Empowerment

A problem with motivation My youngest daughter (8) is learning to play the saxophone. I’m very jealous, I’d love to be able to play the saxophone. It sounds like so much more fun than management meetings and PowerPoint. Yet no matter what I do, she doesn’t practice. And because she doesn’t practice she will never […]

The Project That Couldn’t Fail

Trite management sayings Managers love clichés. They pick them up as they gain experience and seniority. The most popular are those that prove their superiority and make others feel small. A couple of my personal favourite statements of the obvious are: “Fail to plan and plan to fail” and “Poor Planning leads to P### Poor Performance”. […]

Not Invented Here

Nothing comes from nothing I sat in a meeting the other day, it was a nightmare… Two guys were trying to extol the benefits of automation to a team of sales managers.  The tension was palpable.  In one corner stood a bunch of consultants trying to explain the latest and greatest thinking in operational improvement.  […]

Culture Eats Strategy for Breakfast

What does that mean? It sounds like management claptrap. Let me repeat it, and attribute it. Culture eats strategy for breakfast ~ Peter Drucker Anybody who has worked in a large organisation will know that we prize strategy above all else. It is an intellectual pursuit, highly valued in the boardroom. We hire consultants to […]

Why Were You Late for Work?

Logic Trees There is a simple way of diagnosing a problem, and then finding a solution.  It is called “the five whys?” No doubt you have heard of it, it is a way of refining a problem until you get to its cause. When faced with a problem ask why it happened. Then ask again. […]

Teenagers, Bedrooms and Cash Payments

I nearly broke my neck At the entrance to my eldest daughter’s bedroom there is a short flight of steps.  As I went to wake her this morning I slipped on what I could most graciously describe as a pile of underwear.  I took 5 of those steps in one fell swoop.  I think “fell” is […]

Human Error

World War 2 During the second world war over 60 million people were killed.  That was roughly 3% of the world-wide population.  It was a hazardous time. Amongst the hardest hit were the bomber crews.  The Eighth Air Force suffered half of all the U.S. Air Force’s casualties.  The British fared as badly.  The chances of surviving the […]

Strategic Plans and Complex Systems

Organisations are systems System  /ˈsɪstəm/ A set of things working together as parts of a mechanism or an interconnecting network; a complex whole There are (at the risk of gross oversimplification) three types of system: Simple Complicated Complex Simple systems These are easy to understand and predict.  Boiling an electric kettle is a simple system, there […]

The Irresistible Force and the Immovable Object

A middle manager’s view of change As managers get older their chances of promotion shrink.  There are fewer senior jobs than junior jobs.  The sad truth is that if you haven’t “made it” by the time you are 40, you probably never will. There is little upside to being a middle-aged middle manager. But most middle-aged managers have plenty […]

An Extraordinary System

The logistics organisation In Mumbai there is an organisation that delivers meals to office workers. It is called the Nutan Mumbai Tiffin Box Suppliers Association.  That is a bit of a mouthful, they are more commonly known as Dabbawalas (lunch box men).  Think deliveroo and you wouldn’t be too wide of the mark, except that meals […]