Wednesday 31 July 2019

Dark Emu - the truth about our first people

This book makes you cry at the injustices done to the first peoples here in Australia.

I understand it's a similar story for first peoples in other countries.

It turns out that the first peoples here were not the uncivilised savages we were taught that they were in school.

In fact the truth is the Aboriginals were the civilised ones!

The ways of the Colonists were backward compared to the Aboriginals.

The Colonists quickly destroyed the environment that had existed for 60,000 years plus. They're still doing it and the stench of their self-righteousness lingers.

My loathing of religious dogma and doctrine has increased. As it has for missionaries.

My respect for people able to live their faith without the dogma and doctrine has also increased particularly when they are able to live in harmony with people who do not share their beliefs as well as respecting different beliefs.

“Those preferring to rest an argument on relative morality should examine the religion and morality of Indigenous Australians and then compare it to those who murdered them in the 1800s and those who try to excuse or deny it today.”
Bruce Pascoe in Convincing Ground

"If we look at the evidence ... Aboriginal people did build houses, did build dams, did sow, irrigate and till the land, did alter the course of rivers, did sew their clothes, and did construct a system of pan-continental government that generated peace and prosperity, then it is likely we will admire and love our land all the more."
Bruce Pascoe in Dark Emu

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 29 July 2019

Celebrating your own and everyone else's music

Music is a wonderful metaphor for talent or gift. I'm very grateful that I learned this a long time ago as I explore in the short video below.

Sometimes we can't hear our own music and just need to stop and be still and silent until it returns.

Sometimes we're afraid to dance to our own music and need to forget about what other people might think and just go for it.

Sometimes we're so wrapped up in our own music that we can't hear anyone else's. Personal time is essential for well-being yet most of the time we are living our lives with others.

Are you celebrating every day your music/talents/gifts?

Are you celebrating every one else's?

It some times seems like the world is all about either/or. In truth it's never about this or that rather our quest is to fully appreciate difference and live our lives embracing both/and.

As the great jazz musician James Morrison says In order to play well with others we must listen and improvise.

Here's three suggestions for celebrating you own and everyone else's music

1) Choose a theme song for
your life,
your work,
your projects,
your team,
whatever you wish.

Change your theme song regularly to match the seasons or whatever. In your teams and communities let others choose the themes as often as you do.

2) Think about the words of your favourite songs. What was the songwriter feeling and thinking when they wrote the song? What do the words mean to you, your loved one's, friends, colleagues?
Have informal conversations about what the words mean.

3) To further unearth, unleash and enhance your music/talents/gifts what ritual will you build into your weekly, monthly, and quarterly routines to ensure you are always becoming more of whom you are capable of becoming?

Be remarkable.

Friday 26 July 2019

Meetings that actually matter part six - integration with what is already working

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

This is part six of 7.

Here's part one about value delivery.

Here's part two about Sparkenation Conversations (every day innovation).

Here's part three about learning and development.

Here's part four Sparkenators, 21st century managers and culture champions.

Here's part five after-action-reviews.

Our subject today is integration of new perceptions with what is already working well for you.

I’m staggered by the number of organisations who invest a lot of money in doing surveys and then do nothing with the results. Data without action is useless data.

I’m equally staggered by the number of organisations who learn new things yet fail to integrate the new with what is already working well.

I do a lot of integration work with my clients. I've learned that integration work must be done well with great care and skill so that no undue stress is placed on your systems and structures and so that people who didn’t participate in developing the new can feel a sense of belonging and have eventual ownership too.

I’ve developed two specific processes for integration work.

Firstly there’s working out who should be engaged in the work. Here's the one-page planner I use for this action and the second action described below.

Once you decided who should be engaged you then hold an execution planning meeting with these people. This meeting ends with the completion of action ready reckoner one-page which you then use for follow-through apprecation and accountability conversations.  

