Friday, August 31, 2012

Are you naming the elephants in your room?

On a plane to Indonesia this week I began reading the book ‘Wilful Blindness’ by Margaret Heffernan.

The author quotes Judge Simeon Lake’s instruction to the jury in the famous Enron case “Knowledge can be inferred if the defendant deliberately blinded himself to the existence of a fact.”

And the author’s comment “Their claim not to know was no excuse under the law.  Since they could have known, they were responsible.”

I reflected much on the half of the book I have read so far and the examples of where ‘wilful blindness’ seems to be at play such as climate change, the GFC and the continuing fall out, and all manner of cover ups. 

There are elephants in many board rooms and blocking people’s way in the corridors of many organisations.  It takes courage to name the elephant, and be transparent and authentic in removing them.  Doing so is real leadership!

These thoughts were in my mind as I began the first of a series of leadership seminars with an interpreter.  I needn't have worried for the openness and willingness of participants to be real was inspiring.  (Thank you Lya for your great work interpreting my thoughts and the thoughts of participants back to me)

Would I find such openness and willingness to name the truth at your workplace?

Saying what you should, naming the elephants, can change everything for the better.  It is what real leaders do. Are you a real leader?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.
I work with business owners/leaders and leaders of business units in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Getting Through To Your Webinar Audience

An online presentation – whether it’s a webinar or other form of online training – is just another presentation, and there are plenty of articles, books, videos and coaches that teach presentation skills. Yet most presenters – even experienced ones – do a poor job with their online presentations.
Of course, some may argue this is because we are using new technology. However, online presentation technology has matured to the point that it’s reliable, accessible, and easy to use. So the technology itself is no longer the biggest obstacle – the real problem is that the physical environment of online presentations is different, and some presenters haven’t yet learned the necessary skills to adjust.
In a typical in-person presentation, a room is set aside and arranged for the presentation. Your audience is with you in the room and they have set aside time specifically to attend. They are sitting next to others sharing the same experience. All of these factors greatly contribute to your overall presentation.
Here’s a typical in-person presentation, where you can see a number of factors that help the presenter:
In-person presentation
Online, things are different. The physical environment works against you, rather than for you. In particular:
  • You are a much smaller part of their environment – literally just a slide show on their computer screen.
  • Your audience is impatient and easily distracted – and if you lose their attention and interest, it’s much more difficult to regain it.
Here’s a typical webinar attendee, where you as the presenter are just one small part of a very distracting environment:
Webinar Environment
This means you have to put more work into preparing and planning your presentation so you can overcome the obstacles of the environment.
I recently wrote a blog post on this topic for Citrix, the company behind GoToWebinar (the webinar technology I use).
Read the full blog post here.
I also wrote a special report, “The Secret Formula for Webinar Presentations that Work Every Time”, for Citrix. You can download the report here.

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Why are you here?

This weeks sparkenation.

My thanks to my colleague Maree Harris for sending me the above quote.

More sparkenations here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with business owners/leaders and leaders of business units in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.


Saturday, August 25, 2012

Conceiving and achieving highly successful change initiatives - a manifesto

It has been said that there are only three things that don't change, death, taxes and change.

Here is a manifesto to help you thrive on the last one.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with business owners/leaders and leaders of business units in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Find out how good you are at your number one role as a business owner/leader

I am in the final stages of development of my Enhancing Their Gifts System™ a simple, painless, sustainable, time, energy and money saving track to lift employee performance, driven by them. It will be a godsend for business owners and leaders.

All that remains in the development is the filming of the stories, philosophies and techniques that are integral to the system and then putting it all together.

I am doing the bulk of this filming with a live audience on 5th September 2012 at a great CBD venue in Melbourne.  This is never-to-be-repeated workshop.  If you can make it to Melbourne please go here to find out more and register.  There are just 16 places left.

