How Good Are Your People? Comparatively?

The theory of comparative advantage In 1817 the economist David Ricardo developed the theory of comparative advantage.  It explains why nations trade. He gave this example to explain it: Scenario 1. Imagine the economy consists of two countries that produce both cloth and wine; Portugal and England. Though their output is of equal quality, Portugal is […]

I See You

Recognition Connectivity between human beings is the beginning of synergy.  It is written in our genetic code and expresses itself in our drive to join with others and be part of a group.  This is how we are wired.  It makes sense that the most effective management styles leverage this aspect of our species’ psyche. I […]

The Burden

We all carry a mental burden A burden of things we worry about: We worry about our pension We worry about where we are going to get lunch from We worry about buying a present for our mother’s birthday We worry about our next performance appraisal We worry about.. I think you get the gist… […]

Preventable Harm

A definition: The unintended physical injury resulting from or contributed to by medical care (including the absence of indicated medical treatment), that requires additional monitoring, treatment or hospitalisation, or that results in death. A simpler definition: A medical accident. A few statistics: The medical industry 2014: The estimated number of premature deaths in US hospitals […]


A great management word We love to talk about synergies, it is a super word, hard and scientific. It gives the impression that we know what we are doing. That we are in control. Synergy: the creation of a whole that is greater than the sum of the parts What drives synergy? If synergy is […]

The Antimatter Principle

A metaphor Antimatter is by far the most valuable substance, by weight, known to Man (around $25 billion per gram). It’s incredibly rare, amazingly expensive and difficult to produce, and yet is by far the most powerful energy source we presently know of. It’s also the very epitome of alienness. Seems like a good metaphor […]

Corporate Cancer

Fear and anxiety We have all heard of a “culture of fear”, but does fear really exist in our organisations? Fear Fear is a physical response danger, a reaction to an immediate issue that threatens your safety and security.  It is fear that overcomes you when you are walking home late at night, all by yourself […]

SMART Goals, VAGUE Dreams

SMART goals: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Timely. Nothing apparently unreasonable there. And yet this whole approach jars. It feels very controlling, very blinkered, and very task-oriented. It is a method that allows managers to “objectively” assess their direct reports, and grade them accordingly, so finds great popularity with HR departments and the mindset prevalent in […]

When Does Real Learning Happen?

Learning… The real learning, happens when: You are driven by an intrinsic need to advance and not only by external rewards You ask more questions to get to the why of things — and then to what and how When you look for process and patterns in discrete situations And when you use your understanding to […]

Open Cultures: Do They Create Mistakes?

Open cultures A couple of weeks ago I wrote about the sound of silence.  I claimed that in the best run workplaces bosses are open to discussions about problems.  They have a “no blame culture“. Fact or theory? Is there any data to support my claim? Or was I just running my mouth off? — Heaven […]