Sunday 31 August 2014

“People don’t want a better knife, they want the butter on their bread.”

This Sunday’s sparkenation.

The title of this sparkenation is from an excellent post by Bernadette Jiwa titled 

'How Great Products Are Born, Not Made'. You can read it here. And check out they want the butter on their bread link. It’s a great Kickstarter story.

Here’s the thing. People aren’t buying your products/services rather what they perceive that your products/services do for them.

Ask people what they do and 99% will rave on about themselves or their products/services and not what it means for the human being who asked the question.

Be the 1%.

Friday 29 August 2014

Is your crap detector fully functioning?

“Every man should have a built-in automatic crap detector operating inside him.”
Ernest Hemingway, 1954

As No BS is my trademark and a key to my work I am always on the look out for ways to help people to ensure that their in-built crap detector is fully functioning.

I am grateful therefore for this blog post that preserves educator Neil Postman's classic 1969 speech “Bullshit and the Art of Crap-Detection”. Enjoy it.

Then ask yourself Is my crap detector fully functioning?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Wednesday 27 August 2014

Dispense with job descriptions and watch your people soar

The problem I see with most job descriptions is that they list tasks and say very little about relationships or value delivery which is what every role in your business must be about. And often down the bottom of the form are the words "and anything else as directed."

Dispense with job descriptions and watch your people soar.

Replace your job descriptions with role clarity statements.

Every person in your business has a role to deliver value to other people. Value that they demand, desire, and feel that they deserve.

"Your customer is whoever gets your work next." said the great Japanese management thinker Kaoru Ishikawa.

With your people document who their customers are (relationships) and what value must be delivered to each person.

Recently I helped a client of mine to dispense with job descriptions and replace them with role clarity statements. Below are the headings we used. In conjunction with Performance Possibility Plans, where personal and business goals for the next 90 days and how they will be achieved are documented, role clarity statements enable conversations about performance to be elevated and lead to greater accountability.

In the space of a few weeks greater value is being delivered by everyone, meaning happier employees and happier external customers.

What would you and your employees write under these headings?

Business Purpose
Role Purpose
Key Accountabilities and Responsibilities
Key Performance Measures (Lead measures)
Key Relationships of the role and the value that must be delivered to each person
Key outcomes of role (Lag measures)
Required levels of commitment (will) and competency (skill)
Key gifts (talents) required and that need to be enhanced to excel in role and prepare for future roles
Learning and development and career path opportunities

All of the above can be outlined on two sides of an A4 page.

Your people don't have jobs. They have relationships with other people where value delivery is paramount to the enjoyment of the relationships and the success of your business.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday 25 August 2014

Do your PPPPS's make it simple for people to bring their best to their work?

I wrote this in a coffee shop with a client alongside. We were discussing the policies, procedures, practices, processes, and systems (I call them PPPPS's) of his organisation and how even at a glance it's obvious they're not always good for people.

How is it at your place? Do your PPPPS's make it simple for people to bring their best to their work?

PPPPS's are the stuff of management which I define as "the practice of ensuring it's simple for people to deliver value."

Good PPPPS's mean people do things right.

As I scribbled this in my notebook I became conscious of the recent passing of one of my heroes Warren Bennis (8/3/1925 - 31/7/2014) the often called 'father of leadership'. Warren believed leadership to be about doing the right thing and management to be about doing things right. I agree.

I define leadership as "the art of inspiring people feel valued."

If your PPPPS's are in the way of people bringing their best to their work every day you need to check the vital signs of your leadership. Are you doing the right thing?

When leaders do the right thing we inspire and influence people to do things right.

A good test as to whether your PPPPS's are by the people and for the people is to observe how easy (or not) that it is for your employees to solve problems for themselves and your customers/clients at all the transaction and interaction points of your business without having to refer to anyone else.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 24 August 2014

Accepting accountability for your choices is the key to your good fortune

I have watched with interest the two BBC TV shows ‘The men who made us spend’ and ‘The men who made us fat’. Good watching and yet the premise for me is wrong.

