Monday 31 October 2011

Innovation or problem solving? is a great question to ask often

This weeks sparkenation.

The problem with solving a problem means that mostly that means a return to the status quo. Innovation on the other hand, changes what’s normal.

Next time you have a problem ask, Will solving this return the situation to what was previously normal? If your answer is yes ask, How can I turn this problem into an opportunity to do what’s never been done before as well as remove the cause of the problem in the first place?

Most problem solving fails to remove the cause/s.

Often the cause/s of problems have something to do with our why of where we’re going, how (strategy) we have decided to get there, and who will do what and when (execution).

Creative tension rather than negative stress can exist between reality and possibility when we get our why, how, and who, what, and when, right for us.

For some great insights into creative tension please read a guest post here by Gary Ryan from Organisations That Matter.

Gary acknowledges the great work of Robert Fritz who I too would acknowledge along with the great work of Peter Senge.

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.

Rudyard Kipling

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Author of Changing What's Normal
I partner with people passionate about change who want to break free from the status quo and accelerate turning possibility into reality

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Sunday 30 October 2011

Why Creative Tension Trumps Problem Solving a guest post from Gary Ryan

Why Creative Tension Trumps Problem Solving is a guest post from Gary Ryan, founding Director of Organisations That Matter.

Gary's post is a great way to conclude the series of guest posts this month from Your power comes from your purpose by Keith Abraham, 6 ways to start living a revolutionary life by Alicia Curtis, Hire Right - The First Time by Ross Clennett, and Who is Responsible for Employee Engagement Anyway? by Ian Hutchinson.

Finding purpose, living a revolutionary life, having the right people for us join us on the journey by achieving real engagement are problems for most people. Creative tension can turn problems into opportunity.

Why Creative Tension Trumps Problem Solving

Creative Tension involves three simple concepts that, when put together, create a structure that provides the energy for effective action. Many of you will have seen me refer to the 'elastic band' metaphor (see TEDx Talks - Creating a Plan For Personal Success) that enables us to create the life we desire.

You see, Creative Tension is about creating what we want. Problem Solving, on the other hand, largely focuses on what we don't want.

Artists tend to use Creative Tension while people in business tend to use Problem Solving. My argument is that business people should follow the practices of artists and also focus more on using Creative Tension rather than Problem Solving.


Imagine that Pink has decided to write a new album. What approach do you think would provide Pink with the biggest probability of creating an album full of smash hits.

a) To take the approach that at the start of the writing process that she has a problem to resolve. The problem is, "I don't have any new songs ready to put on my album."

To resolve this problem Pink may recruit a bunch of her musician friends and brain-storm a heap of ideas that they believe would be likely to eventually generate the 'right' songs for her album. As each song is recorded Pink's problem would reduce because she would now have some songs for her album. Finally Pink would finish her album and release it to the public.

b) To take that approach that an album is a work of art and that the art requires some form of inspiration. Focusing on the quality of the album that she wishes to create, Pink would generate a number of experiences to enable her to fully picture what the album will be like.

Once the 'direction' of her album is clear, Pink would then recruit artists to help her to bring her 'picture of success' into reality. The number of songs on the album and the length of the songs would all fit into Pink's vision of what the album was going to look like. Eventually, Pink would 'create' the album that she desires.

Music, art and films are all treated as creations to be made rather than problems to be solved.

Alfred Hitchcock is famously reported to have refused to let his writers 'close out' a story line too early. Instead, Hitchcock would prefer to 'hold the tension' of an unfinished storyline so that true creativity amongst he and his writers could be inspired. The result; Hitchcock became one of the greatest film directors of all time and is still known today for creating stunning plots, scenes and movies.

Business people

Business people want to be successful, just like artists do. However business people are trained to see problems and to focus on fixing those problems. Common problems that business people try to fix include:

The problem of under-performance
The problem of low motivation in employees
The problem of maintaining efficiencies
The problem of low supply and high demand
The problem of high supply and low demand
The problem of not enough resources
The problem of poor communication
The problem of poor internal service
The problem of poor external service

Really, this list could go on and on, but I think you 'get' the picture. Business people use the same approach to these problems as described in 'a' above for the artists. They gather a group of colleagues, brainstorm a bunch of ideas to resolve the problem, select the 'best' answer and then implement that answer in the hope that the problem is resolved.

