Leadership & Management

Digistraction & Connection – December 2021

By Interpersonal Skills, Leadership & Management, News

Digistraction & Connection – December 2021


“Digistraction is the result of multiple digital media and devices colonising our attention.”

Nancy Kline

Stop! Thief!

If someone stole your property, wouldn’t you complain?

Of course you would. So why do we allow digital devices and platforms to steal our time and attention without challenge?

It’s not even without challenge. They do it by invitation and with our consent and compliance.

So, why should we care about Digistraction? Because our propensity for consumption of information, data and media is having a detrimental effect on our health, relationships and performance at work.

“Continuous partial attention is an always on, anytime, anyplace anywhere behaviour that creates an artificial sense of crisis.”                                             

Linda Stone, Microsoft

The competition for our attention is heavily skewed away from us as users and the attention economy spends all its time getting us to care about things we didn’t want to care about. The temptations are ever-present, especially if we can’t’ let go of the blue light from our devices long before bedtime. It affects our sleep, other non-work activities (leisure, cooking, housework, socialising & fitness) and work itself. It can range from so-called clickbait to far more intrusive and repetitive distractions that take us and our minds away from what we planned or hoped to do.

Are we doomed, or can we do anything about it? Luckily, all is not lost but we need to face up to it and stop pretending we are unaffected. We should also stop kidding ourselves that we can multitask successfully and have adapted to a new way of managing our attention.

A checklist could include:

  • Turn off all notifications
  • Delete as many apps as you can
  • Turn your colour palette to greyscale
  • Distance yourself from your devices – especially at night
  • Manage your life by yourself and don’t rely on hardware or software to do it


Try this for a few weeks and see what difference it makes. Hopefully, at least, you will sleep better and find you can concentrate for longer periods. Remember, it’s a lopsided contest and each time we open a social media app, there are 1,000 people on the other side of the screen paid to keep us there.

If you want to take it further, or introduce the concept to your team, talk to us about it and let us share even more secrets of how to avoid digistraction.


Have you lost your connection?

Since the initial lockdown, we have all found work hugely different and no one is finding it easier, even if we enjoy the short commute!

One of the main missing features has been the loss of connection between managers and their teams and within teams themselves now that people meet so rarely. Hybrid working in whatever form may be only part of the answer, given the fragmented nature of remote and workplace arrangements.

Of course, connection may not be entirely lost. It may be just dormant and awaiting a spark to re-ignite it. Many of the factors that improve cohesion and togetherness at work can still be there. They may only need a wakeup call.

Daniel Coyle, author of The Culture Code” talks about highly successful teams and organisations using a set of “belonging cues.” These are ways that people who work together send messages to each other that affirm “you are safe here.”

The basic qualities are:

  • Energy – they invest in the exchange that is occurring
  • Individualisation – they treat the person as unique and valued
  • Future orientation – they signal the relationship will continue

Taken together, they combine to create a quality of communication that is soft, yet rich and powerful.

These are quite common features of high-performing teams that Coyle has studied in a variety of situations, including: creative industries, media, military, professional sports, manufacturing, hospitality & retail.

In such teams, belonging cues contribute to success in five measurable ways:

  1. Everyone in the group talks & listens in equal measure, keeping contributions short
  2. Members maintain high levels of eye contact and their conversations and gestures are energetic
  3. Members communicate directly with one another, not just with the team leader
  4. Members carry on back-channel or side conversations within the team
  5. Members periodically break, go exploring outside the team, and bring information back to share with the others

These factors ignore every individual skill and attribute we usually associate with high-performing groups and replace them with behaviours we would normally consider as quite primitive and lacking in sophistication. And yet, the signalling that certain primates engage in with each other can be harnessed to achieve extraordinary performance and success in human teams.

Researchers like Sandy Pentland also endorse this stating that simply hearing something doesn’t result in changes in behaviour. Normally we think that words matter, and that group performance correlates with its members’ verbal intelligence and their ability to construct and communicate complex ideas. But that assumption is wrong.

Words are noise and group performance depends on behaviour that communicates one powerful overarching idea: We are safe and connected.

Translating these concepts and the resulting behavioural change into a digital or hybrid workplace is challenging but possible. It takes trust and commitment as well as skill. If you’d like to explore these ideas with us to help support your workforce as they work through the changes in the world of work, please get in touch. We’d be delighted to talk with you.

Leadership Development & Team Coaching

By Coaching, Leadership & Management

Leadership Development & Team Coaching

Team Coaching

In addition to growing our current Executive Coaching portfolio, we have been working hard on rolling out Team Coaching with a number of clients. This offers the opportunity to work collectively with senior and experienced teams to help them think through, plan or implement some changes that are best worked on together. This is an exciting and rewarding approach to working with teams and offers a highly effective alternative to full day strategy and team events. Of course, these will still have their place, but in the current climate, it is impossible to run or even plan for these.