At the moment the only way you can get the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ is when I personally come to your workplace, teach it to you, and help you implement it. Obviously I can only do this with a small number of people every year.  I have been doing so now for two decades.

This is all about to change. Very soon any business owner/leader anywhere will be able to implement the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ without me in person.

This is the most exciting thing I have ever done in business. It is the culmination of my life's work to make it simple for business owners and leaders to ensure that the majority of your people are performing at their best on a consistent basis.

20+ years of real world application. Authentic employee engagement, optimum performance by the majority of your people everyday, and the guaranteed execution of your strategy are the key results. And you will be free to focus on lifting your own performance and have the time and energy to work on your business more than in it.

I recommend as a first step to see if my system is for you that you take the talent maximisation pulse check here.

Taking the pulse check will help you to see where you’re at in your number 1 role as a business owner/leader, maximising and deploying your people’s talents/gifts.

As a thank you for completing the pulse check, as soon as you press send you will be able to download my appendix ebook to the leaders guide in my Enhancing Their Gifts System™ - 45 really useful tools, tips and techniques for recruiting, engaging and retaining great people, a resource 100's of people worldwide have already used to help them maximise the gifts/talents of their people.

In a great book The Talent Masters - why smart leaders put people before numbers, authors Bill Conaty and Ram Charan state:
“Talent will be the big differentiator between companies that succeed and those that don’t.”

I couldn’t agree more.

They also state:
“Talent masters understand the subtleties that differentiate people.”

Talent is another word for gift. My life’s work is to help business owners and leaders lift employee performance by identifying and enhancing their gifts.

Bill Conaty and Ram Charan also state:
“The enlightened CEO recognizes that his top priority for the future is building and deploying the talent that will get it there.”

I help people to be such enlightened leaders.

Take The Talent Maximisation Pulse Check here. It is one way for you to find out how well you are deploying the gifts/talents of your people.
You just might be staggered by what completing this pulse check will reveal to you.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.Ian
I work with business owners/leaders and leaders of business units in multi-national companies to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

PS If you already have a performance leadership and management system in place please read below.

The Enhancing Their Gifts System™ works regardless of what you have or don’t have.  It has been deliberately designed to work with any system.  The 2 pieces of paper that are essential for the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ to work will not conflict in any way with paperwork or electronic forms you may already have.

The key question for you is; Do your employees love what you currently have?
If your answer is no, implementing and embedding the Enhancing Their Gifts System™ will be a godsend.

Tuesday, August 21, 2012

“It may be poo to you, but it is Olympic poo to me!!” guest post by Phil Jesson

This is a second guest post from a colleague of mine in the United Kingdom Phil Jesson that follows on from his post and 13 points - So what can we learn from the Olympics? here.

Thank you again Phil for your great insights.

Thanks for the feedback on my 13 points – much appreciated! A number of you have come up with suggestions to add to the list so here are your points, along with my “week two” observations:-

14. People will carry out menial tasks for a meaningful goal. One of the Games Maker volunteers found himself shoveling horse poo at the stables used for the range of equestrian events. When asked by a TV reporter “So have you been down here for the whole duration of the Games…….. doing this!?” The Games Maker smiled and said “It may be poo to you, but it is Olympic poo to me!!”

15. If you are going to launch an event, do it in style. A reference to the opening ceremony, of course, and a timely reminder to re-examine the quality of our product launches, external customer and internal team events. Do they start with a bang?

16. Focus on your own game. The successful athletes have not dwelt on, or been haunted by, their main competitor’s strengths and weaknesses. They have got on with their own game and decided to become the best they can possibly be. “I haven’t got time to look at their boat, I’m too busy looking at my own!”

17. Proactively recruiting the right talent. One of the Performance Directors explained that he had gone out of his way to find the right people for his sport and attract people to it. Think of your business …………what are you doing to proactively recruit the right young people to your “sport”?

