Monday, 30 November 2015

LEGO, not just a toy.

LEGO, not just a toy.

Organisational learning can be awe inspiring. A dynamic process involving many steps, not yielding immediate results but can ultimately result in success or failure for an organisation. Take LEGO, a well-known and loved brand in many of our homes. In 2003 this company, which only 3 years earlier had been crowned toy of the century by the British Toy Retailers Association was on the brink of bankruptcy.

From the beginning the founder, Ole Kirk Christiansen demonstrated his commitment to high quality with a core product line, strong organisational culture and his drive for innovation all underlined by a mission to create unique play experiences for children. This strategy served the company well for many years but in the 90’s childrens ‘playing’ began to change with advances in technology.

To counter this LEGO embraced a strategy of innovation, ploughing through idea after idea. World class designers were engaged to create new products and break the mould on design. LEGO began to operate in its own bubble. Disconnected from consumers outside, and inside designers operated independently with little accountability for cost and external designers were far removed from the LEGO culture. No feedback loops were in place to learn what was working and what was not.

A true learning organisation reacts to failure by learning from mistakes. LEGO knew it had to turn things around and this required analysis of what went wrong. The CEO Knudstorp rather than immediately create a new growth strategy analysed all parts of the innovation process. It was this positive approach to failure that allowed LEGO to return to its core values and high quality product we know today. Cutting its workforce, redefining its product line and engaging with customers both online and in person, even involving customers in product development allowed LEGO to begin to redirect its future.

The Lego story holds a valuable lesson for all of us, passion is the driver and reflective practice guides the building of foundations to support a strategy for success. There can be no better metaphor for the rebuilding of LEGO than the brick itself, described as ‘a universal building block for catalysing creativity’ (Brick by Brick:2003). Find the passion, reflection, back to basics and rebuild your foundations one brick at a time facilitating organisational learning from mistakes made.


Saturday, 21 November 2015

The Learning Organisation

Industrialisation brought order, increased efficiency and better value on investment for the commercial sector. We produced goods quicker and in a structured routine.  Everyone knew their role and it just worked. In this technological age we find ourselves we have to reinvent the wheel or at least look at it from a different perspective. We have become so good at getting things done, we have made the world such a competitive environment that in order for organisations to succeed they have to compete in a different way, hence the learning organisation is born.

Some might consider developing a learning organisation or allocating any funds or time to it as a waste of money, idealistic, utopian even in objective but maybe there is no choice if you are to compete in this world of technology and data that we work in?

In the coming weeks I want to examine all the areas surrounding a learning organisation. Before we do that we better include a little bit of theory to get us started;

Peter Senge, a Senior Lecturer at MIT popularised the concept of the Learning Organisation and in his book ‘The Fifth Discipline’ he identified 5 different areas to examine: Systems thinking, Personal Mastery, Mental Models, Shared Vision, and Team Learning.

Peter Senge defined organisational learning as: (Senge, 1990:3)

organizations where people continually expand their capacity to create the results they truly desire, where new and expansive patterns of thinking are nurtured, where collective aspiration is set free, and where people are continually learning to see the whole together.
Senge said that while all people have the capacity to learn, often the structure that surrounds them can prevent this.

Without delving too much into the theory at this point it is important to point out that in a learning organisation the system as a whole has to be working together, employees need to feel confident in what they are doing, they need to have time to consider why they think the way they do about things and all work together as a team. Sounds ideal but it can be achieved.

While working at Johnson and Johnson in their World Headquarters despite being in an administrative role I found that I quite easily felt part of something bigger than just myself. We were informed regularly of what the company was doing, we were connected with other areas of business, we know what work was being done around the world in Corporate social responsibility, we knew what impact we were having in peoples’ lives. We all played a part in that.

How leadership view their employees is critical. If they are seen as merely agents to get a job done then true learning cannot happen but if you view them as contributors to the organisation and its future than collaborative learning can take place and build something new, something often intangible but can be created into something sustainable for future growth.  