Team Coaching is a dynamic and action-focused approach to taking teams through a journey of change, growth and development and  can work alongside 121 coaching or independently, depending on the team’s needs and where they are in terms of their own maturity.

Teams might wish to undertake this as part of their overall development or in relation to specific challenges. At present and in the near future, we can see several changes building up or being planned, and a team approach may be fruitful with changes in structure and remits, for example.

In some teams, it may be about how they re-build or adapt to vastly changed circumstances or understand each other better and assist their performance growth through the use of team coaching that they undertake together.

If you would like to learn more about this new approach, please get in touch at

Leadership Development when you don’t quite know what you want – yet!

Towards the end of last year, we were asked by a client to help design a leadership programme for a senior team. The challenge was that they were already high performing and that they had been provided with development programmes before and hadn’t found that they were getting any benefit from them. Not only that, but some of the team had even stopped attending, figuring there were better ways to spend their valuable time. Nevertheless, the client (and the team) still felt they would like to develop their leadership which was becoming more of a priority during lockdown – they just hadn’t found the right way yet. So, could we help them?

We met with the client and heard about the team. We then met with the team and heard from the members themselves. They were a big team – around 20 in all and were more used to working solo than together but would be open to trying different ways of learning together.

So, we came up with the idea of using Rocket, our business simulation platform as a way of engaging with the team and allowing us to diagnose some of the diverse needs that would be made more explicit by the way they played the game together.

Having set up the day for playing the game, the client explained that a number of the team were home schooling and would find it hard to commit to an extended session. So, we thought again and broke the session down into 3 separate modules that represented the levels of the game but took place over 3-4 weeks.

We had never attempted this before but were prepared to take the risk and the team were really happy with the opportunity. It has opened up new possibilities for their development and enabled them to see themselves more clearly. In addition, it has given us further tools to diagnose the development needs of a team and enabled us to create some programme options for them that will stretch them further and provide the stimulus they were previously lacking from other forms of development.

If you, or your team are looking for new ways and opportunities to improve connection and leadership during lockdown, please get in touch at

Our latest news

By Coaching, Leadership & Management, News, Webinars

Our latest news

Client News

All our clients genuinely matter to us in any year and we are extremely grateful for your support this year in particular. It’s therefore unfair to single people out but a key feature of this year has been in 2 distinct areas:

  • New clients that we have welcomed and,
  • New work carried out for existing clients

New clients are welcome anytime and it’s been great that people have come to work with us during lockdown and without us being able to do our usual visiting and networking. The list includes:

  • Scottish Government International Trade & Investment – a conference using Zoom in October
  • NHS ARHAI (Antimicrobial Resistance and Healthcare Associated Infection) – running a series of team development events
  • Dumfries & Galloway College – Executive Coaching & Facilitation of Team and Board sessions
  • Hutcheson Associates – Executive & Business Coaching
  • NHS National Services Division – conference OD session on resilience, morale & change
  • 1Let – Senior Team Development
  • Scottish Cities Alliance – Career Development Workshops
  • Scotland IS – team building using Rocket simulation

New work for existing clients includes:

  • Ofgem – Webinars & Career Development Workshops
  • Education Scotland – new style influence programme to reflect remote working
  • Universities Scotland – Team development & working group sessions
  • NHS NSS – weekly webinars on a variety of leadership topics
  • Renfrewshire Council – a variety of activities, including webinars, 121 coaching, facilitation of workshops & recruitment
  • CompanyNet – rebranding workshops

Product News

We have all learned a lot the past few months and particularly about the different ways that people learn and work in a remote workplace. The Future Proof Learning team have been putting this knowledge to use recently and have been designing and creating some exciting new products which can be delivered entirely online.

Firstly, we are delighted to announce that, in partnership with Manabu Learning, we have begun running virtual escape rooms! We have a series of games where teams of players must work together, communicate effectively and problem-solve their way through a number of challenges in order to escape. The games are designed to test your teamworking and communication skills as well as your ability to think outside of the box. The games are run on Zoom so you can access them from a computer, laptop, tablet or even a smartphone. Each event lasts no longer than two hours and we can accommodate groups of 8-80 people although we will require additional facilitators for larger groups. Christmas parties are not going to be the same as what we are used to so this could be a brilliant alternative to enjoy some well-earned festive fun together as a team. It could also be a great tool for providing some social interaction for staff which is highly sought after and hard to replicate in a virtual environment.

As you will have seen from our previous updates and our new website, we have been focusing heavily on redesigning our products and services to suit online working. Over the last few months, we have redesigned our training programme for the highly effective transformational change method AOD (Assured Outcome Delivery) to be run entirely online and remotely. Just this week, Willie has been running a session via Microsoft Teams for a large public sector organisation in England and the feedback has been very positive. The future of AOD online is very exciting and in conjunction with our partners at the Outcome Delivery Network, we’re hoping to roll out a series of these training sessions throughout 2021.