18. Sharing best practice. Four years ago, the rowing and cycling teams were recognised as being the home of best practice. Since then, 20 + Performance Directors have worked together to understand and replicate best practice across the whole spectrum of events. (……so how is best practice shared in your organization?”)

19. The home advantage. We have known for years that football teams playing at home tend to win more than those playing away. The home-based Olympics has just illustrated this psychological phenomenon too. Think of your sales presentations and major business pitches – how many more would you win if you were playing at home and invited the customer/prospect to your premises?

20. Managing the cultural legacy. Lord Coe, the undoubted real star of the Games, is now installed to manage and maintain the legacy going forward. So who is responsible for managing and maintaining the cultural legacy in your organization? Are your company’s values lived ……….or laminated?

Phil Jesson

Phil Jesson is a great speaker I highly recommend and a guru in key account management  (KAM).  Please check his website here.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Are you making the most of both of your lives?

It has been said that Mahatma Gandhi observed that if you live well you get to enjoy two lives - the actual living and then the reliving through your memories.

Are you enjoying both of your lives?

Memories matter. 

I remember often the joy of many experiences with my best friend who passed last year.  Remembering inspires me to live the best life I can live in the now.

Experienced happiness and remembered happiness are two of the great facets of our lives.

Are you making the most of both of your lives?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with business owners and leaders employing more than 20 people to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Thursday, August 16, 2012

How to Host a Webinar Properly

There’s a difference between presenting a webinar and hosting a webinar: a webinar presenter delivers material, and a webinar host provides the best environment for the presenter and audience. In this article, we’ll look at what you can do as a host.
Keep in mind that if you’re running a webinar yourself, you’ll probably be taking on the role of both presenter and host. But it’s still useful to separate these roles in your mind, so you can engage your audience at both levels.

1. Preparation

In the weeks, days and hours leading up to the webinar, help your audience prepare for it effectively:
  • Send reminder e-mails to participants, with the date and time, a link to add it to their calendar, and any technical requirements (such as using a headset and microphone). Some webinar technology sends these reminders automatically, so you just have to check their content and frequency.
  • Send any handouts and other preparation material in advance.
  • If you want participants to send questions in advance, invite them to do so by simply replying to an e-mail message, completing an on-line form, or commenting on a Facebook page (for example).
  • Answer any questions you get from participants (one of the most common is whether a recording will be available).

2. Starting

The start of the webinar can be a crucial time, because it sets the scene for what’s coming up next. If you start strongly and confidently, you reassure the audience they’ll be getting full value for their time and attention. Here are some techniques:
  • Log on early and test the technology yourself (and with other presenters and panellists, if necessary).
  • Welcome participants as they join the webinar. The way you do this varies on each audience – for example, with a small intimate group, you might welcome each person individually and mention their name.
  • Start on time!
  • Explain how the webinar “works” – how long it runs, how the audience can participate, whether a recording is available, and so on.

3. During the Webinar

As the host, it’s your job to keep the audience engaged and involved, especially during the interactive segments. This is also the presenter’s job, of course, but here are some things you can do as the host:
  • Explain again how participants can ask questions.
  • Tell them whether you’ll be announcing their names, and explain how they can remain anonymous if they choose.
  • Choose which questions you’ll address, and in what order. Some might be better deferred until later in the webinar, and some might not be relevant at all for this webinar.
  • Have a list of other questions ready (for example, the questions sent in advance) if nobody asks a question at the time.

4. Wrapping Up

Wrap up the webinar elegantly:
  • Thank the audience and the presenters.
  • If you’re providing a recording, remind them again, and explain how you will send them the recording.
  • Make any final announcements (for example, the next webinar in a series).
  • Hang up!

5. Follow Up

Tidy up any loose ends after the webinar:
  • Do whatever is required to upload the webinar recording, and notify the people who registered for it.
  • If you’re sending a follow-up survey to attendees, send it now (some webinar technology does this for you).
  • E-mail the people who registered but didn’t attend, reminding them of the webinar and perhaps any special offers that are available to them.

