A managers roots

Business in the industrial age required us to check our personality at the door.

Come on in and be a resource, a human resource. Which makes sense when humans were coming in to complement the machinery.

The root manage has its’ origin in manège, which if you look up means, ‘The art of breaking, training, and riding horses’.

The line manager was the person who sat at the end of the production line ensuring compliance with the strict system of production. Breaking, training and riding people.

How does this fit with today’s knowledge workers and why do we still use these antiquated terms?

No wonder so many companies still expect us to leave our personality’s at the door.

Human resources implies bring the human but leave the humaness.

Factory environment

















Image source: http://bit.ly/T16Aou

Technorati Tags: , , , , ,

Intention and impact

Our intentions are often misinterpreted or misunderstood.

The root of most conflict lies in the gap between intention and impact. 

So it is not enough to have good intentions.

We need to understand the impact of our words and actions if we are going to be successful in our strategies.

I’m misunderstood just means so little.

The difference between intention and impact can lead to conflict








Image source: http://bit.ly/VRAfRH

Technorati Tags: , , ,

Empty communication

We think it is easy to communicate with anyone, anywhere in the world. In fact it is hard.

I can message my friend in Auckland or Vancouver in a second. The quality of that message is a lot less than the letters I used to write to my granny when I was a kid.

The hour spent crafting a message to gran was way up the scale towards real communication. The text to my Canadian or New Zealand friend is a lot emptier.

Even further up the scale of real communication are the meaningful, honest, vulnerable conversations held in person. This is why executive coaching continues to grow.

Our digital messages are seldom quality. They are often shotgun blasts hoping to land. Unsure of the quality, we follow many of our messages with another one saying ‘did you get my message?’ or ‘did you understand my email?’

Our amazing new communication tools ironically allow us to send empty messages quicker and easier than ever. 

The medium is indeed the message*.

Empty communication






Original image

* 1964 quote by Marshall McLuhan

Technorati Tags: , , , , , , , , ,

On trust and strategy

Trust is an integral part of strategy.

The many executives who tell me that their staff ‘just don’t get it’, are really saying that they are not trusted.

Trusted leaders have followers and trust is built one interaction at a time.

On the road between today and the implementation of your new strategy are hundreds of connections with your people, each of which can build trust while moving the strategy forward. The alternative can leave you wondering why it is so hard.

The road to trust

Original image

Relationships count

The quality of the relationships in a company directly impact the success of the business.

When people talk about a company such as Goldman Sachs as “The bank”, or “Goldman” as if it is a real person, they are glossing over the most important feature of the organisation, which is that it is made up of thousands of people in relationship with each other.

The nature of the relationships is really what a company is all about. If relationships are mercenary then the company is mercenary. If they are caring then the company is caring. Relationships that are functional create functional organisations and conversely dysfunctional relationships end in dysfunctional companies.

Just like in marriages – sometimes dysfunction can go on for a long time and reach it’s own equilibrium. It works in it’s own strange way.

Better are those organisations that work for a long time off the foundation of functional relationships.

Next time you describe your company – describe the relationships – it’s the most accurate picture of what is really going on.

Google Course Asks Employees to Take a Deep Breath – NYTimes.com

Stop, Breathe, Notice, Reflect and Respond. Google’s Search Inside Yourself (SIY) internal course has already educated 1,000 of their employee’s on mindfulness. The New York Time’s takes us through some of the in’s and out’s of the approach. Eckhart Tolle would be proud. 

Google Course Asks Employees to Take a Deep Breath – NYTimes.com

Most strategic partnerships are purchase orders

Buzzwords are the bain of the business world. My personal worst is “bring you up to speed”. I’m not sure why that is, possibly because it has been overused by people around me.

“Strategic partner” is another one that is best left alone. It is used to describe every possible relationship that business people can have. While the intention is good it very often is used describe relationships which are seldom strategic and never really partnerships in the true sense of the word.

It seems that if we call someone a “strategic partner” we are saying we like you and we want you to be close.

Scott McNealy (of Sun Microsystems fame) got taken apart this week in a Harvard Business Review article  for tweeting:

“Most over used phrase in business is ‘strategic partner.’ Favorite partnership for me is a purchase order. Defined charter, beginning, end.”

The author of the article, Ben Gomes-Casseres, who is is currently writing a book on alliances, describes what a strategic partner should look like. Unfortunately many companies approach the issue as McNealy does, using the term to describe what is essentially a transaction.

How we missed Madiba

It’s a strange feeling to watch the United States celebrate our heroes more effectively than we can.

My father mailed me the link to the Arthur Ashe Courage Award presentation to Nelson Mandela which happened on the 19th July as part of the annual ESPY awards. If you haven’t seen it then stop reading now and watch. It’s electric and I guarantee even the most emotionally disconnected will feel a tear well up in their eyes.

I got curious about why I hadn’t heard about this prestigious award. I’ve been traveling and hit the ground running after my winter break (hence not much Thought Leader blogging). Thinking I may have missed the coverage, I searched the websites of the major English newspapers in South Africa.

Google showed the following results:

Mail & Guardian
Your search – “nelson mandela” “arthur ashe courage award” site:www.mg.co.za – did not match any documents.

Sunday Times
Your search – “nelson mandela” “arthur ashe courage award” site:www.sundaytimes.co.za – did not match any documents.

The only English paper to carry the story was the Independent. Why would this be? Why are we not celebrating our most famous citizen as he gets recognised internationally for his bravery and strategic brilliance?

The footage on YouTube, introduced by Barack Obama and presented by Venus and Serena Williams, takes you back to a different time in South Africa. The 1995 Rugby World Cup was set against a backdrop of violence and uncertainty in the years before. Hope emerged, at least for a moment, as we all dropped our guard and rallied around the boys.

As is usual for an American TV production, this ten minute segment is powerful, real and emotional. Unlike some US productions, it isn’t over the top.

Can you remember what you were doing on those days when we beat Australia in the opening game, beat France in the semifinal and then the big game against New Zealand? Prompted by the video, I remembered each occasion vividly.

Today I browsed Mark Keohane’s gushing account of the rugby world cup 2007 “Champions of the World: Seven Magnificent Weeks”. The book documents the Springboks second World Cup win. While a fantastic achievement, the 2007 win wasn’t quite the same as ‘95. This means we have to look harder for these special moments.

Have a watch and then pass it on. We can’t afford to miss celebrating and feeling proud of Madiba and our rugby heroes.

The powerful catalyst that was created through a leaders’ foresight and a game of rugby is worth spreading. We’ll find more of these moments over the years ahead and they will help us re-build our country.

Don’t worry about the newspapers, they’ll catch up and start reporting the things that really matter; when we make them matter.