HR MixTape 2019

Posted: February 18, 2019 in Uncategorized

With Mark Hendy’s latest challenge to come up with 5 songs you’d compile to a Mix Tape that has relevance to the challenges, aspirations and reality that is HR, it was always going to be interesting whether it was snappy titles; overall feelings or avoiding cliches that won the day when it comes to the playlist I wanted to put together.

Here we go then for a journey through the mainly soulful side of the musical spectrum.

You’ve Got To Earn It by the Temptations – a group that has recorded SO many standout songs that define not only soul music, but the male harmony genre, the Motown empire and resilience to be still touring in their 6th decade is some going.  HR’s been around for that length of time too – Personnel, Industrial Relations and more. Now it really IS time to show how we’ve earned it. And by it, it’s the right to be listened to; joined in with; respected and regarded; included and acted upon.  We (HR) have a long way to go to become the most influential of corporate functions and professions, but as we head into the automated new world of work, we have to earn the right to proclaim what many are now saying: The future of work is really about being human not about digital technology.  We have to earn the right to mix human/digital in the workplace, to be trusted to reskill people when their work is now done by a bot and to refresh leadership for an era where command and control is the most questionable method of getting the best from talented people. So yes, fellow HR professionals, we can proclaim and posture but we have to earn it.

And how do we do that?

One Step Ahead by Aretha Franklin is one of her unheralded classics but just what is needed for HR to be more serious about its intentions as chief advisor on people, process and performance.  We cannot be left out when Blockchain really does find a use in the world of work. We cannot be underequipped when having to manage the wide-scale use of machine learning instead of customer analysts; and we have to be alive to the modern ills of self-imposed political, socio-economic and mental health concerns facing us in a complex world with more anxiety than we’ve perhaps experienced since the time of World Wars and famine outbreaks.  One Step Ahead isn’t some twee mantra, HR as a futures engineer, an architect of the possible and a trends spotting analyst has to be part of our makeup else we’ll be more reactive than we have time for. Speed, agility and creativity are what will keep us one step ahead. Not infighting and self doubts, not hype chasing and bandwagon jumping and definitely not pointless sticking to outdated best practice. Being One Step Ahead requires us to share, involve and be as one more than ever, else one step ahead becomes three steps back.

And what will that look like?

Little Child, Running Wild by Curtis Mayfield may hold some clues. It might seem like we’ve been the small kid at the back of the class no-one listens to, but when we show up politically savvy, technically onpoint and scientifically aligned, then people will take notice.  Running Wild in this instance means being more pioneering (but with evidence or experiments that back up our wild child leanings) and with influence borne from taking the best of other disciplines and remixing them into some mash-up of breakbeats, strings and soulful vocals.  We can no longer be simply safe. Simply compliant. We need to show more spirit than policies; show more invention than prohibition and show more adaptation than adherence. We may need to look like we’re running wild for a while, but this will set the tempo for others to embrace the new, challenge the tired orthodoxies and literally, show some rebellious tendencies.  Running Wild has rarely – if ever – been HR’s trademark and maybe with so much to explore, gentle meandering is no match for running wild.

And what can we do with this wild energy?

Work To Do by The Main Ingredient is our calling.  We know we have tasks the organisation needs us to execute on (recruiting; assessing; paying people; promoting people; letting people go) but we’ve got OTHER work to do now.  Work as a place of safety in a mad mixed up world; Work that gives us esteem and belonging to others when all else is a polarised mix of unfathomable behaviours; Work as a saviour from greed, destruction and careless ways.  Purpose-washing is a thing so we have work to do there – call to those who are faking to be more sincere, show more integrity and fess up and do something good instead. And boy we really really do have work to do. There’s so many things wrong with the way we educate, employ, enable, empower, advance, care for and reward ourselves in work and life, that we really do need a revolution.  Which will not be televised (cue Gil Scott-Heron) but it will be something we need to design, test, adapt, design some more and keep doing it. Work to do is on work itself. A future post-capitalist, post-materialistic, post-individualistic might seem like a pipedream but we’ve work to do to establish a new shared wealth; restored planet and communal spirit. HR can lead this charge in the world of work with culture, purpose, values, and well-being; so maybe, just maybe, we can positively infect society too.  We do though, have work to do people.

And what spirit do we need to tackle such huge aspects of life?

Muhammed Ali by Faithless is how.  Sampling Archie Bell & The Drells “Strategy” is apt too here.  But the essence of a fighter. Of someone who stuck to a set of principles so strong, they temporarily lost him everything.  Who epitomised being different, talking himself into success and being a character larger than life. HR has been as far from an Ali-like spirit as anywhere in the corporate world but it’s time to channel that spirit. Invoke that energy and belief because we’re going to need to be the GREATEST we’ve ever been to tackle the most complex, existential threats to life, civilisation and what it means to be human there’s ever been. Machines taking over, unequal wealth distribution, people not sure if a bad past is better than an unknown future.  Safety comes in knowing the fight, understanding your opponent but more so believing in yourself. Float and sting; shout and sing; dance and stand firm. Channeling our best Ali. HR’s future spirit.

So that’s my call.  Earning it; being ahead; running wild; focus on the “work to do” and being supremely confident it’s in you to fight through.

Thanks Mark Hendy.  Hope you like this HR MixTape 2019 PT-stylee.


HR Mix Tape

Posted: May 11, 2017 in Uncategorized

HT (hat-tip) to Mark Hendy (@MarkSWHRF) for this marvellous idea of a mix tape you send to your future self is awesome and he blogged it here.  So here’s mine.


1) Marvin Gaye – What’s Going On?

