Monthly Archives: June 2014

//June

Sunshine, pride, patriotism and hope

My wife doesn’t like football, it makes her nervous watching the players running the full length of the pitch, only to turn and run all the way back again. But even she has been swept up by her country’s wave of pride, patriotism and hope.

And she, like everyone else, knows that the chances are that sooner or later she will have to face disappointment and defeat in whatever forms it comes.  But that is for another day; that is for the pessimists and non-believers. That is for those whose team has already been given their ticket home! And yet when the time comes, the unifying energy that currently engulfs her and her fellow countrymen with joy and jubilation will comfort them like a blanket until the fever cools and things return to normal.  The world cup creeps up on even the hardest of hearts it seems.

Some children are raised being taught that it is wrong to get ones hopes up. Their parents believing that the pain of disappointment outweighs the joy of the adventure.   If this were true, we shouldn’t fall in love, or compete in any form at all. But we do. Us humans love it.

And if you are thinking that this is only about following the success of your own team, just take a look at the millions of people everywhere that love watching other countries play ‘the beautiful game’. Notice how they marvel and become inspired by unique moments of human brilliance, brought about by team work and years and years of preparation and training.

Some businesses manage to maintain a football like motivational spirit, year in, year out. They know their competitors and never forget the possibility of being outsmarted by them.  And so they remain open to bring about the changes necessary to keep them in the game.

My message this week is to take some time out to marvel at your competitors, do not put down their achievements but notice whatever it is that makes them better or different from you.  And then ask yourself; if your business was a football team playing in the world cup, could they be holding the trophy at the end of the competition? After all you’ve still got another four years to prepare for the next one.

Have a good week,

Harley

Note: This blog was written at a time when England gave their poorest performance in the world cup since 1958. So statistically, assuming they even qualify next time around, they shouldn’t do worse should they? (You see I even have hope in defeat)!
This week’s photograph is of the Queen of Belgium temporarily putting aside normal royal etiquette while watching her team play. Sorry I do not know who the photographer was – but isn’t it great?

2016-11-17T08:24:02+00:00 4 Comments

Chicken proof fence

I thought I had a pretty sturdy fence that would keep our chickens safely within their run. And I did until a few weeks ago when I built a side extension to it.   Now I have two runs with a link piece between them.  Before our chickens would do what chickens do, they would scratch their piece of ground and dig out bugs and worms. They would go to roost at night time and lay their eggs in the morning but now, it’s as if their original fence no longer exists! Imagine this…

There’s a fence that works, it keeps them in. Nothing has changed but the place from which we feed them. Now, when my wife goes down the path with a pan of their favorite stewed kitchen scraps they do not wait for her to enter by the new gate but run straight through the fence and up to her ankles instead. It’s as if the fence wasn’t there! Admittedly, two of the fatter ones don’t usually manage it but for the others do! The weird thing is, for the rest of the day, when they go back in to the run they respect the fence’s borders, no matter what happens on the other side.

Recently I have been working with a client with a pretty tough and complex problem. They have hit a wall. No matter what you tell them, they say that the wall is too high, too thick and too deeply dug into its foundations to circumnavigate. And yet I know, that with new vision and energy, another board of directors would simply plough straight through it as if it wasn’t there.

Whether it is in sport or in business or in our private lives, the fences and borders that keep us in and others out, are mostly in our minds. Sometimes we just need the right motivation to see that they are not the barrier we think they are.

So our chicken proof fence, is chicken proof, as long as our chickens do not want something on the other side that is way more interesting than what they have on theirs.

Some footballers and fans, may have thought that the Netherlands didn’t stand a chance against the great wall of mighty Spain, but how wrong, how terribly wrong they were? One side clearly wanted victory far more than the other. And, as I have mentioned in these columns before. It’s much harder hanging on to a leading position, than it is to take it away from someone else.

Have a good week,

Harley

2016-11-17T08:24:03+00:00 0 Comments

Now I get it

You might know what they are talking about and you might know why they are saying it but still you do nothing.  Even the best leaders, who have the most impressive track records, are often ignored. What’s worse is that by the time their message passes down to the next level of management, what little inspirational impact it once had, seems to vanish. The result; no one feels compelled to move into action.

I have spent the last three days driving around Luxembourg on my motorcycle in 30 degree Celsius heat, taking time out with my gardener and his brother. During rest periods we discussed many topics from philosophy and religion to the state of the nation, taxation, free will, decision making and leadership, and all the while one word echoed around in the back of my mind – Pentecost.

