Friday, April 22, 2011

Happy Easter everyone!

Have a great Easter everyone.  Everyday Manager is taking a few days off to unwind, rewind and run a few miles.

Have a great Easter and I will catch you back here again next week sometime!


Wednesday, April 20, 2011

How engaged are you with your job?

A young man (traditional story) and a young woman meet and fall in love.  They spend their days just being together and spending time discussing their hopes and dreams.  They talk of the future and where they will live, what they will name their children and how many they will have.  The days rush by in a blur and time is of no consequence. 

Have you ever had a job like that?  A job that challenges and motivates you?  A job that makes you look at the wider world and think - I'm in the right place for me right now.

So how can we get those who work for us to approach their jobs in the same way?

  • Purpose.
     When a newly engaged couple go out in public they pretty much have one thing on their mind.  The best for each other.  So how do we develop purpose in our people?  We define the purpose for our businesses and work units.  We thensell that vision to others and let them decide whether or not they want to engage with it.
  • Responsibility.  The jobs I have always enjoyed best are ones where I have been given the opportunity to stretch my wings and make decisions.  Key decisions.  Not just lame decisions but real key decisions.  Get your people to be part of teams and projects that will expand their view and think more of not only their job but themselves as well.
  • Accountability.  Couples with responsibility comes accountability.  Responsibility without accountability is like giving the keys for a ferrari to a learner driver.  When used correctly accountability will enable the people to whom you have given responsibility to have finish times and be able to move on to further projects.  In this way you create a seamless cycle.  What you do need to be aware of is making sure that there are further projects for your staff to progress onto as well...

To be honest there is no secret recipe or fail proof method for getting people to engage in the workplace.  The best thing you can do is allow people to grow themselves within the roles and responsibilities that you give them.



Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Monday, April 18, 2011

It's all a matter of 'Perspective'

Four young men sit by the bedside if their dying father.  The old man, with his last breath, tells them there is a huge treasure buried in the family fields.  The sons crowd around him crying, "Where? where?" but it is too late.  The day after the funeral and for many days to come, the young men go out with their picks and shovels and turn the soil, digging deeply into the ground from one end of the field to the other.  They find nothing and, bitterly disappointed, abandon the search.

                    The next season the farm has it's best harvest ever.

(Source: The Art of Possibility by Rosamund and Benjamin Zander).


Some things in life are all about how you see look at them.  It's not the age of the eyes but the perspective and opportinity that the eye's view that makes the difference.

What kind of eye's are you looking through?

Saturday, April 16, 2011

Giving out some love to my peeps....

Friday on twitter is the day when people tell everyone else who is worth following.  It's otherwise known as the #FF Friday Follow.  In this blog post I will share the love for some people/tweeps/blogs that I follow and recommend to you all.

Twitter users.

  • @rgoodchild - this very smart lady does a fanmtastic job as a freelance writer/journalist.  She spreads her time between her family, her work and twitter.  Why follow?  Because she's like a box of chocolates  you never know whay you're gonna get!
  • @iceandy - the Icehouse is a business incubator set up and run by Auckland University.  And the person tasked with the immense job of pulling it all together is Andy Hamilton.  Andy is always posting plenty of interesting links and thought provoking stories that stretch our understanding of what it is to be entreprenurial and in business.
  • @rotoruanz - why are these guys good? Because it's where I'm from.  Simple.


  • - I am biased on this one because I have known Paul for years and years.  One thing Paul does right is he is always ahead of the game as far as technology changes and trends.  Pauls latest project is the NZTechPodcast.
  • - this canadian girl is all about the marketing.  She has a great blog and is also a great user of twitter and keeps people up to date what's going on in the world.
  • - these guys and gals serve up all the latest gossip and changes in the world of social media.  The weekly highlight is the Social-Lite video.  This is a 4 minute video that sums up all the comings and goings for the week.
  • - Simone is a marketing/media person who works for the ASB bank.  Her blog is a users guide to social media/blogs/twitter and all things connected to them.  A very pleasent read indeed.


  • DFJ Entreprenurial Thought Leaders Series by Stanford University.  This for me is the premiere business podcast available today.  They have all the best speakers covering a multitude of topics.
  • Manger Tools - these guys cover every scenario under the sun when it comes to management.  They are fully professional, down to earth and super sensible.  Enough said.


Thursday, April 14, 2011

Feedback the Toastmasters method

One of the key skills that we practice as Toastmasters is how to give people feedback on their performance.  Feedback happens at every single meeting, every single week for every single person.

We have a three step method for giving people feedback that is tried and true and builds people up rather than pulling them down.  It goes something like this -

  1. Commend.  Start with telling people what they did right.  Focus on the positives of someones performance.  This way you build them up and they are receptive to receive the recommendation that you have for them.
  2. Recommend.  Pick a oint or two (at very maximum three) and let the person know some tips on how they could do better next time.
  3. Commend again.  Find other postive aspects of the person and build them up.  This way you leave people with a positive feeling and the person will know that the next time they will be treated the same way.

The great thing about this method is that it suits everyone no matter what level or how experienced they are.  So for new people you spend a lot of time looking at the positives and for the negatives you start with the surface issues and then build them up again at the end.

For people who have been in the game a bit longer you can focus more on the finer points of their performance and hone in on specific aspects.

Another great thing is that in a Toastmasters meeting you only ever have 2 to 3 minutes to comment on someones performance.  There is no time to spare and no time to waste your words.  So the feedback giver needs to be succinct in their approach and wise in their approach.


Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Management - the truth of it



This picture has two sides to it.  On one side there is a negative sarcastic connotation but at exactly the same time there is a whole lot of truth in it as well.  Here's my take on it -

  • Sarcastic take.  If people don't get out of my way then I'm goting to run them over.  So they better move it or else they'll be toast!
  • Positive take.  We need to work hard to overcome the fears, rejections, negative thinking of others so that we can spread our wings and soar.

