Friday 31 May 2019

Role clarity improves well-being, job descriptions don't

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

One of the actions I recommended in last weeks podcast about co-promises was to review your position descriptions and change them to role clarity statements.

Role clarity improves well-being, job descriptions don't

The problem I see with most job descriptions is that they list tasks and say very little about relationships or value delivery which are what every role in your workplace 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.

Every person in your workplace 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.

Recommended Action

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

I’ve helped 100’s of my clients to dispense with job descriptions and replace them with role clarity statements. Below are the headings we use. In conjunction with Performance Possibility Plans, where personal and workplace 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.

Do this work and in the space of a few weeks you can expect greater value being delivered by everyone, meaning happier employees and happier external customers.

What would you and your employees write under these headings?

Workplace or Business Purpose
Role Purpose
Key Accountabilities and Responsibilities
Key Performance Measures and Key Human Indicators (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 at the most.

There's some examples and template at the bottom of this page.

People don't have jobs. We have relationships with other people where value delivery is paramount to the enjoyment of the relationships and the success of workplaces.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 29 May 2019

My Remarkable Workplaces book is ready for you to download

This book is the final in a trilogy that I began writing in April of 2009.

The first book Changing What's Normal was then published in June 2011 and the second The Appreciative Leader in November 2016.

You can download all 3 books and all my resources with my compliments from the one PDF here.

Remarkable Workplaces is my most practical book with high emphasis on who you can become and what you can do next in your own best way to be better, wiser and more valuable.

You can download Remarkable Workplaces and/or order the special, signed, souvenir edition here.

Remarkable Workplaces Executive Summary

The working model

Sparkenator's, 21st century managers and culture champions


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.


Think, read, listen, watch, learn, remember, reason, and pay attention with the never-ending curiosity of a child and the hard-earned wisdom of a grandparent.


My way of making change happen is to use enlightened language that elevates conversations which enrich relationships. You can easily adopt my convention in your own best way.


Our aim in a our work together is to ensure that high levels of self-awareness and awareness of others are a hallmark of your workplace culture.

Compete with yourself

Your only competitor is the person you looked at in the mirror this morning. Your life’s quest is to be the best version of you, the one-of-a-kind human being you are.


“Less But Better” is a great motto for life and work. You become who you focus on being and less but better ensures laser like focus.


Creating and sustaining shared-view (ours) in seven areas of significance (reality, possibility, purpose, strategy, execution, progress and culture) is a consequence of wise, witty and warm communication, powerful presentations and candid, convivial and compassionate conversations.


Opposition, Competition, Us and Them and references to They are all relics of the past. The best present and future are all about Us, We and Embracing Mwe (Me + We = Mwe)


We gather where we feel genuine connection with fellow human beings, and have a sense of belonging, meaning and being cared for.


Our lives are a continuous cycle of living, loving, leading and leaving (our contribution) which result in our legacy.


Enlightened self-interest, sustaining shared-view and noticing (mindfulness) are the essentials of coexistence and living in harmony with one another.


"Making progress in meaningful work visible” is one of the truly great success principles. It is one of the consequences of being deeply connected to fellow human beings.


Our ultimate success depends on fulfilling co-promises that mean people feel valued, live values and that ensure we’re better and wiser in delivering value.

Download Remarkable Workplaces with my compliments and/or order special, signed, souvenir edition here.

Be remarkable.

PS I have places in my schedule to workshop the book with 7 more leadership teams. You must schedule before 30th June 2019 to take up the special investment offer. Please contact me on +61 418 807 898 to explore further.

Monday 27 May 2019

In pursuit of employee fulfillment more than employee engagement

There's a lot of value in this research findings paper from Purpose specialists Imperative.

I think they are right in their assertions that employee fulfillment is a far greater goal than employee engagement and that destiny is in the hands of employees.

