My Writing

Playing the unexpected chess move

GT financial-health-of-the-higher-education-sector-2013-1-638

(image credit : Grant Thornton}

Recently, in “When others Zig, you Zag“, I wrote :

“you can either choose to go with the market, or go against the market. If you choose the latter, when others “zig”, you “zag”. The degree to which you choose to “zag” though, is very important. You can go slightly away from what everyone else is doing, or you can go radically away.”

On 29th March, Grant Thornton, the fifth largest accountancy firm in the UK, chose to “zag” in a major way, announcing :

At Grant Thornton UK we do audit well and with scale. We are a market leader in public sector audit and one of the biggest auditors in AIM. We also work with a large number of FTSE 350 businesses on non-audit advisory work, so have credentials and experience working with large corporates across multiple sectors. Despite this we only serve a small number of statutory audit clients in the FTSE 350 and it continues to be extremely difficult to penetrate this market in its current form.

As a result we have taken the strategic decision to move away from tendering for statutory audit work in the FTSE 350, until we see a shift in the competitive landscape that would level the playing field for competing in this market.

As the young auditor who shared this with me noted : “in the accounting sector game of chess, GT just moved to checkmate”. Or, as he might have said… Boom ! (more…)

Letting the light shine in for others

your playing small does not serve the world

…..There is nothing enlightened about shrinking so that other people won’t feel insecure around you. We are all meant to shine….And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same.”

~Marianne Williamson (post and full quote here)

Recently a friend and client challenged me to  :

begin a post series about YOU Letting the Light Shine in for others. No apologies. Find the light and pass it on.

They went on :

I see you as the beachcomber, cherishing the unusual discovery – ‘interesting people’, future leaders, individuals of potential cultural significance… I want to read more about how you do this…and what will it become???!!!

Phew.. amazing to receive such affirmation and acknowledgement, and also challenging.

Why challenging ? Ironically, while my passion and purpose is to support others to shine, to be unapologetic about their own unique genius and express it boldly and loudly to the world, somehow I cringe about doing this myself.

Still, I remind myself that my absolute favourite quote is from Marianne Williamson, and as I look at the excerpt above, I know writing about what I bring, what I do, how I do it,  is in service of others, so I take a deep breath and write. (more…)

Smashing Paradigms – You can’t read the label

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”

Smasher_logo_cracked+black

(c) smasherofficial.com

Gaping Void can't read the label

In last week’s “Smashing Paradigms” piece, “When others Zig, you Zag“, I wrote :

“If, as a leader, you sense that going “radical” is the right path, I strongly encourage you to bring in some outside perspective to challenge your thinking, as the reality is that we typically can’t “think outside the box” when we are in the box already, as it were !

When we are “in the box”, we can’t see outside it, so we will unconsciously limit our thinking.

Recently I was at an event where two businesses were merging and integrating. A repeated phrase used was that they would “raise the bar”. When it was my turn to share my thoughts, I simply said “there is no bar”

Am not sure anybody understood, but I was referencing what I wrote about in “Smashing Paradigms – Growth Mindset and Pole Vaulting“, in that “The unconscious belief carried by the group was that there is a bar, a limit to what can be achieved.”

There is no bar.”

Or, as Hugh McLeod of Gaping Void succinctly puts it in this pithy artwork, “you can’t read the label of the jar you’re in!”

Find someone from outside the jar to help you see new choices.

As a tag line I just heard says “great minds think alike, great leaders seeks different perspectives”.

Trains and Radical Innovation

radical train

Recently I wrote : “Smashing Paradigms – Trains without Timetables ?” , in which I wrote about a speech by the Sir Peter Hendy, Chair of Network Rail, that subtly foreshadowed the need for revolutionary rather than evolutionary change in UK railways with the line :

“The ticketing system should be led by passenger behaviour, not act as a constraint to it.”

I then wrote in that article about my own experience around revenue and yield management in both airlines and hotels, having worked and lived through the 1990s and 2000s where there was such radical innovation in both spaces. I was fortunate enough to be at the forefront and work for and with leaders in their fields and sectors.