So we need to consciously look at those people around us and think about are they helping us or hindering us from achieving our goals and mission in life?

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Book review - Blake: Leader

Peter Blake was well and truly one of the great leaders, planners and masters of execution within sport in New Zealand.  He was a gentleman and a scholar.  Of that there is no doubt.

What Mark Orams has managed to do is to pull together the real and tangible aspects of Sir Peter's leadership style and has captured then within this book.  There are a multitude of real life working examples that clearly illustrate the points being made.

From what I understand and have learned from this book is that Sir Peter was both a leader as well as an enabler.  The challenges that he faced werent faced by him and him alone but rater the responsibility and accountability was spread around the team.  


As with any book, photo or description of someone - the ability to capture the X factor is nearly impossible.  There is just no simple method of bottling that essence.  What this book does is it lets the reader get a feel for the magic, a sniff if you like of the chemistry.  When reading this book if you open all your senses then you too may sense the spirit Sir Peter as it wafts past on the breeze.

Feek free to dive into this book at any chapter.  Each chapter in it's own is a stand alone manual on excellence in people management and strategy.  The chapters open wih a direct quote from Sir Peter Blake and then the lessons follow on from that point.  And then each chapter finised with a recap of the general main points followed by specific lessons for leaders.

What I really liked most about this book was the can do attitude of it.  It is written in a way that the average person can implement the lessons of leadership directly into their own lives with ease.  This book is a how to manual.  Here's how you do this followed by here's how you do that.  Down to earth, easy to read, practical in every sense of the word.

The other great thing about this book is that it was written by someone who was there.  Having a writer tell and recall stories from a first hand experience carries much weight and also adds a certain depth and reality that supersede's an intellectual or academic approach from someone else.

If I had to choose one word to sum up this book it would be "Spirit".  Read this book and you too may begin to realise some of the spirit that flowed through Sir Peter flows through you too.




Monday, April 11, 2011

Shifting house and getting serious!

Please bear with me over the next week or two because I am shifting house!  Not literally physically but literally electronically. 

I am moving my content from a free/simple hoster like blogspot or posterous and am taking the plunge into having my content on my own website.  So why do this?

  • To get serious.
  • To be visible.
  • To own my own content.

I am all for using free and simple blogging services to start out with when it comes to having somewhere to place your content.  However when you have a website/product that you have a vested interest in be it – financial, time, blood sweat and tears – then you take it more seriously.

So after two years (which seems like forever already) I am getting serious.  LOL.  So please bear with me if things are a bit erratic for a week or two.  Normal transmission will continue again shortly.

Here's the moral to the story - if you are taking pride in your work and are being serious about what you are doing – then it follows that others will take you seriously as well!


Saturday, April 9, 2011

What is your driving passion?

There is only one true method of being able to stay in love with your work.  That is you must have a passion for what you do and the reasons why you do it.

How is it that people who work for NGO's and not for profits are able to continue with their work in spite of all the criticism, disasters and problems?  They have a passion for what they're doing.

Over the course of this last week I have been listening to a number of podcasts and other media that have all had a similar theme running through them.

Firstly I listened to a message delivered at the Teach for America conference.  The speaker was Jeremy Beard - and he was ALL GOOD!  You can view the video below.  His main theme is about making change in others lives.  using your skills and tools to be the difference.

Then I listened to a presentation by Colin Powell.  He was asked a question by a student at NYU about how we go about changing the world.  His answer was simple - one person at a time.  Yes  that is the best strategy.  It is also the only strategy with a 100% success rate.

Following on from these two listening events I had the opportunity to visit 20 young people who are currently in residence in the local Youth Justice Facility.  These kids have committed some of the worst crimes possible.  Of that there is no doubt.  The 'kids' are aged between 14 and 17 and are incarcerated for various lengths of time.

Why was I there?  I was one of a group who were tasked with letting these kids know what work and career options there are for them in the world.  These kids despite what they may have done are still human.  They have real feelings, real emotional need and real hopes and dreams.

My sincere hope is that through the 2 hours I was able to spend with them that maybe, just maybe, I have planted new seeds of hope while watering seeds already planted.  And that some of those kids get a vision for a life that is bigger than them.  Bigger than the wire fences that they live behind.  And bigger than the pasts they have to live with.

So what is my passion?  What is it that keeps me moving forward and my heart ticking?  People.

He aha te mea nui? He tangata. He tangata. He tangata. What is the most important thing? It is people, it is people, it is people.

I would happily do any job in the world provided I knew that I was making a direct difference in someone else's life.  End of story.

I have watched these next two videos and exhort you to do the same.  That way you to may just remember your passion and what it is that drives you.



Wednesday, April 6, 2011

Cheerleaders - supporting the team.

One of the biggest and best things you can do to support and encouraqge your team is to tell others about how good they are.

This is what I call Cheerleading.  By cheerleading I mean that you as a manager and a leader stand on the sidelines and cheer on your team.  You don't jump into the game, you don't take over when things aren't going too well.  But what you do do is yell, scream, cheer and encourage on those people who are in the game.

And while you are cheering on your team you are telling everyone else just how great your team is and how much you think of them, how much you support them and the fact that you think that they are the best team in the whole wide world!

Cheer them on.  Wish them the best and help them achieve their best.  That is what cheerleading is all about.


Monday, April 4, 2011

Dilemma's - what do I do to solve this?

A dilemma (Greek: δί-λημμα "double proposition") is a problem offering at least two possibilities, neither of which is practically acceptable. (Source: Wikipedia)

How often do you have dilemmas at work?  You are working towards creating a solution or are trying to work out a problem but no matter what you do there are going to be ill consequences.  Those consequences can either directly or more often indirectly affect you.

