Archive for the 'Innovation' 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



Less is More

A quote from Antoine de Saint Exupery.

“You know you have achieved perfection in design, not when you have nothing more to add,

but when you have nothing more to take away”


Thought leadership

I’m sensing an increasing premium on thought leadership at the moment. We’re living at a time of significant change. A time of opportunity surely, but also danger.

Anything that supports and develops better and more creative thinking should be encouraged. There’s a lot more value in thinking differently at the moment. There’s a lot more value in thinking for ourselves. That’s why I love Twitter as a channel for connecting with a wider perspective on what’s happening in the world. Individual ‘tweets’ may be low value, but hearing how others are thinking makes you think differently. Valuable thoughts emerge from the diverse and potent mix of stimulating ideas. It can’t be premeditated though! You just need to let it happen.

In this spirit, here is an intriguing conversation with  Robert Sapolsky (a Stanford neurobiologist) about Toxo!

It probably has very little to do you’re day job. Unless you’re a neurobiologist!

But I hope it makes you go “wow”. I hope it makes you think about how little we know. I hope it creates an openness to different ideas. I hope it stimulates a curiosity to learn more. I hope it helps you to be a stronger thought leader. And I hope you find it stimulating enough to subscribe to

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.

iLove U.

One the best things I did this year was switch to Apple. iMac and iPhone ilove U.

Apple has just released its new Snow Leopard operating system. It’s radical. Not because it’s bloated with new features. But because it just faster,smaller, cheaper. Never been done before. Congrats Apple. The New York Times reviews it here:

It’s a great example of the power of simplifying. Getting back to what really matters.

Might be useful to consider our own operating system.

What are the few things that make the difference in how we operate in our world?Perhaps we should focus on them. Strip out, outsource or ignore the 80% that generates little value for us. Double the 20% that matters. Would 20% to 40% of our effort improve our result by 60%?


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.

Inside the box

It’s a cliche today to “think outside the box”. Everyone seems to want creative, innovative ideas. Few are prepared to invest in making them happen though!

I had lunch with a friend last week who talked about her boss’s interest in thinking outside the box. Liz had a different point of view. Liz was passionate about the need for more thinking “inside the box”.

I have just finished reading John Seddon’s book “Systems Thinking in the Public Sector”. It’s a sobering critique of the British government’s reform agenda. He uses some compelling examples of how ideological approaches to improving public services are in fact increasing cost and lowering quality. He takes a systems approach and draws on the thinking of Edward Deming and Taiichi Ohno. Ohno was the developer of the Toyota Production System.

Anyway, here’s a quote from Ohno.

“Everything you need to know in order to make improvements will be found in your own system. If you go looking elsewhere, you will be looking in the wrong place”

Liz is right, lets think inside the box! I think Liz sees plenty of opportunities for improvement right in front of her.

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