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The Secret to Success

Before moving to Hampshire, I lived on the edge of Surrey and Kent, and became a Governor at a fantastic and forward thinking school, Warlingham.  Warlingham School is a Business and Enterprise Specialist School, which is very active in promoting its specialism through the whole curriculum, and through many special events for the pupils.

On one of these events, I was asked to speak to a large group of younger pupils.  As a professional speaker, this was, perhaps, my toughest gig.  I decided to tell them what every young teenager needs to know in life – the secret to success.

No Snake Oil Merchant

Before you start wondering if I was peddling snake oil, or “the secret”, or some mystical approach, stop now.  The formula I promoted requires application and effort.  It follows common sense, and it is taught in military colleges around the world.

Because of its military roots, it is not well known – yet it deserves to be.  It is brilliant for managers in managing your team and your function, for leaders in reviewing progress, for anyone who wants personal success and, of course, for young people setting out to succeed. It went down a storm.

So what are you contributing to Schools?

I learned a lot by getting involved with Warlingham School, and later, as Chair of Governors at a primary school.  And I hope they got something from my contribution.

We hear a lot about “Big Society” but the truth is that volunteering has always been a big part of British society.  And the biggest single group of volunteers is school governors.  According to School Governors’ One-Stop Shop, there are 300,000 governor places in England, with around 40,000 vacancies – that’s over a quarter of a million active governors!

… and a load of opportunities to get involved.

Make a Business Contribution

18-22Oct

Visit our Schools and Colleges week runs from 18-22 October and offers a collaboration between schools and colleges, and business leaders and senior staff.  Whether you work in the private, public or third sector, here is a chance to spend a couple of hours helping your local school or college and I promise you will love it.

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From the Visit our Schools and Colleges website:

During the week of the 18-22 October leading CEOs and other senior staff from the private and public sectors, at the invitation of head teachers, will visit state schools throughout the country. It will be chance for them to hear from headteachers and young people about their schools, to witness that work at first hand and to discuss how they could work together to help young people reach their potential.

  • It’s free to register and be involved
  • Visits only take 2 hours in October

The National Campaign, the first of its type, will harness the huge appetite across schools, colleges and employers to work together by making it easy and simple.

Hundreds of thousands of employers are already working with schools and colleges and helping young people and at the same time seeing the benefits to themselves of doing so – motivation and retention of their employees who volunteer as well as building their reputation in the community.

Learn about the OODA Loop

9781906610036You can see my original presentation to the children (with an extra page) on Slideshare.net. and read all about it in chapter 10 of the Management Models Pocketbook.

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Other Management Pocketbooks you might Enjoy


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Is your Project Doomed

It’s summer time, so I am always on the look-out for something amusing.  Glen Alleman is a serious project manager who unearthed a humorous – but essentially profound – set of Laws of Project Management, which he calls Brasington’s Laws, after Bil Brasington who first articulated them.  I won’t steal all of his thunder by listing them all – they are well worth a look, on Glen’s Blog, Herding Cats.

Brasington’s 1st, 3rd and 7th Laws

Brasington’s First Law
‘No major project is ever installed on time, within budget, or with the staff that started it. Yours will not be the first.’

Brasington’s Third Law
‘One advantage of fuzzy project objectives is that they let you avoid the embarrassment of estimating the corresponding costs.’

Brasington’s Seventh Law
‘A carelessly planned project will take three times longer to complete than expected; a carefully planned project will take only twice as long.’

Beating Brasington

Of course, you can’t – they’re laws, after all.  However, good project managers will at least try to hold their own against the chaos.  This means a carefully planned project is in order.

To do this, you need to set aside the third law and start with the clearest articulation of project objectives that you can create.  To do this, you need to bring together the key stakeholders to agree what success will look like.  How will each stakeholder evaluate the outcome, and what criteria will they use to measure success?

OnTarget
Photo credit: viZZZual.com

Objective Setting = Negotiation

Sadly, you will rarely work with a set of stakeholders with a single vision of success.  As a project manager, you need to conduct a set of negotiations to bring all stakeholders into alignment around a core set of objectives that they can all agree on.  Once you have done that, you must then create and agree with them a process for agreeing any variations to this.  If you don’t, then you will surely fall prey to …

Brasington’s 5th Law

Brasington’s Fifth Law
’If project content is allowed to change freely, the rate of change will exceed the rate of progress.’

