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If you follow my Daily Thoughts you would know that I despise Employee Engagement as something that you need to inject, as an input, when in reality it’s something you want to have as an outcome. How you get there? Many roads lead to Rome.

But here is a trick. If you manage to involve people in any ‘company affair’, not because of the position they are in the organizational chart, but because who they are, the person they are, I can guarantee enormous returns, excuse my mercantile language.

We have a term for this in Viral Change™ : leave the sandals at the door. Your HR sandals, your training sandals, your strategy sandals, your Business Unit Head of Such and Such sandals, even your VP sandals. Enter the temple with no sandals, and you’ll see the power.

That magic trick in organizations happens when people are asked to do things for what they are, not the hat, or sandals, or uniform they wear.

When, in Viral Change™,  we find the highly connected and influential people in the organization, and we call them to arms, we insist: you are not here because you are the Supervisor of A, the Head of B, or the Manager of C. You are here because you are you. And, by the way, small detail, no pressure, your peers say so, not us, not your mangers. (Viral Change™ focuses on peer-nominated folks…)

There is also something magical in some of the most common reactions; ‘about time the company is asking me to do something for who I am, not what my job description says’.

Refreshing, to say the least. You are in the path of high engagement.

Cost of this equals zero.

And you bring less weight with you.

No sandals.

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  Daily Thoughts

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September 21st, 2021

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September 20th, 2021

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September 17th, 2021

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September 16th, 2021

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September 14th, 2021

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September 13th, 2021

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September 11th, 2021

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September 9th, 2021

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September 8th, 2021

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September 1st, 2021

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August 13th, 2021

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August 12th, 2021

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August 10th, 2021

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August 6th, 2021

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August 5th, 2021

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August 4th, 2021

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August 3rd, 2021

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August 2nd, 2021

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July 30th, 2021

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July 29th, 2021

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July 28th, 2021

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July 27th, 2021

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July 26th, 2021

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July 23rd, 2021

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July 22nd, 2021

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July 21st, 2021

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July 20th, 2021

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July 19th, 2021

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July 16th, 2021

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July 15th, 2021

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July 14th, 2021

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July 13th, 2021

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July 12th, 2021

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July 9th, 2021

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July 8th, 2021

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July 7th, 2021

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July 6th, 2021

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July 5th, 2021

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July 2nd, 2021

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July 1st, 2021

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June 30th, 2021

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June 29th, 2021

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June 28th, 2021

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June 25th, 2021

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June 24th, 2021

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June 23rd, 2021

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June 22nd, 2021

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June 21st, 2021

‘How can we make this fail?” is a more powerful question than its opposite

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June 18th, 2021

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June 17th, 2021

Lose control, to gain more control: Starting the Control Diet

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June 16th, 2021

Lose control, to gain more control: The paradox and the symptoms

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June 15th, 2021

Collective Leadership: Two Acid Tests

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June 14th, 2021

One disruptive culture shift, five outcomes. At least. The 30/30 to 3/3 ‘unreasonable shift’.

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June 11th, 2021

Management upside down: global is local, leadership goes grassroots, top is at the bottom and traditional management needs a retirement party

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June 10th, 2021

Can anybody dispel the mystery for me, please? Who are ‘they’?

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June 9th, 2021

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June 7th, 2021

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June 5th, 2021

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June 4th, 2021

Top Influencers 2, Top Leadership 1 (Hierarchical power in the organization is half of the ‘peer-to-peer’ power)

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June 3rd, 2021

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June 2nd, 2021

John Kotter’s 8 Step Change Management model is the best change model of the last Century. Why this is still alive in 2021 is beyond me.

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June 1st, 2021

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May 31st, 2021

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May 28th, 2021

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May 26th, 2021

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May 25th, 2021

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May 24th, 2021

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May 21st, 2021

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May 20th, 2021

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May 19th, 2021

Listening is more than being silent. Learn to spot the listener and call out the ones who pretend.

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May 18th, 2021

Restructuring to force collaboration, is likely to create more anxiety than collaboration. Structural solutions for behavioural problems hardly work.

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May 17th, 2021

Accountability holes? Desert spaces? Orphan ideas? Buy the tent, occupy the street.

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May 14th, 2021

The moral choices of leadership, courtesy of Pedro, my taxi driver in Panama

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May 13th, 2021

The fastest and best way to build a creative culture: all revealed now

The fastest and best way to build a creative culture is to have lots of creative people together. No kidding. […]

May 12th, 2021

Entering as a question mark, leaving as a period

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May 11th, 2021

To Scale or not to scale? This is the Shakespearean culture question.

Behavioural/cultural shaping in organizations does not scale up by the leaders simply having the right mindset and motivation. A mechanism […]

May 10th, 2021

The world is flat, leadership is global and I want to go home

Where is home? Ask this question to an Irishman or Irish woman. Even if they have been living abroad for […]

May 7th, 2021

15 things to look for in a culture

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May 6th, 2021

Leave your sandals at the door

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May 5th, 2021

What I learnt from the monks: a little anthropology of leadership and space on one page

My friends, monks of a Benedictine monastery in the Highlands, Scotland, spend most of the time in silence. I mean, […]

May 4th, 2021

FAQs to myself (about organizational life)

In my work as Organization Architect, I have dealt with clients of many sizes, shapes and colours over the years. […]

May 3rd, 2021

Not even bottom-up. Certainly not top-down. Lasting organizational change is a polycentric social movement, or it isn’t.

In organizational life we are used to the dichotomy ‘top-down’ and ‘bottom up’, for example, when we talk about change. […]

April 30th, 2021

A ‘culture of X’ is not the same as a culture of ‘training on X’. Safety is a good example.

Organizations have traditionally used a three-legged approach to creating a ‘culture’: Communications, training and compliance. None of those in isolation […]

April 29th, 2021

Training and culture change. The love affair that ends in tears.

It seems to be very hard for people to get away from the idea that, if we just put individuals […]

April 28th, 2021

Is victimhood a good model to understand some forms of employee disengagement?

I have been researching for a while the not-that-easy topic of ‘cognitive mental frames’ or ‘mental models’ that take over […]

April 27th, 2021

Micro-behaviours plus peer-to-peer equals social change dynamite

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April 26th, 2021

Rewarding collaboration by reinforcing individual contributions is management’s decaffeinated espresso: good taste, no effect.

Can we work on the collective and reward the individualistic? Well, sure you can, it happens every day. But it’s […]

April 23rd, 2021

The year of the peer (one of us, people like me, my horizontal tribe)

If I were the one in charge of deciding the ‘person of the year’ for the front cover of Time […]

April 22nd, 2021

A mobilizing platform is the human operating system of the company. You need to install your HOS.

I said previously that large scale mobilization of people (AKA social movements, AKA company culture) needs a platform. They don’t […]

April 21st, 2021

Networks have hierarchies and hierarchies have networks. Excuse the ranting.

When I was young, very young, many moons ago, I remember my school mates and the priests having discussions such […]

April 20th, 2021

Large scale mobilization of people needs a small scale set of orchestrators. It works in society and it works in organizations.

I wish I could remember where I read these stats.  Russia under the Tsar 1914-1917…had 180 million peasants and workers […]

April 19th, 2021

The Twenty Percenters

It is said that in any organization, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I often think that […]

April 16th, 2021

Great players, great training, wrong game

It’s a new world out there. You’ll realise this truth if you open the windows of your organization and let […]

April 15th, 2021

If you have two guys who think the same, fire one of them

I must have heard this for the first time from Tom Peters many years ago. He was, and he is, […]

April 14th, 2021

Have your Big White Board of Distractions in front of you. Keep your list very fresh. Then, execute the strategy.

If you want to execute a strategy, you want to keep cool and move inexorably forward, and if you think […]

April 13th, 2021

7 Rules to negotiate and lead (and control your destiny). Number 5 is the tricky one.

Control the conversation. Control the dialogue. Don’t accept a dialogue imposed on you. Common ground is OK, but only if […]

April 12th, 2021

My friends, the monks’, secret weapon: the asterisk. I want 2021 leadership with tons of them.

My best friends are monks of the type that don’t talk much. So we don’t talk much. I visit them […]

April 10th, 2021

If I were the CEO’s speechwriter for a day, this is the speech I would pass on

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April 8th, 2021

‘Management’ is political campaigning inside. Leadership is winning campaigns.

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April 6th, 2021

Leadership and the art of managing disappointments

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April 3rd, 2021

10 Rules of Self-Survival: The Border Diet

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April 2nd, 2021

Reflection is subversive. Uprise! Slow down!

