Friday, January 29, 2010

Dr Graeme Codrington’s elearning courses for environmental sustainability

Highly respected futurist Dr Graeme Codrington has put together 3 excellent elearning courses on:

How to Save Energy and Save Money
How to Make the Public Sector Green
The Carbon Reduction Commitment

Please read about them here.

You can click on the links in the article and view the first two courses in each segment for free before signing up.

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Tuesday, January 26, 2010

Want to benefit from LinkedIN? Stop treating it as a dumping ground for your CV, blogs and Business Card!

Your web site may be sitting there waiting for visitors to come along but not so for LinkedIN because it has 55 million users who regularly visit. The best thing is that you don’t even have to pay to reach these 55 million people. You just need to figure out a way to attract their attention.

The paradox with online networking is that it is difficult to put into practice the usual nine influencing tactics of; reasoning, inspiring, inquiring, make them feel good, strike a deal, swapping favours, using silent allies, authority and force. There are three reasons why this is the case.

Firstly, most people joining LinkedIN are focused on themselves and use a discussion or comment as a disguise to leave their ‘online’ business card. Secondly, most people tend to fallback on reasoning to get their point across and a discussion then ends up as a verbal arm-wrestling contest. Thirdly, they underestimate the time, effort, and skill required to engage in a fluid and dynamic conversation.

To get benefits from online business networking, you need to invest time and energy to build your reputation. It is your reputation that influences and attracts people. People want insight not Inmails. The more insights you share, the more people will see you as an expert. The more valuable you become in your network, the more people will be attracted to you and so your reputation grows. Over time, people starts to look to you to facilitate connections with other people. In short, you become more than your CV, you become an invaluable asset in your network. In benefiting others, you become the benefit of online business networking.

Monday, January 25, 2010

Demand Funny Ideas

All the easy problems have been solved. To solve difficult problems requires deeper thinking and a true commitment to the quest.

Most creative breakthroughs begin with ideas that sound odd at first. People put forward conventional, safe, serious ideas because they think that is what is expected of them at work. If leaders are truly looking for creative ideas, they have to make that expectation clear.

I suggested to a manager that he send some of his people to a marketing seminar that was coming to town, and sent him the brochure. This seminar was directly relevant to his industry. A week later I happened to see him, and asked if he was going to send anyone to the seminar. He said no, he wasn’t. Curious, I asked why not. I thought he would say that they were all too busy to go, or that they had no budget left. His response was revealing. He said “They might come back with some funny ideas”.

On the one hand, this manager would say that his business is innovative. On the other hand, he wanted to exercise control of his people's thinking. There is a tension between traditional management (which is about control), and leading for innovation (which is about freedom). Even if he says he wants people to put forward their ideas, the subtext is "only if they are ideas that fit with my existing views".

People look to the leader for clues as to the “right” way to behave. They offer “safe” ideas which they think will gain the approval of others. One really simple way to get more creative ideas is to ask people to “be creative” with their suggestions. Research shows that people are more likely to produce unusual, useful ideas if they are given instructions to be creative, than if they are asked, for example, to “do their best”*. Asking them to be creative focuses their attention on being creative (rather than, say, pragmatic, or quick).

Funny ideas are fuel for the cauldron of innovation.

*Shalley, C.E Effects of Productivity Goals, Creativity Goals, and Personal Discretion on Individual Creativity (1991) Journal of Applied Psychology, Vol. 76, No.2 179-185

Sunday, January 24, 2010

Is your business under-performing; or is it failing and needs turning around? Are you or your leaders missing these leadership attributes?

If you answered yes and you hold a position of influence in any organization regardless of size or aspire to do so, this could be one of the most important 60-minutes interactive webinars you will attend in 2010.

In the current fragile economy, with business failures increasing rapidly, there has never been a more relevant and opportune time to hear Mike Higgins' observations and lessons learnt in turning around under-performing businesses. Mike has had over 20 years experience of turning around under-performing and failing companies/organisations. He has held senior MD/COO roles in companies like Adobe Systems, EDS, Sapient, EBS Dealing Resources and Texas Instruments. You can read more about Mike on his LinkedIN profile page.

Leaders Cafe Foundation is pleased to host this free 60-minutes webinar given by Mike Higgins. The webinar examines some of the fundamental leadership attributes needed to turn around business performance. Places are limited to 100 and are strictly on a first come, first served basis (and they are going fast).

Date: Feb 4th 2010
Time: 14:00 GMT

Please sign-up for the webinar using the Share Widget here.

Saturday, January 23, 2010

Immediately usable strategies and tactics for sustainability

I read a great book over the recent holidays, Strategies for Sustainability - A Business Manifesto by Adam Werbach the Global CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi S.