Socio-conscious lyrics were becoming the norm in the early 1970s.  Marvin Gaye famously had to renegotiate his contract with Berry Gordy Jnr and Motown to record this magnus opus.  Heartfelt pleas to put the planet right, stop fighting each other, and bring some understanding to the world.  Fast-forward to 2017 – caught in a pretty unforeseen socio-political storm – brings these lyrics back to the front of our minds.  Taking the artist approach, how many of us are caught in machine-like existence at work and would love to discover our true craft and lead a more fulfilled life with our work being a big part of that?

HR Lesson – don’t survey me “Talk to me, so you can see, what’s going on…”

2) Bobby Womack – The Truth Song

Work is a fiction.  Yuval Noah Harari declared something similar in his book Sapiens that money and nations that we live by/in – are all fictions.  Not real.  Yet the working fiction dominates our lives.  Womack calls for us to “be the truth”.  By us, at work, being just, open, inclusive, ethical, humane we can make work a place of safety and value.  We’re told enough lies through some of our less-than-scrupulous-media outlets, so let’s not have organisational lies on top of that please.

HR lesson – HR can be the truth in that fiction of work. Let the truth be all that you are.

3) Curtis Mayfield – Move On Up

“Move on up, towards your destination.  Though you may find, from time, complication.”  What DOES the future hold for us in work and for HR professionals being the guardians of the human factor at work?  Move on up and keep on wishing, remember your dream is your only scheme so keep on pushing.  We may not realise it, but in HR, we have the gift of helping people realise their dreams in the world of work, and to settle troubled minds about the future.

HR lesson: We need a move on up mindset more than most.  People are counting on us.

4) SOS Band – Just Be Good To Me

The covenant between organisation and employer is built on this – be good for, and to, each other.  Don’t fiddle your overtime on the one hand, and don’t punish me for being creative on the other.  Bottom line, as the RSA recently declared, work can be good.  It should be good for all parties concerned.

HR Lesson: what is the good that people need and experience in your organisation?  As a colleague or partner in work, just be good to me.

5) Miles Davis – So What

If the work we do, and the way we feel the organisation cares or doesn’t about us, then the “So What” moment is unanswered leaving us in a state of not belonging to anything bigger than ourselves.  If an organisation really does value us as people, then we shouldn’t ever wonder “so what is this work all about?”  If they don’t value us beyond a mere economic exchange, then “so what” becomes an easy opt out to not be more creative, productive and believe in the things the organisation does, makes, stands for and creates.

HR Lesson: be the ones who help others in the organisation realise that “so what’ is a question to answer, regularly, to help people have more meaning in their working lives.

6) Gwen McCrae – Lead Me On

“You know how I feel, you understand.  What it is, to be a stranger in this unfriendly land. Here’s my hand. Take it, and I’ll follow you.” We all need some form of leadership – whether it’s an inspiring, comforting, guiding figure or our own conscience. In troubled times, we look to others to provide that wisdom, bravery, belief.  We, instead, have people who enjoy positions of privilege, power and pomp.  Yet, we need more humanity and kindness in our leaders matched with strength and guile.  So whether it’s an entitled other or someone you believe in, lead me on.

HR Lesson: be the leader of humans. Walk by others’ sides.  Lead people on to a better way.

Thanks for the inspiration Mark. Lead me on.


Posted: March 29, 2017 in Uncategorized


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Sparked by a comment on twitter (for a change) I found myself clinging onto the word hope.  I say clinging because I guess when all seems against you or you are feeling a bit dour or a nightmare is unfolding, hope may seem like all you have.

And yet hope is such a strong word.  To dismiss it as naive, overly optimistic, blind and even dumb is potentially dangerous to the one thing we have that is unpredictable, magical and sorrowful at the same time – our very soul (or spirit).

Hope springs eternal – is one way of looking at it.

I can handle the failures, it’s the hope I can’t stand –  is another.

And yet, at times of the greatest adversity, hope can be a mystical energy force.  Where all the logic in the world says “don’t do it” or “you can’t do it” and yet there’s hope in your heart (as the words in the song goes) you do it and you overcome not only the sensation that you can’t or won’t do something but that actual thing itself.

Is hope a pointless and potentially damaging emotion and state of being?  It could be.  Simply hoping that a volcano won’t erupt when you feel the rumbling isn’t much use.  Hoping you can get away to higher ground in time which activates your energy and helps you run quicker to do so is a good state of being.

For surely, without hope, what else is there?  A project plan might help you deliver a crucial new venture.  When faced, in that project, with a challenging negotiation, surely the hope that you will stand your ground and broker the best deal is as essential as having the tactics, the keywords and the outcome very precisely crafted. If you have hope in yourself, that creates an energy source to clear your mind, work things out logically and activate your most rational sense is a useful emotional and spiritual state to be in.

Fear does the opposite.  It forces you to act in extreme ways.  It forces your level of intellect down by a good few points.  It closes you off to social support.  It freezes your computational power either totally or in part.  Yet it also forces your limbs to be ready to run.  Forces your adrenaline to kick in to handle a sudden expense of physical energy.

So hoping you can stop an impending disaster of force isn’t much use without some serious actions but also fearing you can’t stop that disaster is just as bad.

Hope overcomes fear.  Fear is there from primaeval senses of protection from predatory threats.  

Hope is a new computation for a less predatory and yet more mentally stressing world.

Hope is an ally, not a comfort blanket and not a blackout mechanism.

Sometimes when hope IS all you have, it’s a better energy source than tuning out or giving in.

Or as Dr Martin Luther King Jr said better than I ever could.

We can accept finite disappointment but never lose infinite hope.

The Power Of One

Posted: March 28, 2017 in Uncategorized

One cross in a box.

One lie after another.

One stupid “newspaper” stirring up hatred.

One day in sunny June.

One big realisation.

One of them.

One resignation.

One vile comment after another.

One stupid decision.

One letter.

One less star.

One empty feeling.

One person.

One slither of hope.

One way to cope.

