Wednesday, September 28, 2005
"Don't bother just to be better than your contemporaries or predecessors. Try to be better than yourself." - William Faulkner
Quite often, people - including me when I was younger - try to copy people we see as role models when what we should remember is that we are all special individuals. Living our life in the best way we can is always good enough. You and me don't need to copy anyone.
I always pinch good ideas from people I respect and admire - but as this quote indicates - just be yourself and do that well - then try to do that better. Simplicity!
Put another way - Just try to impress the person you see in the mirror.
Monday, September 26, 2005
How refreshing then when I meet 'virtually' a person who is obviously highly qualified in the world of finance but lives simplicity.
Sriram Kannan works in the world of finance in Hong Kong and I am sure he is a young man who is going places.
I do hope you will visit Sriram's new Blog called Art and Science of Management at this link http://ksriram.blogspot.com/
Sriram had only started his Blog in the last week or so and I am sure you will find his style engaging and more straightforward than some of the highly complicated finance gobbledegook that is often seen in the finance world.
Good luck Sriram – and when you are a Chief Executive – remember to still keep it simple
Sunday, September 25, 2005
I have spent a lot of time talking about innovation in healthcare with a good friend Simon Dodds who is a prominent Vascular Surgeon and a well known innovator in the National Health Service. I had not really thought about the relationship of teams and innovation before discussions with Simon but having now read a few things I have formed some opinions. So here goes.
There is something of a paradox about all this. I love team working and I love innovation but I am beginning to think the two are not happy bedfellows. Teams generally work towards a common goal. This could actually suppress innovation because in a sense we do not want people in our team – ‘to row the boat in the opposite direction’. Having said that, I think a well functioning team can accommodate a ‘loose cannon.’ The teams I think about are sporting teams. For instance Manchester United as a team were highly successful when George Best was their star player and yet George Best was very much a ‘loose cannon’ with enormous talent. He always did things differently to everyone else in the team. He contributed to the team ethos quite definitely but he was also known to be unpopular with some other players because he was so different. Any yet the team was highly successful. Fascinating!
I think there is a clear link between leadership and innovation.
I think the leader must give explicit permission for innovators to ‘make mistakes’ and not punish those mistakes. I see no point in any organisation or department to say in one breath they welcome innovation and then punish mistakes if things do not work. This ‘leadership’ may not only be from the very top in organisations – it can simply be the head of the department. I think if the Chief Executive - for instance - does set the tone with explicit statements like ‘we welcome change’ then innovation may happen. I suppose the test is the Chief Executive must support Innovators explicitly – even if it doesn’t work out.
Is innovation and ‘passion for your idea' the same thing?
My feeling is that innovation is often the sole possession of the founder of the innovation and that person needs to convince key players in the organisation first – then find allies and work tactically to change culture. I do not think the National Health Service is brave enough for a big bang culture change overnight. There is a political dimension that the innovator must be aware of and find ways of working with it – there is frankly not much point in denying the existence of politics in any organisational setting – the trick is to find ways of working with politics.
Friday, September 23, 2005
There has been much discussion on Tom Peters Blog about censorship on Blogs and whether comments should or should not be edited. I love the fact that censorship is totally down to the individual posting the comment.
On a wider front in management and leadership settings, my view has always been that if people are treated as adults they will always impose testing and high quality standards on themselves. Just trust people for God sake – when will business understand it is as simple as that - sorry rant over!!
My Simplicity thought for the day;
"When it comes to quality standards we are much harder on ourselves than any rules imposed on us"
I have just written an article about trusting front line staff - if anyone wants a copy just let me know firstname.lastname@example.org
Thursday, September 22, 2005
Wednesday, September 21, 2005
"After you've done a thing for two years, you should look at it carefully. After five years, look at it with suspicion. After ten years, throw it away and start all over." - Alfred E. Perlman
In management and leadership settings in business I would endorse this statement fully - and I would say make it far less than 10 years before throwing it away and starting all over - more like 5 years maximum in my view.
In love and relationships I don't agree with the statement at all. Finding someone special that you want spend the rest of our life with means for ever.
Monday, September 19, 2005
1 Staff at the front line know ALL the answers ALL the time.
2 If managers have a job at all in 2005 it is to make it easy for front line staff to do their job with freedom.
3 Give all the money – YES ALL THE MONEY to front line staff.
I have always believed managers should give more trust to front line staff and I will be writing more on this in the next year.
