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As you are aware Change is all about people, and it starts with us. This is an exploration of some of the ideas and issues that I've encountered along the way. I've created this also to enable a dialogue to begin around this subject and hopefully produce a forum where we can all learn something.

Why are YOU visiting here??

April 6th, 2015

According to Google (last time I looked!) we are now one of the top Change blogs. We are now getting over 5,000 human visitors per month and I know nothing about who you are or why you visit.  I’d really love to close that gap and learn a little about what brings you here, what you like, what you are looking for…

Please, please take a moment to leave a comment below.

We have had a lot of spam registrations so sign-up has been disabled. If you would to join please email, telling me a bit about yourself and why you are interested and I will register you.

We’ve been Trumped… or Brexit pt II

November 10th, 2016

It seems there is something in the air, both the British rank & file, and the masses in the USA were persuaded to vote for the unknown, because they know they hate what they have. Both votes are a leap into the unknown. No one knows where Brexit leads, or even how to do it. The biggest super power in the world is now being lead by a political outsider, with no experience of of either politics or the military.

I have said it before, discontinuous change can be a very powerful tool for good, but it requires leadership and vision. When you are in the middle of the jungle, someone has to know where you are going and how to get you there.

Like it or not, the Americans have voted for a leap into the unknown, the world stock markets have plunged and the rest of us will go along for the ride…

Brexit: a step into the unknown

November 2nd, 2016

I voted against this as did most of the people I talked to about it. It always felt less risky and I instinctively felt I’d rather be in the club and influencing it than outside and hoping. However, as nation, that is not the choice we made. Whether it was smart, and whether those who voted for leaving actually realised what they were unleashing is immaterial. We have taken this bold step into the unknown.

Sometimes either as a person or as a business leader you may feel that you need to take this bold step into the unknown. It is scary, you forfeit control, but that doesn’t make it wrong. Discontinuous change is a powerful weapon for bringing about change. If you don’t like where you are, if you know that you can’t get what you want by staying on your current track, then doing something different is not only an option, it is probably the only option.

About 20 years ago I left a relatively safe job in a big multinational to start my own business, this business. I knew I’d never get what I wanted within that system, so I bailed. Luckily it worked. I was able to do something I loved, fed my family and not have to play the corporate game.

Brexit may or may not be a great move for the British, but the fact that we are facing all manner of unknowns and can clearly see all sorts of risks, does not necessarily mean that it is wrong.

Britain – post Brexit

July 14th, 2016

Readers will perhaps know that I was against us leaving the EU and I was truly shocked when I awoke on the 23rd to discover we had decided to sever our ties with the EU.  I don’t think we are necessarily any less European now, though we will certainly be more British (if Britain survives the post-shock waves of this decision and Scotland does declare independence.)  Whilst I feel we rushed into this and did so for all the wrong reasons, and I strongly believe that this will have little impact on our national concerns about immigration, jobs and regulations, I don’t think we need to despair.  Britain is basically a very pragmatic nation, one with links to other nations that go back centuries and with the skills to innovate.  We can think our way out of this, and who knows, we may even prosper.

However, it isn’t the politics or even the economics of Brexit that inspired this blog; what I wanted to reflect on was the opportunities for Change (with a capital C!)  You only have to look at the total chaos and realignment in our political world to see that we have witnessed more and bigger change there in a matter of weeks than we have seen in decades.  No one one really knows the rules of the game, no one knows what is and is not possible.  There is no ‘right’ way at present.  This leaves the door wide ajar for innovators, leaders and the daring to try something different.  Of course, some of these ideas will fail, but there will be many people, and businesses that will build their future success on the ruins of our membership of the EU.  Why don’t you decide to be one of those?

Now is a time to do something different, to push the bounds of what is possible, to find the quickest, easiest way to satisfy demand.  If tomorrow, you continue doing exactly what you have always done you are more likely to become ensnared in the swamp that out leaving the EU will create.

