Reflections On Coaching Call – Start-Ups And First Clients 


As a coach, consultant and mentor there are some conversations that are worth reflecting upon and sharing, albeit anonymised for the person, business, product and circumstances. The aim is not prescriptive (this is what you should do) but instead descriptive (this is what we discussed). The purpose is to freely share some ideas that may be useful to others.

Beware, I will use many metaphors since I find that these can eb the key to unlocking an idea, but you can. Never be sure which one is the key for that particular problem.


Inevitably for many people starting a business or organisation they have passion and enthusiasm but sometimes a degree of frustration. It is like looking at a million stars and seeing each one, but no rocket ship to get there. Or a more down to earth analogy might be seeing all the branches of possibility and fruits of opportunity without yet having established a tree.

In one coaching conversation I shared the following …


If you were going on a fishing trip for salmon you’d take different bait and go to a different location than you would for mackerel or cod. So, despite an interest in fish, you need to be more specific about what you want, because that will help you focus on the right approach. 

The same is true of customers and clients. Think of 5 people you know who would benefit from your product or service

From person no1 – pick their first name
From person no2 – pick their surname name
From person no3 – pick their age
From person no4 – pick their background
From person no5 – pick their job
From person no6 – pick their circumstance 

You now know that person, your ‘ideal client’, they have a name, a job, interests and needs. From now onward write social media and develop products and services for that person: Sam Jones (40) looking to advance their career. This approach will give you focus on what you do and be special for them. 


I find that chatting endlessly can be interesting but sometimes vague and indecisive. However, if you write something down, and read it back, you can crystalise your thinking in words which you can then use as the building blocks for your story. This may take many attempts and it can be a real challenge to fine tune and make succinct but time spent on this can help you gain real clarity in thinking and speaking: What is it you want to say about you, your purpose, your product and the people you want to serve. 


As much as it is important to be clear about your message to the world, success is generally based what people (customers, colleagues, clients) say about you. I think it is really useful to ask “What would a good testimonial say”, this them really helps to focus on what the customer wants, needs, values and will say about you.


If your story says you are fast, efficient and inexpensive and their story says that they value the time, careful consideration and quality then you have potential for being misaligned and perhaps need to think which of these stories needs to change for there to be congruence. If your story talking about what you sell matches exactly what they value, buy and recommend you are probably on the right path for a happy customer and lots of referrals.


It is great having a vision of products and services, but a start-up needs to begin with the basics. You can one day have an orchard with apples, oranges, lemons and limes, but perhaps let’s start with the first tree. So before you launch a book, blog, hotel chain and push all the social media channels what is the first seed we need to sow and grow? 

Understanding and growing your tree is important, how you choose to branch out or prune it can come later, but right now you’re not going to be making cider until you’ve done a lot of thinking, planning and doing.

You might think of your tree as your purpose, a solid foundation with roots. The branches are the processes and procedures that extend from the trunk and can provide foliage or fruit. How you managed your processes and procedures (strategy, culture, values, ethics) can be as important as your fruit (product, services, people) since one will give rise to the other. Don’t rush to harvest before you have done the prerequisites or you’ll be disappointed. 

We may seek 1 million clients, but that’s like putting a hook into the ocean and expecting to haul many fish. Perhaps we are better starting in a pond, with a known fish, some good bait and a strategy.  


Whilst it is good to think about the future (don’t plant a tall Redwood Sequoia in a plot that it too small for it to grow) it is also important to recognise that a small business needs to be nurtured very differently from a medium or large business. Whilst you may be looking at premises, accounting packages and global branding perhaps your seedling really just needs a little water, light and food. 

Unless you have deep pockets or a long runway (time) and plenty of fuel (cash) before take-off your business needs to make money soon. It may be small amounts, just enough to survive and grow. 

Rome was not built in a day, and marketing your product and monetising your process probably best starts with selling tents, sheds, garages and then houses before hotels and residential areas. Each costs progressively more, and yields more profit, but this incremental growth offers a good platform for progress or an opportunity to pause or pivot without having bet the farm on an idea for which you or your customer is not yet ready.