Sunday, September 18, 2005
Today my team played our second game of the season.
After our first match defeat two weeks ago by 5 goals to 1 we showed a big improvement to play out a goalless draw 0-0. Not perhaps the most inspiring match ever seen but we were all well pleased with our efforts.
All 22 players on the pitch are supposed to be over 35 years of age. I suspect a few are not yet 35 – but anyway it is great fun. I look forward to our next match two weeks from today. Annie comes along to offer support and that is just fantastic - it is great to know she is there. Love you hun!
It feels great that I still get the same 'buzz' before the match as I did when I was 18. However the ‘recovery time’ from a match is a lot longer than when I was 18.
I remember well how I could play three 90 minute matches in one weekend – how times have changed :-)
Saturday, September 17, 2005
He has designed a programme called TERRIFIC to assist clients overcome problems. http://home.insightbb.com/~rockynoe/terrific.html
Roger who likes to be known as 'Rocky' - has spent many years working with troubled young people and he has much to offer young people going through difficult times.
I hope you will find time to visit Rocky's site and give him encouragment to pursue his plans to develop the TERRIFIC programme that he has begun.
The Web Site is still in the development stage - please offer Rocky your support.
"There is no easy explanation why some youth get involved in drug use. There can be many contributing factors such as peer pressure, living in communities that are over run with the drug culture, or family history of drug abuse. The TERRIFIC Program is specially designed to help youth meet the many challenges they face in regards to the drug culture, peer pressure and family problems. "
Good luck Rocky - you have worked hard for many years for your clients - you deserve success
Friday, September 16, 2005
First, we survived being born to mothers who smoked and/or drank while they carried us.
They took aspirin, ate blue cheese dressing, tuna from a can, and didn't get tested for diabetes.
Then after that trauma, our baby cribs were covered with bright colored lead-based paints.
We had no childproof lids on medicine bottles, doors or cabinets and when we rode our bikes, we had no helmets, not to mention, the risks we took hitchhiking.
As children, we would ride in cars with no seat belts or air bags.
Riding in the back of a pick up on a warm day was always a special treat.
We drank water from the garden hose and NOT from a bottle.
We shared one soft drink with four friends, from one bottle and NO ONE actually died from this.
We ate cupcakes, white bread and real butter and drank soda pop with sugar in it, but we weren't overweight because
WE WERE ALWAYS OUTSIDE PLAYING!
We would leave home in the morning and play all day, as long as we were back when the streetlights came on.
No one was able to reach us all day. And we were O.K.
We would spend hours building our go-carts out of scraps and then ride down the hill, only to find out we forgot the brakes. After running into the bushes a few times, we learned to solve the problem.
We did not have Playstations, Nintendo's, X-boxes, no video games at all, no 99 channels on cable, no video tape movies, no surround sound, no cell phones, no personal computers, no Internet or Internet chat rooms..........WE HAD FRIENDS and we went outside and found them!
We fell out of trees, got cut, broke bones and teeth and there were no lawsuits from these accidents.
We ate worms and mud pies made from dirt, and the worms did not live in us forever.
We were given cowboy guns for our 10th birthdays, made up games with sticks and tennis balls and although we were told it would happen, we did not put out very many eyes.
We rode bikes or walked to a friend's house and knocked on the door or rang the bell, or just walked in and talked to them!
The town football club had tryout for the junior team and not everyone made the team. Those who didn't had to learn to deal with disappointment. Imagine that!!
The idea of a parent bailing us out if we broke the law was unheard of. They actually sided with the law!
This generation has produced some of the best risk-takers, problem solvers and inventors ever!
The past 50 years have been an explosion of innovation and new ideas.
We had freedom, failure, success and responsibility, and we learned
HOW TO DEAL WITH IT ALL!
And YOU are one of them! CONGRATULATIONS!
You might want to share this with others who have had the luck to grow up as kids, before the lawyers and the government regulated our lives for our own good.
And while you are at it, forward it to your kids so they will know how brave their parents were.
Kind of makes you want to run through the house with scissors, doesn't it?!
