Friday, April 29, 2011

I'm not normal and neither are you

The following is a story from my soon to be released book, Changing What's Normal.

The biggest message I heard from my teachers at school when I was a teenager was that I was stupid. A common phrase from many of them was: What are you doing, stupid?

On Sundays in those years I heard a different message as follows, You are a sinner in need of redemption.

On many Saturdays I heard yet another message.
After sport on Saturday mornings I would often visit my Grandparents on my way home. My Nana Sherriff, whose shepherds pie I can still smell and taste whenever I think about it, often used to look across her kitchen table and say, You know you’re special!

I didn’t know who I was, and strangely enough when I look back, I wonder why I chose stupid as the picture I had of myself most of the time.

When I left school the only job I could get was working as a brickies labourer for a construction firm owned by friends of my family, a firm my Grandfather Sherriff worked for until his death at aged 76. I also worked for a time as a painter for another friend of my families.

One day I was painting a church, the same place where I heard over and over that I was a sinner. Mrs. Murray a friend of my mothers who lived across the road came to get me on this particular day as another friend of the family was on the telephone. There were no mobile phones in the 70s!

Noel, who worked for a recruitment organisation, was calling to tell me he had an interview for me with the National Australia Bank and that I needed to quickly cut off my long hair, shave off my beard, buy a suit (I didn’t own one at the time), and to do all this quickly.

The only good thing my school report card said was, Ian has a sense of humour so my interviewer didn’t waste any time cutting to the chase saying, There is no way I could give you a job son, I’m sorry. I thought I’ve got nothing to lose and replied, I am not going to get on my hands and knees and beg however I promise you if you give me a chance, I won’t let you down.

My interviewer then shocked me when he reached out, shook my hand, and said, You’re hired!

The next day when I started work my hirer, who became my first mentor, told me he wasn’t sure what came over him and said, I just had the feeling you were someone special!

So Nana Sherriff was right and for the first time in my life at aged 17 I believed her and I have never looked back.

I always knew I wasn’t normal and the reason I got into so much trouble at school was because I felt other people were forcing me to be like everyone else and I rebelled. I was fortunate that my first employer in the business world didn’t think I was normal either and his mentoring taught me that my quest in life was to be the best one-of-a-kind that I could be and that leadership is creating environments where everyone has opportunity to shine.

My first mentor had a great philosophy I later discovered originated with Goethe, the great German philosopher:

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.


Sadly very few of the so-called educators I experienced in my youth understood the truth of these words.

I have been fortunate to work with a few people who get Goethe’s truth, and I have been honoured to meet several more.

Are you such a person?

Possible actions:

How normal are you?

Could you be more of a non-conformist?
If so what would you do differently and when will you begin?

How often do you celebrate that you are special?
Could you do so more often?

How often do you see people as they could be and celebrate the special nature of every human being?

Could you do so more often?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of my year of changing what's normal leadership development program.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

How well are you showing the human face of your business?

I am amazed at how many websites I visit where people do not get a mention. This is so bad that I actually wonder often if there are any people in the organisation!

I am equally amazed when I am on Twitter, Facebook, and particularly less popular community sites, at the number of people with no photos of themselves or images rather than their face!

We live in an age where if our humanity doesn’t shine through people are unlikely to really connect with us.

I am a big fan of Michael Stelzner from Social Media Examiner.

Michael’s interview with with Rohit Bhargava, senior vice president of digital strategy and marketing at Ogilvy and the author of the book Personality Not Included really got my attention today, particularly Rohit’s concept of back stories - the reasons we give people to believe in us. You can watch this interview here.

What are your back stories?

How human is your website?

Is your humanity shining through in all the places you have a presence on the web?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of my year of changing what's normal leadership development program.

Monday, April 25, 2011

Decision making and predictions

To measure the success (or failure) of our decision making we need to establish clear and unambiguous outcomes. In science this approach has been developed over many years, it is well known that most experiments can be interpreted in different ways and so before embarking on an experiment the outcomes should be defined explicitly.

When making decisions it is just as important to define what will (and will not) happen because of the decision being made. If this is not set out clearly then there is a danger that the decision will be seen as a success (or failure by those who rewrite history) and even more of a danger that you will come be believe that you made the correct decision (and apply the same decision in similar circumstances in the future).

Precise outcomes should be considered for all decisions. This is not true for idea generation however. At the idea generation stage you need to be able explore possibilities and generate ideas from these, it is highly restrictive for idea generation to apply concrete outcomes. So we need to develop distinctly different strategies for exploring ideas and making decisions on ideas.

So when making a decision we should be able to predict the consequences of that decision accurately and in as much detail as possible. In that way we will be able to judge the success or failure of our decision in an objective manner and so improve our decision making in the future.

Friday, April 22, 2011

More buildership, less leadership?

This slideshare by my friend and colleague Kwai Yu, CEO of Leaders Cafe and fellow member of Leadership Roundtable of differencemakers community will no doubt make you think.

