New Book in the process of being written

29 04 2013

Following the success of ReEnergizing the Corporation I am inspired to write more. The focus of the next book is getting more from organisational change, maximum impact, maximum engagement and maximum chance of success. We are in early stages at the moment, but we have had some great contributions from colleagues and friends, sharing their stories of success and at times the challenges of change. Keep an eye on the blog and the website for regular updates.

ICEAW Special Report on Leadership

21 01 2013

Just a short post to link you to the latest publication for the ICEAW who asked for a contribution on leadership and talent. You can see the pdf of the article on my website  just download the pdf to see the latest thinking.



Highest road in the world and thinking at altitude

25 09 2012

This year we took a different challenge on… driving to the highest motorable road in the world in the Indian Himalayas. At 5602 metres,  Khardung -la is higher than Mount Everest base camp.  The trip itself was awesome, driving from Narkanda to Leh on a road that is only open 4 months of the year to supply the military and where landslides close the way almost every day. It’s a battle to keep a single muddy track passable and a one where the edge of single track is a drop of between 300 -500 m without any barrier.

Altitude does some great things to the landscape – the sky was more blue than at any time I can remember – the clouds whiter. The rock and mountain scenery is stunning – it takes your breath away every corner you turn.

What was also impressive was the tenacity and spirit of the Indian road workers – never giving up on their Herculean task.  Each day armed with little more than hand tools, and the occasional vintage bulldozer, they would repair the previous nights damage and sort out a passage for the waiting supply lorries and occasional tourists. They slept at over 12,000 ft, eating a basic diet of bread and veg curry with a sprinkling of dust – which pervades every gap and chink in the clothing.  Yet as we passed they always smiled and waved – maybe not so many westerner drive in India, maybe our dirty faces caked in dust amused them, maybe they just thought we were mad – but it was heartening to see people with so little seemingly so content and openImage. As observers we cannot know what they really think about their harsh life conditions, but they chatted, smiled and worked well with each other on their task – clearing the road again. Maybe we have something to learn from them…. when we moan about our mundane days or our Herculean task…. my challenges seem pale in comparison.


Rome awaits – Jonas and Mark speaking on Innovation

24 01 2012

In February Mark and Jonas are working with a large group of  senior managers from a  global building materials company on innovation. It’s not what you make that matters but the way and ways of making both the product and business. We expect to challenge their thinking in terms of how to do business better and different in a market that is massively affected by an economic cycle or downturn. They are doing the right thing, change themselves before the competition do or the market demands it.

It’s better to change on the upwards slope of the curve or somewhere near the apex rather than in the tail spin of decline. We expect to push them to think differently and take control of their future in the industry. Should be fun !!


India trip is go !

2 11 2011

Just a link for all those who sponsored us to see the trip day one photos. We will update as we go internet access permitting. Developing capability in the kids of India , as part of the sponsorship. We meet them for a game of football in two days.


see your logos on our car trailing through south India!/profile.php?id=619995946

Collaboration , not as easy as it seems

24 10 2011

I have just recently run a session on a strategic leadership programme for a collection of government departments. I can’t say which ones but recent changes in funding, threat and resources have meant they really do need to collaborate much more. The programme is breaking ground, in that it’s been set up across departments, the first of its kind. Well that seems a bit obvious to me and to many of readers I assume to share training and development opportunities . However to the UK government, working together is policy; creating the forums for collaboration is, it seems, not.

So what makes good collaborative working at the senior level? Well its more than an edict or policy saying they must. Good collaboration starts with individuals deciding they should, then acting. No amount of policy or direction from the top will break down years of individualization and socialization into strong cultures. What it takes is for individuals to become emotionally engaged in the process, through a shared need, a realisation that there is real benefit in a collaborative approach, and the courage to act on that thought.

We ran a simulation, a game, unfortunately human instinct kicked in and the default settings of competitive behaviour ensued. What was interesting was the debriefing  discussion and how difficult it seems to be  to establish enough trust to collaborate in the first place. Well  ladies and gentlemen servants of the government, we really can’t wait for you to love each other, the economic crisis and the state of threat currently enjoyed by our country from those that wish us harm is too high for you to delay. Collaboration is the future of really effective performance, particularly where special talents are scares and consequences of failure so high.

