The seven workplace passion killers

Thursday, September 18th, 2014

Sevel passion killers‘Passion is the Number 1 Business Development Tool’, says my friend Jesper Lowgren, author of On Purpose – the path to extraordinary business transformation. Passion is what drives engagement (both internally and externally) and leads to simplification through asking the right “Why” questions.

Listen to leading organisations like Zappos and Google and it is clear that people there are passionate about what they do. Yet in too many other organisations passion is a scarce resource. Most people when they start a new job are excited and engaged. Most new projects and change initiatives start out with a lot of enthusiasm. And yet STILL about 2/3 of these initiatives fail – a figure that has not altered significantly in the last 30 years.

Where does all the passion go? (more…)

Keys to High Performing Teams part 9 – The Physical Environment

Tuesday, August 5th, 2014

This is the ninth in a series of Ten Keys to High Performing Teams. This article looks at the role the physical environment plays in workplace performance. The article is a guest post by workplace design consultant Anetta Pizag, founder of Pizag.

JobAdder office-bar

‘One of the best business decisions I’ve made was this office. It had a huge impact on sales, staff attraction, and – definitely – on productivity. Everyone here loves working here, and they tell me that all the time. In 10 years I’ve never had a staff member resign. It’s a testament to the environment that we have here.’ (more…)

Keys to high performing teams part 7 – Value individuality, diversity, unique gifts

Tuesday, July 1st, 2014

dog wearing party hatThis is the seventh in a series on 10 keys to High Performing Teams. You can see the original post here. This one looks at the importance of valuing and recognising people’s diverse, individual gifts and strengths.

We are each unique one-of-a-kind individuals who think differently. Yet in many workplaces we feel we have to leave our individuality at home and conform. Embracing diversity and individuality encourages people to bring more of themselves to work. Not only that, research shows that diversity drives creativity and innovation. (more…)

Ten keys to getting high performing teams

Friday, August 23rd, 2013

GoalsThis is the first of a series of ten blog posts where I will expand on each of the ten keys to high performing teams that I have identified.  Watch out for future posts over the coming weeks.  But first off, here are the Ten Keys to High Performing Teams: (more…)

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 Amazon.com, but I also include it below. (more…)

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. (more…)

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. (more…)

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. (more…)

Six reasons why we need a new concept of workplace diversity

Friday, November 23rd, 2012

Diversity is one of those topics which is just ripe for a paradigm shift. Here’s why:

1. The current paradigm of diversity (in the Western world at least) is the result of the wars of religion in Europe which saw two centuries of bloodshed between Catholics and Protestants. The resulting agreement can be expressed in Voltaire’s dictum: ‘I do not agree with what you say but I’ll defend to the death your right to say it.’ Diversity was tolerated, but meaningful dialogue was discouraged because it could be intrusive and lead to conflict.

2. In the US, the discourse around workplace diversity got tangled up in the Civil Rights movement. As a result, much of the management literature focused on thinks like rights, racism, compliance with anti-discrimination legislation, and quotas. Understandably this provoked resistance and accusations of tokenism. Some thought leaders in this space, like Dr Roosevelt Thomas, are trying to take the diversity debate into a more positive space. (more…)

Frameworks for understanding & managing diversity – part 7. Gender differences

Thursday, July 26th, 2012

This is the seventh, and last (for now) in a series of articles on frameworks for understanding and managing diversity. Part 1 looked at different developmental stages. Part 2 looked at the huge issue of cultural diversity. Part 3 looked at the sensitive question of religious differences,  part 4 looked at the role of different values, part 5 looked at the role of personality differences and part 6 looked at at our different representational systems.

Last, but not least, as author John Gray has pointed out, Men are from Mars and Women are from Venus. This article looks at gender differences. (more…)