People Are Our Greatest Cost – Honest Banker Shock!

You know when you hear a Chief Exec say,

“People are our greatest…”

and you are thinking yeah, yeah I know – ‘ASSET’.

Except on the Today programme I heard the CEO of RBS (rumoured to be looking at 20000 redundancies) say,

‘People are our greatest cost’.

Cognitive Dissonance or what!

Life is complicated though.  Most of us are BOTH great assets and great costs in weird and dynamic combinations.

Outstanding managers have systematic and effective processes (121s, feedback, coaching, delegation etc) for developing both the asset part of the equation AND the cost.  Yes, outstanding managers do want good people to cost more, and more, and more – because they recognise that what matters is the value that they create – not how much they cost.

How are you doing with your systematic and effective processes for asset development?

Management Lessons from Frazer Irving

Had the privilege of attending my first Creative Networks event at Leeds College of Art.  Frazer Irving – a wonderful illustrator talked about his career – from which I took the following:

  1. the seeds of your future are often sown early
  2. just because it sells does not mean it is good – heroin is not better than tofu – even if it does shift more units
  3. provoke, invoke, evoke
  4. 5 years of crappy jobs and being on the dole – being on the dole were the ‘happy days’
  5. ideas burning on the inside
  6. managers/editors can leave you with tears streaming down your face and your soul ripped out and thrown on the floor
  7. the bad times provide the fuel and drive to allow the good
  8. an incessant streak of optimism helps – on being rejected by judges in a portrait competition Frazer chose to believe it was because he wasn’t important – although it might have been because I wasn’t very good
  9. it takes a lot of time, training, passion and life experience to really master your subject
  10. great technology combined with great passion and skills produce remarkable, beautiful and important results
  11. sometimes you need someone to say ‘chin up – you will be alright’
  12. sometimes when your art is ripped off it gets you great new gigs – life-changing breaks…
  13. be a slave to the muse – let the story dictate the style
  14. it is really about finding out who you are and what you can become
  15. treat me as a ‘pencil monkey’ and you will get mediocrity
  16. in the comic world a lot of bad product is there because of poor management – comics and every other industry on the planet – management is perfectly evolved to get the results it gets
  17. if it is bad it is (nearly always) because the managers/editors have put the wrong people on the job
  18. if you have recruited the wrong people then forcing them to compromise WILL lead to mediocrity
  19. recruit great talent carefully and then trust it do deliver on its own terms – not yours
  20. when your hobby becomes your job – you get another hobby
  21. musicians jam and sometimes the results are great – what is the jamming equivalent for you?
  22. be careful about your reputation – one person saying you migh tnot hit a deadline in a public forum can be a killer
  23. sometimes it is best not to claim the credit for all your ideas
  24. it really is full of ups and downs – but you come out of the downs with even more resources – psychological and technical if not financial

This was a great networking event – convival atmosphere – great facilities – good food – great speakers and good managment.

If only all networking opportunities were this good!

Twitter and the Progressive Manager

Why should progressive managers engage with twitter?

Well this post and video pretty quickly summed it up for me.

http://tinyurl.com/b4enb5

Early days for me using twitter – but so far it looks promising!

I am going to twittering some management tips and twitter about community based enterprise and how to develop it!

Any of you twittering?  What works and what doesn’t?

If you want to you can follow my twitters at:

http://twitter.com/mikechitty

The Joy Of HP Technical Support

Why do so many IT companies get the basics of customer service wrong?

I have been buying HP gear for a long time.  I have always found it to be expensive (well not cheap) but reliable and robust.

Recently an HP desktop PC refused to start up.  I rang technical support as the machine was still under warranty.  I had to pay for the privilege.

They told me that the warranty had lapsed – even though I had bought the machine less than a year ago.  They explained that they look at date of manufacture not date of purchase, but if I faxed them prove of purchase they would honour the warranty.

You try finding a fax machine when you need one!

They then accepted my warranty claim and sent me a series of troubleshooting things to try:

– unplug the power cable

– open the access panel

– Clearing the CMOS (Remove the silver colored CMOS Battery for 10 seconds and reseat the battery or hold the yellow button next to the memory modules for 10 seconds)

– Without connecting the power cable press and hold the power button for 10 seconds

– Power on the system and check if it boots to bios by pressing F10 on startup

Did all that and got no joy so rang them again.  I received the following e-mail:

Disconnect HDD and OPTICAL Drives

Strip the system to PSU, System Board, Memory and Processor

Remove the Memory and check for Beep Codes (Note the no. of beeps)

Reseat / Swap Memory / Try 1 Memory Module at a time Reseat Processor

Reseat Power Connector on the System Board

Now excuse me – but I am a businessman who bought an HP PC to run a business (perhaps this was my first mistake?).  I am not a PC engineer.