The Action Ready Reckoner's headings are:

Following project management principles are key to successful integration work.

There are accepted principles of project management. The seven areas of significance in my shared-view approach mirror such principles so they can be easily utilised.

The accepted principles are:

1: Vision and Mission. 
2: Personal and Business Objectives. 
3: Standards of Engagement. 
4: Strategy and Execution Plans. 
5: Organisational Alignment. 
6: Measurement and Accountability.

There are also accepted principles of business process improvement that are also key to successful integration work. My top 5 are:

1. It’s all about people and making it as simple as possible for them to bring the best version of themselves to their work
2. Must be performance driven.
3. Change decisions must align to value delivery of all stakeholders.
4. Initiatives must be repeatable and owned by the people doing the work. 
5. All change is in itself a process, not a program.

My recommended action is that you download the one-page planner and get started on your first piece of integration work. 

Of course you would need the details of your latest after-action-review to begin this work. After-action reviews were addressed in last weeks podcast and blog post.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 24 July 2019

How we treat our elders is a sign of our own destiny

In Australia right now there's a Royal Commission into Aged Care happening. Some of the findings about the poor treatment of some of our Elders is appalling.

I believe that how we treat our elders is a sign of our own destiny!

In the workplace there's evidence that employing older people actually helps employee retention.

Here's a nice piece from this article '5 reasons you why you should hire mature-age workers' by Rosie Cairnes of Skillsoft for Business Insider.

"Retention saves money. Often businesses are afraid to hire someone on the verge of retirement because they are trying to improve retention, but loyalty is now a fading phenomenon.

Chances are a 60-year old worker is more likely to stay with your organisation for five years than a 25-year old thinking about travel, starting a family or moving interstate – particularly if that employee truly enjoys working and does not want to retire.

To improve retention, businesses should be opening their doors people of all ages and backgrounds and investing in their development and wellbeing."

Creating an alumni for long term workers/members is another key retention strategy.

Key actions 

1) How can you do better in your workplace to tap into the wisdom of older workers?

2) What can you do more and less of in your communities to best respect and honour older people and makes use of their wisdom?

Be remarkable.

Monday 22 July 2019

The start of the future of work

I like this video by Jonathan from Refound

There are three powerful lessons I've learned from doing the work Jonathan is speaking about for over 30 years. The most successful and profitable workplaces:

1. Put their people first and ensure they are working in the right roles for them.
2. Have strong processes that make it simple for their people to bring the best version of themselves to their work every day.
3. View profit as an outcome of being remarkable at both of the above.

I can help you to do this in your business.

Contact me at +61 418 807 898  to discuss your situation and to see if we’re a good fit.

Be remarkable.

Friday 19 July 2019

Meetings that actually matter part five - after-action-review

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

This is part five of 7.

Here's part one about value delivery.

Here's part two about Sparkenation Conversations (every day innovation).

Here's part three about learning and development.

Here's part four Sparkenators, 21st century managers and culture champions.

Today I’m exploring after-action-reviews.

After-action-reviews are a game-changer because while every detail is still fresh in people’s hearts and minds is really the only time to effectively review performance.

This is why all the great sports coaches get their teams in the room privately straight after the game and before they speak with anyone else.

Of course on the training track during the week videos are being reviewed to increase the value of immediate after-action reviews.

After-action reviews are part of stage 4 in my mother model for achieving your best results at the least human and business costs.

After-action-reviews are both formal and informal meetings.

I recommend the following 5 stage format for both.

1) Review one action at a time and answer the following questions what happened and why? what did we learn, relearn, and unlearn? How can we be better, wiser and more valuable in applying these learnings? Who will we become? What will we do next?

2) Determine with your colleagues how your answers will be integrated with what is already working well for you.

3) Upgrade your individual, team and organisational plans and co-promises on a page accordingly.

4) Reflect new perceptions in appropriate standard operating procedures, policies and practices.

5) Upgrade learning and development materials.