Dilemmas are often things we try very hard to steer away from and to avoid.  But when we are faced with a dilemma I recommend you consider these things before you go forward -

  1. Who will this decision effect.  Map out the parties and persons that will ultimately be affected by your decision.  Think how about who will be directly/indirectly affected and what will happen with those people?
  2. How will this decision affect people.  Some decisions will have limited impact while others will have wide riplle effects. 
  3. When will this decision take affect.  You may not be able to avoid making a decisions but it is better to let key affectted people know well before the fact when you can.

Here is what I recommend.  Draw a series of circles within circles and map out the two scenarios using those circles.  Start with the directly affected people in the middle of the pond and then work your way outwards.

Consider such things as - financial impacts (them and you), people affected, the timeline, the strength of the affect on people, the amount of work that will be left behind and how many other people may you need to employ to offset the loss?.  For example - the person at the centre of the pond will have the highest % of affectedness.  Then in each ripple ring out from the centre the % of affect will decrease.

Then you can overlay the two and make a decision based on those facts.  A dilemma simply put is making the best choice yu know how using the information that you have available to achieve the best outcomes for all involved.

The worst thing you can do when you face a dilemma is to be an ostrich, put your head in the sand and hope it will go away.  What you really need to do is be clear, make a decision and move on.


Friday, April 1, 2011

Friday Funny - Tips for success in life

Want to succeed at study? Want to go the best results you have ever achieved?  Then I recommend you follow these ten tips for success -

Get up early (five o’clock)
Go to bed early (nine to ten o’clock)
Eat little and avoid sweets
Try to do everything by yourself
Have a goal for your whole life, a goal for one section of your life, a goal for a shorter period and a goal for the year; a goal for every month, a goal for every week, a goal for every day, a goal for every hour and for evry minute, and sacrifice the lesser goal to the greater
Keep away from women
Kill desire by work
Be good, but try to let no one know it
Always live less expensively than you might
Change nothing in your style of living even if you become ten times richer

(Source: Leo Tolstoy.  Prolific writer and academic).



Thursday, March 31, 2011

Blog posts should be approached with caution....


This warning should be added to every tweet, status update and blog post. 

Use your skills of critical thinking and analysis before you incorporate any way of thinking into your philosophy or approach to life.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Creating true engagement with others

True engagement with others is what we achieve when both sides are actively engaging with each other in a manner that is trusting, respectful as well as positively challenging.

Today I had the privilege of speaking to a group of students who attend what is called a 'kura kaupapa maori'.  A kura kaupapa is a Wananga (school) whereby the students spend their time conversing in their native tongue - in this case Maori.

I was briefed that I would talk to the students for a few minutes about Forestry and Farming.  The mistake I made was in assuming that the students had an idea of what and how big the industry is.  Boy - was I wrong!  They had very little understanding of our industry.  Then the lesson began...

What happened was the session we had together ended up being 30 minutes in length (instead of the allocated 10 minutes) and the kids were actively engaging with me while I spoke.  How did I do this?  I told the students that they had to ask me 3 questions before they could move on to the next stage of their tour.  That was the starting point for what was to follow.

What eventuated was that as I let them ask questions we developed a conversation whereby the students were able to ask me anything they liked and I did my best to answer them.  It ended up that I had to stop the questions because they had so many to ask!

So why did it work?

  1. I engaged them through making them ask the questions.  Making people think is the most crucial element when engaging with others.
  2. I listened to them.  When they ask me a question I always tried to answer it and then I would follow up with a question of my own to get them to continue their thinking which would then lead to the next question.
  3. I showed enthusiasm and told my own story.  This is the acid test - do you keep it real?  I encouraged each of those kids to go on and study at University.  I am fully aware that some of those kids may never get to University.  But I tell my story - which is that I didn't start University until I was 30.

Getting positive engagement with people really is easy.  It starts with finding common ground, building trust through communication and ultimately walking away and knowing both sides have received some good from the engagement.

Want to know what i enjoy best about my job? People.  Be it mainstream school students, kura kaupapa students right through to senior citizens.  I love engaging with them all.


Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Psychological Capital (Psycap) and it's benefits

Have you ever wondered what "Psycap" stands for?  Have you ever even heard of it?

Psycap stands for - psychological capital.  This evening I had the great pleasure of attending a meeting cum lecture that was given by Maree Roche for the local branch of HRINZ.

Here is the basic rundown on the four key elements of psycap -

  1. Efficacy.  This is the quality of persistence mixed with confidence.
  2. Optimism.  People have a realistic handle on what is happening in the here and now but are still able to see positive outcomes.  This is a permanent trait that is ongoing unlike a feeling of happiness.
  3. Resilience.  People not only bounce back from the not so good events in life but they rebound and go beyond where they were previously.  They go beyond better.
  4. Hope.  This was described as being waypower.  So people are able to not only recognise that a barrier is front of them but the person is able to source/seek out new ways of approaching the problem and coming to a solution.

The ideal people and the happiest employees/managers have all four of these qualities which they are able to display, said Mrs Roche.

So why be bothered with psycap?  Check out this quote -

"Published research on PsyCap has found that it is related to multiple performance outcomes in the workplace, lower employee absenteeism, less employee cynicism and intentions to quit, and higher job satisfaction, commitment, and organizational citizenship behaviors. Research has also found PsyCap can be enhanced by a supportive work climate. In terms of being state-like, PsyCap has been developed by short training sessions in both classroom and field settings and electronically through the internet (Luthans, Avey & Patera,2007)." (Source:

The question I had was - can we grow these qualities in people? And if so how?

Another thinking point I had was do the people who have these qualities actually make it to higher levels of management or do they stay stationary and just do well where they are at?

