Tag Archive for: Processes

Set of red lips

Processes matter

I worked with a teacher recently, and they described how they made their class accountable for setting homework. They did this by taking advantage of the school merit system, awarding five points to the young person who reminded them to set the homework. What a great processes!

Was this bribery or a great process created in partnership?

Much of my work around neurodiversity is about helping individuals build processes that enable them to amplify their strengths and manage the things they find difficult. It’s rather like taking your car for a service. Yes, your car runs fine, but could it run better…probably?

Well, that’s very much like human beings and the processes we use to do everyday life.

It could be how:

  • You manage your workload
  • Relationships with colleagues
  • Relationships with customers
  • Project delivery
  • Or just how you manage to get to work.

All these things are processes, and as we learn how to do them well, we must write them down or record them to reflect on what’s working and what’s not.

Could you write the process down?

Once we’ve written it down, it allows us to evaluate what’s working when our metaphorical wheels come off the rails.

Once we have a process recorded, we can evaluate how well it works and manage how we can improve it.

Sounds a bit like a project?

I’d argue that this is a project that helps us and our team’s function more effectively. But we can only do this successfully if we understand where we’re starting, and to understand where we’re starting, we need to record our starting point.

As with all good projects, scope creep* can make them undeliverable. For individuals, that’s about adding too many tasks and creating too much complexity in their processes. The same is true for teams who create overly complex ways of interacting and communicating with each other.

Add change control to processes

Consider a change control process to help manage this situation to stop you and your team from becoming overwhelmed. This is as simple as not introducing new tasks until you have tested the existing ones, ensuring they have a benefit. Testing is particularly relevant to technology and applications.

We live in a world where many things can potentially solve our problems. Still, in doing so, they often add additional complexity that can negatively impact us in ways that far outweigh the original problem. It’s vital that we consider this before implementing new working methods into our processes.


In my first CDT (Craft Design and Technology) lesson at school, a rather large man with a beard stood up and said K.I.S.S., to which we all looked utterly perplexed.

He then explained that K.I.S.S. means Keep It Simple Stupid (not sure he could get away with this saying in a school these days), but ‘it’s particularly relevant when relooking at our processes. We must keep things simple and replicable so they will ultimately be helpful for us, including taking processes away that are no longer useful in the drive for simplicity.

P.P.P. = P.P.P. – the secret source to making processes work

Piss Poor Planning equals Piss Poor Performance. We need to plan what ‘we’re doing and build usable, simple and robust processes.

If ‘you’d like to know more about building processes for yourself or your team, ‘I’d love to work with you.

Contact me here.

*Scope creep in project management refers to changes, continuous or uncontrolled growth in a project’s scope at any point after the project begins.

Scales weighing up the reasonable adjustments with one side lower than the other.

Reasonable adjustments, so what is reasonable ?

Reasonable adjustments are subjective and the term is often overused; well, I think it is!

Let me give you an example. I recently worked with someone who thought it reasonable that her employer makes sure she feels in a good mood when she goes home. Now on the surface, that might sound reasonable, but let’s think about it. What is entailed in making sure someone is in a good mood has many variables. This could include interactions within the workplace, conversations and even things that that individual has brought into the workplace. Suddenly that doesn’t sound like a reasonable adjustment; it sounds like a dream!

The equality act gives us some guidance on what reasonable is, but even this isn’t enough as we try and work out what is helpful in the workplace. So here are some of my thoughts on how we can get to reasonable:

It needs to be effective in removing a barrier!

So will the reasonable adjustments remove the barrier, and will it do it for the long-term? In being effective, there is another question, will it work with the rest of the organisation? This is a wise argument as it might be effective for the individual but not for the employer.

Real-world example, I worked with a teacher struggling to keep their equipment together. She worked across ten different classrooms, and because of her short-term memory, her equipment was never in the right place. Several reasonable adjustments were considered, including an electronic calendar and some creative processes to ensure her equipment was moved to the right place at the right time. Along with several other exciting and innovative options on the surface which all seemed great, but they were on the complicated side. Would you agree?

Ultimately, the changes involved giving that teacher a fixed classroom so that her equipment didn’t need to move.

It turned out to be a brilliant adjustment because it was simple and solved the problem. This problem could have been solved in far more complicated way that would have ultimately broken down and put more significant strain on everyone.

Don’t let the solution become part of the problem with reasonable adjustments!

It’s got to be practical!

