NEW: Developing Strategy in Volatile Times Course

December 1, 2017

Our Learning & Development partners at Mindshop have created a new course, based on the knowledge gained by Mindshop Advisor, Mike Burke’s successful completion of the ‘Strategy in Competitive Markets’ course at the HAAS School of Business, University of California, Berkeley.

We’re looking for three business leaders to trial this 15 module online course.  Each leader must provide us with constructive feedback based on how they applied this course to their business.

You will consider the global impacts of change, including technology, competitive landscape, cost reduction and opportunity.  You’ll learn how to test the strategy, increase the likelihood of successful implementation.  The 15 modules include:  Share of Market Spend, Technology Impact, The Blank Canvas, Future Competitors, Standing out from the pack – Developing your SCA, Global Opportunity, Change Success Model and Measuring and Policing your Strategy.

If want to help Susannah trial this course, get in touch.

Your Weekly Aspirin: Scenario Planning – The Business World in 2025

November 4, 2016

Yesterday, with our peer group of top UK Business Advisors, we reviewed the capabilities we’d need in 2025! No one knows what the world will look like – especially in terms of technology, in 2025. Sounds bold – but in 2000 could you have predicted where we are now, especially in terms of smartphones, apps and the cloud? Read more

Time to say Goodbye?

October 14, 2016

In a competitive world where customers are at a premium, surely our highest priority is to get as many as we can..or is it?  What if one or some of your customers don’t fit with your business ethos and/or values?  What if, in real terms, they cost you more in time & effort than the financial return……would you have the bravery to walk away? Read more

One Day to Save your Business

July 21, 2016

For any of you that have seen the movie ‘Flash Gordon’, you will know there are two stand out quotes. The first comes from the national treasure that is Brian Blessed with that booming voice declaring :-

“Gordon’s alive!!” Read more

What motivates you to drive change in 2016?

June 20, 2016

At her debut Mindshop UK Conference for Business Advisors at the Waldorf Hilton Hotel in London, our Susannah Brade-Waring was asked to deliver a presentation on ‘What motivates you to drive change in 2016?” Read more

Fit, lean and agile teams – getting fit for change

June 7, 2016

by Paul Kinvig and Susannah Brade-Waring – Business Coaches & Facilitators with Aspirin Business Solutions


The Scottish golf club Muirfield’s decision not to change its 272 year men-only membership policy has proved to be very costly, as it’s lost the right to stage one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world – The Open.  By contrast, it came as a real surprise to us just how many world changing inventions/ discoveries/ innovations can be attributed to Scotland and its people. Here are just a few – pneumatic tyre, telephone, television, hypodermic syringe, penicillin, flush toilets and refrigerators.

Contrast that again to the high speed world of Formula 1, which has made a number of mind-blowing changes – for example moving from being predominantly funded by cigarette advertising prior to its international ban, and in achieving the seemingly impossible feat of a sub 3 second pit stop.

In order to survive and thrive as an organisation, the need to both embrace and drive change has passed from being an option to a fundamental requirement.

Racing drivers know that going slow into the bend allows us to be faster going out.  Leaders who deliver change successfully, know the same holds true for organisations.  So it’s in the preparation for change that the race is won.

Whilst every organisation is going through change, for some it is slow and predictable. Whereas, the retail market is moving so quickly it’s difficult to know what we need to change to, let alone how we do that.  The best we can do is become more agile, leaner and well-equipped so we are fit and ready for change.  And, the golden lining, when the team are ready, they’ll start to drive the change themselves.

