Friday 29 March 2019

Communication part 2. Matching conversation type to situation 

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Communication sparkenation of my Remarkable Workplaces book.

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

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

In a nutshell

Being a positive and productive influence for others has much to do with building and sustaining high value, mutually rewarding relationships.

A key component is seeing/hearing behaviour (acceptable and not), calling both out and facilitating conversations that appreciate acceptable behaviour, help people to be accountable when there's been slippage, and sustain or restore alignment.

Post these conversations it's important to document agreements and how progress will be made visible.

Mastery of 8 styles of conversations (includes communication in general as well as presentations) and 7 situations are essential for success.

These 15 elements are the subject matter for my ebook Communication, Presentations and Conversations That Sustain Remarkable Businesses which you downloaded as The Essential Conversations Matrix in the Compete with yourself sparkenation.

3 recommended actions

1) Download the ebook above if you haven’t already. Commit to mastering each of the elements. You'll find this ebook at Sparkenation 5 in the companion resources web page to my Remarkable Workplaces book.

2) Undertake the performance possibility pulse check inside the ebook involving as many people who you work closely with and who know you well.

3) Commit to undertaking the pulse check regularly and sharing it and your proposed actions with your colleagues.

Recommended deep work

1) Commit to formal learning each year that means your continually improving your communication, presentation and conversation attitude and skills.

2) Work with mentors both inside and external to your workplace who will help you to apply your formal learning.

3) Become a communication, presentation and conversation mentor yourself to people inside and external to your workplace.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 27 March 2019

Your best answers depend on the beauty of your questions

This is the book I'm currently studying.

It's titled well because inside are some truly beautiful questions.

Below are the author's five all purpose questions for better thinking that I really like.

How can I see this with fresh eyes?

What might I be assuming?

Am I rushing to judgement?

What am I missing?

What matters most?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 25 March 2019

Harmony Matters was my first email address. It still works albeit being a tad unreliable and so I'm fazing out its use.

My very first newsletter for my clients, way back in 1991, was called 'Harmony Matters.'

For me harmony matters. It's the foundation for being the best version of myself and living my best life.

Like you I sometimes feel surrounded by disharmony a noun simply meaning lack of harmony or agreement.

I find the many synonyms for disharmony revealing. They include discord, friction, strife, conflict, hostility, acrimony, bad blood, bad feeling, enmity, dissension, disagreement, feuding, quarrelling, disunity, division, divisiveness, informal falling-out, disaccord, discordance.

Think politics, religion and most of the institutions the conservatives are desperately trying to hang onto because they are the source of their power.

I picture disharmony thus

In his great book 'Metaskills' Marty Neumeier says "Reject the tyranny of or and embrace the genius of and. Leave the sides behind, Look for a third alternative based on common-ground instead of compromise."

You only need to think of BREXIT for a second to realise the futility of compromise. 

Co-promise on the other hand fills us with the joy of infinite possibilities which of course is the land of quantum physics. In a word it's harmony!

Co-promise is the final sparkenation in my book 'Remarkable Workplaces'.

I picture harmony thus

We need to sustain shared-view in seven areas of significance. View the seven short videos and complete the diagnostic here.

In 'Metaskills' Marty Neumeier says "Politics, goes the conventional wisdom, is the art of compromise. Unfortunately, this is true. With dichotomous decisions, there are only three possible outcomes: win-lose, lose-win, or compromise. None of these is optimal, and all can lead to gridlock."

Disharmony is the no man's land between what is and what can be. 

See this tension, confusion, doubt, danger, conflict, difficulty or disagreement as your great opportunity.

What are the lessons of all the above for your workplace?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Harmony Matters!

Be remarkable.

Friday 22 March 2019

Communication part 1. Asking the great questions essential for sustaining shared-view

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Communication sparkenation of my Remarkable Workplaces book.