Being practical matters. If it’s not, we all end up in a big mess.

Being practical means it needs to be practical to implement and practical to use both for the individual and the organisation. Perspective is critical because what is practical for the individual may not be practical for the organisation. In the same way, what is practical for the organisation may not be practical for the individual.

I hope your head is not spinning with the word practical now!

So to work out what this means, we must have conversations and not throw lists of stuff over fences metaphorically because reasonable adjustments are about including people, not putting additional barriers up.

Real-world example:

I worked with an individual with anxiety issues around understanding what they needed to do and when. The organisation conducted an assessment that suggested several interventions, including using whiteboards, apps and other to-do list-style reminders. Giving credit to the individual and the organisation, they’d worked through several different solutions and finally came to the one they felt best: the to-do list app. The app itself worked fine. Things got tricky when multiple managers used the same account to set tasks, and the individual was confused about who she was accountable to and for what.

This is an excellent example of something that started off incredibly practical, but became impractical because the process around it got confusing. In this situation, there was a simple remedy of using initials for each manager. This illustrates that we have to keep reviewing what’s going on; otherwise, we will likely make adjustments to the problem.

Though I say, the remedy was simple, getting the individual managers involved to buy into it and implement it is still an ongoing process.

Never forget the people element of change.

How much are these reasonable adjustments going to cost?

Cost is significant, especially in our current economic climate. Many adjustments are not expensive, particularly for neurodivergent individuals. Often they are about process changes that positively impact individuals across the organisation. There are also grants and schemes available to support equipment purchases, potential coaching, and other ongoing support.

I think it’s helpful to approach adjustments like a project, considering their merits and impact on the individual and the business.

We often don’t know how an adjustment will work until it’s tested.

When it’s tested, it’s essential to understand what needs to be modified and the fitness of the adjustment to perform the task. There can sometimes be a train of thought from the individual that suggests this is being paid for me, so I have to use it regardless of if it adds benefit. This isn’t helpful and can sometimes result in individuals creating additional obstacles for themselves to use something unsuitable.

Real-world example:

I worked with someone recently who was given dictation software as part of a reasonable adjustment. On spending time with them, it became apparent that they were a touch typists who was very comfortable with writing at speed and accuracy, but they felt obliged to the organisation to use the software that ultimately slowed them down and didn’t allow them to operate at their best.

We need to talk to people, not just provide vanilla solutions, because we think we understand them.

In the long term, it’s essential to keep adjustments as simple as possible and actively remove the ones that no longer serve a purpose.

All adjustments need to have a review-by date built in.

Do they still work, or does something need to be done differently? Otherwise, we risk assuming that we did something once and that it will last for a lifetime.

I was thinking about my car. Would I seriously take my vehicle for one service in its lifetime and have one MOT and never have another?

Once we’ve looked at this, there is an implication that if we conclude something is reasonable, there is a legal obligation to do it. Don’t forget to make sure solving the problem is a reasonable adjustment.

Note: The Equality Acts linchpin is that once an adjustment has been deemed reasonable, it is unlawful not to implement it. That’s why it’s essential to consider what is reasonable as part of the implementation, then build reviews and document conversations that will allow you to respond to the individual’s needs and business requirements.

It’s about trust and an ongoing conversation about what works and what doesn’t.

No one needs adjustments that don’t work for them or the business, so ensure you keep this alive and real.

If you need help navigating this, don’t hesitate to contact me at The Neurodivergent Coach.

Forgettory and Neurodiversity

Forgettory and neurodiversity

Imagine a bookshelf that only holds three books, but you have nine books that you need to put on the shelf. Every time you add another book over the first three, the others fall off. You now need to catch the book that has fallen and try and place it back on the shelf – as you do the next book falls. This cycle continues throughout the day! Welcome to forgettory and neurodiversity

For many neurodivergent individuals, this is the reality of how their short-term memory works.

What this looks like in my life. As I wake up in the morning with a bunch of ideas floating around in my head, as soon as I interact with a member of my family those ideas are gone and replaced with the conversations and requirements of the day. This cycle then continues as I move to the next part of the day, be it breakfast, exercise, or work. What seems to happen is a continuous fight to hold on to great ideas and actions. This can be incredibly debilitating as the energy required trying to hold onto the ideas or books that have fallen from the shelf is immense. What is more frustrating is that when you put something back on the shelf you are likely to have pushed something else off and the cycle goes on again.