Conducting Negotiations

9781903776872

This is a nice metaphor for much of what real project management really is – and is the image that Pocketbooks illustrator, Phil Hailstone, placed on the cover of The Project Management Pocketbook, by Keith Posner and Mike Applegarth.

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This excellent Pocketbook has more on defining outcomes, setting objectives and working with stakeholders.

Other Management Pocketbooks
Project Managers might Enjoy

You may also enjoy the author’s own Project Management blog, Shift Happens!

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Aubrey and Maturin, Arthur and Merlin

I have just finished a ten year endeavour – reading all twenty of Patrick O’Brian’s Aubrey – Maturin novels, two a year.  These are set in the time of Napoleon, among characters of Britain’s Royal Navy.  Here, ‘Lucky’ Jack Aubrey is one of Nelson’s Band of Brothers – a fighting Captain sailing a fine frigate with a well-trained crew around the world, fighting for England.  Stephen Maturin is his friend, his ship’s surgeon, a skilled naturalist and an intelligence officer for the Admiralty.

Captain Jack Aubrey (left, played by Russell Crowe) and Dr Stephen Maturin (right, played by Paul Bettany) in the Twentieth Century Fox film ‘Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World ’.

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That’s enough of the ‘fan stuff’.  If you are a fan, you know all of this – if you aren’t, you either don’t care, or will one day pick up the first book in the series, ‘Master and Commander’, and become hopelessly hooked.

By the way, the movie ‘Master and Commander’ was subtitled ‘The Far Side Of The World’ because it was most closely based on the tenth novel of that name.

Back to Management…  and Leadership

There are too many models of leadership to name, but one of the commonest approaches is to consider how to combine and apply different leadership styles to a situation.  These are sometimes called ‘contingency models’ or ‘situational models’.  Whilst the best known are the trademarked and copyrighted models of situational leadership promoted by Paul Hersey and Kenneth Blanchard, they all track back to the earliest and possibly the best; that of Tannenbaum and Schmidt.

Attention to task and Attention to the person

All of these (and we could throw around names like Mouton & Blake, and Fiedler too) combine how much attention we give to getting the job done, focusing on facts and data; and how much we attend to the people concerned and our relationship with them.  My worry is that these do not account for the extraordinary leadership O’Brian’s two characters show throughout over 6,000 pages of historically detailed and compelling novels.

Did Patrick O’Brian get it wrong?

This is a fair question, but I think we have to conclude not.  Not only do the characters ring true to thousands (maybe millions) of readers, but Jack Aubrey at least is based closely on a real person, Lord Thomas Cochrane.  Maybe, then, these models of leadership are missing something.

Arthur and Merlin, Watson and Holmes, Kirk and Spock

Captain Kirk is a fearless warrior, prepared to take on any odds in fighting for what he believes in.  So are King Arthur, Dr Watson and Captain Aubrey.  They mobilise their resources and use whatever skills, knowledge and power they have to protect what they value.  Great leader are fighters, prepared to rally their followers and inspire them with their courage, persistence and, ultimately, sacrifice.

Sherlock Holmes, whilst equally fearless, stands for something creative, insightful and even mystical, in his mastery of the finest detail of his science.  So too with Merlin, Mr Spock and Dr Maturin.  People follow them, not because of their desire to fight, but because of the sacrifice they have made in mastering their science or their art.  They are visionary and knowledgeable to a degree that inspires others to follow them.

Where are the task focused and
people focused leaders in fiction?

They are there, in the background, getting the job done and looking after the walk-on characters.  Dr McCoy, Mrs Hudson, Guinevere, Killick, Pullings, Lancelot, Scotty, Lestrade.  Often they are important characters in bringing balance, but they are not the ones who compel our attention.  They are heroes in their own right, but are loved for their contribution to the whole story and their support of those who dominate.

So here’s the deal

Leadership has many dimensions: fighting for what you believe in, a passionate commitment to a body of knowledge or skills, a deep concern for people, a resolute determination to see a job through, and many more.  Your model of leadership must focus on the style of leader you choose to be.  Don’t accept someone else’s model uncritically – it may not work for you.