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

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

In a nutshell

Most of our troubles, personal, local, organisational, national, and international, are fundamentally based in our perceived need to hang onto the world in here (my view), our issues with the world out there (other people's views), and, our failure to focus more on the world we share (ours).

The exciting news is that when we find and sustain shared-view (ours) we can triumph over all our troubles.

In business it's essential to sustain shared-view in 7 areas of significance. 

Do so and I can guarantee you better business results at less human and operating costs.

Below are the 7.  

Here's short videos on each of the 7 and more including a simple diagnostic

1. Where are you now (reality)?
2. Where are you going (possibility)?
3. Why are you going there (purpose)?
4. How will you get there (strategy)?
5. Who will do what and when (execution)?
6. How will you know you're on track (progress)?
7. How will you behave along the way (culture)?

To best answer these questions I recommend a process which in part means asking more questions.

The fertile ground is determining what question to ask through carefully assessing the situation and therefore ensuring your question is in the right context.  The right question in the wrong context can cause trouble!  Ploughing the ground is then to ask the question. Seeding is being silent yet completely attentive while the person or people answer your question. The nurturing lies in how well you acknowledge their answers.

The cycle is complete (harvest) when you align answers with who people will become and what they will do next to implement their answers and/or integrate their answers with what is already working for them.

3 recommended actions

1) Download and complete the 7 areas of shared-view diagnostic here.

Undertaking this exercise yourself will give context to all that follows. A strong suggestion would be to ask each member of your team to complete the diagnostic and indicate each of their answers on one form. This will pave the way for great conversation leading to shared-view.

2) Participants in the master-class that I conducted to develop some of this material participants answered the following two questions:

What’s the greatest question you’ve ever been asked?

And what’s the greatest question you’ve asked somebody else?

What are your answers?

My favourite answer was one from a female participant who challenged one of her bosses with Would you talk like that to your sister?

3) We also had great conversation in the master-class around the following quote: 

"In leadership the conversation isn't about the work,
the conversation is the work."
David Whyte

What are your thoughts? Who can you become and what will you do next to embrace these concepts?

Recommended deep work

1) Access the companion resources web page to my Remarkable Workplaces book and download and use 'The great questions remarkable leaders often ask' ebook.

2) Over time develop a set of questions you can ask at appropriate times. I have a list of over 100 questions that I have tried, tested and proven. I simply wait for the right context to use them. 

Usually I invest a great deal of time and energy contemplating which is the best question that will help this person be the best version of themselves.

3) Regularly take courses or participate in programs that will help you to continuously better your language, communication, presentation and conversation skills and attitudes.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 20 March 2019

Stop saying burnout

I love this video.

What are the lessons for you and your business from this video.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 18 March 2019

Faith without works is dead

"I think the nation is traumatised, I think Catholics are traumatised. I have long lost faith in the institution of the Catholic Church. And I mourn the loss of my faith community. But I made a decision a few years ago that I could not, as a lay person, continue to prop up a failing and decaying institution with my voluntary labour and my money.”
Labor senator Kristina Keneally, as quoted By Neil McMahon March 5, 2019 Sydney Morning Herald

In the light of the criminal conviction of Australia’s most senior Catholic I suspect a lot of people feel like Kristina Keneally.

For me I haven’t changed my view. I’m still totally against religion.

I am supportive though of people who wish to have a faith. I think the institutions and organisations associated with them are the problem.

Religion is the man made (literally men and usually old men) dogma and doctrines.

"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen."
Book of Hebrews chapter 11 verse 1 New King James Version of the Bible

In the case of the Catholic Church they have had 21 major meetings of their hierarchy over the past 1900 years. You could fill a major library with the written decisions of these meetings. These are in stark contrast to the approximately 2000 words of Jesus Christ recorded in the bible.

I am against religion because of the associated violence over hundreds of years and sexual and emotional abuse as well as the cover up of it.

I am against religion because of the influence their men are allowed to have on our politicians many of whom support the institutions.

I believe it is time to end the church as an institution and return the unbelievable wealth and properties to people of faith.