In a future article I will explore how to sell your products and services, starting first with engaging your customer, clients or colleagues. 

Step 1 – they must be aware of you, they must have heard of or seen you.
Step 2 – they must know you, enough to believe you are useful and relevant
Step 3 – they must like or even trust you, that you are credible
Step 4 – they may then be willing to buy from you (when the need arises)

This approach means taking the long-term view and building the relationship from knowing, to acquaintance, to friends and possibly partnership. Or indeed from buyer to customer to advocate and fan. 


Coaching is a process that aims to improve performance and focuses on the ‘here and now’ rather than on the distant past or future. Good coaches believe that the individual always has ideas and opportunities to resolve whatever is holding them back but understands that they may need help to define their goals, set their path, and achieve their success. Coaching is about listening, reflecting, asking questions and unlocking YOUR potential.


Mentoring is to support and encourage people to manage their own learning in order that they may maximise their potential, develop their skills, improve their performance and become the person they want to be.’ Mentoring is development driven, looking not just at the professional’s current job function but beyond, taking a more holistic approach to career development. Mentoring is non-evaluative, while coaching is based on measuring performance change. Due to the personal nature of mentoring, a mentor will more often than not draw on their personal experiences and expertise to help their mentee. This could be in the form of sharing a story that taught them a valuable lesson, or a challenge they overcame in their career. 

Tim HJ Rogers
Ex-Athlete, now Change Practitioner, ICF Coach, IoD Mentor, Mediation Practitioner 
Helping people and organisations achieve their goals.

ICF Trained Coach IoD Business Mentor, Mediator, Management Consultant, Change Practitioner Mob 447797762051

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What makes a good ‘run-book’ for a successful technology go-live

Runbooks are a set of standardized written procedures for completing repetitive, predictable or critical tasks, usually relating to information technology processes.

User Acceptance Testing (UAT), or application testing, is the final stage of any software development before go-live. However between UAT and go-live there will be various tasks to do to ensure go-live goes smoothly. This is where a Runbook is critical.


The list below is not exhaustive and every project will be different according to the nature of the project, circumstances and stakeholders.

1. Trainers and documentation is 100 percent ready, with ‘floor walking’ support to address issues quickly
2. All technical resources are on stand-by to address any issues quickly
3. The target system is 100 percent OK with necessary DR and BCP before we commit to it.
4. What is the last day of keying on the old source-system(s) and migration of data to new target-system(s)
5. How to handle any data changes between the migration (maybe Thursday) and go-live (maybe Tuesday)
6. How we reverse out if we incur issues that make it unwise to continue to new target-system(s)
7. Although we will have done full UAT, we still need to do a security, access, data & process check before use of new target-system(s)
8. Think about after go-live activities, including archive of data and removal of access to the old source-system(s)
9. Plan all the communication and coordination for all of this, which may include weekend working for participants.


Often a Runbooks can be a simple spreadsheet of tasks, owners, schedule so the right things are being done in the right order by the right people. For example do back-ups before any critical changes. If you are working on-line there are many project tools like, Trello, SmartSheet that can be used to agree tasks and monitor progress as you move from one step to the next.

For example don’t have all your users trying to test the new target-system(s) before the data-migration is complete and security & access is ready for users to login. Simple precautions like this avoid error, omission and confusion and avoid a loss of goodwill if people are weekend working on over-time, simply waiting unnecessarily because the system won’t be ready for them for another 8 hours!


This is like conducting an orchestra and some practice will be needed! If listening to Tchaikovsky’s 1812 Overture you want the cannons to go off at the correct time! I always recommended a full ‘dress rehearsal’ of all the steps at 1 or 2 week before as a learning opportunity.

Tim Rogers Mob 447797762051
We offer #consulting, #coaching, #mentoring, #facilitation and #mediating to support individuals, teams and organisations.
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What makes a good User Acceptance Test, for a successful go-live?

User Acceptance Testing (UAT), or application testing, is the final stage of any software development or change request lifecycle before go-live. The list below is not exhaustive, and every project will be different according to the nature of the project, circumstances and stakeholders.