Thursday, September 15, 2005
Wednesday, September 14, 2005
It seems like the whole English population has been celebrating after the wonderful Ashes victory over Australia.
The song 'Jeruslaem' has been booming out from TV sets as the party goes on
England's most patriotic song is Jerusalem by William Blake. It has been adopted by the English cricket team and fans as their anthem. There are even suggestions it may become our new national anthem.
Here are the words:
And did those feet in ancient time
Walk upon England's mountains green?
And was the Holy Lamb of God
On England's pleasant pastures seen?
And did the Countenance divine
Shine forth upon those clouded hills?
And was Jerusalem builded here,
Among those dark satanic mills?
Bring me my bow of burning gold,
Bring me my arrows of desire; Bring me my spear!
O, clouds unfold!
Bring me my chariot of fire!
I will not cease from mental fight,
Nor shall my sword sleep in my hand
Till we have built Jerusalem
In England's green and pleasant land.
-- William Blake
Monday, September 12, 2005
Awesome, fantastic, inspiring - all the adjectives in the world cannot truly capture the feelings of pride among cricket and indeed non-cricket fans as England scored this great win.
If ever perfect team spirit was demonstrated this was surely it!
Commiserations to the Aussies who took their defeat in a very sporting way. For a few seconds I had some sympathy for them ... just joking guys :-)
It has taken us 20 years to beat you so please accept our celebrations
In my opinion it is thanks to compromise and discussion that many lives have been saved.
Now we hear that trouble has re-emerged over the weekend but luckily there were no serious injuries, Shots were apparently fired and there are reports of bombs.
This is so sad and I pray we are not going to see a return to anything like the situation we saw for so many years.
It also made me think about football hooliganism.
Much has been done behind the scenes to stamp out football hooliganism in the last 20 years and we have nothing like the amount of trouble we used to see in the 70’s and 80’s.
As an avid football fan I have always believed the hooligans are still there, just under the surface and it will only take the slightest spark to see full blown violence once more at football matches.
But I am an optimist and I hope the events in Belfast over the weekend are something that will pass and things will be peaceful once more for the people of Northern Ireland. Similarly I want football to remain hooligan free.
Let us keep our fingers crossed for a peaceful future for the people in the province of Northern Ireland and for all genuine English football supporters.
Rivers, from Dwellings
Saturday, September 10, 2005
Word has it that Sven is paid something like £2 million per year to manage our national team and his objective is to get England to the 2006 World Cup finals in Germany.
In a qualifying match this week England lost 1-0 to Northern Ireland – the first time England has lost to Northern Ireland for about 25 years. Many fans are clambering for the Manager to be sacked.
Today on television Sven was interviewed and I came to the conclusion I would support him.
He came across as genuine in his beliefs about how the team should be managed and the thing that stood out most was his support for and loyalty to the players.
He also made a very powerful point that he does not have to shout and rant and rave to be successful.
His record is very successful as a manager for the last 15 years or so and I like the way he calmly retains his professionalism and will not react in a volatile way despite the goading he receives from so called ‘experts’ who have never managed a football team – indeed have probably never managed anything.
So I guess I am asking how passion can be defined in management positions.
- Do you have to be extrovert, banging tables, shouting and generally making yourself stand out?
- Or can you be passionate in the cold calm and quiet way Sven Goran Ericksson works?
The players certainly appear to be very supportive of the manager and that in my experience is often a good indicator.
Thursday, September 08, 2005
When I was a hospital manager, a team of us had the job of closing the hospital for people with a learning disability and moving those patients into smaller community homes.
One of the office staff had been at the hospital for over 20 years and told me the hospital will never close – 'We have seen it all before' she used to say. 'It has been closing for years but it will never happen.'
I assured her the intention was to close the hospital within three years but she refused to believe it would actually happen. We offered her good jobs in the new set up but still she was in denial and refused to accept them.
Eventually of course the hospital did close two years later and what happened to her?
She was given a choice of taking a job she did not really want or take early retirement. She took the job until she retired five years later. She wasn't really happy in that job.
So what is the message?
She refused to accept that things were changing and therefore did not take early opportunities to find a new job that would suit her skills and expereince.
I always believe if you stay around with your head buried in the sand you often end up with something you do not really want.