Let the church be self-governed by laity and get rid of all the hierarchy and people who make up the dogma and doctrine to suit themselves.

“For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”
Book of James chapter 2 verse 26 New King James Version of the Bible

The church has fallen on its own sword. Time to end it.

“Imagine there's no heaven
It's easy if you try
No hell below us
Above us, only sky
Imagine all the people living for today.

Imagine there's no countries
It isn't hard to do
Nothing to kill or die for
And no religion too
Imagine all the people living life in peace”
John Lennon

Be remarkable.

Friday 15 March 2019

You get what you focus on

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Concentration sparkenation of my Remarkable Workplaces book. Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what’s normal.

I was raised with the principle "you reap what you sow". One of my grandfathers taught me that the law of the farm is a very valuable metaphor and operating system for all of life.

For getting what you want Fertile Ground - Embrace 'essentialism', Ploughing - Choose one-thing, Seeding -Stretch your mind, Nurturing - Create and Take, Harvest - Integrate.

I’m often asked what do I focus on or how do I maintain focus. The context is usually a conversation about all the distractions, shiny objects and the myriad of choices we are all confronted with. 

My answer is always to concentrate on being better, wiser and more valuable and helping other people to do likewise in their own best way.

When I’m faced with a choice I quickly (mostly silently) ask will this lead to being better, wiser or more valuable? If the answer is no then the choice is obvious. I recommend this practice to you..

I engaged Nick Haines and Matthew Newnham from Five Institute as my mentors for about a year in 2015/16.

'Essentialism' was a book they recommended. There’s a link to this book at the companion resources web page to Remarkable Workplaces.

I have since integrated the central philosophy of "less but better" into my whole life (it's a work in progress!) in conjunction with Cal Newport’s deep work as previously referenced.

Working with Nick and Matthew also highlighted the fact that I was offering too much at once to my clients and particularly prospective clients. They suggested a "less but better" way was only offering one-thing at a time. This fitted perfectly with my use of the science of quantum leaps.

Fascinatingly I was blinded to this in my work offerings and so this became a very large FBO (flash of the bloody obvious).

The above work helped to quiet my mind and as well as stretch it. I also began to revisit some of Glenn Capelli’s thinking insights.

All of the above has been instrumental too in helping me to integrate change in my own life as well as help my clients to integrate their learnings with what is already working well for them.

3 recommended actions

1) Choose one of the 'Essentialist' ways of being every month and integrate each into your life and work.

2) Do some activity every day that will stretch your mind.

3) Fully embrace the science of quantum leaps and The Aggregation of Marginal Gains in all your becoming and all your doing.

The great thing about living your life as a series of quantum leaps and then combining them for overall improvement is that when you have missteps, make mistakes and encounter mayhem, you can move on armed with new learning literally in the next moment.

Recommended Deep work

1) Contact Glenn Capelli and get your personal copy of his book 'Thinking Caps' and work your way through each section.

In the context of pursuing daily being better, wiser and more valuable (Concentration) I recommend the concepts of kaizen and widezen, pages 81 - 89, as a great place to start.

2) Make it your personal mission to keep your mind agile. And nurture taking an agile mindset into everything you do in your life.

The ‘How Leaders Can Improve Their Thinking Agility’ article by Jesse Sostrin for Strategy + Business may help. I personally like their model used.

3) Create a process where you will always integrate new learning with what you're already doing that is working well for you.

Your use of the Plan and co-promises on a page referenced at the end of this workbook is a great tool for this. Download here.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 13 March 2019

Book review of 'No More Feedback' by Carol Sanford

This book makes my top 21 recommended business books because it is a very well argued case against the very common and defended practice of feedback.

For many years now I have called feedback the least most valuable of conversation and communication tools.

I personally only value feedback when it comes from people I trust and when I have asked for it.

Carol Sanford goes a lot further saying and demonstrating why feedback is actually a toxic practice that comes from a machine rather than human standpoint.