But also know that to really lead, you need a supporting cast of other heroes to support you or, from another point of view, you can lead without being a star, in a supporting role that brings balance and wholeness.

… and, if you haven’t already done so, go order a copy of ‘Master and Commander’, read it, become hopelessly hooked, and learn new ways to think about management and leadership.

Management Pocketbooks you might enjoy

The Leadership Pocketbook
– looks at a range of leadership styles

The Management Models Pocketbook
– describes Tannenbaum and Schmidt’s Leadership Continuum, and also John Adair’s Action Centred Leadership

The Motivation Pocketbook
– lots of ways a leader can motivate their followers

The Teambuilding Activities Pocketbook
– activities like sailing a 28 gun frigate into battle, exploring space in a starship, solving a brutal murder, and questing for the holy grail
… are strangely missing from an otherwise excellent selection!

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What can Pocketbooks Teach our Politicians?

Thursday is polling day in the UK and on Friday, we’ll get a new Government. It may be a new version of the same one, a combination of the same and something different or some flavour of different perspectives.

Whatever happens, the world won’t change overnight – even for those of us in the UK.  I say this because one of my earliest memories is the terror my parents expressed at the implications of a change of Government when I was a small child.  Yet the next day, everything seemed just the same to me.

What’s new this time?

The big change in this election is the increase in focus on party leaders at the expense of a forensic analysis of their parties and of their parties’ policies.  Like it or loathe it, this change is probably with us to stay.

So we’ve been trawling through our collection of Pocketbooks, looking for wisdom and advice for the party leaders who will compete in the UK’s next General Election (which will be any time between summer 2010 and spring 2015).

Advice for the Leaders from Management Pocketbooks

The Leadership Pocketbook tells us that leaders need:

  1. Enthusiasm – show genuine interest
  2. Energy – be lively
  3. Engagement – make it interesting

The Presentations Pocketbook tells us there are three ways to deflect an unwanted question:

  1. Ask the audience for their views
  2. Pass it to a colleague who is an expert
  3. Ask the questioner their opinion before answering

The Influencing Pocketbook tells us that people will say yes when your ideas meet their view of life in one of three areas:

  1. Principle and values
  2. Beliefs and opinions
  3. Needs and wants

And finally, if our politicians end up having to do deals in a balanced Parliament, The Resolving Conflict Pocketbook tells us three steps towards principled negotiation:

  1. Don’t take a position – it will only lead to an argument, so hear people out and look for a joint solution
  2. Separate the people from the problem – personal style is not the substance of the matter and attacks on it are fruitless
  3. Focus on interests – ‘what do you want to achieve?’, rather than ‘what are your ideological roots?’

… and we have to apologise to one leader for the failure of the Pocketblog to provide all the help he needed.  When, on 13 April, we advised:

  1. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off when someone comes to the front at the break, to ask you a private question
  2. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Turn them off before you head out of the room, walking right in front of a speaker
  3. Beware clip-on radio microphones
    Please turn them off before you take a comfort break

… we should perhaps have added:

….4.   Beware clip-on radio microphones
.…..….Always

So here’s the deal

The real test of how effectively you can communicate your message is: ‘would a small child understand it?’  Politicians have been busy simplifying their message.  You may admire or deprecate this trend.  We’ll see the outcome soon!

And …  Why not share your own favourite advice from one of the Management Pocketbooks in the comments space below.  Feel free to contribute, whether you are a reader or an author.  Finally, any takers for a new PPC – prospective pocketbook candidate? The Politician’s Pocketbook.  Now there’s an idea!

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Are you a Donkey or a Dog?

One of the biggest problems in time management is giving your time to somebody else.  And yet, we all do it.  The consequence is that other people become adept at stealing your time.

Complicity

However, unlike your possessions, I can only steal your time with an accomplice: you!  If you want more of your own time for yourself, one answer is to understand why you sometimes find yourself complicit in giving it away.

Donkey

Donkey

Photo credit:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/jpockele/
/ CC BY 2.0

Some of us behave like donkeys.  We don’t enjoy carrying other people’s loads for them; but we do it.  We do it because it is a habit we have got ourselves into and we have come to see it as our lot in life to be a bearer of burden.  No wonder these people look a little sad for much of the time.

