Soft Skills For Project Management


Looking back over this blog I realised I had never shared this video on communication and project management. So here you are:

It was unprepared and shot quickly by Laurence Honnorat of Innovaxiom.

I divide the communication skills needed in projects into several areas – preparing the ground, making sense for others, negotiating and handling behaviours and events conflictual to project success, structuring (meetings, WBS et al), creating atmosphere and valuing.  

‘Flow’. Working with Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi’s way to happiness. 

I’m still at the Espace du Possible.

This week I have decided to run a workshop on the concept of ‘Flow’ as explored and developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi. For those of you who haven’t come accross him here is a pretty simple review of his approach

My objective is to give participants the mental posture necessary to apply Mihaly’s message to their own lives.  I am going to keep the theory light and make it a highly practical 5 day workshop at a rhythm of two hours a day.   

 Here’s my plan:

Each day will have a different theme leading to flow for the participants. A different challenge. And a different skill to acquire.

Monday: Physical : ‘Bodyguard’- Walking with the  stars: How to accompany someone and keep them safe from the ambient environment. Action with intention. This is a condensed version  of a workshop I first ran to develop gererosity and personal confidence for counsellors in Italy. 

Tuesday: Highly physical: Flowing through difficulty, what it feels like to be blind and wriggle out of trouble. This experience will have the steepest learning curve and the highest feeling of satifaction.  
 On both Monday and Tuesday the attitudes and techniques used are inspired and adapted from self defense but with a view to enhanced enjoyment.  

Wednesday Creating and doing: Design thinking – The Stanford wallet exercise. Fast prototyping. Empathic engagement leading to self confidence in creativity and high levels of personal satisfaction.

Thursday: Psychodynamic: Mobilising your Grit, ‘la Gnaque’, Sisu, Grinta, call it what you will,  using the techniques and theories developed by the late Jerome Liss M.D. formalised in the bio-systemic approach. 

Friday: Social interaction: Simple steps to language learning flow drawn from my extensive language teaching experience. This will the day when the message really gets pushed. How to create productive habit. How to celebrate success. Lots of win friends and influence people stuff.  


Grit, Grinta, La Gnaque, Sisu. Do you have what it takes? 

A Hero’s Return

This week I am at the ‘Espace du Possible’ a personal development summer camp in southwest France.

I’m running an experimental workshop on the the theme of ‘La Gnaque’ a French word which the dictionary tells me means having ‘Will, courage, energy, inner strength, obstinacy ‘.

Both the word and the values it embodies seem to be ignored in the French educational system and most French people don’t even know how to spell it.

This is in contrast to the Finns, who have given ‘Sisu’ the status of a national cultural trait. Sisu, the internet informs us, is ‘a Finnish word that cannot be translated properly into the English language, loosely translated to mean stoic determination, bravery, guts, resilience, perseverance and hardiness, expressing the historic self-identified Finnish national character.’

Here is my approach: 

As you all know I prone a bio-systemic approach to personal performance and psychology and so I chose to kick off with a rising energy curve ( including ‘Amy Cuddy’ type power posing; the active physical focus equivalent to mindfulness. “Don’t fake it till you make it” Amy says “Fake it till you become it!”

I’ve included enhanced interpersonal contact skills training and have been pushing an understanding of the interaction of action and personal culture lifting motivation.

From a my ‘Gnaque’ point of view

When one leg of the tripod of a person’s perceived purpose: career, job or personal life, goes out of kilter the other two may be ignored and deemed worthless.

(“She has left me-nothing more matters” “I’ve lost my job – what the hell do you want me to do!” etc).

Very often functional depression sets in. All Gnaque is lost. The person continues to act in life wallowing in a general lack of purpose brought on by failure in one particular area. 

To boost participants

I have been eliciting projects. Encouraging empathy through action using ‘design thinking’ exercises, and individualising success through the creation of new habit streams. Stimulating exchange. 

Highly active with the associated joy and interactive punch leading through to calm reflection, focused construction and determination. 


I’m thinking on my feet. Each day is new. Will I create personal project teams? Use ‘Business Model You’ templates? Extensive prototyping? Co-counselling techniques. NLP? T.A.? I won’t know until I do it. But when I do it’ll work. Mihály Csíkszentmihályi’s approach is central. In the end successfully applied gnaque leads to flow. I hope!

“Obama lance la refonte de la justice pénale” says my LE MONDE newspaper this morning.

To my American friends: . 

“Obama lance la refonte de la justice pénale” says my LE MONDE newspaper this morning.

And it gives some figures:

US imprisonment rates are four times higher than China’s!

The USA has 5% of the world’s population and 25% of the world’s prison population.

1/35 American blacks are in prison at this moment.

1/88 hispanic.

1/214 White.

One black child in 9 has a parent in prison.
Tears came to my eyes when I read that Barack Obama, the first president ever to visit a federal prison, was actually proposing to fix the problem. 

And that he has bi-partisan support.
My thoughts on the subject are a bit garbled. I was brought up to think of America as a kind of promised land. As my horizons grew from a distance I watched my father in his Hollywood world. Identified with my brothers with their American passports. I loved my visits to New York and Boston. At one point dreamed of going to the States to live. 

Luckily I didn’t. 

Progressively I realised that the place full of energy and creativity I desired and hoped for was in serious social trouble.

Let me be cynical –  

Can I forget the guns? perhaps. It’s a cultural thing. Guantanamo bay? Not a perfect solution. creates lots of enemies but… Can I gloss over the bigotry, the double standards and corruption? Of course. Happens everywhere. Violent policing? comes with the package.  

The thing that shocks me most is the awfulness of the gargantuan prison system. I can’t find an excuse for it.

And unlike the rest it is fixable. I’m sure.

A biosystemic approach to group management

When I work with creativity groups I generate a creative wave of activity and emotion through which the group’s feelings flow and the cognative can take root.

The technique is particularly useful in  group dynamics. allowing a natural flow of ideation and critical selection which overcomes the shortfall of traditional brainstorming methodologies, supposedly weak on the confrontation of ideas. 

Here I present the basic flow using the autonomic nervous system as an observable calibrating tool.

This approach was developed by the late Jerome Liss M.D. an American psychiatrist  building on the experimental data of Ernst Gellhorn professor of neurophysiology  and the ground breaking work of professor Henri Laborit on inhibition of action and stress. 

The video was shot and edited by Laurence Honnorat, CEO of Innovaxiom. Many thanks Laurence!