Saturday, March 29, 2008

Free Speaking Advice from the Top Man

With Tom in May 2006 in London

If you want some fantastic FREE advice about the art of speaking from one of the world's leading speakers on business then go to Tom Peters at this link. Tom has a phenomenal record of speeches to millions of people all over the world over the last 30 years.

I was fortunate enough to attend a Tom Peters Seminar in May 2006 in London. Tom spoke for 6 hours in four 90 minute slots. It was a brilliant experience.

If you were to ‘buy’ professional advice on public speaking you would pay a fortune.

In this half hour interview Tom provides many nuggets of advice. The highlight for me is when Tom talks about the power of stories – Amen to that Tom. In fact my book ‘I Wanna Tell You a Story’ is a collection of 16 leadership stories. It has always been my belief that story telling is the most under used skill in any manager’s repertoire.

I hope you find time to enjoy listening to the great man in conversation.

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Children - our greatest gift.

I’ll be resting from Blogging for a couple of days.

I am passionate about the exchanges I have through Blogging both here and on Tom Peters Blog. I learn so much from the interactions I have with so many terrific people all over the world through Blogging.

At 55 years of age I love my work more than ever and I feel young enough to to carry on working for a few more decades yet just like my heroes Sir Alex Ferguson, Tony Benn and George Giarchi.

Work is good for me.

HOWEVER .......

Nothing can be more important than encouraging our children and grandchildren.

Today Annie and I look forward to a trip to see my two Grandsons Sebastian (right) and Reece (left) pictured above.

We are all blessed with many gifts from God. The opportunity and the ability to work is one gift that I cherish but the greatest gifts are people.

I am blessed to have the beautiful gift of Annie as my wife. I am blessed to have 3 terrific children who are gifts that make me very proud. These two wonderful grandsons are very special gifts who have both already made a huge impact on my world.

I will return to Blogging on Saturday.

Wednesday, March 26, 2008

Achieving SUSTAINED Excellence - learn from these guys!

I think the ‘traditional’ world of management can learn a tremendous amount by looking outside its own ‘backyard’ and look at, for instance, sport and entertainment.

This last weekend has seen Manchester United forge ahead again by five clear points at the top of the English Premier League.

Also this weekend I was fortunate enough to see The Eagles play another fantastic concert to 20,000 fans at the O2 Arena in London.

One common factor about the phenomenal success of both Manchester United and The Eagles is how they have sustained excellence at the very top level for such a long time. It is not overnight success that blows out after a couple of years. We are talking high performance over a very long period.

Tom Peters famous best seller and the book that popularised management in the early 1980’s was called ‘In Search of Excellence.’

Even allowing for my obvious and self-confessed bias I suggest that Manchester United and The Eagles have achieved excellence and more importantly sustained it.

So …. Three questions to consider:

1 Just what are the ingredients that enable not only the achievement of excellence but sustained excellence for both The Eagles and Manchester United?

2 Can we apply those ingredients in the more traditional world of management in business?

3 If not, why not?

I will be fascinated to receive your comments on this.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

49 Commonsense Business Observations

In the busy world of business do you, like me, ever have times when you could just do with a book to fill in an hour or so? You know - those times when you have the time but not the means to do some quick and simple learning through reading something that will leave a positive mark.

I have the answer for you.

Joel D Canfield is a friend from the US who I met through Tom Peters Blog. Joel has written a super little book called ‘49 Commonsense Business Observations’ and I have just read it in about one hour. It is written, unsurprisingly in commonsense language and is full of practical tips and ideas about how you can use commonsense to grow your business and your reputation. I recommend this book highly.

Joel and I share a common view about the need for commonsense to underpin all aspects of business and management. He uses this book to illustrate how you can add value to your work and your business through commonsense.

Joel places great emphasis on integrity, honesty and an ethical approach in business and as such he clearly is a man you will do well to take notice of. I know Joel wants to receive feedback about his book and you can see more about him and how to order Joel’s book on his
web site. Later this year Joel will be publishing his follow on book called ‘The Commonsense Entrepreneur’

One of the joys of the internet and Blogging is the opportunity to ‘meet’ like minded people with whom I develop friendships that will last. I know Joel is someone who has terrific expertise and commonsense that I will be calling on regularly to increase my learning.