Have a clear testing programme. Random testing gives random results and sampling may be good in the early stages of development but you really need complete, comprehensive and detailed testing if you are relying upon a system for your business.

Having well documented tests and processes allows for repetition, for example when redoing test or after an upgrade where you want to be clear what worked OK in the past still works OK.

Be very clear what is a minor fail (cosmetic issues), a significant fail (must be fixed within a few weeks after go-live) and what is a major fail (meaning you cannot proceed). 

Ranking tests, results and what is acceptable or not up-front avoids contract or commercial disputes of scope, quality and function, and what constitutes success. And in some cases, payment or withholding payment.

Make sure your have a Test Manager / Leader to organise the testing and manage the feedback. This is important so that if 50 people have the same problem you only report one issue and don’t confused issues with duplication, error or omission.

Make sure your Test Manager / Leader has a deep and wide knowledge of systems and processes so that they understand where in issue is with the person, product, process, or procedures. This means being able to work with a whole range of people and not wasting time alerting the software supplier for something that may be a training issue or vice-versa.

Make sure your testing team has sufficient knowledge of systems and processes, and the time and capacity to do the job well, which includes accurate reporting of issues. Moreover, the testing team need to represent all aspects of the product and all areas of the business. What may be OK for Sales may not be acceptable for Compliance and what suits one jurisdiction or office may not be adequate for the other. 

Have at least 2 ideally 3 or possibly 4 test-cycles of test, report, fix, retest. Nothing is perfect first time and not allowing sufficient time to learn, improve, correct and retest may mean that you simply don’t have time enough to address defects.


Avoid testing before the systems are ready for testing! Do not proceed with UAT Testing (of functionality, config, design, operation) until you have approved the config / design and the data is 100% correct  (where data-migration from old to new systems is a key element). To test a product that has config or data errors before you start is not productive and creates a bad experience for users which may impact on their engagement and adoption, as well as their ability to later train the end-uses.

Avoid doing testing when key stakeholders are absent, for example technical people to fix issues or senior people to offer guidance. You really want all the stakeholders and experts available so as to be able to address issues quickly and successfully.

Avoid using novice or part-time testers or those with significant business-as-usual opportunities which mean they cannot fully do the testing, understand the results and support the diagnostics and remedy. 

Do not allow random testing at odd hours which undermines communication and coordination. Aim to have an organised plan for each day and an agreed time to review and feedback so that results can be understood as a whole and actions coordinated. A 20min stand-up meeting at the beginning and end of the day is a great way to set the agenda and review the progress.

Tim Rogers Mob 447797762051 

We offer #consulting, #coaching, #mentoring, #facilitation and #mediating to support individuals, teams and organisations. 

#jersey #timhjrogers #prince2 #agile #waterfall #pmo #projects #lean #training #programmes


Things to think about at project close or hand-over

Every project is different according to the nature of the project (technology, premises, culture, processes or M&A) or circumstances (scale, timing, funding, sector).

Here are some things to think about at project close or hand-over

  • Support Arrangements
  • Roles to be Transferred
  • Key points for the Support Team(s)/ Knowledge Transfer
  • Customer Expectation Management/ Communication
  • Business Continuity/ Disaster Recovery
  • Training Requirements
  • Product List (including SLAs)
  • Supporting documentation
  • Security Aspects
  • Security Officer Sign Off 
  • Acceptance from Support Team

Generally the key steps might be

*Project close or hand-over tasks

  • User documentation
  • Admin documentation
  • System documentation
  • Hand-over roles & responsibilities

*Stakeholders / Functions

  • Confirm what is done and what is outstanding
  • Confirm Business Continuity and/or Disaster Recovery
  • Confirm support arrangements
  • Sign Off / Acceptance  where relevant (e.g. Compliance or Security)
  • Remove access (where appropriate )
  • Archive data (where appropriate )

*Project Board / Governance

  • Project Update / Review
  • Benefits Review
  • Budget Review
  • Lessons Learned
  • Next steps

As a PRINCE2, Scrum and Agile Coach I can offer tools, tips and templates to support your project or act as Project or Quality Assurance to review and report.