This Sunday's sparkenation.

Nobody can make us spend or eat or anything else. You choose. Accepting accountability for your choices is the key to your good fortune in all aspects of your life.

Be the difference you want to see in the world

Friday 22 August 2014

More meditation means less mediation

As stated in my previous post I believe that self-awareness is the number one soft/people/leadership skill. It is closely followed by awareness of others. The greater our self-awareness and awareness of others the greater we inspire, influence and impact as leaders. And the less we need mediation.

A key pathway to self-awareness is meditation which is different to prayer as some wise people have noted. "Prayer is asking, meditation is listening."

When faced with a life-threatening illness 38 years ago my doctor taught me meditation. At the time I couldn't spell it let alone understand it. Meditation is a key to self-awareness and awareness of others.

There are many ways to meditate. Find a way or ways that suit you.

I prefer breath meditation, which was the way my doctor originally taught me. I also use
sitting in silence,
focusing on a single object or idea,
contemplating open-space in the sky, ocean, field,
walking alone.

Meditation clears the mind and opens the heart. I find it to be the ritual that most keeps my life in flow. How about You?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Wednesday 20 August 2014

The great disruption is to disrupt yourself

Disruption is arguably the new buzz word in business. Very few people though are talking about the great disruption - to disrupt yourself. All change is personal first. Leaders not willing to disrupt themselves, their thinking, their whole way of being can't successfully lead in the 21st century.

How are you disrupting yourself?

There's also a lot of talk lately about so-called soft-skills. Seldom being mentioned is what I believe to be the number one soft/people/leadership skill that of self-awareness. Closely following at number two is awareness of others and a willingness to truly feel what others do and be able to hold their perspective in our minds especially when it isn't our perspective.

"As within, so without" has been known for centuries. The great leaders go inside-out. The not so great are trying to go outside-in and that's where their trouble is.

'Why Self-Awareness Is the Secret Weapon for Habit Change' is a great article by Paul Jun about self-disruption and improving self-awareness. I highly recommend it as a great starting place for self-reflection and self-improvement as a leader. You can read Paul's article here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday 18 August 2014

Pastist, Futurist or “Now-ist”?

I meet lots of people living in the past and wondering why the present isn’t what they want. There’s value in the past particularly the defining moments we have experienced, the lessons we learned from them, and how we are living the lessons now. We are who we are now because of who we’ve been. We can’t change the past.

I meet lots of people waiting for the future, predicting it will be better, yet doing little in the now that will create the desired future.

And then I meet people who have mastered the power of now as Eckhart Tolle has called it.

I love this TED talk by Joi Ito about being a Now-ist.

Receiving, Being, Feeling, Seeing, Doing, Knowing/Learning, Giving, in the Now.

There’s nothing quite like it.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 17 August 2014

How do you know what you feel and think?

This Sunday's sparkenation.

For about 20 years I have been writing a minimum of 500 words every day. Some of my work appears in places like this. Most of it I discard. A great outcome of maintaining the discipline to write every day is that I get really clear about what I feel and think which is a key to all aspects of my life.

How do you know what you feel and think?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

“I write so I know what I think”
Larry Gelbart, creator and producer of the record-breaking hit TV show M*A*S*H.

More sparkenations here.

Friday 15 August 2014

Exploding the employee engagement myth

According to a lot of articles and papers I read employee engagement is the number one challenge keeping leaders awake at night.

What is employee engagement?

“William Kahn provided the first formal definition of employee engagement as "the harnessing of organisation members' selves to their work roles; in engagement, people employ and express themselves physically, cognitively, and emotionally during role performances." Kahn (1990).

In 1993, Schmidt et al. proposed a bridge between the pre-existing concept of 'job satisfaction' and employee engagement with the definition: "an employee's involvement with, commitment to, and satisfaction with work. Employee engagement is a part of employee retention." This definition integrates the classic constructs of job satisfaction (Smith et al., 1969), and organizational commitment (Meyer & Allen, 1991).”

I don’t believe any of the above is even close to the mark.