Space to reflect? Where is that? Are you saying we are not reflective? Don’t we have intelligence? Are you suggesting […]

April 1st, 2021

The three ‘magic’ words: transparency, clarity and fairness

These three organizational ‘magic words’ manage to get mixed up a lot. It’s hard to believe because they are so […]

March 31st, 2021

‘Grasp the facts, misses the meaning’: The Leadership Dyslexia upon us

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March 30th, 2021

Introducing Three Unruly Friends

The monastic tradition in the Christian world has these 3 magic S that have been present since the Fathers of […]

March 29th, 2021

A 3-point leadership strategy for your transformation, small t, big T

In caricature, this is a 3-point strategy to develop further. It’s a simple mental and practical frame. Build an overwhelming, […]

March 26th, 2021

Leadership: The way of the Cat and the way of the Monkey

There are two ways to carry a baby – in ancient Hinduism tradition – the way of the cat and […]

March 25th, 2021

Backstage Leadership™ is key to collective leadership, a cornerstone of the modern organization

TODAY’s the day – join me, for my Book Launch Webinar at 17:30 (UK time). Register Now. I’ll be discussing […]

March 24th, 2021

‘Our best days are yet to come. Our proudest moments are yet to be. Our most glorious achievements are just ahead’

Don’t miss my book launch webinar TOMORROW. Book your seat! I’ll be discussing themes from my new book Camino – […]

March 23rd, 2021

My 20 Rules of Leadership

Delighted to announce…Camino – Leadership Notes on the Road launches TODAY! You can order your copy or register for my […]

March 22nd, 2021

If leadership in organizations followed some ‘activism rules’; not standard management logic. Here is one rule.

Join my live webinar THIS WEEK. Book your seat! I’ll be discussing leadership as a praxis…’no one is ever a leader, […]

March 20th, 2021

Employee loyalty is a plural. Leadership is the host of that plurality, always an irrational mix

6 days to go until my live webinar. Book your seat! I’ll be discussing leadership as a praxis…’no one is […]

March 19th, 2021

3 Inconvenient truths about leadership and change

ONLY ONE WEEK to go before my live webinar. Book your seat! I’ll be discussing leadership as a praxis…’no one […]

March 17th, 2021

When your organization not only has good leadership but is a Leadership Lab, a live School for Leaders, we are talking serious cutting edge

Join my webinar next week! To mark the launch of my new book: Camino – Leadership Notes on the Road. […]

March 15th, 2021

The Leader with Seven Faces. A model of leadership that requires a mirror.

Don’t miss my Book Launch webinar on 25th March Join me as I discuss Camino – Leadership Notes on the Road […]

March 12th, 2021

The video and the audio of empowerment are out of sync

Register for my Book Launch webinar on 25th March? Join me as I discuss Camino – Leadership Notes on the […]

March 10th, 2021

Shifting the narrative: one of the finest roles of leadership

Have you registered for my webinar on 25th March? Join me as I discuss my new book – Camino – Leadership […]

March 8th, 2021

All thoughts come out of silence. Leadership development may turn out to be free after all.

My virtual book launch event is on 25th March. Register here. Join me as I discuss my new book – Camino […]

March 5th, 2021

It takes only one question to know about your model of leadership (and there is always an alternative question, just in case)

My virtual book launch event is on 25th March. Register here. Join me as I discuss my new book – […]

March 3rd, 2021

It’s official: the single, magic bullet, that characterises good leadership is to back off


March 1st, 2021

‘Paths, not works’. A philosopher’s metaphor that explains well our leadership challenges.

CAMINO – LEADERSHIP NOTES ON THE ROAD NOW AVAILABLE TO PRE-ORDER An extensive collection of my Daily Thoughts on leadership. […]

February 26th, 2021

Authentically Disruptive

Pope Francis has introduced disruption. The head of the 1.2 billion Catholic Church lives in a one bedroom apart-hotel, produces […]

February 24th, 2021

No milk, no honey, enjoy the journey

Taken from my new book Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road. ‘Nobody is ever a leader. Becoming one is […]

February 22nd, 2021

Three magic questions for leaders

Daily Thought taken from my new book Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road. Read preview extracts: Camino – Extract […]

February 19th, 2021

Good leaders are a bit like corporate anthropologists, without the six months in Tanzania

Good leaders are a bit like corporate anthropologists. In fact, we are all exotics on the payroll. In my idiosyncratic […]

February 17th, 2021

The organization’s collective self-belief is often hidden. Leaders need to hear the unsaid.

Taken from my forthcoming book: Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road. Read Extract Chapter 1 Part 2.    Some organizations or […]

February 15th, 2021

All teams with a ‘sell-by-date’

Taken from my forthcoming book: Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road. Read NEW extract Chapter 1 part 2   Imagine that […]

February 12th, 2021

‘The top leaders are not specific, they don’t tell us what they expect’. This is very good news.

Talking about leadership teams at the top, I often hear ‘they launch these words but they don’t give specifics’, or […]

February 10th, 2021

Leadership dialects: you are supposed to join a party, but don’t get an invitation

Taken from my forthcoming book: Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road. Read NEW extract Chapter 1 part 2   […]

February 8th, 2021

Leadership scaffolding. Let’s try this mental model

Leadership can be taught, of course, but not in the same way as teaching how to drive a car or […]

February 5th, 2021

Thought leadership is making people think, or there is not much thought or leadership. Maybe journalistic leadership?

Taken from my forthcoming book, Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road.   Download an extract of Chapter 1 here: Extract Camino […]

February 3rd, 2021

Leadership in organizations is about mobilizing people. The leader is a ‘Social Arsonist’

‘A good organizer is a social arsonist who goes around setting people on fire.’—Fred Ross Fred Ross (1910-1992) American community […]

February 1st, 2021

Bring ‘character’ back

We call it character assassination for a reason. It’s the ultimate attack. The attack to the uniqueness of an individual, […]

January 29th, 2021

‘Self, us and now’: the very old, uncomfortable trio for a modern look at leadership

Hillel the Elder, or ‘Rabbi’ Hillel, a Jewish leader who died in 10 CE, is remembered outside the Jewish tradition […]

January 27th, 2021

Your mental frame, as defined by words, will dictate your actions. Even your values. Words are dictators.

The purpose of the organization is… The objectives of the strategy are… The reason why we have restructured is… From […]

January 25th, 2021

‘I am the captain. We are on a collision course.’

Taken from my soon to be released book, Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road.    This is a great story […]

January 22nd, 2021

Corporate grammar could learn from Obama’s spelling guidelines

Taken from my soon to be released book, Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road  ‘This isn’t a period, it’s a […]

January 20th, 2021

The Tragedy of the Obvious

Taken from my soon to be released book, Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road    ‘A man was leading a […]

January 18th, 2021

If in doubt, make it personal

Taken from my soon to be released book, Camino – Leadership Notes On The Road    Invited to present at TEDx […]

December 24th, 2020

Happy Christmas and New Year to the Daily Thoughts Community

Happy Christmas and New Year to everybody in the Daily Thoughts community. We have all had the most challenging year […]

December 19th, 2020

The Irish Health Service’s silent culture revolution was driven by ‘if-not-us-who?’ employees

Four years ago, starting in the Midwest of Ireland and replicating to other parts of the country, a bottom up […]

December 18th, 2020

Storytelling wins wars whilst everybody else is fighting battles (1 of 3): the ingredients

Today, we are in front of daily wars of narratives: political, social, models of the world, futures, concept of Man. […]

December 17th, 2020

The corporate mille-feuille. Layers of initiatives don’t touch each other

In a large company, what do a leadership development, a culture change and a business integration programme typically have in […]

December 16th, 2020

The alternative post-mortem of failed change programmes(5 of 5): we communicate too much

In this mini series I have shared so far four inconvenient truths uncovered by the forensics of ‘change management’ failure: […]

December 15th, 2020

The alternative Post-mortem of failed change programmes. (4 of 5): Too much vision, not lack of it

Fourth in the mini series:  uncovering of truths of the failure of change and transformation programmes via a reverse engineering. […]

December 14th, 2020

The alternative Post-mortem of failed change programmes. (3 of 5): Antibodies to start with.

Third instalment in the uncovering of truths via a reverse engineering of the failure of change and transformation programmes. Finding: […]

December 12th, 2020

The alternative post-mortem of failed change programmes. (2 of 5): It was fireworks and corporate flash mobs

Second instalment in the uncovering of truths via a reverse engineering of the failure of change and transformation programmes. Many […]

December 11th, 2020

The alternative post-mortem of failed change programmes. (1 of 5): There were too many people involved and too much debate. Not the opposite.

This five part mini-series (!) is not glamorous. It tries to uncover some inconvenient truths via a reverse engineering of […]

December 10th, 2020

The impact of unintended/extended positive consequences of organizational initiatives maybe bigger than the individual desired outcomes. So who sees them?

‘Co-benefit’ is a term broadly used in the Climate Change movement to explain the unintended/extended consequences of actions beyond an […]

December 9th, 2020

Agree conceptually on values, then abandon the labels as fast as you can and focus on their behavioural translation

In my Daily Thought back in September, I suggested that leadership competence-based systems may be better at providing a language […]

December 8th, 2020

The pharma company that forgot to display its purpose

A few years ago, I was in the lobby of a global pharma company waiting for my appointment. I sat […]

December 7th, 2020

A small company is not a big company in small. In the growth from small to big, the trouble is in the middle.

Small, sometimes entrepreneurial companies (small and entrepreneurial are not the same) enjoy ways of working that are fit for their […]

December 5th, 2020

Imperfect data, imperfect instructions, low predictability, high trust: just a model for business (from boat racing)

My very good client BTG plc created a habit of getting leadership teams together to race boats for a day, […]

December 4th, 2020

Orphan grenades: the worse form of friendly fire in the organization. Some examples.