The Greek’s, like so often in life, gave us the word which literally means the ‘fiftieth day’ and the ancient Israelis celebrated it long before the Christians, marking the handing over of law on Sinai. However, it’s the Christian’s usage of the word that I kept thinking about.  Fifty days after a great event most people, will probably have begun to go back to doing whatever they were doing before it happened.

This is what makes Pentecost such a powerful reminder for anyone expecting to introduce any kind of lasting change into their environment. When words become history, when, life goes back to normal you need to give your change agents an extra boost. But how?  In the business world we tend to have a mini project re-launch, or offer a new powerful supporting message from someone with natural influence over those we expect to make the change happen.  This is not the time for theoretical talk but a clear and powerful message that impact the hearts and minds of our selected change agents. Something along the lines of: “We are looking to you to help us bring about the change that our company needs. It is not always going to be easy; you will encounter resistance and difficult situations. No one likes change. But we must stick to the program because it is the only one that will lead us into a better and more sustainable future”.   Inspiring others is not only about speaking to the intellect but filling hearts and minds.

In the Christian faith Penetcost represents the message being re-planted into Jesus’ disciples by god at the very time when they were beginning to fall apart.  In business I have to rely on my client’s influencers and business leaders to get the message out to their change agents. But sometimes, just sometimes,  I wish for a quieter, easier life where, once in a while, I could call upon some divine intervention to help make the change happen!

Have a good week,

Harley

2016-11-17T08:24:03+00:00 2 Comments

Right back where we started


Just when you think you are making a break through, someone says something and the whole tiresome discussion is right back to where you started, everyone’s talking again and no one is listening. I don’t know about you but I get so wound up by people that do not stick to their agreements?

Recently, I thought I had made great progress with the board of directors of one of my clients. We had been discussing strategy and had finally come to a really neat alignment. The assignment had gone better than expected and I was now looking forward to handing over the operational stuff to one of my Associates. Then, all of a sudden, one of the directors changed their minds and went full circle to his original standpoint, creating all kinds of havoc as he did so.  We were right back where we had started. 

It got me thinking what had gone wrong? Had I pushed too hard, had I not pushed hard enough, was there a hidden agenda that I was missing? I asked myself: ‘what makes an apparently successful negotiation break down, it cannot just be attributed to group dynamics can it’?  In answering my own question, I discovered eight stumbling blocks to look out for…

  1. ‘There is always one in every group!’
    There will always be one person that makes life difficult. It can be that they simply enjoy discussion and want to prolong it. Maybe they like being heard?
  2. People change their minds!
    The more persuasive you or the group leaders are, the more likely people are to change their minds later on.  Most people need to come to their own conclusion, in their own time.
  3. People get carried away with the mood
    People get excited about what’s happening, what is being said. They probably are not considering all the consequences, even if they are spelt out for them.
  4. People just want to leave the room
    Often group discussions go on too long, wander off topic or run over run time. Some people agree just because they dislike conflict and want to leave the room or go home
  5. People get bored and do not understand
    Some people are just not interested in the topic and become bored. They will agree with whomever sounds like they are making the most sense or attract them in one way or another.
  6. People only hear what they want to hearSome people are optimists, they tend to trust the group leaders very quickly and only listen out for positive words and phrases that connect with their hopes and belief systems, only later (possibly when talking it over with others outside the room – friends, family etc.) they formulate their own opinion.
  7. Fear
    People get scared as to what the decision may bring and want to go back to the position where everything was known, even if it was not a happy place.
  8. People simply do not understand

Because:

  • They are not yet open for change. They are too busy trying to understand what is being said than to think about what it really implies
  • Cultural differences: for example a ‘yes’ in one country or department can have a very different meaning than in another
  • Language reasons – a simple lack of understanding
  • A lack of intelligence. They are not able to keep up and follow all the details

Whatever the reason, it can be very frustrating when someone back tracks. But this is because of one reason only: the agenda of the person that back tracks is not aligned with your own! You want to move forward – they don’t!  However, in the rare situation when you find yourself agreeing with a back tracker or ‘resistor’, be careful not to say “here, here” too loudly! :-)

Have a nice week,

Harley

2016-11-17T08:24:03+00:00 2 Comments