In future posts I will look at some practical applications of the learning organisation. 

Tuesday, 29 September 2015

Failure As A Learning Tool


We try not to fail. In school we are encouraged to get everything right. Yet, as humans we know we are not perfect, we know we don’t know it all so then how do we learn? Is it not through mistakes? Matthew Syed’s book ‘Black Box Thinking’ points to the airline industry as one which has learnt from failure the hard way. It is through the many crashes and loss of life that the airline industry has been able to analyse what went wrong and to learn from this. Pilots today not only benefit from improvements in technology but also better systems that support them.

In an organisational setting a learning and development strategy must include opportunities to reflect. Stories should be shared of what went wrong. Best practices can be developed this way and future mistakes avoided. We are fortunate in this day and age of technology that we have access to so much data. Use should be made of it to redefine processes, reinvent perceptions and recreate outcomes.


Thursday, 13 August 2015

How to create a culture of learning.
You might hear a lot of talk about learning and development and a learning culture. You might know in the back of your mind it is seen as a competitive advantage and can be a brand ambassador for attracting great talent. But you are really busy running your business every day and don’t really have the time to sit down and figure out what to do.

Well here’s the thing. It doesn’t have to be just one thing, it doesn’t have to be a big change management initiative or require countless meetings, strategies and plans. It can be a paradigm shift. Most likely your employees are following your lead. Your leadership style dictates the culture. So start there. Allow yourself to listen, to be open to learning new things, new ways of doing things and then communicate your learning experience. Allow your employees the time to do this also. A paradigm shift won’t just happen overnight, it is a slow transformative process. Our mental models or ways of viewing things directly affect our behaviour and this is a very gradual process. It might be taking the time to share a story, sharing a picture amongst staff of a success story, maybe a happy client. It might be inviting a client in to meet with staff so they can understand the direct impact of their work or encourage employees to find a mentor.

In this article the author explains how you can reach an ‘Aha moment’ achieving a paradigm shift, viewing things differently. He describes how by working with a mentor for five years he was able to achieve this moment.


So many small ways you can create a learning culture in your business. Start day and believe in the difference. 

Thursday, 23 July 2015

Hand's on Learning


Learning has become a huge part of any HR strategy. It is generally acknowledged and accepted that in order for your organization to succeed you must invest in your staff. It improves productivity, employee engagement, and just general happiness. Most employees will want to keep learning and growing and feeling more confident in the job.

Learning can take place from videos, classrooms, courses, speakers etc. but nothing beats actual hands on learning.  Back in Montessori pre-school everything is taught hands on to engage all of the senses. The same can be said in organizational learning. Give an employee a project to do as part of a learning program, allow them to utilize all their skills and knowledge but rather than feeling pressurized when performing a new task it can be a collaborative environment where employees learn as they go. Yes mistakes will be made but the overall goal is learning from them. When you learn by doing there is a concrete goal to reach, if it’s not reached consider why not and how to get there. The learning process can be fluid and flexible.

When considering implementing new courses of action rather than breaking it up into short projects divide it into learning sections where at various break points examine what new skills/processes etc. have been learned. Re-inforce those and share amongst the organization for a total learning environment.

Culture as part of organizational strategy

There is no right or wrong organizational culture. Your culture embodies company values and the way things are done within the organization. Whatever the culture, it must be in alignment with strategic goals. When considering the culture look at:

1.       How are employees communicated with?
2.       The onboarding process covering all areas of recruitment, hiring and training.
3.       Do HR benefits accurately represent the culture you are trying to convey?
4.       Are employees seen as key stakeholders?


A company’s culture can be a competitive advantage or disadvantage depending on how it is handled. A culture in alignment with overall organizational goals can present a strong employer brand and attract top talent. By engaging your workforce and fostering their talent you can empower the collective spirit of the organization. 