Tim Rogers Mob 447797762051 

We offer #consulting, #coaching, #mentoring, #facilitation and #mediating to support individuals, teams and organisations.  #jersey #timhjrogers #prince2 #agile #waterfall #pmo #projects #lean #training #programmes


When stakeholders don’t do detail

Anyone with passing knowledge of DISC, MBTI or any other personality profile will note some people like decisions, others debate, and yet others details.

  • Dominance–Person places emphasis on accomplishing results, the bottom line, confidence
  • Influence–Person places emphasis on influencing or persuading others, openness, relationships
  • Steadiness–Person places emphasis on cooperation, sincerity, dependability
  • Conscientiousness–Person places emphasis on quality and accuracy, expertise, competency


Because of the above it can be hard to communicate in the right format and style for each audience.

For example it can be difficult to engage if the decisive senior executive approach is to simply ignore the issues and say “..just make it so..” (as if their command is enough to resolve or remove the problems). This is made worse if anything other than acceptance or agreement is likely to damage the relationship and so further undermine communication and trust. The mantra  “only good news” (the sign in Sheryl Sandberg’s former Facebook office) may superficially give the impression everything is OK, but is the type of Wilful Blindness that leads to an inevitable (but in retrospect avoidable) problems later.

Similarly the stakeholder who doesn’t engage, avoids meetings and emails but remains confident in on-going, work-in-progress can be a problem. If tasks are always ‘nearly done’ but never complete then they see themselves as busy and achieving, but the reality is nothing is done / complete and your project, process ror product is simply not ready or going to fail.

Typically in most projects the key issue is the late realisation of the volume of work, the busyness of the people and the lack of resources (competence, capability, drive and desire). To avoid conflict the problem is ignored, but this just makes things worse.

Imagine you expected to run 26 miles in 4 hours and after 3 hours you’ve only run 13 miles. It seems unlikely you’d do the next 13 miles in 1 hour (and still achieve the goal of 4 hours). Let’s be honest if it takes 3 hours to do 13 miles, it is going to take longer than 6 to cover 26 miles. This seems obvious, and yet the assumption in projects is frequently that the failures of the past (people, planning, pace or progress) can all be remedied without address of the fundamental problem, too much to do and an unrealistic goal.

It is time for a difficult conversation…


  • The Leader has to acknowledge and confirm that he/she loves to see constructive conflict to become better and have better decisions.
  • Virtual conflict is obviously more difficult. People experience virtual meetings more as presentations (one way conversations) and next to that you barely see body language. The least you can do is to ensure everyone turns their camera on.
  • If your meeting is boring, it is lacking conflict. So do some checks now and then how the others experience the meeting. Boring? That should be a heads up!
  • In case there was conflict: praise it. It has brought you further.

Taken from the book ‘The five dysfunctions of a Team’

  • Absence of trust. Team members don’t dare to show vulnerability within the group
  • Fear of conflict. The team prefers artificial harmony over constructive passionate debate, while the latter is required to create trust and openess
  • Lack of commitment. Decisions are made, but sincere buy-in for group decisions is missing. This results in ambiguity throughout the organization
  • Avoidance of accountability. Ducking the responsibility to hold each other accountable on agreed behavior. This behavior sets low standards
  • Inattention to results. Team members focus more on personal success, status and ego before team success

See more

Tim Rogers Mob 447797762051 

We offer #consulting, #coaching, #mentoring, #facilitation and #mediating to support individuals, teams and organisations. 

