Articles

Note: articles marked PP are (sometimes abridged) versions of chapters in my book The Performance Papers: Incisive Briefings for Busy Leaders.

How to Resist Change and Slow Down Execution in Any Organization, for Personal Gain Without Personal Blame

A tongue-in-cheek look at the frustrating games people play in organizations – how does yours measure up?

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How to Balance the Short and Long Term

Jack Welch, celebrated former CEO of GE, once observed that anyone can run a business for the short term if they don’t have to worry about long-term survival, and anyone can strategise if they never have to implement.
The trick is to do both at the same time. But of course it’s easier said than done.

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Go Further by Planning Backwards

If you allow your activity to be dictated by the environment, or by your in box, you will never be strategic, and you will be limited by today’s assumptions. To escape all that, you have to go beyond your current situation and reverse back in. This article describes an explicit process that you can use, that has catapulted businesses and solo careers alike.

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How To Accelerate Implementation Across Departments

One of the most frustrating and wasteful drags on implementation speed is having to wait for people in other internal departments to do things.

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Making a Merger More Successful: the crucial role of ‘culture shock’, and how to prevent it (PP) (Appeared in Business & Finance Midlands Magazine, March 2008)

Once the ‘deal heat’ cools post-merger, someone has to figure out how everyone can work together. On the evidence, just expecting them to get on with it doesn’t do the job.

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Implementing a Change? Vital Insurance While You Do So

Any system that can sustain a viable existence must have monitoring built in. In business, this means that it’s not sufficient for a leader to send out signals requesting action and ‘consider it done’, because all kinds of noise will likely intervene. Unless you monitor properly, that can mean big trouble.

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When the ‘Solution’ is the Very Cause of the Problem

According to what may be an urban myth you can catch a monkey by putting food inside a coconut shell or jar with an opening just big enough for the monkey’s empty hand to go in, but too small for its greedy little full-of-food hand to get back out again. Organizations get caught in similar traps all the time.

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Leading in Ambiguous and Unstructured Situations (PP)

The inability to respond effectively to ambiguous situations is one of the most commonly mentioned issues I hear from senior executives about their direct reports. How can people be helped to respond positively, so enhancing the responsiveness and speed of your whole organisation?

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Artificial ‘Intelligence’ and the Scourge of Package-Deal Solutions

Executives and non-executive board members often receive pretty sketchy reports of the form: “We found this problem, and this is what we are doing about it”, and have to assess quickly, and with limited information, whether the issue is being managed competently or not. There can be significant consequences for getting this assessment wrong.

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The Dangers of Organizational Diagnosis

The idea of tools and techniques for organizational diagnosis is appealing: take the pulse and the temperature, do some scanning of the internal and external environment, and identify the problem. Then look up and apply the appropriate procedure or prescription, and call me in the morning if it’s no better.

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What’s a Strategy For? (PP)

There are many approaches to strategy, but in general there’s too much emphasis on favourite methodologies, and not enough on the results a strategy should be delivering.

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The Importance of Customer Experience is Nothing New – But it IS Important (PP)

I read recently that “customer experience is the new battleground”. Is there something to this, or is it just another take on customer service?

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I Have Some Feedback For You (PP)

The term ‘feedback’ is much misunderstood and has been distorted from its original meaning. We need to recover that meaning, because real feedback is vital steering information, and without it, performance can be severely compromised.

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Are Virtual Teams Better Than ‘Real’ Ones? (PP)

Virtual teams appear to offer some huge benefits, including massive savings of travel time and costs, increased organisation-wide access to talent, an advantageous new contract between organisations and contributors. But are they as good as the ‘real thing’? Perhaps surprisingly, they could even be better.

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Your Professional Development

How to Prevent Mad, Bad or even Dangerous Meetings (PP)

Nothing is more demoralising than a time- (and money-) wasting meeting. And sometimes groups can make mad, bad or even dangerous decisions that their individual members would never dream of when acting alone.

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The REWARDS Formula: Andrew Bass’s 8 Steps to Effective Delegation

Benefit from other peoples’ efforts, aid in their development, and get more from your time into the bargain – all while increasing your control.

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Don’t Just Present – Call to Action!

It matters less what they think about your presentation than what they do as a result of hearing it…

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Ten Top Tips for Presentations

“I had an impromptu speech to make and your hints came in very handy indeed!” – Anthony McCourt of Birmingham Development Company (The Mailbox, The Cube), talking about receiving the award for Birmingham Young Professional of the Year, 2008.

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How to boost your perceived value through judicious questioning

How two extra questions can make all the difference in a sale of sophisticated services.

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Issues for Professional Services

When relationship-building doesn’t work: your three options for handling procurement professionals

To procurement professionals, your bespoke service is just another commodity. They are tough negotiators who are not interested in a relationship. Here are your options.

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Articles on building a sales culture published in Managing Partner Magazine

Read Article 1: Boosting the top line

Read Article 2: Roadmap to a Sales Culture


Articles on talent management and development in professional service firms

Read Part 1: The Succession Pipeline

Read Part 2: The Road Ahead


Articles on business relationship development published in Legal Week

A professional service firm has three key intangible assets: its technical excellence, its brand, and its relationships. Of these, the third has to be built one person at a time, and professional education does little to prepare a firm’s people for this commercial reality.

Read Article 1: Keeping in Touch

Read Article 2: The Competitive Edge

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