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.

Philip

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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

 

Multi-Tasking is a Myth

I’ve been in business for around 30 years progressing from the shop-floor to business owner during this time, the ‘self-starter’ often advertised for.  During this time I’ve often heard or even been told that Multi-Tasking is the key to operational success.

Complete Nonesense!

Even worse, by all accounts women do it better than men.  Again, this is just not true.  I’m not denying that there are differences between women and men, on a very simple physical level this is obvious and I’m more than convinced that women think differently than men.  On the whole they’re socialised differently fairly well the globe over.

There are some situations where multi-taking can happen;

I can run, think about stuff and listen to music all at the same time – multi-tasking.  But the running and listening part are passive, they happen in the background and take-up no effort at all.

There a ton of situations where it doesn’t.

Try typing something and reading a different text – correct, impossible, dont even try it.

Multi-Tasking is a Myth!

My suggestion – do what ever you’re doing, do it well, concentrate hard and complete the task then move on to the next one.

Philip Dawson MBA

The Volcano Business

I have recently returned from a volcanic island and noticed that the island is so much more than just about tourism, it has a ‘volcano’ business feel to it, anyone who’s been to a volcanic island or province will have a feeling of what I’m saying here, it’s just something a bit unique or special in a way that’s somehow related to the near-by volcano.

What I mean by this is that the island’s businesses of which there are many and varied in nature are nearly all concerned in some way with the volcano(s) that made the island millions of years ago. Yes there is the obvious tourism businesses; after all it’s an island in the sun 12 months of the year so tourism will feature strongly, that’s just a no-brainer.

But what I mean is that the volcano business is about making the most of what you have in the time available. The actual time when the mountain decides to explode is anybody’s guess. The last time this island had an eruption was in 1971 and it added an extra 6 km2 to the island which is just short of an extra 1% total surface area. So you can see the islanders are tasked with the uncertainty of when the next eruption will be and the level of devastation that may follow whilst carrying on in business and life.

What I can say with certainty is that the food stuffs grown on the side of the volcano are on the whole exceptional in taste. I bought a jar of honey and not 3 days had passed and it has almost disappeared, the taste was exquisite. I could taste the flower buds of the forest and the aroma was just unbelievable. I’ve been to a few islands now and all of the volcanic ones are the same, different products perhaps but the quality of the products; outstanding.

So the volcano business is based on quality of product, yes! The volcano business is artisan in nature, also yes! There is a scarcity to the number of, and range of products produced. The prices for some of these products is naturally quite high, after all scarcity is the order of the day. This therefore is just one of the business lessons the volcano business teaches us; scarcity + high quality = very high price.

The other defining factor at play is the uncertainty of supply. The volcano could erupt at any moment wiping away a life-times endeavour in the hot ash and lava flow. This is true but nonetheless essential for the quality of the products. The renewal of the land process is essential, the earth gives-up its inner secrets and these are transformed in to fantastic food stuffs, and experiences for the traveller and island dweller alike. I open my pot of honey and it is as if the earth has whispered her inner most secrets into the honey for me to taste each time I have honey and bread.

So the other business lesson the volcano business teaches us is that of renewal. Usher out the old and usher in the new. The timing should be decided not by schedules or plans but should be natural and spontaneous. Do it when it is necessary to do it, NOT when you deem it convenient to do it. The moment will be lost I assure you and the vibrant continuity of your business will be lost, possibly for ever.

Plans and schedules are for managers, change and spontaneity is the stuff that leaders are bothered with. Plans are important, yes, but not essential for leadership. The volcano business is a lesson in enforced spontaneity, it is unavoidable, it will happen. And in addition to this forced cycle of uncertain change is the essence of high quality, scarce and so highly valued goods and services.

So the questions you should be asking is;

Is your business situated at the foot of a volcano? Would it benefit from being at the foot of a volcano?

What would you do if your industry were to be suddenly changed for ever? How would your business respond to a fundamental change in the business environment it operates in?

Could you be the volcano? Could your business sweep all away before it by introducing a product or service so new, and special, and scarce, and highly valued?

That is the essence of modern business, that you are responsible for the change, you are responsible for the spontaneity, you are responsible!

Thank you for taking the time to read this blog post and if you have any comments or thoughts please feel free to be in touch.

Philip

The Government Aid Business

Government Aid is a Business, the Government Aid Business is concerned with giving aid that meets national requirements for furtherment of national interests (or so you would think).

What it is NOT is charitable aid in the sense that you or I understand as giving people in need the money and resources they probably desperately need.

What it IS therefore is a way a government can say to its people is that it is giving to needy causes internationally. This is probably not true.