Here is the model for how it all fits together -


In short probably the best thing you can do if you want to know more (without all the deeply scientific bits) would be to read Drive by Dan Pink.


Monday, March 28, 2011

Brainstroming for profit


This little beauty of a slide show is available at  I couldn't say it better - so I leave it to you to check it out.

Thursday, March 24, 2011

start small but start


Starting is the best thing you can do. 

Starting a business? Find one or two loyal customers.

Starting running? Run for 5 minutes.

Starting swimming? Do half a length.

Starting a new job? Go easy.

Starting is the best thing you can do.

Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Pick a fight or create an outcome?

There are three options available with every situation -

  1. Ignore whats happening and put your head in the sand.
  2. Pick a fight with someone and lengthen the amount of time that it will take to create a real outcome.  Maybe even land yourself in hot water with Human Resources.
  3. Seek out positive and complimentary outcomes and reduce the amount of time needed to fix the situation.

My advice is to seek out positive outcomes and look for where bridges can be built rather than creating negative situations that only lead to more trouble.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Sisyphus - a tale of madness

"As a punishment from the gods for his trickery, Sisyphus was made to roll a huge boulder up a steep hill, but before he could reach the top of the hill, the rock would always roll back down, forcing him to begin again. The maddening nature of the punishment was reserved for Sisyphus due to his hubristic belief that his cleverness surpassed that of Zeus. As a result when Sisyphus was condemned to his punishment, Zeus displayed his own cleverness by binding Sisyphus to an eternity of frustration with the boulder rolling away from Sisyphus when he neared the top of the hill."

(Source: Wikipedia)

What tasks do you do that you can never complete?  How close can you get to finishing a project before you lose control of it and it rolls back on you?  When is it time to call it a new day and find a new task to do?

The definition of madness - doing the same thing, over and over and over again....


Here's the challenge -

  1. Identify area's tasks and projects that never end and never finish in your working life.
  2. Ask for help from others to get that boulder over the hill.
  3. Or walk away and let someone else start rolling the boulder instead...

Monday, March 21, 2011

Bringing People in to your Project

There are some basic rules that govern good project management.  You have a plan, sponsors, milestones and outcomes.  So there should be no issues so far.

What is tricky though is bringing various people onto your project at different stages as the project is developing.  We had this exact issue at work about a month ago.  A project and team had been formed and was well on it's way working towards it's goal.

The issue was that a meeting was called whereby people outside of the project team were asked to share their opinion and their voice on what was happening.  This was the issue - the new people weren't told where the project had gotten to at that stage.

So at the meeting of the two teams (new and old) the old team assumed the new team knew what was required of them, where the project had progressed to and would offer either constructive criticism or just totally agree with what had been done so far.

What we as the new team members did do was assume the following -

  • the project was new
  • therefore there were no boundaries
  • whatever we contributed would be valued and properly considered

The reality was this -

  • the project was already well under way
  • momentum had reached it's peak
  • therefore what we said had little to no impact on the outcomes of the project.

So - if you are running a project you need to be clear when communicating to people along the way that you get involved with your project about the following -

  • how long has the project been in existence
  • how can those people assist the project
  • what expectations do you have of the new members as far as their contribution.

By following these basic points of communication you too can make sure that when people are giving up their time to help you then everyone is clear of just what exactly it is that they are meant to be doing.

Saturday, March 19, 2011

How are your HR hiring practices? Friday Funny.

So what are your hiring practices like -  

Do you look for the cheapest option/person available at the time of hire? 

Do you assume that you can 'fix' someone or school them?

Do you even speak the same language?  Management language? Sense of humour language?

Do you let employees know what is expected of them?

How do you correct employees if they are doing it wrong?

And if you do hire someone what options do you have to get rid of them if they don't work out?

Remember - if you pay peanuts, you'll get monkeys! 

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Social Media is a relationship... not a one night stand



As an educational facility we use social media to talk about what we are up to.  We also use social media for an association I belong to and the workers union.

The problem I see is that we spend a lot of time broadcasting news headlines and not so much time engaging in conversation.  There is no shortage of posts or interesting stories being put out there for people to read.

The issue is engaging with our clients/customers/stake holders.  From where I sit the issue is in finding stories or starting conversations that get students to talk to us.

Nothing beats face to face and one on one conversations.  But when we have 9,000 students spread across a huge land area.  So speaking to each of those students one on one?  It just isn't going to happen.

From where we sit as educators we assume it would be easy to engage students.  We spend up to 30 hours a week with students in the classroom.  We teach them, work with them and ultimately we hope change their lives.  So why the resistance or apathy from the students when it comes to engaging with us?

Any ideas anyone?

Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Danger! Danger Will Robinson! Danger!

A great example of interaction

Sports watchers and followers can be pretty wild and open about their opinions when it comes to sport.  Usually the referee is the one that cops the blame for any problems, mistakes or losses.

In 2011 the NRL has made a move to quieten the barrage of complaints by getting the referees boss - to explain the situation.

What Bill Harrigan does is explains why decisions were made in a certain way and clarifies any calls that may have been seen as being wrong.  This is one of the greatest communication strategies in sports today.

This works.  Why?

  • Open communication.  fans know what decisions have been made and why.
  • Honesty.  Being open and telling people about what decisions you made and why is integral to gaining peoples trust.
  • The ability to admit you are wrong.  Yes, we got it wrong.  Nothing speaks louder than apologising if you get it wrong.
  • Speed of communication.  Fans want to know right now what happened.  They will use social media, radio, newspapers - whatever it takes to share their opinions about the state of the game.  It is vital that if there is a particular area of your business that acts as a lightning rod - then my recommendation is to be proactive.
  • Proactivity reduces the need for reactivity.  Speed to react and communicate is vital.  Shut down negativity before it begins.
  • Feedback.  Both sides of the game/business have an opportunity to speak their mind and understand where each other is coming from.  So what ultimately happens is that the game becomes seamless.  Players, managers, referees and fans all get the ability to interact in one giant semaless community that is called sport.