Good luck Joel – you deserve to succeed

Monday, March 24, 2008

A Perfect Day

The Eagles in action at the O2 Arena

Easter Sunday was a terrific day.

First of all in the morning Annie and I performed a short piece of drama at Church which seemed to be well received.

Early afternoon was time to sit in front of the TV and watch my beloved Manchester United beat the old enemy Liverpool 3-0 to go five points clear at the top of the Premier League.

Then it was a drive down to London for the evening to watch The Eagles concert at the O2 Arena along with another 20,000 Eagles fans.

And we found ourselves in a block of seats occupied by some Manchester United fans!

Due to public demand The Eagles have added two additional dates to the UK launch of their world tour which means 120,000 fans will see them in the O2 Arena in six concerts. Not bad for four old rockers. The 3 hour concert was absolutely brilliant and getting home for bed at 1.30 am ended a perfect day.

Thank you again God!

Friday, March 21, 2008

Tony Benn - the ultimate hero

Annie and I went to see my all time political hero Tony Benn last night (Thursday) in Birmingham Town Hall. The event was called 'An evening with Tony Benn'

Here are a few facts:

*Tony will be 83 in a couple of weeks
*He spent over 50 years as a Member of Parliament
*He is as sharp as a tack and bright as a button mentally
*Birmingham Town Hall was sold out with almost 1000 people in the audience
*Tony got a standing ovation

Here are two wonderful quotes from two hours of brilliant oratory

‘If you are looking for a leader don’t look up to a platform – look next door’

‘My country is the world – my religion is to do good’

I am unashamedly biased but I do not think there can be a better role model in politics for integrity, commonsense and honesty than Tony Benn.

I pray that he carries on campaigning and working for many more years to come.

If you want to see Tony in action passionately illustrating his beliefs take a look at this UTube clip of Tony where he takes US spokesman John Bolton to task on BBC TV Question Time.

Thanks Tony for yet more inspiration. Good men are few.

Thursday, March 20, 2008

Training Zone welcomes simplicity

I’m delighted to say I’ve been asked to write a regular monthly column for - the UK's most popular site for corporate training professionals with an online network of over 40,000 active members. My first article appears today and you can read the article by clicking here

'A More Perfect Union' - Barack Obama

Regardless of political views I hope you will find time to listen in full (37 minutes) to this wonderful speech of Barack Obama. His pride and love for America is fantastic to see and hear. It seems to me from this speech he is doing all he can to address ‘head on’ the controversial issue of race in a very even handed, conciliatory way.

This is not a speech about conflict between black and white. It is about how everyone has something to bring to the table - we all have gifts

As far as I am concerned it is wonderful hear a politician speak from the heart. He is a terrific speaker. His freshness, optimism and pragmatism appeal to me and I wish him well in the forthcoming Presidential Election.

Tuesday, March 18, 2008

Simplicity Wins Again!

In my reading matter I came across a story today that Munich-based software company Codemart was awarded the Innovation Prize 2008 of the SMB Initiative for its web-based mind-mapping tool MindMeister.

I am not into IT in a big way but what I loved most about the press coverage of this story were the following two extracts;

“The simplicity of the solution as well as the clear end user benefits convinced us“, said Prof. Dr. Carsten Felden, professor for Information Economy and Business Informatics of the Technical University Bergakademie Freiberg at the reward ceremony.

And this absolute gem - I promise I didn't write it!

"Codemart is a privately held software development company specializing in highly usable web applications, mainly built on the Ruby on Rails technology. Our team of skilled nearshore developers provide top quality services at attractive rates. Committed to the “less is more” principle, we think that in software, like in most things, simplicity is the key to success."

Amen to that - you won't find me disagreeing!

Tuesday Reflections ......