For me employee engagement is an outcome of treating people as they expect to be treated, (Tony Alessandra calls this The Platinum Rule) and helping them to achieve what’s important to them. Engaged people reciprocate by helping your business achieve what’s important to you. 

Three actions you can begin today to increase employee engagement

1) Ask your people for “feedforward” about how you could treat them better.

2) As a part of every day work have conversations with your people about what’s important to them, what’s worth celebrating in their work, and what could be better. 

3) As a collaboration with your employees take immediate and productive action on what you discover. Increased employee engagement will be an outcome.

Trillions of dollars has been spent on employee engagement initiatives with the end result being that employee engagement is no better than when we first started measuring it!

Could it be that we have been measuring the wrong things?

You may need to invest money in taking the suggested actions above. Invest your heart and your energy first, then your money will be well spent. 

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

“In theory there is no difference between theory and practice. In practice there is.”
Yogi Berra

Wednesday 13 August 2014

No news really is good news

I long ago stop watching the nightly news on commercial television. I got tired of their bias. Recently I have stopped watching the news on non-commercial channels too. Every night same old story; who’s killing who, political bias, buffoonery, and blatant lies, what’s bad for you, obligatory stock market report showcasing the greedy on wall street and irrelevant for most on main street. You get the distinct impression that we live in a horrible world. There’s a saying in journalism apparently that says “if it bleeds, it leads”! Well I’ve had enough.

We don’t live in a horrible world. Sure in some places some people are doing horrible things to other humans and our planet. Not in my world.

In my world there is love, kindness and caring. Good news in my world far outweighs the bad. There are many things in my world that I can control; my intentions, feelings, thoughts and actions for starters. And particularly how I see and treat other people.

My world is nothing like the one portrayed on television news every night and in the increasing number of so-called reality shows where reality is actually missing completely.

You like me have a choice about not only what you watch, more importantly you have a choice about who you are, where you live, and what you do or don’t do. Be grateful for these choices.

Feel deeply as I do for all the people in parts of the world, the innocent bystanders caught up in unspeakable violence being perpetrated by the few. Do what you can, yet don’t be bribed by television news or any news that fails to tell all sides of the story or focuses on the bad news.

"There is no way to peace" A.J. Muste wrote “peace is the way.” What I do is travel the road, being civil to everyone I meet, regardless of whether they believe what I do or not.

There is a world beyond beliefs, a world where what we believe is honoured and respected, yet where we can co-exist despite our differences, indeed this is a world where our differences are celebrated. I choose to live in this world. You?

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

"It doesn't take money to turn off the television and cultivate real bonding time."
- Marianne Williamson

Monday 11 August 2014

Are your values on the wall lived in the hall?

“Many of the most high-profile losses of trust have originated with shortcomings in organisational culture and the link between behaviour and values – where responsibility ultimately lies with senior leadership.” CIPD Megatrends Are organisations losing the trust of their workers? Page 17

To stop BS from permeating every nook and cranny decide with your people how your values will be lived and then live them.

And remember knowledge is no longer power. Trust is power.

My Are your values on the wall lived in the hall? story below will help you as may my article Culture is King and Change Leadership is Queen.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 10 August 2014

Be your future you today

This Sunday's sparkenation.

In a note to members of Linchpin Academy recently CEO and my friend Kwai Yu said

“We human beings are endowed with a unique gift of being able to visualise the future and then create it. WHO ARE YOU IN THE FUTURE? Be the future you. NOW!  (I'm not saying this is easy to do). It's a huge challenge to bring the future you to the present.  But that's what you need to do."

Be your future you today.

“Whatever you can do, or dream you can do, begin it.
Boldness has genius, power, and magic in it!”
Goethe or perhaps Scottish mountaineer W.H. Murray

Friday 8 August 2014

7 ways to love your problems - guest post by Charles Kovess

This is a guest post from my friend and colleague Charles Kovess.

You have problems: many of them. How do I know? Because you are reading this Passion Point. Every living person has problems.

The only people with no problems are in cemeteries!

