Archive for December, 2009

What a Wonderful Life!

Saturday, December 26th, 2009

My daughter is a movie buff and decided that we needed to have a late Xmas treat and insisted that we sat down to watch “It’s a Wonderful Life”, the James Stewart movie.  If you haven’t seen it, briefly it is about a good man who basically spends his life sacrificing his opportunities to be successful in order to help others.  One day his uncle / employee loses his bank’s money on the day of an audit and he faces jail and and ruin.  He despairs and contemplates suicide.  At the last minute, his guardian angel saves him by showing him the impact he has had on the lives of everyone he has touched and the cumulative difference all his good deeds have made.  In the end, everyone turns up to help him and he realises just how rich / lucky he is.

I thoroughly enjoyed it and it seemed a perfect counterweight to yesterday’s blog.  Yesterday I asked how you measured your success; this movie reminds us that everyday we have an opportunity to build a legacy of small but positive contributions to those we encounter.  I have always believed that if everyone goes even a little out of their way to help; if we do unto others as we would like them to treat us that the world would be a better place.

I wish you all a very happy holiday and a prosperous 2010…


A successful man?

Friday, December 25th, 2009

I was listening to Michael Caine talk on Desert Island Island Disks this morning.  I am a big fan of his acting, especially in his latter years.  Although he is 19 years older than me, I was a teenager when I saw him burst onto the movie scene as Alfie.   So my years of my growing up and growing older have paced his incredible career via Harry Palmer, the anti-Bond and Charlie Croker in the Italian Job through to a horrible trough of The Swarm.  By the mid-eighties he found his mojo again and made films like Sweet Liberty, Dirty Rotten Scoundrels.  In his later years, when others’ careers might have faded, he has just got better and better in films like Cider House Rules and Secondhand Lions, and he was a perfect Alfred in Batman.  Not bad for a lad from Rotherhithe, the son of a charlady…

So as I was listening to him talking, I wondered why he had been so incredibly successful and wondering what that might be like.  Which took me to the question “Well, are you a success?”   Now that is one heck of a question for 9.0 am on Xmas morning!  By comparison with Sir Michael, it is hard to put oneself in the same category; but then few are.  So… do I feel successful?

Well, on the basis that I have achieved most of the key goals I set myself as younger man, then I guess so.  I may not be a national treasure  but I have three fabulous, healthy children, a wife who (despite it all) sees and loves me, a home I love, and job that fulfils me.  I’m not sure what I’d change, other than perhaps just ‘dialling up the volume a bit’, and that seems a reasonable test of success.

It is a pretty big question.  We all want and need to feel like a success; to be the hero in our own movie.  I’m interested to hear how you would measure success.  It has serious implications for Change in business too, as people will avoid experiencing failure and if your program is not design or managed well enough to give them a reasonable belief that they can succeed they won’t ‘play’, and you will fail.

“Would you like me to give you a formula for success? It’s quite simple, really. Double your rate of failure. You are thinking of failure as the enemy of success. But it isn’t at all. You can be discouraged by failure or you can learn from it, So go ahead and make mistakes. Make all you can. Because remember that’s where you will find success.”   Thomas J. Watson

“The successful always has a number of projects planned, to which he looks forward. Anyone of them could change the course of his life overnight.”   Mark Caine

Video Blog: Organisational Change Lessons learnt from the Banking Crisis

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

I recently wrote an article on an allied subject, and was recently interviewed about this.  As ever, I’d be interested to hear what you feel about this…

PS>> This style of shooting was a bit of an experiment and we’d be very interesting to know how you feel about it

The Art of Receiving

Saturday, December 19th, 2009

As we come up to Xmas and the season of giving, we are all focusing on the gifts we are getting for others.  Once one leaves childhood behind  increasingly the focus shifts to the giving side of the equation.  This year my eldest is splurging out on her gifts as she feels this is the first time in four years she has been able to get people the gifts she wants to give.  She has invested not only huge amounts of her hard-earned cash but also a whole load of time and emotion in choosing ‘perfect’ gifts for each of us.

It is really clear to me that one of the best gifts I can give her this year is to receive her present in the spirit in which it is given.  It is about appreciating the thought, and all those non-verbal messages too.  Interestingly enough, Grace is the very best example of this art that I know.  She lights up with appreciation when you give her something. 

