Posts Tagged ‘Change’

The Spiral of Success

The Spiral of Success

Of all the great athletes I have been fortunate to meet or coach in Cricket, I have yet to meet one who isn’t consistently successful over a period of time who doesn’t have a ‘positive’ and ‘aggressive’ attitude toward life. Likewise for winning teams, they are made up of characters whose predominant mindset is shaped by this outlook on life. Not aggressive in the violent sense of the word, more an approach to life based upon seeking opportunity, taking the initiative and making their own circumstances, rather than waiting for them. The ‘positive’ side of this equation is that the individual and team actively engages and participates in making their own future, even to the point of recreating themselves where it is required. Now this is not only in sport, it is in every field of endeavour, all the great Captains of Industry have had these traits, likewise in Politics. In my field of endeavour, professional cricket, the Champions Trophy has just finished in South Africa, the England side after being thrashed in the One Day series on home soil by Australia, came to the southern hemisphere looking a decidedly broken side.

And yet, in the space of a flight down south and some dark nights of reflection, the side came out and surprised even the most optimistic of England’s supporters by playing with a refreshingly ‘positive’ and ‘aggressive’ attitude. It culminated in them making the semi finals, they then fell, but not before they looked as if they had thrown off some of the previous 17 years of inferior performance in this format of the game. (In professional cricket each format is called a ‘product’ as it is being sold to a particular TV and advertising market place. England have been woeful pretty much since the 1992 World Cup Final. )

Nothing has changed with the skill levels, the fitness or technique of the players, the only thing that has moved has been England’s attitude. From without it is not possible to pinpoint where the shift has come from, only those in the dressing room and inner sanctum of the team will really know, if I were to surmise though, I would look to Andrew Strauss and his leadership. He showed both generosity and steely focus when it was required in this competition, it will take more than one competition to shift England’s fortunes and a semi final doesn’t mark dramatic success. Yet this could be the seed of success from which England begin to build a team that will match the world’s best consistently. I flag this because I believe England may well have a Captain who has the necessary VISION and COURAGE to move the side into becoming a more successful outfit, playing a more successful ‘brand’ of cricket in this ‘product’.
Every success spiral has a beginning ……..

Positive Mental Attitude

In my last blog I briefly discussed authentic leadership based upon ‘example’ rather personality ‘techniques’. I am a great believer that people intuitively see through the hot air and bluster of managers and CEO’s that get by on rhetoric rather than substance. They can enjoy the respect and privilege that the position commands for a while, then as time moves on, staff  begin to see if they can back up their position with leadership that deals with the challenges that todays business environment demands.
On the 20th of August England will take on Australia in the final Ashes test of this series, for those of you not particuarly interested in cricket, bear with me, this isn’t really about cricket, cricket is our metaphor. Its actually about a multi million pound business that is going to have to lean on its new fledgling leadership in a time of ‘perceptual’ crisis. Englands leadership duo of Captain Andrew Strauss and Coach Andy Flower are both new to their roles at this level. I say perceptual ‘crisis’ because England got beaten into submission in the last match, in real terms though, England are level pegging with Australia, they are tied on one test each in the series, so with the last test looming there is everything to play for.

Captain Strauss is pleading for calm and for the public, and perhaps his own players, not to panic. Now Andrew is a strong character, principled and intelligent, this will be the biggest test of his leadership so far. In my own experience of these ‘perceptual’ crises, both at first class and international level, it is paramount  to make sure that your focus, your actions and your speech are creating a positive reality for your team. If you communicate with absolute faith your belief that you will perform well and that the team have the capacity to excel in these challenging circumstances, then the positive focus, energy and commitment will bring you through. You stayed focused in the present and allow your game plan and skills to look after your performance. If the leadership doubts, then the team sense this and they play accordingly, defeat has already been created before the act has begun.
Hold your nerve Andrew.

 Richard Pybus

The new CO2 emissions trading scheme – are you aware..?


Having been getting involved recently in Green IT I was amazed to discover how little awareness there is of the Government’s new Carbon Reduction Commitment (CRC) which is a mandatory emissions trading scheme being introduced from April 2010 under which companies will have to purchase ‘allowances’ from the Government to offset their CO2 emissions.

