Twitter and the Progressive Manager

Over the last couple of weeks I have been checking out the latest (?) web 2.0 phenomenon that is twitter.  (As I write these words I am so aware that at some point in the future, like  a week on Thursday this will seem so very dated!).

I mean really checking it out.  Giving it  a thorough workover, experimenting with it.  Seeing if I can use it for anything helpful and productive.

And I love it!  Well, most of the time.

Twitter is a simple blogging site with one very severe restriction.  Each post has to be less than 140 characters.  That is about two short sentences.

Check out my twitter page here to get a feel for it.

I can choose to follow peoples ‘tweets’ and they can choose to follow mine.  Each time someone I follow tweets – I can see what they are up to.  If they bore me or aren’t relevant then I stop following them.  If they are interesting, relevant, entertaining, resourceful or in some other way they bring colour to my day then they stay on the follow list.

Easy to set up and addictive to use, already twitter has helped to me connect with a whole bunch of people that I would otherwise not have found.  A Llama farmer in North Devon who is passionate about small business; a sheep dog handler in Northamptonshire who loves facilitation; a rugby loving family man from Exeter who earns his living trying to make local strategic partnerships work. I know more about the workings of the #uktrains than the fat controller.

All of these and many more have provided me with information, insight and opportunities.  I am currently following about 200 people and being followed by a similar number.  As I get more efficient in using twitter I will be able to follow more without it taking more time as I get better at filtering and searching for stuff that connects.

Essentially I use twitter as a flow of information and intelligence into me.  It is a great tool for what the strategy bods call ‘environmental scanning’.   I learn a lot of very useful, hard edged stuff that helps with work.  But I also learn some very human stuff that keeps things compassionate and warm.  I know that one of  my fellow twitterers has a son who is hospitalised with asthma at the moment, I know another has just relocated from Seattle to Washington DC.  I learn about the human being as well as the professional which, while it might annoy some, I love.

I am also followed at the moment by a couple of hundred people.  Some of these just follow anyone.  The more you follow and are followed the better is one viewpoint.  I am more discriminating.  I only follow people whose tweets work for me!  Some are following me because they are interested in my work, my ideas and what I am doing.  Some follow me because each tweet acts as a little nudge – perhaps reminding them of something they learned from me.  (I am considering set up a specific PMN account to tweet daily reminders about the power of 121s, giving feedback, coaching etc).

Having a community of followers, albeit small but perfectly formed is very flattering.  And another useful little community for me to test ideas on, ask for help from (yesterday I got a great response for requests for good online whiteboards that allow me to co-create and talk about diagrams with others on the web!) and generally commune with.  A plea for examples of social media being used to good effect in community development has unearthed several leads for me to explore.  Another twitterer has put me in touch with a consultancy looking to showcase great enterprise projects.  As a marketing tool, twitter is working for me.  It  does takes time – I reckon I spend an hour a day twittering – but it doesn’t feel like work – and it ‘fits’ wonderfully into the spaces between bigger pieces of work.

At the moment the twitterverse seems to be overpopulated with techy types. Twittering about twitter the way that bloggers used to (and still do) blog about blogging.  You can always ‘unfollow’ them.  But there are also different themes emerging, such as:

  • How can we use web 2.0 to get better at what we do – whether that is management, education and training, providing services for mental health, starting businesses, researching markets or whatever.
  • How can we use web 2.0 to engage more people
  • What role can the web play in community capacity building, economic and social development.

These themes engage me.  Knowing about them helps to pay my mortgage.  IT is not all about web 2.0 – but if you are not thinking about how web 2.0 impacts on what you are trying to do in life then I think you are missing a trick.

So for the manager twitter can:

  • improve communication with the team, peers, customers and the competition
  • help get early warning of problems and opportunities
  • portray a more human and rounded face of you and your organisation

So at the moment twitter gets a big thumbs up.  I won’t be deleting my twitter account just yet.


Just a gentle reminder that we have some ‘buy one get one free‘ offers coming up on PMN workshops.  This means that when you book a place at one of the BOGOF workshops you get another place free.