I read this book from cover to cover in one sitting and have been back to it several times. It now has a permanent place on my desk. I liked the idea presented of helping people create personal sustainability projects as a key to their work.

For many years now I have been helping organisations to ensure that personal and business goals are in harmony with one another as a key to successful performance management and people engagement systems and adding personal sustainability into the mix I am certain with further enhance the success of this concept.

I like Werbach's book because it is practical. Read it and you can get started on sustainability for yourself and your business right away.

Speaking of practical, Will Marre's Top 10 Things Every Business Leader Should Know About Strategic Sustainability is brilliant. You can read them here. And please spend some time on Will's Thought Rocket blog as I did. I am sure you will find such a visit worthwhile.

While we are on lists Fast Company has a good list here of 51 great sites for those wanting to refine their sustainability strategies and tactics.

I found this list on development crossing where I also discovered Will Marre. Development crossing is the best community site I have come across that focuses on one thing namely corporate social responsibility.

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I like Werbach's book so much it has caused me to update my list of the top 21 books I recommend. You can download this list here.

Monday, January 18, 2010

Seek many answers

The twice-Nobel Prize winner Linus Pauling said “To have a good idea, you first need to have a lot of ideas.” The challenge is to generate lots of ideas, lots of possibilities to consider, rather than stopping when the first "good" idea is put forward.

Pressure of time means that people are usually looking to "tick off" or "check off" an item and move on to the next challenge or task. So problem-solving becomes a perfunctory exercise, not an exercise in creative thinking.

Whenever you ask a question, the first answer is likely to be something that other people have also thought of. To come up with an original idea, you need to persevere with the challenge.

When you ask a question, people may think it is a test, or that there is one "correct" answer. As the leader, you need to make it clear that you do not personally know the answer, and are looking for a whole range of ideas.

To increase the number of ideas generated, set a target number to be achieved. Ask for twenty ways to solve the challenge – this shows that you are serious about exploring the question. The first ten ideas are difficult to think of, but after that, people start to get more creative, and the ideas get more interesting. More people participate, and ideas are less likely to be dismissed, because they are needed in order to meet the target.

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Life/work balance is nonsense - life/work harmony is possible

I hear a lot of talk about life/work balance and I think most of it is nonsense.

The word balance for me implies equal. I prefer the word harmony, therefore life/work harmony.

My personal and business life are not equal or in balance and are never likely to be.

They are in harmony with one another, that is, they work together like a symphony, two sides of the same coin

Here are my 11 laws of life/work harmony. I trust they will help you live a more harmonious life.

1. The Law of Harmony

Opposites attract. There are always at least two sides to every story.

Possible Action/Results: Always think both / and, rather than either / or; accept the good with the bad; appreciate pleasure, gain from pain; focus on the positive, learn from the negative; and you will soon begin to find harmony in your life.

2. The Law of Possibility

The opportunities life offers us are endless. There are no limits, except those we place on ourselves. There is nothing we cannot achieve.

3. The Law of Personal Responsibility

No one else can make us feel or think glad, sad, bad or mad. How we feel and think are choices we make.

Possible Action/Results: We must own our feelings and thoughts and not get tangled in other people’s feelings and thoughts. We must let go of attachment to what other people feel and think. Soon we eliminate guilt and worry; two of life’s most useless and most debilitating emotions.

4. The Law of Attraction

Success is not something we attain, rather something we attract.

Possible Action/Results: Commit to life-long learning; focus on insight more than information and wisdom more than knowledge. The more we become who we are capable of becoming the more we attract success.

5. The Law of the Farm

You find fertile ground, plough it, seed it, and nurture it, and more often than not you reap a harvest. We get what we give. What goes around comes around. These are modern ways of describing an old adage; we reap what we sow.

Possible Action/Results: The message of this law is that we must focus on proven processes and detach from outcomes. If we are taking the right action, results take care of themselves.

6. The Law of Relationships

We gravitate to those we like, know and trust.

Possible Action/Results: Establish shared values with family, friends and work colleagues, and agree on how they will be lived; have shared goals and agree on the key strategies to achieve them; practice non-judgment; give genuine attention to others. Before you know it your relationships will be stronger and the great door of opportunity will open more often.

7. The Law of Service

Giving without attachment to getting back creates one of life’s great paradoxes; we get more back.

Possible Action/Results: Fully understand what others need and provide it; go the extra mile

By adding value to every transaction and interaction; co-create wow experiences at work, home and play. Before long others will be serving you in ways beyond your wildest expectations.

8. The Law of Confidence

Confidence is to maintain a positive inner and outer image and display them. The problem can be that confidence is often perceived as arrogance.

Possible Action/Results: Demonstrate openness to learning and not asserting your way is the only way while at the same time believe in yourself; believe in others; speak and communicate from your heart; and confidence will rarely get mistaken for arrogance.

