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I didn’t used to like numbers and mathematics. Then, during my graduate studies, I discovered I enjoyed numbers that ‘made sense’. The ones that tell you something, especially something you can use.

Working on the Scottish element of the British Crime Survey taught me about surveys and quantitative research, and I broadened my research skills with five years at Cleveland County Council’s Research and Intelligence Unit.

Then came eight years leading the award-winning research and public consultation team at City of York Council. Our record of innovation and best practice helped York gain a national reputation for marketing and communications within local government. During this time I served as an elected member of the national council of the Local Authorities Research and Intelligence Association.

It was while I was at York that I began to wonder at the efficacy and value of what I was doing. I’d learned the skills and become proficient at my craft, yet somehow the results I hoped for didn’t follow. I wasn’t making a difference. I’d lost sight of the purpose.

Then a colleague, now good friend, arrived one day to help review my team’s work. He introduced me to the work of management and organisational development thinkers such as W. Edwards Deming, Peter Senge, Edgar Schein, Peter Scholtes, Barry Oshry, and Peter Block. Each has helped me to see things differently, with their insights on systems, mental models, learning, dialogue and relationship. But most of all they have affirmed my conviction that the workplace can be filled with purpose, meaning, spirit and joy.

In 2004, I set up as a freelance consultant. My goal: to help my clients hear their customers and then do something positive about it. Un-learning the life-lessons that get in the way of openness and the ability to listen, hear, learn and respond. Choosing vitality and change over, lethargy and inertia.

I live in York with my wife and our two children, both of whom are home educated. My office is at home and my life is hardly ever quiet, frequently fun, stimulating and filled with discovery.

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