A chance moment to accept a change is going to happen

BEFORE THEN AND AFTER

There are moments that act as mile-stones or markers in your life. Moments when you realise (after the event) that nothing will ever be the same again. Your life is divided into before and after. Often times you know somethings going to happen, a change is on the way.

The real test is how you deal with it, this unknown detail of significant change, what are you going to do? Run, hide and avoid; after all it could be bad. Or, are you going to be strong, move forward towards the change, straight ahead, no deviation, no matter what you’re going to find; after all it could be good.

The nature of change is that it happens, it happens all the time and to a large extent you have no power over the oncoming wave of change that is and will envelop you. But there are ways in which you can organise your thoughts about the change and make some sense of the changes that happen.

Change is a process; a start, an end and a middle, inputs and outputs. Processes that are instigated normally in organisations are structured and so the process of change in these environments is an ordered, structure change process. This normally is not what I’d associate with the mile-stone kind of change that comes out of the blue. This kind of change you can affect and effect, you can make the change to do with yourself or about others or both. This kind of change is predictable (if you stick to the plan).

Systematic change; some organisations and people work on the basis of change being a constant presence. Indeed ISO 9000 Quality Management Systems require change to take place. Again this will not be a mile-stone kind of change to you. It’s just a reflection of the changing nature of the business and organisation you’re working in.

Significant change, the mile-stone kind of change comes out of the blue but sometimes you know something’s going to happen. Birth of a Child, Marriage, New Job, New Home, a Religious Conversion, a Serious Accident, A Divorce, a Death… there will also be those other more esoteric experiences that are unique in nature, something that is impossible to explain here in a blog post but I’m sure you’ll understand what I’m driving at, those mental mind-shifts that are massive on the inside with no immediate or obvious external indication. Those Eureka moments if you like or those moments of total dread of realisation, those are the most significant changes because these are the ones that catch you out every time.

NEBULA OF CHANGE

Okay, so we all have them I know. And we can’t do anything about them I know that too.

It’s how you deal with them that really makes the difference. How you deal with them is the deal maker moment.

Like I’ve said you can run and hide, turn the other way, it’s an option sure. But you will not be a brave person. You will not discover the excitement of the new. You will not rise to the challenge. And YOU WILL NOT FIND CONTENTMENT!

Right so you could take the risk and meet the change (that by the way will be visited on you no matter what you do about it) you meet the change head-on. The risk I tell you is in the refusal not to meet the change, that’s the real risk, doing nothing and hiding. Meet the challenge, risk that you are not able to rise to the challenge but if you do, and you do, what a chance it’ll be.

Your life will have a division, before the change and after the change and if you do meet the change head-on, and you refuse to be cowed and you make the very most of the change, well then you will have success, you will find contentment or at least move some way toward it. You will find you are closer to achieving your dreams.

Thank you for reading,

Philip

Choose!

The Warmth of the Old, the Thrill of the New

As the phrase intends to suggest ‘the warmth of the old’ is a place of familiarity and comfort, a place of safe haven where you know what’s going on, what’s happening and your place in the scheme of things. A warm place, what’s not to like about cosy?

Nothing, cosy is a nice place to be.

Everything, cosy is safe and unchallenged.

Your answer? I know mine, I like a bit of warmth from time-to-time but the challenge is where I’m at. The thrill of the new, WOW! What’s not to like about the thrill of the new?

Nothing, new is great, it’s bright, it shines, and it’s just new.

There’s nothing not to like about the thrill of the new.

The warmth of the old is about yesterday, the past. Don’t ever forget the past, it does inform the future usually and will help with planning for the future. But the past is just that, it’s gone, it’s over, and it’s past! Never to be repeated or got back, what’s in the past cannot be retrieved. The past is not for the bold or the brave, it’s a place of reminiscence, comforting and warm and safe. Old glories shine all the brighter and old failures diminish with time.