I giving this idea by the NRL two thumbs up!  And go the mighty NZ Warriors!

Monday, March 14, 2011

Podcast review - "Creating Enchantment" by Guy Kawasaki.

I enjoy running.  Running is a great hobby because it only requiires you (one person) some shoes and some exercise.  One of the benefits of running is the time that you have available to think, reflect or listen.

The Stanford Entreprenurial Thought Leaders series is one pocast that I have been listening to for the past 12 months (ever since I finally managed to get an iPod).  And for the past 12 months this series of podcasts has continued to be listened to - week in and week out.

I was blown away by the awesomeness that is the podcast by Guy Kawasaki.  This is a totally well rounded speech delivered by the consumate professional that is Mr Kawasaki.

What is delivered is a 60 minute master class in both management and innovation techniques, as well as a tutorial in how to write a speech, create a presentation and how to pull it off with ease.  This presentation, I think, was set up as a sales pitch for the new book "Enchantment" by said author stated above.  What really happens is the presentor takes the big lessons of the book, breaks them down into a series of easy to understand points and leaves the listener with the challenge of applying all the lessons to themselves.

Here;s some background on Mr Kawasaki -

"Guy Kawasaki is the co-founder of, an “online magazine rack” of popular topics on the web, and a founding partner at Garage Technology Ventures. Previously, he was the chief evangelist of Apple. Kawasaki is the author of ten books including Enchantment, Reality Check, The Art of the Start, Rules for Revolutionaries, How to Drive Your Competition Crazy, Selling the Dream, and The Macintosh Way. Kawasaki has a BA from Stanford University and an MBA from UCLA as well as an honorary doctorate from Babson College."


So if you a) enjoy running, b) enjoy great presentations or c) want management advice - then I recommend you download this podcast.

Here is the presentation -

Thursday, March 10, 2011

Cards anyone?

Personality Poker - 5 deck set

Product description

Personality Poker by Stephen Shapiro

5 deck set includes: 5 decks + instruction manual  + streaming video

If your organization is having a difficult time staying ahead of the curve, it’s probably suffering from sameness—the widespread condition in organizations where commonality is valued above individuality. Unbeknownst to most, chronic sameness destroys innovation and creative thinking. 

Introducing Personality Poker, the playing card tool for driving high-performance teamwork and innovation.

Wednesday, March 9, 2011

The Weightless Economy

Until this morning (call me ignorant) I had not come across the concept of the 'weightless economy'.  It was mentioned by an economist while talking about the recovery of the New Zealand economy.


So what is it?  I honestly don't know but I have a book on reserve at the local library that I am going to get out shortly (within the next hour) and will start reading.

Here is an excerpt from an article published in The Economist -

What is the weightless economy?

"By the weightless economy, I mean that part of the economy comprising the following four categories:

1. Information and communications technology (ICT), including the Internet.

2. Intellectual property, including not only patents and copyrights but more broadly, namebrands, trademarks, advertising, financial and consulting services, health care (medical knowledge), and education.

3. Electronic libraries and databases, including new media, video entertainment, and broadcasting.

4. Biotechnology, which includes carbon-based libraries and databases, as well as pharmaceuticals.


Here's my hypothesis - a weightless economy is one that uses and embraces the knowledge economy and virtual skills of people to generate revenue and ultimately create wealth.

The idea of an economy that is not centred on bricks and mortar, buildings or manual trades strikes me as being real common sense.  It also begs the question - are you lowering or increasing your weight as a part of the economy?

Am I right - let's wait and see.  In the meantime here a few websites I found that focus on the aformentioned concept -


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Musings on Making Meetings Effective

Some thoughts:

  1. Have an agenda.  To make the most of your time you and everyone else need to know what you are talking about, why you are talking about it and keep it moving.
  2. Move quickly through items that are of no consequence.  Keep the main thing as the main thing.  Allow time to discuss the big items and those things that require more indepth discussion.
  3. Set up working groups.  If an item can be discussed at a different time or if the meeting group don't all need to be involved - then establish a working group.  Findings and resolutions can then be fed back to the main group.
  4. If there are follow up actions - remind people.  It is good to turn up to a meeting knowing that actions required from the last meeting have been finished off.  Starting a meeting empowered is the best way to finish as well.
  5. Start the clock.  Record how much time you spend on each of the agenda items and reflect on which agenda items actually add value and which ones don't.  Then work on reducing or removing those items from future meetings if they aren't required.

6 Thinking Hats & Instructional Design

One of the great tools that we as managers can use when analysing different situations and scenarios.  This method was designed and created by Dr Edward de Bono.

If you look through the slides you will see how it worls and the general headings for the various methods of thinking.

Here's my recommendation - make small reminder cards.  Take these with you in your wallet or in your briefcase and then whip them out the next time you are sitting in a meeting or working on a project and things aren't progressing.

Try it out with your team too.  Try working on a project or problem area and use the six hats thinking to create new ideas and ways of moving forward.

Interestingly my daughter is also studying these different thinking strategies at the age of 9 years old.  So if she is able to harness these thinking patterns at a young age she will be well equipped in later life to look at problems in a different way than others do.

(Thanks to @tabitharoder for sourcing the powerpoint too).

Friday, March 4, 2011

Creating and Leveraging Networks

When you have a project or an issue in front of you that you don't know how/where to start on - what's your approach?

I like to think in terms of sets of people. 