Here’s how I think it works in outline;

A nation, normally an African nation but it doesn’t have to be but they are mostly the victims in this sort of set-up, well this nation has an economy that needs help and bolstering. Now to set the context; most modern African nations are a result of European colonial ambitions about 150 – 200 years ago but after the second world war became ungovernable. However, by this point most European nations had largely taken what they wanted in raw materials from these countries and basically given nothing back save for installing a few local despots to run the place on behalf of the Europeans. There was a move toward self-government and the Europeans didn’t need the headache of doing a proper job of hand over so just gave these new nations (and installed despots) independence without any real effort at helping them adjust to their new reality.

The new nations as they found themselves had no educations system, no health care system, little in the way of legal system but a centralised government system based in the previous European overlords system and as it soon came to be Big-Man Politics (a system of dictatorship based on the betterment of a very small number of people at the expense of the many). So most new nations found themselves with a nation of uneducated and rural peoples, no recognisable industrial or logistical structures in place often times some level of civil strife or war. Basically during the 1950’s and 60’s the Europeans allowed independence to sweep through these new nations with nothing in the way of recognisable assistance in running the newly free countries.

So that’s the fertile ground on which was built the calamities to come; nations of uneducated tribal peoples, no recognisable support from the previous colonial powers and then to top it off an East/West Cold War which was acted out through regional conflicts. So yes you’ve probably worked it out, the civil wars in these new nations were supported by Cold War adversaries. The Cold War adversaries gave massive inter-governmental loans to the new nations who spent the money on armaments, that’s right, NOT food, NOT agriculture, NOT health care, NOT education but guns and rockets and then proceeded to go to war with each other.

So to summarise; a new nation heavily in debt, no way of paying it back, devastated by war, a needy populace with no idea of how to function in the contemporary world of the day. And mostly governed by dictators who treated their newly found nation as a means for personal gain. Most ordinary people’s lives became effectively worthless and inescapable.

And this is how the Government Aid Business works to the advantage of the nation giving the aid;

The needy nation has massive debts, it’s politically unstable, rogue elements use cross border terror tactics for very localised gain, there is no way of controlling health problems from crossing borders and the debt mountain built up over years is never going to be repaid. Not a pretty picture this is it?

So the rich nation, the one doing the giving decides that they want to look good and in some way gain favour with the needy nation. After all the needy nation probably still has some raw materials to be mined or bought on the cheap so the rich nation decides to give some aid.

But the aid given comes with strings, strings that are not easy to break. The aid given must be spent in such a way that targets set by the rich nation are met. How does this work in practice? Let us say a target is set for production of a certain kind of cash crop and the only way it can be met is to stop growing a food crop and replace with the cash crop. But, the land is not suitable so the aid money is spent on fertilisers to make the cash crop grow but also poison the land for use growing food crops in the future. Aid granted, cash crop grown, cash crop sold but now the needy nation has to import food by spending the money from the cash crop.

Genius, make the needy nation even more needy.

Aid actually makes the needy nation poorer!

Yes that’s right by giving aid rich governments (our governments) make poor countries even poorer.

  1. Rich nations encourage new (poor) nations to take on debt to finance war
  2. The debt is spent with rich countries who sell arms to the new nations; rich nations get richer
  3. The new (poor) nations now have debt interest payments to make; rich nations get richer
  4. Debt interest payments mean even less social investment; the poor nation gets poorer
  5. Rich nations give aid with strings attached; the poor nations get a short-term gain
  6. The short-term gain runs out and the poor nations abilities are reduced still further; the rich nations get richer

This is the Government Aid Business as it presently stands. It’s complicated further by the any number of NGO’s each with their own agenda but basically following the patterns set by government aid.

Now a few years ago there was the Drop the Debt movement and a lot of fine words were spoken by some very prominent politicians of the day. I may be wrong, but my feeling is that the debt is still there by and large. That actually government aid is being used to in part alleviate the interest payments, but the debt remains. So here in the UK we hear of 0.7% GDP being used for International Development.

My guess is that the development is along the lines of how the UK can profit further from these very needy nations with no thought for nation building and the need of the people therein.

I know this blog post is possibly going some way off business best practice and self-fulfilment but think this through. If we honestly want to practice best practice then we must extend this to all people from wherever they may come and whatever religion they may or may not observe, and without question whatever their skin colour, male or female. And the Government Aid Business is just one area that could be massively improved allowing for greater business opportunity for all.

The Government Aid Business is a dirty business and could be done so much better.