One conversation after another.

One kind gesture after another.

One step beyond.

One sense of strength.

One by one.

One of us.

One smile.

One again.

One love.

One day.



The Abundance of Enough

Posted: March 27, 2017 in Uncategorized

“He who finds that enough is enough, will always have enough.” Lao Tzu

One word keeps popping into my mind lately: Enough.

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The excesses of the world, the constant bombardment of more, the obsession with growth.  It never seems like (for many of us) there’s enough.  And I think I’ve had enough of excess.

Can you ever have enough profit; customers; new products; leads; sales; people in your network?  It seems like we’re all being encouraged to be consistently in a state of “not enough”.

There is though, one state of “not enough” I’m a bit obsessed with being in; always having great books to read and insight to gain.  My own learning is, I heartily accept, never enough for me. I will always want to learn more.

Then there are people. I’ve realised an enough here. This was the slightly more troubling thing for me, though.  I like people, having them around, being able to help others and feel part of something with people.  

Anthropologist and social psychologist Robin Dunbar’s oft-quoted number of 150 people with whom you can have a stable relationship with, has always intrigued me.  In some ways, I think I’ve tried to disprove this a little (where I’m concerned of course, not the entire theory) yet I am now firmly of the opinion his theory isn’t just right, it’s better to have a lot less than this in your life at any one time.  A case of fewer, deeper connections and make sure there’s enough in those relationships for you and the people involved.

I read an article recently that may be familiar to many of us and it goes like this.


D was a highly regarded and very socially outgoing person.  He had a natural tendency to be both random and deliberate about who he connected to, spent time with and worked with.  He was often in demand, called upon and not short of people who wanted to “pick his brain”.

He was – in Adam Grant’s parlance – a Giver.  He met F through working with a client and she seemed like she was very similar.  Deeply philosophical in her way and he respected and admired that.  They didn’t so much join forces as held a curious and respectful approach towards each other.  S, T and M also appeared around this time and formed a friendship with F.  They all, in some way, got involved in D’s work.  D was generous – sharing time, opportunities and grew to enjoy having this small band around him.  

Then it changed.  Distance, coldness, aloof periods of silence.  The odd tone in emails that followed up on things and checked in on how people were.

They’d had enough of D it seemed.  They didn’t seem to like his way anymore and had a very odd approach to him when they appeared in person at events and gatherings.  So D backed away.  He confided in his good friend (who knew them all) and she couldn’t offer any explanation except on the face of it, it seemed like there was a clique formed and D wasn’t needed or felt appropriate to be part of that clique.

The story goes that D took a deep sense of personal reflection and realised something: he’d had enough.  Enough of people taking his openness, trust and generosity for granted.  And that he had enough people already in his life who deserved and respected him.  He didn’t waste time in pursuing any of the 4 others to find out what happened.

In the story, F is still odd with D – witnessed by the odd snarky comment on his blog.  S, T and M are completely silent (and not so tight with F anymore or perhaps even each other – D didn’t know and no longer cared).

Then it happened again.  With W and R.  Two friends, so D thought, who happily took and offered nothing in return except to form an alliance themselves and seemingly disregard D from that.  D did challenge W and R and they knew the error of their ways yet they’d let D down and he felt lost for a while because of it.

It seems then, that people can get enough from you and casually cast you aside, take you for granted or worse still, know something is wrong by you and do it anyway.

It was a mildly sad series of incidents but the conclusion in the article from D was that he had settled on enough.  He ALREADY had enough.  He wasn’t going to seek out any more of what he knew he already had. Sure others would come along, and D would inevitably give again and again.

D talks of his filtering mechanism now being more tuned.  He’s more cautious about who he spends time with – thinking “what’s the gain, what are they giving, what should I give to this and do I already have enough anyway?”.  He took to meditation and contemplation. He took to a slower lifestyle and a less abundant mindset.

It’s meant he’s declined, deferred, contemplated more.  He’s not so quick to accept everything and everyone and still maintained a non-cynical way about it.  He doesn’t distrust people, he’s come to realise that he knows when he already has enough.


It was his final conclusion that chimed with me.  I’ve often seen abundance – and therefore options and choice – as crucial factors in success.  I’m starting to recalibrate my thinking on this and thinking how much I already have: and it’s probable that I already have it.  So I have enough.

I see many of us having to take a stock take on our social networks and purge, cleanse and realign why we loved them so much in the first place but now we feel overwhelmed by them.

I see the growth in slow lifestyles; tiny living and less materialistic ways as a show of enough.  I have enough with less, I don’t need to clutter my life or ever pursue that bigger, better, bolder thing.

So I have had enough of thinking not enough. Very much in the spirit of Lao Tzu’s opening quote to this piece – “He who finds that enough is enough, will always have enough.”

Have you had enough and do you have enough?


I’m only human, after all

Posted: February 22, 2017 in Uncategorized


I am privileged to take to platforms and share, in keynote speech format, things that I feel are useful, that I have a keen interest in; that I believe will help other people by knowing about some new insight or case study and ultimately things that I’m passionate about.

I do so out of sheer exuberance, belief and determination to do MY bit to make the professional field I’ve come to be a part of better and more in-tune with the world and because I believe my calling is to help us – pardon the Anglo-Saxon here – unf*ck work.

I now add in a slide to my talks that says what I believe.  It goes something like this.

I believe…

If we designed better work, people would be happier about their work and able to live more fulfilling lives.

If we create new aspects of work to run alongside existing traditional models, we will make more progress than trying endless change programmes and restructures.

If we build working methods that allow people to come to life and discover themselves, their talents and their ambitions in life, we’ll have a more just and contented society.

OK, it’s a bit work obsessive but then my work is important to me and it accounts for a large part of most people’s lives.  And I’m ultra committed that the work I do is to impact positively on as many people as possible to make their working lives better.  The rest is down to them.