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Which wolf are you feeding?

This weeks sparkenation.

An old Cherokee told his grandson, "My son, there is a battle between two wolves inside us all. One is is anger, jealousy, greed, resentment, inferiority, lies, & ego. The other wolf is joy, peace, love, hope, humility, kindness, empathy, & truth." The boy thought about it, and asked, "Grandfather, which wolf wins?" The old man quietly replied, "The one you feed."

I read the above in a great article by Sally Mabelle Creating A World Where All Beings Thrive: The Great Shift from 'Empire' to 'Earth Community' Consciousness'.  You can read Sally's article here.

More sparkenations here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with business owners and leaders employing more than 20 people to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Friday, August 10, 2012

So what can we learn from the Olympics? guest post by Phil Jesson

This is a guest post from a colleague of mine in the United Kingdom Phil Jesson.  I loved it on first reading and immediately asked Phil for permission to share his thoughts with you.  I have reflected a great deal on Phil’s thoughts myself and believe he is offering great insights into creating a successful business in the modern world.  Thank you Phil.

What a great week for the Olympics and a great week for the Nation! I have been moved ..........and have moved to my keyboard to note down some observations that have implications for all of our businesses:-

1.       Words create worlds. Think of Seb Coe’s visionary language that helped win the Olympics in the first place and has since galvanised politicians, the public, athletes and coaches. “Inspire a generation!”..............three words that create worlds that we can see, feel and hear. So how clear is the vision that you want your people to buy into?

2.       The power of dreams. In front of the camera, many athletes have commented on their lifelong dream of winning a gold medal. Dreams are powerful. What is the dream for your life? What is the dream for your business? Ask yourself tomorrow........... “What have I done today that has taken me closer to my dreams?”

3.       Olympic coaches do not pursue massive improvements in performance – they strive for “marginal improvements” i.e. 100 things that can be done 1% better.

4.       Dave Brailsford, the Performance Director of the UK cycling world put together a “Talent Team” some years ago to identify and develop potential high-performers. Many of its early recruits had never cycled competitively before, but the Talent Team knew exactly what it was looking for in the way of knowledge, attitudes, skills and behaviour. Do you have a talent team? What does it look for? Where does it look – e.g. do you look for future sales people currently working in non-sales departments?

5.       Results on their own are not what matters. Results with the right behaviour matters i.e. behaviour in alignment with clear and meaningful values and beliefs. The Chinese badminton players did nothing wrong, according to the rules, but the Olympic movement’s values were strong enough to act as a clear referee on their behaviour and they were quickly shown the door.

6.       Winners do not feel pain, although they have put themselves through the same (or more) stresses and strains as fellow competitors who fail to win medals. Do you have a winning culture within your organisation? How do you celebrate success?

7.       Motivational job titles work. Thousands of volunteers were re-branded as “Games Makers” so what did they do..............they made the Games! .........and with great skill, awareness, sensitivity and humour.

8.       Generally speaking, women have dealt with failure better than men. As I see it, women have been able to “re-calibrate it”, learn from it, keep things in perspective and look forward to their next opportunity. Men have tended to treat second place as “failure”, they have hung their heads, apologised to the Nation and looked forward to a lot of gloomy and painful soul-searching.

9.       Success breeds success. Getting into the habit of winning breeds a success culture with very high expectations. We “own” rowing and cycling now and that will rub off on the next generation of athletes. The success of the Games will also, I’m sure, run off on the Nation. To quote Seb Coe, “the Games have provided an oasis of sanity and unity for the country to move forward in the future!”

10.   The roar of the crowd has helped our athletes’ performance. In many cases, it has been the difference between fourth and third, second and first. I wonder if the people working in our organisations sense the roar of the crowd or are they unsung heroes, working in an environment that lacks recognition and praise?

