Monday, May 31, 2010

Are Pepsico, L’Oreal, Microsoft, and Walmart Good Corporate Citizens too?

Three CSR/Sustainability bloggers and practitioners that I admire, respect and follow are David Connor, Jeffrey Hollender, and Toby Webb. All three have recently posted blogs about companies who they feel are role models. David recently spent time with Microsoft people and Jeffrey with the CEO of Walmart Canada, and Toby has recently posted Ethical Corps 2010 Award Winners and Commended Companies.

See what David has to say about Microsoft here.

See what Jeffreyhas to say about Walmart here.

View Ethical Corp’s list here.

I would be very interested in other research you are aware of that provides evidence of other role models. Please get in touch with me.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

Friday, May 28, 2010

Cisco - a fine example of what a good corporate citizen looks like

Recently I had the privilege of speaking at the Key Media HR Summits in Singapore and Hong Kong. In Singapore I followed Jodi Krause, The Director for Organization Effectiveness for Cisco, who spoke on Engaging Talent for Greater Productivity. As my talk immediately followed Jodi’s, with no break for the audience, I was in the wings for her presentation which I thoroughly enjoyed. In fact it was uncanny how many times Jodi proved with real evidence what I was about to talk about and so of course in my own presentation I referred to what Jodi had said several times.

Later on Jodi and I had a fascinating chat about Cisco and their geniune CSR practices and we have since corresponded with one another.

Here is link to a video by Cisco CEO John Chambers and other Cisco leaders about their CSR practices and philosophies, 5 mins of great insight and some other great information via the link.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

Wednesday, May 26, 2010

45 tools, tips, and techniques for recruiting, engaging, and retaining great people

45 tools, tips, and techniques for recruiting, engaging, and retaining great people is the title of my latest ebook and perhaps my most practical ever to help SME owners, leaders, and employees be remarkable in todays challenging times.

My ebook is about:

Attitude towards ourselves and other people.

The great German playwright, poet, and novelist Goethe said:
If we see man as he is, he can only get worse. 
If we see man as he could be, he can only get better.

How do you see yourself and other people?

Appreciating ourselves and other people

The eminent psychologist William James observed:
The deepest principle of human nature is a craving to be appreciated.

How well do you genuinely appreciate yourself and other people?

Accountability
The lack of accountability across the board in the world today is the biggest reason in my view for our troubles as a human race.

Just think Wall Street, Politics!

Accountability is the other side of the coin to appreciation. And one without the other is a recipe for poor performance.

How well do you hold yourself and other people to account for less than agreed performance?

My ebook contains the best 45 tools, tips, and techniques I have designed and helped people to implement in the past 20 years that mean a better attitude towards people, greater appreciation of people, and higher levels of accountability. All these of course lead to greater performance and higher profits.

You can purchase my ebook here for a short time only for just $5 AUD!

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

Tuesday, May 25, 2010

There are alternatives to Facebook

The debate about Facebook's apparent lack of respect for our privacy is still raging. I am still considering whether to stay with Facebook or not!

My decision however probably won't be influenced all that much by what Facebook does or doesn't do about privacy.
I find LinkedIn a far superior place because for me there is an absence of fluff on LinkedIn whereas Facebook for me contains all kinds of useless stuff that I mostly find annoying and an unnecessary interruption to my life.

There are other alternatives to Facebook of course such as Trustworks, or Hyves. I am not a member of either of these however I do stay up with who is doing what and where.

For me my question is: What is the value for me of staying on Facebook? And right now I can't see a lot of value. It is not a tribe for me like differencemakers, or egurusbiz, or the groups of I am involved in on LinkedIn.

I would be interested in your thoughts.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

Wednesday, May 19, 2010

Could there be life without party politics?

David Cameron and Nick Clegg’s rise to Prime Minister and Deputy Prime Minister of United Kingdom has got me thinking of life beyond party politics. Neither man’s party won enough votes in the recent election so they have been forced to collaborate in order to form a Government. Many doubt this so-called experiment will work. I for one think it is desperately needed: politicians in some ways ideological opposed, working together for the common good. Isn’t the common good what politicians are supposed to be working for?

Pity collaboration is not happening in America or Australia where party politics stands in the way of progress. Australian Prime Minister Rudd’s reputation is in tatters because he doesn’t have the numbers to turn his climate change legislation and other reforms into law and so he has back flipped on most of what he promised he would do before he got elected.

