Changing the Rules

All organisations have rules We have rules about expenses and rules about systems access.  There are rules about promotions and rules about mobile phones.  Still more rules about budgets and rules about supplier gifts. Organisations have hundreds of rules.  These rules, explicit or not, define the way our organisations work. The problem with rules If […]

The Strategic Comms Centre of Excellence

Management Speak I reached out to my boss first thing this morning.  I had to square the circle about one of our strategic imperatives.  Fortunately he cascaded the relevant information.  He had the helicopter view, I was too busy searching for low hanging fruit. If there is one thing that is guaranteed to set me […]

Variation or Standardisation?

Standard work The process guys will tell you that you should standardise and reduce variation. Variation is a bad thing. The customer experience guys will tell you every interaction is different.  No customer is the same. Variation is a good thing. Which camp is right? The case for allowing variation Some situations call for a […]

The Dark Side of Data

Data-centricity Organisations are tripping over themselves to become data-centric.  They are busy investing in business intelligence and analytical infrastructures.  There is a thriving market for analysts and data scientists, accountants and actuaries, people who can pore over the numbers and provide insight. Data is the new gold, businesses are spending money like drunk sailors. Data […]

A Culture of Fear, Intimidation and Retaliation

The scandal In 2011, a state report to the Governor’s office in Georgia claimed that there was “organised and systemic misconduct” in 44 of Atlanta’s 56 schools.  2 years later 35 teachers, head teachers and administrative staff were brought to trial and charged with racketeering and other offences. The smoking gun The accusations revolved around […]

Management Cardboard

Management control Rather longer ago than I care to admit, I worked for an FMCG company.  I worked in R&D, and developed new frozen food products for a living. There were two things we worried about: The contents – the product that customers pay for, the fish finger or ice cream. The container – the […]

Poor Behaviour

Dysfunctional situations It is easy to blame other people’s behaviour for poor performance: He is uncooperative She is selfish He is incompetent She is a bully He is power crazed She is rude Poor behaviour causes all sorts of dysfunctional situations.  Doesn’t it? The experiment In 1971 Phillipe Zimbardo set up the Stanford prison experiment. […]

Tool Hire

There are lots of tools out there I don’t mean that in a derogatory way.  I mean process improvement tools: 5S, control charts, swim lanes… those sort of tools. There are also lots of people who know how to use those tools. It is easy to recruit staff who can bring a toolbox stuffed with approaches […]

One Hundred Bad Ideas

Notable failures Even the most successful people have failures: James Dyson built 5,127 prototypes before he perfected one vacuum cleaner. Mozart wrote over 64 symphonies.  How many have you heard? Richard Branson has launched over 400 business ventures, remember Virgin Vodka?  Nope, nor do I. Over 30 years Albert Einstein published ~ 345 scientific papers but his major work […]

Thou Shalt Not Delay, Distort or Withhold Information

Systems need information They use that information to control the way they act. In a system of cells (like your body) that information flows along nerves and via hormones. In a system of animals (like a colony of ants) that information flows via pheromones and signals. In a system of people (like your business) it […]