Great that we are all different but sad that some people - like this woman - with long service and great experience that can be used in new services - just cannot come to terms with change going on around them. The hospital literally closed around her whilst her head was still in the sand.
I never understood it and still don't.
Tuesday, September 06, 2005
Annie answered the phone and was more than a little surprised and shocked to hear the voice on the other end saying
“Hello Tony Benn here”
Tony Benn – a mega famous Labour Party politician – now retired as an MP was ringing to thank me for an e-mail I had sent (via his son Hilary Benn MP) – congratulating Mr Benn Senior on the publication of his latest book “Dare to Be a Daniel”
I proceeded to have a ten minute chat with this very alert, full of beans, sprightly, 80 year old who seemed to have boundless energy and related many quick memories of his time in politics and about the National Health Service and its formation in 1948.
More important than that, he was interested in what I had done in my life.
People in the full glare of national politics sometimes get bad press and are portrayed as arrogant, distant and not in touch. Tony Benn has had many critics in his long and fascinating political life. To me he always appeared genuine whenever I saw him on television. He is still passionate about his socialist beliefs.
The fact that Mr Benn took the trouble to ring me – someone pretty insignificant in his life - tells me so much about the man. Annie and I were both gobsmacked!
I felt privileged Mr Benn took the time to ring and it illustrates to me he is someone who walks his own talk.
That is – he does care for people.
Monday, September 05, 2005
I remember many years ago meeting Chris - a builder who had fallen from scaffolding and injured his back very badly. He was over 50 years of age and could no longer do heavy work on the building site. He needed a job. He came along to the hospital I worked at enquiring about the job as a Mortuary Attendant.
Chris had no previous experience of this type of job but he was appointed nevertheless and he was given lots of support. He flourished and became qualified in that particular type of work. The pay was significantly less than Chris had earned as a builder but he loved his new job.
Chris took enormous pride in his work and the respect he showed for the bodies he had to deal with was just awesome. Everyone in the hospital who knew Chris knew that.
I was much younger - probably about 20 years of age – and an inexperienced health care administrator. I remember listening to his stories about the sort of work he did. Chris talked with infectious enthusiasm about his job and how he took it as a great responsibility to support the families and friends of those who had passed away.
It is a job I could never have done. It was a job that many might consider ‘lowly’ but just by listening to the stories Chris told helped me realise that no job is unimportant and his role was as important in the care of patients as any other job in the treatment of patients.
Even in death, dignity and respect for the patient is crucial – in fact in many ways even more respect and dignity is needed when ‘caring’ for the patient after they have died.
Sunday, September 04, 2005
This is a recent business trip to Dublin, Ireland interrupted by the occasional visit to a hostelry serving Guinness.
Sorry let me re-phrase that.
This is a recent drinking trip to hostelries in Dublin, interrupted by occasional business.
The picture shows me outside the oldest pub in Ireland and Annie trying hard to resist drinking the 40 gallon kegs of Guinness either side of her.
Apologies about this but my Blog provider tells me it is the best way to prevent 'spam' comments.
It is a shame that such rubbish gets through but such is life I guess.
One of the things I have learned is that to insist people turn up for work at certain times and leave at certain times adding up to a certain number of hours a week has nothing whatsoever to do with how effective people are.
I am even more convinced now than ever I was that ‘hours of work’ mean only one thing. That you were in the office for that number of hours. It has no relationship to one’s effectiveness.
I have always believed that there should be more flexibility about the hours people are expected to turn up for work. I am even more convinced now that people should be allowed to work when they like in certain jobs and the way they are judged is not by how long they are in the office but by the results they achieve.
It simply does not follow that if you sit at a desk for a certain number of hours then you will achieve certain outcomes. We just have to become more flexible than that!
So my passion will be to allow people to set their own hours – around their own lifestyle and this will help ensure we get a more motivated workforce.
I am not silly enough to suggest this approach can be applied to every single job but those people who do not have direct contact with customers can easily be more flexible about the hours they attend for work.
I have a feeling that we would see far more effective outcomes - people would work less hours and everyone would be happier …but then I am an optimist. What do you think?
Saturday, September 03, 2005
- "Whoosh attenuation Test" - Wow!!
- "ISP Synchronicity" - Wow!!
They seem to understand each other when deep in 'Zogland' conversation - I usually just ask them to wake me up when they are finished talking and the PC is working again :-)
You can see more details at this Amazon link.
