Archive for November, 2015

Now this title could be a patronising, condescending and likely annoying thing to say to people

If you’re still with me, let’s please think about this for a second.  Because if your top 3 tips fail the GJT (Generic Jargon Test) you may has well write them on a post it and leave them on the lectern.

I see a lot of this: –

Top 3 tips:

  • Communicate with people regularly
  • Get the top team bought in
  • Allocate some champions across the business to raise awareness

Honestly, this could be about a graduate scheme, acquiring a competitor or  who runs the office cake sale.

I guess on a slide deck, taken in the  context of the rest of a presentation, it could well be useful reminders for people.  I doubt it though.

So here’s my top 3 tips on how to give your top 3 tips.

  1. If you have tips, put a bit more precision into their construct and a lot less genericism.  If it could be about anything it’s not adding enough value.  Think what do you believe people should KNOW; FEEL and DO about your speech/presentation?
  2. Surprise people.  101 stuff like the above doesn’t surprise anyone. So how about you say to people at the end of the keynote “I’m going to recap and avoid a top 3 tips instead suggesting that whatever’s causing you excitement, confusion or curiousness – I’d invite you to follow those thoughts tomorrow.”
  3. Let your Chair, MC, host, link person do the tips as a summary/reflect exercise. It’s kind of their job anyway.  You have enough interesting things to say without throwaway tips bugging up your keynote.

Whilst giving 3 tips might seem a generous thing to do, any unasked for gift based on competence runs the risk of being disliked, ignored or rejected due to the famed “no shit Sherlock” response.  I’m sure we’ve all graduated with honours with an MSc in stating the bleeding obvious!

Being warm and sharing what you hope people now know, think and feel as a result of your story, prose or hypothesis may be just that little more memorable, endearing and useful.

The rule of 3 is a rule, but it doesn’t mean you have to inflict 3 generic tips on anyone.



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A programme of discovery and change

It’s easy to get drawn into the thinking that the world of work has stages of maturity and patterns we’ve followed for years and that these are the ones that will continue to prevail.  Take the education into apprentice into practitioner route.  It’s been around forever so why would this change?

It’s not so much that this model is no longer a viable operational method for people learning their way into a craft or speciality, more there’s accelerated and alternative bolt-ons to this model.

The UPPP initiative from MOL Group appears to one such bridge between education, apprentice-like guidance/opportunity and a career in Oil & Gas itself.

The difference is that it’s not just about traditional taught content; or a research project or some shadowing.  This is about immersive, simulated and gamified learning with other students leading to a consultancy-like business proposition pitched and judged for viability.

It taps into not only the innovation of the individuals concerned and the accessible insight from the industry, academia and science; but also the energy and interest of the individuals concerned.  It’s like a brilliant discovery of whether you’re keen enough and fit this industry before making a massive commitment as a career choice.

It’s the mentality of a traditional apprenticeship compressed into a short few months of technology enabled application to roles and tasks, connected networking with others, discovery and decisions.  

That’s what makes this such an exciting initiative to watch play out.  It’s clearly why light entertainment programmes are using this formula to create human-interest stories and a selection process for a dream opportunity to work with a famous entrepreneur.

Discovery and change are also two hugely in-demand qualities in the world of work now.  

Who would have thought that electric cars would be so mainstream as to catch up to their petrol and diesel counterparts? OK only in Switzerland: Tesla sold more than Mercedes-Benz C Class, Audi A6 and BMW 3 series combined but this was not expected to scale up this quickly was it?  Who would have thought how much renewable energy was such a vote-winning, reputation enhancing factor that energy providers are now using this to frame their next 5 year strategy and show how green the industry can be? This even includes ten major oil and gas companies who recently issued a joint statement saying they would “play their part” in battling climate change before a UN climate summit next month.

Discovery and change go hand-in-hand in the world of work where exponential growth is a regular occurence (think Waze, AirBnB, Bla Bla Car, 3D Systems).  What is the “secret sauce” of these amazing upstart start-ups that suddenly scale?  People need to discover and use this insight to instigate and navigate changes of their own.