#jersey #timhjrogers #prince2 #agile #waterfall #pmo #projects #lean #training #programmes


7 Ways to influence (and resist)


Do it…

1.    Because you like me, and you’re like me

2.    Do it to reciprocate, repay past or future debt or promise

3.    Do it because everyone else is doing it

4.    This offer is good for a limited time only

5.    Do it to be consistent, with past, with values, with type

6.    You can believe me, I’m an authority

7.    Do it or else


No, because…

1.    I like you, but I don’t like this proposal

2.    Is this a favour? Are you looking for something in return?

3.    Just because everyone else is doesn’t mean..

4.    If I don’t have time to think, I don’t have time to buy

5.    I need to think about what I want, and be consistent with that

6.    If I were you I might, but I’m not you

7.    Please explain the “or else” slowly so I fully understand

How to react to negative feedback (possibly bullying)

1.    Ask for time to think – it should force a pause or moment of silence.

2.    Think about what you want to happen – don’t fight back, think forward.

3.    Get the bully to stop yelling – “Please speak more slowly, I’d like to understand” or (if on the phone) say nothing until they ask “Are you still there?”

4.    What ever you do don’t explain – think forward, don’t justify, recriminate, excuse or offer explanation. They’re looking to exploit weaknesses (-) not strength (+)

5.    Ask “what would you like me to do?”. If so challenged they will ask you for something more acceptable than what they want. This is your exit opportunity.

6.    Don’t take criticism personally – attacks on your team, your work, your values, etc are not attacks on you. Although it is hard to resist “fight or flight”

7.    Learn from criticism – if you wait 24 hrs before answering criticism it will demonstrate maturity, reasonableness and you may learn something!

As a ICF Coach, Mediation Practitioner and APMG Change Practitioner,  I can offer tools, tips and templates as well as facilitation and mediation to support communications and change.

Tim Rogers Mob 447797762051 

We offer #consulting, #coaching, #mentoring, #facilitation and #mediating to support individuals, teams and organisations.  #jersey #timhjrogers #prince2 #agile #waterfall #pmo #projects #lean #training #programmes


Are you de-scoping to achieve delivery?

One of the biggest problems with projects is scope-creep: Adding additional features or functions of a new product, requirements, or work that is not authorized (i.e., beyond the agreed-upon scope). The result is extra time, effort, complexity and cost. So this should be avoided.

However at the opposite extreme, it is very often the case that people de-scope items in an effort to avoid extra time, effort, complexity and cost. The “What can we do without?” approach has its merits. It is taking an MVP approach. A minimum viable product, or MVP, is a product with enough features to attract early-adopter customers and validate a product idea early in the product development cycle. The aim being get the basics done and build on this baseline.

The problem with he “What can we do without?” approach may be achieving consensus over what is suitable, feasible and acceptable. 

Scenario 1

Supposing you are looking to fly to Edinburgh, but the pilot lands at Prestwick and says, I got you as close as I can wit the constraints (of time, money, resource). You’ll have to walk from here. The distance between Glasgow Prestwick Airport Station and Edinburgh is 63 miles. The road distance is 75.2 miles. Is this suitable, feasible and acceptable?

Scenario 2

Supposing you are expecting to have a car delivered. It may be suitable, feasible and acceptable that the roof rack, tow-bar and floor mats are delivered later. But what about seats, air-conditioning, or radio? I’m sure we’d draw the line at engine and wheels. 

If you are de-scoping to achieve delivery you’ll need stakeholder engagement and their participation and endorsement if you want the result to be accepted as “more to follow”, than a disappointment and failure and a high degree of cynicism over the next phase what was promised and not delivered in the first. 

In a lot of respects this is more about communication and stakeholder management than the late delivery of artifacts. It may demand mediation and negotiation to build the trust which is necessary over the bridging period between what has been delivered and what was promised. This is especially the case if the temporary short-fall means extra work from some people, or greater risk, or opportunity cost. 

Goodwill is like money and the bank. You can be granted an overdraft to remedy a short-term problem, but you will be expected to keep your promises to make-good, and be judged by your ability to do so.

As a ICF Coach, Mediation Practitioner and APMG Change Practitioner, I can offer tools, tips and templates as well as facilitation and mediation to support communications and change.

Tim Rogers Mob 447797762051 

We offer #consulting, #coaching, #mentoring, #facilitation and #mediating to support individuals, teams and organisations. 

#jersey #timhjrogers #prince2 #agile #waterfall #pmo #projects #lean #training #programmes