So, how do we become more agile, leaner and well-equipped?  Here are 3 things to consider:

1. Re-recruit

We’re very familiar with re-recruiting for sporting teams, picking the players who’ll help us achieve our objectives for the next season.  But what if we applied the same policy to our teams?  After all, even if we are in the same role today as we were 2 years ago, it’s highly likely that the requirements of the job have changed.  So bearing in mind the current and foreseeable future requirements of your team, who would you automatically re-recruit, who will make the grade given training, mentoring or coaching, and who probably won’t?  We acknowledge that this idea will feel intensely uncomfortable to some, however we’re actually being much fairer to everyone if we acknowledge the likely struggle to keep up and, as leaders, to face this head-on.  A good test of whether we need to think about re-recruiting is that when a vacancy comes up, do we just automatically use the same job description?  And if someone is unlikely to ‘make the grade’ they may thrive incredibly well in a redefined job role.


 2. Develop an ethos of team working

Change brings new challenges and uncertainty.  Therefore, the need for people to work together as teams, with trust and appreciation for each others’ talents increases significantly.  Consider, if you will, two examples – firstly that of a flock of geese who would never migrate if they couldn’t depend on each other, and secondly the F1 pit stops – where a sub 3 second pit stop utterly depends on having the right people, in the right roles with the right equipment.

Teams waste time and energy when there is an atmosphere of mistrust and blame and lose focus on achieving what is ahead because they are looking around and behind them.  This is often exemplified by team members not believing that change is necessary, that there’s a hidden agenda or not trusting others to get their part of the work done.  And, it can be easier to fail by refusing to participate, than to be seen to fail if we can’t deliver the new requirements.

If we are to build agility into our teams so that change is embraced and, in many cases, driven, we have to create this culture of trust by communicating effectively, being honest and authentic, sharing information and actually always ‘doing the right thing’, even when it is tough and has challenging implications. Being consistent in these areas creates that culture by demonstrating it in our behaviour as leaders AND thus demanding it from our teams.

However there is one more area that we need to examine and it is that of…


3. Create a culture of motivation and accountability

You have to expect that with a former Finance Director as our leader, we believe accountability is a critical success factor.  And yet this issue of accountability is a thorny one in that knowing what to hold people accountable to, and how to hold them accountable can leave us scratching our heads (or walking away), and we sometimes think it applies to our team – but not us, as leaders.  And yet if we want to make our teams agile and responsive then accountability is one of the keys to this.

It’s defined in the Business Dictionary as –

“The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.”

If we look at the definition, the words underlined give us an indication as to key areas of focus. Each individual within the team needs to know exactly what is expected of them in terms of their activities and to what level so that the results can be accounted for without ambiguity or confusion i.e. in a transparent manner.

Contrary to what you might think, research shows that this principle of accountability has a very positive effect in respect of accuracy of work, problem solving, decision making, colleague co-operation and team satisfaction. It’s our responsibility to be accountable ourselves so that that authenticity moves through the team….there is no blame or vindictiveness…it’s just the way we do things!

And whilst we firmly believe in the principle of accountability, we also firmly believe in motivation – of creating the conditions that create a great place to work.  Being able to take pride in our work through a job well done, is a fundamental aspect of this.


At Aspirin Business Solutions, we take pride in creating great results for our clients.  Helping leaders and their teams adapt to change successfully, is critical in achieving their wider goals – such as succession planning, increasing profitable growth and in ensuring organisations will survive and thrive in a changing marketplace.

Our Seven Factors to Faster Growth model fuses people and processes to release the potential in individuals, teams and organisations.  It allows our clients to scope out the intended future through vision, strategy and mission and identify how to implement and deliver that through values, objectives and team performance – and then to define and increase the capability of leaders, managers and teams accordingly.

seven steps


If this article resonates with you, we’d love to explore how we could help you achieve your organisation’s goals.  Please get in touch and let’s talk.


T: 01202 801187

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Aspirin in the community: Twilight Walk

June 7, 2016

24-May-Twilight-WalkThe Twilight Walk for Women returned to Bournemouth seafront for the sixth year running on May 20, All money raised from the event went towards women’s health services at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital and for the third year running the event was hosted by Aspirin’s own Paul Kinvig.