On the other side Opposition Leader (what a joke we have such a title) Tony Abbott talks tough and that’s about all, a typical politician, all huff and puff and no courage to put aside differences and actually achieve something that matters for the common good. In recent days Abbott basically admitted on National television that he doesn't always tell truth. His predecessor Malcolm Turnbull at least had courage and appeared to be honest. Sadly he got dumped.

President Obama received a Nobel Peace Prize based on a hope he would lead the world out of the pathetically self-interested way we have been led for centuries. Currently hope is looking hopeless as extraordinary vehemence dominates American politics and as a result necessary real reforms fade into oblivion.

Party politics is a great demonstration of either/or thinking and lies at the heart of the violence that dominates our world. Without party politics would there be such violence?

I vote for independent politicians. My hope is that one day such folk will out number the political parties and we will then have a chance at real democracy.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

Tuesday, May 18, 2010

A Blog about Blogging

I've recently seen the movie Julie and Julia. Julie is bored with her Government job. She decides to cook every recipe from the Julia Child cookbook "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and blog about it. I can't believe I hadn't seen this movie before now! Although I am no cook (my idea of a gourmet meal is something ready-marinaded from Coles) I am a major francophile, and much of the film is set in France. It's based on two true stories, too.

The movie has some great lessons for difference-makers. A blog is a great way to get exposure for your difference-making ideas.

1. Julie set herself the goal of cooking all 524 recipes in 356 days, and to post a blog every single day. To persuade her husband of the merits of her plan, she said "A blog gives you something you have to do every day, one day at a time. It's good for me to have short-term goals". She chose a project and committed to it. Commit to a regular plan. You don't have to blog every single day, but the more often the better. The more you write, the more you find to write about.

2. She persevered with her blog, even though there were no results in the short term - "I feel like I'm sending things into this giant void!". Keep going - it takes a while to get traction and build a fan base.

3. She discovered that her writing had real value for her fan base - "A whole group of people connected with me, who need me in some way. If I didn't write, they would be upset". Write for the people who value what you do.

4. She told the truth and reported on her failings, even with her husband saying "You could lie - there are no aspic police". When she dropped a chicken on the floor and the stuffing fell out, she wrote about it. When a famous food editor cancelled her dinner visit, she admitted it in the blog and shared her disappointment. Be authentic - people want to connect with the real you.

5. Finally Julia's blog was published in the New York Times and offers began to flood in. In what was for me the most poignant scene of the film, Julie exclaims "I'm going to be a writer!" Her husband replies "You are a writer. And she was. She hadn't waited for someone to give her permission to write - she just got on and did it. Be a writer!

6. We also see Julia Child's struggle to get her cookbook published, resulting in many disappointments. She eventually succeeded because her friend Avis knew a publisher. Avis had been her pen-friend and they had got to know each other very well through years of correspondence. The modern equivalent would be someone you had met through LinkedIn but never met in person. Build your online networks!

It's a story of individualism and determination to design one's desired life. Julie and Julia both resolved to do something remarkable and refused to be trapped in ordinariness. Thought leaders need to do that too. No one asked Julie to write a cooking blog - her plan sounded crazy at first. But no one else was doing it, and it proved to be a winner.

See the movie if you haven't already. But more importantly, fire up that blog!

Collaborate - It's the Path to Success

Google recently released a new piece of software called "Google Wave". It hasn't received a lot of popular press attention, perhaps because it's not about social media like Facebook or Twitter - and those things are still "flavour of the year".

But in its way, it's far more powerful. Why? Because it helps people work together.

In other words, it helps you to collaborate.

You might not have noticed it, but collaboration is an important trend today - even if you're a one-person business who makes a living telling other people what to do.

For example ...

  • You can collaborate more with clients when customising a presentation to suit their needs.
  • You invite colleagues to be guest presenters for members of your membership site.
  • I'm seeing more examples of two or three experts collaborating on books, so readers get the value of their combined expertise.
  • More successful podcasts are now done as interviews or with multiple presenters, rather than just one person talking into a microphone.
  • Even audiences are expecting more collaboration during your presentation, as my friend Alicia Curtis points out.

These are not isolated examples.

The Internet makes it easier for people to collaborate. Even if those people live in different time zones, different countries, different cultures and live very different lives. They can still come together easily and effectively - certainly far easier than ever before.

Webinars.
Teleseminars.
Conference calls.
Facebook.
LinkedIn.
Skype.
On-line forums.
Google Docs.
Elance.
Ning.

These are all examples of modern tools that help people collaborate. And all are available to "normal" people without any particular technical skills.

Are YOU collaborating with others?

This is not about the tools and the technology. Sure, the tools are necessary to make the collaboration easier. But it's first about your mindset.

Are you actively seeking ways to collaborate? It really is the way of the future, so if you're not doing it, you're falling behind.

Here are some questions to get you started:

  1. Which colleagues - particularly differencemakers - can you collaborate with easily to bring more value to your clients?
  2. If you're a presenter, how can you enlist audiences in making your next presentation even more effective? (One obvious way is to survey them before your presentation. That's still effective, but what's another way?)
  3. What collaboration technology are you not using yet - but could make a significant difference if you do start using it?

Monday, May 17, 2010

Norway - a great example of how to run a country according to journalist Angela Shanahan

Angela Shanahan’s article in the Weekend Australian May 15-16 2010 tells of how Norway is a shining light amongst much economic doom and gloom.

As I read Angela’s article I asked myself how come I didn’t know this before? and, how come Norway’s story is not headline news all over the world?

Maybe it’s the skeptic and cynic in me however good news doesn’t seem to sell!

If there are other countries out there doing well by doing good please let me know and I will do my bit to spread good news stories.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

Saturday, May 15, 2010

The Death and Life of Corporate Responsibility by Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen

Here is a great manifesto by two leading edge corporate sustainability practitioners Jeffrey Hollender and Bill Breen.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

Wednesday, May 12, 2010

How Military Values hold Meaning for the Corporate World

Fortune Magazine, in an article on its website edition, has done a cover story on the rising popularity of recruiting military officers for leadership. It is easy to understand how someone whose leadership skills were honed in combat would be more qualified for leadership than the candidate whose only leadership test could have been winning the school summer camp obstacle race.

The correlation between military service and leadership ability is well documented. Studies show that companies with military leaders outperform their peers.Many of our nation's most respected companies have discovered a source for talent that traditional recruiting methods often overlook - the men and women of our Armed Services. The leadership skills, core values, integrity, and work ethic of our military transition members provide a bridge to span the leadership gap in our current workforce.

There are seven core values associated with the military: Loyalty, Duty, Respect, Selfless Service, Honour, Integrity and  Personal Courage. Let us examine each military value for its usefulnes to the corporate world.

Loyalty - Bear true faith and allegiance to the Nation, the Army, and other soldiers.

This means showing your faith in your organisation, your leaders and your colleagues. People want to know they can trust you. And you want the same reassurances from others.

Duty - Fulfill your obligations. Accept responsibility for your actions and those entrusted to your care. Find opportunities to improve oneself for the good of the unit.

You've got a job to do and people depend on you to get it done. If someone needs help, give it to them. If you need help, seek it from your peers. Be consistent in action and deed.

Respect - Treat people as they should be treated.

How we consider others reflects upon each of us, both personally and as a professional organization. Act courteously toward customers, colleagues and seniors. If you disagree with an opinion or point of view, challenge the position, but avoid the personal attack. Remember that your actions speak volumes about yourself and your business or organization.

Selfless Service - Put the welfare of the nation, the Army, and your subordinates before your own.

Selfless service leads to organizational teamwork and encompasses discipline, self-control and faith in the system.Take care of your co-workers. Go the 'extra mile' for your customers and clients, even if gains you nothing more than some personal satisfaction. Volunteer to take on the tough job, or the mundane job that others avoid.

Honour - Live up to all the Army values.

Live up to the values of your business. Act accordingly, and others will recognize you as an individual of principled character. Don't fall into the trap of, "but I just did what others did before me". Given the choice, take the 'high road'. Distinguish yourself from those who would be satisfied to do less.

Integrity - Do what is right, legally and morally.

Ask yourself, "Is this the right thing to do? How does it reflect on who I am?" If your inner voice is sounding the alarm, it's doing so for a good reason. Avoid shortcuts, cheats, or otherwise doing less than what is expected. Don't compromise yourself, your friends, family or business for some short-term satisfaction. Integrity offers long-term rewards that can't be acquired any other way.

Personal Courage - Face fear, danger, or adversity with physical and moral courage.

Is a boss asking you to do something questionable? Been in a group that disparages a certain race or ethnicity? It may be safer to go along with the crowd, or do nothing at all. It takes inner strength to stand up to peer pressure and moral dilemmas. It's easy to be a follower - anyone can do that. True leadership requires all of one's audacity, nerve and 'guts' to negotiate the difficult roads that lie before us.

