Tuesday, February 28, 2006

Vote for Troy!!!

Troy Worman has submitted a manifesto proposal at ChangeThis: Don´t wait for permission to succeed!

Sunday, February 26, 2006

Tony Benn

It has been my great privilege and honour once more to be in communication with Tony Benn who has provided me with his own definition of leadership.

"Some leaders make it so complicated that they hope we will leave the decision to them. Others make it seem so simple that we can trust them to take charge. The real test is to clarify the issues so we have the confidence to decide for ourselves. That is what I believe leaders should do" Tony Benn

A few years ago I wrote a 20,000 word dissertation on leadership and Mr Benn has summed up leadership perfectly and simply in three sentences.

I think that is just a perfect definition of effective leadership.

Friday, February 24, 2006

Maybe Elephants can dance

Just been reading reviews of 'Who Says Elephants Can’t Dance?' by Lou Gerstner.

The book is about the remarkable turn around of IBM in the 1990’s. In a nutshell, the mega large computer firm was going down the pan until Gerstner's arrival as the new leader.

I have been promising myself I must read this book for a couple of years and it is still on my ‘must be read' file ...... which gets bigger each passing week!

Peter Duncan, Vice President of Center for Simplified Strategy reviews the book at this link


I just love the following practical tips about simplified strategic planning that are taken from Gerstner’s book.

Thank you Peter for the review and amen to Mr Gerstner’s vision of simplicity and pragmatism.

These tips are things all large organisations can do if the leadership allows and I would argue all are based on simplicity.

  • Lack of focus is the most common cause of mediocrity
  • A successful, focused enterprise is one that has developed a deep understanding of its customer's needs, its competitive environment, and its economic realities.
  • This comprehensive analysis must form the basis for specific strategies that are translated into day-to-day execution.
  • True intelligence (not biased or wishful thinking) wins wars
  • Allocating resources is where strategy becomes action
  • Strategy can only take you so far...in the end it comes down to leadership and execution to achieve results
  • Superb execution comes when strategy is simple and crystal clear and the organization has its values and commitments aligned with that strategy.
  • Leadership is critical and it takes passion and integrity to do it well.

My question - if we know it makes sense why don't we do it?

My answer - lack of passion, vision, integrity and leadership at the top.

But of course you may not agree .........

Wednesday, February 22, 2006

All that glitters ........

At sometime in our lives all of us 'boys' were looking forward eagerly to our first pint of Beer - just like my Grandson Sebastian - seen here with his Dad

And expressions similar to this after our first taste of beer will be familiar to you boys!!!

The moral must be - don't believe everything you hear - taste it for yourself and find it :-)

Never give up!! (ps Never give up) (pps Never give up)

When all the work we are doing seems pretty pointless, all our effort is not being acknowledged and no one seems interested we must not lose our vision and our belief in what we are doing.

Annie and I were listening recently to the story of Winston Churchill who re-visited his old school to give an address. The expectant young students were looking forward to one of Winston’s great speeches. The entire school gathered in keen anticipation. Churchill entered the packed school auditorium and said;

“Never give up …. “Never give up …..Never give up.”

That was Churchill's speech.

Dogged determination, hard work and doing your homework have always been three of my guiding simplicity principles. I do not believe in overnight success.

I received this quote from Unstoppable http://www.unstoppable.net/

"Most of the important things in the world have been accomplished by people who have kept on trying when there seemed to be no help at all."- Dale Carnegie

Dale Carnegie was another of the great thinkers and writers and of course he was also a ‘doer’

Monday, February 20, 2006

Two more Leadership and Management Gurus

Learn Management and Leadership from your kids

I just love the use of real life stories to get complex things over in simple ways

Last Monday I facilitated a team building event for 10 fairly senior managers and we got on the subject of risk taking and trusting your staff.

One of the managers related a lovely story about his 6 year old son from the evening before.

Apparently, Dad (the Senior Manager) had been decorating Son’s bedroom for the weekend and Son asked Dad on the Sunday evening whether he could take a door handle off his bedroom door ready for Dad to paint.

Dad was relaxing and watching TV and said

“Not really son – you won’t be able to do that. I will do it for you and you can watch”.

Son insisted he would like to ‘have a go’ and after another brief discussion Dad gave the go ahead for Son to take the door handle off.

Dad waited, expecting Son to come down the stairs asking for help and sure enough Son comes into the lounge after a few minutes ..... Complete with door handle, screws and Dad's screwdriver. The handle had been perfectly removed with no damage to the door.

The best lessons in leadership and management are staring us in the face all the time – we do not have to read theoretical books on the subject.


Friday, February 17, 2006

Winter in America

This lovely photo was taken by my friend Mike Gardner from his office window this morning in Mt. Pleasant, Michigan, USA. As I said to Mike in my e-mail reply we used to get snow like that in England when I was a kid but not these days.Or is it just my memory playing tricks on me?

Anyway thank you Mike - a fabulous picture - hope all in Michigan can keep warm over the coming weekend!!!

Sunday, February 12, 2006


An Invisible Army

Carers in the limelight - AT LAST!!!

How wonderful it was to see so much coverage last week on National ITV News about unpaid family Carers.

As I have often said Carers save the Government as much money as it costs to run the entire National Health Service.

At long last the national media have picked up and run stories about the plight of Carers who - to put it bluntly - are being ‘ripped off’ as their benefits fail to take account of the 24/7 care they often provide for their loved one.