We have a problem in Division A. Leaders are not doing their job. Leaders are not living the values. Some […]

December 3rd, 2020

The courage to listen: because it might take us to conclusions different from the ones we have already made

Madeleine Albright, politician and diplomat; former and first female U.S. Secretary of State, said in her Commencement Speech at Scripps […]

December 2nd, 2020

12 Rules For A Behavioural Counter-Epidemic To Deal With Covid-19

In the short term, the health of all of us depends largely on people following public health rules (masks, distance, […]

December 1st, 2020

Defeatism and cynicism are two toxic sisters that need to be challenged. Every minute of silence is a terrible complicity in the erosion of hope.

A slow growth cancer in organizations. People unnecessarily and gratuitously condemning the company to an impossible future: we will never […]

November 30th, 2020

Create spaces for fast innovation: kindle ideas in your own Lab126

We are social animals. We live in spaces, with rules, with rituals, in tribal environments. We are both architects of […]

November 28th, 2020

Standing out, standing for, sameness and differentiation. Just thinking aloud

Let me elevate the question of ‘differentiation’ to a higher level. Product differentiation? Sure. How different is different? That is […]

November 27th, 2020

Don’t let the expression ‘this is just business’ be synonymous for inhuman. Business? Not in my name.

Somewhere along the line, in the history of ‘business’, something went wrong and people took the wrong turn at the […]

November 26th, 2020

Focus, focus! But only after un-focusing a lot

Our managerial training and praxis has been quite successful at making us guilty of not focusing enough on a task […]

November 25th, 2020

That great new hire, welcomed with a fanfare, saviour of the team, is leaving. Oh well!

Despite being repeated a thousand times, hiring processes are still quite imperfect. Of course, there are many places in which […]

November 24th, 2020

At some threshold, ‘improvements’ become dangerous

‘Continuous improvement’ is part of the management furniture and something that, at face value, one could not disagree with. But […]

November 23rd, 2020

Aspiration: the healthy restlessness of the ‘Is there a better way?’

Complacency is always a risk, more so when we profess to be immune to it. Sometimes, achieving organizational and business […]

November 21st, 2020

The many ‘me’ inside Me need some discovery: have a go. They all seem to come for dinner.

Continuing the conversation on leadership. Yes, we could go forever. Let me make an assumption: that miraculously you’ll have some […]

November 20th, 2020

Organizations don’t learn. People do. Sometimes too much. So where does company memory come in?

The modern organization is fluid. People are not necessarily assigned to one place, one team, even one single role. The […]

November 19th, 2020

How to create collaboration. Parachute people in who collaborate a lot

Collaboration is behavioural, not a process or system. As a behaviour, it can’t be taught. It’s something that some people […]

November 18th, 2020

Stop press: The C-suite people and top leadership, major problem revealed

For CEOs, CFOs, CHROs, and other Cs, and Divisional Ds’, survey after survey try to identify their focus, their concerns, […]

November 17th, 2020

Leadership is a social concept, not an individual trait. But we are fascinated by the individual stock.

Leadership is a term that describes a relationship. No relationship, no leadership. Leadership can only be defined in terms of […]

November 16th, 2020

Corporate language needs a transfusion of humanity. It can be done.

Corporate speak is of course tribal. So, to belong, you have to speak the tribal idiom. Through my work, I […]

November 14th, 2020

An enlightened top leadership is sometimes a fantastic alibi for a non-enlightened management to do whatever they want

Nothing is more rewarding than having a CEO who says world-changing things in the news and who produces bold, enlightened […]

November 13th, 2020

Heroic corporate stories build motivation for a future. Routine stories of achievement show that the future is already here.

Corporate storytelling has been largely dominated by heroic stories, referring to extraordinary circumstances, handled by extraordinary people. They make for […]

November 12th, 2020

Talk the walk (Note from the editor: it actually means in that order)

‘Walk the talk’ is being consistent: say something and then do what you said you would. ‘Talk the walk’ is […]

November 11th, 2020

Leadership is an amoral praxis. How about this to start a conversation?

Any label that could be equally applied to Mother Theresa, Hitler, your CEO, Kim Jong-un, Mandela, Abu Bakr al-Baghdadi and […]

November 10th, 2020

The healing smell of a corporate bonfire. (The Hernan Cortés Exit strategy).

The British retailer Marks and Spencer (M&S) has ‘Plan A’ as the title of their vast corporate and social responsibility […]

November 9th, 2020

Tribes in the organization: Managing by Segmenting Around (part 3 of 3)

If you followed the two previous Daily Thoughts, you would have got into the idea of ‘Managing by Segmenting Around’. […]

November 7th, 2020

Tribes in the organization: seeing the world in segments, one character at a time . The Big 40 (2 of 3)

Exercise: take a piece of paper and put names next to each category. Use your organization or an organization you […]

November 6th, 2020

Tribes in the organization: seeing the world in segments, one character at a time (part 1 of 3)

These 8, self-explanatory categories of people are the natural focus of traditional HR and management systems . They are needed […]

November 5th, 2020

Trespassers will be recruited: a four-word strategy in the Battle of Ideas

Societal issues, clash of ideologies, fundamentalism, political engagement (or lack of it), organizational innovation, Leadership 2020, no matter what direction […]

November 4th, 2020

Have you seen that slide? The transformation thing, old power, new power and all those shifts

I have seen the same slide yet again. It keeps following me on Twitter, LinkedIn and Facebook. OK, not on […]

November 3rd, 2020

Reinventing management is reinventing the skill set. It’s urgent, and the answers are elsewhere, not in traditional management practices.

Reinventing management to deal with the complexities of the world and, therefore, the complexities of business challenges is something that, […]

November 2nd, 2020

Many cultural change efforts fail out of a mathematical mistake

Many cultural change efforts fail out of a mathematical mistake. They focus on ‘people in the room’ (conference, off site, […]

October 31st, 2020

The influencers have arrived! What can we do?

Many years ago companies started to say ‘we are organized into project teams’. Professional projectisation was the thing. Until it […]

October 30th, 2020

Change management models, on sale

Give me a sequence, some boxes, a template on steps, lots of arrows and a PowerPoint, and I will create […]

October 29th, 2020

There are off-the-shelf accounting packages to buy and use. There can’t be such a thing as an off-the-shelf Leadership Development Programme

Avoid off-the-shelf leadership programmes. Pret-a-porter leadership development is attractive but unlikely to be a good solution. There are no universal […]

October 28th, 2020

God’s answer to somebody who complained to him that they did not win the lottery: “Buy that damned ticket!” (Passionate people, take notice)

As Woody Allen said, showing up is 80% of  life. The bookshelves, digital or otherwise, are full of ‘How-To-Succeed-In’ stuff. […]

October 27th, 2020

We buy an elephant and then we train the elephant to behave like a gazelle

What would be wrong with buying gazelles in the first place? The answer I hear sometimes is, ‘Well, the market […]

October 26th, 2020

This best kept, secret jumpstart, will save you months of pain in people, team reorg and alignment

The following line will short cut months of (building) ‘alignment’, integration, reorganization, team building, coalition building, start-up get-to-know, redeployment of […]

October 24th, 2020

6 types of employees I want (2 of 2): synthesizers, designers and reinventors of wheels

I shared yesterday three types of employees I want for the modern organization. Different characters on the payroll. If there […]

October 23rd, 2020

6 types of employees I want (1 of 2): craftsmen, entrepreneurs and activists

My ideal modern organization has different characters on the payroll. If there is a payroll. These are three of them: […]

October 22nd, 2020

My 20 Rules of Leadership

I review my 20 rules of Leadership every few months. I have published this list regularly in my Daily Thoughts. […]

October 21st, 2020

‘Paths, not works’. A philosopher’s metaphor that explains well our leadership challenges.

Philosopher Martin Heidegger (1889-1976) requested before his death that the collection of his writings be called ‘paths, not works’. He […]

October 20th, 2020

Plateau is the enemy. Hard work the remedy. Out of plateau the priority.

The secret of success revealed: it’s hard work! There you are. Now mix it with healthy ambition. And now make […]

October 19th, 2020

I wouldn’t hire anybody who is likely to follow the job description

The job description is dead. It is replaced by a Lego box, no instruction manual or a map. Welcome to […]

October 17th, 2020

Framing is a leadership must (3 of 3): ‘Intention and Outcome’

My third framing comment, after (1) framing new behaviours, and (2) the framing of the overall narrative of the organization, […]

October 16th, 2020

Framing is a leadership must (2 of 3): frame the narrative before it frames you

Back in June, I said that I would put framing at the top of the list on ‘leadership tasks’. I […]

October 15th, 2020

Compelling narrative and truth are, of course, two different things. Leadership must make them inseparable

Some time ago a picture of a pack of wolves walking in the snow had been circulating on many social […]

October 14th, 2020

Trophy employees, their company and its useful idiots

In any organization there are positive deviants (deviants from expected norms, who achieve results) and other ‘statistical abnormalities’ by nature […]

October 13th, 2020

Corporate Botox

My local DIY/Bricolage/Hardware store has terrible service. But now, by adopting a tradition started by Walmart (a tradition which is […]

October 12th, 2020

Sustainable? Competitive advantage or disadvantage?

There was a time, not long ago, when people got fed up with ‘change programmes’ that faded at the speed […]

October 10th, 2020

4 types of generosity in the workplace. 2 with epidemic potential.

