Management and the Start Up

I work with businesses and organisations at all stages of the life-cycle. Pre-starts, start-ups and mature businesses. I often see management DNA develop in the start-up phase and it is seldom a pretty site. Habits and relationships are set early and become very difficult to shake off. This is largely because of the mindset of the original founder of the business: This is their baby; They know how they want it to develop; They have exacting standards. Consequently their management style can be brusque, directive, bruising and ultimately damaging to the long term growth of the business. Ideally I get to work with a business pre-start and ensure that the entrepreneurs builds their management team BEFORE the business plan is developed. This way all members of the team can own the plan and a more open and collaborative management DNA can be established from the start. However this is pretty rare. More usually I am working with an owner manager who has already established a pretty controlling management style. Helping them to see a different way of running the business is tough enough. Coaching them to make it happen is even tougher. Often it takes a real shock to the business and the entrepreneur … [Read more...]

Are we learning? Or just looking good?

Stanford University psychologist Carol Dweck made a great distinction between performance goals and learning goals. Performance goals are about “winning positive judgements of your competence and avoiding negative ones. In other words, when students pursue performance goals they’re concerned with their level of intelligence: They want to look smart (to themselves or others) and avoid looking dumb.” A person usually does this by playing it safe. Learning goals are ones that are about increasing your competence. “It reflects a desire to learn new skills, master new tasks, or understand new things—a desire to get smarter.” Both goals are common and can drive achievement. So there’s nothing wrong with either. “In fact,” she says, “in the best of all possible worlds, students could achieve both goals at the same time.” Unfortunately, we don’t live in the best of all possible worlds. One is usually pitted against the other. “The tasks that are best for learning are often challenging ones that involve displaying ignorance and risking periods of confusion and errors. The tasks that are best for looking smart are often ones that students are already good at and won’t really learn as much from doing.” What she has … [Read more...]

Jack Welch on What Leaders Do

Here is what the legendary Jack Welch, former Chairman & CEO of GE had to say about “What Leaders Do” in his book “Winning” . Leaders relentlessly upgrade their team, using every encounter as an opportunity to evaluate, coach and build self-confidence Leaders make sure people not only see the vision, they live and breathe it Leaders get into everyone’s skin exuding positive energy and optimism Leaders establish trust with candor, transparency and credit Leaders have the courage to make unpopular decisions and gut calls Leaders probe and push with a curiosity that borders on skepticism, making sure their questions are answered with action Leaders inspire risk taking and learning by setting the example Leaders celebrate. … [Read more...]

Ayn Rand

On money… “So you think that money is the root of all evil?” said Francisco d’Anconia, “Have you ever asked what is the root of money? Money is a tool of exchange, which can’t exist unless there are goods produced and men able to produce them. Money is the material shape of the principle that men who deal with one another must deal by trade and give value for value. Money is not the tool of the moochers, who claim your product by tears, or of the looters, who take it from you by force. Money is made possible only by the men who produce. Is this what you consider evil?” “Money will not purchase happiness for the man who has no concept of what he wants: money will not give him a code of values if he’s evaded the knowledge of what to value, and it will not provide him with a purpose, if he’s evaded the choice of what to seek.” “The man who damns money has obtained it dishonourably; the man who respects it has earned it.”   … [Read more...]

What kind of Innovation Capital do we want to be?

The Innovation Capital Programme is at the core of the new Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).  (I am still struggling personally with the identification of a city region of 3m people being  conflated with local, but we live in strange times.) We are not talking 'capital' in the sense of money, but capital in the sense of a 'leading centre'.  These are not only strange, but also cash strapped times.  And LEPs are shaping up to be nothing if not politically pragmatic institutions. The 'vision' of the Innovation Capital Programme is: A dynamic place, globally competitive and renowned for business, enterprise and innovation...An Innovation Capital It is variously described as a roadmap, an agenda, an action plan.  The language perhaps is telling.  A chosen few, The Anointed showing the rest of us the path to the future. The language of the Innovation Capital Programme reflects its goals and its constituents: Driving growth Faster growing business base Centres of excellence to support growth sectors Driven by the needs of business No questions about the role of business in our communities. No discussion about the merits of economic growth. The faster the better. It is an unalloyed good. No … [Read more...]

