Caroline G. Nicholl, CEO

I bring my strong personal drive to work with each client’s unique culture, my on-the-ground executive experience, and cutting edge, world-class tools.

Written by OmniStudio

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You started as a student of the Law. Why?

Since laws touch on virtually every aspect of life, I studied law to understand things from a problem solving perspective: engaging people, developing ideas, and evaluating efforts against specific criteria. But I found that the legal prism was not broad enough vis a vis the diverse challenges people face.  I needed more of an interdisciplinary systems approach through which to identify and resolve problems.

 

Why did you turn to police work?

I signed up for London’s Police to gain hands on experience of the challenges and problems across a large and fast changing city. I soon grasped the impact of perpetual education and wealth gaps. A few years on the beat taught me how entrenched communities can be in their inability to identify and resolve real problems effectively and efficiently. We might have been good at treating the symptoms or reacting to a crisis, but underlying problems were intractable.

 

The woman I broke the news to about her husband’s sudden death in a car accident one morning was not simply a new widow. She was left virtually bankrupt after years of his gambling and drinking: we had no solution beyond offering our condolences.

 

What was also clear to me was that leadership didn’t look beyond day-to-day management. Yet leadership needs to anticipate what’s around the corner, use finite resources wisely, and make a tangible difference.
 

How did you implement what you learned from those experiences?

When I took a leadership role within the police in Notting Hill, London, a small initiative aimed at understanding the jigsaw puzzle we faced turned out to be a game changer. Every year, this quaint part of inner city London was ripped apart by riots during carnival celebrations that exacerbated the racial divide between white and black residents and business owners.  Traditionally, the police mounted extra patrols, made more arrests (typically among the black community) and underscored tensions in the community.

 

In the early 1980’s, I introduced one of the first surveys to gauge public opinion. The findings challenged community assumptions, and brought a fundamental shift in the policing approach. There were no riots the following year.

 

As the Chief of Police in the city of Milton Keynes, instead of continuing to process thousands of shoplifters from one of the largest shopping malls in Europe through the justice system, which cost a fortune and yet had little impact on recidivism, I initiated restorative justice dialogues between merchants and offenders, resulting in repeat offending dropping from over 40% to 3.4%.

 
How did you come to value this systems approach?

Gaps in performance, leadership, and problem solving impact public, private, and corporate entities alike.  People want to do a good day’s work but are often stymied by disparate systems and aversions to risks. Every system has an ecosystem with elements that work to make an organization, team, or city either more or less healthy.

 

Over the years I have learned the importance of systems thinking as an approach to problem solving that looks at the parts that make up the whole, and their interrelationship.

 

How did you move from Police work to your current work?

The transition from cop to coach was natural: both roles demand an innate curiosity about how things work and what motivates people. I joined the police, like many cops, to make a difference. Today, I bring that same spirit with whomever I work: what is this team or person trying to achieve? What would help to get them there? How can I add real value?

 

When I studied law and joined London’s Police, I knew then what I know now: that the world is complicated and changing constantly. I knew I wanted to contribute to changing things for the better. Understanding the part we can play requires us to think beyond today, outside existing bureaucracies and silos, and, at times, outside the constraints of common thinking, or groupthink. I enjoy my work because I learn about the world from people like you as much as I hope you learn from me. I see the world in expansive ways. We can always appreciate what is, and we can also be mindful of the improvements that are possible.  My work centers around being intentional about what progress means.

 

Why “Blue Apricot Solutions?”

I wanted a name that made people stop and think. A blue apricot? With systems thinking, you learn that what’s on the surface is just that. Often the presenting problem (high turnover, poor communications, skyrocketing operations costs) is just a symptom. Teams have their systems with rules and strategy, but the people in those teams bring their own ideas. Combined, these elements create a unique culture.

 

My company name reflects my approach: looking at both the hard (systems, structure, rules,) and soft (people, processes) issues and getting them truly aligned. The odd colored fruit is about helping my clients challenge their underlying assumptions, to think outside the box and to embrace change with ingenuity.

  

Credentials

Licenses & Certifications
International Coaches Federation, PCC
Shadow Coaching ®Advanced Coach Training
Myers Briggs Type Indicator (MBTI)®, Otto Kroeger Associates
Team Diagnostic™, Team Coaching International
BarOn EQi in Emotional Intelligence, Multi Health Systems
Voices® 360 Korn/Ferry, Lominger
Reinas Trust Scales™
Apter Motivational Style Profile (AMSP)® Otto Kroeger Associates
University of Georgetown, Certificate in Organizational Development
Coactive Coaching, Coaches Training Institute
Erickson Certified Professional Coach, Erickson International
Interpersonal Skills for Leadership Success, National Training Lab
Conflict Resolution & Mediation, National Association for Community Mediation
The Practitioners Program for OD Professionals, Columbia, MD

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