I don’t know how to do the things they have asked me to do.

I don’t have time to do the things they have asked me to do.

I just want to run my business.

Am I being unreasonable in asking them to repair my machine?

The thing that finally hacked me off was this:
In case we dont hear from you in next two days, we will conclude that you are not having any further issues with that system, and will close the case.

UNBELIEVABLE!

If they don’t hear from me they will assume that all is well!

Any suggestions about what I should do next?

Could 121s be good for you too?

The modern world of virtual social networking and relationship through e-mail could be bad for your health.  And more face to face communication could be the antidote – according to Dr Aric Sigman writing in Biologist, the journal of the Institute of Biology.

According to Dr Sigman we have NEVER spent less time in face to face commuication with other people, and this has a number of profound and dmaging consequences for our health.

Evidence suggests that a lack of face-to-face communication could alter the way genes work, upset immune responses, hormone levels, the function of arteries, and influence mental performance.

This could increase the risk of health problems as serious as cancer, strokes, heart disease, and dementia.

121s – good for you – good for your organisation!

The Advantage of Social Enterprise

Rob Greenland over at The Social Business has written a piece about how the ‘table’ that social enterprise has fought so hard to get a place at has collapsed.  I am assuming Rob means the table where policy is thrashed out and funds are allocated.

The high political table.

The table of the bureaucrats and the planners.

Rob’s analysis is that this table has collapsed.  They have no cash to spend since the bankers have grabbed it all.  So “What is a social entrepreneur meant to do now?” Rob asks.

Well I think the collapse of this table could be just the tonic that the social enterprise sector needs.

The sectors’ advantage is not in being a cheaper route to market for bureaucrats  – implementing their policies and plans (although this may be a legitimate benefit it CAN offer).  Its’ advantage lies in the ability of social entrepreneurs to tell stories of social change, social injustice and progress. In being able to attract, retain and develop talented and committed people who share in the vision and have the potential to manifest it.  In harnessing the potential of those affected by injustice and using it to drive progress.

So instead of trying to manoeuvre to catch the crumbs from the top table perhaps the sector should focus on sharpening vision, improving stories, and building a movement that people will want to join and work in because of its autonomy, independence and creativity; its ability to provide fulfillment and a decent wage – not because of the funding streams that it can secure (along with KPIs, evaluation frameworks and other game playing  inducements attendant with the mainstream).

When we are sat at the top table we have our backs to the real social enterprise marketplace.

Of course the sector needs to maintain good relationships with the ‘top table’.  It needs to influence, lobby, advise and occasionally disrupt.  If it can secure investment on its terms than so much the better.  But it needs to ensure that the money and power available does not corrupt – as it so often has.  That the pull of the cash does not lure us away from core purpose and beliefs.  That it does not allow us to kid ourselves that the latest funding stream to ‘do things to people’ might just work – this time – if we can only get our hands on the cash.  The social enteprise sector has to have the guts to be uncompromising on vision, values and beliefs.  It has to maintain integrity.

This requires the sector to develop an entreprenurial management and leadership culture.  A progressive mindset.  Progressive management.  Not Political.

The social entrepreneur needs to be comfortable and competent at managing and leading through vision, values, social goals and objectives and then relying on creativity and innovation to secure sustainable investments.  They must be obsessed with the social change they are trying to deliver and the recruitment and retention of a tribe of professionals and volunteers who can help.  Not with reading the political runes.  They need to promote change, not maintenance, autonomy not dependence (on the top or any other table), courage not conventionality.

The advantage of social enterprise is that it can be transformational.  People will join a transformational movement and bring to it their passion, creativity and hard work.  Turn it into another transactional part of the prevailing bureaucracy and this advantage will be lost.

And finally of course any organisation can be a social enterprise regardless of structure.  Many ‘for profits’ have learned how to create social change and a sustainable profit!

Autofocus Time Management System

This looks like it might well be worth a try.  Upsides – simplicity, low cost. Potential downsides – not going to work well to develop ‘To Do’ lists for specific environments.

Video is about 9 minutes and needs sound.

Or you can just check out the website – with some really simple getting started instructions here.