I have also developed 2 new workshops which have proven very successful.  The first is on effective partnership working – giving you the skills and knowledge you need to make the most of your partnerships at work. Whether you have to work in a local strategic partnership (LSP), a sub-regional partnership or a purely private partnership this workshop will give you the tools you need to become much more effective.  Dates for this workshop will be published shortly.

The second is on Managing Underperformers and looks in detail at practical and effective ways to  make sure that underperformers don’t drag down the performance of the team.

BOGOF workshops:


22nd (pm) Stop Hate UK/Unity Business Centre – Brilliant 121sBOGOF


20th (pm) Stop Hate UK/Unity Business Centre –  Giving and Getting Great Feedback – BOGOF

You can see the full schedule of PMN workshops here, and book places here.  If you have done these sessions and found them useful then please do recommend them to others.

Many thanks.


Mini Me or Maxi You?


When you teach, coach and instill a new way of thinking into every employee in your company, so that when employees are faced with any decision, they would do whatever YOU would do as the business owner or leader, you very quickly create a company which stands out in its market place as one which is attentive, alert and focused on its customers needs.

Richard Parkes Cordock

Richard Parkes Cordock produces great advice for managers and entrepreneurs.  I am an especially big fan of the Millionaire MBA programme.

However I think he has got this bit wrong.

I want to employ people:

  • who can do things that I can’t do,
  • who can see choices that I can’t see,
  • who act from their own unique perspective to take the action that they believe will be best for them and the business.

Success depends on diversity not a monoculture of mini mes.

Cicero and the Progressive Manager


“If you wish to persuade me, you must think my thoughts, feel my feelings, and speak my words.”

Cicero – Roman statesman

Hat tip to Steve Roesler.

Let’s get this straight from the start.  In my book persuading DOES NOT involve influencing employees to do something that is not in their best interest.  It involves helping them to see why the action proposed IS in their best interest.  Or to create a plan that we can all see the upsides from.

Thinking their thoughts

How do things look from their personal perspective – REALLY?  Have they worked in the organisation for 10 years and never made a promotion?  Are they more interested in the week-end than the working week?  Let’s try to be honest with ourselves about the thinking that our latest ideas might trigger.

Feeling their feelings

What do they really care about?  What matters most to them?  How do they feel about what matters?  Optimistic?  Resigned?  Detached?  Hopeful, fearful? DO they feel like they have to keep their head down and play it safe, or are they up for taking some risks in pursuit of greatness.  Are they comfortable in the bureaucratic comfort zone or do they prefer the white water of the entrepreneurial mindset.

Speak their words

Are your words clear and unequivocal – or are they weasel words – designed to create an illusion of clear communication?  Do you speak direclty to them clear about your own self interest and really prepared to re-negotiate it as they communicate reservations, concerns, hopes and desires?  Are you speaking their language?  If they are talking about fear of redundancy are you talking to those fears – honestly?

Connect or Collude

Do you really want to establish an honest connection or to collude in a pretense of communication that enable everyone to duck the real issue – ignore the 900lb gorillas?  Do you want to connect human to human or ‘work mask to work mask’? Do you want to communicate clearly what you stand for and what your best thinking is?  Are you really interested in their interests – or do you just want quiet compliance?

If the answer to the connection question is yes, human to human, naming the real issues, clear and powerful communication, honestly negotiating self interests then you are ready to communicate.  Face to face, up close and personal you will come across as caring, compassionate, honest (and if your thinking is good) capable.  Even if your thinking is not so great you are likely to elicit information that will help you to take it forward.

If on the other hand you would prefer the masks to stay on, to keep playing the management game the face to face is not going to work so well.

Your lack of commitment will ooze from every pore.

Your lack of compassion and clarity will be clear.

You will be filed in the ‘just another bureacrat’ drawer.

Mediocrity will prevail.

Giving them a reason to choose you…

In a world of vanilla businesses one way to develop a loyal customer base is to give them something to remember you by.

A reason to choose you.

Ideally a reason that costs nothing.