Every week since the beginning of 2008 I have been on the road more than I have been at home. To be at home this week therefore provides me with a wonderful opportunity to catch up with loose ends and do some writing. It feels good to be able to have time to reflect.

On Thursday evening we are going to see An Audience with Tony Benn at the Town Hall, Birmingham and on Sunday we have tickets for The Eagles in concert at the O2 Arena in London.

So it turns this is quite a nice week.

One reflection is about my previous life, working in the NHS and how I had 6 weeks and 2 days paid holiday every year plus every Public Holiday off duty. This meant I was paid to be away from my job for about 43 days every year.

A massive eight and a half weeks paid to be way from my desk.

Now that I am self-employed I have no paid ‘annual leave’. I have no regular hours - in fact I work longer hours than ever I did in my NHS career. I do not get paid if I am sick.

And yet ….. I am happier than ever before in my life.

Why? - 3 simple reasons spring to mind;

*I'm in love with Annie who supports me 100%

*I'm doing what I want to do

*I'm content

Life is good - love and contentment are more important than money.

Monday, March 17, 2008

5 Qualities of a Leader

Rocky Noe from Kentucky, US is a good friend and valued colleague. Rocky has been away from Blogging for a while due to his incredibly busy job working with children who have challenging behaviour.

The great news is Rocky is writing again on his
Hillbilly PhD Blog

He has posted a great topic on his view of
5 qualities of a leader

I know Rocky will welcome comments for what promises to be an ongoing subject for him over the coming weeks. Apart from being a man of great integrity, modesty and humility Rocky has a great talent as a wordsmith. His arguments are always persuasive.

Good to have you back in ‘Blogland’ Rocky!

Sunday, March 16, 2008

Jack Welch and Simplicity

Jack Welch when CEO of General Electric:

“Insecure managers create complexity. Frightened, nervous managers use thick convoluted planning books and busy slides filled with everything they’ve known since childhood……. They worry that if they’re simple, people will think they’re simple minded. In reality, of course, it’s just the reverse. Clear, tough minded people are the most simple.”

Thank you Jack - I couldn't have said it better. We all know those managers!

Saturday, March 15, 2008

The Big Question - Are you Manager or Coach?

If you have employees reporting to you in business these days, do you prefer to be called a manager or a coach? Nailing my colours to the mast - I love the word ‘coach’

This is not a new thing for me. I’ve ALWAYS had a problem with the word ‘manager’ when it comes to describing the relationship between the person in charge of a group of people at work. I’ve always held the view that people ‘manage’ themselves.

We manage ‘things’ – we ‘coach’ people is one of my favourite expressions!

Coaching of employees raises the ‘value’ of the relationship for both parties as far as I can see.

These days I feel privileged and honoured to be described as a coach for a few clients I work with. My ‘job’ is certainly not to ‘manage’ them. My role is to 'get alongside' the person and then it is our task working together to find ways in which they can solve any issues they may have. We plan how they can get to work on things they are good at and that they enjoy.

That description is a million miles away from the traditional description of a ‘manager.’

‘Manager’ to me implies status differential and demarcation on an organisational chart. ‘Manager’ implies somehow that one partner in the relationship is more important. That is not how I would describe my idea of effective working relationships.

Management is about rules and coaching is about getting the best out of people.

Real joy for me comes from seeing people flourish and thriving in their work and that they look forward to going to work.

In the NHS whenever I was described on my job description as a ‘manager’ I never saw myself as ‘managing’ people. I always felt our relationship was one of adults working together.

I think the best managers are actually 'coaches' - even if their job description describes them as a 'Manager'

In a nutshell it’s not about rules it’s about relationships.

Friday, March 14, 2008

9 days and counting .....

Sunday 23 March beckons when we will be seeing The Eagles in concert as they launch their world tour at the O2 Arena in London.

Like a child waiting for Father Christmas to arrive, I can't wait. I hope I never 'grow up'

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

Enthusiasm Rules OK!

As a 'mature adult' I have to say I get more than irritated when youngsters are criticised. I am very optimistic about my future being in the hands of the young people of today.