Learning from Failure 2 – recognising your limitations 

July 11th, 2016

I wrote the other day about learning from failure, and I thought I would develop the theme a little further.  One of the keys of a successful leader / business person, is to learn their own limitations and to ensure that they compensate for them by building a balanced and team and by co-operating with others.  I learnt that carrying more 25 lbs is a recipe for no fun whatever.  You might learn that you are great at the big picture stuff but poor on detail, or maybe good with numbers but poor with people.  Whatever your weaker suits, and we all have them, there is no shame in acknowledging them and ensuring they don’t impact the overall performance.

Learning from failure

July 8th, 2016

Ridgeway

I set out last week to walk the Ridgeway, it starts in Avebury and I was walking to Whipsnade, about 100 miles.  It wasn’t my first long distance path, but it was the first time I was doing it camping and carrying a big pack.  Despite some careful thought and planning I still ended up with a bag that weighed 35 lbs or more, and I have to say that it turned the whole thing into more of an endurance challenge than an exploration of the English countryside.  West Ilsley

After 3 days, 40 miles and little sleep thanks to a rather noisy road and very strong winds, I decided to bail.  After all, it had been an experiment to see if this version of long distance walking worked for me and I had concluded that it absolutely did not!  Once you know that something isn’t working that’s a good time to stop, reassess options and strategies and find out what might work.  It is common in these times of macho leadership, to assert one is right and cling to one’s decisions as a sign of strength. However, a much better example of courageous leadership is Eddie Jones, England’s rugby coach, who twice on the last successful tour of England in Australia pulled off players after only 30 minutes (which was pretty much unprecedented) and radically altered the outcomes of the games. 

It would have been nice to have achieved my goal of getting there, but actually that was a subordinate one to finding a new way to enjoy something I’d found hugely rewarding in the past.  Edison, apparently tried thousands of different things as filaments in his new electric light bulb, and each time he encountered one more that failed, he felt he was narrowing in on the one the that would work by eliminating another thing that didn’t. 

So perhaps in this success obsessed culture, we need to find ways to learn from failures.  Maybe, despite the fact that most experts and world leaders seem to feel that Brexit was a horrendous mistake, we can find a way to make it work for us… I pray we can!

Vote ‘No Change’

June 23rd, 2016

eu flagYou might be surprised that an exponent of change would suggest voting for the status quo, but that is what I’m doing.  It seems to me that what ‘facts’ there are all point to us being better off inside than outside.  Whether we are in or out of Europe, no one is suggesting we can ignore it in the future and if we are trading with a big, powerful organisation, they get to dictate the terms, with no input from us, so our businesses will have to adopt EU standards if we want to sell our goods and services there. 

Britain is a mongrel nation made up of wave after wave of new comers to these shores, from the Romans to the Saxons, to the Danes, to the Normans, the Dutch, the Germans and then all the immigrants from the various colonies.  It seems to me that we have been enriched by these waves of newcomers, and if we examine our DNA most of us have threads from all over the world that makes us who we are. 

Getting out is neither a simple, nor instant nor pain-free process; there is no certainty of what life will be like on the other side of that decision.  We may not particularly like our neighbours, we may enjoy poking fun at them, but we are far better with neighbours than strangers.

You have to change things for the right reasons and not continuing because it is hard work, or occasionally frustrating is like bailing on your marriage the first time you have a row.  You work it out together, talk, listen and compromise and make a better future using each others strengths.  I think most of us agree that co-operation, communication and peace are better than their alternatives.

I think we should stay…

Walking in the footsteps of others

June 6th, 2016

 

footpathI recently spent an amazing week in the Lake District.  I wanted to explore some of the higher hills that I hadn’t visited before.  Technically they qualify as mountains, (and certainly felt that way!) but that term feels odd to apply to our English landscape.  I walk regularly, and certainly take sensible precautions, but these hills can be dangerous, especially to the inexperienced.  The thing about challenging yourself is that you can’t do it by doing things that you know you can do.  That makes this kind of venture intrinsically scary.  There are a number of challenges such as could I physically cope with it and could I find my way.  These routes mean you are slogging uphill for two to three hours and then, faced with an equally challenging descent.  A 7 mile walk can easily take 5 hours. 