Kwai is one of the very special presenters of my program a year of changing what's normal. See link at the bottom of this post.

I would be very interested in your thoughts on whether we need more builders and less leaders.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of my year of changing what's normal leadership development program.

Thursday, April 21, 2011

Are You Trying to Use New-Style Marketing for an Old-Style Business?

I've recently been re-reading Seth Godin's 2007 book "Meatball Sundae", because it's the next book we are discussing at our business book club. Although the book is now a few years old (2007, which is a lifetime ago in Internet years!  ), its main message is relevant more than ever today: You can't use modern marketing techniques to sell "old" products and services.

Here are some examples ...

Here are some of the most common questions people ask me about their Internet marketing:
  • How do I reduce the amount of incoming e-mail?
  • How often do I need to blog in order to get a high Google ranking?
  • How much business can I really get from Facebook?
  • How can I use Twitter to get more leads?
  • Why isn't anybody active in my forum / membership site / on-line community?
  • How can I make my YouTube video go viral?
These are the wrong questions! When I dig a little deeper, I usually discover the person asking the question is running a traditional kind of business, and is hoping to bolt on new Internet tools to their marketing.
For example, it might be:
  • A trainer who has created a password-protected area of their site (and is calling it a "membership site"), and uploads occasional material there.
  • A coach who doesn't want clients to e-mail her questions between coaching sessions.
  • An author who is releasing extracts of his book on his blog.
There's nothing inherently wrong with these things, as long as you've got the right mindset about your business. But if you're hoping these new marketing channels will help you promote the same old business you've been running for the last decade, you're wrong.

Hopelessly wrong.

If you're an author who's hoping a big-name publisher will pick up your book, then you probably don't care about building a reputation by blogging and podcasting.
If you're a trainer whose password-protected "membership site" is merely a way of adding perceived value so you can charge a higher fee, you don't want pesky members asking you questions!
If you're a coach who bills by the hour, you definitely don't want your clients to interact with you by e-mail, Twitter and Facebook between your coaching sessions.

If you've got an "old" business, use old marketing channels.

I'm not saying you can't run this kind of business (although I do think you should keep a very, very careful eye on what's around the corner, because many of these old business models are falling apart). But if you do choose it, don't expect Internet marketing to help you very much.

By all means, keep building those relationships with bureaus, taking your clients out to dinner, seeking publishers, and all that stuff that used to work. These are all good things to do, and they will probably continue to work for you (at least, for now).

But if you want to change your marketing, change your business as well.

The other option is to change your business (before somebody else changes it for you). Look at my list of questions above and flip them from negatives to positives:
  • In what circumstances might you want to increase your incoming e-mail?
  • What if you were blogging because you had something to say, not just to increase your Google ranking?
  • What if you never got business from Facebook, but used it to build relationships that got you business indirectly?
  • Is it possible that you could never send a tweet but still make Twitter a vital part of your business?
  • What if your on-line community became active because the members themselves took ownership of it?
  • What if "going viral" isn't the purpose of putting videos on YouTube?
All of these things are possible, but only if you change your mindset to embrace them, not just tack them on to your business as an afterthought.

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

What is the purpose of business, really?

The following is an article I wrote for In-business magazine. If you live in South Australia I highly recommend you subscribe to this publication. You can do so here.

Ask most business people what is the purpose of their business and they will tell you, to make a profit.

Ask me and I will give you a different answer.

I don’t believe profit is a reason for being in business, rather profit is a result of being good at business! I am not saying we shouldn’t make a profit, we should, however how we make it and what we do with it is becoming increasingly important to our stakeholders and to the value of our brand.

What is modern business really all about?

For me all businesses exist to define and deliver the value to all stakeholders that they demand, desire, and feel they deserve.

…the future face of capitalism, say authors John Gerzema and Michael D’Antonio in their new book Spend Shift will be defined by delivering value and values.

I have been saying this and helping my clients to actually do this for two decades, so it is nothing new, however what could be new is that the masses embrace this new kind of capitalism.

Where does one begin?

The massive fallout from the global financial crisis and the rise of people power in Egypt, Libya, and other places, means many people are not only examining their values, they are also refusing to do business with people they perceive are not in alignment with their values. So the first step for me is to define our values.

We have all seen values displayed on walls and written in annual reports. The failure to live what is said and written is one of the biggest reasons for poor levels of employee and customer engagement, and so defining our values is not just about words, rather it is about defining the actual behaviours.

In my experience when agreed behaviours are measured as part of performance leadership and management, not only does greater accountability occur, the corresponding increases in engagement and therefore productivity, mean profound changes in the delivery of value to stakeholders.

How do we define value to all stakeholders?

Broadly speaking there are two kinds of businesses. Firstly those finding customers for our products and services, and secondly those finding products and services for our customers. I see a surge in the latter. Whatever kind of business we have however the simple rule is to ask stakeholders what they demand, desire, and feel they deserve.

