Wednesday, March 30, 2011

What might have been if .....

Ever have mad moments of thinking about what might have been? After a Twitter exchange with my friend Tom Asacker from the US this evening I got to thinking about what might have been if UK Business Schools had as their leaders for the last 30 years, people like Sir Richard Branson and the late great Dame Anita Roddick. These two cage rattling, rebellious, unconventional business icons are - I suggest - the greatest entrepreneurs by a million miles that the UK has seen in the last 50 years. One thing they have in common is the complete lack of traditional or formal management training. I for one would love to have attended the fictitious “Virgin Business School” or “The Body Shop Business School” safe in the knowledge that the person leading and pulling the strings was Branson or Roddick. Instead we persist in a traditional UK model of teaching management from a formal, institutional and stuffy perspective rooted in past times as if it were the Holy Grail …. And then we wonder why the UK is no longer a leader in ANYTHING to do with management or leadership on the world stage; whilst younger, less traditional and less stuffy academic institutions elsewhere in the world innovate and lead. As someone once said ….. “If you always do what you always did you'll always get what you always got.”

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Einstein on Capitalism and Socialism

Albert Einstein of course was not commenting on Britain in 2011 but he could have been. This was the great man writing in his book “Why Socialism?” in 1949 just 6 years from the end of his illustrious and iconic life. Here is Einstein’s argument against what he calls the grave evils of Capitalism: “I am convinced there is only one way to eliminate these grave evils [capitalism], namely through the establishment of a socialist economy, accompanied by an educational system which would be oriented toward social goals. In such an economy, the means of production are owned by society itself and are utilized in a planned fashion. A planned economy, which adjusts production to the needs of the community, would distribute the work to be done among all those able to work and would guarantee a livelihood to every man, woman, and child. The education of the individual, in addition to promoting his own innate abilities, would attempt to develop in him a sense of responsibility for his fellow men in place of the glorification of power and success in our present society.” Thanks - I’m with you Albert!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Reflections from a mentor

In one of my regular e mail discussions with one of my greatest mentors he gave me a wonderful insight about how people can be abused in the modern world of management. I have his permission to reproduce his comments on my Simplicity Blog and for me it is an absolute honour. I have learned a lot from this man – his opinions are ALWAYS worth listening to.

Here goes – By the way I’ve changed names and initials to protect identities:

“I've just had a very sad conversation with Jane. She, just like you and I were in those far off days before regime change, is absolutely passionate about this place and getting it right for the patient.

It looks very much as if she is being side-lined and seconded to some non-post.

Ever since JC left and successor appointed, this organisation has been slipping backwards to the behaviour and ethics that prevailed in the short fat bloke's reign that you and I remember so well - nothing so overt or aggressive just insidious undermining dishonesty/uncertainty/lack of trust. Jane is not the first that it has happened to and no doubt won't be the last.

It got me thinking about how much we take our cues from our leaders and the impact, either direct or by implication they have on our work no matter how diligent we are.

Jane was postulating about what she actually achieved and might it be better, or at least no worse, should she not be around. But like any leader I tried to reassure her that she sets the tone; its intangible, its unwritten, unquantifiable. An organisation reflects its leader's behaviour, standards, pace and direction.

JC, for all his faults, brought a different and more agreeable feel to this organisation after the short fat bloke was ousted. I don't really have to tell you that. Just wanted a rant at the injustice of it but again, as I've told Shelly, you and I both ended up in a far better place.”

Thank you Mr Mentor!

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

An oasis of tranquility

A positive comment from a person new to Simplicity Blog always re-energises me to write some more …… so thanks a lot Ralph!

Some of my rants are blunt and fired straight from the hip without too much thought but I want to share a calmer, more reflective few words.

Today Annie and I performed a 6 minute drama sketch to a group of older folks in a residential home for people with dementia.

It was just magical and an absolute delight to be a small part of.

When we arrived the folks were talking, seemingly across each other, some were wandering around apparently aimlessly and confused. It was pretty clear some of these mature men and women are in the advanced stage of dementia.

AND YET ……..

During our very simple bit of drama there was just a fantastic 30 to 60 second ‘window’ when one could have heard a pin drop …. Such was the attention given to us by our audience. They were totally with us and engaged.

I just don’t have the vocabulary to describe in words what a kick that gave us both. It was as if they found an oasis of reality, solitude and tranquillity in their seemingly, chaotically ordered lives.

It made me ..... yet again ..... realise that generalisations about illness or condition are completely unhelpful and totally unfair. We have to look at individual circumstances and rest assured there can always be great joy, hope and understanding ..... however difficult that may appear at first glance.

Friday, March 18, 2011

It's not Charity - its Justice

Capitalists - Please don’t insult and patronise me with rubbish and meaningless statements such as “We can’t trust where the money goes” or … “Capitalism means the money trickles down” … it’s just a lot of cobblers quite frankly. As I watch Comic Relief - and cry - I cannot help but think of the words of Archbishop Dom Helder Camara as follows “When I feed the poor, I am called a saint. When I ask why they are poor, I am called a communist”

I read recently that if you are on the MINIMUM WAGE in the UK you are among the top 11% wage earners in the world.

This is not about charity – it’s about justice!

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Good bosses do the 'ugly stuff' well

Been thinking about leaders I’ve worked for and how they handled feedback about performance. The best ones knew how to criticise effectively. Many of them screwed it up and were lousy at giving feedback.

I recall one particular boss in my entire 35 year career in healthcare who explained to me in a private 1-2-1 why I didn’t get the job I’d applied for. I had felt I had a good interview for the job and I was well qualified for the position. To be honest I was pretty angry when I went into his office for feedback. I came out half an hour later agreeing with him that I was not the right person for that job. He was right; I was wrong simple as that. The thing that made him stand out above the rest was he valued me by giving me time, in privacy. Though busy, he was not rushed. He allowed me to talk and asked me how I felt it went – he was clearly a superb listener. Most bosses I had were either: Too rushed; disinterested; too 'clinical' and cold; too personal; or too negative when giving uncomfortable feedback which made me feel even worse.

People only expect (rightly) to be valued as a person - doesn't seem unreasonable does it?

None of us accept criticism well. The good news is there are some bosses who do it well. Long may they reign!