The past is dull and uninspiring, period.

choose life

The specialness of the new, the thrill, the excitement, the newness can do nothing but inspire and motivate you and those you can affect to strive, to work hard and consider the possibility that things and life will be better. That dreams will be fulfilled, that as FINNA suggests that you will be more likely to find contentment and completeness by seeking out the thrill of the new.

Be warned tho, that the thrill of the new can bring a guilt if you do not approach the new with caution. Do not strive for greatness at the expense of everyone else, you may achieve your own greatness this way but that stinging feeling in the back of your mind is your conscience being pricked. To win when all others lose is not to win.

You have to treat those around you as full and trusted team members though they may be transient in your team, remain faithful to them and everybody wins.

By involving others to share in your adventure in the new you remove the chance that your conscience will pin you down, you will be at one with yourself or as close as.

By following the FINNA way into the light of the new you come out of the shadows, you have no need to keep looking back for if you do you will trip and fall.

You are in the present at a cross-roads of time; look backwards to the warmth of the old, look forwards to the thrill of the new. The past is out of reach to us all, the future on the other hand is rushing towards us like it or not so take the chance and reach for the thrills.

Thank you for reading.

Philip

Your Limits are Your Business

“I am not made like any of those I have seen. I venture to believe that I am not made like any of those who are in existence. If I am not better, at least I am different.” Jean-Jacques Rousseau

I echo the sentiment and feeling, I too am an individual who may be judged as better, but if not better, then I am without question different. Rousseau himself could be seen as responsible for the continental liberal movement, not the same I might add as the English equivalent but concerned with revolt against the incumbent governing bodies.

I am not for one moment suggesting open revolt other than a revolt against the status quo, against what has always been for if we repeat the past we make the mistakes as of the past again and again and again. What I am advocating is a revolt against what you and we are today so that we may go and make new mistakes and by implication new successes. By breaking new ground in aspiration we change forever the landscape of our dreams.

You may accept the dreams you have and accomplish so far as you can those dreams believing them to be the only dreams you may have. Not so, you may, indeed I encourage you, I implore you to find and dream new dreams, to reach out to those corners of your imagination where the unreal exists and dream the unrealistic as if it were real.

Only by stretching to our mental limits will we truly know where they are. You are stronger and more talented than you will ever know, we find so many ways to deceive ourselves into believing we are what we pretend to be.

defy

Exercise to try;

Hold your breath and time how long you can hold it for; not so long eh?

Now with that time in mind, remove the watch, get in a full bath of water and get yourself submerged, get someone to time you and tell you when you’ve exceeded your past record. You will exceed that record, guaranteed!

Your limits are only what you impose on yourself.

Rent or buy the film Gattaca, the story of a person (Vincent Freeman) in the future who dared to dream he could exceed his destiny. It’s an inspiration, watch the scene when he out swims his brother, that could be you.

Okay so how does this have anything to do with FINNA? How does the near constant turmoil of searching and dreaming and demanding of yourself add to the sense of contentment, of completion?

The answer is simple; you will always be in constant turmoil no matter who is having and making the dreams come true, only if they are your dreams then you will be the one making the demands of yourself and not having them imposed. It will be your dreams you are seeking out and fulfilling not those of someone else. And that has got to be better than having to meet the demands of others.

Those others may well not judge you to be better than them, or better than if you had followed their dreams ad goals but honestly ask yourself, will you judge yourself in this way, will you not be both better and different?

Thank you very much for reading.

Philip

Dominate in a Niche

BIG = Small

Most literature about management self-improvement (which a lot of this blog is about really) is contextualised in big corporations, and particularly Big American Corporations. This is NOT where most of us work, most of us work in those companies with a staff number someplace between 2 and 50; fact! And some of us work in someplace other than America; fact!

So is it any surprise that self-improvement books and literature about management is so often started, put down and then forgotten. It just doesn’t speak to us and our needs, the inspiration is lost somewhere normally around a third of the way in. Great if you want to shift books about management self-improvement, not so great if you’re the one buying.

Right so I’ve got that out of the way, FINNA is not, definitely not about being BIG for the sake of it.