Usually the 'best answer' does have an impact on the problem and it does reduce in its intensity. As this occurs and the original problem is less of a problem, less effort is put into resolving the problem. Why? Because now other, more serious problems require focus. And so the process goes, on and on and on. A bit like a dog chasing its tail!

What if, on the other hand, business people learnt to focus on what they are really trying to create? Rather than focusing on problems that need to be resolved, what if business people focused on the customer experience, the employee experience, the community experience of their service or product? And what if this focus was present at all levels of the organisation?

There is a difference between art and business

Art is generally not released to the public until it is created. In many ways art is created in a vacuum. Once created it is then released. Business is different. Much of what goes on in a business can't be placed into a vacuum until it is created. The way the world works simply won't allow it. In business we 'change the wheels on the bus while the bus is driving down the road'.

It is for this reason that problem solving, in a business context is still relevant. There are some problems that simply have to be resolved. Such as an unhappy customer 'right now'.

However, what if problem solving in a business was provided within the context of Creative Tension? In other words, what if the experience that we are trying to create for our customers, or the experience and culture that we are trying to create for our employees was the guiding force for our strategy, actions and problem solving?

Creativity is challenging because of the tension that is generated when we become clear of what we want, but have no idea of how to bring what we want into reality. Artists experience this tension all the time and have learned to embrace it. Business people on the other hand are scared out of their minds when they don't know 'how' to bring the future they desire into reality. This is why most business people focus on Problem Solving rather than Creative Tension. Problem Solving is simply more comfortable. "We know 'how' to problem solve. We don't know 'how' to create."

If you are not sure of what I mean you might like to view the video The Gates. As you watch the short video, consider the power of Creative Tension that went in to bringing the vision of art on such a large scale into reality.

How present is Creative Tension in your organisation? What are your examples?

Gary Ryan is a founding Director of Organisations That Matter and can be most easily contacted at

Gary recognises Robert Fritz whose writing over the past two decades has inspired his thinking and practice on this topic.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Author of Changing What's Normal
I partner with people passionate about change who want to break free from the status quo and accelerate turning possibility into reality

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Wednesday 26 October 2011

Who is Responsible for Employee Engagement Anyway?

This is a guest post from Ian Hutchinson, Chief Engagement Officer & founder of Life by Design® specialists in ‘Employee Activated Engagement’ (EAE).

Sorry, but for some time now I've, excuse the French, had the shits with the level of thinking around employee engagement research.
Recently I've been frustrated with some comments regarding staff retention on LinkedIn groups and Google Alerts.
Generally I'm concerned with the level of employee engagement thought leadership being bandied around the corporate world.
I reckon if I read the question: "What engages employees?" one more time …. I think I'll have to harm myself :)
Short answer to the question anyway, is: It depends on the individual
Longer answer to the question is: Traditionally we do our employee engagement research, and then develop an organisational engagement plan (OEP) to improve engagement based on the findings.

But this shot gun approach to engagement initiatives is only OK as a starting point and unfortunately only one piece of the effective engagement solutions puzzle. Relying solely on this umbrella approach, based on 'an average employee' (who don't exist anyway) is why so many retention strategies have been flawed over recent years and haven’t led to any real meaningful improvements in engagement in most organisations.

P.S - If you have ‘an average employee’, please introduce me to them, I'd love to meet them.
Everyone Is different
The missing link to effective engagement is understanding that everyone is different and therefore motivated and engaged by different drivers. The good news is that there are fundamentally only 7 key engagement drivers that you need to focus on.

The key is Employee Activated Engagement (EAE) - the self-responsibility approach to engagement. This ‘inside out’ approach is the opposite to the current showering them with gifts and benefits ‘outside in’ approach which can creates the ‘whinge entitlement culture’.

The more you give, the more employees expect. Take the benefits away from staff and they will whinge (even if they aren't using the benefits). For example, one large financial client of ours was spending over $100K per year on weekly fruit bowls for staff. Were they being used… no! But take the fruit bowls away and look out!

The Engagement Missing Link
So the missing link to effective engagement is Employee Activated Engagement (EAE). So, Step 1: Get individual employees responsible and clear on what motivates them.
The challenge is that most employees know what doesn't engage them; fewer know what really does engage them. If employees don't know, the default driver simply becomes “give me more money”. Also if employees don't know what engages them, their people leader and organisation is stuffed! If employees don't know what they want how can we effectively engage them?