Four types: The generosity of the traffic light. Every fixed interval, it lets you get through. It even changes colour […]

October 9th, 2020

You want to seek the company of a few rejected people

There are many compilations but I found these examples in These are cases of rejection that should make us […]

October 8th, 2020

The only change worth changing, is people’s lives. Why are we afraid to say it?

Business organizations have grown in a traditional alpha male model where emotions are weaknesses, irrationality is banned and ‘the human […]

October 7th, 2020

The problem is that all we say is that ‘the problem is’. There is no ‘and’.

We need to improve communication is not the same as, this is what we need to do to improve communication, […]

October 6th, 2020

Trust in 3 models. Trust me, it’s simple.

There are three major sources of trust generation. Everything else is commentary: The ‘keep promises’. I can rely on you, […]

October 5th, 2020

Measurement: the Dogma. Here are 10 critical thinking principles.

The following are not the same: What you want to measure What you need to measure What you have been […]

October 3rd, 2020

The cost of checking. Looking at the number one cause of organizational ineffectiveness.

If somebody could care to quantify the cost of constantly checking with people whether they are doing what they are […]

October 2nd, 2020

Children don’t hate (other than broccoli, or the nanny). Then, we all grow up and…

I owe this phrase to John Kerry whom I had the privilege of seeing on his London tour promoting his […]

October 1st, 2020

Introducing behaviours by the back door. The ‘culture of feedback’ example

There are many ways to introduce, trigger and spread behaviours in organizations, but not many of them are effective and […]

September 30th, 2020

Every successful company’s growth contains seeds of failure. At some point, organizational complexity could outweigh the business benefits

Organizations grow in many ways: organically and quietly, organically and exponentially, by acquisitions or mergers etc. In every step of […]

September 29th, 2020

I challenge you with this quiz, when applied to your own organization.

There are about 200 people in the organization. But 10 of them at the top are very powerful In fact, […]

September 28th, 2020

History is constructed. The leader’s legacy is not retrospective. We build it daily, so we’d better test it.

I previously wrote about company cultures having a glue, The One Global Culture does not exist. But pretending that it […]

September 26th, 2020

The One Global Culture does not exist. But pretending that it does holds us together.

The so-called One Global Culture is a confederation of: (a) Geographical cultures and sub-cultures (Italy, USA, France etc) (b) Functional, […]

September 25th, 2020

Casinos don’t have clocks

Ryan Holiday (media critic, stoicism vendor, marketing strategist) is ‘the bestselling author of Trust Me, I’m Lying: Confessions of a […]

September 24th, 2020

Jet Skiing Management vs. Scuba Diving Management

The writer Nicholas Carr said about the influence of the Internet on the way he wrote and, in general, on his […]

September 23rd, 2020

May I introduce you to our worst enemy? The word average

Random thoughts: People content with average achievements in the market, launch a party when the statistics show a few points […]

September 22nd, 2020

Do competence-based management and leadership systems create better managers or leaders? (Sorry for the inconvenient question)

Louis Gerstner, chairman of IBM from 1993 until 2002, recalls in his autobiography, the company’s use of a competence model […]

September 21st, 2020

Memo to all corporate supporting functions: You are fired. Reapply now. Lines are open

Memo to all functions and Business Partners (HR, OD, L&D, Internal/Corporate Communications, Strategy Units, Finance, Health and Safety, Branding/PR, and […]

September 19th, 2020

7 Platitudes in Organizational Life, in need of a very loud ‘really?’ Louder! And some debunking.

We can do much better than this. But we don’t. On the contrary, we exploit these platitudes and repeat them […]

September 18th, 2020

Collaborating across borders needs one thing: borders

There is a romantic view of the organization that sees it completely borderless, inside and outside. Inside, this view says, […]

September 17th, 2020

May Change Management have a great funeral

A good friend, an expert in Communications, has created her new website with a prominent quote of mine, ‘Change Management […]

September 16th, 2020

The Ordinary Irrationals

These are us, you and me. OK, apologies for calling you ordinary. But it’s not disrespectful. Believe me. It’s like […]

September 15th, 2020

The 6 stages of management teams. The origin and evolution of these species on one page.

Stage 1: The Accidental Management team. The team is composed by whoever reports to the top. You are in that […]

September 14th, 2020

Good silos, bad silos are like good cholesterol and bad cholesterol

It could be argued that ‘silos’ are part of the human condition and group interaction, and Chris Rodgers (Informal Coalitions) […]

September 12th, 2020

Trust is (mostly) horizontal. Our organizations are (mostly) vertical. No wonder…

‘People like me’ is a category in its own right in the Edelman Trust Barometer. Multiple sets of data point […]

September 11th, 2020

Your most important list of personal assets. Take time. Now?

There are many ways to list our own assets. And that’s something that is very healthy to do. Practice it […]

September 10th, 2020

Note to Internal Communications people: occupy the (corporate) streets.

The Communications function in organizations has still today one of the best chances to drive strategic change. To do this, […]

September 9th, 2020

‘Human’ and ‘leadership’ can go together by inviting our demons for dinner.

If leadership is a praxis, something that ‘I’ do (name and surname here, please), then, knowing a little bit about […]

September 8th, 2020

Solidarity as a form of organizational culture is both a soft label and a secret weapon.

At some people’s request, I am revising an old Daily Thoughts on ‘solidarity’ in the work place. Solidarity is one […]

September 7th, 2020

Employee Engagement Surveys: Be careful what you ask for, you might get it.

There are two opposite and wrong reactions to Employee (engagement/satisfaction) surveys. At one end, there is the ‘ignore the findings’. […]

September 5th, 2020

10 reasons why you should retire ‘Passion’ from your value system

Passion is an emotion, or set of emotions. You may want, indeed, that your people are passionate, but you can’t […]

September 4th, 2020

Oh, mental frames! How easy to create misery!

‘Let’s be real and aware of the current budget realities’ is a warning that leaders should give to their people […]

September 3rd, 2020

Five spaces that the organizational leader needs to design and nurture

What about the leader as a designer of spaces, a social architect that creates places (physical) and spaces? Not hard […]

September 2nd, 2020

Covid-19 time. Behavioural Change: the Bad Ideas Collection (1)

The England and Wales education authority has publicised a list of behaviours that will not be allowed in the classroom […]

September 1st, 2020

‘The tyranny of the moment’. Liberating Leaders Wanted.

Thomas Hylland Eriksen is a Norwegian Anthropology professor that has achieved more than any of his fellow anthropologists: you only […]

August 31st, 2020

Is employee engagement whatever is measured by employee engagement surveys?

Engagement, retention even activism…Traditional models of employee engagement are getting a bit tired. They are starting to look the same, […]

August 29th, 2020

The shortest Employee Engagement survey has one question

And the question is: ‘Why are you still here?’ You learn about the organization by asking questions to employees when […]

August 28th, 2020

Build your own Employee Engagement argument for free. You can’t go wrong

Here are three baskets full of concepts: Basket one: Working conditions, Flexibility at work, Pay and perks, Reward and recognition, […]

August 27th, 2020

Ad absurdum, but it may work

A man is walking alongside the road with a bag of rice and throwing rice outside the road. Another man […]

August 26th, 2020

An amazing new tool for the new business environment revealed.

Experiment. Not kidding. Once upon a time ‘experimenting’ was something that only scientists did. Most people would associate the word […]

August 25th, 2020

To be a better leader, take a holiday from yourself

The space of your Self is occupied. By you. This is good news and bad news. On one hand, you […]

August 24th, 2020

5 things very successful leaders have in common

1. They don’t read blogs entitled ‘5 things very successful leaders have in common’. 2. They don’t care about lists […]

August 21st, 2020

‘It looks like a Bell Curve. It must be an HR Performance Appraisal’. Not in this Century. Normal distributions are dead

Performance appraisal or performance management are one thing. Forced ranking into an artificial normal distribution of people in the organization, […]

August 19th, 2020

10 alternative questions on Culture and Engagement.

This is my alternative to the Gallup 12. You can develop a whole Organizational Development philosophy around these questions. These […]

August 17th, 2020

Performance Appraisals: the 5 reasons why it’s so hard to change them or get rid of them

Only when you see Performance Management as rituals, you can understand why we still do them in the same unchanged […]

August 15th, 2020

Organizational culture shaping. Structural changes hardly solve behavioural problems. It’s a trap.

Structural answers to organizational problems are very unlikely to succeed. Division A people don’t collaborate with Division B people, so […]

August 14th, 2020

Do you have a ‘Chaos Monkey’ in your management system? You should.

Many organizations have a Risk Management function of some sort. Often scattered amongst different constituencies: manufacturing, engineering, R&D etc. It […]

August 13th, 2020

All that must be spontaneous, must be engineered

OK, at least you’re reading. Thanks. The organization is a network. Networks have emergent properties. Translation: things come up from […]

August 12th, 2020

Peer-to-peer networks are the strongest force of action

Peer-to-peer work, transversal, spontaneous or not, collaboration, peer-to-peer influence, peer-to-peer activities of Viral Change™ champions or activists, all of this is […]

August 11th, 2020

In-company clicktivism, not an elevated form of engagement

Clicktivism is a form of digital /online engagement that requires the extraordinary effort of one of your fingers, possibly the […]

August 10th, 2020

Management is analogue. Communication is digital. Have two desks.

