henry Ford once said ‘Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success.

Instead of passive ‘learning’ from celebrity anecdote, followed by polite but generally superficial conversations over sandwiches and cake we should invoke more powerful and inclusive methodologies for learning and building commitment to real business change.  I have some partly formed ideas of how this might be done…

We should use ‘networking’ to start getting local businesses to ‘showcase’ themselves and their challenges and to seek support, advice and guidance from their peers.  Perhaps in the course of an evening a 2 or 3 businesses could make a brief presentation on the ‘who, what, how and why’ of their business.  But they should also have to present a challenge or opportunity that they are currently facing and their analysis of the way forward.  Perhaps a live or recently completed assignment that presented challenges?  Other networkers could then be asked (perhaps in small groups) to review the issue from different perspectives, to ask what else might be done, how else might the challenge be addressed?

From a diverse group are bound to come diverse solutions.  But diversity is another challenge I would throw down to event organisers.  We need to get the digital, cultural  and creative types working with the money people, the marketers and manufacturers – instead of hiving off networking tribes by Standard Industrial Classification codes.  The Law of Requisite Variety is one of my favourites!  But I know the Regional Economic Strategy wants ‘clusters’….

The best ideas and insights would get surfaced for the benefit of the whole group.  Last weeks ‘bettakulture‘ event at Temple Works in Leeds might provide some clues.

I would also have a web 2.0 infrastructure to support networking between meet ups – personally I would not build another ‘web portal’ (sorry Ha), but would use existing platforms including twitter, facebook, ning groups, blogs etc. We really do not need to spend money on web design – just learn how to collectively exploit what is already out there.

Such processes would demonstrate the benefits of networking and collaboration around problem solving.  It would also allow patterns of emerging problems and opportunities to be identified and addressed.  More participants would actually get to meet each other and contribute.  Significant value could be created.  Of course it would mean that we need to get our grey cells into gear instead of gawping at a celebrity from the passivity of our conference chairs…but isn’t that the point of business?

Of course it is likely that numbers might drop off considerably.  Whereas 100 plus turn up to hear a celebrity speak we might get only a dozen who are really seeking to collaborate and add value to their business – but frankly the only people that will worry are those with boxes to tick.  Many will not come near networking events as they are currently constituted because they consider them an entertainment rather than an education.  And, as they say, ‘other forms of entertainment are available’.

So let  us not worry too much about quantity but instead focus on quality – and let’s design some networking processes that deliver real value.  People will soon get on board when word of mouth gets out that there is something interesting going on.

If we want to learn the ‘real life’ stories of celebrity entrepreneurs there are always other ways and means!

In all things balance.  I am not suggesting we should not have any more celebrity gigs (just imagine the damage that would do to the mushrooming professional speakers circuit) – but let us offer clear progression routes so that those who are looking to get down to business development with and for our peers are able to do so.

What do you think?

Oh!  I forgot to mention Linda is twitterer – @ReallyLinda  But she follows nobody!  Perhaps her Harvard MBA needs to look at her SM strategy?

Enterprise Coaching Award – New from SFEDI Enterprises

March 2, 2010 8 comments

OK it’s not quite like a new product launch from Apple, it won’t get people queuing outside the SFEDI stores for days in advance, but in its own way the launch of an Endorsed Award for Enterprise Coaches is a significant milestone.

This Endorsed Award is not from SFEDI, the Government recognised standards setting body for business support and advice.  It is from SFEDI Enterprises a private limited company that provides accreditation, products and services based on the SFEDI National Occupational Standards for Business Enterprise and Business Support.  There are no SFEDI National Occupational Standards for Enterprise Coaching.  Confusing isn’t it?

Enterprise Coaching is still new.  It comes in many shapes and forms and goes under different names.  For some it is a recruitment sergeant for mainstream business support – scouring the ‘hard to reach’ for people with the potential and desire to explore options around self-employment and entrepreneurship, preparing them for referral to the mainstream.  A kind of enterprise skimming activity.