I highly recommend downloading, carefully considering this research and taking action.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 24 May 2019

Our ultimate joy comes from fulfilling co-promises

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Co-promises 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

‘The People Centered Economy: The New Ecosystem For Work’ makes my recommended business books to read list. One reason I like this book is that some of it’s authors are technology guru’s. And in the case of one, Vint Cerf, one of the fathers of the Internet.

There’s a link to this book at the Remarkable Workplaces companion resources web page.

I mostly like this book because its focus is on raising the value of people in stark contrast to what most business leaders are trying to do, lower the cost of tasks.

To achieve this most noble of objectives requires not a compromise rather a co-promise. Let me explain:

In the Epilogue of the ‘Changing What’s Normal’ book I said:

“In my year as President of the National Speakers Association of Australia Ltd (NSAA) (now Professional Speakers Australia (PSA)) in 2003/04 I chose Fulfilling Our Promise as my theme.

It was our Association’s 16th year and I determined, after consultation with many members, and untold hours of soul- searching with fellow Board members, that is was time to change what was normal about how our organisation was going to get where we wanted to go.

The process of changing what’s normal became known as Operation Stature reflecting our desire to be an organisation recognised internally and externally as one of stature.”

I learned crucial lessons that year about being a Sparkenator (someone who is on the never-ending journey of being a wise, witty and warm communicator, a trusted adviser, a compassionate coach, a maestro mentor, an engaging and inspiring speaker, a change champion, an appreciative and value driven leader, and a candid, convivial and compassionate conversationalist).

I learned that compromises lead to mediocre performance. It takes a series of co-promises to achieve magnificence.

I was learning the science of quantum leaps in those days. And although I didn’t know it then I was also practicing the art of the aggregation of marginal gains.

Above all I learned that through small yet significant steps and their combining, human capacity is something to treasure and value above everything.

The following is a standout line early in The People Centered Economy book (page 11).

“Human capacity is probably the world’s most underutilized resource, the world’s largest potential market.”

Although I detest referencing humans as resources (or even worse assets or capital!) and breaking everything down to markets or economies I value the sentiment of the wisdom above.

To co-create a Remarkable Workplace requires the majority of your people to be operating at their capacity, i.e. as pictured

The journey to the majority of your people operating at their capacity begins with appreciating their character and is extended through care, compassion, commitment and courage, while improving competency.

A lot of businesses focus is on increasing just competency or skill. Don’t be one of them. Go deeper and tap into the deep humanity of people.

The recommended actions and deep work recommended below will help you.

3 Recommended actions

1) Review your position descriptions and change them to role clarity statements. Make these about relationships and value delivery and not about tasks. Leave tasks to operating manuals and checklists. There’s a template that you can download at the bottom of this webpage.

2) Make sure that all your future recruitment is about hiring people of character, willingness and attitude first and abilities second.

3) Review all your key relationships. Who will you become and what will you do next to be more compassionate and caring?

Recommended deep work

1) As a team complete your Plan and Co-Promises on a page. You can download recommendations and a template at the bottom of this web page.

2) Translate the above into individual Performance Possibility Plan’s (PPP’s). See example of my PPP and a template for you and your colleagues at the above link.

Should you not yet be familiar with PPP’s and their power as conversation focusing tools please reread ‘The Appreciative Leader’ handbook and check out the videos and other resources at the companion resources page to that handbook here.

Please also participate in my online first Monday of the month Maintaining Momentum For Mavericks conversations as I explore PPP’s and related tools regularly.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 22 May 2019

Overcome These 21 Challenges And You Can Achieve Your Best Results

With the change influenced by distraction, disruption and data I've updated my list of what I see are The Top 21 Challenges Stopping You From Achieving Your Best Results in you workplace.