11.   Succession planning is key! In many team events, athletes who were successful in Beijing have been joined by the “new kids on the block.” For example, in one of the rowing fours, it was two plus two. The two experienced athletes inducted the newcomers, explained how the team culture worked and helped the new boys become successful medallists in the new team.

12.   The power of the mind is clearly evident. “If you think you can etc etc........” The athletes’ thoughts became ideas which became actions which became the habits that determined their destiny. During the last four years, even in times of adversity it would appear that the best athletes were able to stay focused and positive.

13.   Athletes concentrate on their strengths and develop coping strategies for their “weaknesses”. They don’t spend months trying to change something that they are not good at – they further enhance their strengths. Usain Bolt’s form, in recent months, had been hit and miss but following a good talking-to from his coach he didn’t worry about his slow start. He focused on the second half of the race.........his main strength.

Anyway, enough of all this pontificating! The Olympic Games are having a great effect on my own outlook – I have been thrilled, inspired and entertained. I have even been inspired to find my old trainers and head for the gym in an hour’s time. I’m off to find some of that aerobic stuff and to see where my dorphins end. Whilst I’m there I will pass the time thinking about the great week we have had and the great week still to come.......................a bit like my life, really!

Phil Jesson

Phil Jesson is a great speaker I highly recommend and a guru in key account management  (KAM).  Please check his website here.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Incomplete Quadriplegic to Climb Mt Kilimanjaro

Jason Barrie is an inspiration.

In May 1999 Jason was seriously injured in a suburban Australian rules football match playing for the Monash Gryphons in the VAFA competition. I was the senior coach at the time and the memory of Jason's injury will never leave me. Neither will the site of him lying on his hospital bed at the Monash Medical centre that evening. He had cut his spinal cord.

In October 2012 Jason is planning to climb Mt Kilimanjaro in an effort to raise $50,000 for Independence Australia, an organisation that helps people who have received spinal injuries cope with and to come to terms with their injuries. Jason wants to pay them back for their support to him throughout the early years of his recovery. Donations can be made here.

At this point I believe that it is best to leave the full story in Jason's words, which are published for you below. I urge you to support Jason as he is an inspiration, a role model and a wonderful human being.