Thinking of these three in terms of must haves, should haves, and nice to haves is a useful way to begin.

Helping other people get what they want is still the easiest way to get what we want.

Creating shared value

My expertise centres around the concept of creating shared value or CSV, a business growth strategy referred to in a recent Harvard Business Review article by Michael E. Porter and Mark R. Kramer as The Big Idea.

I believe creating shared value begins with discovering shared view.

We live in three worlds; the world in here, the world out there, and the world we share. In here our views are just that, out there are other people’s views. In the world we share are the views we agree on. In any successful relationship the world we share is the critical one.

Human conflict is fundamentally the result of firstly, failure to agree on the goal, and secondly, failure to agree on the strategies to achieve the goal. I guarantee that today all of our troubles, personal, local, national, and global, are fundamentally based in our perceived need to hang onto the world in here, our issues with the world out there, and, our failure to focus more on the world we share.

Shared view in business is critical in seven areas.

Where we’re going.
Why we’re going there.
How we will get where we’re going.
Who will do what and when and how.
The behaviours we will live in all our transactions and interactions.
Who we serve.
What those we serve demand, desire, and feel they deserve.

To be successful in a competitive environment, we have to offer something that is valued by our customers more than that being offered by our competitors. There is really only two ways to gain the number one strategic position in our market, do what our competitors don’t do, or do what our competitors do differently, better, or more uniquely.

Discovering shared view and creating shared value means all stakeholders including our planet, can win, and everybody winning is the future of the world.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of my year of changing what's normal leadership development program.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Clascial Decision Making techniques - using SWOT


“If a man will begin with certainties he shall end his doubts; but if he will be content to begin with doubts he shall end in certainties.”

Francis Bacon

This technique originated in marketing but can be used in any area of decision making.

Four factors are taken into consideration:

  • Strengths: What are the strengths of the decision?

  • Weaknesses: What are the weaknesses?

  • Opportunities: What opportunities could exist if the decision is made?

  • Threats: What threats would exist if the decision is made?

Strengths and Weaknesses are internal factors

Opportunities and Threats are external factors

Strengths and Opportunities are helpful factors

Weaknesses and Threats are unhelpful factors

using the technique

Firstly you should define the objective of the decision. e.g. 'the objective is to generate more sales'. It is important to identify the objective clearly before starting the swot analysis and stick with that during the analysis. For instance 'generating more sales' may not 'generate more profit'. If you have decided that the first objective is the one you want to work with then stick with that during the analysis. You can always do other swots with other objectives, in fact it is often very useful to do a swot for a number of related objectives.

The usual way of running a swot analysis is to draw a square of 2*2 boxes on a piece of paper and write down ideas in each box:


For complex situations or group decision making you can use a large wall or desk space and post-it notes.

extending the external factors

The external factors in a swot are the 'opportunities' and 'threats' boxes. You can increase the number of items in each of these boxes by doing a pest analysis on them.

strengths and weaknesses

As with the other techniques for decision making you can apply the idea that 'all strengths are weaknesses and all weaknesses are strengths.
For example you can convert each strength to three weaknesses and each weakness to three strengths.

You can also convert each 'opportunity' to three 'threats' and each 'threat' to three opportunities.

It may also be possible to convert the 'internal' factors to 'external' factors and vice versa but you will probably find that these do not generate as many items.

making your decision

If the 'strengths' and 'opportunities' significantly outweigh the 'weaknesses' and 'threats' then it is likely that taking the decision will turn out to be a good one. If the opposite is true then it is likely that you should not make this decision or make an opposite one.

Remember if you don't get to any firm conclusion with this technique it is likely to be worthwhile for you to change your objective and run the swot analysis again.

Dr. Shine: Making a Difference Shining Shoes.

Edward Hallowell's book captured my imagination which is why I have ordered a copy - "Shine: Brain Science, Practical Psychology, Ancient Wisdom and the Cycle of Excellence." Then I read a short introduction in Change This which I just had to share here because it is so relevant to us all as Difference Makers.

Hallowell went to get his shoes shined at Boston's Logan Airport. "Name's Dr. Shine", said the shoe shine guy. "Step right on up into my office," offering Hallowell a seat on an old chair where he could put his feet on the brass shoe plates. The (edited) conversation went like this:

"You in the corporate world?" Dr. Shine asked.
"Sort of," said Hallowell. "I'm a psychiatrist and a writer in the business of trying to bring the best out of people."

Dr Shine...looked up at Hallowell and smiled. "Well ain't that a coincidence. You see, that's what I do, too! I shine shoes, but what I really do here is work my special magic to find the spark inside people so when they leave me they can shine on their own."

"How do you do that?" asked Hallowell eagerly.

"I reach out," he replied with passion. "It's that simple. But I gotta be quick, cause I only get as long as a shoe-shine. My goal is to change lives one shoe-shine at a time............I got an advantage, you see, because I'm down here. I'm beneath them, so they're not afraid of me. I'm nobody to them. I'm just the shoe shine guy.........."

