Archive for August, 2012

Cultural lessons from HTC

Friday, August 17th, 2012

Peter Chou, CEO of phone maker HTC, according to Bloomberg, recently sent out an email to employees complaining that “we have people in meetings and talking all the time but without decision, strategic direction or sense of urgency,” and he also said that when HTC employees did decide to do something, they “either didn’t do it or executed it loosely.”  Also, that employees needed to unshackle themselves from the culture of bureaucracy and just get things done regardless of whether they’re done exactly according to company rules and regulations.  “Don’t let the processes, rules and norms to impact our important goals,” he wrote. “Of course we have to follow certain rules and criteria but don’t let small things kill the major goals… Please make sure that we kill bureaucracy… Stay firm with the hero innovations and make them even bigger and deliver them.”

It isn’t unusual for people to feel that meetings are a waste of time or that rules get in the way of productivity but I can’t recall a CEO publicly saying so before.  Clearly there is a culture that encourages conformity and avoids risk-taking, and it is his job to change that to one that is more productive.  HTC have a good reputation and a good product line that in many ways rivals Samsung’s very successful phones, but it has been having financial problems despite this. 

Far too often in business leaders, as well as workers,  lose sight of what is important, and why they are doing things and how these contribute to their overall goals. 


  1. Bloomberg

What motivates us?

Tuesday, August 14th, 2012

This is a fabulous video which explains the importance of purpose and meaning in getting people to apply themselves.  Compare and contrast these messages with what Microsoft do – read this article for the full story – which is meant to ensure that they only hire the best brains and that they work well but in fact seems to do quite the reverse.  You’d think they would notice wouldn’t you?  Look at the harvest the banks reaped from their big bonus culture…

Thousands of volunteers turned out to help make the London Olympics work, they did it because they were helping making something special happen.  None of us feels ordinary, and we want the chance to be and become and manifest the extraordinary. 

Olympic Reflections 2012

Monday, August 13th, 2012

It isn’t like me to watch opening or closing ceremonies (indeed, to be honest, I can’t say I usually engage with the Olympics) but London 2012 managed to grab me, and many of my fellow countrymen.  I was moved by last nights closing ceremony, especially when John Lennon’s voice joined the World with his rendition of “Imagine”.  It wasn’t all to my taste but I loved the way they took anthems from older, iconic artists and had them performed by today’s stars, such as the Kaiser Chiefs singing “Pinball Wizard”.  I’m sure the whole world sung and clapped to Queen’s “We will rock you”, and it was fabulous to hear that Roger Daltrey and the Who could still ‘bring it’!  I was immensely proud of what this country put together to present to the world and it has undoubtedly brought the country, and who knows, maybe the World, together for a while.  We will have to see what lingers and what withers. 

It was good that the arrangements worked.  I have heard about the ticketing frustrations, and don’t think I could have felt good about standing for more than an hour to get an over-priced MacDonald’s, but it was clear that the crowds of attendees at all the venues and on the roads and parks of London added hugely to the event and perhaps even shaped the results with their incredible support and involvement.  I’m proud and comfy being British, but often am frustrated by my compatriots’ behaviours, but I think we can all  feel very good about the last 16 days.  We did offer the best of ourselves to the world.  I can only remember a few occasions in my lifetime when we have come together like this such as the engagement of Charles and Di, and various jubilee days, and for a while, we felt a very different vibe in the air.

It would be nice to think that something permanent has changed as a result of these games.  There have been physical changes to the infrastructure of east London which will no doubt be to the good, and perhaps the ‘cool’ centre of London is drifting eastwards. It would be nice to think that some of us are inspired to a healthier lifestyle, or that we feel more confident in what the power of imagination can bring into being. Britain’s reputation for design and style is enhanced, because this is an area in which can compete with anywhere in the world and will always be in demand.  It is perhaps a better foundation on which to build our economic destinies than the corrupt  rootstock of banking. 

Here is what the foreign press had to say about it all:-

The Australian, Peter Wilson: British take gold as best Olympics Games hosts

“It is one thing for the British to thrash Australia in the medals table of the London Olympics. But now the Games are over, it is just as clear they have knocked Sydney off its pedestal as the best host of a modern Olympic Games. As awful as it is to admit, London 2012 was bigger, slicker, almost as friendly and more thoughtfully planned than Sydney in terms of the legacy it will leave the host city… It is, I’m afraid to say, bronze for Barcelona, silver for Sydney, and gold for London.”

The Age, Australia, Greg Baum: It’s been a right bang-up job

“London, you didn’t half do a decent job. These Olympics had Sydney’s vibrancy, Athens’s panache, Beijing’s efficiency, and added British know-how and drollery. With apologies to Sydney, they might just represent a new PB for the Olympics. The Games were preceded by the usual fatalistic anticipation of a cock-up. It proved groundless. Moving masses of people around a mazy city was expected to be a nightmare but London made it look effortless. Security was plentiful but low key. The army, called in to meet a shortfall, proved to be Britain’s finest ambassadors.”