A book by ex-Microsoft researcher and now MIT prof Kentaro Toyama (Geek Heresy, 20015) is not precisely novel on the topic of […]

August 8th, 2020

Digital Transformation: the new clothes for the enterprise, and something fundamental is missing

An indepth analysis of the world of ‘Digital Transformation’ shows two things. One is that there is no such thing […]

August 7th, 2020

Thinking leadership in terms of legacy. There will be one.

Big L, small l, legacy is the long term outcome of leadership. There will be legacy. You’re better off shaping […]

August 6th, 2020

3 ways to use ‘Digital’ inside the organization. The trouble with wrong expectations.

Model 1. The technology, for example in the form of digital platforms such as Enterprise Social Networks, ESN (Yammer type) […]

August 5th, 2020

In search of the common traits of good leaders

If you want to learn from biographies of leaders, from their inspirations, about their traits, maybe tricks, read about Lincoln, […]

August 4th, 2020

The Self-Induced Complexity Kingdom (SICK) in organizations looks sometimes like a conspiracy

We all live and work in bureaucratic organizations. The differences between us is the dose. In today’s world, bureaucracy is […]

August 3rd, 2020

Millenials have in common their age. The rest is more about the world we are all in, the meal we have cooked for their dinner.

At a conference I attended, the very sharp mind of Marten Mickos, CEO of HackerOne, ex HP, ex Nokia, reminded […]

August 1st, 2020

How do people change their mind?

How do people change their mind? How can we influence people to change their minds? Well, any of us will […]

July 31st, 2020

Leaders who have little control on things, but who think they have a lot of it, are the ones who fear losing control most.

Following on from one of the topics discussed during yesterday’s thought-provoking webinar on The Myths of Management – leadership and […]

July 30th, 2020

‘Bottom up’ needs an ally ‘up’. An orphan ‘bottom up’ is just the music with half the band.

In our world of management, and in terms of understanding how we mobilize people at scale, we are always behind […]

July 29th, 2020

3 kinds of people you need to replace; 3 kinds of people you need. Development Plan done.

Three bad news people: People who sell discontent. They become experts. You may have an entire internal sales force of […]

July 28th, 2020

I don’t trust the water to become ice at zero degrees.

  I know it will happen. I’m certain. It’s nothing to do with trust.   Trust requires uncertainty. I trust […]

July 27th, 2020

Nine basic contradictions in organizational life. Ignore at your peril.

Mastering healthy tension between them, or surrendering to an ‘impossible alignment’ is a choice for leaders and managers. The worse […]

July 25th, 2020

There is something only you can do: be yourself. Everything else can be outsourced.

There is something only you can live: your life. Socrates said that ‘the unexamined life is not worth living’. Being […]

July 24th, 2020

The ultimate form of Employee Engagement is a company of volunteers

I was told, many years ago, by somebody very close to the old Microsoft management, in Bill Gates times, that […]

July 23rd, 2020

Managing by thermostat (I want a culture of feed forward, not feedback)

The Good Mechanics of Continuous Improvement have given us a culture of feedback. Feedback is worshipped. There is a whole […]

July 22nd, 2020

‘Make it work first, then clean it up’ versus ‘Clarify all first, then act’. You Choose!

Imagine this situation, which I am sure you have never come across. Just kidding. A ‘project’ (not necessarily defined as […]

July 21st, 2020

Inquiring, inquisitive and restless minds: positions permanently open in your organization

If you were to list your most important people assets, above the best set of skills and competences, above the […]

July 20th, 2020

What do I do with a resistant manager? Find five non-resistant colleagues, then…

A CEO asked me recently: what do you do with a manager who does not embrace or support change, in […]

July 18th, 2020

360 degree feedback is the great deceiver

Extracts taken from my book The Flipping Point. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs to […]

July 17th, 2020

Manage the inevitable, lead the unpredictable, allow yourself to do both

I’ve written several times about the tired distinction between management and leadership. It had its logic and purpose, and made […]

July 16th, 2020

We, ourselves are the biggest exporters of problems in the organizations we work for

The great Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote about the early 20th Century Spanish society as being ‘led by people who […]

July 15th, 2020

Grab the magic thresholds in the organization’s life

Continuous culture shaping within an organization equals social movement: large scale behavioural and cultural change, for a purpose, powered by […]

July 14th, 2020

The internal-external mismatch says a lot about companies

Some organizations that are very good at (external) marketing, are terrible at internal. Grand market(ing) plans, but can’t sell a […]

July 13th, 2020

15 random organizational irritations and inconvenient truths

Bottom up is not more (of the same) workshops but at the bottom of the organization. Changing the geography of […]

July 11th, 2020

I dread ‘robust’ and ‘sustainable’ cultures

Culture is a double-edged sword. On one hand, it can host the most beautiful and sophisticated developments, enhance people’s life, […]

July 10th, 2020

10 shifts in the Remarkable Organization in the making (wishful ideas)

I suggest we aim at a package of shifts in organizational life: a 10 point manifesto, the Remarkable Organization Manifesto […]

July 9th, 2020

The collective as a bad sum. When collaboration becomes co-recreation and the sum is smaller than the parts.

In my dealings with organizations of many sizes and shapes, cultures and geographies, I always find very fine individuals of […]

July 8th, 2020

Behaviours are the syntax of the organization. Values are the grammar. Your space in the world is the story.

Your linguistic and behavioural frame must be in sync. Story, values and behaviours need to be solid and well connected. […]

July 7th, 2020

From ‘us and them’ to ‘us with them’. Don’t kill the ‘us’ on behalf of a fictitious ‘global’.

I sometimes think that many global ‘one company’ initiatives are missing the point. The intentions are good: ‘look, we are […]

July 6th, 2020

Mondays shape Tuesdays. If you could just fast forward…

Winston Churchill said, referring to the Houses of Parliament in the UK, ‘We shape our buildings; thereafter they shape us’. […]

July 4th, 2020

My top 5 Leadership questions at the top of the agenda

Here are my top five from my organizational consulting work. The paraphrasing is mine, the ownership is shared with my […]

July 3rd, 2020

The organization’s collective self belief is often hidden. Leaders need to hear the unsaid.

Some organizations, or groups inside the organization, suffer from lack of self belief. You could say weak self esteem. The […]

July 2nd, 2020

Backstage Leadership™ is key to collective leadership, a cornerstone of the modern organization

I believe that one of the fundamental types of leadership in this Century is Backstage Leadership™. This is the art […]

July 1st, 2020

Peer-to-peer is stronger than managerial top down.

Peer power: if managers say, ‘safety is first’, the impact may be relative. The dictation is totally expected. This is […]

June 30th, 2020

The organizational structure vs what is really going on. Or the loneliness of an organizational chart.

The snap shot of the company as pictured in an organizational chart, is probably one of the most fictitious works […]

June 29th, 2020

10 reasons why leaders need to focus on the (unmanaging of the) informal organization

Our traditional management education has almost 100% focused on the formal organization, the structural fabric of teams, divisions, groups, committees […]

June 27th, 2020

Teamocracies and Networkracies have different citizens: inhabitants in teamwork, riders in network.

The old view of the organization is something close to the old concept of a medieval city, where citizenship was […]

June 26th, 2020

The obvious but overlooked fact that connectivity and collaboration are not always good.

Increasing the connectivity of people, who will benefit from enhanced collaboration, to achieve good things better, faster, differently, is a […]

June 24th, 2020

Individualism and collaboration are contagious. This is not news, but some experiments may explain how

In an experiment by Nicholas Christakis‘ team they tested the power of Artificial intelligence (AI) led bots (read pieces of […]

June 23rd, 2020

Why have we sterilized management? 

We have made character, virtue or goodness uncomfortable terms in the organization. They seem to provoke some sort of red […]

June 22nd, 2020

An audience is not a community. A community is not a team

Audiences receive messages, whether at your Town Hall meeting or your keynote speech. Communities use what they have ‘in common’ […]

June 20th, 2020

‘I told them once; they didn’t understand. I told them twice; they didn’t understand. I told them three times … and I understood’

I don’t know where this quote comes from, but I have always seen it as a source of reflection on […]

June 19th, 2020

Scientism is taking over management, so garbage gets measured and saved in pie charts.

Scientism is taking over management, so anything that can be expressed in scores and numbers is glorified regardless of the […]

June 18th, 2020

Culture change is not long and difficult. This myth is self-perpetuated. This emperor has no clothes. The emperor is freezing.

Alternative title: A plan longer than six months to see initial success, is not worth the money. I suppose the […]

June 17th, 2020

Change management theories have only interpreted the organizational world. The point, however, is to actually change it.

Since we all love conceptual frames, it is not surprising that in the area of ‘change management’ there are a […]

June 16th, 2020

Individual change does not precede social change.

By all means, ‘Be the change you want to see in the world’ (by the way, Gandhi never said that), […]

June 15th, 2020

The tragedy of corporate shallowness. A call to wake up

These are the symptoms. Indicators, red flags, culture makers. If you have more than 5, you are in trouble. 6 […]

June 13th, 2020

‘What if the problem is me?’ An uncomfortable, key question for leaders

Reflective leadership has gone into progressive short supply. In an era where prescriptive answers seem to dominate reflective ones, it […]

June 12th, 2020

No more change please, we need change-ability.

‘Lasting capacity’ must be a keyword for change management and its methods. The issue today is less about how to […]

June 11th, 2020

Social media is a colossal echo chamber where all cognitive processes are surrendered to one single driver: confirmation bias.