For others, including yours truly, it is a more radical relationship with clients to help them explore how more enterprising attitudes and skills might help them to develop more influence over their own futures and help them to become  more active and engaged citizens.   It is as closely related to the development of the wellbeing agenda, cohesive communities and PSA 21 as to the narrow increase of Gross Domestic Product and reduction of benefit dependency.

But this Award has the hand of Government in it.  The majority of these Enterprise Coaches will be branded – ‘Solutions for Business – Funded by Government’.  They will be focused on entrepreneurship.

Solutions for Business - Funded by Goverment

The majority of providers of enterprise coaching come from a background in business support and advice.  I don’t expect many of them to see this as a problem.

SFEDI Enterprises have developed an ‘Endorsed Award’ and the role of the Enterprise Coach has now been quasi officially defined.  It IS about coaching people to ‘increase their capacity to be enterprising which might include self-employment’ (and business start-ups).  On close inspection the qualification is almost all about self employment and starting a business.

Enterprise Coaches can join the rank and file of ‘outreach workers’ foisting another policy goal of government onto unsuspecting deeply suspicious people living in areas of multiple deprivation.   Once again we are in danger of missing the chance to do something different and radical that might make a real difference.

But suppose that I am wrong and SFEDI Enterprises are right.  That the Great British Taxpayer, and service users in some of our most deprived communities, are well served by a small army of Enterprise Coaches acting as recruitment sergeants for mainstream business support.

(If you think this overstates the case let me refer you to assessment criteria 3.3 Support people to identify and overcome their own barriers to employment or self employment (be warned there are several 3.3s in the Award – this is just one of them).  The award talks of ‘overcoming clients barriers and objections’.)

There is just one criterion that I could find that hints that self employment and starting a business might not be right for everyone.  It requires that the Enterprise Coach should Explain when self employment may not be a viable option.  This puts the Enterprise Coach as judge and jury – deciding whether the client is capable of achieving their ambitions or not.  There is no such judgemental clause in relation to starting a business – just self-employment.  In my opinion this demonstrates a misunderstanding of the coaches role to say the very least.  ‘Judgemental’ is not one of the four approved intervention styles!

The whole tenor of the Award is to move clients towards self employment and start ups.  There is little explicit recognition that the role of the coach is to help clients to look at these as two options among many for making progress.  Nor is there any mention in the award of the coach helping the client to explore the potential risks associated with either self employment or starting a business.  This is part of the Enterprise Fairytale. It is ALL upside.

I know from personal experience that this Enterprise Fairytale leaves some people in debt, with visits from bailiffs, and their relationships and health under immense strain.  I get to work with them when they contact me occasionally through this blog.  Businesses that are ‘Dreams’ on paper sometimes turn into ‘Nightmares’ in reality.  The Endorsed Award, like so much publicly funded enterprise propaganda, chooses to ignore the potential downsides.  Indeed if the client should express reservations about losing money the award actively encourages the coach to ‘overcome’ them.

I spent a couple of hours getting to grips with this document and read it carefully. Structurally it is not very intuitive. However, its structure and the minor errors and typos are the least of its problems.

It is the impact it could have on ‘licensing’ sometimes poorly qualified, poorly trained, poorly paid, poorly experienced and on occasion poorly managed and supervised ‘coaches’ to go out there and encourage people to rush into risky endeavours for which they are often ill prepared that worries me.  And enabling them to do this in some of our areas of greatest multiple deprivation.  These communities deserve better.

NB I can find no expectation that Enterprise Coaches should seek effective supervision for their work – which is I believe a requirement of most of the major professional coaching accreditation bodies.

Not only will we weaken our enterprise culture (as more people experience the unanticipated downsides of enterprise) we may also significantly decrease the quality of our small business stock as people rush to enterprise without the skills and experience that they require to serve their customers well and profitably.  Yes I have seen this happen too, on several occasions. It leads to more debt, desperation and poverty.