I really do hope the programme works in the long-term, but currently it is one of the few forums for real inter government agency interaction, it’s a small but vital step in the right direction.

Talent Management; Graduates your simple guide to assessment centres

25 05 2011

I  have been very busy in recent months assisting a client select young talent for its prestigious leadership programme.  Given that the programme provides a fantastic opportunity for accelerated development and global experience , they set their bar high and rightly so. Our intervention is helping them design and delivery a really robust assessment process. So why the guide? Well I am not going to divulge the secrets of the centre, that would be way too helpful.. but given that the client, a very forward thinking organisation in many ways who  provides each candidate telephone feedback regardless of their success or not, it never fails to surprise me how little applicants know about making a good account of themselves. I am sure there are many I talk to who are hearing for the first time what I consider to be the essentials of applying for a post, not secrets but simple guides to success… so here they are:

1 Do not arrive for an interview without researching the company – this is an insult to the employer and shows lack of interest, drive and motivation to join. Think research not just google.

Dress to impress – not necessarily a suit, but not jeans and trainers, smart is the watch word – unless you are applying to a fashion house or some creative agency who might be impressed by your ‘creative’ streak.  Blue chips on the whole are conservative about what you wear. Dirty shoes show a lack of care for yourself, why would they risk you with a customer?

3 Pay attention to how you look – stubble is cool in the bar, not in the interview ( shows a lack respect ), hair should be under control at least and pony tails look good on ponies and  younger women… maybe at Glastonbury but not in an interview.

4 Questions at interview – please think about what your strengths and weaknesses are  before you get there so you are not surprised or unable to respond. Most good assessment has CBI interviews, based on specific competencies – being artfully vague, giving general answers or being impressive with rehearsed best interview answers volume one will get you no where quickly. Being perfect is not what most companies are looking for or believe, be prepared to show you have self-awareness and can be open about your development needs.  If you are asked a fair question, be prepared to answer it, most good employers will use structured interviews, the days of ” sell me this pencil”  egotistical managers are dead. Recently when asking a candidate where else they had applied, they replied that they thought this was an unfair question. If you are unwilling to share  who else you are applying to with a potential employer ( if you are at an assessment centre they are already spending serious money on you) then why would they feel you are a good hire? There may be places for secrets but not in the interview that is trying to assess how serious you are as a candiate.

5 Analysis exercises – these are there to let you show how smart you are – don’t waste the opportunity by being too big on style and low on content, which in an analysis exercise is arguments based on facts or good ideas.  All fur coat and no knickers as we say in Yorkshire is not good, being all presentation and no content and its not using the opportunity well. Don’t avoid calculations and don’t avoid making a decision, the two biggest faults in many exercises.

6 Group exercises – the clue is in the title, they are designed to see you work in a group  – similar to how you will work in most of your career. So show what you can do. Not all roles are leadership, there are plenty of ways of impressing an employer without having to be in control. Basics, speak … no contribution  is no good, intermediate…. speak up and have some ideas,  better still take a real part and engage others while you solve whatever task you have been given. Yes it’s, competitive and difficult but it also gives you another excellent chance to shine with others.

7 Focus on the roles you want to do– so apply for the industry, the function and the specialist that interests you. Saying you are flexible and can do anything , will try anything, is a sure way to show you have not really considered you career seriously. Do so now, before you apply.

7 tips to make a good impression, to show your skills and experience and to make a good account of yourself. If an employer has taken the time , effort and money to create an assessment process to show you to your best ability don’t waste it – don’t regret your performance  on the flight back home.

You may think this is a conservative view…. for conservative read experienced, as most of your assessors will be. When you are being assessed by 20 something’s with stubble and ponytails then please ignore this advice, but reality is, if you want a leadership fast track career then you need to behave like a leadership potential talent from the minute you engage in the process and the people they trust to select will be experienced.
I would wish graduates good luck… but if they are good it’s not a matter of luck, its a matter of performance on the day and preperation before hand.