Some people do not like calling them ‘problems’: they prefer challenges, or opportunities, or issues. However, I meet a lot of people in my work, and almost all of them wish they had less ‘problems’.

From previous Passion Points to Ponder, you would know this wonderful principle that I learnt through the work of Dr R. Buckminster Fuller:

“Your reward as a human being for solving problems is not peace, or happiness, or satisfaction: it is bigger problems!”

Just contemplate your life to date: as you have become ever-more competent, the problems you are solving have become more difficult, they have become bigger. When you were 15 years old, handling schoolyard issues and teachers were some of your biggest problems. Now, they would be easy for you to handle, because you have become more capable through solving problems.

So, here are 7 effective and simple ways to learn to love your problems.

1. Choose to love your problems. This is a conscious choice, and is contrary to the way most people think. It requires your deliberate choice. It is not natural. But you attracted your problems, and therefore accept that you deserve them!

2. Understand that it is only through solving problems that you grow and improve. How can you possibly get better if you do the same things every day, that require little thought-power on your part? When you understand the value of your problems, you will start to love them.

3. Understand that your happiness does NOT depend on the absence of problems. Most people think this is so:
“I would be happy, if:
a. my children moved out of the house
b. my salary increased
c. that retirement package comes through.”

You know there are people who are happy. And you know that they MUST have problems. Therefore, it should be obvious to you that you can have problems and be happy at the same time. That is certainly the case with me: I am happy, and I have a tonne of problems.

4. As a corollary to item 3 above, choose to be happy. Choose to adopt a philosophy for your life that ‘my happiness does not depend on external circumstances’. If you are only happy when all your family and friends are happy, or when you have no problems, your life will be quite miserable. My father truly knew that this principle is the secret to happiness, he taught it to me and my family, and I have experienced this to be true.

5. Understand the value of taking responsibility for your life. It is the decisions that YOU made prior to this moment in time when you are reading this Passion Point that created all the circumstances of your life that are now the source of your problems. Taking responsibility is so liberating because it stops you from blaming anybody for any part of your life that you do not like. When you do this, you take back control of your life. Since you are responsible for your problems, you can more easily see that they are part of you, and part of your life journey.

6. Lighten up. Are you taking life too seriously? Do you REALLY think life should be an easy ride, without problems? And so what if you fail in solving your problems? This is a wonderful experience to be alive unless you begrudge the difficult things that you are sometimes required to do.

7. Accept that there may be a spiritual dimension to your life journey, and that your soul has an agenda in place for your physical life; you reach a point of acceptance that ‘whatever will be, will be’. Choose to do your best, and if life does not happen how you think you want it, then turn it over to your soul or spirit and accept the learnings that you are about to have.

Loving your problems is a great way to live. When you are pursuing your passion, you are on a soulful or spiritual journey. It is a different way to live from what you see all around you. Accepting this soulful element will ensure that every morning you get up, you are ready and willing to embrace the problems that are creating your life.


"Success is peace of mind in knowing you did your best."
John Wooden, one of the greatest basketball coaches in USA history.

Are you doing your best, or are you wanting to avoid the problems that will bring out the best in you?

"Failure is only the opportunity to begin again more intelligently."
Henry Ford, creative force in the world’s automobile industry.

Are you limiting your opportunities by seeking to avoid failure?

Find out more about Charles here.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Wednesday 6 August 2014

Fear has a sister and brother - Guilt and Worry

I read Dr. Wayne Dyer’s book ‘Your Erroneous Zones’ at what turned out to be a pivotal point in my life in the early 80’s. In the book he calls guilt and worry the useless emotions and says that neither serves any useful purpose. 

We can’t change the past so clearly feeling guilty about it is pointless.

Worry is a little more complicated because it is based on a fear of things that may happen or may not happen in the future. Worry is pointless too because so many factors are outside of our sphere of influence. All we can do is our personal best in the moment.

Are you letting fear (see my previous post) or guilt or worry hold you back?