MOL Group’s UPPP programme sets this discovery/change tempo for people BEFORE they join the workplace and when considering a switch of careers.  Looking up, out and around.  Making sense, analysing and projecting.  Testing, experimenting and iterating.  Conversations, confidence and collaboration.

That’s why I’m delighted to be part of the crew following this year’s programme of discovery and change.  Where learning is the force-like energy that surrounds these Padawans on their journey to being Jedis of our future energy needs.

Up for a personalised journey of discovery and insight into change in the world of energy?  UPPP is the programme for you.  For more see

Perry Timms

Director – People & Learning

Founder – PTHR & the iPractice

Social Media Advisor to the CIPD

Visiting Fellow – Sheffield Hallam University Business School

Fellow the

Chief Connector –

Futurist – IBM Future of Work Programme

TEDx Speaker – The Future of Work

Sat listening to Jos de Blok – CEO of Buurtzorg – about the way they’ve become so successful is truly a joy, an honour and a privilege.  Thanks @MeaningConf and @jennilloyd.

The thirst for patient centred approaches is so so refreshing but the real secret of this is power and ownership.

Power for people to network, self organise and set up THEIR own business as nurses in the Netherlands.

Ownership because it is their business arranged under the protective and enabling support of Buurtzorg.

It is that simple. It is people owning their way into life of rewarding work and networked, shared endeavours.  With purpose as the key drive. With economic success whilst stripping away bureaucracy.

Now then, the rest of the world, can you please “do a Buurtzorg” so we can get on with meaning through our work and just enjoy our lives and each other a lot more?

Thank you Jos.

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I’m heading up to Manchester whilst I think, plot and mull over the concept of Talent Management, the future for people’s careers and how technology is the enabler and displacer of opportunity.  It happens to me a lot.

Anyway, I have the pleasure of chairing 2 sessions today at CIPD Annual Conference and Exhibition 2015.

My first is one to look out for: – eBay and BT entitled “Flexible People Development to Meet Your Future Talent Needs”

Now this interested me for a range of reasons.  Digital Tech companies for a start.  Flexible, I like that.  People Development and the Future – well that’s me done for totally.

Less what do I expect maybe, and more what do I hope this will cover? Here’s my wishlist and then when the session is done, I’ll come back and let you know how these 2 giants of digital did.

  1. People can plot their OWN career journeys with their manager as coach, guide and confidante.
  2. That we’re seeing the end of top right hand corner privileges and more individualised, forward looking, stretching activities and learning gigs for anyone who has the heart, soul and brain for it.
  3. That digital technology is connecting people to each other, communities of learners, amazing insight and is helping them make sense of the world they want to be part of creating through their career advancement
  4. That we’re learning from past attempts at forcing people down the talent pipeline and create a more green pasture of fertile space for people to grow themselves in their way.
  5. That these highly energised people are allowed to break the mould and not simply fit in to existing models, frames and roles.  They can build their own role surely?
  6. That we measure the right things.  How much impact people have by learning; the difference they create; the legacy they leave.  I’d love to see us reward people who help others learn not just perform well themselves.

Let’s see how this one goes.  I might tweet a bit from it but am tempted to live blog…except when I’m doing “Chair” stuff of course.  Thanks CIPD for gifting me this one to chair.

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Then in the Exhibition space I will also be future gazing for a change.  Understanding the Workforce of the Future.  Now I spend a lot of time looking into the future of work and I tell you, I couldn’t answer this one.  I am hopeful that this one also reveals some insightful corporate activities are under way to make sure the roles in the near future and beyond are future proofed as we’ve not done that well in this space up until now.