Hallowell changed the title of his book to "Shine" after he met the shoe shine guy.

And you have to go and read the rest of story yourselves. It is just so poignant. Here is the link in Change This:

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Note to organisations - get your staff connected if you want to deliver great service!

Good service organisations connect their staff to the organisation in many ways. Staff feel a regular and consistent level of achievement, job security and engagement with their organisation when service is alive and well. In this context, service lives from staff member to customer, staff member to staff member, manager to direct reports, direct reports to manager and so on.

Staff may even be connected to the organisation after they leave. This is also good business. Good service organisations understand that it is better to train staff and have them leave than to not train them and have them stay. Some jobs simply aren’t for life – and shouldn’t be! The nature of some jobs is that the staff performing the roles should develop and move on from the role. If it is possible for them to move inside the organisation, then those opportunities will be provided. Often, the staff member needs to leave the organisation to continue to develop. This is okay.

Maintaining a connection with ex-staff can create a larger customer base, opportunities to move into new markets and a potential network of like-minded people who can sporn opportunities to and from each other. There is nothing wrong with being explicit about these hopes when good staff leave. Once again, it is simply good business.

When service connects staff to the organisation, achieving great service becomes natural

"All internal efforts, programs and processes have to be geared towards maintaining or improving the external performance of the firm"
Christian Gronroos, Researcher and Author

Gary Ryan
Organisations That Matter
Providing services and resources to Senior and Developing Leaders who believe that people matter!
Connect with Gary on LinkedIn

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Stories worth spreading

GlobeScan and SustainAbility recently asked sustainability experts which sectors of society, which companies, and which visionary individuals are most effectively advancing the sustainability agenda.

The following is a snapshot of who from their survey.

You can download the full results here.

I am passionate about sharing stories about people who are making a difference. And while I am happy to spread stories about the big brands like those above I am even keener to spread stories about ordinary people doing extraordinary things.

Please get in touch with me if you have such a story or know of one.

The best story isn’t my story or your story; the best story is our story.
says Mark Sanborn.

Therefore the best stories we tell are those other people recognize themselves in.

Please get in touch with me or telephone +618 7122 4663 or skype me ianberry1 if you have such a story I can help to spread.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of my year of changing what's normal leadership development program.

Thursday, April 14, 2011

The magic of a manifesto

I have been inspired this week by synchronicity.

Firstly a colleague and differencemakers community member from Ireland Liviu Caliman sent me this link about the work of Futerra, a leader in research and communications about sustainability. There is a lot of brilliant resources at Futerra including this manifesto.

Then I saw a tweet by another differencemakers community member Geoff McDonald from Australia about his manifesto project, the aim of which is to create a freely available resource of 1000 manifestos.
Why? To inspire people to stand up, make change happen and create a world that works.

My changing what's normal manifesto was posted today. I highly recommend you subscribe to Geoff’s manifesto email list and you will receive an excellent ebook about how to write your manifesto the contents of which cover:

1. Manifestos are primal
2. Manifestos terminate the past
3. Manifestos create the future
4. Manifestos trigger communities
5. Manifestos define us
6. Manifestos antagonise others
7. Manifestos inspire being
8. Manifestos provoke action
9. Manifestos command presence

You can get this ebook and post your manifesto here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of my year of changing what's normal leadership development program.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

My Audience Doesn't Understand Me

My brother-in-law has been staying with us. He's a priest in a remote Australian country town. One morning at breakfast we were discussing the respective challenges we were dealing with in our work. We both concluded with some version of "My audience doesn't understand me". Of course, that's not where we started. We both lamented the fact that the people we are talking to don't have the same kind of background, education, perspectives or priorities as we do. So we are wanting to provide one thing and and they are wanting something different.

Our second conclusion was "Well, that's the challenge". The challenge is to take this group of people with diverse views, wants and needs, and find ways to connect what we have to say with what they understand.

I think this is also a key to breaking through a career plateau. People develop and progress in the early part of their career, then they hit a plateau beyond which it is difficult to move. There is quite a bottleneck of senior people all trying to become company directors, magistrates, politicians or something else beyond the ordinary. What will propel you to greater heights? Relationships are one factor. Communication skills are another. This is where though leadership holds a key for those wanting to move up to a higher echelon.

Resumes often include a list of generic competencies, including some version of "Able to communicate with people at all levels and from diverse backgrounds." The applicant might believe it to be true, but it can sound very glib. It may mean only that you were flung together with these people and had to make the best of your situation.

There is a lot of attention placed on being able to communicate with people who have noticeable "differences" - for example, they are from a different ethnic or socio-economic background. When you deal with such people, you are conscious of the need to adapt what you say and how you say it. But when we are dealing with people who seem similar to us, it's easy to assume that they will think the same way we do. But when we make this assumption we are sadly deluded.