I finished off the article with the thought :

“Sir Peter can act on the idea of timetables to some degree by systems change at Network Rail. It will be interesting to see if (another radical idea!) market forces come into play with ticket sales across the network and perhaps some new player will come in and implement AI for yield management ?”

The other day, then, I read an article n March 24th, in The Times titled “Budget trains to get rail network flying“, which starts with : “A wave of Ryanair-style train operators is planned for British railways. Reforms may lead to more franchises on key intercity routes, driving down fares and increasing the number of seats”.

So, it seems that, even in our archaic UK train system, there is potential for radical change driven by customer behaviour. In Economics terms, led by demand rather than supply.

I’d really love to be part of that change, being part of fostering, stimulating, designing radically new systems to serve the people of the UK through a revolution in train service. Perhaps it may happen, who knows ?

In the meantime, I love that I love what I do and do what I love, which is looking for interesting and inspiring ideas for radical, brave and transformative change that is in service of others, then supporting that change to happen.

As you can see from the “My Story” page on this site, My “Why” is To Inspire.

I hope that this and other articles on this site may inspire you to see things differently and step into your own opportunities to conceive and create transformative change !

Movies with Meaning – Integrity

Weekly series. Please send in your movies via email, twitter etc. Our format  :

  • Three movies with meaning (and movies you love and recommend!)
  • One sentence on the core meaning you take from it
  • Send a link to a YouTube clip from the movie that speaks to that meaning

Two weeks ago i wrote about transparency, candor, audacity and humility in “Radical Transparency – Humility balanced with Audacity“.

last week I wrote about honesty, truth, integrity, starting with my favourite modern movie romance, “Say Anything

This week three movies that speak to integrity.

No descriptions, no plot spoilers, simply three movies I love to watch, and each features strong focus on integrity.

(more…)

Emma, the world is changed by your example..

the world is changed by your example

“The world is changed by your example, not by your opinion.” ~ Coelho

On Saturday March 24th, the March for our Lives saw literally millions take to the streets, not only in the USA, but also in countries around the world.

Many have opinions that gun control in the USA needs to be radically changed. I am one of them, and I’ve written about it in “Unthinkable, unforeseeable leadership“.

In that piece, I wrote:

“Leadership as we know it will not serve us in the times we now live in. Times of rapidly accelerating change and disruption, as well as unthinkable events. Strategic planning and old school “command and control” “expert” leadership simply don’t and won’t work anymore. Is it really that unthinkable that the movement that will finally smash the intractability of US politics will be started by our children, by teens, by college students ?”

In that article, I posted the video of Emma Gonzalez speaking the day after the Parkland massacre, followed by the words: “Emma is a hero and a leader. Goosebumps watching this.”

Yes, a march is only the start. We are being lead by our youth and they MUST register and they MUST vote (something that typically does not happen among the younger demographic after any protest).

Yes, I don’t feel this movement is going far enough, and I don’t believe they yet see the power of change this can unleash. Gun control must go far further than minimal changes, we must see outright bans of almost all weapons from civilians. That is still not all we will see. This is a movement that may see outright overhaul of the US system of government, which has been fundamentally broken for decades.

Yes, a speech is only a speech, yet :

“Nothing is more powerful than an idea whose time has come.” ~ Victor Hugo

As the phrase says, “Cometh the hour, cometh the man.”, or in this case, cometh the resolute, committed, brave teenage woman, Emma Gonzalez. She is our Mockingjay, our Tris, our Harry Potter. She and her peers were raised with books and movies showing youth overcoming dystopian evil. These stories were their guidebooks and training manuals.

On March 24th, 2018, Emma Gonzalez delivered a speech of stunning power. Savage in it’s simplicity, radically uncomfortable, she is a leader for the times we live in. As Barack Obama said after Parkland : “We’ve been waiting for you. And we’ve got your backs.”

Emma, the world will be changed by your example.

Watch the full speech, sense your experience, feel it  :

 

What do you see ?

what do you see

So, what do you see ?