Monday, 29 June 2015

Value your Human Resources

A recent article in Harvard Business Review proposes that the role of Chief Human Resources Officer should be elevated in line with a CFO and CEO and more focus placed on the value of its workforce. ‘Businesses don’t create value, people do’ (HBR Jul/Aug 2015). Human Resources is often seen as an administrative function rather than strategically important to growth of a business.

How does this translate to a small business where the HR function is often combined with the CEO role (along with many other roles). Firstly, it pushes you to consider your workforce in a strategic manner.  Look at the potential of employees and what they can add to the business rather than expecting employees to fit into a certain role. People want more than just a job in life, they want to feel inspired and part of something bigger. Viewing your human capital as a strategic element in your business model allows them to be part of that.


The article suggests that people should be paid what they contribute to the company. The finance and hr functions should work together to decide what is the value of the job and examine what the person filling it is adding to it. If your business needs to change in some aspect or is perhaps adding a new product or service then the finance element will have strategic goals and targets to reach but a business owner should look at each job in the business and break it down to set targets and timelines for the employee to achieve their own changes. Involve your employees in the process, ensure there is a good employee fit and you will achieve buy in much faster than without. 

Sunday, 3 May 2015

Mobile Working

Mobile working can keep us balanced. Work becomes something we do rather than a place we go. We are always ‘on’ anyway constantly checking our devices so work become intertwined with our personal lives rather than a starting and stopping point. By eliminating or reducing commuting times we can replace some of that time with our families giving us better work life balance but we can also give back to our company. Studies have shown in fact that we end up working more hours not less when given this flexibility. Ask any business owner and you will find they never shut off.  Flexible working can also reduce stress as we can keep on top of work while we need to be out of the office rather than having to catch up.

Consumers also expect businesses to provide service during the traditional non-working hours and in providing flexible work solutions this can be done more easily. Take a look at the job board for any tech company and you will find remote working as standard and traditional job hours are not even mentioned. Holiday time becomes vague, take the time you need is a common benefit offered.
Mobile working can also help employees become more creative. Distractions in the workplace and office politics can often stifle creativity and the focus becomes more on what is going on in the office rather than the job in hand.


As an employee this freedom needs to be self-managed, be mindful to have technology free times, be sure to take the time that you do need to recharge, spend time with family and ensure you can give your very best when you are turned back on. Not everyone is cut out for this working style, some need the structure and discipline of the traditional working environment. Know yourself and know your employees to decipher the best fit. 

Sunday, 26 April 2015

Performance Appraisal

How do you assess your employee’s performance in a small business? Traditional performance reviews or 360’s can seem very formal, almost artificial and influenced by perception particularly in a small business where you interact with your employees daily. Having some form of performance review system can however be helpful as a way to open the lines of communication and may highlight issues that need to be discussed but might not necessarily be as positive as they were once seen.

Many companies are transforming the way it carries out its’ reviews. Deloitte found that rather than focussing on what management thought of employees, it should focus more on skill sets, achievements and future possibilities. It is an interesting idea. I am always in favour of focussing on the positive rather than things not done or targets not met. I would be supportive and encouraging of the idea of looking at what skill sets your employees do have and what they can do to maximise their contribution to the company.

An employer posed me the question, how do ensure a new hire understands the company philosophy and ways of doing things and fits in? I suggest turning that on its head and looking at what the employee can bring to the company. The employee has been hired because of their education and/or experience and so assuming they are qualified to do the job then take it one step further to let them grow and be supportive of their skills and nurturing of their talent. Help your employee identify what they excel at and how that can best help the company. Deloitte believes its new system of reviewing performance allow them to spend more time ‘helping our people use their strengths’ (HBR April 2015).

Deloitte also found that annual reviews were not in line with the pace that business moves today. They now do quarterly or end of project reviews that focus on ‘future based statements’. The review has four such statements and it was decided the employee’s direct team lead is the best person to rate the statements. Each statement is rated on a five point scale. Prior to developing its new performance review system Deloitte was spending 2 million hours in meetings concerning reviews, it now uses that time on its employees rather than the system.