I also hope there’s no overly generational stereotyping going on.  To say only Gen Y need some sort of special treatment because of their different views on work is plain wrong.   To say there are “mindsets” which may feature to a larger cross-section of people entering the workplace in this period of time is nearly good enough.  How about “a recognised shift in people’s needs and expectations about work, workplace and working ways which means we have to consider a range of options blah blah”.  It’s not about calendar cycles as much as it is colour of eyes.  As chair of this session I will set out my view from the start and see what that creates.  I don’t want to be disrespectful to my fellow practitioners just setting out my view and I know that of many others and hoping we can avoid generational hype overreaction.  Anyway Claire from Red Spider will have to contend with my anti-generationalism but I’m sure will uncover some great thinking useful to many in the room wondering how to accommodate so many different mindsets.  What a blessing diversity is.  It’d be so boring if we had “Stepford Employees”.  Instead a rich make up of people with amazing differences makes me smile.

This one is 2pm for 30 minutes – would love it to be a sell-out and hope I can get loads of questions and interaction going on this.  We’ll see.

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So that’s the day for me.

I also get to meet up with all those fabulous people I am proud to call my friends, colleagues, co-conspirators, comrades, contraveners of rules etc etc.

#CIPD15 : Inspired from afar

Posted: November 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

Can you NOT go to a conference and still learn and be inspired?  Yes is the answer in respect of #CIPD15.

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I’m normally there, soaking up the inspiration in person but having just got off a 10hour flight to Heathrow, I’ve “simply” followed the hashtag.

I say “simply” because this was the most furious CIPD hashtag I’ve ever come across in my 7 consecutive years of using social media to follow the conference.  Relentless tweeting, sharing and blogging this year – amazing thing to witness and tough for all let alone those having almost 10 years of social media use under their belts.

Despite that, what have I picked up from afar?

Before I answer that I have to give a big HT Helen Tracy, Damiana Casile, Gemma Reucroft, Ian Pettigrew, Kev Wyke, Gary Cookson, Helen Amery, Dami Alice, Claire Thomas and others.  Sterling job.

So what did I pick up from afar?

Well from the off, Peter Cheese gave us the 2016 and beyond HR playbook.  Not that I didn’t believe in these beforehand mind, so not strictly learning for me but inspired about the things that I can expect from others in my professional field based on this list:

  • People matter: treat them like they do.
  • HR should be the ones holding the ethics barometer over organisations.
  • We have to reconnect with the sciences of motivation and behaviours in people.  Make sure we know them, make sure we know how to deploy them for humane successes in business.
  • We have to stay smart with technology – it’s a channel, platform, tool but if we utilise Artificial Intelligence, data sciences and security wisely IN HARMONY with people then we’ll gain huge advantages.
  • HR’s previous playbook of rules and performance management systems haven’t delivered the right results and need dismantling, reassembling and reforming for a more agile, human way of working
  • The gig economy needs careful attention by HR professionals as it has a very different employment and performance proposition to “jobs”
  • HR has to take its professionalism and continuous learning as a paramount feature not a nice to do.

It was another powerful positioning by Peter and proves he is still the man to be around for HR’s future.  There’s that word again but Peter’s belief in that powerhouse near-future HR is compelling and a real call out of something for professionals to congregate on.


And then straight into Professor Sir Cary Cooper’s call out around mental health, well-being and yes even fun at work.

What I learned here is some staggering statistics about the costs of the lack of recognition and support and action around mental health; the dire consequences of presenteeism and the need to bring more humane ways of working including email use and impacts of poor management.

We’ve got more than enough research into stress at work than we know what to do with – 20-25000 articles, and yet this epidemic is rife.  Solutions are few and far between it would seem and some of Cary’s calls were for us to look at how we value people, provide support for their wellbeing and in the systems we design for work.  

It was clear from this there’s an economic case for looking after people but that is just one dimension to appeal to those driven by fiscal impact.  It’s the RIGHT thing to do to look after people and that includes the things around their working conditions, management approach and corporate culture that boiled down to this:

Working longer is less productive.  It’s unhealthy to work for such long hours, feel under so much pressure and work in an uncaring environment.