The ability to get your point across to others who have different priorities or viewpoints is a vital career skill, not just for thought leaders but for everyone, particularly those who want to keep progressing past the plateau. Learn to communicate for hidden diversity.

Closing our knowing-doing gap

This post is from the opening to my new book Changing What’s Normal.
See details below for how you can get your copy of the book as a part of a very special pre-release package.

There are many great insights in Daniel Pink's book Drive – the surprising truth about what motivate us. One of Daniel's conclusions really made me think:
there is a mismatch between what science knows and business does.

There is often a mismatch between what we know and what we do.

For me the narrower the gap between what we know and what we do, the more fulfilled life we live and the greater influence we assert!

Part of my plan this year, my 20th in partnering with passionate and enlightened business leaders to change what’s normal inside organisations for the good of people, our planet, and for profit, is to close the gap between what I know and what I do.

I am finding this challenging!

The most demanding aspect of my work with organisations is to inspire people to actually do what what they know they should, and I too am not finding this easy.

To begin my own journey I reread The Knowing-Doing Gap by J. Pfeffer and R.I. Sutton (HBS Press, 1999), a very insightful book. From there I made a list of the crucial things I know about life and business where I have have not fully implemented or acted on successfully, what I know.

Possible action:

Try the above exercise i.e. make your own list. I am sure you too will find it challenging however like me as you change what’s normal you will find the journey as rewarding as I am.

To know and not to do is really not to know.
Stephen R. Covey

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

PS Details here for how you can get your copy of my new book Changing What’s Normal as a part of a very special pre-release package.

It's not enough to be an observer and a commentator. Be an activist! Make a difference!
Harry Zaphir, Linkedin Colleague

Monday, April 11, 2011

Matt Church and Cool Hunting - What is your next big idea?

Matt Church, the Founder of Thought Leaders Global is conducting a complimentary webinar on the concept of Cool Hunting a term that refers to a new breed of marketing professionals. It’s on 4 through 5 pm Australian Eastern Standard Time on April 19th.

Matt is one of the leading thinkers of his generation. I don’t know anyone better than Matt at defining, sharpening, and commercialising ideas.

Matt, Keith Abraham, Paul Dunn, Amanda Gore, Jeffrey Hollender, Allan Parker, and Kwai Yu, are the special people I have chosen to kick start my pièce de résistance - a year of changing what's normal

I strongly urge you to make time for Matt’s webinar. You can register here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

Sunday, April 10, 2011

What Really Matters! Volume 3, Number 1, 2011 ebook now released

Hi folks!

Please access your free copy of the most recent addition to the What Really Matters! ebook series. Selected articles from January 1st 2011 through to March 31st 2011 from the OTM Academy have been included in this ebook.

Contributions have been included from Gary Ryan and Ian Berry.


Please download your copy of What Really Matters! Volume 3, Number 1, 2011 here.

Please send your feedback and suggestions for the next ebook in this series to .

Saturday, April 9, 2011

the default alternative

Our brains have developed over hundreds of thousands of years and our evolution has allowed it to make some decisions very rapidly. This development has a Catch 22 when it comes to making decisions. For survival purposes our brains have developed very useful mechanisms however these very mechanisms can cause real issues when making business decisions.

One of the mechanisms that the brain has developed is what I like to call the 'default alternative'. In order to make decisions easily and quickly we have developed this way of thinking so that our brains do not have to process too much information. We all have our own 'default alternatives', both entrepreneurs and non-entrepreneurs, however I believe that entrepreneurs have a mental ability to switch their 'default alternative' off (at least temporarily and in some situations). The good news for all of us is that by understanding our own 'default alternatives' we can learn to switch them off when we need to.

So what is a 'default alternative'? The following picture of an escalator is one example:

The 'default alternative' for all but one person is 'take the escalator' even though the stairs are not very long and it means waiting in a queue.

You can also see this effect when people are going through doors to a shop or an office building. People coming in and out of a door will queue and fight each other to get through the door that is already open rather than opening one of the other doors.

Another example is the 'sand pit'. In this example someone has buried a bag of gold in a sand pit. You are given a shovel but are only allowed to dig in one spot. You do not know how many people have been digging in the sand pit before you.

The next diagram is of the sand pit as viewed from above. Remember the first place you think of to dig:

When you have selected a spot to dig look at the diagram at the end of this article. Did you dig in the green area? The vast majority of people do.

This is not a good decision given the situation. If everyone digs in the green shaded area and a lot of people have dug in the sand pit before then your chance of finding the gold is very slim indeed. You will also notice that the green shaded area is a lot smaller than the rest of the sand pit.

Being aware of your own 'default alternatives' is a great way of improving your opportunities and your life and making better decisions. To try this out for yourself simply try spotting your own (and other people's) 'default alternatives' over the next week.


