Are you regarded simply as a supplier?
Are you a supplier of choice?
Do your customers engage with your business and choose to become involved?
The Budget Airlines’ new thinking created in the 1990s
A highly profitable new market was born.
Flip–Flop, try it. Unlock your thinking. Open minds to new opportunities. Release the one thing left in Pandora’s box …
How quickly we forget those times when we were starting our careers, when we were on the front line, or in the back office, learning the ropes. Did you ever gather around the water cooler with your work chums to practice low morale, disengagement and general can’t-be-botheredness? How often were you lured from your positive state to joining in with your more disaffected colleagues? What pushed you onto the slippery slope?
Go and stand by the water cooler. Hear what ‘they’ hear, see what ‘they’ see, feel what ‘they’ feel. Remember when you were standing here with your chums and what made you want to join in these conversations. Now, ask what would I have wanted my leader at the time to say to me, to reassure me that everything will be ok?
“Great spirits have always encountered violent opposition from mediocre minds.” Albert Einstein
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Here we go again.
The headline screams: Absenteeism on the rise amongst British Workers.
Rules evolve from the need to control. Often people governed by the rules have no idea where they came from. Why 30 mph as the speed limit in a built up area? Why does the shooting season start on the 12th August not the 11th? Why is 9:00pm the TV watershed? Why do I need a licence to have a radio station?
Once the rules are established we get custodians of the rules; usually the leaders in an organisation. People who have a stake in maintaining the rules and identify with them. They become emotionally attached to the prescribed way. Their function is to continually limit what can happen. As people start to push the boundaries, so new rules are created to stop this. We find rules prescribing ‘best practice’ which means that any other good practice is not allowed. And so a patriarchal mindset prevails: ‘we do it this way because we know best’.
Interestingly if you read the above paragraph again from the perspective of your own personal rules it becomes easy to understand why people find it hard to break from the norm. We create our own set of immutable legislation to which we become emotionally attached.
The odds are stack against making a step change in performance. The rules are set either formally or informally. They are governed by others and ourselves. They are also used as a credible excuse for inertia, so even when we can see that something is not functioning as we want we claim our hands are tied; there can be no more.
‘Cos everybody has sometimes broke the rules’ (Status Quo – ‘Legendary?’ Rock Group)
The football season is well underway and it won’t be long before some teams are failing to match the dreams of their fans and owners. As is the tradition at these times when your team is doing badly, they have had some poor results and your expectations of Premier League success are fading fast, it’s the manager’s head that is called for. Is changing the leader the answer or is it a need to do something differently. How many of these teams actually recover from a manager merry go round?
More interestingly, how many leaders are able to change their approach, mindset and behaviours to bring about a better performance?
I was particularly struck by the reaction of Sir Alex Ferguson after Manchester United were so comprehensively beaten by Barcelona in the Champions League final 2011. Just looking at his demeanour suggested that he recognised that even at their very best his team wouldn’t have won. The standard of competition had been raised and a new approach was required in order to become world-beaters again. There was no call for the leader to be changed, after all this was an outstanding team. It was the leader that recognised the need to change in order to compete with the best in the business.
It’s a brave person who changes a successful team; there is so much to lose, so little to gain. We often see successful businesses stagnate, afraid to do anything different. We find good managers reluctant to adopt different practices because they might give poorer results. What brilliant leaders like Sir Alex have is a clear vision of what they want to achieve and they are not afraid to challenge their own ways of doing things.
Their vision does not change, everyone understands the goals, they share the values of the organisation, and they are not afraid to challenge their approach in order to get a better result. If our market, the economic environment, our competitors, or even our team changes then sticking remorselessly to the way we know may well leave us heading for relegation or for the crowd baying for our heads. Great leaders are always prepared to change their rules.