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Keeping things simple

Apr 22nd

I’m renewing my campaign on keeping things simple.  It’s long been one of our hallmarks as consultants to help our clients make complex things simple.  Perhaps it’s in the nature of management to proliferate frameworks and systems and measurement.  It sometimes takes an outside view to help organisations back to the essence.

Adrian Furnham, Professor of Psychology at University College London, wrote recently in The Sunday Times of the perverse consequences of performance management systems.  They’re meant to systematise how things are done and to encourage the less good performers to do better.  Instead, with their complex rules and targets and

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This article is filed under: leadership development, organisational culture

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Practical steps to happiness

Apr 13th

ABCD (resist the urge to hum along with the Jackson Five) is a well established framework and tool that comes out of positive psychology – it can be used to build optimism, positivity and resilience. As a manager coaching people through tough and uncertain times it’s worth remembering the ABCD of how to get people to think more positively – you can apply it in individual conversations and in a team discussion.

Adversity – we encounter it and react to it
Belief – our reactions create and are conditioned by a set of beliefs
Consequences – the beliefs are the cause of what

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This article is filed under: Change, communication

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If you haven’t read this yet, you should

Apr 06th

How often do you read a business book and come away completely satisfied? Like a perfect five course meal with three wines.  In this case my metaphorical five course meal was in a restaurant that has been open since 1981 and I’ve never visited, so all the more surprise that it catered perfectly to my tastes which are not, as you may know, entirely mainstream…Enough of the analogy – I have just been through “Gary Yukl’s Leadership in Organizations (7th ed)”  published by Pearson.

Yukl has been researching and writing on leadership for 40 years and this textbook for business

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This article is filed under: leadership, organisational performance

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25% women on Boards by 2015

Mar 24th

The findings of the Lord Davies Review, published recently, with its recommendations on how to increase the number of women on the boards of listed companies in the UK establishes the following as key development needs:
1. Companies should treat women’s leadership as a dynamic and strategic opportunity rather than an equal opportunities issue.
2. Companies should consider raising their board’s and their nominating committee’s understanding of and ability to address unconscious bias.
3. Board placement researchers and interviewers should understand and adopt processes to eliminate unconscious bias.
4. Boards should provide senior women with influential board or executive level mentors either from within the organisation or

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This article is filed under: Boards, culture change, leadership development

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7 ways to bring meaningful engagement to your business

Mar 16th

It’s a big ask. Chief executives are suddenly recognising that ‘effective engagement of our employees’ is the key to increased productivity, to profitability, to the successful implementation of strategy, the retention of key talent and thus the key to competitive advantage. They instinctively know it’s important to ensure employees want to follow through on delivering the strategic intent, yet there is much confusion about what it is, how you create it, whose job it is to make it happen and how you measure it.

In reality it’s about getting people involved and inspired about something important and then contracting with each

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When talking about it doesn’t help

Mar 10th

In turbulent economic times – and after a very long winter – how do you keep yourself going? Research suggests that ‘talking out’ your concerns does not always help and that suppressing negative thoughts can be just as bad for you. However, research also shows that ‘expressive writing’ can boost your well-being, reduce health problems and increase your happiness.

If you are struggling to come to terms with a negative experience (a professional setback or even redundancy), try spending a few minutes each day writing a short account of it. Constructing a written narrative (which is naturally more coherent than a

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This article is filed under: communication, employee motivation

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Don’t be limited by what you’re good at

Feb 23rd

My colleague Rupert wrote last week about challenging constructs.

I’ve been working recently with some companies that are by any reckoning very successful.   They’re highly profitable, well led and well managed. They’ve developed strong business ‘formulas’ in their different markets and are disciplined in sticking to what they know works.  They have stripped costs out, made their supply chains highly efficient, and honed a way of growing their existing businesses.   In short they’re doing all the right things and delivering the results. 

So what’s the problem?

It’s this.   The very discipline of their approach is an inhibition to thinking more broadly about their

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This article is filed under: business capability, organisational culture

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Could something stunning happen if you freed your mind?

Feb 16th

Travelling to work the other day on the bus, I absent-mindedly reached for my iPod and looked at it.  Simple, minimalist and beautiful.  And a great example of what can happen if you question your constructs.

By construct I mean an assumption or web of assumptions that helps us make sense of our world.  Constructs help us organise our activities, and identify important things from the extraneous.  They can occur on multiple levels:  individual, organisational, business model, and industry.  Multiple constructs typically converge and form a ‘dominant logic’ for a company and for an industry.

Here’s one:  “Construction work is dangerous –

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This article is filed under: leadership