Monthly Archives: February 2009


What ’s the worst interview you ever had?

A colleague of mine told me about an absolutely terrible interview he had a few years back, where the recruiter treated him with almost contempt, not even bothering with the normal niceties about the company, the position or future prospects etc.
As I outline in Making a Difference, one of the big secrets to success in business is to surround yourself with the best team possible and to ensure that you manage the team in such a way as to keep it performing to its absolute potential. But the first question is how can you be sure of recruiting the best? In the book I outline a number of tricks and tips, but I now want to study the subject in much more depth, to form the research for my next book. To that end I am looking for true life stories of the worst interviews ever!
So if you have a terrible interview story please let me know. You can either post it in this blog or, if you want to keep it confidential, you can send me an e-mail via and someone from the team will contact you to find the best way to capture your experience in detail.
Looking forward to receiving your experiences,

2016-11-17T08:25:41+00:004 Comments

The Darwinian approach to creative thinking

It was in the middle of a particularly boring conversation that I recently had my eureka moment. It’s not that the vision I gained is going to challenge my understanding of the laws of evolution or anything as grand as that but it has, however, assisted me in understanding a little more the dynamics of creative thinking.
When a group of people get to know each other extremely well by spending a great deal of time together, the group tends move into what I now refer to as a 'dormant state'. It is not as if they are asleep as such, but they begin to interact in ‘Safe Mode’. The group tends to become very apathetic towards creativity and decision taking. It often becomes a completely dysfunctional group and splits into smaller sub groups or it becomes an operational team devoid of the desire for change. In either mode the group tends to become overtly resistant to any kind of change and is too often closed for genuine creativity. Only the daily news or office gossip can temporarily divert its attention this way or that.
I have observed this phenomenon on several occasions but only recently recognized it for what it is. When I first step into a company, it is a usual process for me to quickly identify areas for concern, I do this by asking questions, by challenging the ‘norm’ that I see, and in doing so, I sometimes inadvertently awaken new thought processes.
I try to encourage the consideration of a different reality. For example I often hear statements like: “The trouble with our company is that there is no real communication between departments”. I like to challenge these kind of statements with “how should it be? What is your vision of interdepartmental utopia”? I then try to set about taking the first step to empowering people to tackle their own complaints. In the case of non inter departmental communication, I would encourage the first steps to building it – sometimes it can be as mundane as identifying a simple topic of mutual interest or benefit and then setting up a small meeting between a few people from the two departments in question. Results can be surprisingly quick and very encouraging, especially if progress is encouraged with a mixture of self discipline and benefit focus.
If mankind is to continue to move forward and solve the desperate problems it is currently facing, then influence makers need to be constantly ‘awakened’; to be challenged by new ideas. Often this can only occur by the simple addition of a stranger into a settled group, a change in the team's dynamics. In this way our reality is are challenged and we are forced to decide on new paths to follow; this way or that, to resist or adapt, to accept the stranger into the group (enriching its dna) or to rejecting him or her completely? Either way, decison processes are awakened and with them oportunities for change, no matter how small, are born.

2016-11-17T08:25:41+00:001 Comment

Putting you customer somewhere down the food chain

If you think that Proximus, now Belgacom mobile (the Belgian nationalized mobile phone company) is bad try this for size! The following story is a good example of designing a credit procedure that touches the customer and alientates them right from the start.

Recently I started a new assignment in Germany and so needed to buy a German SIM card for my mobile Phone. I chose T-Mobile (the biggest supplier in Germany). The following describes their approach to customer awareness and demonstrates the internal workings of their business processes:

1 Visit T-Mobile Shop in Leverkusen
a. Wait 30 minutes to be served
b. Friendly assistant (speaks only a very little English)- OK
c. Explain my needs – business use, lots of international calls etc., give permission for them to take as much from my account or from my Master card they need to cover my bills.
d. Walk out with Sim card
e. 2 hours later active.
2. All contracts, letters and bills in German
3. Cannot set up my answer phone - do not understand German (I speak Dutch and English but these are not options)
4. Visit website – no website in any other language than German
5. Get help - someone calls and I am given a special number, obtain the option for my outgoing answer phone message in English!
6. (Two weeks later) phone service stops working – German message, don’t understand it – get help. Message says “Use another phone to call this number.”
a. My German friend calls the number : they refuse to speak to her because she is not me!
b. We ask for English customer support – not an option!
c. A colleague then calls telling that I do not speak German so please speak to talk to them instead, eventually they agree.
d. Phone is cut off because I have spent 260EUR on international calls, Remedy:
i. I must go to a post office and pay in 260EUR in cash
ii. Obtain a receipt
iii. Fax the receipt to a special number
iv. Phone will be re-connected
e. Go to bank - obtain cash
f. Go to T-Mobile shop to pay in cash and to tell them to increase my credit.
i. No one speaks English
ii. Cannot pay my bill in the shop – must go to Post Office
g. Find Post office – pay in cash – must pay 8EURs extra for paying in cash
h. Send Fax and letter
i. Phone re-connected quickly – but for how long?
It seems incredible to me that such a high technology company cannot contact the customer prior to their credit limit being reached, that they cannot inform the customer in advance what their credit limit is! That customer’s cannot pay in money in their own shops!
Proximus (covering a client base of a fraction of the size of T-Mobile) has customer service and a website in four languages, it has shops in every town that are open right through the day, they will take your money and they treat you with respect. + their technological options seem way ahead of T-Mobile re their answerpohne (T-Mobile have no delete message, save message or auto dial caller options.
I am NOT a typical Brit that expects everyone to speak English, but I have just arrived in Germany and have not yet had time to learn the language and I cannot believe that there are no other people living Germany that do not speak German either?

I think we should invent an award for the worst business process ever - any contenders?

2016-11-17T08:25:41+00:004 Comments