A hat ? or something else ?

This site is full of broad writings about leadership, and as part of that, we can look at various dimensions, which we can think of as sliders on a mixing desk.

sliders

In leading ourselves and our organisations, we always have to be conscious of those “sliders”.

In the case of the picture at the top, the slider is about how, in the words of the author of the book this comes from, “clear-sighted” we are.

Some other sliders to consider :

  • How visual is your learning style (or auditory or kinesthetic)
  • Do you have Thinking, Feeling or Knowing preference when it comes to how you process information ?
  • How comfortable are you with risk ? Are you a “keep my cash under the mattress” person focussed on ultimate safety, are you a “start up gold mine in a far flung country” risk taker ?
  • Are you focussed on the short term or long term ?
  • Do you make incremental or radical changes ?
  • Are you a manager, a leader, a visionary ?
  • Are you a wartime or peacetime consigliere ? (A reference to The Godfather!)

Back to the picture…if you see a hat, this website may not be for you…though if you see a hat and feel you could see something else, stay with it and you may open yourself up to seeing something else.

 

 

Silence and Nyepi – Less is More

bali nyepi

Last Saturday, March 17th, was not only Saint Patrick’s Day, the annual global Irish paty day, but it was also Nyepi.

Nyepi is the Balinese “day of silence”, a sacred day of silence on Bali, for self-reflection, silence, meditation.

This year, as The Guardian reported, even the mobile internet providers were switched off for 24 hours, hence they humorously captioned the photo above “Pokemon No”.

Regular readers of this site will know that I regularly and repeatedly riff on themes around silence, with Nyepi being a new word to me to add to words like Ikigai, Innsaei, Yugen and more. If you wish to be reflective with me around such themes, simply use the search bar for words like these (and silence, presence), or choose related tags to see a list of posts.

Why do I keep coming back to it ? For a very simple reason. Finding silence is so, so powerful for us as humans, and where we lead others, ever more powerful. When we avoid the constant busy-ness, barrage of demands on our time, decisions to make, then we can make fewer decisions and prioritise effectively.

Less is more.

In researching Nyepi, it runs from 6am to 6am, for 24 hours. It also involves restrictions on activity across society to allow focus on self-reflection.

It very much reminds me of childhood holidays on the Isle of Lewis in the Western Isles of Scotland. Over recent years and decades the sanctity of their strict Sunday “Sabbath” has been eroded, but in my childhood the only use of cars was to drive to church. No flights, ferries, no washing hung outside, no children playing outside (and certainly no energetic boys playing football loudly in the garden so the neighbours could hear.. oops, that was me and my brother once…apologies to my dear Grandmother!).

The more I see progress in our modern world, the more I look back to ancient wisdom, from the Balinese, to the Icelandic (Innsaei), to the Japanese (Ikigai), and to my own ancestors, the McLeods of Lewis.

Less is more.

Smashing Paradigms – When others Zig, you Zag

{latest in a developing series on Smashing Paradigms}

For my story-telling explanation of the definition of a Paradigm, see “What is a Paradigm“. 

One way of defining a paradigm is “an unconsciously held belief that limits us from fresh thinking” or “we’ve always done it this way”

Smasher_logo_cracked+black

(c) smasherofficial.com

When Everyone Zigs You Zag Sticky Notes Saying Quote

In Positioning Strategy, you can either choose to go with the market, or go against the market. If you choose the latter, when others “zig”, you “zag”

The degree to which you choose to “zag” though, is very important. You can go slightly away from what everyone else is doing, or you can go radically away.

If, as a leader, you sense that going “radical” is the right path, I strongly encourage you to bring in some outside perspective to challenge your thinking, as the reality is that we typically can’t “think outside the box” when we are in the box already, as it were !

When we are “in the box”, we can’t see outside it, so we will unconsciously limit our thinking.

Recently I was at an event where two businesses were merging and integrating. A repeated phrase used was that they would “raise the bar”. When it was my turn to share my thoughts, I simply said “there is no bar”…. (more…)