There you have it. The sooner you begin to adopt this 5 stage format in your own best way the sooner you will be celebrating your best ever results.

Do Your Work.

Should you love some help please contact me on +61 418 807 898.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 17 July 2019

Busyness is bad for your health and what to do about it

Ask a lot of people how they're going? and they'll answer, busy!

My favourite answer that I've heard "I'm flat out like a lizard drinking."


Busyness is bad for your health.

And yet I meet Bosses wearing busyness as a badge of honour.

This is actually one of 21 challenges that I believe need to be overcome in order to produce your best results. Here's the full 21.

Are you caught in the busyness trap? Here are some of the tell tale signs:

* Problem Solving & Decision Making processes not being followed.
* Decisions being continually revisited.
* Documentation is produced in lieu of action.
* Meetings occur with key players absent.
* Meetings have no agendas.
* Meetings are poorly conducted.
* Whiteboards full.
* Diaries full.
* Inbox full.
* Negative body language of staff.
* Confusion between what information should be shared and what doesn't need to be.

I could go on and on.

Here are 10 actions to take that I know will ensure you are not bound by busyness:

1. Educate yourself and others that communication requires both sending and receiving and results in agreement even if it is agreeing to disagree. Information sharing on the other the other hand is one way.

2. Refuse to attend meetings where there is no agenda available well in advance. Don’t discuss anything not on the agenda when you're in the actual meeting.

3. Review your efficiency and effectiveness weekly, monthly, fortnightly, quarterly, and yearly. A great way to be disciplined is to create and follow a rituals document like mine here.

4. Set aside time each week to do nothing. I sit under a tree somewhere for four hours per week. It is amazing how refreshed we can feel just by doing nothing.

5. Get your leadership (people) and management (process) harmony right for you. For some of us it is 80% leadership and 20% management, for others the other way round, and many other combinations. Remember leadership is about people and effectiveness. Management is about processes and efficiency. Leadership is art, management a practice. The two must be in harmony for us to be the best we can be.

6. Do not tolerate negativity in any shape or form.

7. Block out a lot of space in your diary and/or rituals document where nothing is planned. You will be astounded at how much more effective you become when your diary is no longer full.

8. Work on things that are important and urgent. Forget the rest.

9. Celebrate process more than outcome.

10. Spend time with positive children as often as possible. They have an amazing sense of self, initiative, curiosity, creativity and wonder.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 15 July 2019

Why TED Talks don't change people's behaviors: Tom Asacker

There's a lot to love about this TEDx talk by Tom Asacker.

I particularly loved the insight Tom shared from screenwriter Robert McKee:
Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Friday 12 July 2019

Meetings that actually matter part four - Sparkenators, 21st century managers and culture champions

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

This is part four of 7.

Here's part one about value delivery.

Here's part two about Sparkenation Conversations (every day innovation).

Here's part three about learning and development.

Today I’m exploring Sparkenators, 21st century managers and culture champions meetings.

Much has changed since I first left the corporate world in 1991 and set out on my own as a mentor for business owners and leaders.

One of the actions that I took early on was to declare management dead. I received mostly negative feedback apart from a handful of people.

As I look back I’m glad I took what was then a very counter to conventional wisdom position. It helped to establish myself as a contrarian thinker which is still one of the reasons the right people for me come to me today.

I’ve also discovered that conventional wisdom usually isn’t wise!

I’d long felt back in 1991 that the old command and control management, a hangover from the industrial revolution, was actually bad for people.

Now sure command and control has its place in life and death matters. As a general rule though management of people is long past its used by date.

Even Peter Drucker, the so-called Father of management, was on the record as saying that the task was not to manage people rather to lead people.

As far back as the 1920’s Mary Parker Follett had declared that the purpose of leadership was to create more leaders.

Yet the status quo held sway. Even today there are bosses hanging on to people management.