So this Xmas I’m going to try and learn from my daughter and give the gift of the well-received gift.

What other less obvious gifts do you think we should focus on this year?

If you’re going to tally up things in life, tally up what others do for you, rather than what you do for others.”  Kelly Brignell


8 Reasons why Organisational Change Programmes fail

Wednesday, December 16th, 2009

There are all sorts of reasons why Change programmes fail, but here are 8 of the main ones:-

  • Fear:  it is quite natural to be change adverse and if nothing is done to make it safe, then don’t be surprised if people find any number of reasons to avoid it
  • Lack of knowledge:  if people don’t understand what you want them to do, and I mean specifically what you expect of them rather than generalities, then they will stay still
  • Lack of skill:   if your programme requires people to use new technologies or new methods, or even new ways of behaving / thinking then again, they will not be able to make any progress
  • Lack of resources:  if they don’t have the time, technology or budget then they can’t proceed
  • Lack of support:  people need supporting through a change programme, and the longer and more radical it is, the more help they require; this also includes political support from within the organisation
  • The unexpected happens:  even if you have the perfect plan and all the preceding elements have been properly planned and resourced, still things can happen both within and outside your business that than can blow you off track.  They can even render your plan irrelevant.  Think about the impact of the banking crisis on perfectly well-formed plans…
  • Lack of communication:  this blows more programmes off track than almost all the others!  It is essential to ensure that not only are people kept informed of what is expected of them, but also what they can expect.  It is also crucial to make sure that you actively listen to them; they will tell you what is wrong, why things are stuck and what they don’t like.
  • Lack of Leadership:  it is a leaders job not only to correctly identify where the business needs to be headed to be successful, but also to lead the charge, and be an example to everyone else

I’d be interested to hear any more that you feel should be on this list.  However, if you have all these bases covered chances are you are well on track for success.

Good Luck!

Live long and prosper…

Tuesday, December 15th, 2009

I found myself watching and (somewhat to my surprise) enjoying the latest Star Trek movie.  At one point the young Mr Spock has a conversation with a much older, wiser version of himself.

I wonder what you would either tell a younger version of you or wish to be ask an older, wiser version?

Video Blog: Understanding the Flight – Fight Response

Monday, December 14th, 2009

This is the second of our new series of videos about Organisational Change and how to do it successfully.  Understanding the Flight/Fight response is critical as it explains how people react under the inevitable stress that change in the workplace causes.

Of course, all change can generate this kind of stress, including such apparently happy events as getting married!


Understanding the Flight-Fight Response

Sunday, December 13th, 2009

This video explains why is crucial to understand how people are programmed to respond when they are under stress[xr_video id=”25b87f2ff5b94254bf685f31390188e8″ size=”md”]

Crime & Punishment: Prison and change

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

There is a story in the Independent today entitled  “Addict says sorry for car-jack attack”  about a drug addict who hijacked a car and ended up crippling the woman who owned it.  He was sent to jail, as he should have been.  The interesting thing was that he has just written to his victim “After watching the news and seeing your face, I realised it’s time to stop using drugs and change my attitude. Nothing in the past has really given me an incentive to stop, but when you explained what you went through, I wished I wasn’t born.”   It can’t make it up to the woman concerned or her family, but perhaps is the beginning of the Change process.

Until we recognise and own our mistakes, and take responsibility for their consequences, we can’t move forwards.


 “There are two primary choices in life: to accept conditions as they exist, or accept the responsibility for changing them.”  Denis Waitley

“The price of greatness is responsibility.”   Winston Churchill


NHS cuts and Lessons on Change

Saturday, December 12th, 2009

Yesterday on the Today Program, BBC Radio 4, they were talking to Dr Richard Taylor, MP, about how they could save £20b in the NHS, and not cut frontline services. [click cutting to go to original item]

He refers to a paper produced by NESTA called “the Human Factor”, he quotes it and says “When resources are scare, it is doing things differently that will deliver the kind of transformation we need….”  I think there is a serious lesson here for most businesses.  Salvation and the way forwards lies in:-

1.  The Human Factor, i.e. our people, and

2.  Doing things differently!

More of the same simply won’t work….  Time to change folks.