On the 1st May 1999, my life was turned upside down.
In playing a local game of Australian Rules Football, I suffered a Spinal Cord injury in that my C4 / C5 Vertebrae dislocated, with one going one way and the other going the other way, which cut my spinal cord. While Cat Stevens may say the “First Cut is the Deepest” this, thankfully, was not the case with my injury although the Doctors did not know that at the time.
When I was packed off in the Ambulance on that day, I had no idea that I would forever be classed now as C4/C5 Incomplete Quadriplegic. My focus at the time was I won’t be able to work at the local Video store that night…..and how were they going to be able to cope without me ?
I remember my jumper being cut apart in Emergency……..then nothing for a few days………saw my Dad in Intensive Care with me at the Monash, where my first thought was “Did Celtic beat Rangers in the Scottish Premier League, Dad ?” His negative response did not assist my situation, but I look back now and realise my naiveté with regards to my injury did assist my situation.
I did not remember the Doctor coming and telling me I would never walk again…….
I did not remember crying solid for a day after this news……
I did not realise that I had lost a full week and bit, by the time I finally came to…….
These were things I was told a week, or months later by my Girlfriend at the time, now wife.
I worked at Mercedes Benz Finance at the time with my girlfriend and they were awesome in allowing her time off to be with me on a full time basis for the next month…….my enduring memories from those times in ICU at the Austin Hospital, will be her wiping my mouth because I couldn’t move my arms…….struggling to breathe as I had had a Tracheotomy…..again, finding out later that both my lungs had collapsed and that golden staph had set in, to complicate things further. 
On a funnier note, I kept thinking that there was a Chinese Take Away within ICU at the Austin Hospital and wondering how they got that past the State Government……
My move to the general ward for Spinal patients came after two weeks in ICU………I had another 5 weeks in this dedicated ward for Spinal patients at the Austin and was in the ward next door to Robert Rose when the Code Blue was called and he passed away due to complications. Even then, I kept thinking I would be ok and I would get over this sickness…….little did I realise how bad things were and how much it had affected my family. Already, my Grandfather was making plans to build a house for a wheelchair bound Grandson…..that he was moved to tears every time he left my ward……
I started to get some strength and movement in my arms, but everything was ‘gross movement’. Trying to do anything meant using your hands like a lump of wood – if the TV was on a channel, that’s where it stayed……for some time.
It was about 4 weeks in when they decided to get me into a wheelchair for the first time…… lasted 3 seconds before I fainted. A common tale…… by day, I was getting winched over to a wheelchair, and day by day I got better at it and was able to sustain longer periods of time in the wheelchair. Then one day early on, a fellow spinal patient bumped into my foot and I went ‘ouch’. A common response to any able bodied person, but he instantly reacted and said he ‘envied me’……I was a bit slow and didn’t realise why, but later I would understand, if you can’t move your legs, it’s usually because you can’t feel them !!!!
This was a good sign, and by the time I left the Austin to go to Royal Talbot, I could slightly move my right leg !!!!
Over the coming months, I got movement back – fine movement too, especially on the right side of my body. They then winched me into a machine where they would stand me up to begin the routine of leg muscles getting used to be on two feet again. Even then, the Physios never guaranteed me anything….no promises were made, and in all our planning, it was to a house that would have to be modified for a wheelchair.
My family are pretty religious and my recovery was labelled a miracle and that I had overcome all these obstacles, but reality is, I was the luckiest person, but also the unluckiest!!! The family wanted to tell the Doctors off for their negative response at first, but MRI’s and X-Rays cannot tell them how much damage is done to one’s spinal cord. Knowing what I know now, if I was a Doctor, I would say the same thing. In such a litigious society as ours, could you imagine what would happen if you told a patient he would be ok, only for him to be confined to a wheelchair for the rest of his life ?
My support networks were awesome…..the Footy Club, my Cricket Club, my Grandfathers networks, my work place, the support was incredible and I kept every single card that I received from that time.
I left the Royal Talbot mid-October 1999, with the assistance of crutches…….I used a wheelchair for longer distances, but crutches were great for 10-20 metres. Over the next 6 months, I started back at work two days a week, rehab the other three……I had to have Driving lessons again and by Christmas I had to get a new car that was slightly modified to assist with my strengths and weaknesses. By March, 2000 life was back to normal, albeit a lot slower. Everything took me a lot longer to complete……and there were a lot of falls.
Good friends, Dean Henderson and Stephen Davey, were strong cyclists and around 2004 they introduced me to Cycling. My balance is not good, and while I try to stretch for 30 mins every day to soothe the damaged nerves in my body, I was at first very fearful. Over time though, I began to enjoy it and after a while I really, really enjoyed it. So much so, I spent money on a decent bike and clip on pedals !!! On Beach road no one realised I was disabled, which I cherished……I was just a slow cyclist, however, they didn’t realise that I pretty much cycled with one leg, but if you looked closely at my calves, you would quickly realise that one leg was more favoured. 
In 2008, I took my bike to France to spend a week cycling 600kms of the Tour De France route prior to the professional cyclists – as a guide, my 2.06 hours to do the 58km Time Trial was done in 1.07 by Cadel Evans on the penultimate day to the end of the tour. I attempted the Round the Bay in a day that year, but only completed the 168 kms from Melbourne to Mornington – it was a 30+ day that day, and I was the last one on the road !!!!!
Finally, I took up swimming in 2010…..yet another sport where people did not recognise my disability, however, now I revel in and are not shamed by it. Only taken me 6-7 years !!!!! I remember the days, I would never put my disabled pass on my car, as I did not want people to know that I was disabled…..amazingly, I’ve had every comment from “Do you have Cerebral Palsy ?” to “What did you do to your leg ?”
I’ve learnt now to keep it simple “Just an old footy injury mate….”
In January 2012, I completed my first Lorne pier to pub……in 61 minutes !!!!!! Aim is to improve for next year……

Once again I urge you to support Jason in his efforts to raise $50,000 for Independence Australia.