Leadership is also in crisis today. Many religious, political and business leaders are giving it a bad name from their complete failure to lead us.

So in my view alternatives are much needed. In the research and writing of my Remarkable Workplaces book I put forward the alternative of Sparkenator which includes a special kind of leadership, and 21st century manager and culture champion.

The seven relationship enhancement roles of a Sparkenator plus the roles of 21st century manager and culture champion are all vital for the success in the modern workplace.

Meetings should be conducted as part of learning and development or standalone that enable people be better, wiser and more valuable in these roles and to increase the number of people capable of fulfilling these roles.

My research and work with clients has led me to conclude that there are 3 essential gifts or talents that I recommend should be unearthed and enhanced for each of the 9 roles so this is very much a long term endeavour.

I strongly recommend that should you not have the teaching expertise in house then you must invest in those people who have both the capability and the caring capacity so this is also a long term investment in people development.

Below are the gifts to unearth and enhance.

My recommended action

Conduct an audit of where you’re at in your workplace with these gifts and design a program to progressively raise each to a level of remarkable over the next year or so.

Should you like some help please give me a call. My number is +61 418 807 898. I also have an audit form on a page that I am happy to share with you.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 10 July 2019

Accountability is owning the value you bring

On the first Monday of the month conversation that I host for my clients. This month a part of the discussion was about accountability.

Paul Schmeja, The CEO of First Contact nailed it when he said:
"Accountability is owning the value you bring."

I think this is brilliant and the simplest and most profound definition of accountability I have come across. You?

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.

Monday 8 July 2019

Let's not give any more privileges to those who want to discriminate

For me the idea here in Australia of a possible Freedom of Religion Act makes my blood boil.

It seems to me that is a deliberate tactic by those who seek to discriminate against people who have different beliefs to them.

It's also seems to me to be about trying to give religion a place in our society it doesn't deserve. Think child abuse and the disrespect of women as just two reasons why religion should be a private matter.

Should you wish to have a faith that is absolutely fine by me. You are entitled to believe in what and whomever you wish. You are also entitled to speak freely about this in most parts of the world.

For you to say that something untoward could happen to me because I have a different faith or belief to you is self-righteousness and the stench of this hangs around forever. It crosses the line and lacks the love and compassion I expect to be first and foremost from anyone professing religious belief.

I think having a faith for some people has value. I think there are key distinctions between faith and religion and particularly the dogma and doctrines. They fail to benefit society and undermine the good some religious groups do.

I stand with David Marr. You?

The gobbledegook of all this is illustrated perfectly in the Australian government's response to an inquiry they instigated for political appeasement reasons into freedom of religion. Download the response here.

That BS is in direct contrast to the beauty and simplicity of the Universal Declaration of Human Rights which you can read here.

Freedom of Religion already is alive and well in Australia at least.

We should stand strongly against any changes of law that give any group of people rights that are not available to all.

Be remarkable.

Friday 5 July 2019

Meetings that actually matter part three - Learning and Development

Listen directly to the podcast version of this post here.

This is part three of 7.

Here's part one about value delivery.

Here's part two about Sparkenation Conversations (every day innovation).

Today I’m exploring Learning and Development Meetings.

I’m very grateful for the work of Charles Jennings and the 70:20:10 framework

Here's an overview:

I base all design and application of learning and development meetings around this framework.

Corridor catch-ups are one great way to have a learning and development meeting.

Corridor catch-ups are my name for the many informal meetings that happen daily in most workplaces.

Asking How’s things going? when you bump into a colleague is still one of the great questions to ask.

The key is being genuine and willing to be silent while people give their answer.

Corridor catch-ups often lead to appreciation and/or accountability conversations.

Appreciation and/or accountability conversations

+ response to how’s things going?
How does that make you feel? (silence).

You respond Great, Brilliant or whatever and then ask,

Any other areas you’d like to explore with me today? (silence).