I love Carol's book and the many practices it suggests. In particular I loved the idea of self-governance, what I call compete with yourself, as a way forward to greater accountability and purpose driven organisations.

Carol suggests self-governance comes from the development of three core capacities. These are pictured below along with Carol's explanation of each one.

"Locus of control
…the degree to which we experience and exercise control over our own lives, particularly on direction of our self-development and our resilience to adversity.

Scope of considering
… what we take into account in our actions and endeavours, especially in relation to other people and living beings.

Source of agency
… where we find authority for our initiative or actions. The more we are able to direct ourselves, the better our capability to connect to larger systems and help actualise them."

I highly recommend the development of the above as part of your ongoing work.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 11 March 2019

Reasons, Relationships, and Routines Guarantee Results

I recently updated my one page rituals document. Please download it.

Rituals is another word for routines or standards. I update mine a least every quarter.

Reasons, Relationships, and Routines Guarantee Results.

I created a short complimentary online course for you on this with videos and a workbook.
Start the course.

Be remarkable.

Friday 8 March 2019

The best future has much to do with self-governance - compete with yourself

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Compete with yourself sparkenation of my Remarkable Workplaces book. Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what’s normal.

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

Do you want increased personal accountability in your workplace?

My guess is you answered yes.

My current reading is this excellent Carol Sanford work.

Carol makes a very compelling case that most feedback we receive from other people is toxic.

One of her premises for changing this is self-governance and helping people to do this well.

There’s many ways to increasing accountability. Helping your employees to be more self-governed is one way.

I’ve been helping my clients with this for 25 years. It’s a process I call it compete with yourself.

In a nutshell

We start comparing ourselves to others very early in our lives. Doing so is a journey to dissatisfaction, unhappiness and mediocrity.

We are all unique. We are not comparable to anybody else.

Not a single duplicate in the 100 billion lives that have walked planet earth.

The quest is to become the best version of our one-of-a-kind selves. This means we must continually compete with ourselves.

You are accountable for your intentions, feelings, thoughts, actions/behaviours, never anyone else’s.

3 Recommended Actions

1) Create a profile of what the best version of you looks like on one page.

First create a picture of what remarkable looks like for you.

Remarkable people don’t bully others.

Remarkable people don’t show their lack of intelligence by being violent towards others.

Remarkable people respect views and opinions that are different to theirs.

Remarkable people are passionate and persuasive yet never arrogant enough to think and act as if their way is the only way.

Remarkable people have ditched dogma and instead lead by example.

Remarkable people are not attached to their ideology, belief system, or political party bias, instead they debate ideas and then collaborate to achieve what really is good for humanity.

Remarkable people have roles not jobs. They understand that jobs are part of roles and that all roles are about relationships and delivering value to others as perceived by them.

Remarkable people are candid and authentic. They say what they mean and mean what they say.

Remarkable people promise big and deliver.

Remarkable people do their deep personal work and show it through their acute self-awareness, and therefore their willingness and ability to be highly aware of others.

When remarkable people are in the room, they’re in the room (thank you Nigel Risner).

Remarkable people share powerful stories, the kind that others can see and feel themselves in.

Remarkable people co-create cultures of candour where elephants in the room are named, and closets are absent of skeletons.

Remarkable people tell the truth as they see it, yet never in ways that are a put down of others.

Remarkable people ... Please insert your thoughts.

Now create your one page. Start with putting your name on the top, today’s date and the heading I am remarkable when

To help you to live your one page choose a theme song for competing with yourself and play it regularly to help you to get into the state right for you.

2) Write down what you stand for

Below are two examples to help you, my own and my client Jamie Wilson.

What I stand for - Ian Berry

The change I’m seeking to make with you are shifts in being, feeling, thinking and doing that mean the maximum number of people in your workplace feel valued, live values and are delivering value.