9. The Law of Actual Communication

Not all talk is communication. We often talk just for the joy of it. To actually communicate is to agree on some course of action even if it is to agree to disagree.

Possible Action/Results: To communicate better speak with a specific goal in mind and listen simply to understand, and when speaking and listening ask for feedback to ensure message effectiveness. You will most likely find you will speak less and listen more. The result however is to eventually eliminate misunderstanding, one of the great negative stress causes in life.

10. The Law of Adaptability

I heard a great saying one time “better to adapt than be a sitting duck and get run over”

Possible Action/Results: Our willingness to adapt, be flexible, and go with the flow are keys to a negative stress free life. A key seems to be to realize it is not what happens to us that is important rather our response to what happens. Take responsibility for your responses to life and life will respond to you.

11. The Law of Synchronicity/Interconnectedness

Everything is connected in some way to everything else.

Possible Action/Results: Seek coincidence, follow your heart, “do what you love” says Steven Farber “in the service of people who love what you do”; and your life will soon change for the better.

Have a personal sustainability plan (thank you Adam Werbach for the idea from his book Strategies for Sustainability) i.e. do what you can personally for the good of people and our planet. Imagine if everyone did this. We would have universal harmony.

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Monday, January 11, 2010

Keep them wondering

Questions provide a catalyst for thinking. Leaders can promote innovative thinking by posing interesting questions - things they have been wondering about. Questions draw people's attention to things they wouldn't otherwise think about.

The leader doesn't always have to be the one asking the questions. The questions you come up with are based on your own experience and mindset. If everyone in your team put forward questions for people to think about, you'd get an exponential increase in the power of your collective thinking. Encourage your team to exercise and express their curiosity by proposing their own questions for discussion.

Your decision as to where to focus your innovation effort can lead to competitive advantage. To choose the best focus, you need a good flow of questions.

If you are the only person asking the questions, you limit the range of challenges that can be examined. Everyone has a different set of perceptions and experiences, and will see different areas where innovation could be applied.

Encourage your people to take notice of what is happening around them and to search actively for new problems or questions, rather than just reacting to the problems that present themselves.

The 25 Best Givers?

Here is a list of the 25 best givers according to Barron’s and consulting firm Global Philanthropy Group. The idea of listing the best in philanthropy is a tad oxymoronish for me, nevertheless makes interesting reading, and, one of the charities that Torchbearer membership of differencemakers community supports, Room-to-Read comes in at number 11.

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Friday, January 8, 2010

The Hedonist’s Guide To Getting Things Done: Goal Setting Made Easy

Most goal-setting programs are hard. The system might sound easy , but achieving the goals is difficult. It usually takes discipline, willpower, a strong mindset, hard work, sacrifice and struggle.

No wonder most people fail at their goals or New Year's Resolutions!

I've got a different approach to goal setting: This year, choose, plan and achieve goals that bring you joy, ease and happiness - not only when you achieve them, but along the way as well.

Now I know this flies in the face of many (most?) goal-setting programs! So be warned that what I'm going to share here might be controversial, confronting or conflicting with other advice you've seen. But hey - if you do embrace my advice, you will enjoy the next twelve months. So what have you got to lose?

The title of this article is tongue in cheek. A hedonist is purely motivated by pleasure, perhaps even selfish pleasure. I'm not suggesting that's appropriate as a way of life. But I do think we spend way too much time in our life doing things we don't want, that we're not good at, with people we don't like, and without getting any reward. Why not do something different this year?

Heck, there'll be plenty of times when life isn't perfect. Sure, you might get stuck in traffic, fight with your partner, struggle getting the kids to sleep, do work that you don't want to do just because it's in your job description, or force yourself to be more disciplined at work. But those things are going to happen anyway. Why would you deliberately schedule more of those things in your goal setting as well?

So do yourself a favour when you're setting your goals for the year: Don't create goals and activities that involve struggle, complication, hardship and sacrifice. I know that sounds counter-intuitive, especially if you've done other goal-setting programs. But hang in there - I'll explain ...

I've got ten guidelines here, broken down into three areas: Choosing the right goals (4 guidelines), planning (3) and taking action (3).


1. Do what you love

It's surprising how many people set a goal because they think they “should” do it, or they “need” to do it, or somebody else wants it for them. Those goals are the first to go when life gets in the way.

So only choose goals that you want to achieve. In fact, I'll go a step further and say you should only choose goals that you will love to achieve. This isn't about being selfish; it's about choosing wisely.

2. Love who you'll be

Think carefully: Are you going to be happy - truly happy - with the person you're going to become if you do achieve your goals?