The more CO2 an organisation emits, the more ‘allowances’ it has to purchase.  Making a direct incentive for organisations to reduce emissions by increasing energy efficiency.  In addition, organisations will appear on a league table showing their comparative performance and will receive revenue back from the Government from the that raised by selling ‘allowances’ in proportion to their position on the table.  If this league table is made public then I envisage many image concious high-street brands will be competing vigorously for position.

Government estimates indicate that around 20,000 public and private sector organisations will be required to participate in CRC in some way.  Around 5,000 organisations will be required to record and monitor their CO2 emissions and purchase allowances equivalent to their emissions each year. The rest will be required to tell the administrator about their electricity usage.

Qualification for CRC is based on half hourly electricity consumption during the qualification period. For the introductory phase, this is the 2008 calendar year.  An organisation qualifies as a full participant in CRC if, during the qualification period, it had at least one half hourly meter (HHM) settled on the half hourly market, and its annual electricity consumption through all HHMs was at least 6,000 MWh.

Looking forward to some potential changes and affects that may arise:


  1. New initiatives no longer being judged on ROI but having an added criteria of “Impact on CO2 footprint”
  2. A secondary trading market arising around the ‘allowances’
  3. As over 10% of a typical electrcity bill results from ICT - a raft of specific CO2 based ICT initiatives
  4. Smart(er) buildings – more insulation and recycling to reduce energy consumption
  5. Smart(er) working practices – switch-off policies, minimal printing



    A couple of days ago I posted about how Olympic gold medal winning cyclist Chris Boardman encouraged us to think differently, and I left you with a question. How many ‘f’s are there in the following sentence?


    I got a few replies. Some people saw four, others six.

    FF2I thought there were six too, how clever I felt….for a few seconds.


    As you can see, there are in fact 20 ‘f’s. 14 of them are hidden behind the ‘e’s. It wasn’t Boardman who spotted this, it was a colleague of his. Someone who up to that point had featured very little in Boardman’s thinking. At a stroke, this example of seeing and thinking differently changed Boardman’s perpective. He was beginning the journey from solo selfish focussed sporting superstar, to a visionary, exciting team leader. And we all know the powerful effect that team had at the Beijing Olympics.

    Ok so this was a fun look at a serious business. Next time I’ll get stuck into some more different thinking and some essentials for high performing teams. Have a great weekend and thanks for playing.

    Doug Shaw

    The “Home Delivery Trap”

    I was watching TV this week – the Money Programme – looking at supermarket spending habits during the recession.  Interestingly, Fairtrade purchases have increased over the last 12 months, ‘Organics’ have fallen off a cliff.

    During the programme, one family was asked to stop its weekly Tesco shop, and instead try in turn: shopping on the urban high street (butcher, greengrocer…), Iceland, and purchasing only ‘Value’ items.  All three turned out to be cheaper (in 2 cases, up to 25% less) – however, at the end of the trial, the shopper stated that she was going to carry on using Tesco for her weekly shop.  When asked why, she said that she liked the flexibility and convenience of shopping on line and having it delivered.

    Clearly, shopping on line is here to stay, which is a mixed blessing for the retailers.  As a process, it is one of the most inefficient going – supermarkets now have legions of staff walking round their own stores, picking up items that their colleagues have put out a few hours before, bagging them, putting them in plastic boxes, and then passing them to other colleagues to drive them up to customers’ houses.  The economics are nutty.  But the supermarkets are caught in a tight spot – what they would love is for you to pick it up yourself whenever possible, and pay a hefty premium for the convenience of home delivery.  The premium being charged is too low, but is now a ‘market rate’, and scope for increasing appears limited.

    How can the supermarkets create a change in customer behaviour that will address these issues?  Slots could be reserved by geographic area – larger vehicles carrying out more drops in a smaller area may help a bit.  Or maybe setting up a dedicated delivery network – Waitrose, via Ocado, have a parallel sales channel, which may have slightly better economics, but it’s not  a breakthrough.

    I am not sure the current ways of working can last forever – the supermarkets will look for ways to change customer behaviours, either through rewarding store visits, or limiting home deliveries, to get more of us back into the stores.