The question I often get asked by those who want my help on a personal or one-to-one basis is along the lines of “how do I make my business scalable?” This is a question which is about making a business grow and replicate what it does across areas of activity and location. My usual response to this kind of question is to ask a question right back; What will you get from a scalable business? What will your customers get from a scaled business? Do you think that your business will still be great if it scales-up?

This is the point where I will normally refer the questioner to the great sage Mr. Jimmy Cliff and his song The Harder they come the Harder they Fall (not an obvious choice I admit but he works for me). The song is about searching endlessly, about the unattainable, the pie in the sky.

Searching for the scalable business, well once scaled-up (and how far is scaled-up?) is that not the starting point for further scaling-up? The scalable business is not a great business; and then the conversation will turn to how the questioner feels about their business and if they’re happy to let it go? Did they start the business because they just wanted to make money or did they once believe in their product or service?

I can tell you the answer 100% of the time is, its not about the money, it’s about being as they are, just bigger, and delivering to more people the great products and services they are rightly proud their company delivers.

Okay, so it sounds like FINNA is saying don’t grow, this is not the case, FINNA says be careful with your business.

FINNA tells you grow, just keep your business units small, at most a business unit should not exceed 50 people. This also applies if you are part of a cost/profit-centre in a business, keep you team/unit small and deliver great service, always deliver great service! The model, if you need one is a Professional Service Company (say for example a lawyers or architects), make your team deliver professional service and be great when they’re doing it. The Quality Department may be a 6 people unit in a 200 person £10M business but the 6 person unit should be run like a small business delivering great service to the internal customer who will then deliver great service (you hope) to the external customer, those people and organisations that pay all your salaries.

FINNA offers that if you are focused on “scalability” from the start, you will not succeed!

Q/ When to scale then?

A/ When you need to, when you have traction; and then you worry about the rate of growth and if you can replicate what was so good about your business in the first place.

And so back to Jimmy and his song, Jimmy is totally clear he’s gonna get his share, keep on fighting for the things he wants because you can’t when you’re dead and gone. He’d rather be a free man in his grave than living as a puppet or a slave.

If you decide to grow quickly you will (if you remain in business) become either a puppet of the new, radically new that is, organisation that was once your grand idea or you’ll become enslaved by the financial rewards.

Data drawn from real experiences is that in the long term everything in existence will deteriorate. So grow, but grow slowly and steadily, be sure of your growth.

Paul Ormerod I am often asked by would-be entrepreneurs seeking to escape from life within huge corporations ‘how do I build a small firm for myself? The answer seem obvious. Buy a very large one and just wait.

I love small businesses, they are focused on what they do. Sure many of them are family run affairs and that’s not a bad thing so long as all pull in the same direction. But the big thing about small businesses and small teams within larger businesses are that they have passion. If somebody doesn’t show the passion about what their team is doing, well you have to deal with them, quickly.

As leaders we have to have and show passion for our business and for what our business does. We have to love our business activity areas. We have to cultivate exceptional performance, we have to cultivate exceptional relationships with our customers and suppliers. One-to-One interactions, making promises and delivering on those promises are what says loud and clear that we care, we will deliver and we love doing business with you, our customer.

Aim for niche domination, you will be a giant whilst remaining small. You will develop revenues from your uniqueness. All of us willingly pay more if what we’re getting is hard to get hold of.

You want to be BIG, go ahead be my guest. FINNA wants to be here for a long tme and be great.

Thanks for taking the time to read this post, I hope you got something from it.

Philip

EXCELLENCE is worth the effort

If not Now, then When?

This is a question posed by Tom Peters (and probably many others as well).  It’s a searching question indeed but its more than that, it’s a challenging question.

The question is about excellence (if you know anything about Tom Peters, you’ll know that excellence is his thing) and how excellent you are going to be.

if not now

The challenge however, is that you are challenged not to answer in the future tense; the when part of the question, but in the present, the now part of the question. In many ways the when part of the question is pointless unless of course you are willing to be not excellent right now but you have a plan for the future. But honestly, if you said to your direct supervisor I’ll be great tomorrow but for today I’ll give you mediocre. Do you think that’s good enough? Is that acceptable if somebody were to say that to you?

