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Strengths: Character Strengths and Signature Strengths

Strengths

StrengthsStrengths are the things we are naturally good at. Everyone knows that. And it has become something of a commonplace that:

We should play to our strengths

In fact, that seeming truism has been underpinned by a lot of academic research over the last 20 years or so, since Martin Seligman formally kicked-off the discipline of Positive Psychology.

So it is in the Positive Psychology sense that we shall examine what strengths are, and why they matter to us.

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Bonfire Night: Please to Remember the 5th of November

Bonfire Night

Bonfire NightThe lighting of bonfires in the long nights of autumn and winter is a tradition as old as mankind’s occupation of higher latitudes. But Bonfire Night – as the term is used in the UK – has a very specific origin. On 5 November 1605, a group fo Catholic conspirators sought to blow up the Houses of Parliament, while the Protestant king, James I of England and VI of Scotland, was to be there with his family. One conspirator, Guy Fawkes, was found in the cellars with 36 barrels of gunpowder.

From that year, the failure of the Gunpowder Plot, as it was known, has been celebrated in Britain – and also in many Commonwealth countries. Since the 1606 law, the ‘Observance of 5th November Act’, commonly called the ‘Thanksgiving Act’, Bonfire Night has been on 5th November. It’s also sometimes called Guy Fawkes’ Night, because it is also a tradition to burn an effigy of the hapless engineer on top of the bonfire; the ‘Guy’ as he is known.

That ‘Guy’ is something of an ‘evil everyman’. It’s now a tradition in some places to replace Fawkes with an effigy of a newsworthy figure of hate or ridicule. This can sometimes give offence. But in Britain, the right to give offence – particularly to politicians and public figures – has long been cherished. Bonfire Night is a good outlet for this spirit.

Continue reading Bonfire Night: Please to Remember the 5th of November

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Multi-Level Marketing (MLM): Pyramid Schemes?

Multi-Level Marketing

Multi-Level MarketingI’m sure Multi-Level Marketing has been around since ancient days. Send out street urchins to sell stuff and take a big chunk of their income. Get them to recruit other homeless kids and let them have a share of what their protegé earns.

But Multi-Level Marketing (or MLM) is big business now, with one estimate* putting it at around the US$200 billion per annum mark, worldwide.

So, we have to ask:

  • What is Multi-Level Marketing?
  • How does it work?
  • Is it a good way to earn a living (here’s a spoiler: no)?
  • And how do you spot an MLM scheme if offered one?

Continue reading Multi-Level Marketing (MLM): Pyramid Schemes?

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New Product Development – NPD: Something Shiny to Sell

New Product Development - NPD: Something Shiny to Sell

New Product Development - NPD: Something Shiny to SellWe take it for granted when new products appear on the market. Perhaps they were made by elves! Well, they must have been made by someone, who followed a process. And that process was the  New Product Development, or NPD, process.

The New Product Development process is now mature and well understood. There are many ways to articulate it, and none is that different from what mediaeval craftsmen would have used. But it’s still a big idea. And it’s an idea every manager should at least be familiar with.

Continue reading New Product Development – NPD: Something Shiny to Sell

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360 Degree Feedback: What Everyone Thinks of You

360 Degree Feedback

360 Degree FeedbackOrganisational life revolves around performance monitoring and measuring. Often it’s a single person who will assess your performance. But what if they had access to the observations of all sorts of people who work with you in different ways? That’s the big idea that 360 Degree Feedback represents.

The idea and practice of 360 degree feedback has been through rises and falls since it first appeared in the 1950s. And it really took off in the 1990s. But it is as important today as it’s ever been. So, let’s examine 360 degree feedback from a number of angles.

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Servant Leadership: Lightning Rod

Servant Leadership

Servant LeadershipServant Leadership is one of my personal favourite Big Ideas in the field of management and leadership. It’s been a discipline to push it this far back in our series of Big Ideas.

And we did cover Servant Leadership within our Management Thinkers series. The article on Robert Greenleaf describes the genesis of the idea.

So, in this article, I want to discuss the idea of Servant Leadership in the way I understand it, and introduce a second voice to Greenleaf’s: that of Max De Pree*.

Continue reading Servant Leadership: Lightning Rod

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Paradigm Shift: A Revolutionary Change in Thinking

Paradigm Shift

Paradigm ShiftSometimes a Big Idea gets inflated beyond its carrying capacity. People latch onto it without fully understanding it. It becomes over-used and, despite its validity, it becomes devalued. Such is the fate of Thomas Kuhn’s idea of the Paradigm Shift.

How many times in your life have you noticed that, somehow, there has been a substantial change in the way you – and others around you – think about something important? It seems to happen more and more often. Is this a real effect or what getting older feels like?

Or is it just because we have a label for these changes? We call them paradigm shifts. In the 1980s we might have called them quantum leaps, with even less justification. No, they are just changes.

So, what then is a paradigm shift, and how do they come about?

Continue reading Paradigm Shift: A Revolutionary Change in Thinking

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Growth Mindset: Putting it to Work

Growth Mindset: Putting it to Work

Growth Mindset: Putting it to WorkFour years ago we wrote about Growth Mindset, in our Management Thinkers series. We profiled the originator of the idea, Carol Dweck, and introduced the subject.

If there was any concern then that Growth Mindset may be little more than a fad, further research has only strengthened Dweck’s early conclusions. So, it seems timely to return to the topic.

While this article stands alone, I would recommend you to review the earlier article first. It’s good context. Because, to avoid repeating it, we’re going to use this article to look at how you can put the Big Idea of Growth Mindset to work in your workplace.

Continue reading Growth Mindset: Putting it to Work

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PDCA Cycle: Continuous Improvement with Shewhart and Deming

PDCA Cycle

PDCA CycleThere aren’t many ideas so big that we use them every day – often without thinking. But the PDCA Cycle, Plan-Do-Check-Act, is one.

The PDCA Cycle comes with many names and none. It’s pretty much something humans have been doing since the dawn of time. But that doesn’t diminish the idea.

So, what is the PDCA Cycle, and how has it evolved?

Continue reading PDCA Cycle: Continuous Improvement with Shewhart and Deming

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Flow: The Optimal State for a Human Being

Flow

FlowThe Flow State has been described by the first researcher to study it in depth, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi, as the optimal state for a human being.

When we are in a flow state, there’s nothing more we want, than to continue doing what we are doing, to completion. So, flow states are great for getting things done.

Continue reading Flow: The Optimal State for a Human Being

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