  1. People I work closely with.  This is usually the first place we start.  We look at the people around us, ask a question across the room or throw an idea out there for a response.
  2. People I know in the organisation.  Not in my direct team but people
  3. People spread more widely in the organisation.
  4. People I know outside the organisation.
  5. People I don't know at all.  This is the best bit.  By belonging to groups and asociations you can gain access to people's contacts and details with ease.  One great example of this is LinkedIn and another is Twitter.  With LinkedIn you can look at your friends friends and try and source an answer that way.  The other more informal network I use is Twitter.  What you can do is tweet a question, hash-tag (#) a particular word for emphasis and see what the Twitter universe throws back at you in the way of an answer.

I love throwing out emails to random people whom I have never met and have no idea about who they are or what they do.  Sometimes the results can be simply amazing.



Wednesday, March 2, 2011


Of the 60+ meetings per month attended by professionals, research indicates that over 50 percent of this meeting time is wasted.
That translates to 4 days of lost productivity per professional every month if each meeting is one hour long!
Can you afford not to invest in more effective meetings?
Do the math for yourself. How much could you save with even a 25% improvement in the productivity of your virtual and in-person meetings?
(Original post:

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

What are you looking at?

Do you lead forwards...

Or backwards...

Some managers enjoy having reports that quite clearly state where the company has already been.  They pour themselves into how the financials are performing for the past quarter.  They love seeing statistics appear in front of their eyes that tell them where they have come from and where they have been,

The rear view mirror exists to enable you to be aware of what is behind you and serves as a reminder of where you have come from.

I prefer to manage by having reports that look forwards.  Have you ever noticed that the windscreen is always at least 20x bigger than the rear view mirror?  When you drive where is your attention focussed?

Monday, February 28, 2011

Creating Ongoing Returns on Investment

The New Zealand tertiary education system is set up in such a way that anyone and everyone can have access to higher education.  Along with assisting people to enter the education system the Government also gift students with extra money for living and everyday expenses.

So given that the Government are investing so much time and money into the sector - they (quite rightly) expect a return on their investment.  Legislation was introduced in 2010 that says that students can access a maximum of 7 years funding assistance and that if any student fails more than 50% of their studies in a given time period they become ineligible to recieve help in the future.

The problem is that there are plenty of students who will fail their study but ought not to be penalised for having tried.  So what has happened is a shift in the thinking and approach of educators to their students.  Where previously tutors may have thought "You know what? Tough.  The student didn't come to class and so they failed.  Not my problem".

Don't get me wrong 98% of tutors take a healthy interest in their students and will often go well beyond the call of duty to assist their learners.  What is happening now is that behavior of assistance is being internalsied and reinforced by management as a central pillar of the classroom and teaching culture.

So we seek to create a culture of caring for those whom we don't see quite so often due to all sorts of circumstances.  Part time students, mums, dads, people without transport, people have been told they are dumb.

At the same time we are undergoing a "brand" review to freshen up the way we project ourselves into the community about who we are and what we do.  My sincere hope is that the two walk hand in hand.

Ultimately community and care of each other is what we are all about.  The way we look at each other within our 'four walls' is just as important as the message that we broadcast to others outside of our organisation.

What we are seeking to provide to the Government, to the students and to the community is an ongoing return on investment.  An investment that will eventually not only raise GDP, living stndards and quality of life but also instill confidence and mana in the learners.

We do this through support, through manaakitanga and through trusting in each other.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

The week in review - lessons from reflection

What a week that one was!  May I never have one quite the same again please.

  • Monday - submit CV.  Then submit CV again just in case the first email didn't go through.  Amazingly the first email didn't go through so sending the same email from a different address was a lifesaver. 

    Lesson - always have a plan b/plan c.

  • Tuesday - Christchurch earthquake.  Members of my team had older children caught up in the drama along with project team members that I know.  A day of stress, worry and ultimately disaster for Christchurch.

    Lesson - you never know when or where a crisis may appear.  You as a manager have to lead, understand and be flexible with your team.

  • Wednesday - Marketing workshop.  A very interesting session whereby the group reflcted in the marketing practices of our organisation - both good and bad.  Congratulations to Rob who somehow managed to hold the workshop together and had some very good ideas.

    Lesson - if you don't have something constructive to say, don't say anything at all.

  • Thursday - head down, bum up.  Thursday was intense.  Trying to catch up on missed work due to the extended workshop of the day before.

    Lesson - meetings chew up time.  Plan ahead, delegate and avoid meetings with little reward or outcome.  Don't do meetings for the sake of doing meetings.

  • Friday - customer service 101.  Two hours spent with students arranging courses for 2011.  Two more hours spent on following up students who either aren't turning up or we think will struggle in 2011.  (Time well spent indeed!)  Then to finish the week - two emails.  One apology and two good news emails.

    Lesson - time spent on people is always a valuable use of your time; and always try to end the week on a good note.  If you have had issues with a co-worker then try and fix them before you leave for the weekend.  Reinforce positive events that have happened and fix up any molehill issues before they blow out to be mountain sized issues.

I wonder what next week will hold?

Thursday, February 24, 2011

Using technology realistically


While this video is centred mainly on the development of an online course there are quite a few lessons in this video that go wider.  Here is what I picked up -

  • Online development isn't instant.  Rome wasn't built in a day.
  • Online anything takes, time, work and practice.  Practice makes perfect.
  • Have a road map or development plan and stick to it.  Cutting corners at the beginning will only mean that you will have to correct those mistakes again later.
  • If you are doing something online - ask an expert for help.
  • If you are going to create something - make it great!
  • Just because you have done well in printed media absolutely does not mean you will have what it takes to make it in an online medium.
  • Don't be overawed by others trying to use their postition as leverage to get you to give in.
  • Just because it's online doesn't mean that it is going to be engaging.
  • Don't mess with a female with pink or red hair!

