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Sticky dots can change your life

Getting on brilliantly: recipes for managing successful meetings. Annette Zera and Susan Murphy. Workbook and CD published by National Institute of Adult Continuing (England and Wales) ISBN 1-86201-204-0, pound;65

Getting on brilliantly is a workbook of over 100 recipes for mobilising the energy, commitment, intelligence and imagination of staff in order to radically improve organisational success.

Everybody responsible for groups of people working together (including teachers, team leaders, section heads, managers and principals) will find this an invaluable and unique resource.

The book is split into differemt problems that need to be solved by meetings - analysing situations, sharing ideas, sorting priorities, getting past difficulties, dealing with conflict - with suggested processes or recipes for doing so .

The guide is modelled on a good recipe book. Each recipe explains its intended outcome and, in concise step-by-step bullet points, what to do.

Side bars indicate how long each part of the process will take, and the materials that will be needed (marker pens, flip chart, sticky dots etc).

One of the strengths of this book is how clear and concise the recipes are.

Before you meet next to, say, plan next year's provision, improve relationships with local schools, or get communication right, you will need just a few minutes to choose the right recipe to use for the meeting.

Some of the tools use simple worksheets but these can either be printed off the accompanying CD or photocopied from the book. Getting On Brilliantly has been produced by Annette Zera, former principal of the highly successful Tower Hamlets College, and Susan Murray, a consultant who, likeher co-author, has used these ideas extensively and successfully.

Typical of the activities in the book would be the "medicine wheel" tool, designed to diagnose how well-balanced the four key organisational elements (leadership, vision, community and management) are in your institution.

Each person has four sticky dots that they attach to one or more of these elements to demonstrate where they feel the organisation's strengths are.

Having recognised the collective judgement, the group discusses the causes of the strengths and the responses needed to resolve weaknesses, and produces an action plan.

This book is useful and inspiring. It reminds us that leadership that values people and fosters their vitality, ideas and commitment is also the kind of leadership that gets the best results. Every college should have a copy for its staff development library.

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