Anyway who is responsible for engagement?

Firstly, who does your culture believe is responsible for employee engagement?

A.CEO/Senior Management Team*
B.Human resources
C.People leaders & managers*

Hopefully you answered E) Everyone …Yes ‘E’ is for everyone… but…

Caution: There is some danger in having everyone responsible for engagement in that if everyone is responsible, nobody is really accountable. 

The key is everyone needs to be responsible for employee engagement; it’s just that different people (e.g HR, Leaders & Employees) need to be accountable for different sets of tasks.

Human resources - need to deliver on engagement measurement, umbrella strategies or Organisational Engagement Plans (OEP) and ensure that engagement plans are being implemented for people leaders and employees.
People Leaders* – need to be the catalyst for understanding and therefore optimising the seven engagement drivers throughout their Team Engagement Plans (TEP) and Personal Engagement Plans (PEP)
Employees – need to be responsible for getting clarity around self-leadership, doing their Personal Engagement Plans (PEP) and on-going self-awareness with systems such as

The good news is that each set of accountability tasks for each group should be less than a 2% time investment.

Ian Hutchinson (B.Bus, Grad.Dip.Psy, CSP) is Chief Engagement Officer & founder of Life by Design® specialists in ‘Employee Activated Engagement’ (EAE). His self-responsibility approach to employee engagement is the missing link to simply and effectively implementing employee engagement at all levels of the organisation.

Ian has built a reputation as a talent maximiser and innovative strategic implementer. He is a thought leader, speaker and author of a number of books including his latest ‘People Glue: Engagement & Retention Solutions That Stick!’ Please contact Ian at

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Author of Changing What's Normal
I partner with people passionate about change who want to break free from the status quo and accelerate turning possibility into reality

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Monday 24 October 2011

Power on a page

Power on a page is this weeks sparkenation.

Last week Seth Godin’s The Domino Project released the one page book, Death and Taxes by Jess Backman, selling on Amazon for $19.99. Please check in out here.

And also last week differencemakers member from Campo United States Mary Rose sent an email to her list with the follow the money one page pictured by Thrivemovement. See infographics on their website here.

I have been helping my clients create one page documents for strategy and all sorts of things for many years. Power can be on a page.

What kind of one pagers do you have that you have created yourself that tell a great story, capture history, or focus in on something important to you?

And do they capture your passion? When your passion is on your one pagers you have powerful compasses that keep you heading in the right direction.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Author of Changing What's Normal
I partner with people passionate about change who want to break free from the status quo and accelerate turning possibility into reality

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Friday 21 October 2011

Hire Right - The First Time by Ross Clennett

This is a guest post from Ross Clennett, The Recruiters Recruitment Expert.

Effective interviewing skills ensure you dramatically increase your chances of identifying the most suitable person for the job - the first time.

A recent research report about interviewing revealed the following; 

40% of respondents had declined an offer because of a poor interview experience

69% had experienced no response or feedback after a full interview

42% had experienced discrimination in an interview

30% had experienced rudeness in an interview, and

22% had been asked inappropriate questions, with respect to such things as their marital status, weight, dating habits (?) and sexual preferences.

The report further reveals, that of those people who experienced a bad interview 81% of them told up to 10 people about that bad experience!

Bad news travels very fast in the online world, as many companies have found out to their detriment. United Airlines discovered this recently after millions of people logged on to YouTube to watch aggrieved musician, Dave Carroll's witty ditty of complaint United Breaks Guitars

Whether you realise it or not, the way an interview is conducted provides a candidate with a window into your organisation and they may not like what they experience. The best candidates choose other opportunities and the average ones finish up being hired by you because they, and you, have less choice.

This is not an outcome that will help build a profitable organisation or one to be proud of.

Interviewing is similar to coaching, in that what appears to be ‘just a conversation' is in fact a structured, purposeful dialogue with a clear outcome in mind.

Here are my top 9 tips to increase your interviewing skills:

1. Before an interview commences understand what you need to know from the candidate to assess their appropriateness for the job and the questions you will ask to most effectively discover that information.