South West Airlines get this.  Here is the proof:

25 Years of Management Wisdom

Jim Sinegal founded Costco 25 years ago.  This is a great post capturing some of what Jim learned about management along the way.  Full of wisdom!

Show show if you set up a small business in the right way – it can become massive.

Genius Jet Blue Marketing – Welcome Big Wigs

Great advertising makes me smile and remember the company and what it does.

Have a look at these great online videos from Jet Blue.

Year 10 – Industry Day – Work Related and Enterprise Education

My 15 year old daughter brought home a letter yesterday telling me about Industry Day:

In conjunction with our Work Related Learning programme, we have organised Enterprise Days in which all year 10 pupils will participate.

Hidden curriculum lesson 1: Enterprise is not about freedom of expression and choice – it is about complying with the policy dictats of bureaucrats.  You’d better get used to following orders.

Teams of personnel from Industry will be coming into school to help run the days which aim to introduce pupils (to) aspects of Enterprise education.

Hidden curriculum lesson 2: Forget being a living, breathing person full passion, aspiration and imagination.  Once you are in Industry (why the capital – Orwellian reference perhaps?) you are just personnel in teams.  This way you don’t have to exercise any autonomy – you just have to follow orders.   Enterprise is a bit like a strange cult – we will introduce you to some aspects.  But others had best remain a mystery….

Hidden curriculum lesson 3: Understand the power of language to obfuscate and confuse.  I am a professional in enterprise education and I have no idea what ‘aspects of Enterprise education’ are.

Activities will focus on developing skills such as team building and communication and will be an excellent preparation towards work experience and the world of work.

Hidden curriculum lesson 4: There is a thing called the ‘world of work’.  It has laws, practices and ways of being that are different to the rest of society. You had better know how to conform.

Hidden curriculum lesson 5: If you struggle with team work and communication then the world of work/enterprise/Industry is not for you.  You had better develop your potential to survive in other worlds.  See Hidden curriculum lesson 14 below

Pupils will be working in teams and your child will take part in the Industry Day on one of the following days…

(and yes the first one is on April 1st – perhaps the whole thing is a spoof!)

Hidden curriculum lesson 6: There is little room for the individual in Industry.  They had better learn how to smooth of the sharp edges and get along with people.  We wouldn’t want too many ‘rugged individualists’ in Industry.  Forget what George Bernard Shaw said about all progress depending on the unreasonable man.  In industry we are polite, formulaic team players.

It is intended that pupils will not follow normal timings for the school day.  The day will be as follows:

08:45am – Sign in at Reception

9.00am – Industry conference starts

10.50am – Break

11.10am – Conference resumes

1.00pm – Conference ends – pupils involved in the Industry Day should go home

Hidden curriculum lesson 7: The world of work is dominated by the bosses clock.  You will do as you are told – when you are told.  Because employers are benevolent you will get a break.

Hidden curriculum lesson 8: If we do not have enough for you to do you will be laid off early.

Hidden curriculum lesson 9: You had better get used to confernces in Industry.  They are a lot like lessons – but longer.

In order to give the pupils a chance to experience some aspects of the world of work the pupils will be required to:

  • wear appropriate clothing for business; for the boys this could be simply school trousers, white shirt and a different tie (The David Brent school of office dress then).  For girls, an appropriate example would be their normal trousers or skirts and a plain top (as opposed to the haute couture that they usually wear to school).  This should not, therefore involve extra expense and I would stress that this is definitely not a ‘non uniform’ day.

Hidden curriculum lesson 10:  In the world of work you will be one of many clones – similarly dressed and equipped to deal with the challenges of the stationery cupboard.  In the world of work we will continue to discriminate by gender.

  • sign in at Reception by 9.00am.  This will mean that for this day the pupils will enter through the main entrance.

Hidden curriculum lesson 11: We will confuse you by our ambiguity over timings.  Although earlier we said that you could sign in at Reception at 08.45am – you must be signed in by no later than 09.00.  Got it?  Any non-compliance in the first instance will be dealt with by sarcasm.  You should be clear that in the world of work though time-keeping is a tool of power and any difficulty you have with it could lead to severe disciplinary consequences

Hidden curriculum lesson 12: The world of work is obsessed with clocking in and clocking off on time – get used to it.  Again forget autonomy, initiative and flexibility.

