When Spreading Good Fun and Goodwill is the sustainable competitive advantage

Red Balloon Logo on TagWhen RedBalloon opened their doors in 2001, they didn’t just want to open an online gift retail shop, they opened their doors to start a happiness revolution… [Read more...]

A Short but costly Lesson on giving too much Freedom

Landscaping - Instant TurfI must admit I got caught out recently when I thought I was doing the right thing by this young tradesman. I needed some landscaping to be completed at the front of my property and it just so happened that at the same time I was considering my options, a young man (around 25 years) happened to drop by with a business card offering to quote me on the job. He had been doing some work in the area and noticed that I had been preparing my front yard for a major facelift. He seemed knowledgeable about his craft (landscaping and concreting) and was personable enough in a rough ‘tradie’ kind of way. Once I had seen his handiwork on some previous jobs, I felt comfortable he could complete the work to an acceptable level, so I decided to give him the opportunity. So far so good… [Read more...]

First “Do No Harm… and then Do Massive Good.” The amazing story of Dr Sam Prince

Zambrero - Dr Sam PrinceDr Sam Prince is a Scottish born, Australian medical Doctor with Sri Lankan heritage running a chain of Mexican restaurants. He’s an aid worker and founder of ‘One Disease at a Time’ which is currently on a mission to eradicate scabies from our indigenous communities.  It seems that Dr Prince knows no limits.  In fact he lives by a motto his mother gave him… ‘Expand your life to the limits of your mind and expand your mind to the limits of your life.’ [Read more...]

R.O.I. + I. – Return on Investment and Integrity. The new Breed of Brands.

Southwest Airlines - Fortune's Most Admired listWhen you think of some of the world’s most admired brands, there have been precious few who have lasted the distance remaining consistently near the top of all the “best” lists for the whole of their corporate life since inception. We have witnessed many burst on to the scene from nowhere only to disappear from view within a decade or so. And quite a few have remained in the public eye as product/service innovators one year; top financial performers another; employers of choice at other times; and maybe even good corporate citizens on other occasions.

But to be recognised as consistently high achievers in the triple bottom line of Financial, Social and Environmental performance takes a special kind of company with a special kind of culture and ‘servant leadership’ who understand the true meaning of ‘stewardship’ and all that it represents. In my opinion there is one company in the USA that has remained the stand-out performer for almost all of its 42 years in an industry littered with failures, and it continues to outperform on its “R.O. Double I” to this day. And no, it is neither a hi-tech nor an IT based company. It plies its trade in a brown fields industry that has been around for decades. [Read more...]

Imagine a High School where ‘Adult Learning Environment’ is the reality not just an idea

Nossal High SchoolAnd where there is an Information Resource Centre where books are borrowed and returned on an ‘honour’ system; where there are no bells or buzzers because the students are responsible for their own time keeping; and where appreciative enquiry, team teaching and collaborative study in an open learning environment is the order of the day. If you remember those old school days between 15 and 18 years of age when you sat in dreary classrooms while the teacher stood at the front and filled you full of information that you had to commit to memory and regurgitate at appropriate times, then it’s time to consider a new form of student utopia. [Read more...]

What do you do when Reference Checks throw up two diametrically opposed assessments?

Project ManagementThis happened to a global resource company client of mine a couple of years ago. They had advertised for a senior engineer to fulfil the role of Project Manager for all of their major feasibility studies that were in the pipeline. The person they had shortlisted had all of the right experience and qualifications, and had recently been employed in a role at another company that involved major project oversight. Prior to that, this candidate had a succession of business development type roles which relied on his engineering experience and training. According to my client he seemed like the right person for the job. Certainly he seemed to ‘tick all the right boxes,’ but there was something that didn’t quite seem to gel in their due diligence and so they asked me for my assessment. It concerned the fact that the two reference checks they had undertaken were throwing up anomalies that they could not reconcile and they wanted to know why. Here is what I discovered…
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The Broken Window Theory and how Context defines Meaning and Motivation

Two Fish SwimmingTwo young fish were swimming in one direction when they happened to meet an older fish heading the other way. The older fish nods at them and says… “Morning boys. How’s the water?” The younger fish swim on for a bit and eventually one of them turns to the other and says… “What the hell is water?”  Even though this story told by award-winning novelist David Foster Wallace is all about ‘missing the obvious’ it also a salutary lesson about context and how it defines meaning. Fish are defined by their water environment. Without it they wouldn’t exist, but as the story goes, it is so pervasive in their lives that they remain blissfully unaware of it even though they exist only because of it. And so it is with people. We are who we are because of the context in which we find ourselves, and that can have a huge impact on the type of profiling assessments organisations use in recruitment, and why I believe it is wise to steer clear of ‘personality profiles.’ [Read more...]