15 years ago I made nature my boss: Here’s what she taught me about running companies

The way a company is run depends mainly on the goal. There’s lots of guidance like ‘9 types of organisational structure every company should consider’, but most company designs start out ad hoc. It’s not until something significant changes that people start to focus on what they’ve created, as this excellent article from MindTools explains. Since people tend to feel safer with the clarity of command and control, it’s by far the most common strategy, but it has its pitfalls. Elevating responsibility concentrates risk, and those who shoulder that burden are likely to demand more, and to spend more as they seek to justify, protect or force their positions. The irony is that the feeling of control is often far greater than the reality. Nature does things differently. In 2005, I played a key role in creating The Association of Sustainability Practitioners. Since the goal was to promote sustainable behaviour, I had a hunch the organisation...
Collaborative Advantage 2 - Blog

Collaborative Advantage

Earlier this year I felt very pleased with myself for having come up with the phrase' Collaborative Advantage'.  The phrase came to me in the context of conversations about competitive advantage, which I argued was only part of the story, and the weaker part at that.  My theme was (and is) that the most successfully competitive people are not the egoists, but the magnanimous. I mentioned the idea to several people over the course of about 10 days, developing the idea as I warmed to my theme, thinking myself really rather clever. Deciding I should write something about Collaborative Advantage, I sat at this machine and googled the phrase, just in case somebody had thought of it before. Of course they had!  Twelve years ago, Elizabeth Lank wrote 'Collaborative Advantage - how organisations win together by working together' which is pretty good but doesn't acknowledge Jeffrey Dyer's 'Collaborative Advantage - winning through extended supplier networks' published in 2000. ...

The Achilles Heel of Strong Leadership

Strong leadership is generally seen as a good thing, presented with the unspoken assumption that the alternative is weak. But this assumption contains a devastating flaw.  The Achilles heel of ‘strong leadership’, is that it’s very easy to cross the fine line from intelligence to belligerence. The top brass of the First World War were undoubtedly ‘strong’ – sending millions Over The Top to pointlessly certain death. They may seem like dinosaurs from another era, derided for their myopia, but their attitude was the same as ‘The Lady’s not for turning’ mantra that inspires so many Thatcher fans in business and in politics today. Unflinchingly ‘strong’ leadership though, requires the courage to acknowledge when things are going wrong. Unless our strong leaders have a ‘U turn policy’, their fear of being seen to be weak can overpower their intelligence. My U turn policy would look like this: ‘If new evidence comes to light,...
Challenge - Blog

What’s YOUR Challenge?

Got a vision you want to achieve collaboratively? Inclusive leadership is incredibly rewarding, but it's easy to get it wrong. People often assume there's a straight trade-off between efficiency (or speed) and inclusivity, because it takes more time to sift through ideas, prioritise, agree actions and decide how to see them through.  It's certainly true we all get tangled up in problem solving from time to time, and the potential for getting truly tied up in knots goes up dramatically when more than a few people are involved. When things get more complex, they tend to get a LOT more complicated very fast. Each team member will have their own thinking preferences, and organisational culture/leadersip style will also the number of factors you're trying to take into account - the culture layers of it's also the variety of thinking preferences and in every team. Things get messy, stuck or even break down completely unless there...