Where the vast majority of people choose to dig:

Article Link

Giving constructive feedback - a key in great leadership

Let’s face it – giving and receiving feedback is something that we aren’t naturally good at. Whether at work or home, it might be easier to avoid, ignore or minimize but in the long term we cannot overlook persistent issues that need addressing in our relationships.

At work, how easy is it for you to give feedback to a direct report or team member on their negative behavior and or attitude? Some examples include – not keeping agreements, making cynical comments to suggestions in meetings, putting the company down, and the approach that “it’s always someone else’s fault.” These become a hindrance to good working relationships as well as being a potential career staller for the other party. How comfortable and safe do you feel in communicating your thoughts and feelings with those you work with closely, including your boss?
By not dealing with unacceptable behaviour, sooner or later, things do trigger us – words bubble out of our mouths in inappropriate ways and at most inopportune moments. I bet you can think of a time when this happened to you – as it has with most of us. And then it is too late – more harm has been done than perhaps ever intended.

For a relationship to be healthy and robust – differences need to be voiced, feelings heard and feedback pondered upon. However, when what is present in a relationship is not spoken of – it quickly becomes the “pink elephant”; ignored by both parties in a silent collusion, yet hugely invasive. This unspoken “stuff” will hinder trust and growth at both personal and professional levels.

As managers and leaders, giving feedback is a very important part of the job. And it has a significant bearing on performance outcomes, team morale and your organisation culture. What is negative and not dealt with festers, and becomes more toxic with time.

What can you do about it?

1) Engage in self-reflection and ask yourself what is stopping you. What is your self-talk and how is that reinforcing your barriers to giving constructive feedback? Is it about not making the time? Are you trying to please everybody? You don’t know how? It is easier for you to get on with tangible tasks than the more intangible feelings and emotions? Are you waiting for the performance review? It is worth remembering that a relationship or team is as good as the degree of openness, trust and flexibility in it.

2) Ask yourself - “What is the culture I am creating through what I am saying or not saying, how I am behaving – and the great SQ question – “who am I being?” ‘”What are the subtle messages I maybe reinforcing as to what is acceptable or not?” This is a very important question and worthy of quality reflection. A client had a considerable breakthrough when he realized how he, as a leader, was fostering a conflict avoidance culture and the impact of this role modeling on others. He was also depriving his people off the feedback they sorely needed to learn, develop and grow.

3) Create the right culture, context and process for team members to be able to do give each other feedback routinely and with care – then everyone wins! Research shows that managers lose credibility and respect when they don’t intervene and allow team members to continue with their discordant behaviour.

Work on building a culture where it is safe and okay to be open to discuss things. For instance, make time in meetings to “check in” and talk about where people are at and how things are going. Team members really value when senior people ask for feedback and talk honestly about things such as the interpersonal dynamics of client relationships.

So here’s your challenge:

Identify who you may need to have a conversation with. Put yourself in the other person’s shoes as part of this process, plan it, run it past a coach or trusted other. Then do it!

The SQ perspective is that feedback given sensitively and appropriately can be the ultimate gift – your team members need to feel that you care enough to tell it like it is.

Jasbindar Singh is a business psychologist, leadership coach, author and speaker who loves creating shifts for people.

Friday, April 8, 2011

Head in the Cloud, Feet on the Ground

In the last few years, more and more software is available on the Internet, rather than you having to install it on your computer or phone. This is what's called "Cloud Computing" - the act or service of providing software, IT resources and data via the Internet.

The biggest benefit of Cloud Computing is instant access. Because all our stuff is on-line, we can access it from anywhere in the world, and from any computing device - a PC, Mac, smart phone, iPad, Internet cafe, whatever. What's more, other people - for example, your staff, clients, suppliers and business partners - can also access this information.

The more you put in the Cloud, the more portable your business becomes.

Cloud Computing saves time and money because you don't have to buy, install, license and maintain software. You simply pays a much lower monthly fee (and sometimes no fee at all).

Are you taking full advantage of the Cloud?

Look at the software you use on a day-to-day basis, and consider whether there's a Cloud-based alternative - for example:
  • Gmail (instead of Outlook) for your e-mail
  • Google Docs (instead of Microsoft Word, Excel; or Apple's Pages and Numbers) for word processing and spreadsheet
  • Google Docs again (instead of PowerPoint or Keynote) for presentations
  • Saasu (instead of MYOB) for accounting and bookkeeping
  • Even Facebook and LinkedIn instead of your address book!
You don't have to use Cloud Computing to its fullest in order to be effective. For example, Google Docs provides an on-line word processor for editing documents, which you can use instead of Microsoft Word – and hence, you don't need a computer with Microsoft Word installed on it. However, you might be happy to use Microsoft Word on your computer to edit the document, and then upload it to The Cloud later. This sacrifices some of the flexibility (you can't edit documents from an Internet cafe in Siena when you're visiting there for the Palio), but you might be willing to accept that limitation (you probably didn't want to be editing that document on holiday anyway).

It's not all Cloud Nine, though ...

