Archive for the 'Future' Category

Boldness has genius

All leaders should read this.

Concerning all acts of initiative (and creation) there is one elementary truth, the ignorance of which kills countless ideas and splendid plans: that the moment one definitely commits oneself, then providence moves too. All sorts of things occur to help one that would not otherwise have occurred. A whole stream of events issues from the decision, raising in one’s favour all manner of unforeseen incidents and meetings and material assistance which no man would have dreamed would come his way. I have learned a deep respect for one of Goethe’s couplets: “Whatever you can do, or dream you can, begin it. Boldness has genius, magic, and power in it. Begin it now.”

W.H. Murray

The Scottish Himalayan Expedition




Liked this old clip of Viktor Frankl. Another thought provoking clip from Even though it’s almost 40 years old!


Future of work

Here’s a cool presentation on the future of work.

I like the golden rule of real estate = location, location, location.

The golden rule of work = communication, communication, communication!

Is there anything else?

Post growth society

I see September’s HBR focuses on the ‘green’ economy and life in the post growth society. Yes the idea of limitless growth seems to have been exposed as a myth over the last 12 months. But post-growth society?

There will be growth alright, it just won’t be evenly distributed. While the ‘net’ might be flat, some will grow strongly and others contract significantly. I’m already sensing an inspiring and revolutionary undercurrent of activity and change. Expect a significant redistribution of capital and wealth. Keep your eyes open. Stay light on your feet. Make sure you’re on the right side!

Materialism has taken a heavy blow though. About time. Don’t think that will change any time soon.


I spoke yesterday at HRINZ on change and HR. It was version 1.o of some thinking I’ve started on these two topics. It was a start. One of upsides of the current economic turmoil is that its forcing individuals and organisations to think again about ‘value’.

I often encounter unflattering comments about HR’s value from senior and line managers in organisations. I wonder if HR has become overly preoccupied with process, systems, tools, technologies and frameworks.  It reminded me of the IT industry. And led me to thinking about how pervasively we use the web today. It’s a long way from the IT industry I knew in the late 80’s.

The internet has transformed itself from simply a transport mechanism into something that delivers real value to people. The current term being used is Web2.0.

Web2.0 is about technology:

  • as a platform for it’s users to create individual value (eg Flickr)
  • as an architecture of participation (eg blogging)
  • as a means of harnessing collective intelligence (eg Wikipedia)
  • providing users with a rich user experience (eg RSS)
  • letting users pull information to meet their immediate demands (eg Google)

WEb2.0 has lead to an exponential rise in the use and creativity of the web. No change management plan here!

What would HR2.0 look like?

As a starter I’d suggest that HR 2.0 could:

  • insist managers are responsible for achievement of goals aligned with the overall strategic intent of the organisation.
  • let individual managers decide what they need (from HR and others) to achieve those goals. And who, when and how those needs are met.
  • focus at least 70% of their effort and resources (budget) on meeting the individual in-action needs of managers striving to achieve clear goals.
  • work within an organisational framework of clear values, culture and shared sense of accountability.
  • offer a suite of useful tools, frameworks and resources without advocating any.
  • inspire people to be bolder in their sense of possibility and potential.

Interested in talking with anyone interested in further developing this thinking.

Value for Money

VFM is a bit of a catch-cry at the moment. There’s a lot of talk, but I doubt whether any significant improvement in VFM will occur. For three reasons:

  1. Reducing head count and other resources puts more pressure on day-to-day operations and people have to pedal faster to keep up with business as usual. There is less time to think systemically about innovating and improving value from the public’s perspective.
  2. Reviewed budgets line-by-line while appearing to save money can actually result in cost increases elsewhere in the system.  So overall costs can go up. But more importantly missing the bigger opportunity to make larger system-wide improvement.
  3. And talking about the system … the wider political system is inherently highly risk averse. It would be a brave CE who would risk his reputation and career by being bold and failing.

To make significant improvements in VFM we need to:

  • think systemically about what’s happening and understand the demands placed on the organisation.
  • consider ‘value’ from the perspective of the consumers or public.
  • identify a limited number of focus areas (no more than 5) for significant improvement. (I hear, that even Microsoft has there 3 big bets!)
  • find ways to manage (rather than avoid) risk taking.

Interested in thoughts from the front lines.

Creating relevance

Someone once said to me “I don’t need more information, I need more insight”. That was over 10 years ago. It’s even worse today! There’s more information and, it seems, less attention to go around.

A valuable insight, is to be able to distil the vital few from the trivial many. Whoever you are – whether you’re a chief executive, policy analyst, HR specialist, mother, fireman, or anyone. Malcolm Galdwell wrote an interesting book on this – “Blink”.  It takes experience to pick the ‘right’ vital few.

Many organisations are currently operating with significantly constrained resources (compared to a year ago). For too many the response has been for their people to pedal faster! Do more with less, but the underlying thinking hasn’t changed. Too many organisations/teams still lack a coherent and simple strategic plan which shapes the focus and engagement of their people. And the current economic pressures aren’t helping. Everyone is simply to busy to think differently.

This is part two in my emerging leadership framework. It seems important that leaders can take what is personally important to them and turn it into a strategy that creates relevance for them and their teams in their work environment. This is a piece of “thought leadership”.

A useful tool can be to build a team charter . This would be explicit about the future that the team is building. I call it the intended shape of the future. While we can’t control everything that influences our future, there is a lot that we can control. So it is important to make some deliberate choices about where to focus. And there should only a few areas of focus! I’d recommend 3-5. I call them the pillars, that support the intended shape of our future. I understand that Microsoft, with all it’s resources, has their “3 big bets”. I’ll bet their people can remember 3!

It sounds simple, but it requires the ability and intention to synthesise a wide and diverse range of inputs. It requires a discipline to stop doing some things. And, it requires the courage to keep going. Then we can start to shape the future we want, rather than react to the future that simply arrives.

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