    But if the Money Programme is to be believed, if we have to go to the stores, we may go elsewhere…

    Connecting people & ideas

    If you haven’t yet discovered, it’s worth a look.  One presentation that caught my attention is Seth Godin - an inspiring storyteller with great use of humour & imagery.  Here’s a link to his TED talk on ‘Tribes‘ about making change happen through creating movements – leading & connecting people & ideas.  Enjoy!

    The Tribes we lead

    Wisdom of change

    The slideshow (above) shows just some of the ‘top tips’ we received from members of our Change Directors Forum.  We used 10 quotes to create giveaway cards for our event on 25 June (Emily Landis Walker speaking on “Engaging People in Change: leading through uncertainty“).  I used to print the cards – a really great site for creative, value for money printing…

    We asked event attendees:“If you could give one piece of advice to fellow Change Directors on managing organisational change, what would it be?”


    To start a culture change all we need to do is…

    “To start a culture change all we need to do is two simple things:

    1.  Do dramatic story-worthy things that represent the culture we want to create. Then let other people tell stories about it.

    2.  Find other people who do story-worthy things that represent the culture we want to create. Then tell stories about them” (Bregman, HBR 25 June 09).

    I love the concept of storytelling to change behaviour & have seen first-hand how peer pressure can change pea haters into pea lovers… But to me, it makes more sense to time the implementation of the tangible elements that would re-inforce the desired culture (e.g. reward systems) to co-incide with the communication of the stories?    Whereas the article suggests not to change anything else (at first) & harness the tension created?  How so?  Can you use “the disconnect between the new stories and the entrenched systems promoting the old culture” to drive employee ownership of the new systems?  Read Bregman’s “A Good Way to Change a Corporate Culture” and let me know what you think…

    Buy-in: what gets yours?

    For our latest Change Directors event I asked attendees to contribute their top tips for managing organisational change.  I was excited to receive 35 ‘pearls of wisdom’ from a diverse set of individuals – ranging from FTSE 50 Directors & Public Sector Leaders to Interim Consultants and Not-for-Profit Managers.  The one common thread was ‘get senior level buy-in to the Change’.  Just reading it, ‘getting buy-in’ seems like a simple task to be performed at the beginning of the programme – just an action to cross off the to-do list…

    I am not a Change Expert, but I have worked for Consultants leading complex change programmes for over 10 years and have delivered many marketing projects requiring senior level sponsorship, so I know it’s a little more complicated than that…

    It got me thinking, what are the actual steps you take to secure ‘buy-in’ and how do you know when you’ve got it?  We’ve all been in those meetings where your colleague, Rob, is explaining their latest idea & asking you for your support.  You nod & say “Sure, sounds great, I can do that” & make a note on your action list.  Then you return to your desk & dive back into the other 3 projects you’re managing.  Now, if Rob is Senior Management, you may comply with his wishes fairly quickly.  But if he’s a peer-level colleague, a few things run through your mind: do I care about Rob’s project? do I respect Rob? do I like Rob? what would happen if I didn’t do anything?

    Realistically, it’s going to take more than one meeting with Rob for me to make it a priority – I have to care about his project, I have to respect him and it has to be more important/urgent than all my other work tasks for me to make time to do something.  That’s how Rob will know when he’s got my real buy-in – not only have I done what he’s asked me to do, but my actions go beyond his request & I’ve committed to making the project a success.  If Rob has really enthused me, I’ve motivated a colleague to contribute too.  I care.

    I googled ‘buy-in’ & found a simple paragraph in a HBR article that sums it up for me:  “As Harvard author and psychologist, Daniel Goleman, has taught us, leaders must be able to get along with others. The ability to relate to others as a fellow human being is essential to gaining buy-in for a leadership objective. Sure you can tell people what to do, but if you do not earn their trust you will get compliance, not commitment. Being everyone’s pal is not necessary, but treating others with respect is essential gaining trust, an attribute that is essential to holding teams together in trying times“.  (“Crisis Raises New Issues for Executive Coaches“, John Baldoni, HBR, May 2009)

    So, are the Change Agents that consciously build trust & respect the only ones to get real buy-in?  What do you think?

    the resource for Change Directors