Sunday, November 30, 2014

Why candid conversations and eye contact matter more than ever

This weeks sparkenation.

I love social media for all sorts of reasons.

I love having candid conversations and making eye contact with people in person a whole lot more.

Next time you post, tweet, like, share, or whatever keep it in perspective. Nothing matters more than having candid conversations and making eye contact with another human being.

Be remarkable.

More sparkenations here.

My thanks to Mari Smith for the picture below which I took a screenshot of during her wonderful presentation for the Global Impact Summit. And I hope Sir Richard, one of my heroes, doesn't mind.

Monday, November 24, 2014

3 barriers you may need to eliminate so that you can do what you love

This weeks sparkenation.

I recommended related pre-reading to this post:

Doing what you love in the service of people who love what you do.

I observe 3 common interconnected barriers that are in the way of leadership effectiveness and that are often stopping leaders from doing what they love in the service of people who love what they do:

Being time poor
Decision-making chaos and in-decision

1) A lingering part of the hangover from the industrial revolution and associated management that tried to make human beings act like cogs in a machine, is the fact the we continue to have unrealistic expectations of what people can and can't achieve. One consequence is that most people are time poor.

I don't believe in time-management. I do believe in investing wisely in the 168 hours each of us has every week. Could you be a better investor in your time? Is at least 20% of your diary for this week empty meaning you are allowing for the unexpected? Do your people have the same flexibility?

2) Micro-management is often a key factor in being time poor. Help your people to clarify their roles, agree on rules of engagement including boundaries, have your employees create a 90 day personal and business performance plan that you can focus your conversations with them on. Otherwise get out of the way. Redefine your own role so that you're doing what you love in the service of people who love what you do.

3) Is there a clear process for making the big decisions in your workplace? Is it transparent and is everyone affected by decisions involved in the process?

Are people on your frontline truly able to make every day decisions without reference to anyone else?

If you answered no to either of the above questions you've got work to do.

Be remarkable.

PS I believe that remarkable is the new normal. Great is no longer good enough. Ordinary is your enemy. Eliminating barriers such as the 3 above are paramount to being remarkable.

To be remarkable in your businesses starts with your self-leadership and then leading by example. In order for other people to be remarkable, by definition consistently bringing their best to their work, some rules will need to be broken, boundaries redefined, and barriers eliminated. I work with leaders to achieve these ends.

I then provide No BS Mentoring on demand, and 24/7 access to resources that work when you use them in your own way. You'll be able to guarantee you succeed in the change/s you lead as a consequence.

I will be conducting group tours to show you what’s inside my studio every day 1st - 7th December, so that you can get a feel for the precious resources for humans inside. Find out more and how to join a tour here.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Beta Forever

Beta ForeverGoogle and Apple are both famous for their tech products and services, and constantly compete for market share. Their approach to product development is radically different from each other.

When Apple releases a product, it’s beautiful. Apple obsesses over design, thinks carefully about the user experience, and makes every effort to release something that’s “perfect”. Of course, some people also accuse Apple of deliberately holding back features so it can sell upgrades later. But, even taking this into account, what Apple does release is beautifully designed.

Google, on the other hand, often releases half-finished products that do the job, but are a bit rough around the edges. It makes no secret of this, and openly announces a “beta” release, which means it’s not so bad as to be completely unusable (that would be an “alpha” release, and that would only be released internally within Google), but is a bit rough around the edges.

An example is Google’s e-mail product, Gmail, which was released in beta in 2004. In fact, at the time of its release, it was available by invitation only, which was not a marketing stunt, but an acknowledgement that Google wanted it tested by a small group before making it available to everybody.

Which approach do you use with your people?

I don’t want to argue about the relative merits of the two approaches to product development because both Apple and Google are wildly successful. But I do want to ask you how you see your people. Do you think of them as complete, perfect packages, beautifully crafted and finished? Or do you see them as smart, talented and competent – but a bit rough around the edges?

If you look it from a spiritual viewpoint, then you might lean towards the former (“We are all perfect in every way!”). But from a practical leadership viewpoint, I suggest you take the latter approach. In other words, treat them as imperfect and beta.

In fact, think of them as beta forever.

This doesn’t mean you constantly focus on their flaws. On the contrary, it means you focus on their strengths, but acknowledge they have flaws. This is a much more respectful way to treat them, and it gives you the practical foundation to tap into those strengths.

