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Three ways to deal with failure, by Seth Godin

April 10, 2014 Graeme Codrington Change, Innovation, Leadership, Personal Development No Comments
Three ways to deal with failure, by Seth Godin

Seth Godin is one of my favourite authors and business thinkers. I find his daily blog inspirational and insightful.

Here’s one from a while ago that has really stuck with me. I think Seth is spot on with this insight, and it could really help you to deal with failure and think about your corporate culture.

Accuracy, resilience and denial

… three ways to deal with the future.

Accuracy is the most rewarding way to deal with what will happen tomorrow–if you predict correctly. Accuracy rewards those that put all their bets on one possible outcome. The thing is, accuracy requires either a significant investment of time and money, or inside information (or luck, but that’s a different game entirely). Without a reason to believe that you’ve got better information than everyone else, it’s hard to see how you can be confident that this is a smart bet.

Resilience is the best strategy for those realistic enough to admit that they can’t predict the future with more accuracy than others. Resilience isn’t a bet on one outcome, instead, it’s an investment across a range of possible outcomes, a way to ensure that regardless of what actually occurs (within the range), you’ll do fine.

And denial, of course, is the strategy of assuming that the future will be just like today.

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People connect with a sense of purpose, says Markus Kramer

People connect with a sense of purpose, says Markus Kramer

In this Video, TomorrowToday associate, international keynote speaker and ex-marketing director of Aston Martin, Markus talks about the importance of companies having a purpose that is appealling and relevant for their target market. Without an applicable purpose you can not win the hearts and minds of your customers.

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The four horsemen of mediocrity, by Seth Godin

January 30, 2014 Graeme Codrington Change, Leadership, Organisational Development, The workplace No Comments
The four horsemen of mediocrity, by Seth Godin

Seth Godin’s blog today is superb. He is identified four key reasons that employees are disengaged, that productivity is declining or stagnant, and that companies struggle to innovate and develop.

The four horsemen of mediocrity

by Seth Godin

Deniability–”They decided, created, commanded or blocked. Not my fault.”

Helplessness–”My boss won’t let me.”

Contempt–”They don’t pay me enough to put up with the likes of these customers.”

Fear–”It’s good enough, it’s not worth the risk, people will talk, this might not work…”

The industrial age brought compliance and compliance brought fear and fear brought us mediocrity.

The good news about fear is that once you see it, feel it and dance with it, you have a huge opportunity, the chance to make it better.

Source: Seth Godin

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The Year of the Employee: Forbes’ predictions for 2014 talent, leadership and HR tech

The Year of the Employee: Forbes’ predictions for 2014 talent, leadership and HR tech

Ian Turner, one of Duke CE’s top MD’s and leadership development programme experts gets credit for finding this interesting article and sending it on to me. There are some fascinating thoughts in Deloittes’ predictions for 2014, published in Forbes, as they suggest that this will be an important year for talent, leadership and HR.

Read the full article here.

As they point out, based on a Deloitte’s Human Capital Trends survey they’re just completing, “the top two people issues facing organizations in 2014 are leadership and retention. These are the problems we face in a dynamic, growing global economy…. This year, for the first time in more than five years, employees are in charge. Companies have reduced costs, restructured, rationalized spending, and pushed people to work harder than ever. More than 60% of organizations tell us one of their top is dealing with “the overwhelmed employee. This year the power will shift: high-performing employees will start to exert control.”

Their top ten predictions are:

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Booz & Co’s Strategy+Business Best Business Blogs of 2013

Booz & Co’s Strategy+Business Best Business Blogs of 2013

The editor of Booz & Co’s Strategic+Business magazine and blog site selected his favourite business blogs of 2013. I like this list a lot – there’s some really valuable articles here. It’s an eclectic list, but well worth taking some time to read through and share with your team:

Susan Cramm: Retaining Top Talent: Yes, It Really Is All about Them
If you want to retain your high-potential employees, you have to get involved in helping them plan their careers.