As well as compering the event and introducing special guests for the evening, Paul interviewed participants before the event started and as they completed the course uncovering some wonderfully inspiring & heartwarming stories regarding how they have faced and embraced the life changing circumstances they have found themselves in.   

The event encouraged fundraisers to form a sea of pink and take part in the 1k, 5k or 10k walk along the seafront with more than 350 former patients, local residents and hospital staff strolling in their pink Twilight t-shirts at sunset.

Paul Kinvig, Business Coach & Facilitator with Aspirin said

“This is the third year I’ve been involved with this wonderful event and each time I come away inspired by the stories of the participants. Their willingness to embrace the change that has been forced upon them and in many cases to use it as a way of achieving inspirational things is truly humbling. Whether it is families running in memory of lost loved ones, patients who are undergoing treatment yet still running or those who have beaten illness and wanting to say thank you, one cannot help but reflect on the courage of the participants.”

Barry Wilson, Community & Fundraising Officer at RBHC commented

“It’s always difficult to keep interest in an event when it has been going for six years but we are very fortunate to have a very worthy cause behind us and are extremely lucky to have great supporters! Over 300 signed up to take part in the Twilight Walk for women and the atmosphere was fantastic! The participants will make a real difference to the women’s health unit at the Royal Bournemouth Hospital”

Aspirin’s involvement in the Twilight Walk is part of its ongoing commitment to supporting the wider community in which it operates, adding to its involvement in such things as Diverse Abilities, Lewis Manning Hospice & Mayor Of Poole’s Charities.

Top 10 Business Leaders’ Insights for 2016

June 1, 2016

We might not know exactly what the future will look like, but we can equip ourselves to be ready.  At our recent Business Leaders’ Academy, our members shared their insights into the challenges and opportunities for 2016 – including Brexit, technology and being agile.

Then we shared the Top 10 Insights from our partners at Mindshop, who surveyed 128 business leaders around the world to gather feedback on emerging business trends, training needs, opportunities & challenges.

Business Leader Insights Infographic

The full report from Mindshop, along with a short video from Mindshop’s James Mason, can be found here: Top 10 Business Leader Insights.

As partners with Mindshop, Aspirin Business Solutions can support you and your business with prioritising these Insights to meet your business goals, and developing and implementing solutions.



Which came first – the leader or the training?

May 25, 2016

by Susannah Brade-Waring and Paul Kinvig – Business Coaches & Facilitators with Aspirin Business Solutions


In a recent Radio 4 programme, Melvyn Bragg described how the Greek mythological creatures ‘The Muses’ descended upon individuals, transforming and enabling them to be better, more creative & knowledgeable than they were before.

It’s strange but in many organisations we almost expect our managers to become leaders in the same way – some magical external force will provide them with the skills and mindset necessary to become leaders as soon as they are promoted, or as the situation requires, with little guidance, training or coaching.  And this can leave them in a position to create damage and be damaged, and potentially be put off leadership forever.

The reality is people are often called to be leaders before they are fully equipped to do the job, probably because they’re already exhibiting leadership traits and tendencies.

This is fascinating to us at Aspirin Business, because we’ve seen how this ‘am I or aren’t I?’ style of leadership changes the dynamics and relationships within teams and can be unsettling.  From Motivational Maps, we know that just because the person acts like a leader, doesn’t mean they’re motivated to lead, or to want responsibility for a team or project.  In fact, our data shows many people actively avoid it, despite having the potential.  That creates great frustration for their managers who offer extra responsibility and/ or Leadership Development, only to find the individual doesn’t show the expected enthusiasm for the opportunity, or deliver the expected change in behaviour.

If you’re confused, you’re not alone.  Recognising that just because it motivates us, doesn’t mean it motivates others, is a leadership challenge.  Understanding what to do about that is another.