Carers look after family members usually from a sense of love, duty and obligation. It is sometimes not necessarily their choice to do this but it is forced on them by circumstances and expectations of others.

The least we can do is ensure Carers are rewarded adequately financially.

Anything that can be done to 'keep the pot boiling' and keep Carers in the headlines is fine by me.

Please visit Carers UK Web site at this link:


and give any support you can for Carers in your area.

Friday, February 10, 2006

A Vote for Simplicity - UPDATE

Friday update

Ooops!! I spoke to soon!!

The leader now is 63 ahead - I need to settle for second place methinks!

Thursday update

Just a week before the vote closes and I am still in second place but now only 2 votes behind the leader!

Thank you so much to all who have voted. Please tell your friends!

The closing date for the vote is 16 February so I need one big final push to catch the leader!!!

Please spread the word!!!


Here is my original posting from a few days ago


Inspired by my friend Felix Gerena from the Basque Country who wrote a Manifeto called The Life Cycle of the Creative Soul I am now writing a ‘Change This’ Manifesto called Simplicity is the Key.

To qualify to write this Manifesto I need people to vote for my proposal which you can see at this link.


I hope you will visit this link and, if you like the look of my proposal, please vote by clicking “Yes write this manifesto”

Thank you - Keep it Simple

Tuesday, February 07, 2006

Who threw that Tomato?

I have become interested recently in the different perspectives of science and religion about our development as a race and indeed the planet.

As a Christian of course I have an inbuilt bias but I am trying to see this with genuine objectivity.

I am not well enough read to comment authoritatively on such a huge subject but here are some random thoughts from my recent reading, listening and watching:

It seems most of the great scientists in history have also been Christians – including Copernicus, Galileo, Kepler, Newton, Faraday, Boyle, Darwin and so the list goes on

Scientists would have us believe that from the big bang we just developed. Things ‘just happened’ and here we are today. The wonderful anecdote I recently read from Nicky Gumbel highlights this brilliantly.

He tells the tale of the Hyde Park Orator who was attacking belief in God. He argued that the world ‘just happened’. As he spoke a soft tomato was thrown at him. ‘Who threw that?’ he demanded angrily. A Cockney from the back of the audience replied ‘No-one threw it – it threw itself.”

Minister John Bradley said to us on Sunday last week; Is anyone seriously suggesting the hieroglyphics on the walls in the ancient Egyptian caves from thousands of years ago were created by wind and sand?

John Bradley also coined a wonderful phrase “Science can only DISCOVER what God has already ORDAINED" – I love the simplicity of that.

Stephen Hawking, arguably the most brilliant scientist of his generation, has admitted that ‘Science may solve the problem of HOW the universe began but it cannot answer the question; WHY does the universe exist?’

It is probably true that there are more disagreements and apparent contradictions within science itself than between science and the Christian faith.

In summary I tend to agree with the words of Nicky Gumbel;

‘There is not necessarily a conflict between science and scripture. I think it is unwise to be too dogmatic about the issue (certainly if, like me, you are neither a scientist nor a theologian)’

Monday, February 06, 2006

This was Customer Care?

Thought I would just share with you a customer care story….

We went into a very well known carpet store on Sunday to buy a small inexpensive piece of carpet for a box room. We only wanted one piece approx 2 metres by 2 and half metres.

We selected the carpet we liked and asked if we could have a piece cut off the roll. We were told we could only have a piece 4 metres wide by 2 metres. This is normal practice and understandable – I was fully aware we would be wasting a lot.

Now please imagine a piece of carpet 4 metres wide by two metres. I asked very politely if they would mind cutting the 4 metre width to 2 and a half metre width to make it easier to carry in the car and to save me cutting it at home. They said they could not do that as they did not have the space to lay the carpet out. I asked if they could allow me to cut it but they could not allow that.

They said they would only make one cut as the second ‘dimension’ might be inaccurate and then I would complain. I said I would accept responsibility for them cutting it. I said I would happily watch them cutting it and I would even measure it myself before they cut it if they wanted. Again they refused to cut it or allow me to cut it or measure it.

I went to the cash desk to pay for the carpet and made another comment that I could not see why they could not make a second cut as they were already cutting the first piece without me watching and it did not seem to matter they may cut that to wrong dimensions. They said that is because they cut it longer by a few inches to make sure. I said again I would quite happily cut the carpet myself, measure it and double check but to no avail. They were simply not going to budge.

I paid for the carpet and waited. The person who had cut the carpet deposited it near the front door of the store on top of a display stand. He left without a word to anyone.

We eventually asked at the payment desk whether that was our carpet and whether we can take it away. ‘I think so’ said the young girl trying to be helpful. So I carried the carpet to the car in its full 4 metre by 2 metre length and loaded it. It would have been nice to have had two smaller pieces but, not to be I am afraid.

The point of this story is not that I had to carry the carpet to my car.

The point is this was pathetic jobsworth attitudes where the staff members refuse to even entertain a paying customer's very reasonable request and whatever I said I got back a jobsworth answer.

My biggest regret is that I actually parted with my money before I realised what a total shambles this was.

On the other hand I am delighted in one sense that I am able to let anyone I know the name of this well known company that will not get my business again. In case their solicitors read my Blog I best not name them!! but I am writing to their Chairman or Chief Executive to let them know about their customer care!

Customer Care?

“Bah Humbug” in the words of their sales training videos I bet!