I propose an 8 point plan that;

  1. The debt is wiped completely, no debt, no debt interest, all gone
  2. That Government Aid is doubled, yes we can afford it
  3. That it is given directly to the applicant nation state governments to spend as they will, no strings attached
  4. That it is all monitored by the IMF, but not managed by them just reported on
  5. That technical help is offered but this help is not paid for from the aid given but is additional with in-country training part of the deal
  6. That investment is the key with an emphasis on education and health care (in the longer-term the rest will take care of itself)
  7. That key markets are stripped of trade barriers (coffee, bananas, tea, sugar…)
  8. That fair prices are paid to the producers and this is enshrined in contracts for supply and monitored by the IMF

I think this plan may in a couple of generations mean that the Government Aid Business is really only concerned with natural disasters.

Thanks as always for reading this post. If you have any comments positive or negative, I’ll be happy to respond.

Philip

The Charity Business

It’s that time of year, that time when the charity business is in full flight, TV Ads, Press Ads, bucket shakers outside your favourite shop. The leadership these organisations offer is questionable, the value they provide transient at best but the business strategy if plain for all, make as much money from peoples guilt as possible.

The ads; watch them, they all seek to personalise the call to action (the process of getting you to give generously) so that some impoverished individual, normally a child but not always pulls at your heart strings and you open your wallet or more accurately now that you send a text message and they get the money. You feel better, you’ve helped some poor sole and all for the cost an inconvenience of a test message. The world has been saved at the push of a smart-phone button.

If only this were the case.

Is charity effective? Does charity business actually work?

The answer depends on how you see charity and what you think it’s for, who you think it’s for I guess. For me charity is part of who I am, I give to charity, not many but consistently via direct debit. I don’t have to think too much, the money just goes to where and who I want it to go to. I suppose it’s a bit lazy, pick a cause, one I find it impossible to give time and effort to and sign up for the direct debit. Like many, job done at the click of few buttons.

The charity business however, is a business. It sells salvation and a clear conscience to those willing to buy (give). The strategy is a simple one, get in front of people and show them something awful then tell them things can be changed with a little of their help and money.

But this is too simplistic a view of charity, it’s the one that I guess we all identify with and is not realistically how charity and aid is really given. There are so far as I can tell 3 main types of charity and aid systems in play, each with a specific way of delivering the aid and possibly each on a different scale.

So here they are;

The personal type; this is the charity where you give to a local cause, say the local sports club for children run by the parents for the children with no other reason than they want their children to enjoy competitive sport. The other local type tends to be a hospice that sometimes a relative or close friend has been treated by. Both you have very personal contact with and maintain often for years after the event or reason you first got involved. These types of charities also often benefit from personal involvement in the provision of the service they offer.

This personal type of giving is motivated by personal experience normally. It’s effective in that funds go directly to the people and organisation you want them to go to. What you don’t have is any say on how they are spent or if they are used effectively. You just hand over the cash and feel good that you’re supporting a local cause, job done.

There is nothing at all wrong with this type of giving and the conversion of cash into good acts I suspect is very effective indeed. I know this because MGL once run a sports club my daughter was involved in. The experience taught me that the people involved were totally committed to the cause and to stay out of the way!

The NGO (non-governmental organisation); these are charities (businesses) that pester you with advertising. These are the professional charities and can be a real pain. You know the type… £3.00 per month fixes just about anything you can name; but it doesn’t cos if it was that simple it would have been done a long time ago. No, what they mean is that your £3.00 buys a sticking plaster (Band-Aid for you Americans). The problem is fixed for now, till the next disaster or calamity comes along.

These are professional charities, often called NGO’s, normally operating on an international basis with paid employees. They also have an agenda they want to push (religiously based, environmental, animal welfare…) and this comes at a cost. The other thing about them is that they will often (nearly always) insist at the recipient nation accepting the aid (and it will be significant aid) will have to use the aid to purchase their services or expertise.

In the short-term when you are faced with a calamity of national proportions and no local talent then yes I can see why this might be best. But honestly, does is always have to be this way? Of course not, the charities could use some of your money that you so willingly gave them to train and teach local people to deal with and PREVENT further calamities happening. But this will mean the charity is potentially no longer relevant so they don’t do this.

I’m reminded of the phrase give a man fish and he will be able to feed his family for a day. Give a man the ability to catch the fish and he will be able to feed his family for ever. Well, the charity business is in the business of selling fish NOT fishing rods.

State Aid; the third and potentially most effective kind of charity is that of national governments to other nation states. Here in the UK we give 0.7% of GDP to other nations. It’s all a bit shady to the regular populace, they haven’t a clue where the money goes or how it might be spent or the reasons behind why it’s even given in the first place. What I can say is that countries such as India and China still get aid from the UK even though there economies seem to be huge to the average man in the street.