  • behave in an appropriate, business-like manner and follow all instructions from the personnel running the Industry Days

Hidden curriculum lesson 13: Learn to moderate your behaviour when in the world of work.  Understanding the mysteries of what constitutes ‘business-like’ could hold the keys to the kingdom of the corner office on the third floor.

Hidden curriculum lesson 14: There are alternatives to the ‘world of work’.  These include the worlds of:

  • warcraft
  • benefits
  • crime

If the ‘world of work’ as experienced on Industry does not set your heart racing and your soul singing then perhaps one of these is right for you?

It is no wonder that so many highly committed educationalists who take the development of young people seriously are less than supportive when it comes to ’embedding enterprise in the curriculum’.

If Enterprise champions are pedalling such ill-conceived and poorly thought through programmes they deserve to be left to their own devices.

My eldest daughter went through a similar programme last year.  The highlight for her was the ‘Enterprise Wordsearch’.  You have to love those teachers for their great sense of irony!

18 tips for Better Partnership Working

I have just completed a 2 day workshop with a great group of partnership managers.  Here is what I learned!

  1. Get really clear and comfortable about your self interest. Your personal  reaction to the opportunities and possibilities offered in your role.
  2. Communicate this powerfully in language that the recipient will understand and value.
  3. Develop your professional self interest – the overlap between your individual/personal and professional/organisational response to what REALLY matters.
  4. Build your power to influence what really matters through investing in person to person relationships. Invest in a series of 121s. Share what really matters to you. Be clear on how they will perceive you.
  5. Use the allies/opponents/adversaries/fencesitters/bedfellows model to help you structure this.
  6. Become power hungry (why wouldn’t you want power to make what you believe in happen? Don’t leave power for the bad guys of this world to grab!)
  7. Building a powerful coalition around your ideas inside the business is as important as building one externally.
  8. Know your reputation – find ways to find what people REALLY think of you and your agenda – but are too polite to say!
  9. Don’t be busy fools. Work on the most powerful relationships. That is the relationships that give you the most power – this has little or nothing to do with the ‘authority’ power of the other party. Think leverage. Think goals.
  10. Think ‘enlightened self interest‘  and here.
  11. Ring fence thinking time – 2 lots of 90 minutes a week – to develop your agenda – rather than respond to the needs and agendas of others. This will increase your sense of control and reduce your levels of stress – as well as making you much more effective and creative. GUARANTEED.
  12. Agree on the ends.   Be different, challenging, creative and risky when it comes to the means. You don’t always have to play by the rules. Think Mandela.
  13. If you play by the rules of bureaucracy it will find ways of stifling change.
  14. Don’t let years of socialisation in being helpful and humble result in you being a selfless partner. Nobody wants to partner with Uriah Heep – but they may just take everything you have.
  15. Resist the safety of bureaucracy – maintenance, safety, dependency (external locus of control).
  16. Pursue the entrepreneurial way – greatness, courage and autonomy (internal locus of control).
  17. Don’t waste too much time and energy on the difficult people. Invest it in those who share your self interest – life is just better that way.
  18. Always take your own chalk and be cautious in your selection of cues….(this is not a mystical metaphor – just a statement of fact).

Anything I have missed?

Your vision will become clear only when you can look into your own heart. Who looks outside, dreams; who looks inside, awakes.

Carl Jung

More on 121s

The real pupose of 121s is to build a relationship.

An honest, robust, respectful constructive relationship.

This takes time, effort, curiosity, courage, honesty and a degree of self disclosure.

An effective relationship helps us to understand self interest.  Ours and the self interest of each and every team member.

Once self interest is understood we are in a position to make agreements that work for all parties – to establish win wins.

It allows us to provide support, encouragement, development and opportunities that helps others become much more powerful and effective in their work.

“Raising someone up does not reduce your stature-it exalts you in ways you have to experience to believe.”

Ken Blanchard