For example ...

  • You put them in situations slightly beyond their skills, but give them support.
  • You tolerate them making mistakes 20% of the time, knowing the 80% they do right is exceptional work
  • You look for opportunities to magnify, amplify and grow their strengths - both in formal and informal ways
  • You don’t waste time trying to prevent every possible mistake
  • You make it easier for people to talk about their mistakes, so you can work together to do it better next time

So ... Have you been holding your people, your team and your organisation back (not to mention yourself!) by waiting until your people have all their problems sorted out? If so, it’s time to treat them as beta releases. And they will be beta forever.

(Photo credit: Simon Cunningham)

Monday, November 17, 2014

Are you the 1 in 100?

This weeks sparkenation.

"Yesterday I was clever
So I wanted to change the world.

Today I am wise
So I am changing myself."

The 99 when they talk about change, what they really mean is everyone else changing and not them.

Are you the 1 in 100?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations here.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

What are the human problems your business solves?

There are 7 keys to thriving on the challenges of change in your life and work. One I call differencemaking - the human problem/s your business solves.

I love the insights in this recent McKinsey article ‘Redefining capitalism’ that is in part about this. In the article the authors state “Every business is based on an idea about how to solve a problem. The process of converting great ideas into products and services that effectively fulfill fast-changing human needs is what defines most businesses. Thus, the crucial contribution business makes to society is transforming ideas into products and services that solve problems.”

What are the human problems your business solves?

Differencemaking is the purpose (the why, the intent, the reason) for our businesses. Fulfilling our purpose is all about our performance in the areas pictured below.

The above diagnostic is part of a paper I have produced about these 7 areas called The Delightful Design of a Distinguished 21st century business.

To download my paper please go here and scroll down to the bottom of the page. When you complete, scan, and email the diagnostic to me I’ll provide you with complimentary high value briefing.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday, November 10, 2014

What are you creating that will live forever?

This weeks sparkenation.

What are you creating that will live forever?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

PS The Global Impact Summit began today. Already more than 200,000 impacts.

Thursday, November 6, 2014

Help Your Team Become More Agile

Help Your Team Become More AgileA large organisation offers a more stable day-to-day work life. There's a buffer between teams and the outside world, so people work in a stable, predictable environment, with less stress and more confidence they can cope with the work. Even when external pressures occur, the organisation can absorb, delay or counter them so they don’t affect normal operations.

When you work in this sort of environment, it's easier for you to plan, project, budget and allocate resources. It's easier for you to motivate your team members with clear and predictable goals, milestones, bonuses and other performance rewards. You can also promise a more secure, reliable, predictable workplace – so it's easier to get, engage and keep key people.

But big ships get hit by icebergs!

Although this stability is a benefit in normal operations, it also makes us less flexible and resilient when things go badly wrong. Like the little girl with the curl in the middle of her forehead (“When she was good she was very, very good; when she was bad she was horrid”), or an ocean liner that can handle big waves but not an iceberg, we react badly when big things happen. Decisions take longer, everybody's protecting their turf, we're under the public microscope so even small decisions get scrutinised in detail, and so on. Most of all, most people are simply caught unaware when the boat hits the iceberg.

Even if you see the dangers and risks ahead, you're a small fish in a big pond, so you might not be able to do anything about them. In an increasingly fast-paced world, big organisations are less agile, less flexible, more vulnerable and less prepared for big external pressures.

When a crisis occurs, you might lose staff, projects, and even your job – through no fault of your own, and without any recourse. It's bad enough when a lone sailor loses his life; it's a tragedy of a whole other magnitude when it happens to a large ship.

Even if there are no crises, you (and the organisation) might not see the opportunities either – opportunities that a smaller, more exposed organisation would recognise and take. Even within your team, a predictable workplace can be boring and unmotivating! And if everything is predictable, you're not allowing your team members to thrive.

Take a leaf from a small, agile business ...

Small organisations deal with crises (some imagined, some real) regularly. Because they are more exposed, these workplaces can be more uncertain, frantic and frightening. However, they can also be more dynamic, more exciting and more inspiring.