You can download the list and recommended actions here

1. People are distracted by what’s going on outside of the workplace. Smartphone use is the tell tale sign.

2. People are feeling overwhelmed.

3. Bosses wearing busyness as a badge of honour.

4. Bosses believing their way is the only way.

5. Saying people are your number one priority and then behaving as if they’re not.

e.g.  Profit is actually the number one priority in many workplaces. The talk is that they put people first. The walk says otherwise. There are some business owners and leaders who still don’t get that profit is a result of being good at business never a reason for being in business.

6. Unclear or undocumented decision-making process for major decisions meaning non-transparent decisions (and often poor or inappropriate decisions).

7. Majoring in minors.

8. Thinking that sending people off to a course or to take a class is all that is required to tick the learning and development box.

When there’s no follow-up after the above or no integration of the above with what is already working well for you then likely you have wasted your money and insulted your people.

9. Engaging consultants who tell you what you already know or who willingly endorse what the key influencers are saying without questioning their assumptions and premises.

10. Unheeded disruption.

11. Words on walls and/or in glossy documents that proclaim your values and yet in the halls and corridors there is obviously no agreement on the behaviours of how these values are lived.

12. There are processes in existence that make it difficult for people to bring the best version of themselves to their work. (Processes include policies, procedures, practices, philosophies, structures and systems).

13. Leadership hasn’t led to communityship.

 If there’s not an increased sense of belonging by people when leaders leave the room (physically or virtually) then leading is not up to standard.

14. Double standards.

15. Performance ratings and/or appraisals still exist despite overwhelming evidence of their lack of value.

The best time to review performance is immediately after the action. Think what the best sports coaches do. If after-action-reviews are not yet integral to work at your place then begin integrating them today.

16. Performance agreements are not documented.

17. Conversations about performance are focused on the person rather than the problem or the solution.

18. Inequality.

19. Recruiting people to put bums on seats rather than fulfill roles that have been carefully calibrated.

20. Onboarding or induction programs that fail to engage and enable people to literally hit the ground running, bringing their best to their work.

21. Poor or ineffectively considered use of resources - time, energy and money.

The great news is that all of these challenges can be overcome and in 90 days or less. The work required is to change the conversation you and your colleagues are having and then your behaviours. Shifting to new ways of being and doing is simple which rarely means easy

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Download this post and 3 recommended actions for overcoming these challenges.

Monday 20 May 2019

When all the world is like a jazz band

In the car on the way to Ballarat on 29th April 2019 I listened to The Conversation Hour hosted by Jon Faine on ABC radio Melbourne.

Jon's special guest on this day was jazz musician extraordinaire James Morrison.

I almost had to stop the car when I heard James say "if all the world was a jazz band everything would be cool."

I've heard James play live on a couple of occasions. It is an incredible experience.

He went onto to say in this conversation with Jon and other guest about how listening and improvisation are essential in order to play well with other musicians.

What a brilliant insight into living and work well together.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 17 May 2019

Designing and delivering meaningful and valuable work

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Connections 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

We all have needs, expectations and desires (NED’s). We rely heavily on other people to satisfy our NED’s.

In the modern world the quality of the experience/s through which we satisfy our NED’s is paramount.

To thrive in this new world of work it is essential to design your work so that it is meaningful for you and valued by others and then in the words of Steven Farber “do what you love in the service of people who love what you do.”

3 recommended actions

1) Observe your behaviour over the next week. When are you most doing work that is meaningful for you? 

2) How will you do more of this kind of work?

3) Ask the people you work with for feedforward concerning how you deliver what you do to them and modify your actions accordingly.

Recommended deep work

1) Establish a work group to read and discuss Steve Farber’s great book ‘The Radical Leap.’ 

2) With this group enact the Personal Change Journey and coaching and mentoring models that I first explored in ‘The Appreciative Leader’ handbook and pictured below. Get your copy of The Appreciate Leader handbook from the PDF file you download here

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 15 May 2019

Being on the right side of history

I'm hopeful that despite last minute lies, misrepresentation and fake news from their allies in the Press that the current government in Australia is voted out big time this Saturday.