The fact that Enterprise Coaches will have an Endorsed Award may promote a sense of comfort and wellbeing in funders and service users that may be misplaced, unless the award provides reasonable guarantees that coaches will do no harm and may do good for the majority of service users. I am not sure that this one does.  But these are just my opinions.

Some criteria from the award that are, in my opinion, too ‘open to interpretation’ include:

  • Analyse the reach that centres of community activity have in engaging traditionally difficult to reach individuals
  • Evaluate the stage that individuals have reached
  • Analyse the change an individual may go through when undergoing enterprise coaching
  • Carry out awareness raising activities that manage the diversity of people, ideas, interests and motivations

Personally I am very comfortable at this stage in its development for the enterprise coaching role to be interpreted in many different ways. Enterprise Coaching on a University Campus will differ from Enterprise Coaching in a super output area. Rural models will differ from urban. We should let differences flourish and seriously look to share ‘interesting practice’ across the sector. Unfortunately at the moment I can find little serious reflection on ‘what is working’ as most programmes paint an extremely positive picture to support applications for further extensions to their funding. High failure rates, and high rates of loan defaults are ignored as we announce how many hundreds of businesses have been created.

If Enterprise Coaching is to have a respected future then it needs a standard setting body that does not just reflect current practice in order to turn the handle on the qualifications and funding machine, but challenges the sector to raise its game. I have watched SFEDI engage with business advisers and enterprise professionals ‘where they are at’ for over a decade now. Suffice to say progress has been slow.

The new award has some technical holes, but politically too it is ‘interesting’.  It is not a full qualification – but an Endorsed Award.  With a light touch on assessment and verification, it is designed to be accessible to those who may aspire to this role but do not have sufficient or the appropriate experience to begin to practice or apply for posts of this nature. The National Award is not an assessment of competence.  It is not a measure of a person’s ability to do the job to the standard sets by the industry.  I am not really sure what it is a measure of.  Potential perhaps?

Part of the assessment requires observation of the coach working with a ‘real’ client, which is a concern if you are one of those without sufficient or the appropriate experience.  SFEDI recommend ‘volunteering’ for such people ‘where learning support is available’.

To be an effective enterprise coach, to establish transformational relationships and maintain them over a period of time to help service users make a real difference in their lives is a demanding job, both emotionally and technically.  The fact that we are unwilling to pay the people who do this work what it is worth is not an excuse to water down the standards and allow those without sufficient or the appropriate experience to gain the award.  But politics being politics I fully expect that when the enterprise coaching award becomes a qualification and gets slotted into the national framework it will be at Level 3.  Business adviser qualifications are at Level 4.

All in all I think this is an inadequate, if well intended, attempt to provide professional development opportunities and ‘recognition’  for people (who may not have the required experience) to work with others on developing their capacity for enterprise, considering self employment or starting a business.  I refuse to believe that is is designed to sell watered down business adviser training and ‘quality assurance’ through SFEDI endorsed ‘Centres of Excellence’, which I believe will be the only routes to access the Endorsed Award.

Either way the Endorsed Award frames the role of the enterprise coach in a  narrow and limiting way and will, in my opinion, do little to help us develop the ‘enterprise culture’ that we aspire to.

The job of engaging people in some of our most deprived communities on the journey towards living more enterprising lives, offering them a relationship that they can use to transform their own futures, and helping them to adopt sometimes radically different behaviours and choices deserves better.  These are not second class business advisers.

They need to be first class enterprise coaches.

Details on the SFEDI Enterprises Endorsed Award for Enterprise Coaching can be requested here:

But perhaps I have got it wrong.  It would not be the first time.

Perhaps the awards will provide us with a solid platform from which excellent Enterprise Coaching services can flourish. I have my doubts but I sincerely hope they are proven to be misplaced.


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