Cloud Computing's biggest benefit – instant access – is also its biggest drawback. As much as we'd like to think we have instant and universal access to the Internet, this isn't the case in practice. For example, most airlines don't yet allow Internet access for passengers, which means – ironically – that when you're literally in the clouds, you can't access "The Cloud".

However, this is becoming less of a problem now, partly because we do have better access to the Internet, and partly because software developers are finding clever ways to manage the connection problem.

For example, I use the fabulous service to store files in the Cloud. Dropbox files look just like normal files on my PC, but are actually uploaded and downloaded to the Internet automatically. I can work on them even when not connected to the Internet, and Dropbox will seamlessly synchronise the files the next time it detects an Internet connection.

There are some other issues to consider - such as service reliability, security, privacy and ownership - and you do need to ask your tech support team about them.

But don't let that hold you back from exploring the opportunities the Cloud offers. Despite the risks and drawbacks, Cloud Computing offers an unprecedented opportunity for us to be more flexible, portable and collaborative in our businesses.

I recommend you use it, but use it wisely.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Ending the disease of short-termism

The recession we are in right now is grim, but nothing like the recession that awaits us if we don’t start living within our means.
Jonathon Porritt

I came across this wonderful line in an article by Paul Polman the CEO of Unilever. You can read the full article here.

Mr. Polman wrote his article in response to a Harvard Business Review article by Dominic Barton the global managing director of McKinsey & Company. You can read Mr. Barton’s article here.

Forum for the Future’s Jonathon Porritt is one of my hero’s. His book Capitalism as if the World Matters, Earthscan, 2005 is a must read for anyone being real about sustainability.

How much are your daily actions for the long term?
Does your kind of capitalism matter for the world?
How sustainable is your business?
How good is your business for people, and for our planet?
What legacy are you leaving?
How much money is enough for you?

Answering these kind of questions put our lives in perspective.

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. It contains 142 actions you can choose from to really make a difference.

Sustainable development is a dynamic process which enables people to realise their potential and to improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the earthʼs life-support systems.
Jonathon Porritt

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

If you have a deep hunger to:

make a real difference
leave a legacy
do something pioneering, breathtaking, and truly innovative
do well by doing good i.e. thrive in your business and solve a problem in your world at the same time
then please review all the details here of a year of changing what’s normal and get in touch with me without delay.

Tuesday, April 5, 2011

ROI according to Kevin Roberts = return on involvement

I had the privilege of hearing and meeting Kevin Roberts the CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi last weekend at the National Speakers Association of Australia’s annual convention.

I took away much from Kevin’s talk about the state and future of business and how to stand up and stand out which was the theme of the convention.

I was particularly taken by his insight that ROI = return on involvement. This has really got me thinking and asking questions in the context of turning my brand into a lovemark (Lovemarks is the title of a great book by Kevin I highly recommend).

Who really loves what I do?
Why do they love what I do?
What do I need to do to ensure my relationships with my clients continue to grow?
What can I do that will encourage my clients to be more involved with what I do?
How can I involve myself in what my clients do in ways that will add real value to them?

What would be your answers to these questions?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Founder Differencemakers Community

Monday, April 4, 2011

When the path leads uphill...

An alternate title to this post could be "How many obstacles are too many?" or "When do the signs tell me to pack it in?"
The definition of what is one step too far depends upon the judgment of the value of the outcome. If I want ice cream for a snack and there is none in my freezer, I'm comfy in my jammies already and it's raining outside I'm probably not going to choose to take the steps necessary to score a carton or a cone. The reward of that creamy, cold goodness is outweighed by the inconvenience of going to get it. I know numerous, stories, however, of the heroism of devoted husbands of jonesing pregnant wives - men who have braved blizzards for a quart of chocolate chip.

The rewards for overcoming obstacles are sometimes external, like the continued admiration and adoration of your spouse, your kids, or your boss. They might be tangible, like the taste and texture of the ice cream. You might stand something measurable to gain, like a promotion or a salary increase.

But sometimes the rewards are intangible and internal. This is not to say that they aren't important. Sometimes the biggest rewards come from knowing that you acted in accordance with your values, or that you upheld a responsibility that you think is key to your role as wife, husband, leader, child, etc. They can't be measured or seen. Their impact is revealed in your emotional state, in your feelings of congruence and satisfaction and competence.

I am often asked how many obstacles are too many. The answer is simple but hard - it depends upon how big and numerous the rewards are in comparison to the obstacles. The challenge for a goal-setter is that often the rewards piece of the plan is left to the subconscious. It is often not articulated in detail. The value of the rewards isn't considered completely, so the scales of motivation vs. struggle appear to be tipped in favor of avoiding the struggle. Thus the difference - sometimes a gulf - between a goal setter and a goal achiever.

Your autopilot, your subconscious value-weighting, occurs on a daily basis. That's why some days you ask yourself, "Why did I spend my time doing that instead of doing this?" Your unconscious assessments of the relative rewards and consequences didn't support your doing this - so you did that.