Homes, workplaces and third places where it’s standard practice for people to feel heard, understood and appreciated. Therefore I stand for:

1) People being willing and able to have the candid, convivial and compassionate conversations essential for other people to feel valued, live values and deliver value.

2) Every person having continuous opportunities to be the best version of themselves and to do work that is meaningful for them and highly valuable for others.

3) Sparkenators inspiring, reminding and persuading others to be and do as above.

What I stand for - Jamie Wilson

I stand for OUR People, OUR Team. Our people should not be managed, they should be lead, guided and encouraged to prosper, achieve and be their best.

Business objectives are achieved as a consequence of individuals achieving their objectives

We need to manage processes, procedures, policies, practices and systems to ensure our people can deliver their and our objectives

I stand for OUR culture. A culture that everyone invests into and leads from example and owns their unique piece of it

I stand for communication improvements across all areas of the business. We are the BEST at what we do, lets not let this bring us down


Now go create your own. Clue: What you stand for is the change you want to see/make happen.

3) Develop and stick to a one page for your rituals or standards

You can download my one page via the companion resources web page to my Remarkable Workplaces book (See link just under Compete With Yourself).

Use it as a guide to create your own.

Recommended Deep work

There are 3 areas I recommend you focus your deep work on.

1) Regularly transform yourself by undertaking the compete with yourself exercise which you will find at the companion resources web page (see link above) (it’s in the short and succinct Reasons, Relationships, and Routines Guarantee Results Course).

2) Discover, unleash and enhance your own and other people’s gifts. I believe this is the number one role of leadership.

3) Get better everyday at engaging in candid, convivial and compassionate conversations with fellow humans.

Should you not yet be familiar with the Enhancing Your (Their) Gifts concept you’ll find links at the this web page. 

You will also find at the link above content to consider about conversations. It is key from a self-governance perspective and therefore competing with yourself that you master all conversations in the essential conversations matrix you'll see at the link.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 6 March 2019

Book review of 'Brave New Work' by Aaron Dignan

This is a profound book.

I read it in one sitting and then studied it carefully for many hours.

It makes my top 21 recommended business books list.

I love this book because it's content is what we need to embrace in order to thrive in the new world of work.

I believe that applying the lessons in the book in our own best way will allow us to finally get rid of the dehumanisation and bureaucracy hangovers of scientific management and the Industrial Revolution.

I particularly like the concepts of evolutionary organisations needing to be people positive and complexity conscious which Aaron explains brilliantly with sound research, examples and metaphors.

I also agree with Aaron that we have an operating system challenge. This has been my own personal work since 1991. The 12 chapters in Aaron's own operating system example have a great layout namely thought starters, Questions on, what does it mean to be people positive about insert subject and what does it mean to be complexity conscious about insert subject.

Part three of the book is a how to and details how to use what Aaron call's patterns, rather than steps of which there are six. I love these because they evoke self-discovery and action rather than a prescription so many management consultants provide.

I also loved the proposed practices in part three.

All up a wonderful book for anyone wanting to do brave, meaningful for you work that not just provides value for others, yet also contribute to world changes we desperately need.

Be remarkable.

Monday 4 March 2019

Your rituals, rhythm and routines are key to your success in this the year of the earth pig

After listening to this webinar with Chinese philosophy expert Nick Haines on 9th February 2019 I upgraded my rituals one page pictured and which you can download here. I recommended creating your own rituals one page.

Since the 9th February I have been diligent (another great action in the year of the Earth pig according to Nick) in following my one page. I was out of my rhythm a little and glad it's now restored.

We each have our own rhythm. It's very easy to lose it or being inadvertently put off it.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 1 March 2019

The simplest, most profound way to get what you want

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

Today’s podcast is from the Consciousness sparkenation of my Remarkable Workplaces book. Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what’s normal.

In a nutshell

A defining moment occurred in my life as I left hospital following a life-saving operation over 40 years ago. I share my experience via a short video (‘Don’t die with your music locked in you’) that you will find under Sparkenation 4. Consciousness here.