Ken Favaro: Is Strategy Fixed or Variable?
Successful strategists understand that their role is to manage a process fraught with contradictions.

Sally Helgesen: The Three Habits of Highly Effective Demotivators
Surefire tips for stamping out morale and making sure you get the least out of your employees.

Nick Hodson and Thom Blischok: What if Clay Christensen Is Right about the Grocery Business (and Amazon Is Wrong)?
The disruptive influences of e-commerce may finally be setting their sights on the grocery industry.

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Five New Year’s Resolutions Every Leader Should Make (HBR Blog)

As we head into a new year, an article on the Harvard Business Review blog network caught my eye. It went beyond those pithy list type emails and Facebook status updates you get at this time of year, with some real insight backed by research. The focus is on five key actions leaders can take to make a real difference in their organisations, especially with regards to talent development.

We all know how vital talent development is: finding, attracting, nurturing, developing and retaining talent are absolutely key to success in the world of work right now. More than ever before. The author of this article in HBR, Sylvia Ann Hewlett, correctly argues though that the emphasis at the moment should be on DIVERSE TALENT. A good talent pool is not enough: a good, diverse talent pool is essential. This is especially true for multinational companies. You can read her full article with all the additional research included (it’s worth well it!) at the HBR blog site here, or a summary of her five leadership actions below:

1. Be more inclusive. What does it take to consistently drive growth and innovation? The answer, according to CTI’s latest research, is a diverse workforce managed by leaders who cherish difference, embrace disruption, and foster a speak-up culture. Leaders have long recognized that an inherently diverse workforce “matches the market” and confers a competitive edge by recognizing the unmet needs of consumers and clients like themselves. But ideas from outliers too often are ignored or squelched because their originators don’t resemble the paradigms of corporate power — Caucasian, male, heterosexual, and from a similar educational and socioeconomic background. Leaders who promote a culture of diverse talent — whether in their team or throughout their organization — where everyone feels free to volunteer opinions or propose solutions that contradict convention unlock the full spectrum of innovative capacity.

2. Create pathways for sponsorship. What can help talented women, gays, and people of color spread their wings and succeed? The answer is sponsorship — a strategic workplace partnership between those with power and those with potential. Unlike mentors, who act as sympathetic sounding boards, sponsors are people in positions of power who work on their protégé’s behalf to clear obstacles, foster connections, assign higher-profile work to ease the move up the ranks, and provide aircover and support in case of stumbles. Sponsors have a significant impact on the career traction of their female and multicultural protégés: 68% of women with sponsors say they are satisfied with their rate of advancement, compared with 57% of those without sponsors; 53% of sponsored African-Americans and 55% of Asians are satisfied with their career progress, compared with, respectively, 35% and 30%. Those numbers add up to employees who are more committed, more engaged, and more likely to attract similar talent.

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How to be a better leader – practical steps and exercises

December 12, 2013 Graeme Codrington Leadership No Comments
How to be a better leader – practical steps and exercises

Last month, our colleague in South Africa, Keith Coats, started a series of blog entries aimed at helping people become better leaders. He has labelled the series “how to be future fit” and is providing daily, practical tools and exercises that will help you shift towards being an adaptive leader, ready for success in turbulent times.

If you missed the start of the series, don’t worry: you can begin any time. It is designed to give you 5 to 10 minutes of reflection, some activities and a little work in order to help you develop your leadership skills. You can start now by going back to the first leadership skill and working through all the entries thus far. We recommend you pace yourself and do no more than one per day.

Use this end of year season wisely to take a step up in your leadership ability. The list of entries thus far can be found below (we will keep it updated, so this is a good index for you).

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Humble Inquiry: The art of asking questions and why it’s a crucial leadership discipline

Humble Inquiry: The art of asking questions and why it’s a crucial leadership discipline

“If you leave today asking more questions than I give you answers, then I will consider today’s session a success” says Dr Graeme Codrington, TomorrowToday’s founding and international partner during his presentation on The TIDES of Change.