Questions that address issues irrelevant to job performance (eg. age, marital status, etc.) are not only useless questions in terms of identifying work related performance capability, but they annoy and deter good candidates.
2. Build high rapport. High rapport gains you high quality information from the candidate. Low rapport gains you low quality information.
3. Ask open questions rather than closed or leading questions to ensure that the candidate is not, consciously or unconsciously, biasing their answers with what they think you want to hear.
4. All good candidates have choices, so never assume the candidate wants the job you have on offer. Have a couple of powerful selling points that clearly demonstrate the benefits of your opportunity.
5. Understanding the context (i.e. degree of difficulty) of a candidate's past job performance is critical in ranking competing candidates and making an effective job match.
6. Evidence based answers drawn from past performance are the only effective way to assess competencies. Theoretical knowledge or speculative answers (‘would do', ‘could do', ‘should do') have a low correlation to actual competencies and performance.
7. Understand both the core competencies and the primary motivators required in the job and then interview candidates against these criteria to ensure that each candidate can both do the job and want to do the job.

8. Technical skills become relatively less important the more senior the job compared to behavioural competencies and personal motivators, so don't fall into the trap of placing too much emphasis on technical expertise (eg. years of experience and qualifications), especially in leadership roles.

9. Beware of ‘nice’. You are interviewing to assess a potential employee’s capability and motivation, not to add to your friendship circle. You may like a nice, friendly person after interviewing them but you won’t like them for much longer if you employ them and they can’t do the job adequately or if they aren’t motivated to do the job.

Ross Clennett is also a popular speaker, trainer, writer and coach on recruitment trends, recruitment skills and the recruitment industry in Australia. For more information on Ross’s services please visit his website here or email

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Author of Changing What's Normal
I partner with people passionate about change who want to break free from the status quo and accelerate turning possibility into reality

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Wednesday 19 October 2011

Key questions we need answers for to find the upsides of any downturn

Key questions we need answers for to find the upsides of any downturn is my second newsletter article for this month.

If you are a subscriber to my fortnightly changing what's normal newsletter then please ignore this post.

There are 95 questions in this article. Possibly not all will be applicable to you.
Your answers to the questions that are applicable, and how you act on your answers, may well determine your future, and that of your children, and their children.

You can read the full article by clicking on the title of the article here.
There is a link in the article to the PDF version so that you can keep the questions handy.

Business leads recoveries not governments. More business leaders need to stand up and be counted so that we can put governments back in their place.
Political leadership is an oxymoron.

“Washington's bogged down in games of brinksmanship instead of practicing the art of leadership. Hell-bent on running each other into the ground — instead of running the nation — America's so-called leaders are sending us into what wonks are calling a "policy-induced recession."
so said Umair Haque in a great article Is America Giving Up on the Future? You can read his full article here.

And it is not just America. I am embarrassed everyday by the lack of civility of Australian politicians and their inability to collaborate.
And as for the G20, well give me a break. The economy is supposed to be part of society. Not the other way round.

There is nothing status quo about real leadership. Real leadership is ever-evolving. Go first. Break the shackles. Learn from the corporate and political leaders (so-called) who are living in the dark ages and be a shining light for others. I trust answering my 95 questions will help you. Here is the link again.

If not you, then who?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Author of Changing What's Normal
I partner with people passionate about change who want to break free from the status quo and accelerate turning possibility into reality

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Monday 17 October 2011

When gratitude precedes gratification

This weeks sparkenation.

I meet a lot of people who are always focused on getting and having more.

I meet a few people grateful for what they have. These folk realise “Happiness is not having what you want, but wanting what you have.” so said Rabbi Hyman Judah Schachtel in an excellent book The Real Enjoyment of Living.

Wanting what you have = gratitude
Having what you want = gratification

When I faced death’s door 35 years ago my doctors advice was for me to ‘have an attitude of gratitude’ (Sparkenation 20 in my changing what’s normal book.

The great paradox of having an attitude of gratitude is that when we are grateful for what we’ve got, we can have more of what we want.

The many are focused on gratification. The few focus on gratitude.

Are you one of the many or one of the few?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Friday 14 October 2011

6 ways to START living a Revolutionary Life by Alicia Curtis

This is a guest post from Alicia Curtis, Founder Revolutionary Lives.

So you want to live your Revolutionary life, but not sure where to start?  Here are six key areas to start your journey.