Can I impact on this?  We’ll see but I’ll keep pushing on.

I’m only human, after all.

I’ve been working with people from across Europe lately who, like me, are keener than ever to “connect the dots” and bring together as much progressive, purposeful thinking and doing into creating something better for us all around the economics, leadership, construct and ways of working for us all.  We’re giving it the unspectacular name of the Super Network.  Something that brings together as much as possible of all the networks; groups; enterprises; educators entrepreneurs out there.  It’s early days but there was a promising starting meeting this week in London I missed because of a fever.

I’m only human, after all.

What can even a super network do let alone one person like me?  I guess more than if I coasted through life; kept my head down and didn’t really give a shit about any of the turmoil, talent and opportunities we have around us.

I’m reading more than ever.  I’m getting outside of my echo chamber more than ever.  I’m spending time being kind to myself more than ever.  I’m trying to be as generous as I ever have been.  I’m neutralising the drains and focusing on the radiators in life.  I’m giving.  I’m being present. I’m opening up.  I’m being considered.  I’m allowing myself to be comfortable with paradoxes.  I’m laughing.  I’m crying.  I’m caring.  I’m being firm.  I’m shaking my head.  I’m smiling from ear to ear.

I’m only human, after all.

I lost a dear, dear Aunt this past week.  She was one of life’s stalwarts.  It gets us all in the end.  Yet I know she cared about what I stood for so that lives on like an indelible mark on my soul.  I haven’t shed a tear yet or even really felt pain and loss. I may do come the funeral but that’s because it’ll be time to do that. I’ll move on.  I’ll think about her now and then.  I’ll keep my mojo going because she’d want me to do that.  I’ll be grateful to the nurses who looked after her in her final months even though they’ll never know that.  It’s those people I want to make work better for.  I’ll use that feeling to keep me going.  Even I only have so much energy at times.

I’m only human, after all.

I’ve got a big deal coming up soon. I finish writing a book in about 2 months time.  It’s one of the biggest honours I’ve ever had in my life.  Even now I doubt it will be good enough.  That people will ridicule it.  And yet I know some will take heart and believe in my thoughts and experiences and will be using it to spur them on.  I like the doubts.  It’s a way of making sure I keep a grounded, philosophical view on the world and my part in it.  As Voltaire said “Doubt is not a pleasant condition, but certainty is absurd.”

I’m only human, after all.

Like a lot of people, I’m still distracted even hurt by things like Brexit and Tr*mp.  By animal cruelty and environmental ruination.  I read about it, it saddens me and angers me.  I want to do stuff and yet feel so helpless.  I’ve joined the Green Party.  After being a lifelong Labour supporter, I had to do something other than be disconnected from everything to do with politics because it was in an almighty mess.  I’ve joined the Buckminster Fuller Institute.  Donated to the Obama foundation.  I am a fully paid up member of the RSA.  I haven’t been on any marches yet and I have donated to Hope not Hate.  I have reported and blocked people on social networks who are vile, vulgar and venomous.  It’s not much but I’m doing what I feel I can.

I’m only human, after all.

And still I believe.  That’ll I go that inch for others who I know will do the same to help me.  I’ll persist in sharing, caring and doing what I can for others because that services my need to give.  It’s not a generous act of wilful care, it’s because I want to do it.  It’s my need that happens to also be in service of something others might need.  I will, and am, working in the charity space and losing money whilst doing so not because I need a medal or want to go into insolvency gallantly.  Because I want to do it.  It’s all about me.  What matters to me.

I’m only human, after all.

I am loving the smart people who have chosen me, and I’ve chosen them, to be learning partners, mentor/mentee, coach/client and just friendly co-conspirators.  In some way or other, they mean something to me.  They care, I care, we share.  It’s not perfect.  I’m not always there, and they aren’t always responsive and so on.  BUT it works.  It’s fulfilling, joyous, helpful human contact.

I’m only human, after all.

Let’s just be humans.  Whilst we do what we can for others who are equally being humans and they do unto us.  After all, humanity, trust and conversations is all we really have and all we spiritually need.  I don’t even know what I want people to do about this piece.  I guess take heart.  Be comfortable being human and nice and kind.  I started this with Rag’N’Bone Man’s song in my head and this stuff just spilled out.  For as he says…

I’m only human, after all.

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Happy 2017.  I start this year in a somewhat imbalanced way.  Keen to get going on things that matter to me and yet troubled by the state of the world.  Since June, the troubled state of the world has created a lot of interference for me.  What can I do about it?  Who can I join forces with and get some good things going on to counter the confusion, anger, alienation?  So if you feel helpless and unsure, that’s how I’ve felt.  One area I’ve noticed where that interference is most prominent is with social media posts, threads and chats.

So over the festive break, I sorted out some of my social media “stuff”.  Nothing as grand as the title of this blog suggests (I’m doing this from a point of irony) but nonetheless took steps to cut out noise and disturbances that weren’t helpful to me at all.  Whilst this isn’t meant to be click bait, it has led to me thinking about the the one thing I’d like to set as my resolution for this year.  And that is me being better at understanding my self-efficacy.

For the avoidance of doubt, here are some extracts from Wikipedia to give definition to the term:

“Self-efficacy, also referred as personal efficacy, is the extent or strength of one’s belief in one’s own ability to complete tasks and reach goals. Psychologists have studied self-efficacy from several perspectives, noting various paths in the development of self-efficacy; the dynamics of self-efficacy, and lack thereof, in many different settings; interactions between self-efficacy and self-concept; and habits of attribution that contribute to, or detract from, self-efficacy.”


“Self-efficacy affects every area of human endeavour. By determining the beliefs a person holds regarding his or her power to affect situations, it strongly influences both the power a person actually has to face challenges competently and the choices a person is most likely to make.”