Bill Murphy Jr’s article, entitled ‘7 Things Great Leaders Always Do (but Mere Managers Always Fear’ helps to identifies some of this, by identifying significant differences between leaders and managers.   These differences are not in what they do, but in their mindset and what they believe.  For example, Bill Murphy identifies that real leaders are thrilled when team members achieve great things, whereas ‘mere managers’ are threatened.

So which comes first – the leader or the training?

Before the training, there are some incredibly important steps that help future leaders understand what being a leader means, and how that differs not just in behaviour but in how we think about things.  (In a strange way it’s similar in going from GSCEs to A-levels, where you’re pretty much told to forget everything you’ve learned so far.)

Being mentored and coached through these steps helps them to develop their natural leadership style that enables them to wear and wield the mantle of leadership lightly, in a way that will enable them and their colleagues to enjoy and value their role as an effective leader.  Three of these steps are:

Focus on becoming comfortable with uncertainty and not having all the answers.

By definition leaders lead.  They need to switch from looking inwards at the tasks and details, to look outwards at the market, the opportunities and risks.  Therefore, they have to become comfortable with not knowing everything, not being the most capable person in the team and with not following the norm.  Instead leaders scope out the short and long-term future, using the best knowledge they have, whilst recognising this may and probably will change.  Leaders identify others who have subject matter expertise, knowledge and experience, and recognise their own role shifts from being the expert themselves to creating the conditions for others to deliver their best performance as part of the overall objective.  Leaders challenge the norms in order to raise the bar, invite different perspectives to their own and then manage the team to create structures & processes that will get the desired goals achieved.

How many of your current managers raise the bar on a regular basis?  How many encourage and support others to shine brightly?  Are they working in a supportive culture that allows them to do so?


Focus on behaviour not title

The fact that we’ve given someone a title does not automatically make them a leader… whatever the size of team. Whilst the position will (and should) command a level of respect, it’s exhibiting the right kind of behaviours that generates and retains long term respect, inspires people to emulate them, engenders commitment and encourages improved performance. In current business, the days of ‘command & control’ compliance simply because of the ‘rank’ of the order giver are gone. If we’ve learned anything in recent years on engaging employees for improved performance, it’s this – leaders walk it like they talk it! If the words & the actions don’t match then look out. As the saying goes……”people join companies & leave managers!”

What are the correct behaviours you want to encourage in your future leaders to enable them to lead effectively? Are you a leader they want to emulate?  If they can ‘crack’ this before they’re given the title or authority, then people will treat them like leaders anyway – and they’ll experience leadership as natural and enjoyable.


Focus on people not tasks

We need to coach our future leaders to get caught up in people not in tasks. Let’s be clear, tasks are vitally important in goal achievement but if we want to encourage our future leaders, then the phrase ‘lead the business or department, manage the team’ becomes our mantra to them. Understanding what motivates teams, creating goals that inspire and clear targets and expectations they understand and are held accountable to, along with consistency, authenticity and an ability to develop loyalty are all hallmarks of being people rather than task focused.

Take a look at your managers – how many of them are primarily task focused? Could it be that focusing on their people doesn’t motivate them?  Unless it does, they’ll struggle to learn the associated skills and empathy – because it just doesn’t interest them.


Helping our future leaders step up is not fundamentally about titles and personality…. it’s about mindset & behaviour.   And we can all create opportunities for our future leaders to understand, observe and practice that before we place the heavy expectations that come with titles, formal training and significant additional responsibilities.


Here, at Aspirin Business Solutions, we’re great at building strong Senior Teams and developing future leaders.  We help help in all sorts of ways – but primarily in identifying and developing both their strengths and weaknesses, developing their mindset and skills, and applying that to their work.

Current and future leaders play a significant part in our Seven Factors to Faster Growth – they are a core part of the team that will develop and deliver the strategy to take the organisation forward.

seven steps


We’d love to explore how we could help you develop your future leaders.  Please get in touch to arrange a conversation.


T: 01202 801187

or sign up to our newsletter: