Sunday, November 28, 2010

When It's Darkest, Men See The Stars - Ralph Waldo Emerson

A blog post by Steve Blank by the same title got me thinking about leadership and networked intelligence for entrepreneurs - that is, what kind of leadership and networks are needed now for pioneering leadership? (Steve's blogpost is well worth a read). In essence, Steve talks about the current financial crisis may be the beginning of an economic revolution - the entrepreneurial revolution. A revolution that will permanently reshape business. Steve talks about how startups in the past were mainly constrained by six barriers

However, the evidence is that these barriers to innovative startups are being removed because we are seeing:
  • Compressed product development cycles
  • New structures springing up in the venture capital industry
  • Entrepreneurialship is developing its own management science
  • The consumer and internet are often driving innovation rathe than organisations themselves

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These structural changes to the entrepreneurial landscape has led (and leading to) an entrepreneurial explosion.

Image credit:

Pioneering Leadership

The wonderful thing about this entrepreneurial revolution is that people are rediscovering what it means to be a pioneer and to be a builder. (see Umar Haque's brilliant The Builder's Manifesto). In our pursuit of efficiency and effectiveness (you need them), the industrial revolution and the science of management has managed out the pioneering spirit from our human nature. It has managed out the six irresistible human endowments that compel human beings to lead irrespective of age, gender, status, race, nationality, creed and religion. These six irresistible human endownments are;
  • Purpose
  • Passion
  • Hope
  • Curiosity
  • Tenacity
  • Courage
And here is a wonderful example of this pioneering leadership - of how Robert Harrison, Space Enthusiast, records earth on £500 budget!

Social Networking and Network Intelligence

This structural change to the entrepreneurial landscape is also supported by the explosion in social networking and social media. It is hard to believe that the World Wide Web is only just 20 years old and the term 'social media' is less than 10 years old. It is social networking and social media that has brought about:
  • Low cost to first product
  • Short time to first product
  • (Getting to) large pool of risk capital
  • Fast customer adoption rate (creating fans and followers)
  • Lower startup failure rate
  • Global innovation

Those who have truly mastered social networking understand its true value, which is helping to establish trusting and meaningful relationships that lead to collaboration to build better business faster. The world is too complex for budding entrepreneurs to go it alone.
In short, how do they create a networked community to deliver networked intelligence that matters! In his brilliant book, The Five Literacies of Global Leadership, Richard Hames says of Networked Intelligence - "the key aspects of Networked Intelligence are ...."
  • The creation of preferential networks (look outside your normal hierarchies and boundaries for really fresh insights)
  • The strength of weak ties (don't just connect with people you know - those you do not know offer windows into different worlds)
  • Link to ideas not just people - the meeting and mating of ideas to spawn others generates innovation while helping to integrate and transcend what you already know.
  • Networked intelligence is the capability to continuously connect with and relate to other people and ideas in the process of sensing and making sense of complexity. You cannot fully understand complex systems if you do not have real-time intelligence.
Social networking and social media has been a gamechanging enabler in that it has enabled entrepreneurs:
  • to shift from 'selliing' to connecting with their audience at scale and at no cost. In the past, the only way you can reach a large audience and connect with them is via the tradition (and expensive) outbound marketing activities (PR being the exception).
  • to turn followers into fans, and with their help, making a produce/service go viral. That is to say, social media has enabled people to drive inbound marketing activities (at very low cost) instead of traditional outbound marketing activities.
  • to move from 'hard to reach' to being 'available everywhere'.

What are the 10 'Holy Grail' characteristics of a great primary connector in your network

In order to establish this kind of collaboration - entrepreneurs must be able to use social networking and social media to create and lead authentic conversations that matter. Authentic conversations that lead to great primary connections. And how do you know if you already have great primary connections in your network? Accordingly to Melissa Giovagnoli of Networlding, here are the 10 'Holy Grail' characteristics for anyone to be considered a great primary connector in a network.
When it's darkest, men (and women) see the stars .... stars by the names of ........ purpose, passion, hope, curiosity, courage and tenacity (with a dollop of social networking)

Survival of the fittest or the wisest?

I was intrigued by a comment made by Deepak Chopra in the video referred to in my previous post - along the lines there is a shift happening from the survival of the fittest to the wisest. I see this shift happening everywhere.

A few years ago I wrote 52 actions of the wise an e-book designed for you to take just a few minutes a week for a year to improve your life immeasurably. You will be wiser and happier.

You can purchase it here for just $7 or get it for free here by completing my employee engagement pulse check.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
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Thursday, November 25, 2010

Is the Worldshift 20 Declaration a call to action for you?

I watched this inspiring 12 minutes with Deepak Chopra yesterday.

and then downloaded a very powerful 8 pages called the Worldshift 20 Declaration. You can read more and download the PDF here.

I would be very interested in your thoughts on this and on how we can collaborate to do our bit to make these shifts happen.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
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Catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

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, November 23, 2010

Are your messages cutting through the clutter?

Once upon a time I could send one email to my contacts in a given city and fill the room for one of my seminars. Not any more.

To get 20 people to a seminar recently, in the city where I work the most, and have my largest database, I sent 6 emails to my list over 8 weeks, and made more than 100 phone calls!

I also called people to find out why they didn’t respond to what I thought was a very compelling message on a topic that would help them to build a better business faster and give them a competitive edge. The following were the three responses I received the most:

I don’t reply to emails anymore unless I am specifically asked to?

I get so many emails unless they really grab me in the moment I delete them.

I would not have given the seminar a second thought if you hadn’t called me. Personal contact stands out today.

Are your messages cutting through the clutter?

The clear message for me was the power of personal contact. Social media and social networking, great tools that they can be, mean many people are starved of human contact, in fact people are telling me they are craving real conversations with real people in real time.

When was the last time you met with some one face to face with no agenda just a genuine catch up? My resolve is to stand out by being the king of personal contact. How about you?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
Catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

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, November 19, 2010

Vision - Strategy's Secret Sauce

Most strategic planning starts with a discussion of "What's your vision?" and that's the first place where people get stuck. Everyone gets frustrated with trying to "wordsmith" the perfect vision statement. I prefer to think of a business strategy having a "built-in" vision. I find that a vision tends to crystallize during the strategy discussion.

Why is vision important?

Strategy needs vision to give it life. Without vision you have no direction, and are stuck doing what you've always done. Without direction, you have no clarity about where you want to go and what you want your business to be.

Vision gives you focus. Without an understanding of your vision, your staff have no clarity about the organization's purpose or what they should be doing to achieve it. That's demotivating. Without a unified sense of purpose, performance suffers. There is a wastage and leakage of energy, rather than a sense of "pulling together".

Ambitious and energetic people like working in an organization that has a clear sense of direction. If the business seems to be drifting, they are likely to look elsewhere for a position where their contribution can have more impact.

I'm sure you've heard all this before.

It's very easy to say "We need a vision". So why is it so hard to have one? To have a vision, you need to be able to imagine something beyond the current reality; something you haven't seen before. It should be aspirational, rather than a statement of the current situation. A vision is not just an incremental step. Your vision might not currently be possible, but could be achievable over a given time-frame. It's important to have a unique pathway in mind.

To have a vision, you have to allow yourself to imagine something that doesn't presently exist. Author Jonathan Swift said "Vision is the art of seeing the invisible".

It's so nebulous, but so important.


Reinvention and Redefinition - signs of the times

In the past 2 weeks I have given several presentations in Australia, Macau and United Kingdom; all to senior business leaders, and on two occasions for large corporations with significant brand recognition. There has been a reoccurring theme - redefinition and reinvention.

Like it or not business leads the way forward. In a recent interview the Managing Director of McKinsey, Dominic Barton, said the common theme of his interviews with over 300 CEO’s in the past 12 months is transformation.

If successful businesses are focusing on redefining, reinventing, or transforming themselves, what does this suggest for us?

This week I have also taken some time to tune in to the Reinvention summit organised by Michael Margolis of Get Storied fame, and others. The stories we tell others and the ones we tell ourselves are key to our evolution and growth, and to our willingness and ability to make a difference. What stories are you telling?

In Birmingham United Kingdom last Tuesday I was asked by a member of the group I presented to How often do you reinvent yourself and how often do you redesign what you do and how you do it?

I answered daily, weekly, fortnightly, quarterly, yearly and that I have specific processes and methodologies for doing so. How about you?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
Catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

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.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Why workplace trust is a challenge

The challenge with workplace trust, whether from leaders to employees or employees to leaders or employees to employees is that to trust another person you must be willing to be vulnerable. That is, the act of trusting someone means that you are opening yourself up to the 'risk' that whoever you are trusting could 'break' your trust.

You see, trust cannot be broken unless it is given in the first place.

This is one of the factors that makes trust within an organisation so hard.

Whether this be from leader to employees, or from employees to leaders. The same is true.

In this context leaders must be able to demonstrate that they are willing to be vulnerable by trusting employees, and employees need to demonstrate that they too are willing to be vulnerable by trusting their leaders.

I'm suggesting that trust is built by demonstrating trust and being open to the vulnerabilities that come with trusting others.

What are your experiences of organisational trust?

Gary Ryan is the founder of Organisations That Matter and has published his popular first book What Really Matters For Young Professionals!

Monday, November 15, 2010

Performance reviews deservedly getting a poor review

In the Wall Street Journal of 8th November Joe Light writes:
Performance reviews are getting a poor review—from the very people who run them.

About 58% of human-resources executives graded their own performance-management systems a C or below, according to a May and June survey of 750 HR professionals conducted by New York-based consulting firm Sibson Consulting Inc. and World at Work, a professional association.

Many HR professionals say they're frustrated that managers don't have the courage to give constructive feedback to employees.

Sadly this is not new to me.

On the 8th of November I posed a question to my LinkedIn connections: How often are employees you know having formal performance reviews? More than 50% answered annually. Very few answered quarterly which my experience suggests is best practice.

Success of formal performance reviews however depends on the success of informal reviews. I teach my clients to have frequent appreciation and accountability conversations with their employees. Such conversations are based on personal performance plans that detail personal and business goals and how they will be achieved.

The success of appreciation and accountability conversations dramatically improves performance and means formal reviews only have two purposes; celebrate performance with people and help them update their performance plans.

I am on a mission to eliminate appraisals because in the main they are demotivating for people and deserve their C rating or below.

I would be very interested in your experiences. Please get in touch with me.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
Catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

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, November 12, 2010

What triggers our worst behaviour also presents us with an opportuntity for our best behaviour

I have had a busy week. I left home in Adelaide on Monday morning, flew to Sydney and had several meetings Monday afternoon. I gave a presentation Tuesday morning and had more meetings in the afternoon. Early Wednesday morning I flew to Hong Kong and then caught a ferry to Macau where I have been busy ever since. After giving a presentation later this morning I go back to Hong Kong and then fly to London tonight.

Travel can bring the worst out in me! On this trip I read a wonderful book called The Way We’re Working Isn’t Working by Tony Schwartz with Jean Gomes and Catherine McCarthy, Ph.D.

It is a wonderful book. I pondered pages 139 and 140 carefully. The authors call the following triggers and suggest that most come from a feeling of being devalued.

Feeling spoken to with condescension or lack of respect

Being treated unfairly

Not feeling appreciated

Not being listened to or feeling heard

Someone else taking credit for my work

Being kept waiting

Someone else’s sloppy work on a project I’m overseeing

Unrealistic deadlines

People who think they know it all

Knowing these has helped me to enjoy the travel this week in the main.

What trigggers you?

Are you devaluing other people?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community
Catalyst for changing what’s normal for the good of people, our planet, and for profit

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.

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Wisdom co-creation for collaborative education and business


Wisdom co-creation for creative and collaborative education and business

There is much talk about the need to transform education. Approaches to teaching and learning that nurture creativity and emphasise the importance of collaborative working are more important than ever given the social, economic and geopolitical challenges we face. Transformation at every level of the education system is of paramount importance. This is perhaps with the exception of pre-school education where the emphasis is largely on nurturing creative expression. Yet, in many cases, creativity is all too soon suppressed when children enter mainstream primary education and is enduringly depleted throughout their school lives.

Many enlightened schools and teachers are committed to supporting creative education, working in partnership with one of the plethora of creative and arts education organisations that lobby for a more creative curriculum and education ethos. In education we strive to improve standards of teaching and innovative approaches to supporting learning. In business we seek to better understand how to make money by pushing the bounds of our creativity and connecting better with each other. Increasingly humane and ecological concerns are at the heart of ‘doing well by doing good’, a kind of corporate social responsibility (CSR) philosophy. I dream that at some point business, education, science and art will talk to each other, engage in a multi-lateral way to focus on and address the challenge of creating an education system fit for preparing our young people and emergent business, education and other social and ecomomic change agents for 21st Century challenges.

Take two well known experts

One in education, the other in marketing and business:

Sir Ken Robinson is an international advisor on creative education to government, non-profits, education and arts bodies. Some of his most compelling ideas about education transformation are conveyed here and well worth twelve minutes of your time:

Seth Godin is an entrepreneur, philosopher and thought leader in marketing. Seth echoes Ken’s frustrations with the education status quo here. To summarise the problem: often in the academic world there is a lack of connection with the world 'out there' which has an impact on standards of teaching, learning and ultimately the economy and society as a whole.

Both Seth and Sir Ken have written books on similar but connected topics – the importance of harnessing creativity, and nurturing talent - the combination of passion and skill - to create a remarkable future at individual, organisational and societal levels.

I compare these two figureheads as they come from different fields: education on the one hand (Sir Ken); and marketing, business and entrepreneurship (Seth) on the other. They have a lot in common.

The thread that runs through the work of both of these thought leaders is that personal potential is released when a person is: supported in developing and nurturing their talents; when creativity is harnessed; courage displaces fear; and other leadership qualities are developed. Education needs it. Business needs it.

But where is the dialogue between business and education?

Moreover, where do the conversations between the arts, science, business and education take place, the conversations that I believe hold the key to a future of deep learning and co-creation of wisdom networks?

-What will enable us to breach the status quo?
-What has to happen in our own sphere of influence to bring about a tipping point for change and transformation?
-How great, in fact, is our sphere of influence and how will we know?
-What will education transformation look like and who will lead it?

Art and science meet education and business

For some time now I have been thinking about creating spaces where multi-lateral, interdisciplinary conversations about education transformation can take place. Not just another online network or platform for learning content but physical spaces – from cafes to castles (places grand and small) where people of all ages and backgrounds can meet to learn and grow (spend a frivolous 2 minutes watching this to gain further insight into my vision – link). The agenda is intercultural leadership: the ability to work collaboratively and comfortably with a diverse group of people – with deep understanding and empathy - a compassionate style of leadership that enables people to connect, build trust and mutually beneficial relationships. Deep learning combining self awareness and empathy for others’ world views, the ‘big picture’ of global concerns and challenges and collaboration are at the heart of intercultural leadership. So I was delighted to discover there is a proven methodology for building transformational learning networks. The methodology is known as Networlding. Designed initially as a tool for supporting business development I feel it has a number of benefits for the education, cultural and learning sectors:

1. As a way of gaining momentum for the transformation in education movement that links people from diverse backgrounds and disciplines – arts and sciences - and business sectors to form alliances and collaborative networks
2. In higher education as a way of stimulating conversations within and between universities – between teaching and research and between both the arts and sciences
3. Between schools – in all their forms: business schools, universities, and influencers of the primary and secondary education systems, so that real conversations take place about how to prepare our young people and other learners for 21st century challenges where team work skills and intercultural leadership will be tantamount to success.

To what extent is this really a new kind of networking technology that will take us from a collection of connections to knowledge and wisdom?

An outline of Networlding, is provided here

To summarise, Networlding is based on the idea of forming circles of support consisting of those in your network who share your values. Most people value education, so that’s a good starting point for most of us educationists. The art is in finding connections who work in diverse fields and developing mutually beneficial relationships with them that provide seven levels of support. Known as the Support Exchange Model it offers a framework for engaging with connections in your trusted circle by developing:

1. Emotional support
2. Information support
3. Knowledge support
4. Promotional support
5. Wisdom support
6. Transformational opportunities
7. Community support

This is explained in this video

Ntworlding webinar July 2010 - Presented by Melissa Giovagnoli Wilson.

How can Networlding enable us to work collaboratively to transform education?"Networlding seeds change[/caption

The Networlding approach enables our trusted contacts to become more than connections, as their values are expressed as actions towards a shared vision or goal through the process of developing and nurturing relationships. Consider this. Our goal is education transformation at an institutional and societal level. We draw upon a diverse range of contacts through the formation of Networlding circles of support and provide input from a wider range of backgrounds – business, arts, science as well as education and the multde of organisations striving for enhanced creativity and an ethos of collaboration in education. This is required to inform the development of an education philosophy, and ultimately actions towards education transformation. The process can be enhanced further by introducing participation from young people by enabling them to form and develop their own circles.

So I’m welcoming Networlding into my world and look forward to bringing it to the world of education as a tool for enhancing interdisciplinary and cross-sectoral collaboration, unleashing creativity and knowledge and bringing about much needed transformation to the education status quo.

What do wish to transform? How can Networlding help you to achieve your personal, business and career goals?

Let’s discuss the art and science of connecting more wisely for education and cultural enhancement.

Comments welcome below.

Contact me to discuss Networlding for education transformation, business and career

Tuesday, November 2, 2010

The Power of Now

I have clients I mentor in 9 countries. Many I have never met in person. Our mentoring sessions are conducted on skype. This is just one example of the power of now.

By the way on most Monday mornings wherever you happen to be in the world I can provide a 30 minute mentoring session for free on skype. All you need to do to book your session is email me with a date and time. If I am already booked I will email you back with alternative dates and times.

One of my business leader heroes is Kevin Roberts, CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi. He says New is old, now is the new new. For an excellent interview with Kevin click here under favourites.]

Now is the only time that matters.

One of the beautiful things about life is that if we stuff up this moment, we can do better in the next moment.

You can change your life for the better, now.

You can change the experience you provide for your customer/client, now.

You can create a better strategy, now.

You can execute, now.

You can be better for your spouse, your child, your friend, now.

You can call that person you have be procrastinating about, now.

You can make amends, now.

You can stop doing, start doing, or stay doing whatever you want, now.

Success in life is about the choices we make and the choices we don’t make. You are choosing, now.

Stop grumbling about your life, now. Start your life over, now. And make a vow to never waste a moment, now. And then don’t!

In my country, Australia, average life expectancy is 81.4 years, that’s about 29,500 days! Make every second of your life matter. Start now!

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

PS Recently I joined a movement to end starvation as a major cause of death for children. While you were reading this 11 children died simply because they do not have enough to eat. In the last 6 months my colleagues and I have provided more than 3 million meals. Find out how you can join us here or give me a call on +61 418 807 898.

PSS I highly recommend reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle.
Details here along with other books I recommend you read. Remember, leaders are readers.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Inspiration is closer than you think!

Inspiring stories don't have to come from far away places. On many occasions they can come from a single degree of separation. This article is about a family friend, Camilla. My wife and I met Camilla through our local primary school where our children go to school together. Camilla has an inspiring story about creating the future that she desires. Camilla has two daughters and is an active mum.

Camilla's story
At heart, Camilla is an artist. Trained as a secondary school teacher, Camilla teaches Italian part time at a local private girls school. As her life unfolded and the pressures of family life grew, Camilla's art took a back seat in her life. Yet, deep down she wanted to see if she really had what it took to be a genuine artist - could she create an exhibition and sell her art?

When rare opportunities arose Camilla continued to paint her oils on canvas, producing at least a couple of paintings per year. On occasion friends and family would say to her, "Camilla, these paintings are so wonderful. They are bright and the colour combinations are amazing. You really should try to sell them."

Self doubt sat heavily on Camilla's shoulders for a long time. "No one would ever buy my paintings, they aren't good enough.", she would say to herself. This went on for many years. Then one day Camilla asked herself, "What do I really want?". Her answer was to "Have a go. You never know, maybe my dream could come true! I'm going to have an exhibition!".

Camilla's first step was to find out what was involved. Her research uncovered that she required 30 paintings, but she only had 12. So, with less than 12 months to prepare, Camilla set about creating a further 18 paintings. This is an important step in her process. When Camilla discovered that she was well short of the required number of paintings for an exhibition, she could have easily given up. Yet her clarity about why she was doing what she was doing it was such that quitting never entered her mind. "I just had to paint, it was as simple as that!" Camilla told me. This is the power of desired futures in action!

Later that year Camilla opened her exhibition at an art gallery in Glen Waverley, Melbourne, Australia. Her 30 paintings looked amazing as they adourned the walls of the gallery. Varying in size from 30 square centimetres to 1.5 metres by 1.8metres, Camilla was stunned when a single buyer bought a collage of her paintings. By the end of the exhibition, 22 out of her 30 paintings had been sold. I'm told that such a high number is extraordinary for a first time exhibitor at a local community gallery. It certainly looked impressive to walk around and see so many red dots (which means that theb painting had been sold) on her paintings.

Camilla is now preparing for her next exhibition. What is also interesting about her story is how she discovered that the energy that she gained from living her passion enabled her to get back into exercise and to increase her fitness. People often report how living their passion provides energy for the rest of their life. What is your passion? Are you living it, at least in some part of your life?

Camilla's story really is inspirational in the context that she had a dream and made it come true. No doubt a lot of effort went into creating her dream, and while it was terrific that she did sell her paintings, she genuinely states that it was the experience and the fact that she was having a go that was more important than selling her paintings. An added bonus was the look on her two daughters' faces. They were so proud of their mum that it cannot be put into words. And what do you think the lasting effect on them will be?

If you are interested in seeing Camilla's art, please check out Art By Camilla.

What are your examples of inspiring friends or family who are truly creating the future they desire?