Yes, these men and women who wish to launch their second careers have battle proven leadership ability. But even more importantly they have honour. And the courage to do what is right, even if there is risk of casualties. They are worthy of respect and worthy of trust. They are ready to lead, with integrity.

And they are looking to leading their way to the corner office instead of the hill.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

Does your plan include a ladder?

It is that time of year, and that time in the business cycle when leaders' thoughts turn to strategic planning. No more keeping your head down in bunker mentality mode to ride out the economic crisis - it's time to carve a new path.
 
I've seen many plans over the course of 25 years or so, and many of them are missing the key components that will help them be successful. When it comes down to it, many business owners invest time, energy, thought, and money in creating plans that don't yield the results they want. Here's what I mean:

 
  • The vision-only plan. This plan articulates the owner's dream for the company. It speaks in hearts and flowers about becoming the provider of choice for the products and services it provides. It sometimes talks about geographic expansion, or of being on the leading edge of technology. But it stops short of developing specific, measurable action steps to fulfill its intentions. It becomes, in effect, a castle in the clouds.  
  • The tactics-only plan. This plan is often developed in tandem with the annual budget process. It focuses on the activities for the next year (calendar or fiscal.) But it doesn't reach beyond the limited view of the near-term. So the boots on the ground in the company or organization don't understand why they are doing what they are doing.
  • The super-secret stuff plan. This is the work of art that is locked securely in a file cabinet so no unauthorized people can get ahold of it. Life in a closely held business means that owners often don't want to share the intimate personal details behind the business. In other cases there are strategies or tactics that are better not shared beyond a limited audience, but usually there are more that can only be accomplished with all hands on deck.

 
What a plan needs is, in effect, a ladder to connect the boots on the ground with the castle in the clouds. Sure, create that beautiful vision for the future of the company and the grand purpose that galvanizes employees and gives them the sense of doing something significant. But then make the connection to tactics - even down to specific departmental or individual accountabilities that will take the company from point A closer to point B as defined in the plan.

 
Don't be concerned about a fancy wrapper - rather than a leather binding, give your plan one sheet of paper (highlights, of course) that can live under the glass on an employee's desktop, or on a bulletin board in their workspace. Make it easy to access and it will have greater relevance to day-to-day activities.

 
Make it measurable. Your staff will be encouraged by visible progress up the rungs of the ladder. This might seem a bit scary if you're not used to making performance measurable and public inside your company. But what's more important to you - feeling comfortable or achieving success? I'm betting that the people who work with you can help you reach that castle, and more quickly than you thought possible.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Books about sustainability that really matter

One of the blogs I subscribe to and gain much from is Jeffrey Hollender’s - The Inspired Protagonist. Recently he referred to a list of books on sustainability that really matter. Please check out the list here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

Wednesday, May 5, 2010

McKinsey - can social entrepreneurs create large-scale change?

There are some fascinating and insightful essays here by John Elkington, Bill Drayton, Sally Osberg, Paul Light, Mindy Lubber, and others to answer this question in the What Matters section of McKinsey’s websiite.

I was somewhat surprised by Elkington’s answer and would be interested in your thoughts on his and everyone else’s essays.

I particularly liked Paul Light’s essay on collaboration which for me is the key to bringing about the changes our world so desparately needs.

The ability and willingness to collaborate for the good of people and our planet is the new hallmark of real leadership for me and to date no politician has been able to do it so the baton lies waiting to be picked up by social entrepreneurs, entreprenuers, small business owners, big business owners; for me by insightpreneurs and differencemakers!

Connecting personal leadership, innovation, and sustainability is the key theme for this years differencemakers tour master-classes. You can find out more here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.

Saturday, May 1, 2010

Is doing good, REALLY good for business?

On 28th April I was interviewed by Gihan Perera of First Step Communications on the subject Is doing good Really good for business.

Gihan asked me some tough questions:

Do you have real evidence that this helps the bottom line?

Can we afford to do this in tough economic times?

Is it really the organisation's responsibility, or should they maximise shareholder return and leave it to the shareholders themselves to do the good?

Are organisations just doing this because it's good PR? (And if so, does it matter, as long as the good gets done?)

Are we in danger of doing superficial good and feeling smug about it (e.g. greenwashing), while neglecting the real problems?

I trust that my answers will challenge your mind, stirr your heart, and inspire you to take personal responsibility for sustainability.

You can listen to or download the interview here.

Be remarkable
Ian
Founder Differencemakers Community
Sign-up here for a least one free resource per month and to get your complimentary copy of my ebook Differencemakers - how doing good is great for business.