Business Resources for Humans

Friday, August 2nd, 2013

Human Resources, or Humans?

I never liked the title Human Resources Manager. People are more than just a resource and humans work best when they are led rather than managed. In contrast I recently came across someone whose title was Director responsible for People and Culture. Much better!

After getting some new clarity around my consulting work I have just registered the domain .

It is a deliberate turning upside down of the concept of human resources for business.

Engagement surveys across a variety of industries consistently show that current models are not working. Typically anywhere from 40-60% of the workforce is disengaged. At any one time, a minority are so disengaged that they are actively working against the business. Sadly, because this is the norm we don’t question it and we don’t ask deep enough questions about whether there is a different way. Continue Reading »

Join me for a Candid Conversation

Thursday, July 25th, 2013

Join me on 27th August at 9am for a Candid Conversation webinar with Ian Berry on Google Hangouts. We’ll be talking about the relationship between community, good relationships and high performance. You can find more details here.

While you are checking out this page, watch the recording of the last Candid Conversation with Paul Dunn and Paul Lange.

Gandhi and leadership

Wednesday, July 24th, 2013
Rajmohan Gandhi (left)

Mike with Rajmohan Gandhi (left)

Back in February I travelled to India to participate in an international conference, Dialogue on Democracy, in Panchgani, Maharashtra. I was last there 27 years ago so it was interesting to reconnect with familiar places and faces and also to see how much had changed.  It was also a chance to reconnect with Rajmohan Gandhi, grandson and biographer of Mahatma Gandhi, and I was fortunate to share a 5-hour taxi ride with him back to Mumbai after the conference finished.

A while back I purchased and started reading Rajmohan’s mammoth biography of his grandfather, but it was only after this visit to India that I was inspired to read it properly.  And after reading it, it was several more months before I felt I had digested it enough to write a review.  Well I have now done that. The review is on, but I also include it below. Continue Reading »

Technology and the Art of Living

Monday, July 22nd, 2013

Technology and the art of livingOne of the problems with the Western education system, which spills into many other areas of life, is the excessive compartmentalisation of knowledge into narrow specialisations.

Yet the most creative breakthroughs often come from cross-fertilisation of ideas from other disciplines. For example Mary Midgley describes “slipping out over the wall of the tiny arid garden cultivated at that time under the name of British Moral Philosophy” to wrestle with questions of human nature, culture and evil by learning from psychologists, anthropologists and biologists. As a result she has produced some of the most profound and exciting works of philosophy in recent years.

I’ve just finished reading another book that crosses boundaries – in this case also across different cultures. The Art of Living – aesthetics of the ordinary in world spiritual traditions by Crispin Sartwell is perhaps an unfortunate title for such a revelatory book. The heart of the book is a critique of how we came to separate art from technology in Western culture – a separation which is not there in other cultures and which was not present in European culture until the 18th Century. Continue Reading »

Discover the Other, Discover yourself

Monday, July 1st, 2013
Image: 'Dialogue' by Viennese artist Oskar Kokoshka

‘Dialogues’ by Viennese artist Oskar Kokoschka. From his book ‘The Dreaming Youths’

Discovering the Other goes hand in hand with Discovering Yourself. You cannot have one without the other.

On the one hand, you cannot discover your own identity except, as J Krishnamurti puts it, ‘through the mirror of relationships’. All of us have a self-image which is different from the way other people see us. You might think you are smart while other people see you as a fool – or vice-versa. You might think you are good looking, while others see you as ugly (again, or vice-versa). You might think you are fair and honest while others see you as a selfish schemer. Only by listening to the perspectives of others can we correct the distorted picture we have of ourselves. I’m not saying that other people’s perspectives are any less distorted than your own. But by allowing your own self-image to be challenged by others you can gradually come to a deeper understanding of yourself. Continue Reading »

The Promise of Diversity

Wednesday, May 22nd, 2013

Promise of DiversityI’ve just finished reading The Promise of Diversity by John Williams and John Bond and will be writing a review in the next week or so.

The book is a biography of Professor Jerzy Zubrzycki, who is considered the ‘father of multiculturalism’ in Australia. As Professor of Sociology at the Australian National University, and as a former refugee himself, he fought for a change in attitudes and policies at the time when the White Australia policy was coming to an end, and he helped shape many of the policies which led to the vibrant and mostly harmonious diversity that we see in Australia today.

I attended the Launch of the book in Melbourne, which was a wonderful event jointly organised by the Australian Institute of Polish Affairs (AIPA) and Initiatives of Change. The keynote speech was given by former Prime Minister Malcolm Fraser, and it is well worth watching his speech.  Continue Reading »

Seven things companies can learn from evolution if they want to survive.

Friday, December 14th, 2012

In times of rapid change, or when the climate becomes harsher, species have to work hard to survive. Many don’t. We are currently experiencing the highest levels of species loss since the extinction of the dinosaurs 65 million years ago. But some will survive, even flourish.

Businesses also go through hard times. What can they learn from the natural world about surviving when the going gets tough?

1. Speed of adaptation. Everyone can adapt, but in times of rapid change it’s the speed of adaptation that counts. How agile is your company? How long does it take to make a decision and implement it? A lot will depend on the levels of trust within the organisation and whether people feel empowered to act on new information. Continue Reading »

From Best Practice to Best People

Sunday, December 9th, 2012

From Best Practice to Best PeopleThe Harvard Business Review blog has an interesting article Which Best Practice is Killing Your Business? which starts with the example of how the “quality” newspapers in Britain hung onto the impractical “broadsheet” format for years without realizing that it was hurting their sales. This “best practice” had first developed 300 years ago at a time when taxes were paid on the number of pages a newspaper printed, and as a result newspapers made their pages bigger and bigger.

The taxes had long-since been abolished, but the practice held on. The Times, Guardian, FT, Telegraph and Independent all assumed that they needed the broadsheet form factor to distinguish themselves from the Tabloids. But they were wrong! Continue Reading »

Expect more from 2013 – complimentary ebook

Wednesday, December 5th, 2012

From my friend and colleague, Ian Berry, a free ebook to help you expect more from 2013.

Follow the link.

Ian is creator of the Enhancing Their Gifts System™. A wise and experienced business leader, he is always good value. But there’s much more in this 42 page book, including tips on social media use, strategic planning and how to thrive in the reputation economy.

With our compliments.

The straw man argument

Wednesday, November 28th, 2012

Staw ManPeople who love to win arguments love the “straw man” argument technique (also known in the UK as an “Aunt Sally”).

This is how it works:

Instead of arguing with your opponent’s position head on, you construct a false version of their position – the straw man. This looks similar on the surface, but is usually a caricature – a distortion of what they are really saying. It is easy to pick holes in the straw man’s argument and demolish it. Slaying the straw man gives the illusion that you have won the fight.

Politicians love it! Once your eyes are open to this technique you see it everywhere. Continue Reading »