Powerlessness is a State of Mind

“Some people look for things that went wrong and try to fix them.  I look for things that went right and try to build on them” Bob Stone (aka Mr. ReGo) working for Al Gore when he was USA VP

Bob Stone epitomises the ACCENTUATE THE POSITIVE attitude to change management, hence the ReGo moniker.

Bob Stone realised that change is really hard, especially in massive organisations like the Pentagon.  But that change was not impossible.  He did away with targets and slogans and exhortations, instead adopting the art of storytelling.  He realised that within organisations are normally people some way down the pecking order who have great ideas that would make a difference.


Your organisation is no different.

The trick is to;

  1. Figure out who they are
  2. Put them on show as the new leaders of tomorrow
  3. Cast their ideas into fixed items (documents, films, on web-sites…)
  4. Bring them together as the leaders of tomorrows enlightenment
  5. Shame others who don’t follow and applaud those who do


To make things happen you have to go where the new and interesting is.



Do what you have to do

In the book The Hunters by John Masters is a line that goes;

This is so simple it sounds stupid, but it is amazing how few people really understand that you only find oil and gas when you drill wells. You may think you’re finding it when you draw maps and studying logs, but you have to drill.

The message here is YOU HAVE TO DRILL!

In other words you have to do what is necessary.

You don’t need a target, a quota, a management objective, a set of numbers or numerical goals. You have to do what is necessary, you have to provide Leadership.

The message here then is YOU HAVE TO LEAD!


Its a Fluid World

Those who pursue preservation will not be preserved!

Those who wish for permanence will find that permanence is the refuge of a tiny mind!


Value performance!

Value destruction!

Organise for customer satisfaction!

Commit to renewal!

Mozart created great music and dies aged 35, he changed the world, he enriched our experiences and then he died.

If you want something done go do it!

We don’t have time to ask!

Have a dream not a plan!

Ask yourself do you want to lead or follow?

Company rule should be UP or OUT!

Change your assignment every 3 years!




Fear Leads to Untruths

Most companies will gather and use data as a source for deciding how they’re going to be making decisions about how the future will look for them.  But data gathering is the result of a process, a process designed by a human (or several in some cases) and so is subject to prejudices creeping in and colouring the data that flows from the process.

In most cases the person who designs the process for gathering the data is not the one who’s being measured or the one who’s work output is being measured.  Its really easy to ask questions about someone else but not so easy to have them asked of you. The result is those being scrutinised will be looking for safety, looking to feel unexposed.

RABIT FEARThis cannot be avoided, its driven into us from a really early age.  From the moment we can understand the rudiments of whats going on around us we are exposed to people demanding we ‘fit-in’, conform to the norm or more accurately dont stand out! And so when confronted with data about our performance in the workplace instead of feeling ‘hey that’s so great, I know what I’m doing really well and I also know where I need to improve’ we actually feel relieved about what we do well and try to think up excuses (we’ll call them reasons but they’re excuses really) to explain the under-performance.

So the system will be weakened by those who wont own-up to their own perceived failures because they’re too busy being defensive.  A process that promotes fear will only ever lead to a system that isn’t able to learn, that isn’t able to change, that isn’t able to adapt.

Organisations that dont learn and adapt will die, its a plain fact of commercial and organisational life.

We as leaders have to recognise this and develop strategies and tactics which cope with the fear and allow those who may be able to develop and grow and so improve the organisational performance as a consequence the space to do this without the fear of consequences.

The failing after all is in the process and system not the person, they are there to learn, do and contribute.  But if you make a person centred failure they will be forever in fear.

The best kind of measure is about being able to measure our performance against ourselves, being the best version of you that you can be is the only best that can be honestly asked of you. Comparison to another or a metric may give an indication but will only ever be that and will never be a way of guaranteeing the best a person can be.

Think about it, what do you require of your people, to be better than someone else or to be the best they can be?



Lead by Reason

I wake each and every morning and I am optimistic that even the most complex of problems can be solved.

This is my reason.  This is the reason I get up and go to my place of work each day.


The role of the leader is to be a coach.  That is to provide an environment where other staff can grow, discover the issues that are preventing them from being the best version of themselves that they can be.

The role of the leader is to be a mentor.  That is to provide support and expertise where necessary so that the business | organisation | individual can see development and growth both in a professional and personal sense.

Leadership therefore is not just to find fault but to find ways that the reason for the fault can be removed so that the individual can be the very best version of themselves they can be.


Human Potential is the Only Potential

The single most greatest waste in industry is the waste of human potential.

Those who are untrained will contribute little and cost relative to their output a great deal.

Those who are trained but not engaged (encouraged and allowed to think and contribute) will contribute little and cost relative to their output a great deal.

Those who are trained, supervised and encouraged to contribute to solutions will make a difference, a big difference.  BUT you have to trust, you have to encourage, you have to allow failure, you have to take the blame for failure, and you have to reward success.


The Method

  1. Be Respectful, regardless of social background, position, ethnic identity, faith expressed, sexual preferences and orientation
  2. Provide positive feedback, explain how customers have expressed satisfaction in the job done and delivered
  3. Allow time and space for those engaged in the work to suggest and try ways of improving the work, train for leadership
  4. Provide support, mentor and coach staff
  5. Put people in a position where they have the best opportunity to succeed
  6. Don’t set-up pressures that discourage helpfulness such as putting units in competition with each-other
  7.  Provide support for those who encourage others

The more you apply these ideas in the workplace the more you will find you derive from them. The more you will understand motivations and the inter-connectivity of your teams.