The answer almost doesn’t need to be said but it’s going to be no, I want great today, in fact I want great right now, no delays, straight away.

Excellence!

So how to achieve excellence, getting the best from people and yourself. It seems there is little doubt that good leaders can have a great impact and correspondingly bad leaders can have a negative impact. The ability to lead, the ability to appreciate the need for change, the identification of appropriate changes and the ability to persuade others into implementation of change, these are the abilities of good leaders.

People generally speaking are happier to do things if they know why, they are given important and useful information enough for their position, enough for their contribution. And the information is taken seriously!

People need to feel valued; good levels of pay, consultation with, given feedback and praise where appropriate will help with morale levels. Empowering people and trusting them is the ultimate in morale boosting.

Companies that pay minimum wage under the illusion of wage efficiency are the companies committed to false economies. In 1914 Henry Ford raised the daily rate of pay from $2.34 to $5.00 and cut the working day from 10 hours to 9 hours. Result; people, talented people were applying for jobs, Henry Ford could pick the best.

This is If not Now, then When? in action and its over 100 years ago.

Now contrast that to the recent troubles at GM. James B Stewart offers “It has been long in coming, this slow death of what was once the greatest and biggest corporation in the world. The myriad causes of its demise have been thoroughly chronicled, but to my mind one stands out; The custodians of GM simply gave up trying to build the best cars in the world”

And FINNA, what does FINNA have to say about excellence;

Well right now you may if you choose achieve excellence, you may also choose to never again do anything that is not excellent.

Since at the heart of FINNA is completeness and contentedness, then being excellent will generally contribute to these states of being. The key is to understand that all we have is today, now even and so if at the end of your day you cannot say what you have contributed was truly excellent under the circumstances then the goal of excellence has not been achieved. Which leads me back to the question posed; If not Now, then When?

From the FINNA perspective the answer is not to answer the question, the question is pointless. Excellence is in the now. You simply cannot plan to be feel contended at some given point in the future, you cannot plan to feel completeness and at one with your world at some point in time in the future, these are impossible plans.

Seek out and be excellent at all times, period!

The right questions posed by Tom Peters are;

If not EXCELLENCE, what?

If not EXCELLENCE now, when?

Give yourself up to achieving excellence in all aspects of your life;

Be an excellent son/daughter

Be and excellent parent

Be an excellent employee

Be an excellent leader

Be excellent in all that you do

Thank you for reading, comments and contributions welcome.

Philip

The Mess is Strong, be a Polyhedron

Be a Polyhedron

Begin with an unwholesome mess of parts, doweling, panel pins, rubber bands and glue and build a frame, a polyhedron. By increments add outer lays of skins and watch as your construction becomes so strong you can stand up on it.

polyhedron

The same can be applied in life.

Effective decision-making based on a topic that is of interest to a group who share some level of knowledge and experience in a non-hierarchical, participative way is as FINNA recommend. In effect this is decision-making where all of the parts are brought together to make the ‘right’ decision in the circumstances. It is of obvious advantage in those organisations that operate in a democratised fashion, and/or where there is commitment to a variety of stakeholders.

Simply ask yourself the question; How should we run our organisation?

In a democratised and decentralised environment where flat organisational structures and self-management are the way in which value is brought and added then the answer is multi-faceted, a variety of stakeholders exist each with a valid but potentially differing requirement of the project or process. Effective decision-making is therefore best effected in a non-hierarchical, and participative way.

FINNA recognises that the future is not certain and that variation is inevitable albeit the level of variation is constant when measured over time it is then important to also understand that whilst each stakeholder will require of the project and process they can each equally contribute. The properties of decision-making in this way are strength, the logic of crowds so to speak.