“People generally avoid tasks where self-efficacy is low, but undertake tasks where self-efficacy is high. When self-efficacy is significantly beyond actual ability, it leads to an overestimation of the ability to complete tasks. On the other hand, when self-efficacy is significantly lower than actual ability, it discourages growth and skill development. Research shows that the optimum level of self-efficacy is slightly above ability; in this situation, people are most encouraged to tackle challenging tasks and gain experience”

Back to my social media platforms.  I’ve not really reclaimed my space in the social web.  I’ve tidied things up a lot, sorted a few things out that will help me make sense of the troubled world I see sprouting around us.  And I’ve done this because of some of the drivel that is being posted.  The ridicule being thrust upon sensible human beings and the downright divisive tripe being put out there.

I’ve been as a big a fan and evangeliser of social media since I really got my groove on around 2009/10.  I won’t be saying the same things I said then (hopeful, exciting and stimulating) as I would now.  I’ve not turned sour. I’ve not a dullness implant.  I’ve had enough of the scorn, the baiting and the insults that seem commonplace.

Since when did being a compassionate, articulate and frankly kind person become something to ridicule?  When did a younger person’s right to have their say be met with nothing but “snowfl*ke” insults and chastisement for being a whinging, cry-baby liberal?  When did we become so nasty and vindictive towards people based on viewpoints and beliefs?

Always it seems.  And the nasty genie is out of the bottle for sure since June and November’s political decisions taken on either side of the Atlantic ocean.

So perhaps we just weren’t as exposed to it as we once were.  And Social Media platforms are giving those with anger, oppression and hatred the chance to shout down those with gentle, informed and compassionate views.  Am I going to suddenly start taking people on on social media?  Am I going to be a crusading force for “right”?  Am I about to leap into troll-fuelled debates and take on people where I have no idea on their circumstances, background or values set?


I pointed to Howard Thurman’s quote in my last piece and I point to it again.

Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

Taking down “alt-right” advocates or fascists isn’t what makes me come alive.  Helping people, being kind to them and generosity towards others is what makes me come alive.

So if I see someone being trolled, abused or taken on, I’m not going to assault their assailant.  I’m going to offer support to the person being taken on – privately.  The only intellectual and emotional wagons I’ll be circling, is around them discreetly and not throwing stones back at the wrong-doer.  It appears that the assailant won’t back away because of facts; won’t react to any compromise position so I’d say leave it alone and nullify their toxicity so they either revel in their putrid air or cognitively suffocate on their own hatred.

And if I’ve created and live in a liberal bubble (and therefore social media echo chamber), then that’s only the same as the fascist, extremists are doing.  Maybe those advocating stream-crossing are missing the trick and the “starve them of attention” approach IS the only way to be with this shouting, pouting, anti-rationale crap.

Which is why I’ve blocked all manner of people and sites.  Reported many where I think it right to do so.  Why I’ve muted so much of the accounts I’m connected with whose posts are unhelpful, don’t educate or inspire me.

I’m extending my own self-efficacy to creating more around me that matches what I believe in rather than taking on people who hold beliefs I find wrong.  Just as the reality created by “alt-right” extremists is a post-truth, fact-less hyperbole and arrogant posturing I guess. Sure, I may have to address some of the consequences of their behaviour – I’m not ignorant to that.  I just think I’d rather my “thing” be to help others like me who believe that being kind, generous and helpful is what being a human being is all about.

That’s my self-efficacy of now.  I’m not courageous enough, informed enough or thick-skinned enough to take on trolls; to get involved in pointless spats with hard-lined right-wingers or to change the mindsets of those locked in their own thinking.  I’m grateful for those who do and I’ll be supporting those who demonstrate leadership and self-efficacy in this area pursuing the things that matter to them.

It may seem that all I’ve done is built a firewall to protect what I love about the social web: access to great people with bulging hearts, open minds and intellectual prowess.  It’s my way of building my self-efficacy in helping those of us already adept, brave and determined enough to take on others as their way of coming alive.

Selfies are a defining (and to some degree narcissistic) aspect of the social era.  Self-efficacy is knowing what makes us come alive, what we’re good at and want to be better at.

I’ve started my deeper understanding of self-efficacy through my social connectivity to the world.  I hope others can also explore what their self-efficacy is and what it means to making their lives more fulfilled, purposeful and joyful.

I’ll leave you with this meme.  Happy self-efficacy one and all.


Just doing my thing

Posted: December 20, 2016 in Uncategorized

Ok the world doesn’t need another end of year reflective thing and look ahead and predictions and all that bollocks but as I do look back and look forward, I keep thinking “just keep doing your thing”.

Howard Thurman may not be that well known to many of you but he had a “thing”.  I love one of his most known quotes:


Don’t ask what the world needs. Ask what makes you come alive, and go do it. Because what the world needs is people who have come alive.

That’s his more eloquent way of saying “do your thing.”

You can look Howard Thurman up here thanks to Wikipedia.

And I’ll just mention – did anyone reading this donate to the Wikipedia cause? I did.  I was just doing my thing.  I use and rely on Wikipedia a lot so I thought I’d literally put my money where my mouth (!) is and donate to what I think is a worthy cause: information for all, freely available to all.

I donated bits to charity.  I supported someone who went to Africa and helped street kids in Uganda.  Moved by their experiences, they were just doing their thing but helped people in the most awful of circumstances who just wanted to do their thing.  Without fear, punishment or harm. for more.

I have helped a few people pro-bono this year. I do it cause it’s my thing.  They all know who they are and this isn’t a post to induce an “aww, he’s nice.”  I do it because I want to and I get satisfaction from helping people like this, so it’s all about me that.  Others benefit, sure.  So no medal needed.  Just doing my thing.

