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.


Change is Leadership is Marketing

Family-ExperiencesPurpose, make it a Constant

In the present we require a smaller segment of the market to want our products and services.  Market communications are about influence, building consensus and developing followers.  I can remember that as a younger person marketing was advertising; on TV, in the press and on road side bill boards.  We still get this today and I’m sure it still in some way influences our thoughts and our purchasing habits.

But, today we more and more (certainly where I live and the people I know and socialise with) access markets through devices; smartphones, tablets, laptops and yes even in some cases desk tops.  I use may TV and my smartphone the most to make purchases.  I buy at all times of the day and all from the comfort of my own home.  I dont need to get in may car, drive for an hour to a very large building stuffed full of shops, full of products I dont want only to wonder why I cant find anything I really want.

This is a pattern I’m sure repeated across the UK and other developed westerised nations.  This is change and change must be managed and much more importantly change requires leadership.

Think about this, how many companies do you immediately think of when you want to buy some thing or service that were around 20 or 30 years ago? Not many, if any at all.  Correct, the way we do things has changed and our organisations have to move with the change or better still our organisations have to reinvent themselves again and again and again…. or stop being what they are altogether.

How we communicate with our markets is all about how we lead our markets.  We’re looking for followers not customers.  We’re looking for people to like our social output not be satisfied with our product. We’re looking to be the go-to for whatever product or service we provide, the source of knowledge, the expert in the field not the best product.  Our followers want an experience that they can talk about, that they can like, that gives them a sense of belonging.

This takes leadership.  Leadership is Marketing, Marketing is Leadership.  Its nolonger okay to just put together a list of products and services and tell the world loudly and proudly that we’re the best, nobody will listen and nobody will believe.  Our followers want to connect and they want us to provide the reason and the space to connect in.  This is Leadership and this is Marketing.


Purpose, make it a Constant

Leaders have two sets of problems to face;

The immediate, the problems of now – these are usually management issues that leaders take on themselves and try to ‘lead’ their way out of them.  Mistake, leave these problems to managers, these sorts of problems are best dealt with by those charged with making good on the organisations promise to deliver on what was agreed.

The managers job is to make sure the agreement is fulfilled and deliver on time, to the right standard and without harm to person or environment.

The second kind of problem is what to do in the future.  Now this is where the leader comes into play.  The future is uncertain at best so the leader develops a plan, provides a purpose.  These plans, strategic plans are by their very nature are speculative and if they don’t reflect the nature of the business are destined in most cases to fail.

The purpose of the organisation must remain constant and easily explained for the people in the organisation to follow and understand it.

Philip Dawson MBA

Give them a Why


He who has a why to live can bear almost any how” – Freidrich Nietzsche

Whilst a dramatic statement, its meaning is concerned with; if you have a purpose to life and it is important to you then overcoming obstacles and suffering to achieve will undoubtedly prove worthwhile.  It is could also suggest the means in many cases will justify the ends.

Those who have a firm understanding of why they are here will in the end always figure out a way of accomplishing their goals.

I cannot say I agree, the means will justify the ends, for me I think the WHY is also about the way in which you go about making your accomplishment come about. The WHY therefore is concerned with the end goal personal to you but also the effect you have and the impression you leave.  The WHY is personal and as creatures that want to be liked, loved and remembered it is important to keep this in mind when seeking to accomplish. Personal accomplishment in an accepted group, team, social environment therefore is the most positive of outcomes.

As a leader you are responsible for assigning tasks and duties to others and in the context of your organisation you must so then give your team and people a WHY to work toward and a belief that it can happen and that they will benefit accordingly.

Philip Dawson MBA


Ditch the Organisational Chart

Very few of us actually consider what makes our organisation ‘tick’.  This is probably because we are conditioned to accept the legacy social framework of the organisation as though it were a natural part of the world we inhabit.  And therefore do not consider we can exercise control over it.

To give you an example of critical thinking;

Up to the point that Isaac Newton considered why apples fall from the tree to the ground nobody even thought it was a subject worth considering. Isaac Newton’s thoughts on this seemingly pointless subject have however revolutionised the world and how we think about it.

We may none of us be a budding Isaac Newton but we are non-the-less capable of critical thinking about the organisations we operate within. And the consequences of not considering how they operate may have significant implications for the health or even the life of the organisation.

You may begin with the organisational chart, the family tree so to speak to see who’s the boss, who makes the decisions. Well, you’d be wrong, organisational charts reflect the human (I really mean male to be honest) need of seeing the world as a hierarchical dominance social structure. It probably dates back to prehistoric times when small disparate and independent bands of people worked together but required a strong focused leader to function well and survive.

This way of thinking though, tells us nothing of how a present day complex organisation functions.

The organisational chart doesn’t show how an organisation really works, it tells us who we can blame when it goes wrong!

Organisations in the present day are not isolated, they fit within a societal system with national and international rules of governance. But more importantly it’s the person or people in the middle of the organisation that probably wield the most amount of influence.

Philip Dawson MBA