Give your team the best of both worlds, by showing them the excitement of a dynamic work life while still enjoying the relative security of a stable workplace. You can do this in three ways:

  1. Lift them up: Expose your team members to higher roles, so they can see over the metaphorical walls (or physical cubicle partitions!) in their regular work.
  2. Bring the outside in: Subscribe to industry magazines and journals – both in print (which you can leave lying around in common areas, or circulate among the team) and electronic form.
  3. Take the inside out: Encourage your team members to step outside the workplace and participate in business networking events (and yes, in real life, not just online!)

By giving them opportunities "above their pay grade", you help them avoid the false sense of security they might otherwise feel.

Wednesday, November 5, 2014

Ensuring the great management myths and morons aren’t messing with your mind

I have been in a few workplaces this year where I have witnessed 20th century and even earlier management practices. 

In one where I was asked to do a review of their remarkability, which involves finding out the unbiased answers to these 96 questions, the CEO asked me for a one sentence summary of my findings. I replied “A lot of the great management myths and morons are messing with a lot of people’s minds.” An interesting conversation followed to say the least. 

The main myths we discussed were; people can be managed, there’s a need for a war on talent, people are resources, assets or capital. And the main oxymorons; change management, strategic planning, and performance management.

Below are my key thoughts on each one and links to more detail for you to explore and take action.

“People can be managed.” 
They can’t. We lead for people. We manage processes, policies, procedures, practices, processes and systems (PPPPS’s).

Explore more Management is dead

“There is a need for a war on talent.” 
There isn’t. Many organisations are focused on so-called top talent when the greatest opportunity is in the middle where people are neither engaged or disengaged, yet open to persuasion.

“People are resources, assets or capital.” 

“Change Management, Strategic Planning, and Performance Management”

Change like people can’t be managed. We lead change and manage the things around it.

A key to doing this successfully is simplification of strategy and focusing on execution.

Your strategy and your execution plan are completely different. See them together at your peril. Strategy in simple terms is how you’re going to get where you’re going. It’s a reference point for all decisions you make. If you can’t describe your strategy in a sentence it is very difficult to gain employee buy-in. 

Strategy is like a compass. Execution is a map. Every employee needs their unique piece of your execution map otherwise the chances of your strategy getting executed are zilch.

When each employee has their piece of the map and candid conversations integral to daily work are held around their piece of the map, you can throw out performance reviews and all the crap associated with performance management.

Explore more Moving on the morons

Some great insights (despite the title!) in the Strategy+business article 10 Principles of Leading Change Management. 

My new personal and business development program - 7 ways to thrive on the challenges of change

Over the past few months, and with the involvement of a few clients to ensure it’s tried, tested, and proven, I have developed a program that puts these myths and morons in their place, consigned to history.

The program is short and sharp and designed with time poor leaders in mind. It explores what I believe are the 7 keys to a thriving 21st century business:

Disrupting ourselves.
Differentiation: what our people do that others do, just better, differently or more uniquely.
Discovery: ensuring our people know their gifts/talents and how we are helping them to enhance them.
Drive: helping our people achieve what is important to them and meeting their intrinsic motivators.
Delivery: how we create, capture and deliver value to our stakeholders that they demand, desire, and feel that they deserve.
Distinction: the ways the experience of our customers/clients online and in-person makes us stand out from the rest.
Differencemaking: the human problems our business solves and/or impacts.

The program is available as a tailored for you in-house program or through my peer group initiative Maverick Thinkers Farm which can be undertaken online or in person. 

Although this program is short in duration, long term results are firmly in mind. To ensure you gain in the long term 1 years membership of Maverick Thinkers Studio, including a license to use my flagship The Enhancing Their Gifts System, is included in the package.

At both the above links there is a simple diagnostic you can complete to see how your traveling in these 7 areas of a distinguished 21st century business. The diagnostic is inside a special paper I wrote about these 7 keys to thriving on the challenges of change.

Very special offer

Complete, scan and email the diagnostic to me and I will give you a complimentary 1 hour high value briefing on what you can do to be remarkable in the 7 areas.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday, November 3, 2014

What stories have you shared lately?

This weeks sparkenation.

There's a lot of talk on social media that content is king and a whole content marketing industry has emerged.

The key in my view is not so much about content rather it's all about stories and story sharing.

What's your story?
What stories have you shared lately?
Who is sharing your story?

“We don’t need a list of rights and wrongs, tables of dos and don’ts: we need books, time, and silence. Thou shalt not is soon forgotten, but Once upon a time lasts forever.”
Philip Pullman

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations here.