I’ve also given up on a few things this year.  A couple of business ventures I walked away from because they WEREN’T me doing my thing.  I gave them all I could and helped where I could but they just weren’t my thing.

I coached, mentored, advised, spoke, wrote and did a lot of other things that were sometimes paid, sometimes not.  They most certainly were their need for thing and me doing my thing. And making sure I had enough income to pay the taxman (doing their thing) and the other financial commitments I had.

I judged a few awards.  I love doing this and seeing what brilliance others get up to.  I treat this as a true privilege and enjoy helping showcase some of the best of what the profession I’ve come to call my own has to offer.  Just doing my thing though, and appreciating others doing their thing.

I’ve consoled and conversed with people disaffected by political and social turmoil this year.  Just doing my thing.

I’ve joined forces with entrepreneurs, educators, enlighteners.  They’re doing their thing and I’m just glad to help them with my thing.

I’ve loved, laughed and loathed at things this year.  Trying to just keep doing my thing in the face of challenges, people having contra views to mine, people not appreciating me, people really appreciating me and people being supportive, wise and caring about me.  Just doing their thing and me just trying to do mine.

All the time though, I’m just trying to make a difference in this world.  Positively make a difference.  Committed to a range of causes and beliefs I have about what’s needed to help this world be a better place.  Focused on helping those in work become more fulfilled, joyful and hopeful about their working lives.  Fixated on the challenges we all face with as much kindness, intelligence and compassion as I can muster.

I’ve been there for some, not so much for others and likewise in return.  Just trying to do our thing.

So there’s no resolutions, no optimistic look ahead or knowing look back.  And I’ll leave you with Howard Thurman again.  I hope your “thing” and mine includes this.


“In the stillness of the quiet if we listen, we can hear the whisper of the heart giving strength to the weakness, courage to the fear and hope to despair.”

Just going to keep doing my thing.  I wish you all the best in continuing to do yours.


Buying Happiness? Bah humbug…

Posted: December 19, 2016 in Uncategorized

My most shameless clickbait title.  I’m really sorry, genuinely.

My good friend Myles Runham passed on this link about the cult of happiness at work

One thing I couldn’t bring myself to do is look at the 1,365 comments on this article.  I’ve seen enough of the vitriol, abuse and sarcasm on newspaper comment threads to know it’s just not worth it.Screen Shot 2016-12-19 at 09.35.36.png

(Image above taken from the Guardian article referred to with the link)

So my response to this article is to write a blog post.

I know some people who’ve bravely stuck their neck out and talked up the happiness at work agenda when it wasn’t at all avant garde to do so.  I genuinely don’t mind this subject being talked about – there’s so much gloom and dullness normally talked about at work, something to lighten the perspective of the workplace as a place you can enjoy coming to and doing work is fine by me.  It’s not COMPULSORY (although this article clearly suggests it as it’s in the title).

And let’s get some sense here: we’re not advocating harmful psychotic behaviour are we? Smiles, fun, lightening up – all intended to create energy.  It’s not like a desperate attempt at fun communism would even work if we wanted it to.  We all have fun but some fun is more fun than others blah blah.  I’m not advocating we out-happy anyone else.

In explaining my view on this, I’ll start with me.  Because I know me better than anyone else or any organisations referred to in this article.

I’ve OFTEN had joy in my work and experienced happiness.  The Civil Service, in the Courts.  The not for profit sector in funded charitable enterprises.  In my freelancing consulting / speaking.  Fun and happiness?  How can making people repay debt, get divorced or repossess their house be fun and create happiness?  How can deciding on who gets the over-stretched funding pot allocated their way and risk shattering lots of worthy causes dreams and impacts on lives allow you to feel happy?  How can putting a price on yourself to design a workshop feel like fun?

I found happiness in applying myself fairly into the role I was given responsibility for to help protect people’s assets, lives and indeed, their well-being and happiness.  So I saw myself as much of a guardian for tenants of over zealous landlords as I was an enforcer of wealthy property owners’ rights to evict people who’ve fallen on hard times.  I had fun in seeing people grow in confidence and competence in making decisions about who got their share of the funding pot.  I take great pride in being asked to help people in companies solve gnarly issues and do things differently and then put in an invoice for that effort.

I think we’re talking about this subject from the WRONG perspective.  What looks like gimmicks, ploys and desperate tactics can in fact be attempts at creating something lighter, more human and less stuffy in work because we’ve made some things so serious they become mood sucking drains on any energetic soul who cares to tackle the work.  The perspective appears to insist this is all forced fun (funsultants are mentioned in this article).  The perspective is sugar-coated brussels sprouts.  The perspective is the latest manipulative tactic to get people to endure more low pay, poor treatment and zero prospects.  And this may be behind some leaders thinking here.  So I’m not dismissing this critical view on things like beer-pong every evening.  It’s not the ONLY reason we should be talking about happiness at work though.  So why has happiness cropped up so prominently?

It’s this perspective I wish we’d look at more: Toxic cultures.  Awful management practices.  Terrible conditions.  Commoditised job roles as part of a “satanic mill” of employ.  There’s probably a lot more of these than there are happy workplaces, yet the happy ones get the headlines for being a bit of a freak-show.  I get it.  Knock the outliers.  Poo-poo the fringe fun-fascists.  Don’t tackle the real issue which is dire, depressing and downright nasty places to work.

The most serious outcome we might be missing is this: Leaders and business people are though starting to realise that if their employees are happier, they do things better, with more creativity and generally are purveyors of something customers like : feeling good.

In a service economy effectively transacting to a satisfactory outcome is the aim.

In an experience economy, it’s how it feels AS WELL AS getting the right outcome that matters.

Maybe there is cynical corporate-greed in happiness engineering but then again, it may just be a leader trying to break the grey, dark and dank confines of the workplace as a psychological prison and instead, create a place of sanctuary, escape and fulfilment.