Extracts taken from my new book The Flipping Point. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas […]

June 10th, 2020

Proposed new management competency: deprogramming

Deprogramming is a form of management detox. We navigate and work in organizations with a great deal of automatic pilot, […]

June 9th, 2020

8 hard arguments on culture for people who think this is fluffy, woolly, soft stuff

Culture is the difference between 30 people making a decision in 30 days, and 3 people making the same decision […]

June 8th, 2020

Change is social, doing it together, a praxis.

Extracts taken from my new book The Flipping Point. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas […]

June 5th, 2020

Framing is a leadership must (1 of 3): your mini-revolution starts with simple behaviours.

I put framing at the top of the list on ‘leadership tasks’. One of those non-rocket sciences around us that […]

June 4th, 2020

3 self-sabotage mechanisms in organizations

Organizations, like organisms, have embedded mechanisms of survival, of growth and also of self-sabotage These are 3 self-sabotage systems to […]

June 3rd, 2020

Non-magic: what is the latest intelligence and new data? Magic: what’s the story?

Extracts taken from my new book The Flipping Point. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas […]

June 2nd, 2020

Getting things done: ‘Relationships’ vs. ‘Structures’

A while ago, a telecom client complained to me about his particular division which seemed to work entirely ‘on relationships’. […]

June 1st, 2020

When managing an organization’s internal complexity, is a greater problem than managing the complexity of the environment.

Extracts taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs […]

May 29th, 2020

In the organization, (behavioural) change is social. Or it isn’t.

Extracts taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs […]

May 28th, 2020

‘Culture’ is a messy overstuffed supermarket. Behaviours create cultures. The rest is scaffolding.

Our concept of organizational culture as a receptacle for values, beliefs, attitudes, mindsets, ways of doing, written rules, unwritten rules, […]

May 27th, 2020

Top leadership role modelling is overrated.

Extracts taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs […]

May 26th, 2020

Forget robust and forget the tanks. It’s guerrilla and it’s gazelle/cheetah/falcon in the project team.

Renounce adaptation, robustness and even ‘flexibility’ in favour of ‘taking any opportunity to do things you think you could not […]

May 25th, 2020

We want the organizational flexibility of Lego. We recruit for the rigidity of a jigsaw

Extracts taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs […]

May 23rd, 2020

If you are not in crisis, reboot. Declare inflection points. That’s readiness.

Some leaders are very good in a crisis. They may or may not acknowledge that, but the adrenaline of the […]

May 22nd, 2020

Behaviours create culture, not the other way around.

Extract taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas […]

May 21st, 2020

What if engaging employees were simply morally right? 

Extract taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas […]

May 20th, 2020

The Saint Francis School of Management – ‘when necessary use words’.

Extracts taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs […]

May 19th, 2020

Demonising hierarchy is easy and politically correct but not terribly efficient.

Extracts taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs […]

May 18th, 2020

Stop announcing change. Change. Then announce that it’s happening.

Extracts taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs […]

May 16th, 2020

There is only one strategy test: what will you tell the children?

Extracts taken from my new book ‘The Flipping Point‘. A flipping point in the trend for adopting absurd management ideas needs […]

May 15th, 2020

The real readiness trick is behavioural. The rest is commentary.

The Four readiness drivers I have mentioned in previous posts are: Rapid Reaction and Reconfiguration (RRR) Focus on your ‘social […]

May 14th, 2020

The slack advantage: ‘The minute the future becomes unpredictable, efficiency can become your enemy’.

An interview with Adam Pisoni, American entrepreneur and previously, co-founder of CTO and Yammer, brings back to my table the […]

May 13th, 2020

Readiness is the new capability (just don’t ask what for) and it has four drivers.

The word ‘ready’ has at least 4 meanings in any dictionary: 1. Prepared or available for service, action, or progress. […]

May 12th, 2020

“You never let a crisis go to waste”.

This is the famous quote by Rahm Emanuel, who was mayor of Chicago from 2011 to 2019, and before that […]

May 8th, 2020

The company that gets better and better after disruption, disorder or chaos.

Nassim Taleb Antifragile concept is perhaps one of the most attractive frames (conceptual, philosophical, practical) we have had recently. By […]

May 7th, 2020

If you need to parachute in help, send builders, not problem solvers

Parachuting in help is daily life in the leadership of organizations. It may take the form of sending leaders from […]

May 6th, 2020

I want companies with Post Traumatic Strength Disorder. Untreated.

Nassim Taleb’s Antifragile book has this subtitle: ‘Things that gain from disorder’. This is a model for the new organization […]

April 22nd, 2020

Going back to normal, when normal is not waiting for us

[1] When on the road going back to normal, with catching up in mind, as if trying to find the […]

April 14th, 2020

Where is Superman now?

I miss the sight of the very important people, the super-men and super-women of the British Airways business lounge in […]

April 9th, 2020

The arithmetic of suffering is flawed. Leave the tape measure at the door.

I don’t know about you, but I have used the expression ‘in the grand scheme of things’ many times in […]

March 19th, 2020

COVID-19: From coping and adapting, to making things extraordinarily better. And surprising ourselves.

Nassim Taleb has written about ‘antifragile’ as the quality of ‘growing from disorder’. He says that the opposite to fragile […]

March 16th, 2020

So, what do you do Joe?

Spot the difference at the dinner party or barbeque. So, what do you do Joe? [You must start with ‘so’ […]

March 14th, 2020

Not even wrong

Consistently attributed to physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who had no time for sloppy thinking, ‘not even wrong’ has become a category […]

March 13th, 2020

Gene and Tony are coming next week

If you work in a corporation with headquarters and affiliates, scattered in many places, or with international sites, you will […]

March 12th, 2020

Gandhi’s concept of Western Civilization

Interrogated by a journalist: ‘Mr Gandhi, what do you think of Western civilization?’, Mr Gandhi answered:  ‘I think that it […]

March 11th, 2020

Initiative fatigue, leading to exhaustion, leading to switching off

Many organizations seem to run layers of parallel initiatives, all directed at noble goals, and in many cases, without talking […]

March 10th, 2020

Occupy the (corporate) streets

The traditional thinking about divisional and functional structures within organizations, which were born of the need for specialization and a […]

March 9th, 2020

A bit of inefficiency is very efficient

Cost cutting, cutting to the bone, cutting resources down to the bare minimum is praised as efficient. But it’s not. […]

March 7th, 2020

There is only one customer, and he pays the bills

I am your customer, you are my customer. When I need to provide you with something, you are my customer. […]

March 6th, 2020

‘It’s our policy’ is often the worst policy

A while ago, my brand new iPhone was stolen at the airport, having left it behind on a table for […]

March 5th, 2020

‘Where there is too much vision, people perish faster’.

“Where there is no vision, the people perish”, says the Book of Proverbs in the Bible. This quote comes in […]

March 4th, 2020

Three ways to get approval from your CEO or your Leadership Team

Way number 1: My team has come up with these three options, A, B and C. Which one do you […]

March 3rd, 2020

We will ‘360 degree feedback’ you

Readers of my books and clients will be aware that I am not very fond of 360 degree feedback used […]

March 2nd, 2020

In praise of tension. Consensus as a permanent state in the organization, is a collective coma

The trouble with consensus is that it contains all the risks of poor thinking and all the possible cognitive biases, […]

February 29th, 2020

If you marry a summary, you’ll breed bullet points. Life becomes much easier, if hardly real.

‘The exercise was very rich, everybody participated deeply, the walls were full of flipcharts with stuff. So many ideas floating […]

February 28th, 2020

Heroes on the payroll: the good news and the bad news

Some people have a hero within. They have this tremendous ability to mobilise energy, jump in when big issues present, […]

February 27th, 2020

Segment, segment, segment. Add these three words to the dictionary of Internal Communications.

If you look at political marketing, and the place to look for a serious PhD in communications and their segmentation […]

February 26th, 2020

Madam, the ribbon is free.

Discovering’ an old article that I wrote years ago, when I used to have a management column in a monthly […]

February 25th, 2020

‘Democratic organization’ means well, but it is an unfortunate term.

With the best of intentions, to call an organization a Democracy is an abuse of the term, unless of course, […]

February 24th, 2020

Reclaiming a concept that has lost weight in the business organization: vocation

Vocation is often defined as ‘a strong feeling’ to do something, a job, a career, an occupation, to dedicate one’s […]

February 22nd, 2020

The Twentypercenters

It is said that in any organization, 20% of the people do 80% of the work. I often think that […]

February 21st, 2020

“A man without a smiling face must not open a shop.”

Chinese proverb that is, what else? I wish we could be as crystal clear when it comes to the characteristics […]

February 20th, 2020

Some working places are ‘non-places’, and as inspiring as Clinical Isolation Units

Working in a ‘non-place place’ can’t deliver inspirations and aspirations. Ideas need infections, not Clinical Isolation Units. Marc Auge is […]

February 19th, 2020

Games or Rituals? Anthropology inside the company has valuable things to say

Organizational anthropology sounds like a grandiose academic affair. You may imagine the anthropologists armed with notebooks and cameras capturing the […]

February 18th, 2020

Science advances by a series of funerals. And some management practices are not feeling very well

‘Science advances by a series of funerals’. This is how John Brockman, founder of The Edge, and editor of a […]

February 17th, 2020

Navel-gazing (Nombrilisme in French, sounds much better) is constant in the organization. The issue is not to deny it, but to fight it.

