28 October, 14

How would you run your business if you knew it wouldn’t fail? An exciting question from someone who knows a thing or two about growing a business. Sir Eric Peacock runs a multimillion pound portfolio of businesses and I had the pleasure of spending a morning with him.

I met Sir Eric at ‘Fresh Banter’, a networking group for business leaders connected to  food manufacturing. Meeting monthly, the small group of 10-15 Managing Directors  and CEO’s get together to discuss their businesses and hear from an expert in particular  field. I was invited as a guest to the October Banter (I don’t make food, just eat it). This session featured Jane  Anderson, a ‘Lego Serious Play’ facilitator – yep, you read it right, we spent the morning  playing with Lego to help us each work through the opportunities and challenges we are  facing in our businesses.

Don’t underestimate the power of the little plastic squares. Lego is certainly about  serious play. Not only was it perfect to loosen the atmosphere, distracting your normal  sensibilities and lapping up some childhood memories, but it was also incredibly  inventive in terms of shaping your own thinking. In my case I realised the biggest  challenge I’m struggling to grow my business is the balance between reacting to client’s  own challenges and being directive in the services we offer. It wasn’t until I spotted the  perfectly formed, multi-coloured block of another participant, that I realised I’ve been  over apologetic about the very nature of our business – offering a different way of solving  common business problems. Sounds a bit heavy for the session with Lego; bizarrely it was and even more bizarre was the unconscious thought process connecting with the conscious through the process of play.

I shouldn’t be surprised. I’m an advocate of simulated thinking, using the left part of the brain to power the right. In many ways it’s the essence of our business. But we all need reminding of the power, especially when the revelation is applied within your own business.

However, I can’t give all the credit to the little bumpy bricks…a lot rests in the skill of the questions. This is where Sir Eric comes back to the fore…his unassuming manner, ability to listen and seamless ability to drop in a poignant question made all the difference. A skill equally delivered by the serious play facilitator and by Jane Milton who runs ‘Fresh Banter’. Today I was reminded by the power of a good question, reminded of the feeling it gives from your toes to the top of your head as you both feel and think through your response. Everyone needs a good dose of quality questions each day, a question that strikes to the core of your behaviour. The moral of this experience, be open to the simplest nudges from a quiet question to a colourful brick…you never know what role it might play to grow your business.

Check out Fresh Banter and Jane Anderson, LEGO Serious Play facilitator