Donations can be made here

Tuesday, August 7, 2012

Beware of unsolicited feedback

This weeks sparkenation.

If every single poor review, piece of negative feedback, or passive-aggressive swipe is going to influence you, you're in for a long, slow crawl through enemy territory. The anodyne: Ignore anyone and everyone you haven't asked for feedback. It's really that simple.
Alan Weiss

More sparkentations here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


I work with business owners and leaders employing more than 20 people to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

Saturday, August 4, 2012

A key to thriving on the challenges of change is unlearning

In conceiving and achieving highly successfully change initiatives with my clients for more than 20 years one action stands out as a contributor to success - the willingness of people to unlearn.

Have you had a change of heart lately?

Have you changed your mind about something you previously held dear lately?

Have you changed your intention recently?

I worked with one client for a few years.  The culture completely changed over that time.  A few people left because they didn’t fit the new ethos.  Most people stayed, over a period of time changing their beliefs about the organisation, what it stood for and what it stood against.  A lot of unlearning took place.  All change is personal first.

I am currently working with a client who has taken over another organisation whose culture is at odds with their new owner.  A lot of personal change is taking place.  Relationships are changing too.  Relationship change follows personal change.  Many people are having to unlearn what they previously held dear.

There is a lot of talk about industries that are dying.  There is very little talk about the fact that many people previously employed in these industries are now working in another industry or creating new industries.  There is an entrepreneurial revolution happening.

If your business is producing widgets it is only a matter of time before someone will produce it faster and cheaper.

Strategic positioning happens in two ways.  You either do what no one else is doing (very hard to do) or you do what others are doing, you just do it better, differently or more uniquely and you are clear on who you do it for, your niche or micro-niche.  The key to this second way to gain strategic positioning is obviously people.

I worked with a client once who was involved in a merger.  The numbers looked great.  When I suggested due diligence on the people needed to be as detailed as it was on the numbers, I initially got blank looks. 

I could clearly see a culture clash and unless careful consideration and planning went into enabling personal and relationship change then the merger would fail like more than 70% do, the same failure rate of change initiatives.

Personal change precedes relationship change which precedes organisational change.

The biggest unlearning that needs to happen as a general rule is by business owners and leaders.  The old plan, do, measure and control management is dead.

As I discussed in a people and change can’t be managed so we need to stop trying.

What do you need to unlearn?

What isn’t working and how could you change it?

Have you had a change of heart lately?

Have you changed your mind about something you previously held dear lately?

Have you changed your intention recently?

Change yourself, change your relationship.  Change in your organisation follows.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.


work with business owners and leaders employing more than 20 people to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.

I am conducting a never-to-be-repeated workshop on Enhancing Their Gifts in Melbourne on September 5th.  Details are here.

If you can’t make it to Melbourne on September 5th please subscribe to the complimentary Enhancing Their Gifts™ short online course here.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

How to Address Misunderstandings in E-mail

E-mail is one of the oldest Internet technologies, but it still causes a lot of stress, frustration and annoyance among users. Part of this is undoubtedly because of the volume of e-mail we all deal with, but a large part is also because it’s so easy to write e-mail that’s confusing, easily misunderstood or even (unintentionally) upsetting.
With a few simple techniques, you can help your clients and colleagues to be more productive when processing your e-mail. This is not just about being thoughtful and considerate of other people – although that alone is reason enough. It also helps your own productivity, because your e-mails will be clearer and easier to understand, so other people won’t have to keep writing back asking for more information.