Washington Post, USA, Mike Wise: London 2012 taught us about legacy, humor and courage

“The host country truly was Great Britain. London delivered a rousing Olympics. I wasn’t in Beijing, but the consensus is these were the most organized, enthralling and enjoyable Games since Sydney in 2000.”

New York Times, USA, David Segal: Britain Takes a Final Bow

“One of the great stories of these Olympics was the effect they had on England itself. Triumphalism does not come naturally to this country, where the cultural stock in trade has long been dignity in defeat. This, let’s not forget, is a nation where one of the most beloved poems is Tennyson’s “Charge of the Light Brigade,” which valorizes a military rout at the hands of the Russians. The Games have hit this country like an extra-strength dose of a mood-enhancing drug.”

he Globe and Mail, Canada, Doug Saunders: Olympic elation envelops host nation

“On a patch of land scarred black by the industrial revolution, bombed flat by Hitler and denuded by decades of poverty and neglect, a country with little money and less self-confidence held the world’s most expensive and difficult sporting event. And when it ended in a spectacle of pomp-free pop and quintessentially East London polyglot pageantry, there was a very surprising national sense of elation.”

National Post, Canada, Bruce Arthur: Britain pulls off an Olympics to remember

“This was a brilliant Olympics, in almost every way: wonderful crowds, marvellous volunteers, logistical coherence, a galvanizing performance by the home side. There were some goof-ups, sure. London mayor Boris Johnson got stuck on a zip line, and compared women’s beach volleyball players to glistening wet otters; the cops lost the keys to Wembley Stadium; early on, someone mixed up the North and South Korean flags. Buses occasionally went missing, and trains were occasionally delayed. But there is always a fraying, and the whole held together.”

New Zealand Herald, David Leggat: Three cheers for a job well done

“Hats off to the Lord Coe and his Locog planning chums. They can put their feet up knowing London did itself, and the Olympics, proud…What was out of whack was the hugely lopsided work of the BBC. They didn’t just drop their cloak of impartiality; they biffed it over the bridge. Interviewers wore Team GB shirts and chatted to sixth or seventh-place finishers while races were still on. “We” was everywhere. It was cringeworthy, and unworthy of the organisation.”

China Daily: Grand finale brings Games to an end

“Despite concerns about the creaky transport system and a shortfall of private security guards, which forced the government to call in thousands of extra troops to help screen visitors, the Games have so far passed by fairly trouble-free. “A furore over empty seats at several Olympic venues blew over, especially once the track and field showcase kicked in and drew capacity crowds for virtually every session.Even the weather improved as the Games wore on. Bright sunshine has graced the closing weekend of a festival that has helped to lift spirits in Britain.”

Corriere della Sera, Beppe Severgnini: Thank you London: a lesson for the pessimists

“This Olympics was a success for Great Britain…the capital had wanted to throw a party for the world. And when we’re talking about parties, ceremonies and festivals, the English are unrivalled…The Olympics was a moveable feast, more Hemingway than Dickens. I have to say to my English friends, when they have recovered from the festivities (I can’t say in what condition), it’s only been two weeks from ‘Gosh we’ll never make it!’ to ‘Wow, we made it!’. And this, if you like, is the news. Once, confronted by a difficult task, the English would be worried…today they are not hiding any more…Congratulations, and thank you for a fantastic party.”

Source:  Daily Telegraph

London Olympics–lessons on Change

Thursday, August 9th, 2012

From the procession of the torch round the country where 8,000 people each carried it for 8,000 miles, and most people were within 5 miles of it at some point  (I personally have had it cross my path 3 times) to the opening ceremony, the organisers have tried to engage the population in a feeling that this is their Olympics.  Interestingly, the reach of the games has gone considerably beyond London, right down to Weymouth.  They have made sure that the road races and swimming  have used venues that the general public can access like Box Hill and the London parks and the public have rewarded them by turning out in huge numbers. The net dividend of all this is the country is truly engaged in and excited by the event. 

I have heard it argued that the National Lottery funding has helped build venues and support sport in a way that the Exchequer never could and the success this has lead to (48 medals so far and third place in the league table) has also done much to engage and excite people.  I have found myself watching all manner of minority sports on the 24 dedicated channels, which also increase people’s access.

So we have and emotionally resonant opening ceremony together with good access and success on the field and the net result is engagement and ownership.  If you are contemplating initiating Change in your business, then you need take a leaf from this Olympics in how you construct your program and prepare your ground.