An important leadership skill during times of turbulence and relentless change is the ability to ask important questions – Questions that shift organisations and if not shift organisations shift the important conversations in organisations. However, the art of asking questions is a rarely used leadership skill and one that needs to be learnt, it’s that important for success in the connection economy, that we’d encourage every leader to spend time every day reflecting on the questions they should be asking rather than the actions they should be taking.  Leaders have been taught to tell, taught to command. But in today’s fast paced, complex, volatile, interconnected world hierarchy means nothing. Technology and the flow of information now means that anyone anywhere could have vital information that could mean the difference between success or failure. By telling and not asking you would never know. The free flow of information and the ability to motivate and inspire people to act by asking questions is crucial. Command and control shuts down the conversation, it makes people feel inferior and locks out the view of what they may be seeing and what you may be missing.

Personally the skill of asking important questions has probably been the most important lesson I’ve learnt this year. I have Prof Nick Barker t, one of our associates to thank for that. We were discussing some of the aspects of TIDES (our frameworks on the impact of disruptive forces) that we deliver and we got onto talking about the imprtance of asking questions rather than telling. It was profoundly simple and powerful concept at the same time. It’s not an easy skill to master, but by thinking carefully it’s a skill I aim to master in 2014.

So when I came across Ed Schein’s book titled Humble Inquiry: The Gentle Art of Asking Instead of Telling I immediately downloaded it onto my Kindle. Booz & Co also lists this book as one of its Best Business Books for 2013

Humble Inquiry builds the kinds of positive, trusting, balanced relationships that encourage honest and open interactions in both our professional and personal lives. Schein defines Humble Inquiry as “the fine art of drawing someone out, of asking questions to which you do not know the answer, of building a relationship based on curiosity and interest in the other person.” In this seminal work he explores the concept of humility, looks at how Humble Inquiry differs from other kinds of inquiry, offers examples of Humble Inquiry in action in many different settings, and shows how to overcome the cultural, organizational and psychological barriers that keep us from practicing it This is a major new contribution to how we see human dynamics and relationships, presented in a compact, personal, eminently practical way.

I’m looking forward to reading this book and will share insights as I do, evidently it is packed with great practical examples, my reading over christmas is sorted! :-)



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How did things ever get so far?… It was so unfortunate, so unnecessary

November 28, 2013 Dil Sidhu Change, Connection Economy, Leadership No Comments
How did things ever get so far?… It was so unfortunate, so unnecessary

This post is submitted by TomorrowToday associate Dil Sidhu, Chief External Officer at Manchester Business School

These were the words spoken by the fictional crime family patriarch Don Corleone in the movie ‘The Godfather’ in reference to actions and counteractions between  crime families.  The same comments are also just as applicable to the revelations that continue to surface from corporate organisations in reference to their board governance and the damaging decisions taken by individuals.

In the UK the financial news is currently focused on the difficulties faced by the Co-Operative Bank,  and Co-Operative Group, about allegations around behaviours of senior board leadership. As a self-styled ‘Ethical Bank’ the Co-Operative was considered the bastion of doing things differently and better than the financial institutions that were part of the cause of the 2008 melt-down or one of the many victims of the ensuing domino effect that followed.

Since that time there have been numerous in investigations, parliamentary committees, congressional hearings and financial re-regulation.  However, while the rules and regulations have been tightened there has been scant attention paid to the leadership styles of those that were in the driver’s seat when the financial institutions hit the wall.

New regulations with the same leadership issues will not necessarily be enough to avoid future similar scenarios unfolding. The leadership styles, personal values and appreciation of leading in times of ambiguity should also form part of the outcomes from the multitude of new governance and financial regulatory guidelines.