This doesn’t stop here, we need our short-term memory for our working memory to function effectively. The more restricted our short-term memory is, the more difficult it is to use our working memory effectively to solve problems, hold ideas and work with complicated or sometimes not-so-complicated issues.

Both areas of memory are under the concept of executive function (EF). Executive function is a cluster of skills that are necessary for efficient and effective future behaviours. These skills are the ones that sit outside of what we do automatically.

For example, you may have done the following without even thinking about it:

  • Got out of bed
  • Made a cup of tea
  • Checked your phone
  • Made your porridge
  • Unloaded the dishwasher (not for all of us I know).

Executive function (EF) comes into its own when we attempt to do new things in different situations. These situations don’t always need to be critically complicated, just different from what we expect to do on autopilot and can include things like:

  • Changing the number of people you are making porridge for
  • Meeting someone new for the first time
  • Someone giving you a slot car racing toy (Scalextrics) for your children (that’s in pieces with no instructions).

These are my experiences, it is important to note that there is a ground of evidence showing EF is relevant to a number of neurodivergent conditions including ADHD, ASD/C, developmental coordination disorder DCD (also known as dyspraxia), dyslexia, and dyscalculia.

How these impact you

Getting started:

  • The actual process of starting can be really challenging when you’re not sure you have got everything you need in your memory.
  • Reflecting on what you need can sometimes make it even harder to get moving.
  • Understanding how long something can take has a significant impact as it can feel like an unknown.

Not being kind to yourself:

  • Thinking you are good enough.
  • Focusing on the negatives.
  • Not recognising the things you do well.

Running out of road:

  • Knowing that there are things you have forgotten.
  • Not having enough time to process.
  • Feeling you have to make decisions even though you’re not ready to.
  • Trying to be like everyone else.

Staying in the zone:

  • Staying on task.
  • Moving from one task to another.
  • Finding it hard to get your head around things.

What might happen next:

  • Sometimes when you run out of road (in terms of processing and EF) it’s hard to think about what might happen next based on previous experience.
  • It’s also very challenging to predict what difficulties or challenges you might face in the future.

Being all out all of the time:

  • Perception of time can often be linked.
  • This makes it difficult to remember appointments.
  • Putting the right amount of time aside to complete tasks.
  • Break things down into smaller tasks and understanding what the time indications are.

What can be done?

The executive function often forms the glue that allows us to deploy our skills effectively. I’ve talked before about the fact we need to help neurodivergent individuals amplify their strengths and manage the things that they find difficult. Unfortunately, if they are not able to use their strengths because their executive function doesn’t allow them to be present, they will be unable to thrive. What is often needed is skills and frameworks to help the individual unleash their potential, these could look like:

Checking in on how well things are going.

  • What does the day look like?
  • Have you got enough time to do the things you have set before you?
  • Who do you feel you need to ask about what to do next?
  • Do you need space to put things in perspective?
  • Who are you going to be accountable to?
  • What are you going to do when things go wrong?
  • What is your Banana?

Definition of banana – it is the thing you have in your back pocket. It gives you time and space to reset yourself. My Banana is often around taking a short break to do something completely different, for example skipping.

Lists and processes

Creating a list of activities is a really helpful way to understand what needs to be done.

Don’t treat these like a stick!

Treat them as a way to formulate your plan for the day.

Processes are also useful as once you have done something once:

  • Record it
  • Review it
  • Revisit it – make it better next time!

Once it is written down, you have something to compare it against, removing the need to rethink how you are going to do something again. It is also a great tool to go to when you have run out of road as you have already done your thinking.

Reflect on what is happening, take stock and make sure you ask someone else to check in on your belief of what’s going on. It is worth pre-emptively asking someone to help so when you need support, they already know how to serve you best.

Remove the tat and rubbish to make space for this thinking.

This could be about coming away from your current work environment, tidying up, or turning off your email. What is important is you are not distracted when you are working on your processes.

Think about the team you work with, who loves doing certain tasks? What tasks do you love doing? How can you collaborate to get the most out of both of you and the people you work with? What tasks should be automated or relegated?

Navigating this space is tricky, especially on your own. If this article rings true, I would encourage you to reflect on it with someone you trust at work or reach out to a workplace coach who can help you move through this space.

If you would like to have a conversation with me about this topic for yourself or someone you lead please get in contact.

Book shelf idea credit: Janette Beetham