People in our workforces are under serious strain. They are constantly being asked to do more with less. Our businesses and government departments are responding to the austerity drives by trimming more and more from their budgets, which inevitably means fewer people are left to do the work. Meanwhile the demands are increasing. With everyone in the economy tightening their belts, company profits are falling, which means that a smaller and smaller workforce is being challenged to work smarter, harder, more innovatively and to ‘keep their chins up and stay engaged’.
In the midst of this, what are our leaders getting up to? Well, from what I can glean, I see leaders who feel a great deal of responsibility for this state of affairs, and who are responding by working themselves harder and more intensely than ever.
The irony is, that at this time, perhaps more than ever before, our leaders need to be making themselves much less ‘busy’, and focusing more than they ever have done on nurturing their workforce.So, what can we be asking our leaders to be thinking about right now that will help them to do just that? Continue reading →
“Life is a journey, not a destination.” ~ Ralph Waldo Emerson
I can’t imagine many people will not have heard (or used) this quote – or a variant of it – at some time in their lives. It does seem fairly self-evident I guess. People who set out on any journey, whether they get to where they imagined they would or not, do at least get the satisfaction of knowing that they tried. They have the opportunity of enjoying the thrill of the ride. They gain experience and learning from the venture. The challenge of the journey will often, in itself, be a major part of the reason for embarking on it. Isn’t that obvious?
Well, Intuitive though this may sound, it does not always appear that way when observing people’s behaviour. How many people are genuinely enjoying their journeys?I watched a documentary on TV this week, in which Ian Rankin (the famous and brilliant crime writer – check out his Rebus novels if you don’t know about him) keeps a video-diary of his thoughts, activity and progress while writing his latest novel. He has a sketchy idea for the plot and how to start it off, and a vague notion of how the book should end, but has no idea how he will fill the 300 or so pages in between. For Rankin this was very much a process of discovery. It was as though he were chopping and beating a path Continue reading →
“I have not failed. I’ve just found 10,000 ways that won’t work.” ~ Thomas A. Edison
I’m getting more than a little concerned about the world’s changing attitude toward ‘risk’.
A fundamental part of our biological makeup, and a reason for the way our limbic systems work the way they do, is that we are well equipped for surviving. The very fact we are around today, writing and reading this post, is evidence of our species’ success in navigating millenia of ‘survival’ challenges. Being able to assess risk, and make decisions based on the available information, is key to that continued success. Certainty and absolute prediction do not exist in nature. The best we can do today is build up banks of data based on past events, use super-computers to model trends, and use experts to ‘predict’ based on probabilities. And, even then, it is remarkably difficult to get it right. The US Presidential elections were being predicted by political analysts and pollsters using many different indicators of what has happened (or not happened) in the past. But, they did not all get it right. Hurricane Sandy was being tracked minute by minute, modelled by the most powerful computers, and its likely course predicted by the best weather forecasters, but no-one could be certain exactly where, and how it would strike, and with what level of ferocity.
Now, I like to think that, as humans (who are inherently wired to understand probability, risk and prediction), we are tolerant and acceptant of the fact that getting predictions absolutely correct is simply not achievable. But, I fear I am naive in this belief. I sense Continue reading →
George Bernard Shaw is reputed to have described a sick man as “being unable to think of anything but his ailment”. The general malaise and depression that swamps much of our news, both regionally and from around the world, is reminiscent of Shaw’s sick man. Get too close to a problem and you can’t see beyond it.
Our organisations and businesses are being driven by a management obsessed with ‘looking in the rear view mirror’. Think about it! What goes on in meetings in organisations and businesses, day in day out? How much of the focus is on what has been going wrong, and why? How much time is devoted to looking at trends, and graphs, and budget forecasts based on productivity over the last month, quarter or year? How much of the employee performance appraisal is devoted to the fine detail of relative value and contribution of people over the past quarter or year, and not about the development, potential and possibilities in the future?
When managers are obsessed by the problems of the here and now, the next decision, the next quarterly review, the next appraisal or the next monthly operational review data pack (… please save us from the dreaded review pack !!), then they are focused on the ailment.