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Marketing that means something!

Many, many months ago I emailed the good people at Dilmah with a query about one of their products.  I never subscribed to any emails or newsletters.

What's great is this -

  • Dilmah added me to a mailing list but haven't abused that fact.
  • This email came through last night.  It is honest and sincere.

Now THAT'S what I call marketing!


Sunday, February 20, 2011

Dust off your achievements and put them out there!

It has been 18 months to 2 years since I last sat down and updated my CV/resume.  In years gone by I tried to keep my CV current with each of the things I was doing along the way but I never felt like I had achieved anything really significant.

So I left the whole exercise to rest and gather dust.  Then I was prompted recently to sit down and write up my CV and to make it current again.  The difference between the 2009 version and the 2011 version?  Immense.

Here are the key differences -

  • Accomplishments.  Achievements take time.  It's just like money - you either win the lottery all at once, or like the rest of the world, you work at it one step at a time.
  • Language.  Describing the work you do the skills you bring and your abilities changes over time.  I find myself using more jargon and verbs rather than nouns and static language.  The aim is to use words that tell others that ultimately you can help them and assist them to succeed.
  • Self view.  Confidence comes and goes but having a record of your achievements certainly helps.  On those days when you are struggling to get by you can pull your CV out of the drawer and remind yourself that you are actually pretty good!

I recommend that you undertake a CV writing exercise if it is only for fun.  Compare what you write and the history you have made against an old version and see what the differences are.  You may or may not find yourself applying for a new job but that is not the purpose of the exercise.

The purpose of the exercise is to remind yourself that you have value and are a valuable contributor to your team and for your employer.  If you do decide that your CV is pretty good and you are confident in yourself - why not hang it out where people can see it?

(Hint - try sites like LinkedIn and Seek)

Thursday, February 17, 2011

Ever wondered what business school looks like?

I completed my Post Graduate Diploma in Management Studies with Waikato University in 2010.  People ask me what was it like and would I recommend it.  Watch this short video and then I will give some ansers -

What was it like - exactly like the video.  There was a very diverse and wide range of people put together in one classroom and given the task of producing quality business outcomes using their knowledge and skills.

We had doctors, accountants, lawyers, people in education all the way through to retail managers.  So as you can probably tell - it was a pretty diverse group of people.  Lots of opinions, points of view and heated discussion for sure!

The best bits of our course had to be the case study discussions.  We would spend hours poring over the case studies looking for different angles and possibilities.  Always on the hunt for the right answer or a knowledge advantage over everyone else.

Working in groups certainly had it's fair share of trials and tribulations but at the same time the value added through interaction was totally invaluable.

The other best part were the tutors.  We were fortunate enough to have Jens Mueller who is a total inspiration and motivator.  Jens has diverse experience and his constant mission was to stretch the students and question the boundaries they have established in their minds.  And he did it!

I actually miss the cut and thrust of the discussions and the fabulous input of the teachers (although my wife doesn't miss me disappearing for study nights and classes on the weekends, not to mention the endless hours of essay writing and revision). 

So - yes, I do totally recommend it.  100%.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Book review: The Management Mythbuster

I read this book at one speed - FAST!  The best way to describe this book is to use two words - common sense.  And probably this quote as well - :“Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.” C. E. Stowe.

What David Axson manages to do is peel away the veneer and false front of modern management trends and actually get to the heart of the matter.  What this book managed to do was to confirm both my and most likely your suspicions and thoughts on what happens in the shady world of business today.

Here is how the book plays out - each chapter is between 6 and 10 pages long.  The chapters open with a mock company and the playing out of the appropriate scenario.  The author then incorporates the management area he is looking at into the story line.  So there are real examples of how such scenarios would play out within a company.

One thing this book does lack in is positive answers.  There are plenty of examples of what not to do but few examples and explanations of what you should do.  Maybe that will be released in the sequel "The Management Makeover"? 

Yes I enjoyed the book and recommend it.  I especially recommend it to people who are new to the corridors of power and senior management and want to be able to cut through to the true heart of the matter!

The real kicker is the very end of the book  A lot like real life it is a scary proposition...

Book review: The Management Mythbuster

I read this book at one speed - FAST!  The best way to describe this book is to use two words - common sense.  And probably this quote as well - :“Common sense is the knack of seeing things as they are, and doing things as they ought to be done.” C. E. Stowe.

What David Axson manages to do is peel away the veneer and false front of modern management trends and actually get to the heart of the matter.  What this book managed to do was to confirm both my and most likely your suspicions and thoughts on what happens in the shady world of business today.

Here is how the book plays out - each chapter is between 6 and 10 pages long.  The chapters open with a mock company and the playing out of the appropriate scenario.  The author then incorporates the management area he is looking at into the story line.  So there are real examples of how such scenarios would play out within a company.

One thing this book does lack in is positive answers.  There are plenty of examples of what not to do but few examples and explanations of what you should do.  Maybe that will be released in the sequel "The Management Makeover"? 

Yes I enjoyed the book and recommend it.  I especially recommend it to people who are new to the corridors of power and senior management and want to be able to cut through to the true heart of the matter!

The real kicker is the very end of the book  A lot like real life it is a scary proposition...

Taking a stand when you have to!

I'm a chicken.  There you go I admit it.

Confronting someone who may pose a violent physical threat (in both the literal and metaphorical sense) is not my idea of being smart.  I firmly adhere to the 'flight' option as opposed to the 'fight' option.

Don't get me wrong - in case of emergency or threat to family I'll happy foot it with the best.  That is at a time when the brain has no option but to immediately react.  The rest of the time (like the other 98%) I am happy to sit back consider my options and do something different.