How fabulous it is when we see a youngster with real passion to make a difference. Yesterday Annie and I met such a youngster working in the National Health Service.

She is only 23 and it is just so obvious from her whole demeanour that she really wants to make a difference for her patients in the caring role she fulfils in the National Health Service.

She works with some very challenging clients and yet she approaches her job with such brilliant enthusiasm and optimism. I pray that she never loses those qualities and I just hope ‘the system’ does not beat that innocence out of her and wear her down.
We simply cannot afford to lose people like this.

We need people like this young woman more than ever before in management and leadership positions because it seems to me there are far too many people either burned out, tired or demotivated .... or worse still .... all three!

Tuesday, March 11, 2008

Maybe Simplicity is catching on!

Does this posting make me a nerd? - No need to answer that!

There are almost 34 million Google entries for the word ‘simplicity’

I was therefore pleasantly surprised and very pleased to find my Simplicity Blog was the eighth highest rated Google entry.

Maybe Simplicity is catching on after all.

Doesn't prove anything of course but it makes me feel warm.

Monday, March 10, 2008

Trust Me I'm a Patient

Today we delivered the first of a series of 25 ‘Trust Me I’m a Patient’ workshops across the South Central part of England in the National Health Service (NHS) between now and the end of June.

This workshop is about winning hearts and minds of front line staff, clinicians and managers working in the NHS about greater patient involvement in health services.

Annie and I work together in these half day workshops and that just adds to my joy. Not only does it feel like we are trying to help NHS staff and managers to increase customer involvement but the fact I am working alongside the woman I love makes it doubly enjoyable – life does not get much better than this. Annie is first of all a wonderful wife and also a brilliant professional. Thank you God!

If you are interested you can see more about our workshops at my Website - click here

The first workshop today was in Southampton and it went well. We had excellent feedback in the evaluation.

One down 24 to go ….

Sunday, March 09, 2008

Electronic Patient Records

I said I would return to the subject of the introduction electronic patient records in the National Health Service.

I will nail my colours to the mast from the outset – I am a great fan of electronic notes. I actually believe most clinicians working in the NHS are also fans in principle.

I look forward to an electronic system that means wherever I am as a patient in the UK (or indeed wherever I am in the world) the health professionals involved in my care can log in and see my health record wherever I happen to be. I am convinced this will improve patient safety and could save lives.

The main concerns appear to be about security of information and whether our information is safe or not.

This has been highlighted in recent scandals in other government departments such as the Tax Office and Child Benefit where CD’s containing personal information have apparently been ‘lost.’

It goes without saying we need to make sure there are strict safeguards built in to the NHS electronic patient records system to ensure no such ‘accidents’ happen with our personal health records.

I certainly do not want a system that is so insecure that my health records may end up for public viewing!

There are also concerns about who will have access to view patient’s notes within the NHS. Will all staff for instance have access to all patients’ notes? The short answer is no. Modern software easily enables restricted access and the issue of access to non clinical staff is less of a security risk than we currently have with paper notes.

I will share a story to illustrate my point.

When I was 16 years of age I joined the NHS straight from school as a
very junior clerk. One of my first jobs was in the medical records department. As a 16 year old - and very green around the ears - I had total access to all the patients’ notes of that particular hospital. That is how secure/insecure patient’s paper notes are in reality in a hospital. So the idea that paper records are more secure than electronic records is totally flawed in my opinion.

Also there are numerous examples over the years of paper notes ‘getting lost.’

I share concerns of all who worry about the security implications. I think we have to make sure whatever electronic system the NHS finally plumps for gives the patients the guarantees they need about security.

I hope patients support the principle of the electronic record because this is definitely the way forward.

Monday, March 03, 2008

Blog Radio Interview

I'm looking forward to a live one hour long interview on Blog Radio with Wayne Hurlbert from Canada on Friday morning at 1 am my time in the UK which will be 7 pm in Canada.

If anyone wants to listen ‘live’ at that unearthly hour in the UK you can listen in at this link.

Otherwise a recording of the interview will be available on
Wayne’s website at the same link.