For you the small business owner, on a practical level an effective performance management system will:

Ø  Highlight poor performance
Ø  Reward good performance
Ø  Focus on strengths
Ø  Create training opportunities
Ø  Provide data for promotion or pay rise discussions
Ø  Improve performance


When designing the system focus on creating key statements relevant to your business on which you can rate an employees success in those areas or more importantly potential future successes. It is in directing attention to what can be achieved which will allow you and your employees to move forward and embrace all that your business can be.

Sunday, 15 March 2015

Global Community
I was at a talk last week and the topic was culture, its definition and how it applies in a variety of organisations and industries. One speaker defined it as the values of your organisation, another said it was each and every decision that you make and another said it is how you and others act. Professor Geert Hofstede says ‘ Organisational Culture can be defined as "the collective programming of the mind that distinguishes the members of one organisation from others."

However you define it, this post is focussed on how you communicate it within your organisation. In this piece my focus is to look at how culture influences community and in particular in globally dispersed teams.

What is our traditional understanding of community? It is a town or village where a group of people live or a commanility that develops from joining something such as parents of school children, a church group etc. Where I live and for many of us around the world this understanding of community has changed over the years as we added diversity to our countries. However, the main elements that make up community remain the same.

·         Feeling of belonging
·         Similar aspects of background
·         Common purpose and goals
·         Developing trust and respect
·         Make friendships
·         Support

A lot of these elements grow organically from face to face meetings. So how then in a globally dispersed organisation do you build a sense of community. Here are some of the areas to consider;

Belonging
Employees should be inducted into the organisation as if they were physically present. They need to know what the organisation is all about, what is at the core of the business. I spoke in another posting about storytelling in organisations and stories are a great way to share this sense of belonging. Employees themselves can share stories and learning experiences and can mentor new employees. Celebrate similar events around the same time simultaneously such as fun Friday and share the stories of the event.

Similar Backgrounds
While diversity keeps life interesting it can be very comforting to meet someone of similar backgrounds as ourselves. Providing a forum for employees to ‘chat’ to someone of the same background can be very beneficial to building that feeling of belonging.

Common Purpose and Goals
The bestselling author Daniel Pink says there are three things we all look for; (1) Purpose (2) Mastery and (3) Autonomy. If we are allowed to do our job and learn new skills we can check off number two and three but purpose can be a little harder to figure out. Community can do a great service to providing us with a purpose, we can feel we are part of something bigger than just ourselves. Our short term achievements which can leave us satisfied but only briefly are towards a longer goal and bigger purpose. A reciprocal benefit is gained by the Community itself which is fuelled by this common purpose, they feed off each other.

Friendships
One of the speakers at the conference I attended was from a manufacturing background and she spoke of their contingent workforce management policy which was to include all employees both contract and permanent in corporate events. In a globally dispersed team where there is little in person time this has to be managed a bit more. Leaders within an organisation should be very familiar with their team. We make friendships with people we have things in common with. It would be important to link people up, perhaps having an employee page for each employee where they get to share their life, interests, hobbies. Creating community among dispersed teams can be much more challenging than when physically present and if friendship and cordial communication happens outside of actual work it can help red flag if there are any issues that might be creeping in which you might not be aware of.

Communication
Technology has transformed how and when we communicate. It has facilitated building community in dispersed teams. Corporate intranet can house areas where top management can share what is happening within the company, employees can give updates on what they are working on, management can give feedback. All can be done in short periods of time. Employee pages as mentioned above can be stored here, similar to a facebook model where employees can connect.

Corporate Social Responsibility
Following on from our desire to be part of something bigger than ourselves, to have a common purpose we also need to work together on projects to have shared experiences. Having a Corporate Social Responsibility programme as part of your communications strategy would allow employees with similar interests across the world to join together and work on a project. A team could be developed, goals set and employees will work together and then sharing their achievements with the wider community provides a positive culture for all.

