Posts Tagged 'Change'

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




It’s often refreshing to read the Harvard Business Review. They seem to understand how to communicate incisive business ideas in a very engaging way. It was particularly refreshing to see Teresa Amabile’s contribution to Breakthrough Ideas for 2010 (January-February 2010).

The number one motivator (by a long way) for motivating people is Progress. (ie. the feeling of making progress in one’s work). That’s based on the Amabile/Kramer multi-year study of hundreds knowledge workers. I’m calling it Achievement.  I think we’re on the same page.

What I’m arguing is that the best investment an organisation can make is in supporting it’s people to achieve something that aligns with the strategic direction of the organisation. There are no silver bullets, only fundamental questions.

Everyone should ask themselves:

  1. Given the current situation, what specific achievement should I be focused on? What specifically constitutes progress?
  2. How would this be meaningful to me?
  3. How do I enroll the people I need to support this specific achievement/progress?
  4. How do I create a sense of momentum that motivates myself and the team?
  5. What does reality look like? Am I making progress?

Worth thinking about!

Because you know. The greatest opportunities for leadership development, learning, motivation, change, engagement, value, etc – lie in front of us in the work that we do.  It is just a matter of how we think about it.

ps I’m back after a summer recess! You’ll be hearing more from me.

Push Me Pull Me

I recently spotted some interesting research by Ronald Friedman and Jens Forster. They’re a couple of social psychologists.

In 2002 experiements the found that ingrained in our brains is an association between the act of pulling and positive feelings. While the act of pushing is associated with negative feelings.

I think it’s fascinating how interconnected the mind and body are!

Also it’s fascinating that the current business trend to greater consumer pull (rather than organisational push) has a foundation in neuro-physiology! Is this why pull works better in business and organisations?

Applied to communication ‘pull’ is less about pre-designed messages and channels and more about listening, empathisising, provoking, and engaging in the moment. It’s more about letting meaning emerge. It’s less about leading and more about meeting.

Well sometimes anyway.

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?

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.

Russian roulette

The track record for organisational change seems poor. Some research puts the success rate for change initiatives at 20% or less. Measured against the expected benefits. That’s like playing russian roulette with 5 bullets!

Almost all of the research seems to focus on faulting the change management process. The problem was poor communication or lack of ownership or insufficient consideration of culture or poor implementation, or …

But how much of the underachievement is because the change itself was wrong? The expected benefits are clear, it’s just that the ‘what’ of the change won’t deliver the expected benefits. I imagine, some change sounds good but isn’t. For example, consolidating process into the ‘back office’, may in fact increase costs and reduce quality.

It seems unfair to criticise the change process if the change itself is flawed. And yet it may not be easy to detect the flaws before the change has been implemented.

With such a bad track  record, a prudent course would be to tread carefully. Perhaps change is best approached as a series of small experiments to trial and validate different changes. Big bang approaches seem too dangerous. When you’re playing russian roulette, it really can be a big bang!

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