- response to how’s things going?
What happened? (silence)

What do you need to do to get back on track? (silence)

Is there anything I can do to help you? (silence)
Anything else? (silence)

The key to success in accountability conversations in particular is understanding track which refers to people’s performance possibility plans.

I use a plan and co-promises on a page you have heard me explore before. You'll find my own and a template at the bottom of this web page.

Your knowledge of people’s plans as you converse with them is important for corridor catch-ups and essential for both informal and formal coaching and mentoring.

Coaching and Mentoring Meetings

I always commence both my coaching (skill development) and mentoring (commitment development and expression) sessions with clients with the question: What’s worth celebrating and what can be better both personally and professionally?

People’s answers to this question humanise the moment and provide a context for the one focus area of the session.

One focus area at a time

My general rule for coaching and mentoring meetings and meetings in general is one focus area per meeting.

Such focus helps in keeping meetings brief, on point and leads to the best outcomes.

Structured courses and programs

Everything previous must be integrated with all learning and development through structured courses and programs.

Dr. Brent Peterson’s research findings are very valuable insights.

He found that 50% of learning happens after an event and 26% prior to an event.

So should you be sending people to courses or placing them in programs without pre and post work you are wasting your money and insulting your people!

Of course Dr. Peterson’s findings are in complete alignment with the 70:20:10 framework.

Below is an overview of my
process for all formal learning and development that I undertake with clients.

We will expand on the components in upcoming podcasts.

For now please embrace corridor catch-ups, accountability and appreciation conversations, one focus coaching and mentoring session and structured courses and programs that embrace the 70:20:10 framework principles and Dr. Peterson's findings.

Learn more.

Do Your Work.

Be remarkable.

Wednesday 3 July 2019

There is no road to peace. Peace is the road

I'm not certain it was Gandhi who said these powerful words (I found the image on Pinterest via a Google search) nevertheless they are words for our time.

Spend even just a few minutes on Twitter, read any newspaper, watch any news on TV, and likely you'll come across hate speech.


The language of hate has taken over it seems. It's coming from the far right of religious people (nothing new sadly).

And of course politicians (Trump is a main offender) seem to be all about fear and division, rather than love and interconnectedness.

We can all do our bit to stop this.

I hear lot's of talk about changing the conversation about this or that. Well to change any conversation we must change the language.

Here's what I've found. When our language is enlightened we elevate the conversation. When we do this we enrich relationships and the interactions and transactions that follow are better. I call this convention and picture it as follows in my Remarkable Workplaces book.

Who will you become today, and what will you do next to ensure peace is the road you're traveling on?

Be remarkable.

Monday 1 July 2019

Shifting from separatism to oneness

I'm often asked by business owners and leaders when I meet them for the first time what it is that I've seen over my 30 years as a mentor to be the greatest challenge faced by their peers.

My answer is always keeping people on the same page, singing from the same song sheet, whatever you want to name it, yet at the same time enabling individuals to shine and to bring the best version of themselves to their work every day.

I literally help my clients to create organisational, team and individual plans and co-promises on a page.

Pictured opposite is my own.

Please download this and suggestions and a template to create your own.

I am one of the pioneers of one page plans.

I see lots these days with writing so small they're useless!

My insight is that the secret to success is being able get the content at a glance and then using your one page as a conversation focusing tool.

I call the headings the seven areas of shared-view.

Helping people to find and sustain shared-view in these areas is the heart of my work with clients.

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.

There's short videos on each of the seven here and a one-page diagnostic tool that you can download and complete to see where you're at. 

From there should you like some help please contact me on +61 418 807 898.

The world right now is about separateness. Politicians, religious people, business leaders are saying my way is the only way. It isn't. The only way is ours. It's not either/or or this or that, it is always both/and.

You can change the world by changing yourself. A great first step is to find and sustain shared-view within your family and then your workplace.

Who will you become?

What will you do next?

Be remarkable.