And then the attention turned to Sir Clive Woodward: and his philosophies on talent alone is not enough.  He talked of the remarkable success of the England Rugby team and how much responsibility, learning, mindset and most significantly data they acquired.  It was clear that this was a popular session with many tweeted soundbites but I could tell how useful the analogies were to people in business from sport.  Many are sceptical and many feel the superstar performer tag can have a damaging effect on the overall team.

Sir Clive’s philosophy appeared to be about the case of individuals talents need a lot of channelling, additives and stimulus to really help the team’s overall impact.  TCUP – Think Correctly Under Pressure.

There’s that word again pressure.  Clearly we’ve got a balance here amongst these 2 talks:  uncaring, long-hours approaches will simply exhaust people so prepare people to cope with this pressure by maximising their talent, giving them responsibility for themselves and each other and then help them understand how IT and data can help them prepare for those moments when we want to suppress cortisol in the body and let the adrenalin and oxytocin not to mention serotonin released on winning.  

Which leads me onto Tara Swart’s session on Neuroscience and Leadership.  Such nuggets as cortisol can be sweated out – and exercise clearly will also make your body fitter to help your neurology with your body not being a taxi for your brain in between meetings.

We also gain weight with excess cortisol emitted so it’s a double whammy on our poor bodies if we let too much cortisol moments happen in our lives.

7-9 hours of sleep helps cleanse our brains so the more stressed we are and the less sleep we get, the less effective we are and therefore the more stressed we may be about our poor performance.

And the thought that an agile brain is a more useful brain.  It needs focus as much as an athlete looks after their body.  Rest, recuperation, stimulus, inspiration, practice, calmness, activity and care.

Boy does my brain feel agile keeping up with a relentless barrage of tweets; a speedy production of blogs and watching the odd video.

Inspired.  Learned a lot of stuff.

Tim Scott and Andy Swann argued about 2 forms of structure – hierarchical managed and holacratic freedoms.

Neil Morrison and Matt Elliott talked about an organisation approach to create the right climates for organisations in serious transition, merger and finding its new self.

Stephanie Davies and the power of laughter.  Julian Stodd and social learning.

Ian Pettigrew has diligently put together the most amazing almanac of the posts from this outstanding day.

Thanks to those socially inclined people at one of the world’s most interesting conferences about the world of work.  Can’t wait to join you all tomorrow.

Inspired from afar: an immersing experience from day 1 of #CIPD15

The stealth revolution in work

Posted: November 4, 2015 in Uncategorized

It’s true – there’ll be no starting pistol or sudden surge into a new way for working.

So if you get jaded by all the talk of “digital this and that” “future of work this and that” I understand.  Yet save your scorn for those who aren’t bothering; and not direct it towards those caught in enthusiasm for better or even a little hipster trending indulgence.

For I believe we ARE in a stealth revolution.  Everyday I find a new company, a new practitioner hero, a new soulful consultant, a new pioneering author.  Yes there’s charlatans and snake-oil salesmen out there but we can spot those.  Yet there’s a new picture assembling every day and I understand it’ll never be complete.

We live in a world where the future is on our minds a lot.  We make plans, we build new things, we create new lines of thought and we code our way into a better thing.  That’s what the future has to be about – a hope for better.

But that DOESN’T have to be the future of 5 year or 15 year time frames.  We live in the future of the past.  Now (as in where we are right now), was at sometime in our thoughts, the future.  Everyday we have the chance to create a better future even if that means tomorrow.

So if you have a “Digital Transformation” programme, don’t roll your eyes and think “here we go again another consultant fest”.  Think “What can I do to make this work for me, my team, my organisation and ultimately my customers”.  For the revolution will not be a convulsive “Harlem Shake” rather a few steps and moves mastered at a time.

You may have a go-live date for a new piece of software but THAT won’t be your digital revolution done it will be the start of one aspect of it.  There will be no big bang, just a series of new ways, new realisations, new opportunities, new insight, new things to learn.