Time to let go.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Monday 4 August 2014

Feeling valued, fulfilled and loved are the keys to overcoming your fears

We have 5 basic fears (as illustrated) says Karl Albrecht, Ph.D., in this excellent article which I recommend you carefully read and then consider the following:

In my work with leaders in over 40 countries since 1991 I have learned that the more people feel valued, fulfilled and loved, the simpler the path to higher employee driven engagement and lower employee turnover, both crucial to high-performance cultures. Key consequences are remarkable top and bottom lines, brands that are loved, and organisations making the positive societal and environmental impact that they must.

When people feel valued, fulfilled and loved they are energised, passionate, compassionate, creative, innovative, decisive, enthusiastic, fun to be with, candid, authentic, committed, and accountable. All these are paramount to being highly productive.

In my short white paper about valued, fulfilled and loved I write:

“Most people live in fear.
Most people are frightened of being hurt.
Most people fear they won’t be liked if they take a certain action.
Most people fear losing.
Most people fear the possible consequences of naming the elephant in the room - the obvious truth that is being ignored or going unaddressed.

I drew a laugh recently when someone in a meeting asked me for my thoughts. Without referring to anyone in particular I said “I can’t speak at the moment because the elephant in the room has got her foot on my throat.”

After the laughter died down and a long silence, the person we probably all least expected had the courage to finally name the elephant. Everyone felt better straight away.

I notice over and over that when fear is named it vanishes or at very least we feel able to confront it.

If you want to help people enhance their talents and to perform more consistently at higher levels then help them, support them, encourage them to face their fears.

The opposite of fear is love.

The Ancient Greeks had four words for love. You no doubt know two - eros (romantic love) and agape (love in a spiritual sense). The third is storge, meaning natural affection like parents feel for their children.

The fourth, philia, is the one I find the most insightful. Philia is often translated as affectionate regard or friendship. We need more philia in our organisations.

I find it simple (not always easy) to have affectionate regard for people because I know everyone of us is a one-of-a-kind human being. Only the hardest of heart can’t not love a one-off.

When there is affectionate regard or friendship in our workplaces better performance follows. Usually in my experience very, very quickly."
end of excerpt

How much philia is there in your workplace?

Do the majority of your employees feel valued, fulfilled and loved?

“Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learned here.”
Marianne Williamson


“Be so busy loving your life you have no time for hate, regret or fear.”
Karen Salamansohn

“Never let the sadness of your past and the fear of your future ruin the happiness of your present.”
Source unknown

If you’d like my white paper on feeling valued, fulfilled and loved please email Inside my paper is a simple diagnostic tool you will find valuable.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

Sunday 3 August 2014

Does what your counting add up to who you are?

This Sunday's sparkenation.

Every week I observe people counting and counting on things that are incongruent with who they are.

Does what your counting add up to who you are?

"The real work," Brain Pickings founder Maria Popova says, "is how not to hang your self-worth, your sense of success and merits, the fullness of your heart, and the stability of your soul on numbers."

Maria's 7 learnings well worth your reflection too

"Not everything that can be counted counts, and not everything that counts can be counted."
Albert Einstein

Be the difference you want to see in the world.

More sparkenations here.

Friday 1 August 2014

8 ways to move from Resilience to Remarkable

A client of mine has faced several serious challenges since the GFC. Survival has taken it’s toll on him, his family, and many of his employees.

In a recent conversation I asked him “Do you want to continue to survive or do you want to thrive?” He looked at me perplexed.

I said “I honour your resilience. You will need to remain resilient. The road to thriving requires different feelings in the heart, thoughts in the mind, and different actions than those on the road to surviving.”

My client responded with a look that expressed both relief and anxiety.

We then discussed how his disposition had changed dramatically from the glory days of just a few years ago to the last few years. He had gone from positive to negative, proactive to reactive, creative to conservative.

We talked about how tired everyone had become, the low morale, and the disengagement of many employees.

“We have to change.” my client said with a quiver in his voice. “All change is personal first.” I said.

I am working with my client on 8 ways to move from resilience to remarkable. I have written a white paper about the 8. If you'd like it please email and I will send it to you.

Be the difference you want to see in the world.