But let’s put this into context; the UK is one of the ten richest countries on the planet out of just over 200 countries in total. So it’s safe to say that the UK is richer than over 95% of all other nation states.

I think what might be getting missed is the levels of individual poverty in these countries and mixed with the feeling of selfishness generated by our westernised lifestyles leads to open calls for this aid to be ‘spent at home’ because ‘charity begins at home’ or some other such nonsense.

My point though is the bigger one and not dissimilar to the NGO problem. Governments want the money given spent on expertise and stuff they provide. Not on long-term help with in the nation for the nation.

The other really big problem here is that the aid given often (practically always) is dwarfed by national debt repayments, or more accurately the interest on national debts, cos let’s not kid ourselves that poor countries are actually ever going to be in a position to pay back the initial debt. All they can hope to do is pay the interest and they don’t often do this.

To be honest the single most charitable thing a country could do for another in need of charitable aid would be to cancel the debt (I know it was supposed to have happened, but it didn’t) and then give the charitable aid all the same and let the government of the nation needing help decide when and how to spend the money. Corruption! I can almost hear the call now but how about trust. I’m sure some of the money will be ‘lost’ making the wheels go round but believe me they will do a way better job at running their country than our government will by melding, and that goes for the NGO’s as well.

The thing is that by doing this we will be giving those in need the fishing rods they need. All we have to do then is teach them how to use them best. Now that to me seems a way better way of giving to the needy. But of course that potentially puts the charity business out of business.

For me, if there is a reduced need for charity, there will always be those who need acute help, the reduced on-going need however can only be a good thing to happen.

As always thanks for taking the time to read.

Philip

The 4 F’s of Behaviour

The 4 F’s are;

Feeding, Fear, Fighting and Reproduction (I’ll leave you to work out what the fouth F is but its nothing like as smutty or rude as you might at first think).

In my last blog post I wrote about the Lizard Brain and told you that I got the concept from Seth Godin, who’s a big deal when it comes to thinking. If you ever get the time, and I strogly recomend you find the time, fire-up YouTube and seek him out. Outstanding! Thought Leadership!

Okay so I’ll get on with the story; I was talking to my good lady yesterday about these very subjects and how they apply in cycling, (I’m a big cycling freak, it hits just the right spot between cardio-workout and meditation which works really well for me). And then I got to thinking how these basic emotional reactions work in the workplace.

Hear’s the thing;

Feeding; feeding is really about seeking out satisfaction, nothing to far out there, a position or situation of comfort. Most of us, if not all of us really like being in our comfort zone. There’s no challenge when you’re there, no need to worry. The day comes and goes and all’s well. We’re happy.

People who persistently seek out this satisfaction feeling really dont go out of their way to contribute to an exceptional service and experience for the customer. Nothing wrong with that, but hey nothing too great either. From time to time its your job (even if it isnt) to shake things up and restrict the food supply. Do this and you’ll find out who shrinks in fear and who’s coming out fighting.

Fear; those who suffer from fear probably aren’t the kind of people you want in senior positions or positions that could make a difference. The simple fact is this, they will be so afraid of being responsible for the screw-up that they wont find the courage to even try, they will never know the feeling of success. All they want to do is go back to their comfort zone, be safe and unchallenged.

Fighting; this is a symptom of being out of control. People go into fight mode when they feel they have something to defend and they dont see so many choices on how to keep it without a fight. If people go in to fight mode too quickly or as a first reaction then you really need to keep them as far as possible away from customers. The customer experience will suffer if you let them loose and unchecked.

Reproduction (Fornication for those who didnt work it out); we all want (or should do in a business sense) to leave our mark, a legacy if you like. The best kind of legacy you could leave is that you have somebody replace you, someone who’s better suited to the prevailing business environment than you were/are. They are able to deliver on the customer experience in buckets, big-time!

MGL reckons that what this all means is that if you have a person prone to any of these traits, that actually you have a (big) problem. She says that we have to rise above these basic emotional reactions and engage our ability to think. This sounds ideal and easy, but it sure feels a lot more difficult when you’re caught in the situation and dealing with it.

I got to thinking about cycling again. There are some days when all I want to do is stay in the peleton (the pack) and ride an easier ride, sheltered from the wind and protected from other road traffic. This is me in feeding mode, seeking out the safe. Nothing wrong with this and to an extent I suppose its about self preservation, I get to ride another day and I’m not exhausted at the end of the ride.