There is so much to fix and manage inside the organization that the task could be never ending. Soon, and […]

February 15th, 2020

‘Change management’ the forgotten statement: this will not change

‘Change management’ usually forgets a vital component: the things that don’t change or need to change, or, indeed, must not […]

February 14th, 2020

The Tragedy of the Obvious (part 2). The obvious things in the ‘management of change’ (and still we can’t see the donkeys)

I shared yesterday the tragedy of the obvious. The obvious that is so obvious that we don’t see it. Read […]

February 13th, 2020

The Tragedy of the Obvious

A man was leading a caravan of donkeys and crossing the border almost every day, coming back with apparently the […]

February 12th, 2020

Empowerment is an output. If you can visualize it, you can craft it.

Employee empowerment is an output, an outcome. If you start thinking of employee empowerment as an input, something you are […]

February 10th, 2020

Stuck is the worst status. Worse than being wrong.

You are stuck when confronted with dilemmas. Maybe contradictory business decisions, or maybe the need to choose between two evils. […]

February 8th, 2020

Not all high caffeine shots of motivation work well. Inspirational stories have pros and cons

Business loves inspirational stories. The world of entrepreneurship and leadership constantly draw on stories. Many people love sports analogies. Some […]

February 7th, 2020

We, ourselves are the biggest exporters of problems in the organizations we work for

The great Spanish philosopher Jose Ortega y Gasset wrote about the early 20th Century Spanish society as being ‘led by […]

February 6th, 2020

Don’t transplant or import a successful management model; reverse engineer it, then pause

There is a big difference between copying and reverse engineering. Many people in business wish they could copy the great […]

February 5th, 2020

Tribal brands that teach us a lesson

This is an anthropology report. We’ve found this tribe: the people all wear the same multi-coloured clothes. They paint their […]

February 4th, 2020

Defining ourselves by what we are against, does not advance the cause of the for

I have always been a bit wary of people who repeatedly define themselves by what they are against. It makes […]

February 3rd, 2020

Lead in Poetry, manage in Prose

I am of course paraphrasing Mario Cuomo’s ‘You campaign in poetry; you govern in prose’. Cuomo (1932-2015) was an American […]

January 31st, 2020

On the day the UK leaves the European Union

Friends, my heart is broken today. The UK is leaving the European Union tonight at 11:00 pm continental time. Many […]

January 30th, 2020

The organization’s collective self-belief is often hidden. Leaders need to hear the unsaid.

Some organisations, or groups inside the organisation, suffer from lack of self belief. You could say weak self esteem. The […]

January 29th, 2020

My Stockholm (airport) Syndrome

Arriving at the clean and clinical Stockholm airport, my pre-booked taxi is failing me. I have some time to spare […]

January 28th, 2020

The ‘who-does-what’ and the ‘who-knows-what’ models of the organization, lead to different worlds.

If you had to build an organization from scratch, or re-design one, you would have options about some models to […]

January 27th, 2020

Let’s elevate the confusion to a higher level

There are times when you get stuck in arguments.  Discussions seem to go nowhere. You are running in circles and […]

January 25th, 2020

Create inflection points when you don’t need one. It’s better than waiting for the inflection points to come to you.

Crisis are/constitute inflection points. Also M&A, extraordinary organic growth, relocations, and entering new markets. Keep adding. Pain is inevitable, misery […]

January 24th, 2020

Stay in beta

The traditional organization is, amongst other things, obsessed with closure.  It despises ambiguity and puts a premium on the absolute […]

January 23rd, 2020

Organizational Decluttering: A crusade in waiting that may need you as leader

Einstein said, “I soon learned to scent out what was able to lead to fundamentals and to turn aside from […]

January 22nd, 2020

I want companies with Post Traumatic Strength Disorder. Untreated.

Nasim Taleb’s Antifragile book has this subtitle: ‘Things that gain from disorder’. This is a model for the new organization […]

January 21st, 2020

Disruptive innovation, like charity, starts at home. Your mind and your people, that is. The rest is the easy part.

The concept of disruption in management has been applied to innovation before. A disruptive innovation is a technology, process or […]

January 20th, 2020

Darling, what are your expectations today? Or why do we talk Martian in business?

There is a ‘meeting expectations’ cult in business. It has created its own concept of (customer) services: meet customer expectations, […]

January 18th, 2020

Too-too land is a prison and too-too managers are its guards. This is what life there looks like.

The company is too big to change. We are too small to compete. It’s too early for a Leadership Development. […]

January 17th, 2020

Permission to be human

One aspect of my work with organizations that I truly enjoy is to help craft the ‘Behavioural DNA’ that shapes […]

January 16th, 2020

Biography of a Flipchart

A meeting room without a flipchart is decaffeinated coffee. The absence of a flipchart insinuates possibly lots of talking, perhaps […]

January 15th, 2020


Surprise is a powerful strategy in its own right. Surprise means being ahead of the game, being further ahead than […]

January 14th, 2020

Leaders as architects: how to build the house, page one

The closest thing to designing and building an organization is the designing and building a house. You can build a […]

January 13th, 2020

Alibi to keep the status quo: ‘We are a regulated industry’

Amongst my clients I have a good representation of ‘regulated industries’ such as pharmaceuticals and financial services. I, myself, spent […]

January 11th, 2020

Your mind may trick you, the truth will set you free

You have bought a pair of very expensive tickets for a classical music concert but the traffic is horrible and […]

January 10th, 2020

Stickiness: the highest, inconvenient management challenge

Managers are good at messaging and communicating. OK, this is a benevolent assessment but let’s assume this. Also, OK at […]

January 9th, 2020

‘When the sea was calm, all boats alike; showed mastership in floating’

This is scene one of ‘The Tragedy of Coriolanus’ by William Shakespeare. It says a lot to us. It’s easy […]

January 8th, 2020

When the only thing you have is a hammer

‘When the only thing you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail’ If you have a predetermined view […]

January 7th, 2020

Take over a grey area, adopt an orphan project, sponsor an idea in exile

The Business English language (yes, there is one) uses the word ‘accountability’ often associated to the word ‘taking’, as in […]

January 6th, 2020

Single track thinking, the road to a sure end (if you don’t care whether it’s the right end or the wrong end)

Continuing with thoughts on critical thinking…. ‘Begin at the beginning and go on till you come to the end; then […]

January 4th, 2020

‘Memorable’ is beautiful. ‘Exceeding expectations’ is sad, tired, and as charismatic as a dead fish

Meeting expectations, exceeding expectations and all that jazz! It’s often said that success equals performance minus expectations. Three comments on […]

January 3rd, 2020

The ‘initiative’ often lets personal commitment off the hook

‘For every problem, the Victorians have a building’. For every idea that we need to carry forward, we invent an […]

January 2nd, 2020

Five ‘structures’ in search of a corporate space. Leaders, this is your homework

These are ‘functions’ and ‘structures’ in need of spaces in the organization. You may not be brave enough, or crazy […]

December 30th, 2019

The market for Second Hand Thoughts is flourishing, never been so huge. But outsourcing your mind is the ultimate laziness.

Many of us spend quite a lot of our time in what we call ‘work’. The business day now has […]

December 27th, 2019

What psychoanalysis taught me about root causes: the comfort of finding them is not matched by the quality of their truth

The degree of comfort in discovering the roots of things, cannot be taken as proof of the truth. The best […]

December 24th, 2019

Karaoke Management Consulting

Is this what people want? Singing along with what the Big Gurus have provided? Music and lyrics? Sometimes I feel […]

December 23rd, 2019

Seeking unpredictable answers

We spend too much time seeking predictable answers. They are not necessarily bad. If I work with Peter, Paul and […]

December 21st, 2019

Out of the box, in the box, what box? ‘We-need-to-talk-about-boxes’ and other useful personality profiles

To think out of the box, one has to recognise first that there is a box. Therefore one has to […]

December 20th, 2019

Benchmarking as a health hazard. Cause of managers severe neck pain confirmed

Benchmarking is a rear-mirror strategy. It’s about catching up with something that has already happened. People who spend too much […]

December 19th, 2019

The hour of Radical Management Thinking. The lines are open.

The hour has come. Radical is the word. From the Latin, radix, it means root. We need to get to […]

December 18th, 2019

Critical Thinking self-test. A 10 point health check for your organization, and yourself

If any of these are a good picture of your organization, you need to put ‘critical thinking’ into the water […]

December 17th, 2019

Decision Analysis and the relentless need to seek, bring and assess options. However…

Many years ago, I got into Decision Analysis at the hands of my good friend Larry Philips of the London […]

December 16th, 2019

The un-reachable workforce. What NGOs with remote operations teach us about organising work

Many years ago, I learnt from the UNHCR, the UN refugee Agency based in Denmark, that many global NGOs of […]

December 14th, 2019

DADYC? (Do Acronyms Drive You Crazy?)

Management cultures, particularly Anglo Saxon, love acronyms. This is something new employees need to learn. If coming from another industry, […]

December 13th, 2019

The formula about what to do when ‘leadership does not get it’, finally revealed.