1.  What’s your revolutionary ambitions?

Most people’s goals suck.  Why?  Because what most people write down as their goals, is not what they truly want and won’t make them happy.  It doesn’t make sense does it? Let me explain.

Most of us have been so influenced by advertising, the media and popular culture to believe that being a certain size, rich and famous will make us happy.   That’s what we want, right?

Unfortunately that’s not what will make us happy.  In fact, the research says that if we follow these extrinsic rewards, it will actually make us depressed and unhappy.  Crazy, huh?

So what should our life purpose and revolutionary ambitions include?

Again, the research says, in particular Edward Deci who wrote the book Why We Do What We Do says, if we follow more intrinsic goals such as building better relationships, building mastery in our talents and having a purpose that is bigger than ourselves, our level of happiness increases.  Easy...want to try it?

Where is your life purpose at? What goals are you striving for?

2. Are you the master of your talents?

We are led to believe there are ‘born geniuses’ or ‘overnight successes’.  The reality is mastery takes time.

So if you are going to invest your time in building mastery, what are you going to focus on - your strengths or your weaknesses?   According to Gallup research, ‘each person has greater potential for success if you focus on who you are already - your natural talents’

But even your strengths take hard work! Malcolm Gladwell in his book Outliers found that the difference between average and extraordinary is about 10,000 hours.   Are you in it for the long haul?   These days, we expect success so quickly and are not willing to take the long term view.

Don’t put your talents to waste. What are you doing every day to strengthen your talents?

3. Movement every day!

We are meant to move! But everything in our world is built to allow us to stay still - remote controls, cars, escalators!

We’ve so gotten used to the ‘I’m too busy’ excuse that we put movement and exercise on the bottom of our list.

How would you feel though, if you did move every day! Yes, I said every single day!  If you did, you would find out that our body and mind works better when you move -  we think better, we eat better and we feel better.

It’s not just about exercise, it’s about finding more ways to move everyday.  Here are some simple ideas - instead of having coffee with a friend, why not go for a walk, visit a new park every weekend,  try new active hobbies like tennis, hiking or swimming.  Find the movement that you enjoy and have fun with it.

4. We are what we eat!

I would like you to challenge what you eat!

Brian Johnson, a modern day philosopher said “why is it ok to go out drink beer and eat chicken nuggets but weird to drink green juice and eat sprouts?”

What you eat has been influenced by how you grew up, the media, what’s convenient and what gets stocked at the supermarket.   But what if we made an effort to look beyond all of this.

The latest food research such as Joel Fuhrman, MD who wrote the book Eat to Live and The China Study by Colin Thomas PhD and Thomas Campbell MD tells us to eat less of all the foods that are popular and convenient - less refined foods, animal products and sugar and more water, whole foods and dark green leafy vegetables.   Just start with small changes such as only drinking water during the day, having a veggie-packed salad for lunch or not buying sugar laden products.

A lot of what we eat is defined by what we know.  Try a new recipe every week!  Go book yourself into a cooking course and expand your knowledge about cooking and nutrition.

5. Meditation metamorphosis

I have to admit took me a long time to get what meditation is about. Now it excites me! 

Just like you go to the gym to work on your muscles and endurance, meditation is exercise for your mind.  It allows you to practice controlling your thoughts.    You meditate not for the 15 - 30 minutes of quietness, you meditate for how it makes you feel for the rest of the day and the strength it teaches you about controlling your mind.

The benefits of meditation are extraordinary - less anxiety, decreased chances of depression or anger, boost in your immune system, better focus and increased your wellbeing. And all this can be attained in just eight weeks of consistent meditating!

It’s not easy though.  It’s pretty hard to control your mind and your thoughts in the beginning.  But like anything, with practice you get better!

6. Be a Revolutionary Role Model

We need people to make the world a better place. Think global, act local.  What are you doing to become a better social citizen?

Are you taking care of the animals and environment around you?   Could you volunteer at your local homeless shelter?   Perhaps you could help out at the local primary school?  There are limitless ideas to help the world become a better place.

I would ask yourself what are you passionate about? And how could you use and practice your strengths to help the community.   Share your passions, talents and leadership with the world.
Alicia Curtis, Founder Revolutionary Lives. Alicia can also be contacted on +61 (0) 8 9313 2880 or

Be the difference you want to see in the world
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Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Wednesday 12 October 2011


This is the first of several posts this month from some folk I know and admire who are changing what's normal.