One thing you can’t help noticing in the Lakes is how the landscape is scarred by people’s passage.  However, there are are also places which are totally unmarked and they make you very aware that you can very easily get lost.  These days people seem obsessed by doing their own thing and being original but actually there is an awful lot to be said for following in the footsteps of others.  When I saw these paths I knew that they worked; I didn’t know if they were easy, but I knew if I followed them I would get down.  Isaac Newton referred to “Standing on the shoulders of giants” as a positive that comes from following what others have done.  I have spent my life challenging the status quo and just repeating what others have done, but there are times, and fell walking is one of them, where you can appreciate why this can be a very smart option.

A painless path to change

May 30th, 2016

I wrote a blog a little while ago entitled “Little by little” which talked about the importance of small steps taken over a period of time.  I came across this similar idea called Kaizen, or the one minute principle.  It comes from two Japanese words, kai (change) and zen (wisdom).   It is a technique developed by Masaaki Imai and at its heart is the idea that if you want to acquire a new skill, or build a new discipline you can start with a baby step of doing something towards it for a minute every day.  No one is so busy that they can’t find a single minute!  So say you wanted to learn Mandarin as a client of mine is doing, if you learn two or three words every day, after a week you have a new vocabulary of 21 words.  If you consider that the average 3 year old can express themselves reasonably with only 4,000 words, you see it is possible to learn something useful in tiny steps, if you keep it up!

Another principle behind this method is that as you make progress and persevere, you get more committed and enthusiastic, and willing to devote more time to it.  How hard would it be to up your commitment to yourself and your project to just 5 minutes a day? At that rate you could learn over 7,000 words in a year and reach the level of the average 8 year old.

What is more, if you are dedicating such tiny investments, you can afford to take on several projects at a time.  Maybe walking a little more each day to get fitter, maybe reading more for your pleasure or enrichment, maybe talking to someone new to grow stronger relationships… Give it a go..

A handy problem solving methodology

May 30th, 2016

OPQRST

If you get hurt, and need emergency medical help the EMT people use the methodology on the left.  I have marginally changed the questions to make them more general but if you bear in mind their medical origins they not only make more sense but make it easier to adapt the questions to suit your own situation.

How did it begin?

What makes it better or worse?

Describe the situation.

What does it affect?

How important is it?

What is the history of it?

You can see that this systematic way of investigating you issue can give you or the person helping you a fresh insight or perspective to enable you to do something different.  It is always helpful to get someone outside the situation involved, get them to ask you these questions and explain it all to them.  In the process of explaining it to them you inevitably make it clearer to yourself too.

A useful decision making tool

May 22nd, 2016

image

One of my very first lessons as a consultant was the value of 2×2 grids, which seemed to be used for everything from getting boy scouts out of horses’ hooves to proving they were geniuses!  Well here is another one, but it can be a handy way of making a decision.

Give honest answers to the following questions (and this can be used on your own or with your team)

 

 

 

1.  What will happen if this happens (and what do we get from it)?  What are the natural consequences?

2.  What happens if this doesn’t happen?  Will everything stay the same?  What are the advantages of not doing it?

3.  What won’t happen if this happens?  So what are the disadvantages of this course; what does it impede or prevent?

4.  What won’t happen if this doesn’t happen?  What are the disadvantages or costs of not doing it?  Be careful with the double negative in this question and make sure you aren’t answering question 1 all over again.

By taking four different perspectives on the same question, you are more likely to make a rounded decision.  Variants of this technique, when working with a team, are  to split it up and get every one to answer one or two bits of this and present back.  Or you could have people prepare their individual takes on it and add their new input to the growing answer.