When it comes to work though - you have to draw the line somewhere.  For example we deal with a wide range of people from various backgrounds in my job.  Some pleasant and some not quite so pleasant.

So earlier today when I had to 'confront' a student - my first reaction? "Hey, can you deal with this?”  Chicken.  Man was I wrong!

After a few minutes and some serious contemplation I decided to man up and do something about the situation.  Now there was no immediate threat of physical retaliation or whatever but believe me this guy was a gorilla and is known for his serious gang connections.

So what happened? 

1.  I got my paperwork together.  I got armed with everything I could to make an air tight case and gave the person no room to argue.

2.  I got a support person.  Having a second person in the room who was amicable with the person helped break down any issues that may have arisen.

3.  I took the lead and did what a manager should do.    It was my responsibility to deal with a possible negative situation and I did it.

In this case the situation could have resulted in becoming nasty.  Fortunately it didn't.  But I learnt a fair bit today about how to handle bad situations.  It looks like common sense stuff and the way handled it was - but sometimes common sense has to be acted upon before we realise we did it right!

 So now what situations do you find yourself in?  Do you find yourself fobbing off the hard decisions onto others that you should be dealing with?  Harden up, make a plan, and yes you do get the option to 'phone a friend' but I recommend you actually take a friend rather than phone them later (from the comfort of your hospital bed).


(Thats a joke too by the way...)

Friday, February 11, 2011

Friday Funny - My blackberry isn't working...

I'm too tired to think today (being Friday night and all) so I offer you this amazing piece of very witty comedy.

Thursday, February 10, 2011

blah blah blah "Written communication" blah blah blah

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

When it comes to written communication people read the opening line

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

and anything that is underlined after that

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

how good is your written communication?

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah blah

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Beware the 'it does it all' sales pitch!

Have you ever had a sales person come to you and offer you a product that is so good that it does everything you could ever want it to?  It will reduce present workloads, relieve stress and makes everyone's life a lot more pleasant.  I have.

This type of sales pitch is standard among the modern IT companies who come 'bringing IT solutions' that are 'guaranteed to save you time and money'.


I have yet to see an IT system for standard processes that really saves a lot of money and makes life easier.  So I might be a little narrow in my experience but I have yet to be convinced that real gains in productivity and time can be made.

Case in point number 1.

1.   Finance systems.  A good finance system should do a few things and do them well.  Pay the bills, tell users about financial performance and do budgets.  The amount of data that requires entering does not decrease.

What I have seen happen is an initial reduction of finance office staff with a view that there should be less work BUT this is not true!  All the invoices still need to be entered, the budget figures need entering and someone has to do manual reconciliations.

Case in point number 2.

2.   Student management systems (SMS).  Basically a SMS is a giant database that captures and records the data relating to students in an academic institution.  The program is only as good as the information that is entered into it.  So there have to be operators who actually have to enter the data.  Like the financial system the amount of data that has to be typed in does not decrease.  Even with automated systems registrars and back office people are still required to check the data and make sure it is correct.

Here's what I think.  When a new IT system is introduced what happens is the labor (people) required to operate the system are simply shuffled around.  That is the tasks are moved from one office to another and few real gains are made.  More IT professionals are needed to make sure the system works and is maintained, more input staff are required at the coal face (or wherever they may sit) to actually input the data and the only real 'savings' produced are on paper for the department for whom the systems have changed.

I have no issue with no systems and room for improvement.  I absolutely agree that changes must be made in order to keep up with ever changing technology.

My beef is with the way these 'do it all' systems get sold to the customers.  So when I hear a new system is being implemented that is going to save time, money and reduce the workforce – please excuse me if I roll my eyes and sigh.  No – I don’t believe your over-hyped sales pitch.

Sunday, February 6, 2011

A story of educational management change

Five years ago our educational facility was in the dumps.  Seriously.  It got so bad that the institute was facing wrack and ruin due to a lack of customers, loss of face with the community and bad internal decision making processes.  And all this was topped off by a lack of leadership in the highest office. 

Enter our current CEO - Dr Pim Borren.  Mr Borren made a number of sweeping changes and was able to bring some really common sense approaches to old problems that the previous management couldn't see.  Basically the old management was so stuck in their ways of doing business that they couldn't see any real way forward.

There were some classic management 101 changes made straight off the bat.  Here are a few examples:

1.  Reduce unnecessary overhead costs.  Cut the number of business units (faculties). 

2.  Restructure the levels of management and remove as many middle managers without decision making powers as allowable.

3.  Sack the previous management team (bar two) and hire new people who are both professional and capable.

4.  Give the power to make decisions back to the business units.

5.  Rejuvenate the marketing department with professionals who had tried and true skills and ability.

6.  Decentralise.

7.  Be open and accessible to the people.

8.  Work with the unions - not against them.

9.  Give credit to the people who deserve it.

And it worked.  Since 2007 we have had significant growth and have managed to achieve fantastic results both in graduating students as well as changing the demographics.

So here we are now in 2011.  Is it still working?

Yes.  Graduating student numbers this year were through the roof!  Building development programs are under way and last year we had our biggest ever financial surplus.

And no.  Let’s be honest - we don't have it all together.  There are heaps of changes that we the workers would like to have made.  But we're not boss.  So we get on with getting on.  And to be honest we have a lot of fun along the way too.

The last five or so years of Mr Borrens term as CEO of Waiariki Institute of Technology haven't been without the odd bit of controversy.  But at the same time there have been plenty of obstacles that we have had to overcome.  The wins far outweigh the controversies by far.

Leadership and management can be tough.  And at the same time it takes a strong person take a $27m business up to a $50m business in 5 years.

This post is my small way of acknowledging the work that Mr Borren (also known as Pim) has achieved at such a rapid pace and in such a small amount of time. 

Love him or loathe him - the results speak for themselves.


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