I recently spent two-days learning about what it means to be an ‘Effective Non-Executive Director’ operating with a corporate board.  The programme was great at reviewing the history of corporate governance, the multiple regulations and operating guidelines that have been established and also the dynamics that are present in a board room team.  However, all the rules and regulations in the world will not make much difference, as the on-going press stories about individual lapses in judgement and leadership suggest, if the area of personal leadership style and values are not included in the dialogue.

One way to determine how senior leaders make decisions is to gauge their ability to operate in an environment of ambiguity and uncertainty.  This is where I would argue our values-based thinking comes to the forefront instead of what any corporate rules and regulations list.  Organisations are made up of people first and operating principles and guidelines second. The people need to be ‘road-tested’ on their ability to make clear decisions based on the available facts.  The quality of discussions is a clear indicator of making better decisions as is the ability to create a team that is diverse.  Diversity in thought and perspective rather than diversity defined as gender, ethnicity or other measures exlusively.

If the same people with the same leadership behaviours are operating at senior levels – no amount of regulatory framework or good governing practice guidelines will be enough to avert further corporate headlines and business crashes.

The unfolding of the situation at the Co-Operative Bank is testament to the need to change leadership operating guidelines in tandem with surfacing and enhancing personal behaviours and values.


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TomorrowToday: Welcome to our world

Imagine a company with no written contracts between the business partners; no offices; no underpinning capital; as much – or little leave as you want; measured by outcomes; no HR policies or any policies really – just sensible agreements on how things should work; where everything is transparent, including take home pay; where home is where you work – unless you choose some coffee shop, park or beach; where learning is mandatory and sharing what you have, know and don’t know is as natural Hands holding worldas a mid-day movie, fetching your kids from school or taking time to think; a place where you work with smart people who also happen to be nice people; people who ‘have your back’ and with whom you would take into any battle, face any challenge or tackle any obstacle; where your clients span the planet and emanate from a variety of industries; a place where who you are matters more than what you know; a place where meaningful work and passion are more important than making a lot of money – as nice as that is; a place that is fun, flexible and challenging; where robust conversation never threatens relationship and feedback is prized more than recognition; a place where every day is different, an opportunity, a challenge; a place where you can make a difference; a place that prizes the journey over the destination.

That company, that place is TomorrowToday. Welcome to our world.

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Seven steps to creating a Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy and Awesome world

Seven steps to creating a Vibrant, Unreal, Crazy and Awesome world

The acronym VUCA comes from military vocabulary and stands for volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous situation. Originating in the late 1990′s the term has infiltrated corporate and government organisations used primarily to generate emerging ideas and solutions in strategic planning.

However, whilst this sounds great for consultants selling fear-mongering it does not encapsulate the golden era of change that we live in. Of course there is volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. That’s life! But we actually live in an exciting, vibrant and incredible time of change. Leaders have never been more privileged than what they are today and they have a clean sheet of paper to re-imagine every aspect of business. With privilege comes responsibility too. Failure to change means loss of shareholder confidence, loss of position, loss of customers, loss of jobs etc.

The  VUCA interpretation misses the point, it generates a concentration of developing strategies aimed at reducing the volatility and getting back to normality. When rather  the waves of change need to be ridden and seen as an adventure in the quest to create a vibrant, unreal, crazy and awesome world.  This different take on the word VUCA is one I heard Global CEO of Saatchi and Saatchi Kevin Roberts talk about. It’s a brilliant spin on the acronym and changes the strategic mindset to one that seeks new opportunities and challenges established paradigms.

The next time you are in a strategy session examining the opportunities and threats, explore how your organisation can contribute to and benefit from a VIBRANT, UNREAL, CRAZY and AWESOME world. This is the VUCA world leaders should focus on creating.

