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”. […]

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 […]

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 […]

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 […]

Performance Management Best Practice

What is the best way to improve staff performance? There is an awful lot of performance management “best practice” out there.  Lots of books, seminars, HR gurus and management consultants who tell you what to do and sell you a model. But which practice is the best practice? In 2002 the corporate leadership council decided […]

Good Boss, Bad Boss

What makes a good boss? Julian Birkinshaw wanted to know. After pondering the question for a while, he came to the conclusion that the best way to find out was to ask some employees.  They are the people most capable of defining what a good or bad boss looks like — we have all worked for a nightmare or […]

Should You Dress Like Your Boss?

Conformity Have you ever noticed that people conform? If your boss comes into work wearing a pin strip suit it will spread.  Before you know it, there will be wall to wall pin stripes. If your boss is more of a creative type — skinny jeans and a hipster beard — then you can rest […]

Do Targets Work or Not?

In summary: I hope the last two posts have demonstrated admirably that: Targets work Targets don’t work I also trust that is nice and clear. So which is it? The problem isn’t the target, it’s the culture. Do you have a culture that accepts that failure is inevitable when you are pushing the boundaries? Does your culture treat failure […]

Targets Don’t Work!

A management education 21 years ago I was a bright young thing.  I was single, had a good job and I was determined to make my way in the world.  I am a strong believer in education so I decided to study for an MBA.  I learnt about: Operations Marketing Information Technology Human Resources Finance I […]