CorporateCoach eNewsletter

Issue No. 47, 23rd February 2004


  1. Editorial: Great leaps of learning
  2. Coaching notes: The blue tit and the milk bottle

1.     Editorial: Great leaps of learning

Richard Winfield - editor and principal consultantJust imagine a world in which you would grow up in a permanent struggle for survival, have lots of children and, when your children are off your hands, die exhausted.

Then imagine a world in which you grew up, had children and, when your children were off your hands, had energy and life for another ten or twenty years. Not only you, but your friends too.

In the second scenario you might spend time thinking about the world and your experience. You might discuss it with your friends. You might make discoveries or develop new ideas. Longevity and leisure contribute to learning.

Just imagine a world in which you never stray more than ten miles from your own village. Then imagine a world in which people are able to travel around their own country and some people even to travel across continents. Knowledge and ideas travel with them.

Just imagine a world in which knowledge was recorded and transmitted by monks copying books by hand with a quill pen. Then consider the invention of the printing press. Many copies of any text can be manufactured and passed to others.

Consider the impact of mass communication, mass travel and satellite broadcasting. Knowledge is let loose and information and ideas can permeate all corners of the world.

Just imagine a world in which regions and nations have their own language. Then imagine a world in which one language becomes dominant.

Now think of the world that we live in. English is spoken widely across the planet and the Internet not only makes knowledge available to anyone but introduces powerful search facilities, e-mail, newsletters and discussion groups. Now ideas can travel instantly and can be developed dynamically as they travel around the world.

We live at an exciting time. We are living longer, travelling more. We are healthier and wealthier. We have access to unprecedented communications. Knowledge is set free of institutional controls and we can learn for ourselves.

We have seen many changes and developments as a direct result of developments in IT and the Internet. But the greatest changes we have yet meet. For we live at one of the critical stages in history when changes in the political, social and technical environments lead to a great leap of learning.

But, a warning. Such times have occurred before. If we look back on great civilisations of the past like Rome and China and India, the Aztecs, we realise that not only have these civilisations disappeared, but civilisation itself, and knowledge, have disappeared with them. It seems impossible that knowledge can die. But it did.

As a member of the CorporateCoach community, I guess you too are committed to learning and development. The example that we set will influence each of the other communities we touch.

May we all be custodians of knowledge and the practice of learning. May we ensure that the organisations we work in are learning organisations.



Calling consultants, coaches, trainers and potential associates

Build a successful consultancy business Brefi Group is to launch a two-day workshop that will combine NLP skills and marketing strategies to help you accelerate the growth of your consulting, training or coaching business. As well as practical help and advice, you will use some of the unique Brefi tools and techniques.

Specifically, you will hear about:-

  • How Brefi Group built a powerful leads generator on the Internet
  • Why you should start building a business profile before giving up the day job
  • A high speed strategy for getting yourself known
  • How a pricing change helped an SME consulting business take off
  • Building a network of networks

If you would like to meet the leading lights in Brefi Group and learn from our experience, then click here to find out more. Should you later be accepted for the full Brefi Associates accreditation programme, this workshop may be counted as a credit.

We intend to restrict numbers for this event, which is priced to be accessible and affordable. For more information and to register an interest, please contact

2.    Coaching notes: The blue tit and the milk bottle

The United Kingdom has a long standing system of delivering milk in bottles to the door. At the beginning of the 20th century these milk bottles had no top. Birds had easy access to the cream which settled in the top of the bottle. Two different species of British garden birds, the blue tits and red robins, learned to siphon up cream from the bottles and tap this new, rich food source.

This innovation, in itself, was already quite an achievement. But it also had an evolutionary effect. The cream was much richer than the usual food sources of these birds, and the two species underwent some adaptation of their digestive systems to cope with the unusual nutrients. This internal adaptation almost certainly took place through Darwinian selection.

Then, between the two world wars, the UK dairy distributors closed access to the food source by placing aluminium seals on their bottles.

By the early 1950's the entire blue tit population of the UK, about a million birds, had learned how to pierce the aluminium seals. Regaining access to this rich food source provided an important victory for the blue tit family as a whole; it gave them an advantage in the battle for survival. Conversely, the robins, as a family, never regained access to the cream. Occasionally, an individual robin learns how to pierce the seals of the milk bottle. But the knowledge never passes to the rest of the species.

In short, the blue tits went through an extraordinarily successful institutional learning process. The robins failed, even though individual robins had been as innovative as individual blue tits. Moreover, the difference could not be attributed to their ability to communicate. As songbirds, both the blue tits and the robins had the same wide range of means of communication: colour, behaviour, movements, and song. The explanation could be found only in the social propagation process: the way blue tits spread their skill from one individual to members of the species as a whole.

In spring, the blue tits live in couples until they have reared their young. By early summer, when the young blue tits are flying and feeding on their own, we see birds moving from garden to garden in flocks of eight to ten individuals. These flocks seem to remain intact, moving together around the countryside, and the period of mobility lasts for two to three months.

Robins, by contrast, are territorial birds. A male robin will not allow another male to enter its territory. When threatened, the robin sends a warning, as if to say "Keep the hell out of here." In general, red robins tend to communicate with each other in an antagonistic manner, with fixed boundaries that they do not cross.

Birds that flock, seem to learn faster. They increase their chances to survive and evolve more quickly.

Arie de Geus, The Living Company, Nicholas Brealey


HOT NEWS: Making it Happen™ – sales take off

Making It Happen™, published in February, is the sequel to our best selling resource 7 Ways to Figure out What You Want™. This 33 page guide and workbook is for those who want to find the easiest and most enjoyable way to make their goals happen.

Written in an accessible and practical style, it contains practical exercises and useful advice designed to help you find your motivation, overcome procrastination and begin to make your future into reality.

The exercises cover:

  • Finding out what drives you
  • How to put off procrastination
  • Getting the best feedback on your performance
  • Asking for help (and getting it)
  • Mapping out the future
  • And finally, the Acid Test
  • It also includes First Aid: for when you don't make it happen.

Although primarily aimed at individuals, Making It Happen is a creative resource that can be used by teams, in workshops or by managers one-to-one.

Click here to find out more.

We aim to make the Brefi Group web site the premier developmental site for teams and individuals in organisations, so do please send us your suggestions and requests for further development. And let us know what you think of this newsletter, and comment on the content.

THIS IS A FREE PUBLICATION! Please SHARE it willingly with a friend or colleague who could benefit from knowing more about corporate coaching.

Copyright 2004 all rights reserved.

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Brefi Group is a change management organisation that provides corporate coaching, consultancy, facilitation and training. Be sure to visit the Brefi Group web site at

We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:

Telephone: 08450 678 222, or +44 (0) 121 704 2006 (international)