If there IS a revolution, it’s that we all become 100% switched on to learning with (almost) every breath.  I live in hope on that one.

This particular revolution is that we learn our way into solutions – big and small – for the problems we face.  Learn, learn, unlearn, relearn, learn some more.  Learning is the lifeblood of better.

Yes at conferences like the CIPD’s Annual Conference starting today (4th November) there will be moments where it feels like a rallying call to act.  It will an a-ha moment after a particularly well delivered case study presentation.  There may even be a new app that an HR Director says “that will revolutionise what I know about the ideas my people will have to improve how we lead them”.

They’re moments.  They’re not a revolution.  They’re a conversation in a bar before you take placards out into the streets that forces a dictator to sense the upswell of opinion against him and the realisation that something needs doing.

Having just returned from South Africa it’s a realisation I had there.  Apartheid stopped – in a constitutional sense – with that symbolic moment when full elections were held in 1994 and Nelson Mandela came to power.  Yet people’s negative attitudes to integrated living didn’t stop then.  People’s oppression to each other and anger to each other based on the colour of their skin didn’t stop then.  This particular revolution is still ongoing.

Moments make revolutions and transformation but they aren’t revolutions or a transformation.

Short term projects can create aspects of a revolution and transform but they aren’t revolutions or a total transformation in themselves.

I believe we can only past-attribute a revolution.  Even if it was an overthrowing of a dictator or damaging political regime or a toxic workplace ethos.

So talk of revolutions is understandable but not as helpful as it might seem.  They are easily dismissed by people saying “I don’t see any difference” or “where’s the numbers that proves that?”  There’s hyperbole attached to the word “revolution”.  It puts people off sometimes.  Expectations are set and then not realised immediately so it’s all dismissed as another bandwagon fad.  But it’s just not that simple.

I believe that if we talk revolution, what we mean is acts that disrupt a previous orthodoxy or premise and create a different, better, swifter, leaner, smarter whatever future.  Hopeful of a positive change, we get behind it and lend our efforts, ideas and belief.  We might feel like we’re joining a revolution.  We may even shun it thinking it’s faddist, trendy and vacuous.  And we might sneer at those in full revolution pelt – with Che Guevara t-Shirts and the likes.  “People’s Front of Tooting or whatever.  What do they know?”  And then we go and do our own revolution-inducing stuff.  We may not call it that but it’s still part of some form of revolt.  Revolting against competitors audacity, revolting against others mediocrity, revolting about the lack of knowledge people have about you as a terrific employer.

Pablo Picasso said “all creation is first an act of destruction”.  So therefore, is all better an act of revolution?

If it is I believe it’s often a stealth revolution.  No big “and tomorrow, HR/work/leadership is totally fine” kind of revolution.  We may live in hope that it will be but it will take time, small acts aggregated up.

Dave Brailsford’s now famous work with Team GB cycling may be considered a revolution.   Matthew Syed’s great work on Bounce and talent being the result of applied, repetitious application to some form of skill or mastery seen as a revolution in talent management; but they are all made up of lots and lots of little revolution-creating moments.  

We then see them all wrapped up in their case study.  And then it’s “oh my what a revolution”.  Well yeah, kind of.

So it’s all about revolution by stealth for me.  I wondered why I didn’t get disappointed by the lack of results in an “instant revolution” and now I certainly know why.

I always have hope for better.  It’s what gets me through each day with a spring, bounce and a vitality for life that has become me.

My hope translates into a fascination with the future which is why I’ve researched it, helped people realise their organisational and personal futures and why I now talk and write about it so much.

I don’t mean the future of work in some 5 year “it’ll all be like Matrix/Minority/Report/Ex-Machina”.  Heck I even use those images in slides to provoke thoughts on what we already see from these futuristic visions.

I mean the future starting tomorrow.  Or next Monday.  A hope-filled, action-oriented better.

The stealth revolution of the future.