Posts Tagged ‘leadership’

Mistakes are GOOD! Well, sometimes . . . . . .

Friday,25 July, 2008

These days we’re always being encouraged to innovate – to do things differently and improve.

Sometimes when we try to do things differently, we make mistakes. It seems that making mistakes is an essential part of innovation.

Sometimes the mistakes can be better than our first intentions! In 1928 Alexander Fleming was working with a bacterial culture which became contaminated and died. This ‘mistake’ led to the discovery of penicillin, which has saved countless lives ever since.

But unfortunately, sometimes the mistakes just make things worse, and then we have to learn from our mistakes and try again – what used to be called ‘learning by trial and error’.

In these days of extended accountabilities and media spotlights, risk is invariably seen as bad.

But if we can’t make mistakes, won’t we expose ourselves to the biggest risk of all – the risk of reducing our capacity to innovate and improve?

If we can’t learn from making mistakes, are we making a rod for our own backs?

So why don’t companies come right out and say “It’s ok to make mistakes”?

Of course there would have to be safeguards, but how would you feel if your employer said it’s ok to make mistakes:

  • Provided they are honest mistakes, made with the best of intentions and not because you were just being sloppy or negligent;
  • Provided you take responsibility for your mistakes;
  • Provided you learn from your mistakes, taking steps to make sure you don’t make the same mistake again; and
  • Provided you help your colleagues learn from your mistakes, sharing your experience with them in order to reduce the risk of them ever making the same mistake that you made.

If your company had a ‘Mistakes Policy’ like that, would you feel supported, more able to innovate and improve?

If this wouldn’t work for you, what would you need?

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Happy 90th Birthday, Nelson Mandela!

Friday,18 July, 2008

Today’s the day to wish Nelson Mandela a “Very Happy 90th Birthday!”

A recent BBC Radio4 ‘Any Questions?’ programme was asked why established democracies don’t seem to get politicians of the stature of Nelson Mandela.
A great question!

It occurred to me that Nelson Mandela was locked in prison for 30 years, and then became a President for three years. In other words, he had 10 years to think, for every one year he practiced as a politician.

We are probably lucky if our politicians are given one year to think, for every 10 that they act.

Of course I am not suggesting that we lock all our aspiring politicians in gaol!

But the shear breathtaking audacity and generosity behind the concept of a Truth and Reconciliation Commission, shows the power of thought – if only we can give ourselves sufficient time.

And action without sufficient thought, can be pretty dangerous – especially in the realm of world politics.

What would be YOUR answer be to the question “Why is it that established democracies don’t seem to get politicians of the stature of Nelson Mandela?”

Do share your thoughts.

Happy Independence Day, USA!

Friday,4 July, 2008

America is not just independent. America is very independent.

Why?

Is it something to do with the personalities of its people and/or its leaders?

Honey and Mumford reckoned people have four different ways of learning (often called ‘learning styles’):
Activists just get on and ‘do it’ – acting first, considering consequences later;
Reflectors observe and analyse – slow to reach conclusions;
Theorists think logically – fitting things into a pattern; and
Pragmatists put ideas into practice – shunning endless discussion.

Is America very independent, because Americans have a preponderance of particular learning styles?

Were the people who left Europe and sailed the high seas, more likely to be Activists? (Who else would cross the Atlantic under sail with no guarantee of success, and no likelihood of ever returning?) If so, can this pass down the generations?

What learning style do you need to become President, given that you can only run for office if you have substantial personal wealth?

Does this have any relevance to the conduct of international relations, where different peoples learning styles can come into conflict?

Does it even have a bearing on America’s foreign policy?

What do you think?  Of course how you approach this question, may just be coloured by your own learning style . . . . .

Happy Independence Day, USA and The World!

Politics, Marketing, Leadership & Management

Saturday,7 June, 2008

In the UK we have had experience of partnership working, involving people from different political parties, as well as involving people who are not involved in party politics. Things go well, and often a measure of agreement can be reached on difficult issues, UNTIL we get near election times. Then the reality of party politics requires that politicians exaggerate their differences because of the need to get elected ahead of the ‘other lot’ – using the language of the market place, they have to grow “market differentiation”.


But at the same time as the media demands conflict and differentiation between the parties, the media analysis and debate often narrows down the options available – leading to arguments about who came up with what ideas.

And if this wasn’t difficult enough, sometimes we may be in danger of Leadership and Management becoming inverted:

* Leadership – often defined as “doing the right thing”; and
* Management – usually “doing the thing right”.

Is Government, and its legislative processes, becoming too Managerial – focusing on “doing the thing right”?

Should Government have more trust in managers – so that our leaders can concentrate on making sure that we are “doing the right thing”?

How does this all look from your viewpoint?

If any of these concerns are valid, what does it mean for the future of politics and our society?

And what does all this mean for partnership working between politicians and non-politicians?

Of course, asking the questions is easier than giving the answers – that takes more than one brain!

Do share your thoughts . . . . . . . . .