Attempting to change organisations by working alone is likely to result in no change or worse still making matters worse. Attempting to change an organisation by using the collective minds will only provide a more cohesive and unified approach to reaching for improvements.


Go Back (R)Evolution!

Improvement comes in differing forms;

Fast – Slow

Continuous – Continual

Long-Term – Immediate

And so on….

Continual improvement is the sort that takes account of improvements that are on-going, the slow and continuous types that are normally based on long-term aims and the more immediate break-through types of improvement.    The sorts of changes that make a real difference to the environment that are really noticeable.  The sorts that normally take a certain amount of bravery as a leader, I would say only a leader can do make these sorts of improvements.

Continuous improvement is the realm of management, its a process that by its very nature must be maintained (managed) to conclusion, a conclusion that often is never going to be reached, the never ending cycle of meeting expectations.

Continual improvement of the break-through kind requires bravery, stubbornness, a degree of fearlessness and a good amount of confidence to follow through on.


So, what to improve?

Answer – the process.

And the method?

Plan – Do – check – Act (PDCA), this is an age old system of improvement, the more recent innovation in the cycle is;

Define – Measure – Analyse – Improve – Control (DMAIC)

  • Begin by mapping the process keeping the end goal (customer priorities) in mind
  • Identify the sub-stages that will make a difference
  •  Choose a project (projects will cross functional boundaries so systems thinking comes into it)
  •  Find a suitable measure
  • Record performance
  • Decide whats wrong by using process mapping
  • Design experiments
  • Record outcomes from the experiments
  • Perform value analysis and validate statistically
  • Determine the improvement to be made and the tolerances that are acceptable
  • Implement the solutions
  • Monitor and hold the gains

A final improvement cycle is the 8-D system;

  1. Use a team
  2. Describe the problem
  3. Contain the symptom
  4. Find the root cause
  5. Choose and verify the corrective action
  6. Implement permanent corrective action
  7. Prevent recurrence
  8. Congratulate and celebrate

In the end improvement is part of management, the keep it going bits but setting the direction, that’s all about leadership.



Evolve the Common Aim


Organisations when faced with what at first looks like insurmountable challenges on cost will often take the route of purchasing on price. A 5% or 10% reduction in cost is always welcome right?

No its not.

Organisations that persistently focus on cost reduction through purchasing are missing the advantage of partnership and of long-term cost reduction through delivering on value-for-money through the whole supply chain.  Buy purchasing cheaper an organisation will so often miss the objective of long-term operating cost reduction coupled with overall improvement in quality of product and service and the benefit of lasting and trusting relationships.

Cutting business unit cost will often result in frustrated customers who inevitably will take their business to your competitors.  The net result being an increase in cost across the whole organisation and loss of business which will be more costly to recover if at all possible.

The foolhardy pursuit of business unit cost reduction and the effect on the whole business is generally well understood although not necessarily effectively managed.  The drivers for business unit cost reduction are not nearly so well understood so ineffective management results. The sense that risk is understood and be carefully managed becomes the way in which purchasing decisions are made, the courage to change the system not being in evidence.

Business risk avoidance is at the heart of good business leadership.  By developing and maintaining productive two-way partnerships with CRITICAL supplier the business operating cost will be maintained at a level where the customer benefits as does your organisation.

The dangers of purchasing on the basis of price are that organisations do not act systemically but as a collection of inter-related parts but not acting in unison, the silo mentality becomes the norm.




No Need to Inspect


I work in a factory that applies protective coatings to other peoples products (yes correct we paint stuff for money is what we do and pretty good at it too).  We operate a system that encourages operatives to engage and solve problems which means a level of trust but it also means providing the right kind of information in the best possible form so that those operatives can engage and solve problems.

What we don’t do is say, hey you do what you please and we’ll look after everything by inspecting it and then making you do it again till its right.  You do this and you’ll very soon go out of business either from cost’s being out of control or customers not getting product on time and refusing to come back.

So what do I mean by No Need to Inspect?

What I mean is that if Leadership builds customer satisfaction into the process right the way through then inspection activities become largely unnecessary.

Leaders have to do a couple of things and think in a certain way to make this a success;

Firstly leaders have to understand what the customer is looking to get from the contract in terms of the product you provide, the service you’ll give them and the process that they will engage in with you as their supplier.

Next, this has to be translated into information that your people can use.  It has to be in your own language so its isn’t too scary for those who have to do that actual hands-on work.  This will normally translate into describing a process to be followed in easy steps.

Next, you’ll have to get the work done, get your people to follow the instructions and you’ll get what you planned to get.

After this ship to the customer.  And if all has gone to plan we have a happy customer, no law has been broken and the customer will come back for more.  And you’ll have made some money too with the prospect of some more to come.

The other thing leaders have to do is have a presumption to ship.  My experience is that if you’ve covered all of the critical stuff that customers really appreciate getting their things on time but better still early.  If you’re going to ship and ship early you want to know that what you’re shipping right I guess.

So build into your process the idea of customer satisfaction, make what your customer wants in terms of product attributes and the level of service they expect and then communicate this to your people.  Your people are then free to make a fantastic product, deliver a superb service and keep it all in or below budget because no time is wasted not doing the right thing.

When you’ve done all this you then go back to your people and your customer and ask were you all happy with the process and the outcomes.  Then sit back and listen.  Don’t say anymore, just listen and your people will tell you and your customers will tell you how it went, what they liked and what could be done a bit better next time.

So now you know what you need to do to do it better next time and it wont involve inspecting stuff I’ll bet.

Good luck.