The H.R. Hammer

My brother is nothing like me Before I start this post I should point out that my brother and I live in very different worlds: He works for a F.T.S.E. 100 bank (not an insurer) He works in Canary Wharf (not the City) He works in I.T. (not operations) He is going bald (see picture […]

The Two Faces of Accountability

Accountability When things go wrong there is a simple solution. Politicians do it, journalists do it, managers do it and even my children do it.   When things go wrong we search for somebody to blame “hold accountable”.  It’s in our nature. Fortunately it is more nuanced than that. There are two ways we can […]

What Are You Talking About?

Does your language define you? The Sami people in the far north of Scandinavia have lots of words for snow. Soavli — Wet slushy snow Vahca — New snow Guoldu — Very fine snow that blows up from the ground when there is slight breeze Skavvi — Snow with an icy crust Snow surrounds them, […]

Corporate Conflict

The battle On any given day in any corporation you will see: barbed e-mails, poisonous meetings, water fountain back-stabbings and all out turf wars. This is common or garden violence and nothing to write home about, though it may cause some gossip in the pub. Organisations are chock-full of conflict: Conflict between departments Conflict between […]

The World’s Most Useless Document

The org chart When you join a new business the people in H.R. will give you something like this: As good corporate citizens we all seize this as one of the most important pieces of paper we will be given. It tells us how the concern works. It is critical information, it tells us how […]

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 […]

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 […]

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. […]

Three Types of Culture

1. Blame culture I am not a big fan of blaming people when things go wrong. There are two reasons why: It is hard to apportion blame correctly. Business is a team sport. With so many players involved failures are rarely the fault of one person. If a goal keeper lets in a goal, was […]


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 […]