Summary of Ideas to build Community in a Globally Dispersed Team
1.       Induction for new employees - history
2.       Storytelling – purpose and value
3.       Mentoring programmes – learning and sharing
4.       Corporate Social Responsibility – shared experiences
5.       Intranet - communication

To make it work will require effort, time, structure and resources but a community within an organisation can create a positive work culture and the benefits of that, well that deserves a post all by itself. 

Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Corporate Social Responsibility for Small Business

What is it?
Corporate Social Responsibility is the continuing commitment by business to behave ethically and contribute to economic development while improving the quality of life of the workforce and their families as well as of the local community and society at large. (The World Business Council for Sustainable Development, Making Good Business Sense by Lord Holme and Richard Watts.)

Corporate Social Responsibility (CSR) has also been defined as corporate citizenship or ways a company uses to promote positive social and environmental change. Mallen Baker takes it even further to say CSR is ‘about how companies manage the business processes to produce an overall positive impact on society’.

I like these quotes because they break CSR down into manageable components. Larger organizations can have whole departments dedicated to this area but in a smaller business it has to become an integrated function and tick a lot of boxes. Before a business decides to take steps to integrate CSR into their business they must answer some initial questions such as;
1.       What policies and procedures do you already have in place that can be seen as socially responsible?
2.       How does your culture meets your employee’s needs?
3.       What are the needs of your local community?
4.       What processes can be improved to integrate CSR?
5.       What larger scale projects are in line with your corporate strategy but will also bring positive results?

Why do it?
Larger corporations have embraced CSR for many years but smaller businesses have been slower to do so. Many small businesses feel it costs a lot of money and in fact that doesn’t have to be the case. According to Chambers Ireland 99% of business in Ireland is small to medium businesses and they employ 70% of the population. That’s an exciting figure as there is still a huge amount of growth potential in the area of CSR in Ireland. Jill Poet of Organisation for Responsible Business says that 45% of small businesses don’t know what CSR is.
Edelman Ireland found that 80% of consumers prefer to buy from companies they trust. Joe Carmody Managing Director of Edelman Ireland says ‘to build trust you must have a level of transparency and accountability’. He says ‘people also trust businesses when they see them reinvesting in their community and when they see them taking solid ethical positions’. When companies are active in their community they are also more accessible to potential customers. So from an external communications perspective it seems a solid argument but it’s also as persuasive from an internal communications stand point.
Corporate Social Responsibility humanizes organizations. It can reflect their personal story. Employees will also develop the same level of trust with the above mentioned transparency and accountability. When employee’s needs are being met retention rates will improve, recruitment costs should go down as you develop a positive employer brand.

How to do it?
Often times CSR can happen organically. An employee may come to management with an idea to get involved in something or perhaps there is an event in the community. A situation arises in the organisation that causes a change in the way things are done. Businesses become socially responsible without actually planning it. However, the time comes when it makes sense for something that you are putting resources into to become more structured, quantifiable, evaluated and measured. It’s nice to do but it should meet strategic goals also.
Here are some suggested steps to get started:
1.       Research what is currently done in your organisation that falls under CSR guidelines
2.       Engage employees in setting goals and objectives. Employees will be more passionate about projects they have helped create.
3.       Have a structure and decide how you will assess impact and success.
4.       Resources – it’s important to be realistic when setting a CSR goal. Look at the time, finances and people available. It’s ok to start small and the project can develop from there.
5.       Where to start will depend on the situation. A project may have been presented to you or you may feel it is needed in the local community where the organization is situated.
6.       Who – is this going to be company wide? Are you going to give staff time off to volunteer? Who will coordinate the projects?
7.       Stakeholders – list everyone applicable to your organisation to ascertain who will get helped with the various projects
8.       Decide how to quantify and assess the success of projects.
9.       Communicate – both internally and externally to maximise value

Evaluating Success
If CSR starts internally then that is where it should start to be assessed. Lots of research and data support the belief that if you facilitate employees in meeting their inner needs they will be happier as employees. Dr. Bob Deutsch, author, says that in using your in born resources you can create a fulfilling life. Businesses through little or no increased cost can do this. Informal and formal feedback from employees can ascertain the impact of the CSR programme. When recruiting employees they can be questioned as to the effect the perception of the employer brand influenced their decision to apply. Employee satisfaction levels can be measured. For many regulated industries there is an onus and responsibility to ensure compliance and certain standards will need to be met. These benchmarks can be clearer to assess.  Software technologies have been developed to allow businesses to input key figures, develop key performance indicators and then provide metric feedback based on these figures.