I'm hopeful too that the new PM will emulate Jacinda Ardern, in his own best way, and get us back to being on the right side of history.

Watch her 1 minute and 20 seconds video here.

Be remarkable.

Monday 13 May 2019

An alternative to the so-called fourth industrial revolution

The so-called Fourth Industrial Revolution is an idea that I don't believe in.

It's supporters suggest that The First Revolution was when we shifted to mechanised production, The Second when we shifted to mass production, The Third when digital automates at speed, and The Fourth when technologies mean the lines are blurred between physical and digital. Nothing wrong with these descriptors within themselves.

The reason I don't like the terminology is that first through fourth has meant dehumanisation. We are still recovering from the first in this sense!

In my ebook pictured I offer a different perspective by looking at history through ages namely agricultural, industrial, information and purpose.

This ebook is highly practical.

You'll find it a valuable resource for putting humans first and making sure that technology use is such that it enhances the human experience.

You can download the ebook along with all my resources with my compliments, all from the one PDF which you download here.

Be remarkable.

Friday 10 May 2019

Making meaningful progress visible

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Connections 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

For most of my 48 years working life I’ve observed that in the very best workplaces progress towards shared objectives has been visible via scorecards and/or scoreboards of some kind.

When ‘The Balanced Scorecard’ concept began to be adopted from 1996 not only did the pictures get better, so did what was being pictured.

In the last 8 years there’s been a further raising of the bar as the wisest people apply ‘The Progress Principle’ which was rated by Harvard Business Review as the breakthrough idea of 2010.

You can learn more about ‘The Balanced Scorecard’ and ‘The Progress Principle’ via the companion resources web page to my Remarkable Workplaces book. 

The key for me about ‘The Progress Principle’ is the insight "making progress in meaningful work visible.”

I’ve never thought much of the idea that what gets measured gets done. I’m much more aligned with the following:

“Not everything that counts can be counted, and not everything that can be counted counts.”

William Bruce Cameron in 'Informal Sociology' published 1963.

3 recommended actions

1) Have a candid, convivial and compassionate conversation with your team about your keeping score philosophy.

Ask these questions:

How much is our focus on tangibles or outcomes/results?

How can we get better at focusing on intangibles or processes or routines/rituals, i.e the things that lead to our outcomes/results.

2) Explore "making progress in meaningful work visible” with your team.

How could you embrace it and make it integral to daily work in your workplace?

3) Use visual formats and processes that the people involved relate to

Beyond traffic lights, graphs, thermometers and the like, what visual formats will you use to “making progress in meaningful work visible,” and that people really relate to?

Recommended Deep work

1) Over time create harmony between Key Human Indicators and Key Performance Indicators.

I first learned the phrase Key Human Indicators from futurist Gerd Leonhard.

I also love Gerd’s idea of androrithms "those qualities that makes us human" having more meaning than algorithms.

In my work with clients the behaviours that demonstrate the living of values are key human indicators. Here’s an example from Jamie Wilson, Sales manager for Victoria, Australia for Haymes Paint:

“In all interactions and transactions with fellow employees and business partners we perform with passion, pride in our work, professionalism, and the highest levels of honesty.”

Key Human Indicators are also the essential skills required to thrive in the new world of work.

Below is a partial list of these skills. What would you add to the list?

empathizing, collaborating, creating, leading and building relationships. Source.
Influence, Self-leadership, Communication, Agility, Resilience, Proactivity, Teachability, Curiosity, Vulnerability, Humour. Source.

2) The skills referenced above are all critical to value delivery. What other lead value delivery indicators need to be maximised in your workplace?

The format in which people receive what they want is one such lead indicator.

Elements of your customer’s experience when doing business with you are indicators.

I love the insight that it's jobs being made redundant not people. Learn more about this.

Make a list of the jobs that you believe will never be redundant? What you've listed are a key to value delivery.