The arrangement of an organisation in this way means that its constituent members can be remote but remain strong but also that the arrangement is ordered so that the inter-related nature of connectedness effectively provides a closed and logical solution based organisational approach. The connectedness will also mean that decisions reverberate through the organisation and are reflected outwardly as well as inwardly consolidating the connections both in the organisation and with its surroundings. The organisation becomes cohesive within itself and with its environment.

At the base of this FINNA approach is the commitment to balancing the needs of different and possibly competing viewpoints. By accepting this you will have to trust the judgment of individuals and teams. Where this approach most definitely will not work is in a situation or circumstances where dominance is in the hands of few or even one. But if this is the case you almost certainly will not be reading this blog post, it will not be of interest.

If you are willing and brave enough to adopt this FINNA recommendation, then any interventions you plan must be the subject of an outlined methodology. There will be weaker and stronger members of your team and organisation and if left unchecked the voices of the strong will outpace and drown out those of the weaker. It is your responsibility to ensure fairness of opinion without being the judge or arbiter.

If you are unsure or believe you may have one of the weaker voices then seek out a facilitator and give them the role of helping to generate agendas for change. No individual or group should be allowed to dominate, participation should be guaranteed to all. The baneful influence of power and hierarchy is removed. Communication is designed to maximise the constructive engagement of all and all learn from the process.

FINNA = THE SEARCH FOR CONTENTMENT

CONTENTMENT = THE SEARCH FOR BALANCE

BALANCE = THE SEARCH FOR COHESIVE INTER-CONTECTEDNESS

COHESIVE INTERCONECTEDNESS = FINNA

Thank you for reading this post.

Philip

Create a Purpose

What Purpose?

“If you read the newspapers and are satisfied with the state of the world, put this book down; it is not for you.”  Russell Ackoff 1974

Prophetic!mess of life

FINNA says; if you read the outpouring of information from news web-sites, if you believe your direct and theirs too supervisors, if you honestly believe what you are told by those in positions of power and influence and then you are satisfied, stop reading this blog post and all others like it (there are many) it and they are not for you, carry on with your life and be happy.

FINNA’s philosophy is based on finding contentment in all that we do and are. FINNA endorses the idea that value-free searches for objectives and wealth are at best misguided but more likely destructive.

Participation in life, planning and social design is an absolute must, a deal-breaker for self-fulfilment if you are not prepared to be engaged and participate. Involvement must be sought out and you must apply your own criteria to determine levels of success. It’s not too difficult to believe that another’s idea of what success looks like may be different to your own. And then once you recognise this as rational thinking it’s not a great leap to understanding that your clients will also have their perceptions, different too to yours.

A linked idea is that those around you must be not only allowed to but actually encouraged to think for themselves. Their ideals and values must be seen as paramount to in your planning process for organisational success. This addresses the quality of life question, normally expressed through negative speak about the organisation and allows for creative planning. They will say how much they don’t like being in the organisation when in fact what they are saying is that they don’t like how they are forced to be within the organisation. We are indeed human-beings not human-doings.

In an age of systems management of organisations it is often expressed and believed by many that what happens is and should be automatic. Those that think and act this way will not serve those that most benefit from the organisations activities. The organisation is seen as a way of few benefiting from the many including benefiting from their clients. The result of such behaviour is dissatisfied teams and dissatisfied clients.

Purpose must be looked for at every level of the organisation and within yourself. By developing true stakeholder value for all stakeholders the opportunity for conflict within the stakeholder group is removed.

Naturally you will meet those who want to return to some sort of ‘Golden Age’ when they believed all was good. These types of people will meet problems in a piece-meal fashion, essentially it’s the divide and conquer mentality. Life is viewed as in constant conflict for these types of people and they will inevitably not grasp the urgency of current realities. Life will pass them by and they won’t notice till it’s way too late.

You will also come across people who don’t want to change, they would like things to stay just as they are in the present. These types of people are typified by meeting change with appeasement so that nothing actually changes. The day-to-day difficulties will never be fully resolved.

And what about those who want to seek out the future, to prepare and plan the detail of change. Illogical! If the future was to be predictable there would be nothing we could do to change it.