Using the Nokia example in this feature was an interesting choice.  Let’s blame Nokia for being happy and therefore not rocking their boat at a time when threats were on the horizon. Maybe it was that Nokia’s belief in only positive news that helped it convince itself the Symbian operating system would help it survive threats from Apple and Samsung / iOS and Android.  I’m not so sure.  I think this was corporate blindness and denial.  Belief you were too established to fail.  Not that people only wanted to be happy and so buried any disgruntlement.

I recall a quote about Alan Mulally’s first project update at Ford where all their projects were on Green.  No-one dared report Red and rarely even reported Amber.  He wanted fairer reporting.  He probably didn’t say this but my take on it goes like this  “Come on folks, we wouldn’t be employing me to restore the brand if we were doing THIS well.  Let’s have some truthful reporting please.  Red is good, it’ll force a conversation”.

It’s not about the pursuit of being happy at work that denies a bit of frank honesty.  It’s fear of retribution that does that (along with embarrassment in front of peers and other useless emotions).  If we’re free to be happy about work, colleagues and progress AND to call out a serious flaw in either process, people or projects then we’d get somewhere and perhaps be happier about being complicit in GOOD things and USEFUL debates not bland, smiley ignorance of a tanking enterprise.  Surely no-one can be happy about that no matter what fireman’s pole they use to get from one meeting to another.

So happiness at work doesn’t mean blind naivety to the cause.  It means an atmosphere not ruled by fear where people are HAPPY and HAVE FUN alongside DILIGENCE, EQUITY and OPENNESS.

People need to be happy not just to express their joy at work but their appreciation they can challenge, innovate and contribute to making decisions.  The more we label happiness at work with shot-drinking interviews, fussball tables and doing the congo to the canteen, the more we turn away from the real issues: fear is the enemy, not happiness.  Nor is happiness the only solution to this so the pursuit of happiness at work needs some recalibration.

Let’s have people participate in a workplace where there is freedom of expression, fairness and inclusivity alongside committed application.  

This kind of frame helps us discover joy, fun and happiness in what we do I’m sure.  If we HAVE to resort to slides, remember they only really go in a down direction which is where your morale might be going if that’s ALL you’ve got.

The Institute of People Management South Africa Annual Convention 14 November 2016 – blog transcript of keynote speech by Perry Timms – People and Transformational HR Ltd

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We live in a world where we sense, feel and see changes around us at every turn.  Many of the changes we’re facing simply haven’t happened to us ever before.  Many are newer macro and micro level changes we’ve seen before but in different ways.  Industrialisation saw us move from rural, craft and agricultural ways of living to urban, mechanised and production line work in factories.  Many of the industrial age legacies are still with but many more face their biggest disruption in decades if not in centuries.

If we look at the World Economic Forum’s case for this being called a Fourth Industrial Revolution we can see what we are really in the midst of:

“The First Industrial Revolution used steam power to mechanise production. The Second used electric power to create mass production. The Third used electronics and information technology to automate production. Now a Fourth Industrial Revolution is building on the Third. It is characterised by a fusion of technologies that is blurring the lines between the physical, digital, and biological spheres” – Professor Klaus Schwab

Physical, digital and biological aren’t things we’ve seen before and the advances in technology present us with both a gift of an opportunity in automation like we’ve never seen before; widespread connectivity we’ve been grappling with for the last decade or more; and social opportunities we simply cannot ignore.

But let’s zoom in a little more from societal, humanitarian and planetary issues and instead focus on the business world and those of the models of business.

I’ll begin with something which is now used by MILLIONS of business professionals: The Business Model Canvas.

Right away, if your business has NEVER modelled itself like this, you have your first takeaway.  So first let’s look at what the Business Model Canvas is.

After extensive research 9 key elements were defined as critical to the component parts of some of the most varied, successful and sustainable models for business covering everyone from Amazon to small start-ups.

Founders and creators Alex Osterwalder and Yves Pigneur took all the insight from various models and found the similarities resulting in the model you can find and use for free at

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It’s these component parts that – when mapped and then subject to more detailed scrutiny, help you make adjustments in the work you do to lead, service and apply efforts to particular aspects of your business.

Yet this talk isn’t about the business model canvas per se, this is more about the business models of the future – as we are seeing them develop – and is of course a glimpse into the future.

The concept of some of the most progressive and awe-inspiring business models comes from some recent work of Singularity University member Salim Ismail in his book Exponential Organisations.

Not just espousing the models of the usual suspects of Apple, Google, Microsoft, Uber, Air BnB and Spotify, instead Ismail looks into some of those challenging the orthodox thinking in business.  So let’s look into these but first let’s look at some fundamentals of the challenger organisations and their business models.

This quick from / to gives use something to focus on


I’ll cover some of these in some of my examples to you now.

I want you to focus though, on 2029.  The year when apparently we will see computation by digital technology surpass our own; when we will see a coming together of humanity, biology and technology in what Google engineer and technology leader Ray Kurzweil calls the Singularity.  We are nearer the Singularity than the dawn of a new Millennium.  And if you know anything about Moore’s Law (the speed at which micro-processor power and size reduction doubles every 2 years) and the Law of Accelerating Returns explained as this:

“30 steps linearly gets you to 30. One, two, three, four, step 30 you’re at 30. With exponential growth, it’s one, two, four, eight. Step 30, you’re at a billion.”

SO it’s that Exponential world we’re in now.  And that’s why the poster children of Air BnB and Uber have taken off – they don’t follow linear rules. They exponential traits like those listed.

Let’s take a look at 2 dimensions on the models and their component parts and how these are illustrated in the following case studies.

We start with the first tenet of the new business models: a massive transformative purpose.

All businesses have one, not many are articulated, believed in and leveraged.