These tools can be very helpful but it is also essential to realise that overall CSR success can take time and is a longer term strategic investment in your business. Let your Corporate Social Responsibility programme inspire you and bring benefits to your business as well as the advantages it generates outside the organisation. Have fun!

Wednesday, 4 March 2015

What's Your Story?


“A big part of a CEO’s job is to motivate people to reach certain goals. To do that, he or she must engage their emotions, and the key to their hearts is story.” 
— Robert McKee, Harvard Business Review, June 2003

Storytelling has been around in countries such as Ireland for more than 2000 years. These stories were witty and inventive but their real attraction was they engaged their audience and struck a cord. They met the need for fun, romance, laughter and tears. This art form lives on today not only in our personal lives but in business too.

 Storytelling is often used by marketers to engage consumers and influence buyers. It is effective because companies know consumers lead busy lives and with busy minds have limited capacity to take in additional information. Robert McKee a scriptwriting teacher says you can gain a competitive edge by having a compelling narrative for your brand. Think of some of the most successful companies that we know and what are their stories? The Lego Corporation takes its narrative very seriously. Ole Kirk Christiansen, a master carpenter who founded LEGO in Billund, Denmark in 1932 instilled the company’s value which was for children to ‘play well’. He made high quality wooden toys and the goal was for children to have the very best toys. This philosophy of high quality guided the company for almost a century. Even now every new employee gets a tour of the small brick building where Ole Kirk and his family once lived. They learn of the hardships he endured to keep the company going. They learn another principle which is the bedrock of the company that of only the highest of quality will be acceptable.

Robert McKee says treat the customer to a pleasure filled story and then let word of mouth do the marketing. He says stories ‘capture hearts as well as minds’. Consumers want to be cast in this story, it needs to make sense to them as well as making them feel good. Traditional persuasive marketing as he calls it is no longer the way to go he says. Having a narrative not only engages your customer and hopefully garners a reaction in purchase but can help relationship building to ensure further business. Joe Carmody, Managing Director of Edelman Ireland says that ‘businesses that enjoy public trust are more successful than their distrusted rivals’.

 Translating this story into your internal organization can be even more important to engage all employees in the Corporate Vision. Knowing the company story helps employees to feel a shared sense of purpose and part of something bigger. Maureen Gaffney in her book Flourishing says that our minds are built for achieving goals. In order to have that feeling of satisfaction from achieving goals we need as employees to know where we are going. Stories can help employees to see leadership as authentic and trustworthy. It can very importantly help guide decision and policy making. Storytelling can plain and simply make us happier and more productive employees. Harrison Monarth in Harvard Business Review says storytelling evokes a strong neurological response. He cites Neuroeconomist Paul Zak‘s research which indicates that our brains produce the stress hormone cortisol during the tense moments in a story, which allows us to focus, while the happier moments releases oxytocin, the feel-good chemical that promotes connection and empathy. Other neurological research tells us that a happy ending to a story triggers the limbic system, our brain’s reward center, to release dopamine which makes us feel more hopeful and optimistic.