I was to go on and discover that the number one skill of being the best version of ourselves is self-awareness. And the number two skill is awareness of others.

A key to both is unlocking our music i.e. our unique gifts and talents and helping other people to be and do the same.

There’s nothing quite like a human being who is fully alive as we explored in last week’s podcast. The five faces overviewed there are one way to establish that your own and/or someone else’s music is unlocked. I’ll suggest a few more ways at the end of this podcast.

Self-awareness and Awareness of others is a pre-curser to genuine empathy which in turn precedes helping others to achieve what’s valued by them.

The key consequence of ESI (enlightened self-interest) is that you will achieve what you value.

 “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.” Zig Ziglar

3 recommended actions

Meet with your team to discuss the insights below and to answer the questions.

What Employees Really Want From Employers (from my research over the past two decades)

Appreciation. The eminent psychologist William James observed: “The deepest craving of human nature is the need to be appreciated.” 
To be held to account via regular, constructive performance feedforward and feedback 
Opportunity to master something
Role satisfaction 
A feeling that their work contributes to a higher purpose 
Knowing that their work is helping them to achieve their aspirations
Open, regular, truthful, information gathering and sharing
Remuneration perceived to be at least equal to effort
Trust and trustworthiness
Happy and healthy working environment
Fairness in all dealings

Hope for the future

How well are you providing your employees with the above? 

How can you do better?

Would you add anything to my list?

What Employees Really Want From Each Other (from my research over the past two decades)

Goal and strategy alignment 
Promises kept 
Open communication 
Understanding of personal needs 
Trust, trustworthiness, and confidence 
Appreciation, support and encouragement 
Sense of family 
Acceptance of the merit of ideas

Mutual respect 

How well are your employees providing each other with the above? 

How can your employees do better?

Would your employees add anything to my list?

What customers/clients really want

Geoffrey James has sold and written hundreds of features, articles and columns for many publications including Wired, Men's Health, Business 2.0, SellingPower, Brand World, Computer Gaming World, CIO, The New York Times.

Geoffrey believes all customers want the same 12 things, regardless of who they are, who is selling to them or what they’re buying.

In my work over the past 28 years I would concur with every one of these.

 They want to feel important.
 They want to be appreciated.
 They want you to stop talking about yourself.
 They want you to stop talking about your firm.
 They want you to truly listen.
 They want to be understood.
 They want to teach YOU something.
 They want and need your help.
 They want to buy something.
 They want you to delight and surprise them.
 They want to pretend they make logical decisions.
 They want success and happiness.

On a scale of 1 - 10 with 10 being remarkable how well are you delivering on the above 12?

How can you and your employees do better?

Would you add anything to Geoffrey’s list?

Recommended deep work 

1) Seeing people as they can be is the first step to helping people to discover their unique music/gifts/talents.

My ‘You’re Special’ story illustrates how I believe we should see and treat people.

Schedule a session just for the purpose of watching the video of this story at the companion resources web page and answer the following questions:

Share with your team what you feel is special about you and What you love to do that you are good at?

Ask each member of your team to share as you did.

Have a candid, convivial and compassionate conversation about how much you are all doing what you love to do, and that they are good at. How could you increase this?

What processes (and policies, procedures, practices, and systems) would you need to have in place in your workplace to ensure that you and all of your people are continually enhancing what you love to do and are good at?

2) Pay careful attention to defining moments in your life and in the lives of other people.

Defining moments are those times that make or break a situation or sustain the status quo.

From defining moments emerge stories, those we share and those we tell ourselves.

Know the stories you are telling yourself and that other people are telling themselves. To improve performance change your stories and help other people to change theirs.

There’s a back story to everything. When something happens we all play a story or stories we made up and act them out as part of our response/reaction to situations.

Sharing stories and helping each other to change the stories we tell ourselves are not just a key to music/gift/talents enhancement, they are also key to developing high value and mutually rewarding relationships because trust is an outcome.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.