THE RIOT POINT

The Lab

The fruits of riotous experimentation

Posts in Culture R&D®
How to remove the pain and add the profit into Employee Engagement

Executives tell me, in their more candid moments, that they doubt the value of the ‘employee engagement survey.’

They find it time-consuming and stressful, and most have all but given up on trying to calculate any return-on-investment. No wonder then such surveys have the reputation of being “all pain and no profit.” 

So why bother? The answer lies in why we form organisations.

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S1 E5: This I have learnt—The Soldier, Colonel Donald Pudney

What can life under fire teach you about setting priorities and leading others?

Quite a lot it seems. It has helped Colonel Donald lead a successful and stimulating life. 

Some may have a successful career in the military, others in the public sector or many more in a business career. There are a rare few,  such as our guest Colonel Donald Pudney, who have excelled in all three. 

He has lived in war zones for extended periods, been head of a civil service, and a director of several prominent organisations. He has valuable lessons to share.

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Bead-counting alone doesn’t tell the story

The leader had self-esteem.

Contrary to popular belief, many business managers lack self-esteem; they are fearful of dissent and it bursts through their leadership style and binds the psyche of the organisation. 

Here are some tell-tale signs. If you see a large organisation that;

  • was once a leader but is devoid of competitive advantage
  • is diverse in population but not in thinking
  • hails investors yet hides from customers
  • tries to control rather than shape the future
  • put numbers before narrative
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Why do businesses continually enter races they can't win?

Last week both Dennis Kimetto and I were in Germany. I was there to conduct a Problem-Solving Leadership workshop, and Kimetto was there to run a marathon. And though my programme went well, it was Kimetto’s performance that made the newspapers. 

Dennis broke the marathon world record in Berlin by completing the course in 2:02:57, beating the previous record by almost 30 seconds.

This is a remarkable feat, but remarkable feats in distance running are not uncommon within Kimetto’s, Kalenjin tribe of Kenya. Their five million members have won an incredible 40% of the major international distance races since 1980. 

Let’s put this into context: There are 17 American men in history who have run under 2:10 in the marathon. There were 32 Kalenjin men who did it in October 2011.

What is the secret of their success, and what can it teach organisations?

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S1 E3: This I have learnt—Norris Zucchet, CEO (retired), Mount Pleasant Group of Cemeteries

Imagine having a market where demand is guaranteed (yes, guaranteed) to grow, where competition is limited, and the cost of entry is high.

Too good to be true? Maybe.

But there is a downside. Such dynamics can cause organisations to become sluggish and indifferent to innovation. After all, why should they change?

Norris Zucchet faced such conditions. It turned out to be the most demanding, exhausting and exhilarating 13 years of his career.

What did he do and what did he learn? Grab 15 mins of wisdom in this edition of 'This I have learnt.'

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Land of the Free, and the Home of the Brave: Can you handle the brutal truth?

Like any patient participating in a check-up, the leadership team has to be braced for any results arising from an examination.  For some, this thought alone prevents an appointment from being made. But for those who do proceed, the feedback provides a prodigious increase in corporate confidence about future organisational health. The process lifts the fogginess on possible routes to growth.

Investigating if there's a gap between culture and strategy is unnerving for some. Participation means exposing ourselves to the brutal truth, and dealing with the consequences of the results. Our corporate bodies are no different.

We can, though, may the process more comfortable.

 

 

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Corporate indigestion: or what happens when strategy tries to eat culture for breakfast

This CEO of global pharma business was never a shrinking violet. But this year, at his global Town Hall meetings he was positively pugilistic.

The strategy, wrestled for many hours on the 21st floor at Bockenheim headquarters, was failing to deliver. Well, in reality, it wasn't being implemented well enough to know if it could deliver.

The issue was crystallised for the CEO in a conversation late one evening. During post-presentation beer and sandwiches at their largest R&D facility, he exasperatedly asked the Site Manager, "why aren't you implementing the strategy?" To which the long-standing, retiring-in-a-year-after-20-years of service, replied, "why don't you give us a strategy we can implement?"

There are few occasions in business when scales from the eyes, but this was one of them. In one pithy response, the consequences of a mis-match between strategy and culture had been laid a bare.

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