I think Malcolm McClean has produced an easy to read and yet profound piece of work.
I felt engaged immediately and I enjoy the way he illustrates through powerful case studies how we can all love our work if we can convince ourselves to change our view of work.
I have always believed people can love their work. This book proves not only that you can love your work but if you do love your work your life priorities are more likely to be adjusted favourably.
The paradox is; loving your work does not mean you become a workaholic - in fact you will enjoy life more because you are happier in a huge part of your life i.e. being at work.
My favourite chapter is 'Think Like An Eight Year Old' and there is a lovely moment described by the author when his own son tells his Dad he is acting ‘like a kid’ – Malcolm McClean feels this was a fabulous compliment that meant he had achieved that special creativity and innocence of an 8 year old – wonderful stuff.
I hope you will consider buying this book.
Friday, September 02, 2005
I remember one of the most profound learning experiences of my career.
I was in my early twenties and had been successful in securing a fairly senior management position in a hospital.
One of my responsibilities was to manage a team of six porters. They were all older than me - some of them over twice my age and between them they had many years of experience.
I was successful in securing extra money from my bosses to employ one extra porter on condition I introduced a night shift that would give 24 hour porter cover in the hospital.
These were the days before Excel spreadsheets! and I spent many hours at home and at work writing out in 'long hand' various alternative shift suggestions for the porters to consider.
Whatever I tried I couldn’t produce a satisfactory Rota. I was stuck!
George White - one of the older porters came into my office and asked what were all these huge sheets of paper on my desk. I explained my predicament and George - trying hard I am sure not to laugh - said he would have a try with the other porters.
Within an hour or two he was back with two or three options that the porters liked.
The messages to me that I have remembered for my entire career:
- Being called a 'manager' does not mean you are an expert in everything
- As a manager you really do not have to do everything
- The staff who do the work know the answers
- Don’t beat yourself up by battling alone - just ask for help
Just thought I would share that little story with you.
At the moment there is major management reorganisation going on in the NHS and many people’s jobs are under threat. There is nothing new in that and in my experience in the NHS it was a constant threat in the background.
Security in ‘one job for life’ went out of the window many years ago.
What does intrigue me is that every time there is significant change in the NHS many staff become quickly disillusioned and feel undervalued. They are often not involved in the process of change – often despite promises they will be fully involved.
I would have thought there was enough experience to make such changes less painful for the people most affected by involving them fully in the change process instead of having it all decided by a select few people behind closed doors and then telling the staff.
But then again ….
Maybe I am out of touch with good practice in management and leadership … I don’t think so do you?
Thursday, September 01, 2005
I was fortunate to work with and for some forward thinking managers and leaders who shared my view and as a result we did some interesting things to help carers.
Carers are those people providing unpaid care for loved ones who are family members or friends. In America I believe they are called ‘care givers.’
Here are some interesting facts about carers in the UK
1. One in eight adults are carers... around six million people
2. Carers save the economy £57 billion per year, an average of £10,000 per carer
3. Over 3 million people juggle care with work
4. The main carer's benefit is £45 for a minimum of 35 hours, equivalent to £1.26 per hour
5. 1.25 million people provide over 50 hours of care per week
6. People providing high levels of care are twice as likely to be permanently sick or disabled
7. Over 1 million people care for more than one person
8. 58% of carers are women and 42% are men
9. By 2037 the number of carers could have increased to 9 million
10. Every year over 2 million people become carers
I do not believe carers are properly valued by government.
It is true that things have improved dramatically in recognition of carers. This has slowly happened over the last 20 years or so. But there is still a huge gap in what is promised and what is delivered.
I have decided to do some voluntary work in support of Carers UK – a campaigning organisation whose job is to raise the profile of carers and the role they play in keeping this country financially solvent – that is not an exaggeration.
The truth is that if carers withdrew their labour today – the country would be bankrupt tomorrow. It is as simple as that.
Carers provide the care for a variety of reasons – love/ duty/obligation among them.
Carers rarely ask for help – they are usually too busy simply looking after the person they care for.
The rest of us have a duty to support them and raise the profile of their good work. I hope you will visit the web site of Carers UK http://www.carersuk.org/Home to see some of the work carers do.