Some men and women set out to change the world and others set out to be better parents to their children. Which is nobler?

Neither. Both are equally important. It’s just that one gains more publicity than the other. We often think of great deeds as those that are done by others on the global stage and are televised to us each night. If the truth is to be told, it is far more important for you and I to fix our own backyards and to concentrate on fighting the battles we can win.

It might be helping a child with their reading, so that they don’t get teased at school. It could be taking the time to listen to a friend going through a challenging personal issue, learning a new skill at an evening course, mentoring a work colleague on a business project or giving yourself the time to focus on what’s important to you.

You have so many purposes to choose from in your life. Never compare your purpose in life to that of others, unless you don’t have a purpose at all. Most people do have a purpose but it is not defined. I also believe that a purpose is developed with thought but it is clarified with experience and it is developed over time. You can have a number of different purposes at varying times of your life. You may achieve your purpose easily, you may never achieve it or you may change your direction from time to time and jump from one purpose to another.

There was an old story that has always stayed with me. It is about 3 bricklayers constructing a wall. A passer-by asked them each the same question ... What are you doing? The first bricklayer replied, “What does it look like, I’m laying bricks!” The second said, “I am building a wall”, and the third explained, “I am building a magnificent church that will stand the test of time and be used by thousand of families as a place of worship and celebration.

Great Purpose Comes from Great Vision

There have been many great stories told about Walt Disney and the adversity he overcame to create Disneyland, the movie company and the business empire that extends all around the globe, however my favourite story happened after he passed away on the 15th December, 1966. It was the opening day of Walt Disney World in Orlando, Florida on the 1st October 1971. Roy Disney, Walt’s older brother, was walking all the media through the park prior to the arrival of the guests, explaining why Walt wanted created the park the way he did.

It was then that one of the journalists made the offhand comment to Roy Disney, “Isn’t it a shame Walt never got to see this place open?” Roy stopped in his tracks and looked at the journalist in the eye and said, “The reason why you and I see it today is because Walt saw it first.”

It is no wonder that one of Walt Disney’s favourite quotes was ...”If you can dream it, you can do it.” His imagination created the vision and he then turned his vision into a reality through his purpose.

What goals do you have for your future? What visions do you want to turn into a reality? What could you achieve if you knew you would be triumphant in your quest to achieve that goal? What is your purpose in your workplace? The stronger your purpose, the clearer the picture you will have of your future.

For More of Keith Abraham’s Passionate Insights visit his website here, receive his BLOG here, or contact him personally at

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Monday 10 October 2011

What will people say about you when you’re gone?

This weeks sparkenation.

More importantly what are you saying about people who matter to you while they’re alive?

I have been staggered by the amount of wonderful words published about Steve Jobs following his death. And I have wondered, how much was said to Steve while he was alive?

What will people say about you when you’re gone? And what are people saying to you now?

Do you share with the people who matter (not just your family, everyone) to you, your feelings and thoughts about them? Do it now. It’s too late when they’re gone.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Friday 7 October 2011

The fruits and failures of free

I give away lots of digital content via blogs, articles, videos, slideshares, you name it. I give away lots of hard earned wisdom in discussion forums, and,
I give lots of in person time to people for free.

For what? Good question!

I give without attachment to getting back. The paradox is I do have an expectation that free will lead to fee some of the time.

My experience is that there is now such an expectation of free that the lines are blurred between what is free and what is fee.

I now have great relationships with people that would not have began if it were not for social media/networking. The amount of business that has resulted is miniscule compared to the time, energy, and money invested.

I posted the above on LinkedIn and Triiibes. There has been some brilliant observations and input. Please check them out here
and here if you are a member of Triiibes.

I am very interested in your thoughts. What are the fruits and failures of free for you?

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Wednesday 5 October 2011

The spirit of the 21st century is partly about laying to rest the ghosts of the 20th century

This article was the first this month of my fortnightly changing what's normal newsletter. You can sign-up for my newsletter here.

I fondly remember childhood conversations with my Grandparents about inventions. There were no cars, telephones or televisions when my Grandparents were children. There were air conditioners, Cornflakes, safety razors, tea bags, and vacuum cleaners!