Play this through into a business situation and this means that really I should keep my best efforts for when they will be best used. Most days are just about turning up and doing the work. Putting in enough effort so I’m ready for the big push when it’ll really make a difference.

Back to cycling, I have to admit that I am afraid when cycling on the roads when I’m alone. I’ve had a couple of nasty accidents and come-off the worse for them. Fear in these situations has led me to use a mag-trainer in-doors. Safe in the knowledge I’m getting a good workout and I’m safe from those nasty and dangerous cars & vans. I can also listen to music which is a bonus. Added to this MGL prefers me on the trainer safe in the knowledge she wont be getting a call to say I’m in hospital after being run off the road by a car or van.

In the business environment, fear can become an enabler if used correctly. By recognising fear in others you can structure you product or service offer to address their fears. It becomes a tool for selling what you do potentially (think lawyers or insurance). From a personal point of view, fear if not allowed to rule over rational thought can lead to way better decision making. But you have to keep it in check, you are a leader and a leader must not show fear, caution however is okay just don’t let it strangle creativity and bravery.

Fighting in a cycling sense is all about reacting to a challenge, in my case normally on a hill climb when I want to be first to the top or overtake the rider ahead.

Business world fighting is all about winning the order ahead of the other supplier. Keep this under control and you win, allow it to get out of hand and you look like an idiot who just want’s to out do the competition. Your product and service comes a distant second, price becomes the conversation and yes, you lose!

Reproduction in cycling is concerned with bring the younger (normally) rider on. Allowing them the room to grow and flourish and win. Learning the tricks of riding either solo or as a team member.

Reproduction in busness is concerned with training and learning experiences. Do you honestly want to be the only go-to person in your business? No I thought not. So you have to spend time and put the effort in to developing your people.

Juniors need to learn the business from top to bottom, all the way through. This is your responsibility to replicate your knowledge and encourage self learning, everyone wins! One day the juniors will be in your shoes, chair, at your your desk and in your position. What’s not to want about employee development and reward?

In the end MGL is right, you have to understand all of these aspects and temper them with logical thought processes. Do this and you meet your emotional needs (well the basic ones anyway) and you get to do your business dealings better.

As always thank you very much for taking the time to read my blog and if you have any comments please feel free to make them.

Philip

The Lizard Brain

The Lizard Brain
I’ve been watching Seth Godin on YouTube recently, he’s up there with Tom Peters for being a thought leader for business, leadership and strategy in my opinion and I write this blog post from listening to and reflecting on some of the stuff I’ve recently watched.
Back in 1954 the limbic cortex was described by neuroanatomists as the seat of emotion; satisfaction, fear, anger and the need to reproduce. It’s the most primitive part of the brain and is so named as ‘The Lizard Brain’ and it’s about all a lizard needs as a brain to function; fight, flight, fear, freezing-up and fornication…. And Seth Godin riffs about this part of the brain really well.
The Lizard Brain is really powerful and controls much more of what we do and how we feel than we could possibly give it credit for. Behaviours become ‘unexplained’ when governed by the Lizard Brain, they’re reactions to situations rather than fully thought trough ideas and thoughts. The point is that we are ALL prone to irrational behaviour which in a workplace where value adding activity goes on can be (very) destructive to the process.
The thing is this; the Lizard Brain stops us doing what we know to be the right thing. Think about it, how many times have you said to yourself you’d like to lose a bit of weight or get a bit fitter, plenty times I guess? But then you go and eat too much cake or drink a bit more wine than you intended. What caused you to do this irrational thing? The Lizard Brain of course. It stops us doing those things we know are just the right thing to do, it gets in the way of functioning in the world today.
Right, so that explains irrational behaviour but how else does the Lizard Brain get in the way. Well, normally about the time you’re ready to launch a project or ship new product, that’s when. It comes along and says you should have a meeting, talk about this thing you’re about to do or finally commit to.
The symptoms; late meetings, middle of the road products, rationalized service… yes these are symptomatic of the Lizard Brain kicking in and getting you to compromise on service, and experience.
You know because you spent months on the design of the product or service that its good, that it’s probably going to be special, remarkable even but then comes along that Lizard Brain thing and stops you in your tracks. You have to be honest about it, after all the effort are you honestly going to ignore the obvious and compromise. Most of us do, but you don’t have to.
Your job as a leader is to figure out how you can ignore it, how are you going to deliver that outstanding product or service, on-time and on budget?
In the end it comes down to being brave, knowing you have a great product or service and going for it. But not just you going for it, your whole team has too as well.
Thanks for reading, please post an comments’ or questions and I’ll respond or answer as best I can.
Philip