You are not a beast of burden.  It is your privilege in life to make choices for yourself and to reject a burden you do not wish to carry.

Dogcrop

Dog

Photo credit: Atanas Grozdanov, www.ImagesFromBulgaria.com

Some people behave like dogs.  They will do whatever somebody asks of them because they are eager to please.  They act as if the only way to succeed is to win the approval of others.  Often they feel that they are doing everybody else’s bidding because they want to, but the truth is that they are putting their own needs and desires beneath those of the people around them.

Habitual dogs may be liked, but they are rarely respected.  They don’t achieve fulfilment, just a vague sense of having been good to other people.

Your life

You have one life; get the most from the time you have.  Sometimes choose to help out because you feel a sense of duty and not to do so will leave you feeling bad.  Sometimes lend a hand because you want to please other people.  Sometimes say ’no’ and do your own thing, because you can.  It’s your life; your choice.

Manage your time

The Time Management Pocketbook reminds us that:

To manage your time better
you’ve got to start managing yourself

TimeManagement

It is filled with great tips on managing what you do, where you work, communications, working with others and general personal effectiveness.

So here’s the deal

Don’t be a donkey or a dog all of the time.  Make your own choices and be prepared to say ‘no’ sometimes.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

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Time to Plan

Whatever business you are in, and whatever level you occupy, now is the time to be planning for your next financial year.

Start with a Strategy

Every business needs to know where it is heading, and if you don’t choose that direction, it will be chosen for you by circumstances: your market, your competitors, and events.  You can better generate sustainable profits when you choose your market.

On the 24th January 1848, while building a sawmill for wealthy landowner John Sutter, John Marshall bent down and picked up a shining object from the river. It was gold! Then he found another, and then another.

Stories of the gold soon got round but there was no gold rush. Nobody believed the stories. So an enterprising San Francisco merchant, Sam Brannan, decided to capitalise on the find by spreading the word.  Consequently, the Gold Rush made Sam Brannan the richest man in California.

What was Sam Brennan’s strategy for getting so rich?
He sold shovels and pick-axes!

1903776139The Strategy Pocketbook gives you a wealth of tools to understand your business and its marketplace.

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Next, you need a plan

By this time of the year, most businesses with a 31 March year end are well into their business planning.  One aspect of the process many of us forget – or feel more comfortable putting to one side – is disaster planning.  Whether you are a sole trader, an SME, or a global player, two things are true:

  1. You are not immune to disaster
  2. You won’t know how well prepared you are until you test your plans.  Don’t wait for nature to set up the test!

The start of your disaster planning process is to identify the threats to your business.  The new edition of the Business Planning Pocketbook offers you three broad categories of disaster to consider, when identifying your risks:

BusinessPlanning

  1. Manmade Disasters
  2. Technological Disasters
  3. Natural Disasters

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If you are fortunate enough to own both Strategy and Business Planning Pocketbooks, you can find some nice overlaps.  For example, you could apply PESTLE analysis (in the Strategy Pocketbook) to your disaster identification, to give you not three, but six categories of disaster:

  1. Political
    Okay, so calling the outcome of the next election a ‘disaster’ may be a bit much, but it could have significant implications for your business.
  2. Economic
    Arguably, we are on the way out of this economic disaster, but who knows?  Double-dip anyone?
  3. Social/Cultural
    Demographic trends and changes in the way people buy can destroy businesses – just ask the folk at Readers’ Digest.
  4. Technological
    Thankfully, the new models of computers and software never go wron&.  Bu£ let”s 7u$t t@ke a lo0k a! Toyota.
  5. Legislative
    How can changes in regulation and legislation affect your business?  Large additional costs can be de-stabilising.
  6. Environmental
    Mother nature has a way of hitting us back when we least expect it – and it is frequently below the belt!

So here’s the deal

Start planning for disasters today.  If you have a plan then test it – tomorrow.  And set aside time at least twice a year to get a range of people from within and outside your organisation around a table, to peer round the next bend to spot more possible futures.

Other Management Pocketbooks you may enjoy

Figuring your way through the planning process …

And when it comes to implementation …

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