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 […]

Do You Work for Super Chicken?

Performance management and chickens William Muir is an evolutionary biologist who studies chickens and productivity. Productivity is something that a lot of chicken farmers (and most of the rest of us) want. Productivity in chickens is easy to measure.  You count the number of eggs the chickens produce — if only it was that easy in […]

The Sound of Silence

The worst thing a boss can hear is silence Silence from the shop floor. The sound of people who see things going wrong but then don’t speak up. People who don’t speak up because: They are scared of the repercussions They worry what people will say They don’t want to get labelled as being part of […]

Half Full or Half Empty

Which are you? I was talking to a rugby player yesterday. I don’t like sporting analogies much; just because you can run 100 meters faster than anybody else doesn’t make you a great manager.  But he told me a fascinating story about coaching… An odd approach His best coach had a strange post match strategy. When […]

Saint or Sinner

Two employees: Employee 1: Jane When faced with an issue Jane will improvise and adapt her approach. She doesn’t bother her manager or others. If Jane notices that somebody else has made a mistake she fixes it. There is no noise or palaver, she keeps things moving. Jane never makes any mistakes herself, or at least never […]