Our series of webinars has been running since April and we’ve really appreciated your contributions and kind feedback. Some of our clients have requested that we run some bespoke webinars in-house for their own teams and we’re delighted to say that these have also been very well received. We’re looking forward to starting the next set of webinars in the new year, so please do let us know if there are any topics you’d like us to cover.

If you would like to hear more about our services or to find out how we could help you and your organisation, please get in touch at

Team News

We have had a few changes in the team this year to update you on:

Denise Campbell – Denise re-joins the team properly, following her relocation from Yorkshire back to Leith. Welcome home Denise – it’s great to have you back!

Luke & Hazel Robertson – Luke & Hazel have been working with us to design and deliver the webinars this year and to contribute to our work on resilience and coaching. Delighted to be working with you both

William Redpath – Will joins us following our partnership with Manabu Learning to work with us on Virtual Escape Rooms and other Virtual Team Products. Exciting new frontiers of work Will!

While 2020 has been an unprecedented year it has not been all bad for the Maltman family! We were delighted when David and Laura announced they are expecting a baby in early 2021. Willie and Barbara are very excited about welcoming their first grandchild into the world and with the advent of the Covid-19 vaccine, it will hopefully be a safer world.

Future Proof Learning are also pleased to announce that David has recently been promoted to Associate Director and he is looking forward to taking on more of the leadership of the business overall.

The good news didn’t end there – we got a lovely surprise when our daughter Sarah and her boyfriend Craig announced their engagement in September. We now have a wedding to look forward to in August 2022 when Corona Virus will hopefully be a thing of the past. It will be the celebration of the century – music, dancing, hugging!! Life is good! 😊

Future Skills Index – Top 10 Skills for the Future

By Interpersonal Skills, Leadership & Management, News

Future Skills Index – Top 10 Skills for the Future

The world of work is changing very rapidly, and we have a lot of catching up to do to match that pace. Since I set up the new business, I’ve been giving a lot of thought to the way we are likely to work in the future and in particular, the skills we will need. That may not be the skills we will need most as individuals, but the skills our organisations will require to sustain and improve. This is critical for young (and older) people in the workplace and those about to enter.

With that in mind, we’ve been working on a Future Skills Index that we hope gives some shape to the potential demands our organisations and people face. The list below is drawn from a recent survey of our clients and our wider network.

  1. Collaboration
  2. Digital
  3. Innovation
  4. Critical Thinking
  5. Learning
  6. Flexibility
  7. Problem Solving, Social Perceptiveness, People Management, Influence, Service Orientation
  8. Active Listening, Decision Making
  9. Finance, Information Ordering, Time Management
  10. Reading, Writing, Speaking, Science, Operations Analysis, Instructing

We asked people to rate, from a longer list, the 5 most critical skills that their organisations and people needed to acquire, maintain, or develop. Our observations are that some of these are what we would expect in terms of looking to the future, such as: digital & innovation. However, there was a fair degree of support for more “traditional” skills such as: reading, writing & speaking. In addition, it was encouraging to see the emphasis people placed on learning, critical thinking & active listening as well as the inclusion of people management – one that we hope never goes away!

It’s our intention to continue monitoring how trends emerge and develop and to update this at least annually. If you have any favourites, or particular points of emphasis, or even questions about why some things are missing, please get in touch and keep the conversation going.

Are you Intelligent – or Emotionally Intelligent?

By Interpersonal Skills, Leadership & Management

Are you Intelligent – or Emotionally Intelligent?

Research indicates that Emotional Intelligence can account for around 80% of the reasons why people are successful in work & life. We are delighted to announce a new partnership with CCR3, the global diagnostics and people development consultancy. This partnership will offer us access to an even wider range of personality and ability measurement tools, including the EQ Discovery Process. This exciting diagnostic tool enables us to understand how we think and make decisions in both our personal and professional lives. It’s fundamentally important to understand how we actually do this, as it’s the first step to exceptional decision making on a consistent basis.

There are 3 styles of thinking which determine how you view everything. These are: Empathy, Practical and Systemic thinking. The combined scoring of all 3 dimensions that have the appropriate bias will determine how balanced your thinking and decision-making is. The reports that we produce illuminate your thinking and decision-making style to help you become more balanced, and the more balanced you can be in making a decision, the better the decision!

This is known as your Talent Engine and the aim is to get a balance of all three dimensions when thinking and making a decision. If you want to find out more about your own talent or potential for enhancing your decision-making, why not sign up for a free report?

For any enquiries or to complete the EQ Discovery Process, please email us at