If you get that big promotion, will you be OK spending more time away from your spouse and kids? If you go on that carrot juice diet and lose 20 kilos, can you tolerate having to gaze longingly and wistfully at chocolate cake from now until the end of your life? If you get all those business travel opportunities, can you cope with spending wasted hours in airports, taxi queues and hotel rooms?

Be sure you're willing to accept all the consequences of achieving your goal.

3. Think big

Most people don't fail because their goals are too big; they fail because their goals are too small. Those goals are easily forgotten or tossed aside when something bigger comes along. So make sure you set big - but achievable - goals.

As Jonathon Kozol says, “Pick battles big enough to matter; small enough to win”.

4. Know the reason why

It's not the “what” and “how” of a goal that motivates you; it's the “why”. Sometimes you'll end up with something that wasn't exactly what you imagined, but it still achieves the same result.


5. Love what you do

Plan to enjoy the journey. If it takes willpower, discipline or sacrifice to achieve your goal, it's harder to do and easier to slip up. Instead, make it fun!

It's no fun to crawling out of bed an hour early to exercise, but perhaps you can make it fun by exercising with a friend, so you make it a social event as well.

It's no fun to set aside 10% of your income for wealth creation, but what if you also set aside another 10% as “play money”, to be spent on fun and frivolity?

It's no fun to call past customers to bring them back into your fold, but what if you invited them to a cocktail party instead?

6. Hang out with people you like

Life's too short to spend with people you don't like, love, inspire or are inspired by.

Decide who you want to spend more time with this year, and make sure they're part of your journey. They don't have to be actively involved in helping you achieve your goals - although that's a bonus. But make sure they're around. And be especially sure you don't neglect them while achieving your goals.

7. Get help

Whatever your goals, there's a good chance somebody else has already achieved them. So find the right mentors and ask for their help. You might have to pay, or you might not. Either way, it's the best way to fast-track your success.


8. Start before you're ready

You won't have all your preparation complete. You won't know exactly what path to follow. There's always a reason not to start today. But if you're waiting for the perfect moment to get started, you'll be waiting a long time. The perfect moment is now.

9. Take a big step first

A rocket uses most of its fuel in escaping the Earth's atmosphere. After that, it takes very little energy to keep going.

Many of your goals - especially the biggest and most important goals - are similar. Don't start with baby steps; start with massive strides. The good news is that often just a few strides can make a big difference, and then everything else is easy.

Obviously I'm not suggesting you do dangerous things, like suddenly taking up squash if you're unfit. But if it's OK to start walking for 30 minutes a day, start walking. Don't “build up to it” with unnecessary little steps - e.g. buying new sneakers, starting a journal to record your progress, telling all your Facebook friends, shopping for a new T-shirt to celebrate the start of the journey, and plotting the optimal walking route for different weather conditions. Sure, these small steps are easy, but it's the first big step (literally in this case) that matters.

10. Do something every day

Do something towards at least one of your goals every day. After all, why wouldn't you? These activities are fun, not a burden or a chore. So, in addition to working towards your goals, you're adding some fun and enjoyment to every day of your life!

More importantly, at the end of the year, you will have taken 365 steps - enjoyable steps - towards achieving your goals. That's 365 more than the average person.

So that's it. Those are my ten guidelines for easy goal setting.

Good luck, and I wish you all the best for making 2010 the best year of your life.

Wednesday, January 6, 2010

Ray Anderson - climbing Mt Sustainability

One of the great champions of proving the business case for sustainability Ray Anderson of Interface gives some of the insights he and his people have gleaned in climbing what Ray calls Mt. Sustainability

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Tuesday, January 5, 2010

True happiness comes from recurring income, not passive income

A participant in an on-line community recently wrote about Tim Ferriss' book "The Four-Hour Work Week". He liked the book, but criticised it for promoting the unrealistic goal of "finding a niche for an online business that will make you money while you sleep. And only takes 4 hours a week".

I agree with him: It's not easy to create a passive income stream on the Internet. But I don't think that's the point of the book.

Unfortunately, I think that's one of the biggest misunderstandings of the book. Too many people latched on to the idea of "instant Internet income", and missed the whole point of the book. It's not about creating an automated business; it's about doing what you love, so that what seems like work only takes a few hours a week.

I've heard Ferriss say as much on a few audio interviews, and I wonder whether the revised version of the book places less of an emphasis on on-line business.

Personally, I think true happiness in business comes from recurring income, not passive income. The difference? Passive income is making money in your sleep, which - I agree - is difficult. Recurring income, on the other hand, is where you have a bunch of loyal followers who want to be part of your network, you consistently deliver great value to them, and they're happy to pay you a subscription for it.

My rental properties bring me passive income. My membership site brings me recurring income. I have to work at the latter, but it's work I love, so it's by far the more fulfilling.