January 19, 2018

Archives for May 2014

Risk-free innovation—is there such a thing?

Group discussionThought-provoking experience recently…

Organisation declines to do something new because success is not guaranteed—yes, guaranteed.

To be fair…

If you set-up a service to deliver or support innovation and growth, then how do you get paid if the innovation isn’t successful? To make an honest business of it, the buyer needs to accept they won’t get a straightforward win every time. Otherwise, it can’t really be innovation that’s being done—not if success is guaranteed. But does the buyer have that poise? Or does every single thing have to be a winner?

The result of this paradox might be very risk-averse innovators, who only propose certainties.

The question is…

Can doing something truly new ever be a sure thing?

What do you think?

Is it attractive to admit a weakness?

Image of David OgilvyThere something appealing about a person who is clear about what they’re good at and what they’re not so good at.

For example…

Watching a film of David Ogilvy, sometimes referred to as “the Father of Advertising,” it’s striking how disarming he is when he says he never had much success with the medium of television. His achievements—and they were notable—were primarily in print advertising. We tend to listen all the more to what he has to say.

Somehow, admitting a weakness and declaring the limits of our knowledge makes us seem more authoritative on our chosen territory—that subject on which we do have experience and learning to share.

We’re not talking about false modesty here, just an accurate exposition of what we know and what we don’t know.

And a signal that we don’t know everything—far from it, just a relatively narrow field.

What about you?

What’s your response to someone admitting the limits to their knowledge? Does it strengthen their appeal for you?


Is it a path you go down yourself when offering your expertise?

Top-down or bottom-up?

Balancing a baseball batWhich is the best way of running organisations?

Answer: Neither.

We need both, if we want the best results and an engaged team. Top-down for direction and accountability, bottom-up for energy and resilience and adaptability.

We need to keep the two in equilibrium, and that’s a bit like balancing a stick on our finger—not so hard if we concentrate, but let our mind wander and the stick is soon on the ground.

In many corporate organisations, the stick fell to the ground a long time ago, often on the side of autocratic top-down management, like some of the banks, but sometimes also on the side of excessively bottom-up arrangements with no coherence, like the Co-op in the UK perhaps, with its current difficulties.

So a function of leadership then…

Is to act, as if from outside the organisation, keeping the top-down and bottom-up in balance. Often we need to stimulate the bottom-up dynamic before we can event start.

How adept are you at acting in your organisation and on it at the same time?

Are you pushing away the very thing you’re trying to achieve?

MagnetYou might be.

Or you might be pushing away the very people you hope to attract.

You see…

It’s all very well setting an intention about what or who we want—and we do need to do that—but we also need to shed those pieces of ourselves that aren’t consistent with that. Those incongruent parts of us will gum up the works, for sure.

Joe Vitale called this the Missing Secret… Yes, we attract more of what we are, and unless we stop repelling the aspects we’re not so comfortable with, not much will happen. So we might need to change who we are a bit.

For example, if you want to be influential and begin to succeed in that, don’t be surprised when people regard you with a little more than usual respect and set you apart slightly. That might take a little getting used to and be a bit of a lonely place. Don’t push them away in the meantime.

You need to be open to the whole package, not just part of it.

It all comes down to our choices really.

What are you consistently choosing?

Goals, and how you present them

Goals, and how you present themThe studies show that having written goals makes all the difference to what we achieve, and the more we have to lead ourselves, the more that is probably true.

But how exactly do you write them down?

For years, I’ve just made a list with some dates—several pages worth.

I know. It’s crazy. I was never going to do them all.

Recently, I realised I need something more vivid, more alive, more compelling. Simpler.

(That’s after I realised I was overdue to set some new goals, having been too busy in the doing… I’ve been in that place before: Feeling a bit disorientated? … Need to review goals).

And so…

I’ve gone for a much simpler style—a mind-map fitting easily on one page. Adding some images and colour will make it even better.

What about you?

How do you present your goals?

Working back from the future

Three in discussionWhen there’s a problem, we tend to try and evolve things from how they are now. That’s natural. It’s logical to start from where we’re at. It’s the obvious thing to do.

Actually though…

Sometimes it works better to decide how we would like the relationship to be at some point in the future and then act as if it’s already that way now.

That can be difficult. It can seem ridiculous.

It can also work.

How do you want to look back on the present difficulty from the perspective of a year, say, or maybe longer?

Want to be good at getting unstuck and at moving things on?

Then work back from the future.

Straightening out your business

Road into the distanceIn program and project management, people talk about “straightening out the program,” meaning to set it on an orderly basis, with dependencies between one task and another, and resource availability in the face of constraints, properly recognised.

Without that clarity…

The program has “kinks” in it and so seems shorter overall than it really is, and at the same time actually isn’t the quickest route between two points.

It’s not laid out in a line properly.

Proper development of a programme then, both increases the realism of the planning and finds ways to minimise the expected duration.

So the end result is a straight line of minimum possible length.

Developing a business or an organisation is like that too.

In that context, the question is: Are the actions we’re taking on the shortest path to the goal or the vision?

Or are they partly a side road?

In other words, are we truly doing what most needs to be done?