Category Archives: Leeds

What Should I Expect from Progress School?

Above all else you should expect to meet a friendly bunch of people all of whom are looking to make progress with something.  They maybe trying to build a businesses, develop or find a career, push a project forward, create a better world.  The age range is usually from late teens early twenties up.  I won’t make a guess at the upper age level – but some of us have grey hair or none! The diversity of the group is one of its strengths

We share a simple model to talk about progress and how we manage our own learning and practice so that we have the best possible chance of making it.  This is not some cerebral, philosophical debate – although it will get you thinking – but an ‘everyday conversation’ of the types that you might otherwise rarely have time for!

We meet for 2 hours, once a month, to talk, explore, learn and plan how we might change things over the coming days weeks and months in search of progress, and to plan what experiences might help.

You pay what you can, but free is fine.

So  come and join us at a Progress School soon…

Progress School Leeds –

Progress School Bradford –

Life isn’t about finding yourself. Life is about creating yourself. “

– George Bernard Shaw


Progress School – Make or Break?

Progress School has had a good year in both Leeds and Hull.  But I suspect that 2011 will be make or break!

Well over 60 people have taken part in Progress School, the vast majority have been more than once, with most being regular attenders.  Feedback is very positive – with people enjoying the relaxed yet powerful format for reflection, development and building relationships with fellow participants.  Many find the monthly 2 hour slot for reflection and planning to be a powerful addition to both their professional and personal life.

My hope is that this year we can really consolidate Progress School in Leeds and Hull and get a new School firmly established in Bradford.

I am always looking at ways to develop Progress School methodology to ensure that the product is as good as it can be, while remaining low or no-cost.  The real challenge however is building membership and achieving break-even or better.

Progress School is entirely funded by its members and hosts (Fudge Cafe in Hull, Dehlicattessen in Leeds and the Gumption Centre in Bradford) who all kindly make rooms available at no charge and often throw in some refreshments too.  A big thank you to them.

So, how do we get more people to take part in Progress School?  What about more organisations?

What are your thoughts?  Are there others that you can invite to take part?

What can we do to ensure that 2011 becomes the year that makes Progress School rather than breaks it?

I look forward to hearing your thoughts….

Action Learning with Progress School?

Action Learning is a process where a group of people (an Action Learning Set) meet regularly to explore real issues that members need to tackle in some way.  I have been using action learning sets for about 15 years now and find them very powerful ways of learning.

The learning process starts with someone laying out, in some detail, an issue that they wish to work through with the group.

The group then use questions to explore the issue more fully, from a range of different perspectives, with the intention of generating new  insights and approaches.

Clearly the set member that offers the issue to be explored stands an excellent chance of getting some really practical and powerful help.  But what does the rest of the set get from the experience?

Well good action learning depends on the ability to ask really powerful questions that generate new insights, and the set provides the perfect space for developing this key leadership skill.  Members also learn to really listen, not just to what is being said, but also to what is not said.  Members will find themselves asking some of these questions of the issues that they face, and will generate new insights for themselves too.

For some time now I have been thinking about setting up an Action Learning set in Leeds.  One that has a diverse membership and a wide range of potential issues to tackle.  It would seem to complement the mainstream Progress School sessions, allowing individual members the chance to pursue specific issues in much more depth.


I would anticipate an Action Learning Set meeting on a monthly basis for a couple of hours.  A set would have between 6 and 8 members.  I would envisage us exploring a minimum of 2 issues each time we met.

Sets could meet during the normal working day, or in the evenings.  I am happy to sort out venues, coordinate meetings, facilitate the set and help people to prepare their issues to bring to the group – if there is enough interest and commitment.

I would envisage running the sets on the same basis as Progress School, namely that you pay what you can afford – but that free is fine.

So what do you think?

  • Would you be interested in joining an action learning set?
  • Do you think this would be in addition to, or instead of, your commimtment to the usual monthly Progress School meetings?

What have 2 Leeds Progress School sessions done for Louise?

Ross Shares his Progress School Experience

Excuse the background noise!  The rest of us were noisily tucking into a couple of post progress school curries….

Should We Learn to be Proper Selfish?

In his book, The Hungry Spirit: Beyond Capitalism, A Quest for Purpose in the Modern World (1997), Charles Handy describes the problems he faced in determining his ideal self, in a passage that he calls ‘Proper Selfishness’:

“I spent the early part of my life trying hard to be someone else. At school I wanted to be a great athlete, at university an admired socialite, afterwards a businessman and, later, the head of a great institution. It did not take me long to discover that I was not destined to be successful in any of these guises, but that did not prevent me from trying, and being perpetually disappointed with myself. The problem was that in trying to be someone else I neglected to concentrate on the person I could be. That idea was too frightening to contemplate at the time. I was happier going along with the conventions of the time, measuring success in terms of money and position, climbing ladders which others placed in my way, collecting things and contacts rather than giving expression to my own beliefs and personality.”

In a section that he calls ‘Proper Selfishness’ Handy goes on to describe the importance of a strong sense of self and the challenges of remaining true to oneself as the world throws up all sorts of opportunities for us to be someone who we are not.

I highly recommend a read of Proper Selfishness (pdf)

Progress School – Is it for you?

Major changes are afoot.

It has been many years since I felt quite so clearly the sense of nervousness and fear about the present, but also perhaps a sense of optimism, anger and a desire for real change to create a better future.

Time to re-think what to do with your life.  Or perhaps how you do it.

To reset yourself in a very different world.

To make sure that the next chapter not only ticks the box in terms of income, but also feeds your soul, contributes something worthwhile.  Includes, at its heart, ‘good work‘.

Progress School provides a framework, a process and most importantly perhaps a group of ‘fellow travellers’ for people who are looking to make progress in their lives.  It maybe dealing with redundancy and a transition to self employment, leading a business, building a community group or having a better family life.

You can work on anything at Progress School.

Progress School has no agenda or outputs to hit.  It is not about getting you ‘back to work’ or ‘into volunteering’, ‘giving up smoking’ or ‘getting fit’.  It is about providing you with time and space to work on whatever it is that really matters to you.

It is not about CVs, job searches, testimonials and networking.  It is about conversations.

Conversations about hopes, dreams and aspirations.  Conversations about possibilities and potentials.  And conversations about what you can do to make progress.

We meet every month for a couple of hours and then those that want to carry on the conversations over a meal.  The sessions are semi structured and everyone uses a shared model to frame their pathway towards progress.

You can come to as many, or as few sessions as you wish.

Best of all, to take part in Progress School, you pay what you like.   And FREE really is fine.

At the moment Progress School is established in Hull and Leeds.  Just follow the links to book your place.

We would love for you to join us….

You can watch a short film about Progress School or listen to a short interview about Progress School I did for the BBC.