A highly aspirational tagline – something that’s inspiration and not predictable like company values.  Something to form a non-political, outward focus that turns a company into a learning environment.

So we MUST start with something that calls to a better way, a more powerful and yes more profitable (or profligate) way to live, work and learn.

For you to experience this, I’d like you to turn to someone sat next to you (if you work together that’s OK) and try and describe your company purpose.  If you need to Google search your company’s purpose that’s OK – this is normal.

THEN take a look at how it feels massive and transformative and see if you can shift it to being more inspirational.

If you remember from last year’s keynote I talked to you about the 7Ds of the Future of Work:

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Singularity’s research into the world of technology is similar


If we look at GPS development as an example: it used to cost $15000 for a GPS system in the 1990s to a chip in your phone this year that costs less than $1.  So eventually things are becoming so cheap they’re virtually free or they become free.   Yet for years, it looked like digitisation was good over physical and progress was slow (deceptive) to when it became more accessible (disruptive) and then become so abundant it became dematerialised and demonetised and eventually democratised.

So I think my 7Ds and the Singularity U’s 6Ds are somewhat dimensions of the same elements of the shifts in the way we live, work and learn.

Let’s look into some examples and the models they have and see how you might be able to adopt them.

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TED and TEDx – from premium events to crowd-based, “franchising” to live it’s Massive Transformative Purpose – ideas worth spreading.  TEDx has taken 18 minute talks from exclusive worldwide (TED) to local, communal events run by volunteers as enterprises to keep education around Technology; Entertainment and Design at an optimum level.

Their model is clear on their value proposition: it supports the mission; it brings people together; it gives entrepreneurs and others airtime and potential global prominence; it allows for enthusiasts to build their own events.

What’s the model for TEDx?  The value proposition is still ideas worth spreading.  The spread is built not on fixed assets such as staff or infrastructure – they use the web; free videos and a community of volunteers who run the events as if it were their own enterprise.  They use algorithms and automation to present the most popular and indexed talks for a better user experience.  They have a tight interface about brand and acceptable content which their community diligently enforcement.  They are the epitome of experimentation with fringe TEDx events; salons; and no overly restrictive covenants on the nature of speakers and content as long as they can be linked to the core purpose and TED mnemonic.

So it’s Massive Transformative Purpose is lived through its content and galvanises thousands of activists and billions of consumers.  It uses a flexible; on-demand lifestyle workers (or staff on demand if you will); it leverages assets of others; organisers arrange videographers; curate speakers; venues; organising crews; assets and materials.  It uses algorithms and social technologies to spread their words and make accessible the best, most watched content.  They post across to YouTube to capture more people and so reach a community beyond those who create the events and attend them in person.

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Coyote Logistics is a courier firm in the US that is changing the way people view package delivery.  Instead of an army of couriers and vans, Coyote uses social media and apps to locate available vehicles and drivers with packages which has shaved 9000 tons of unwanted CO2 and 5.5m empty miles as truck/vans/bikes go from delivery to depot / base.  40,000 couriers gives it amazing coverage yet only 1300 people on their books means they can flex to cope with the nature of the fluctuating work of logistics.  Their MTP is Offer the Best Logistics Experience Ever.  Their couriers aren’t odd-jobbers, they are a connected community who respond and participate in that better experience.  Their permanent workers are often younger grads looking for entrepreneurial starts to their careers and Coyote invests heavily in their development and potential forecasting.  Extensive data analytics literally drives their success with constant assessments of routes, customers and driver data.

MTP: Community & Staff On Demand; Social Tech; Algorithms; Dashboards; Interfaces; Leveraged Assets

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ING Bank Canada is perhaps the unlikeliest of the ExO’s you might come across.  Not the typical flag-waving disruptor.  Yet within the normality of a bank something magic happened.  Firstly the incoming CEO put himself up for “Re-election” after his first year of being “in office”.  He was re-elected. He also invited 10,000 customers to try out a new app that went on to become the financial product of the year in 2012.  The model was about multi-disciplinary people working across normal corporate boundaries.  So when there was a product launch, all staff willingly manned the phones; when it was reporting time, more people put themselves into that effort.  It become the ultimate in flexibility and came from people feeling part of the enterprise not allocated a job.  The bank was subsequently bought out from ING and the CEO is still at the helm but they went from an average handling of deposits worth $10,000 per employee to $40,000 per employee and instead of 250 customers per employee, they were handling 1800 per employee.  Such was customers self-help; awareness of when they needed help and that their customers became part of their community.

Their model: an MTP (Save Your Money); Community and Engagement; Interface; Experimentation; Autonomy; Social


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Vision: What you’re doing

Purpose : Why you’re doing it

Business model : what will fuel you as you’re doing it

Wow and  uniqueness : what sets you apart from others

Values: what matters to you

MTP – Providing the best customer service possible.  Interface (their hiring philosophy); Engagement (with customers and staff as unique people and a unique style/way of being)

Community – create a company based on the random way cities have a personality / way (Zappos Insiders; Coding Hackathons)

Experimentation – ways of working

Autonomy – no call centre scripts – it takes what it takes to make it the right service

Dashboards – customer satisfaction and rewards are gamified and cultural assessments

So the models of the future?

Business Model Canvas still applies

Exponential Organisational traits have a lot to offer as a spotlight on matter which could grow your company in line with some of the most “hockey stick” growth model.

Leaders are important – skills in the business models of the future could be like this:

Visionary / Dreamer tendencies – think Elon Musk at Tesla

User Experience Design – think April Underwood at Slack

Programming / Engineering – think Page/Brin at Google

Finance / Business – think Reid Hoffman at LinkedIn

Alongside disruptive innovation skills

Discovery skills – think Travis Kalanick at Uber

Delivery skills – think Cheryl Sandberg at Facebook

In closing, Howard Thurman says it so elegantly

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