What If Leeds…the video

At the What If consultation event on the future of Leeds they showed a video created by volinteers at Oblong. If you were not there to see it, or would like to see it again, here it is: Your thoughts, comments and observations would be very welcome. … [Read more...]

Creatives and Cuts – the Big Leeds Debate

Yorkshire has experienced the fastest growth in employment than any other region, however … With all these cuts and changes what next? Arts Council – 29.6% cuts over three years Design Council – made a charity Film Council – scrapped NESTA – made a charity Higher Education – 40% cuts over four years Yorkshire Forward – scrapped Local Councils – 28% cuts over three years Business Link – scrapped Almost 200 quangos – scrapped What does all this mean for the future of the Creative, Cultural and Digital industries of Yorkshire? ‘Creative Networks’ has pulled together a senior-level panel to discuss exactly that. Confirmed speakers include: Sally Joynson - Chief Executive of Screen Yorkshire Cluny Macpherson - Regional Director of Arts Council Cllr. Adam Ogilvie - Chair of Leeds Cultural Partnership Katie Stewart - Leeds City Region (Local Enterprise Partnership) This event will be of vital interest to anyone working within or across the creative and cultural sectors in Yorkshire today. Short presentations followed by an open Q&A session **Thursday, 25th November 2010** 6pm - Registration & Hot Food 7pm - News & Pitches 7.15pm - The Big Debate 8.30 til late - Networking in the Café Bar Leeds … [Read more...]

Problems and Aspirations in South Yorkshire and Beyond

I picked up this tweet from the inimitable and award winning Tom Bloxham MBE, Uber Prize Winning Guru of UK regeneration Urban Splash’s refurb is turning one of the republic of Sth Yorkshire’s biggest problems into an aspirational address Now ain't that regeneration as it plays out here in the UK? Find a 'problem community' in an area with easy access to the city centre Refurb it to take it from a place where only the poor would live to an 'aspirational address'. Replace a problem community with one that already has 'aspirations' . The same recipe plays out all over the place. Drive the poor people out, tart the place up.  Increase the property values and encourage the creative classes to move in.  Secure an immediate GVA increase, eliminate a whole bunch of costs, attract a community of shiny happy people and another award wining development is completed. Everyone is a winner.  Developers, politicians, treasury. Everyone except the displaced, who can no longer afford to live close to the city that is their home.  Who are driven out.  Who are economically excluded from the city.  Whose communities are broken up. Regeneration is not economic cleansing.  It should be a process of inclusive community … [Read more...]

Dumb Strategy and State Funding

I am hearing a lot at the moment from people and organisations that face a scary future because at some point in the past they chose (consciously or not) to develop a business model dependent to a very great extent, in some cases entirely, on public funding. And right now that looks like a dumb strategy, because the development of mission, the pursuit of purpose, is regulated by a bureaucracy that makes political decisions about what to fund and when.  It decides how success will be measured.  In essence they are in control. They hold the strategic reigns. … [Read more...]

Progress School…

Just about to embark on a new venture in Leeds called Progress School, providing 'pay what you can' professional and personal development.  Progress School offers: A confidential and supportive environment in which to plan your personal and professional development Time to develop a vision for the 'ideal you' and to learn more about the 'real you' - how you are perceived by others Recognition of strengths and gaps - those potentials that you have not yet fully realised A learning agenda - identify what you need to learn and how you are going to learn it to bridge the gap between 'real' and 'ideal' Access to a network of fellow Progress School members who will commit to helping you learn A chance to experiment - to try out new behaviours and skills - to see if they work for you Develop new practices that help you make progress Progress School is designed to offer you a flexible process to support your development.  The more you attend the more you are likely to get from it - but there is no curriculum to follow - just a process of reflection and action to engage with. Interested?  Book Your Place...Now Prices start from free.... … [Read more...]


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