Hard business

I was in London at a HiFi trade show this weekend, talking with a colleague about a business leader we have both admired for several decades. Realising that the person in question must be in his mid to late seventies, we looked back at his successes and made a kind of mental list of what we thought it was that made him stand out from the crowd. We agreed on the following: He is extremely likeable. With a broad grin, his smile always disarms you. He always remembers a name – even after years of absence. He always had (and [...]


Managing expectations – ask your dentist!

I remember my first assignment as a change manager for a large multi-national.  Apart from struggling with getting a grip on exactly who my stakeholders were and where I could find them, I managed to quite quickly get myself into a spot of bother with regards expectation management. It’s important for this story to know that I am an optimist, if there is a chance of something going right, then, why wouldn’t it? And while my optimism worked fine in small organizations; surrounded by highly intelligent, very motivated engineers who, like me, simply loved a challenge. The same couldn’t be [...]


Soaking it up or spreading it out?

It’s just another weekday morning but you feel the negativity the moment you enter the building. Negativity in the conversation overheard at the coffee machine. Negativity in the voice of a colleague on the phone to someone who is not coming into the office today. Negativity in the meeting you attend “We just don’t have enough staff”. “They’re impossible to find”. “Even if you find them, they don’t stay”. I believe that the negative / positive balance in any working environment happens not only by circumstance but by a delicate balance of two kinds of people: ‘Soakers’ and ‘Spreaders’. Soakers [...]


Harmony in the workplace

What comes to mind when you think of the word ‘harmony’?  Some oldies might remember a particular brand of hairspray but most will imagine a pleasing sound, perhaps voices singing together? I like to think of harmony in a slightly different way. For me the word is closer to diversity because true harmony in the musical sense is produced by several voices (instrument or vocal) performing together to create an overall whole.  The voices each have their role to play. They have their own pitch and rhythmic structure. They may even be dissonant with each other, forming unique sounds that [...]


Listen carefully, I will say this only once…

Next to my “daytime job”, I spend many of my weekends on a race circuit. Not as a driver but as the Race Director. My responsibility, amongst other things, is ensuring the safety on track and, like flight attendants before every flight, I also have to present the mandatory safety briefing. The 2017 race season has just started, so now everybody still pays attention. But I know that in a couple of races from now there will be drivers thinking “we’ve heard this all before, this is a waste of time.”  Often, these are the first people to make mistakes, [...]