If you don't want to live on autopilot, that which replicates the results you are already getting, you will need to bring the rewards/obstacles analysis to the conscious level. You'll need to place your brain onto "manual" in order to conquer longstanding habits of thought and behavior. When you see adequate rewards you'll be willing to climb a loooooong staircase, and you may shock everyone - including yourself -by doing it without complaint.

Sunday, April 3, 2011

Classical decision making techniques: Using PMI


“Thus the task is not so much to see what no one yet has seen,
but to think what nobody has yet thought about that which everybody sees.”


This technique is called 'Plus / Minus / Interesting' and can be thought of as an extension to the 'pros and cons' technique but with another column for 'Interesting'. We generally classify situations into "good" and "bad". This leaves us nowhere to identify things which are neither of these things. These could lead to new thinking. To satisfy our conventional thinking it is beneficial to classify the "good" and "bad" so that we can then can move on to thinking about the "interesting". This "interesting" category can contain ideas that just come to mind whilst you are thinking up the "good" and the "bad". You can also generate ideas for the "interesting" by looking at the "good" ideas and seeing if any of these ideas generate "interesting" ideas. The "bad" ideas can also be used in a similar way by using an "if this was not the case" provocation. The "interesting" ideas should not be evaluated but simply written down. Leave your evaluating for the "good" and the "bad".

The technique is an interesting way of combining your logical and creative thinking in a positive and productive way.

using the technique

  • On a piece of paper draw three columns with the words "Plus", "Minus" and "Interesting" at the top.

  • For the decision you are trying to make, write down words or phrases as they occur to you in the relevant columns.

  • If you are starting to feel stuck, stop, look at the "pluses" and see what "interesting" ideas these generate. Also look at the "minuses" and see what "interesting" ideas are generated. You may also like to try considering some interesting ideas and see if any new interesting ideas are generated.

strengths and weaknesses

We can extend this technique in similar ways that we extended the 'pros' and 'cons' technique. If we assume that 'all strengths are weaknesses, and all weaknesses are strengths' we can take each item in the 'pros' column and map it to three items in the 'cons' column and some items in the 'interesting' column. We can then do the same with the 'cons' and 'interesting' columns.

making your decision

You can evaluate your decision in the same way that you evaluated the results of the 'pros' and 'cons' technique, however the biggest strength of this technique is the fact that you have generated a number of items in the 'interesting' column. These may well give you some really good indications on the best decision to make.

Article Link

Friday, April 1, 2011

Monash University PAL Program Leaders prove that we are in good hands with Gen Y

My work results in me working with Gen Zers through to Builders. Not a bad spread, is it!

Often Gen Xers, Baby Boomers and Builders bemoan Gen Y.

"They want everything now", "They are selfish", "They don't understand loyalty", "It's all them!" are statements I regularly hear.

But Gen Y are as selfless, community focused and loyal as any other generation.

I have proof.

Some of the work I do with developing leaders has me working with students in various leadership programs for universities based in Melbourne, Australia. One such program, the PAL Program for the Faculty of Business and Economics at Monash University has students experiencing a range of developmental programs over a three year period. In their final year of the program the students create community based projects.

They give up their time to generate and manage sustainable projects. Last weekend 56 students gave up half of their Saturday (it was a beautiful 29 degree day too) to go through a facilitated process to create projects. Next Saturday the students will complete the first phase of this process as each 'project team' will participate in a workshop to 'launch' their project and enhance the probability of achieving their desired project outcomes.

Each project must fulfil at least one of the following principles:
  1. Enhance the student to student experience
  2. Enhance the student to Faculty experience
  3. Enhance the Faculty/University to community experience
The projects often end up raising awareness for charities and/or current domestic/world events. Ultimately, the students do make a positive difference through their actions (which are all in addition to their studies, part time work and anything else they might be doing with their lives). If nothing else their projects create a sense of community and belonging for students, factors that are extremely important and cannot be underestimated in terms of student well being and mental health. This is of particular importance given the sector research indicating a significant drop in student time on campus and their sense of belonging and community with regard to university life.

A significant purpose of the program is to enhance the employability of the students by providing them with real opportunities to do real work. Universities recognise the importance of creating well rounded students who understand theory and are also able to put theory into practice. Over many years of facilitating these programs I can say that they do enhance the employability of the students. The lessons that arise from working with other talented people, within tight timeframes and limited resources (often there is no money available for the projects - the students have to generate the income they require for the projects to be funded - which create a wonderful 'mind-shift regarding money that is invaluable) are practical, real and powerful for the students.

After each day of completing my work with these students I always walk away with high energy levels and heightened sense of positivity regarding our future. These students do care about more than themselves, they are selfless and willing to give of their precious time for a higher purpose and most importantly they do make a positive difference. Our future really is in good hands.

I look forward to sharing their successes later this year.