Being of value is the great quest we're all on. As Einstein put it:

"Strive not to be a success, but rather to be of value"
Albert Einstein

3) Create and execute a plan over the next year to improve your communication, conversations and presentations in general and the other Sparkenator roles. Include your being better, wiser and more valuable as a Sparkenator in "making progress in meaningful work visible.”

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 8 May 2019

New employees need much more than onboarding

I love this article by Scott Belsky. It's headline 'It’s not enough to hire great people; you need to graft them onto your team.' I agree.

Recruiting/hiring - onboarding - valuing - retaining - succession/departing friends are the five stages of the best employer/employee relationships.

When either an employer or an employee make a mistake in recruiting/hiring it's often not something we recover well from, and yet onboarding is often the weak link in the chain.

Scott puts forward 4 ingredients in his article:
empathy, integration, psychological safety, and communication.

I think all are essential. You?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 6 May 2019

Self-reflection is a key to consistently being the best version of ourselves

Self-awareness is the number one skill of self-governance or self-leadership. Self-reflection is a key way to sustain high levels of self-awareness.

For me personally I still prefer pen and paper as my way to self-reflect, and so I was inspired by this article by my colleague Alicia Curtis.

On reading Alicia's insights who are you inspired to become and what will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 3 May 2019

No more change management or change programs, just follow your change process

Material for today’s podcast is mainly drawn from the Coexistence 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

The secret to leading change and thriving on the challenges of change is following a change process. There's nothing to be gained from trying to manage change or participating in change programs.

Why are we having trouble coexisting in some parts of our world? My short answer is self-interest, self-righteousness, greed, apathy,

Why does us and them still exist in many organisations? My short answer in addition to the above would be change management!

Change management for me is one of the three great oxymorons in business.
The other two are strategic planning and performance management.

Change and performance can’t be managed. They can be led. Your strategy and your execution plan are joined at the hip however they are both very different and must be determined individually.

To sparkenate change we need a change process, not change programs. My change process is pictured below. This was addressed in ‘The Appreciative Leader’ handbook.

There are several exercises in the companion resources web page to the handbook that will help you to master this process or develop and master your own.

Here's the companion resources web page.

My change process is as follows:

My process is adapted from W. Edwards Deming’s work and David Cooperrider’s Appreciative Inquiry.

3 recommended actions

1) Meet with your team and schedule taking the actions relevant to the above change process that are at The Appreciative Leader handbook companion resources web page. You’re looking for the Appreciating what is (Sparkenation 15) and 'Shifting from reality (what is) to Possibility (What Can Be)’ (Sparkenation 16) exercises. Direct link.

2) At a to be scheduled team meeting discuss other uses of the change process or whether or not you should create and use your own process.

3) Choose a theme song for team meetings and always play it at the start of every meeting to get into the state right for the team. Encourage team members to choose songs and regularly change them.

Recommended Deep work

1) Ready and apply in your own best way my ebook ’19 Really Useful Techniques for making difficult conversations history’.

2) Read and apply in your own best way my ebook ‘The great questions remarkable leaders often ask’

3) Decide together as a team how you will incorporate the teachings of the above ebooks in your own best way to uplift your culture.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 1 May 2019

Essential ethics for trustworthy AI

I don't watch reality TV for one simple reason - it's not real.

I've withdrawn a lot from social media for one simple reason - it's increasingly antisocial.

And although I'm fascinated by what technology can make possible I'm worried about AI for three simple reasons - firstly it's artificial!

My main two reasons I have concerns about AI though are that it could threaten humans, and most importantly there's not yet an agreed ethical framework for it's development.

I read this Ethical Guidelines for trustworthy AI from the European Commission with great interest.

There's also a great podcast with futurist Gerd Leonhard here.

I highly recommended his book too.

The book makes my top 21 recommended list.

Finally a very valuable website is The Ethics Centre.

Your thoughts?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.