There are always people who ‘don’t get it’, are against cultural change efforts, do not support a programme, torpedo it, […]

December 12th, 2019

The ‘Great Man’ model of leadership is well and alive, despite largely exaggerated accounts of its death

The Great Man Theory was born in Scotland, the child of philosopher and historian Thomas Carlyle (1795 –1881) – “The […]

December 11th, 2019

Speed or quality; critical thinking or fast decisions: the OR is today unaffordable.

Back in 1994, Jim Collins, consultant and author, gained a lot of attention with his book Built To Last: Successful […]

December 10th, 2019

The usefulness of the useless

Nuccio Ordine, an Italian professor, has written an essay of this title, to my knowledge not translated into English. It […]

December 9th, 2019

The ‘Keep Moving’ strategy always wins.

A while ago, I was told an anecdote about an MBA student who returned to their alma mater for a […]

December 7th, 2019

10 ingredients to cook your strategy

List your competitors, then, compare yourself with a different list. Most of the answers lie outside your immediate peer circle. […]

December 6th, 2019

10 strategic options

These are the 10 strategic options you have at your disposal all the time, as I use them with my […]

December 5th, 2019

Status Unfinished: the perfect state of a healthy organization is beta

The perfect state of a healthy organization is unfinished. Like a human being. ‘Born too early’ (Campbell’s hero). Finished structures […]

December 4th, 2019

It’s official: the single, magic bullet, that characterises good leadership is to back off

It should not surprise us that people are constantly looking for the magic bullet of leadership. What makes a good […]

December 3rd, 2019

Leadership’s Splendid Expeditions

“The history of mankind might be described by a cynic as a series of splendid expeditions towards the wrong goal […]

December 2nd, 2019

“You don’t have to attend every argument to which you are invited”

This quote is from an unknown author. He or she must have known a thing or two about the futility […]

November 30th, 2019

Collective Leadership: Two Acid Tests

I call Collective Leadership that state in the evolution of management teams or leadership teams when the power of the […]

November 29th, 2019

The death of the charismatic leadership has been grossly exaggerated

As Mark Twain said himself, ‘The death of the charismatic leader has been grossly exaggerated’. The problem is that ‘charisma’ […]

November 28th, 2019

Could the ‘global teenager’ teach us about ‘global leadership’?

Today, there are more similarities between a teenager in Shanghai and a teenager in Rome, or Singapore and Madrid, or […]

November 27th, 2019

Scale or not to scale? This is the Shakespearean culture question.

Behavioural /cultural shaping in organizations does not scale up by simply the leaders having the right mindset and motivation. A […]

November 26th, 2019

All inclusive or go where the energy is?

Many times in my consulting work, I find myself facing this dilemma. Do I involve many people on the client’s […]

November 25th, 2019

Management ‘post-hoc fallacies’, but damn good stories!

In Latin ‘Post hoc ergo propter hoc’. Free translation: B follows A, so A must be the cause of B. […]

November 23rd, 2019

Steal ideas, implant with caution, observe, tweak, observe again, never close your eyes.

Innovation and renewal requires your windows open to the world. Plenty of organizations out there are experimenting with models, far […]

November 22nd, 2019

What do these have in common? Designing organizations, aquariums and fish soup.

Commenting on the communist legacy, a soviet academic Oleg Bogomolov, who must have known a thing or two about things […]

November 21st, 2019

When the organization goes into permanent rehearsal mode, learns to rehearse, not to perform.

We spend more time on preparing for doing than in doing. That would be good if we were just talking […]

November 20th, 2019

HR competence systems need two things: a diet, and a dose of honesty

Medium and big organizations tend to use a competence system that segments people by grades and by degree of competence. […]

November 19th, 2019

I am in favour of consultants entering the temple of the Social Sciences provided they take off their shoes

I am paraphrasing British philosopher Simon Blackburn who said the same about scientists entering the temple of philosophy. There is […]

November 18th, 2019

The corrosion of logic: from ‘why-what-how’, to ‘how, what, maybe why’.

There was a time when the logic of things started with a ‘why’, followed with a ‘what’ and ended in […]

November 16th, 2019

The great ‘How to’ takeover

There is a period in child development when children start asking the question ’why?’. They usually seem unsatisfied with one […]

November 15th, 2019

‘To save everything, click here’, and its version inside the company

Clicktivism is the term used to describe the type of pseudo-activism that consists in clicking the ‘Like’ button (Facebook mainly) […]

November 14th, 2019

What is the point? Probably the best answer is when ‘there isn’t any’.

Back in June 2016, people could walk over floating piers on Lake Iseo (Italy), all covered with yellow material, one […]

November 13th, 2019

Dear Business Development candidate: tell me about the things you have developed in life

If you have a behaviour/value system and you want to recruit people in a way that this value system is […]

November 12th, 2019

The battle for the 3Ss : Synthesis, Sense, and Simplicity

Let me share with you my 3Ss, where I suggest you put your money: 1. Synthesis. My followers, readers, clients, […]

November 11th, 2019

The new units of Space and Time (and the latest up coming Disruptive Innovations)

New units: Certificate of existence = 280 characters (Twitter) Presentation of ideas, maximum attention span = 18 mins (TED) Digital […]

November 9th, 2019

To stop doing some things is a great source of added value. Try it!

One of the very frequent questions that I ask my clients is what they can stop doing so that they […]

November 8th, 2019

Business discovers the ‘social movement’ language. I hope we don’t corporatize it.

A social movement is not a bunch of people, even hundreds, or thousands, moving socially. A social movement needs a […]

November 7th, 2019

Leadership in organizations is about mobilizing people. The leader is a ‘Social Arsonist’

“A good organizer is a social arsonist who goes around setting people on fire.”—Fred Ross Fred Ross (1910-1992) American community […]

November 6th, 2019

‘What you said was so confused that one could not tell whether it was nonsense or not’.

This phrase is attributed to the physicist Wolfgang Pauli, who also described some arguments or theories as so bad that […]

November 5th, 2019

The ‘Abandon Hope’ organization

Some organizations are little versions of Dante’s Inferno with its sign ‘Abandon hope all ye who enter here’ at the […]

November 4th, 2019

The Process and The Outcome: married, just friends, or it’s complicated?

So you have The Process and The Outcome dating. You would have thought that they are having a good time. […]

November 2nd, 2019

Trust is tribal, it’s ‘people like me’, it’s horizontal

Consistently over the years, the Edelman’s Trust Barometer has told us that the greatest source of trust inside the organization […]

November 1st, 2019

Compatible dreams + the non-negotiable = the journey (AKA the company)

In a massive street demonstration for Anti Something Big, you have the Anti Something Big activists, the Anti Everything, the […]

October 31st, 2019

‘You make sense’, is the greatest compliment in the era of non-sense-making

I explained to a client the logic and principles of the Viral Change™ Platform. I did not want to sell […]

October 30th, 2019

A Cheat Sheet to create a social movement (Tip = to shape organizational culture, since both are the same)

Mobilizing people. This is another of the Holy Grails (how many have I said we have?) in management. Whether you […]

October 29th, 2019

Give me good practice and I will create a good theory to explain it. Even a good philosophy and a disruptive worldview

Modern and not so modern ‘social movements’ with or a without business propositions are portrayed as a concerted and positioned […]

October 28th, 2019

Three models of change

Change management, or management of change. Thank God there can only be two permutations, because they are the most over-used […]

October 26th, 2019

‘The limits of my language are the limits of my world’

Said Wittgenstein. Language in business and organizations creates frames, but also limitations. And we have lots of these frames. ‘Employee […]

October 25th, 2019

We work with them very closely, we are very familiar with each other, that is why perhaps we don’t know each other well

Months ago, I found myself in front of a large audience composed of the highest ranks of the HR function […]

October 24th, 2019

3 Inconvenient truths about leadership and change

(1) If the top leadership of the company doesn’t exhibit the values/behaviours that you want to instill in the culture, […]

October 23rd, 2019

The LinkedIn half-paradox is connecting with people already connected with you. But the strength of connectivity lies in a ‘Weak Link In’, not in a ‘Strong Link In’.

Is LinkedIn a Digital Rolodex? A digital Resume/CV Library? Do you connect with people who have already given you the […]

October 22nd, 2019

The self-management train has left the station. The journey is very bumpy. Arrivals TBD. Watch out for updates

The historical existence of several layers of management in any organization may be related to its size. In a command […]

October 21st, 2019

When management is overweight, leadership may be starving

I must confess I have never been 100% comfortable with the traditional distinction by Warren Bennis between leaders and managers […]

October 19th, 2019

Saturday poem for leaders who don’t read poems

There is an ‘Accidental Literature for Leaders’.  I call this my compilation of poems or pieces of narrative that are […]

October 18th, 2019

10 Rules of Self-Survival: The Border Diet

Try my Border Diet: A diet to protect yourself against persistent Full Disclosure that the digital world forces upon you. […]

October 17th, 2019

No milk, no honey, enjoy the journey

Moses’ leadership was bad. He promised his people a land of milk and honey. Instead, they got a terrible hike […]

October 16th, 2019

His greatest success was not to fail

Many people, many of them in high managerial positions, succeed by avoiding failure. They become unmemorable by design. A new […]

October 15th, 2019

My ROI, your ROI

One of the biggest compliments I’ve received in my consulting life, and one that I have come to appreciate more […]