FINNA’s approach is to take account of the past, what’s happening in the present and the range of possible futures and treat them as partial inputs into the thought and action process. A desired future is uncertain but no less desired but futures are affected by so many more people than just you. You will be affected by what others do and think, by their ideals and values.

Change is inevitable and it will happen to you.

The Motto of the Mantua Community, Philadelphia is instructive “Plan or be Planned for”

Probably the most relevant activity you can be engaged in is Creativity, but ask yourself and keep at the forefront of your mind What Purpose are you creating for?

Thanks for reading.

Philip

Self for Sale!

YOU are for SALE!

Do YOU own or manage a business? Are YOU the business?

What do you sell? Do you sell products? Services? Processing?

Well you may sell all or some of these things but you also sell yourself. Yes that’s right the person buying is not only buying form you they are also buying you as a person. You have to get your point across and your ideas and to do this you sell yourself.

See things from your customer’s point of view, present you solution or case which addresses their need in such a way that highlights the benefits they are looking for and that you can deliver on. Comprehend and deal with their objections in an organised and non-confrontational style.

FINNA also says research is a must. In the age of data, the age of the internet where everybody has a web page telling you who they are and what they’re about not to research is almost criminal negligence. The effects of failing to research will be visited on you in cost and missed opportunity time and again, I promise. So anticipate obstacles and be prepared but please do remember, an argument is not what you’re selling. Have the answers, find common ground and make an agreement.

Close the Deal!

Sounds a cinch? Well let me tell you it’s far from easy. Selling is possibly one of the hardest tasks you will have to do as a leader, but sell you will. Selling yourself is harder still. You have to be honest whilst understanding the sale is all about the other person’s perceptions.

Impossible to pull-off? Not so!

Keep in mind that you are there to influence their perception in an effort to make a sale. Concentrate on the positives, allow them to contribute, they will like to hear their own voice but don’t let them dominate you’re there to sell.

Be authentic, offer openness and be trusting but maintain your integrity. Don’t be afraid to admit that some business is bad business and walk away (quickly, no looking back). Figure out what is really going to matter to your customer and align it to what really matters to you.

Sell YOU because you are your product, you are your very own real-deal. You are the one who will find the solutions for your customer and your needs.

Sell YOU!

Thanks for reading.

Philip

NOW, Decide NOW!

Decide on NOW

You know how it goes; you have a great idea, a real game changer and then you think to yourself just hold on a minute, let’s just wait for that perfect moment, the sweet time to do it. And then…. Yes that’s right it never happens, the perfect moment just doesn’t come around like you expected it would.

Well that’s how it goes. Each and every time, that’s how it goes.

FINNA logic says wait and consider which is totally correct, think it through but once satisfied you have over half the answers then go for it and make it happen. FINNA also tells us that the other half of the answers will find themselves so don’t worry too much about the detail, get on with the job of making changes, improvements, innovations… make it happen!

FINNA says that there will NEVER be a perfect moment. But FINNA also says that what is past is past, it’s gone never to be got back, so any perfect moment in retrospect is lost, never to be repeated. The future is an altogether different proposition, it hasn’t happened, may never will, it’s not predictable. Oh you may think you know what will happen but honestly it’s a best guess based on past experiences.

Decide on NOW! It’s the only way, the only option for a chance at the most appropriate moment to do something new, innovative. It may not be perfect but honestly it’s as good as it gets.

Thinking that there will be a better or even perfect moment is self-delusion, the sort of mental trick you play on yourself all the time to make sure that you don’t take risks. The perfect time will never just exist you have to work at it and make it happen.

Success is generally speaking a result of hard work and application coupled with persistence and a bit of good luck. Success does not wait for no man or woman, you have to grab at it, hold on and make it turn to your will. You hold the power of your own success, you can decide on when you want to make changes you can decide that now is the right time.

Decide that today is the right time for you, the right time to begin making your dreams a reality. Take those first steps to change, those first tentative steps on development of self, teams, partnerships, business, organisation…

Decide on NOW.

Thank you very much for taking the time to read this blog post.

Philip