Tuesday, July 17, 2012


HeroI don't know about you but I'm fed up to the back teeth hearing and reading about the need for leadership: charismatic, high-performing, target-busting, people-wowing leaders.

Attributing corporate success to an individual leader, and rewarding them commensurately with their inflated hero status is not only a demeaning insult to the rest of the organisation, it is also crassly ignorant of reality.

Leaders, at their best, can only release the potential held within the organisation. So a well-performing leader gets the best out of their people. Success means everyone is doing their job - status and remuneration needs to respect this to maintain it.

When I see a team or an organisation working well, I see collective leadership with everyone leading and supporting, utilising their strengths.............

Everyone is equal in an atmosphere of trust and respect.

I recently ran a workshop for a global luxury goods brand. All very bright, capable people, experienced and effective in their fields. In walked the CEO and the whole focus of energy shifted tangibly from the issues being discussed to the man himself. Every movement he made, every word he uttered redirected the whole team. I could feel every member of the team asking themselves "Will my opinion fit with his? Will it meet with his approval?"

Surely, in this century's new-found individualism, shouldn't we be referencing ourselves, rather than others?

So, with apologies to Ghandi: let us all be the leaders we want to see in the world. 

Friday, July 13, 2012


Hanna Thoren
I was reminded recently, dipping into some LinkedIn forums, how the machine metaphor is endemic in organisational thinking. I guess this is a legacy from the 20th century, during which machines dominated our development across the board.

But I've seen this metaphor in action and I've seen the damage it does....................

If you want your organisation to run like a well-oiled machine, then its elements should behave predictably - but its elements are people and people have a chaotic, emotional, unpredictable aspect to them, which is the antithesis of machine behaviour. So trying to build a deterministic organisation out of unpredictable pieces is not going to have a happy outcome.

And then there is the environment in which the machine operates, comprising social, political and economic elements, all of which are intrinsically chaotic.

So, just at a theoretical level, trying to create a machine-like organisation out of unpredictable bits in a unpredictable world really won't cut the mustard.

And, surprise, surprise - it doesn't work in practice either!

Sunday, July 01, 2012


Of the Top 5 Regrets of the Dying, number 2 (coming from every male patient) is...


Nuff said?


I've just responded to a criticism of QR codes. QR stands for Quick Response and refers to 2-dimensional bar codes. BA have an app that allows me to get through airport security and board BA flights with an iPhone, using a QR code.

The criticism centres on how they can be used to direct smart phones that are capable of reading them, to spam/malware sites with dark intentions.

It reminded me of how easy it is to rubbish the tool because of one of its applications.

QR codes are not very interesting to look at, so I've used a picture of another tool being applied in a contentious way.