My Grandparents did not foresee spaceships, computers, cell phones or the Internet.

My Grandparents would not have foreseen the scale of population growth either. When my Grandfathers were entering their teenage years in 1911 there was under 2 billion people on earth. Now just 100 years later there is around 7 billion! 2 billion was sustainable. 7 billion is not, let alone the 10 billion predicted for 2050. Today around a third of the world’s people live in poverty.

We made great and arguably unprecedented progress in the 20th century. So far we have failed to manage the associated risks and in many ways we are like a runaway train running out of track very quickly.

We must change our ways before it is too late.

Sustainability is the greatest challenge facing our world. It is the harvest we must reap.

Sustainability is also your greatest business challenge, indeed profitable sustainability for those of you with profit as one of your goals.

The worldʼs big challenge is your big challenge. What an opportunity!

Sustainability means, to state the obvious, to be able to keep going, to pay your bills, reward your workers, and invest in new products and services or make improvements to your current ones.

However as the President of The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Bjorn Stigson says, “Business cannot survive in societies that fail.”

The unsustainable practices of certain financial services providers has effectively killed the goose that laid the golden eggs or at very least made laying eggs, for some, impossible in the short to medium term!

I mean no disrespect here to the many thousands of people who have lost their savings, their jobs, their businesses, their homes. What were these providers thinking by taking actions that would destroy their customers/clients? My answer is, they were'nt thinking!

Are you focused on processes or outcomes?

On the 5th of August 2008 I was privileged along with several other international speakers and their life partners to take a private tour of the United Nations headquarters in New York. I was not a fan of this organisation prior, believing that they were a toothless tiger.

As I sat in the Great Hall where world leaders gather and heard and read the stories in other places of the United Nations work, I changed my mind. I came away feeling and thinking they make a difference and without them we may not even be here! Mind you some recent failed meetings by so called world leaders are causing me to re-think!

Realising sustainability was our greatest challenge almost a quarter of a century ago, The United Nations commissioned Dr Gro Harlem Brundtland to define sustainability.

In the 1987 World Commission of Environment and Development (the Brundtland Commission) Report, sustainability was defined as “Development that meets the needs of the present without compromising the ability of future generations to meet their own needs.”

Failure to manage the risks of growth in the 20th century means we have compromised the ability of future generations to meet their own needs, indeed we are struggling ourselves.

Forum for the Futureʼs Jonathon Porritt improved on the definition of sustainability in my view.

“Sustainable development is a dynamic process which enables people to realise their potential and to improve their quality of life in ways which simultaneously protect and enhance the earthʼs life-support systems.”

Both Brundtland and Porritt are talking about a process, whereas sustainability is an outcome.

I suspect you want sustainability as an outcome. What processes are you following to achieve such an outcome?

Failure to manage the risks of growth means the 20th century is hanging around us like a ghost. The spirit of the 21st century is about changing what’s normal.

3 key ways to break free from the status quo and change what’s normal:

1) Decide how much is enough for you

What many CEOs earn is immoral. Bad choice of word is earn!
How much is enough for you?
What are you doing to stop greedy and unethical people from ruining our world?
How are you helping those who don’t have enough to find and grasp opportunity?

2) Close your knowing-doing gap

This is Sparkenation 1 in my changing what’s normal book.
For me the narrower the gap between what we know and what we do, the more fulfilled life we live and the greater influence we assert.

3) Decide the aspects of your life and work that are unsustainable

Stay doing what is sustainable.
Stop doing what isn’t sustainable.
Start today to follow processes that will lead you to sustainable outcomes.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.

Monday 3 October 2011

Profit is not a reason for being in business

This weeks sparkenation.

When I first made the following statement 20 years ago to a group of CEOs it is fair to say there was not a lot of agreement in the room!

“Profit is not a reason for being in business rather a result of being good at business.”

Today I get a very different response from enlightened leaders.

Are you confusing reason with results?

Please read these two excellent articles:
Sustainability Leadership : Shift or Show by Andrea Learned
and The Wisdom of Family Firms: Lessons Learned from the Financial Crisis by Dr Pablo Hafner.

Reflect and answer: Are you confusing reason with results?
Your answers can have a profound effect on your life and your business. Do your work.

Be the difference you want to see in the world
Leader Changing What's Normal Tribe

Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what's normal

More sparkenations are here.