Below is a speech Kevin Roberts gave on the term VUCA and how the word can be used to think about how we create a better world for everyone

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Businesses that are building sustainable competitive advantage by doing good for society (Case Study)

Businesses that are building sustainable competitive advantage by doing good for society (Case Study)

In an earlier blog I spoke about the “perversions of the proper workings of capitalism”. In my mind Capitalism is inherently good. The Capitalist seeks to find and address a need. They innovate, take risks and work out how to use capital to make a profit. The Industrialist on the other hand surveys the competitive landscape they observe Capitalists and once the capitalist has figured out how to make a profit they typically purchase the entity or start a competing brand. Once in they take the system polish the system and drive down costs. Industrialists don’t like to innovate (don’t fix what’s not broken is their mantra) they certainly don’t like change or taking risks. Industrialists take a short-term approach to returns. They’d rather chain their workers to a desk and control them or lock their customers into dead-end deals. Capitalists create value, Industrialists extract value. Of course the Industrial system has been immensely successful, because it’s given us a lot of cheap stuff. Our grandparents, parents and even ourselves have bought into this model. But the costs to society as a whole are mounting and there are a group of vanguard leaders taking the proper principles of Capitalism and creating businesses that not only deliver value to shareholders but also to customers and society. We’ve identified three standout case studies: IBM: Building a smarter planet; Tom Shoes: One for One and John Lewis Partnership: The proper workings of capitalism. These case studies reveals insight into how doing good for society is also very good for business.

IBM: Building a Smarter Planet. 

IBM have recognised that by using their core competencies as a systems, consulting and IT company they can help solve some of the worlds most pressing and biggest problems. Things like congestion, pollution and overcrowding. BY partnering with other forward thinking leaders in business, government and civil society around the world, IBM are capturing the potential of smarter systems to achieve economic growth, deliver sustainable development and eliminate some of the perversions of the proper workings of Capitalims. Not only does this approach to business attract some of the best talent, it gives teams at IBM a real sense of purpose. The result is a committed, motivated workforces that delivers results for shareholders societal progress.

Toms Shoes: One for One

Blake Mycoskie founder of Toms Shoes is representative of this new type of leader. Blake started a shoe company with a unique value proposition – for every pair of shoes he sold, he would give a second pair to a child in need. He also made a conscious decision to make it a for-profit business. It requires new leadership mindsets, new business models, standing up to shareholders in the short-term but the results are speaking for themselves. Companies that take societal as well as shareholder returns seriously are reaping the reward of loyal customers, higher sales and greater profits.

John Lewis Partnership: Eliminating the perversions of Capitalism

The John Lewis Partnership was started by Spedan Lewis as an experiment in democratic capitalism. Spedan Lewis wanted a business that contributed to the wealth and welfare of his workers and he wanted them all to have a say in the running of the business. The business model has proven to be immensely successful and is popular not only with the Partners who work their but also with the Partnership’s customers. JLP is a fantastic example of business that not only delivers but also shares value. Spedan Lewis’s experiment was indeed a huge success. Other businesses should take not here is a business model “that makes work something to live for as well as something to live by.

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Primary Blog contributors

The main contributors to this blog are:

Dr Graeme Codrington, co-founder of TomorrowToday, author, speaker and expert on the changing world of work
Dean van Leeuwen, co-founder and CEO of TomorrowToday UK & Europe, speaker, consultant and Chief Intellectual Adventurer
Catherine Garland, head of the TomorrowToday Strategic Insights team and previous MD of GFK Research in the United Kingdom
Keith Coats, co-founder of TomorrowToday South Africa, leadership development guru, speaker and author
Professor Nick Barker, director of the Asia Pacific Leadership Program at the East-West Center in Hawaii, leadership development expert
Markus Kramer, marketing director for Aston Martin and brand building expert
Keith Holdt, Visionary Enabler of business growth and change, currently works for LDC as an investment executive.
Dil Sidhu, Chief External Officer, Manchester Business School; Executive education specialist.
Dawna MacLean, expert on fostering meaningful change and creating authentic experiences through transparent and trusted partnerships.

Click here for a full list of contributors

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