Agree on the protocol

Agree how frequently you (and everybody else) will be checking e-mail, so you have the appropriate expectations and don’t fall into the trap of checking e-mail too often “just in case something urgent turns up”. Do your best to convince other people that e-mail should be used for important, not urgent, messages. Explain how they can contact you by other means if it’s urgent.
If you’re working in a team, establish some conventions for sending e-mail – for example:
  • Start the subject line with: “FYI” (for your information) if it’s purely for information, “Thanks” if you need to acknowledge you received it but don’t have anything to add, and “HIGH” for high-priority items.
  • Use the Priority indicator in your e-mail software to alert people to important messages – something like Low, Normal or High. But keep in mind that e-mail is for non-urgent communication, so use this only to indicate your message’s importance, not its urgency.
  • Put a person in the Cc (courtesy copy or carbon copy) list (rather than the To list) if they don’t need to take action.

Put it in context

You send a message and some time and somewhere later, your recipient reads it. You don’t know where they are, when they are reading it and what else is happening in their day. Don’t assume they remember any earlier discussion on the topic. Be on the safe side, and give them enough information so they understand your message fully.
Here are some specific techniques to use:
  • Use a descriptive subject line for every message, so it’s easy for others to recognise, file and find later. A good rule is to use a complete sentence or a question as the subject line.
  • If changing the topic when replying, change the subject line.
  • When replying to a message, quote as much of the original message as needed to provide context.

Send separate messages

When asking unrelated questions, use multiple e-mail messages. This makes it easier for others to reply to each question separately. This is an important point, but one many people get wrong – because it’s so easy to be lazy and put everything in the same message.

Write better e-mail

Use the spell-checker in your e-mail program to catch and correct simple spelling mistakes. Poor spelling and bad grammar not only harm your credibility, it also affects the recipient’s productivity.
Even after the spell-checker approves your message, review it before sending it, putting yourself in the other person’s shoes and reading it from their viewpoint.
End every message with a clear statement of what you would like from the recipient, and by when you need it. That makes it easy for them to manage it among their other priorities.
Finally, include other contact information – including your phone number, address and Web address – in your e-mail signature, so the recipient can choose to reply in other ways. Including all of this information helps – for example, your address allows them to find your time zone so they can choose a good time to call you.

Send less e-mail

Consider whether you really do need to send an e-mail message. If you’re asking a question that could be answered by Google or by searching your internal documentation, don’t waste somebody else’s time.
If it’s a complex or sensitive topic, consider whether you should be using e-mail at all. It might be better to pick up the phone, or wait until you see them face to face.
If you do decide to send e-mail, send it to as few people as possible, so you don’t disrupt others unnecessarily. If somebody really doesn’t need to see it, don’t send it to them.
Similarly, when replying to a message that was sent to more than one person, think carefully before hitting the ‘Reply All’ button. If the message was intended to spark a group discussion, then you should reply to all, so everybody is included in the conversation. However, if it’s clear the original message was sent to individuals rather than to a group, then don’t reply to all.

Want more e-mail effectiveness tips?

We address e-mail in more detail in our book “Out Of Office: Using the Internet for Greater Freedom in Your Work Life”. Visit for your free chapter about how to use technology to be more productive at work

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Same organisation - different place - different experience - problem

Last week I worked with the same organisation in two different places 100's of miles apart. I had a great experience with one part of the organisation and not so great with the other. Even in the same location my experience was significantly different in dealing with different departments.

If I came to your place what would my experience be like?

Also in the past week I have experienced great service in person from one organisation and lousy service from the same organisation online.

Would I find your levels of service online and in person to be different?

The service experience we provide our customers/clients with and indeed co-create with them, matters more than ever.

How would your customers/clients rate their service experience with you?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

I work with business owners and leaders employing more than 20 people to lift employee performance by enhancing their gifts.