At Inside Strategies our focus is on taking these theories and narratives and turning them into practical business strategies for your business. Here are some ways to do that:
1.       Hiring the right employees – tell your prospective new hire your ‘story’ to get their reaction. Ensure you include the vision and future in the story. Note which parts they are attracted to, which parts they comment on etc. This will tell you a lot about the person.
2.       Induction and training – further your story during the induction and training process and in regular training for current employees. Using a story with anecdotes and analagies can be a great way to do it. Anthony Tjan of Harvard Business Review says ‘what are the messages that we remember? They are the ones where the message was humanized’. Tjan says ‘Heart, guts, and the ability to connect are critical in the early stages of company creation and beyond. Leaders can communicate to their employees why they came up with their idea, how it came about, the hardships in getting there and where the company can go.
3.       Interest – in training, stories can make information much more interesting and keep the listener engaged and attentive.
4.       Structure  - stories are structured. They have a beginning, a middle and an end. They have a plot, characters, a climax and a resolution. Projects within an organization can be structured based on the format of a story.
5.       Decision making and policies – stories can guide employees in decision making. For example in organizations such as lego where quality and enhancing the play experience for children was the ‘story’ this allowed leadership to take the organization out of its slump in the early 2000’s and go back to basics and rather than letting the market decide they focused on what the consumers wanted and built high quality products around this. Most leaders probably don’t even realise they are doing what they are doing but they are in fact living the story without realising it.
6.       Authenticity – As Tjan points out above a story humanizes the leadership. In agreement with Paul Zak’s research stories reach us in a place that facts and figures can’t.
7.       Dream – a story that evokes optimism in employees invites them to dream of the future and what can be achieved. Steve Jobs presentations were always good because he ended with an idea or vision, something for the future he made the audience want to be a part of it.
8.       Diversity – Organizations embrace diversity and employees from different backgrounds but it can be very helpful to share personal stories to further connect people.

9.       Positivity – As Paul Zak’s study on oxytocin demonstrated a story with a happy resolution can release oxytocin and create a feeling of happiness in employees. 

Monday, 23 February 2015

Keep your attention to be happy

Being happy should be at the centre of all we do both personally and in work. If we are happy it shows. Studies have shown people can tell when you are faking it. Some days it comes easy, other days it doesn’t and we could all use some helpful strategies to give us the extra push on those harder days.


Maureen Gaffney in her book ‘Flourishing’ describes a ‘psychological currency of the day’. We all only have so much attention. If you are spending a lot of time making difficult decisions that can be very taxing and use up a lot of your ‘psychological currency’ you can become burnt out. This is particularly true in our personal life when we have big decisions to make. If you want your employees to be at the top of their game, you want them to be experts at what they do. Gaffney describes three forms of attention. Alerting Attention keeps us mentally open to take in around us, Orienting Attention facilitates us to know what to direct our attention to and executive attention is where we plan, make decisions and get things done. When all three are in alignment we are at the top of our game. If we are mentally burnt out they won’t be.


Concentration, making decisions, using self-control all deplete our energy resources. Take a look at your day and see if you are overburdened in these areas. We all need elements of our work to be on automatic pilot where it takes little conscious effort for us to operate. 

Monday, 5 January 2015

Keeping Positive

Being a business owner there is no one there to pat you on the back and say job well done. Occasionally a nice customer will give you positive feedback or you might have a feel good moment with staff but there will be no 365 review telling you what a great job you are doing and how much your bonus will be. It’s all up to you. Some days that is harder than others. There is the constant responsibility of keeping not only customers but staff happy.

We make all the mistakes, we make assumptions, we take things personally, we are not mindfully in the moment. In other words, we are human!

Today in the first full working week of the new year, give yourself a break and start afresh. Start right now, this moment. Be strict with yourself have a code of conduct as to how you must act each and every moment in order to be in control of your life and the satisfaction you achieve from it.


In ‘The Four Agreements’ Don Miguel Ruiz outlines the four agreements needed to relieve ourselves of much stress and ‘self-limiting beliefs’. The first is to be impeccable with your word. If you do this you can feel confident that you have done truly your best. Second and third are very much linked; don’t take anything personally and don’t make assumptions. When you are not being mindful you are not truly in the moment, you are reading into things and interpreting them and all that noise is influencing how you feel and act. The final one is to always do your best. If we can end each day knowing we followed these four agreements then there is no more we can do. All anyone can do is their best. So go on, do your best and give yourself a pat on the back!