A colleague once turned up late for a meeting and after the usual cursory apology noticed I was not happy: ‘What are you so concerned about?’ he asked with a supercilious grin. ‘It took 14 billion years for both of us to get here, what’s a few minutes between friends?’ Against the scale of time from big bang to the present, those few minutes are indeed trivial, but what’s really sitting underneath the attitude that makes it a cultural norm to let time slip?
Whatever business you’re in, reliability is a virtue and often a prime source of competitive advantage. In the world of projects, delivery on or before the due date has the potential to save costs, realise benefits and release your resources to work on the next project sooner. If you are an airline, rail service or bus operator, on-time performance is probably the single most important measure your customers will mark you on. If you provide groceries to a supermarket or iron ore to a steel mill, the more reliable your performance, the less money you have tied up in ‘just-in-case’ inventory.(more…)
When I looked back on the books I reviewed this year as a springboard to a conversation I found I’d covered unconsciously (or was it?) some core themes that represent a sort of mini-syllabus for how to transform your organisation. Or even your life.
Although I’ve found myself increasingly turning to online videos and podcasts for long-form conversation, I still think books are vital to our mental wellspring of ideas. (more…)
Why does our productivity rarely meet our own expectations? When planning our work, most of us make a reasonable effort to estimate how long we’ll need. While any given task seems perfectly doable on its own, when we string together a sequence of them we rarely achieve our target.
If we were as productive as we planned, we wouldn’t need to work overtime or sacrifice our weekends. So how can we get more done in the same time and be able to knock off work with no guilt or digital tethering to the office? (more…)
The ultimate prize promised by Theory U is the kind of transformational improvement that self-perpetuates. While even the most dynamic systems will eventually succumb to entropy, the Theory U approach is one possibility of creating an organisational shift that embeds a deep culture of learning and continuous improvement.
Change demands a step into the unknown. The fear of how things might turn out often trumps the sure knowledge that those very same things cannot continue as they are—regardless of how compelling the case. The image of a strong steel spring being held in the open position comes to mind.(more…)
Not long before I did my solo retreat in nature, I took part in a visioning exercise. The facilitator invited us to sit in our chairs, close our eyes and forget the rest of the group. He asked us to transport ourselves—alone in our chair—to a beautiful meadow, surrounded by mountains and forests, with a stream running through it.
As we heard the burbling stream and inhaled the crisp mountain air, he described a boundary on one side—a dry-stone wall with a country gate leading out of the meadow. When our scene was vivid enough, he asked us in our mind’s eye to rise from the chair and walk slowly but confidently through the gate. We were told we’d now crossed a threshold and were our future selves looking back on the person sitting in that chair. What did we see? What did we have to say to that person? What was our intent as we crossed the threshold?(more…)
It is paradoxical, but true, that even the most deeply systemic changes start because an individual wills such a change into being. This is not to say that the individual alone can make the change happen. Nor is it only the individual leader who has to go through a personal transformation.
Everyone on the team will need to undergo a mindset shift and find their own connection with the need for change and where the organisation is headed. What’s the story you will tell yourself?(more…)