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Welcome to the belivernomics blog

 

I will try my best to update this webpage with  thought provoking and interesting content, as often as I can.  Please feel free to leave comments as  there is much that can be learnt from the sharing of ideas.

By pa360, Jan 23 2015 01:42PM

A barrel of oil is currently trading anywhere between about $45 and $48. This is a sharp contrast to seven months ago when the same commodity was trading at about $110. For those economies heavily reliant on oil revenues, the plummeting price of the commodity is disastrous news. But what does the price of a barrel of oil and the over-reliance of nation states on that product have to do with believernomics? Well it has to do with balance and the need to ensure that your economy is in balance and not out of balance.


Let me explain further, using three examples.


First, an economy is out of balance if it becomes over-exposed to risk. This over-exposure, which increases vulnerability, can happen for a number of reasons. It may, occur if an economy is over-reliant on a particular product or activity. During the good times this might be ok, but what happens if the market becomes volatile? In such a situation a lack of diversity will increase an economy's exposure to the shocks brought about when market conditions change. The earlier example of the falling price of oil is a case in point.


Second, an economy is out of balance if it is over-reliant on imports (which create deficit and debt) as opposed to exports (which generate revenue and income). In a situation where the value of your imports exceeds the value of your exports you have a trade deficit. In economics as in life, deficits are usually bad and surpluses are usually good.


Third, an economy is out of balance if those who it supports cannot live within their means. This situation occurs when outgoings (expenditure) exceed incomings (revenue) and is further exacerbated when spending is fuelled by unsustainable levels of borrowing. There is a simple rule of thumb here that if you spend more than you earn, you will end up in debt. You cannot live a champagne lifestyle on a beer budget.


Each one of these scenarios is applicable to your personal economy. If you are over-reliant on a particular skill or talent, you will be over-exposed to risk during times of uncertainty. However, by diversifying your skills base you will increase your business resilience and mitigate risks associated with market volatility. Likewise if you expect more than you give then you are basing your economy on a dependency culture that will lead to learned helplessness. Similarly, if your appetite for consumption is greater than the strength of your brand, you will become over-reliant on good-will for lines of 'credit' to which you are not entitled. This will not be the case if you have significant 'capital reserves' of trust and influence to draw upon.

By pa360, Jan 22 2015 06:04AM

I have always believed that success is a unique and distinctive language. I don't mean a language in the sense of a few 'happy-clappy' phrases that you mutter optimistically to yourself and others during hard times. I am talking about a language that speaks to your very identity. One that reflects your mindset, your approach to problem-solving and the impact that you have on others.


The language of success communicates opportunity, ambition and aspiration. It looks beyond where you are and speaks to where you want to be. Every time you find the words to encourage, inspire and motivate yourself and others, you speak the language of success. Fluency in success comes when occurrences that are random and irregular, become the rhythm and routine of your life. The more fluent you are, the more empowered you will be. Set out below are the ten habits that will help you to 'speak success' fluently.


1. Wire your mind with values and wire your values with words

Being told to 'speaking positively' and demonstrate a 'can-do attitude' is important and can definitely help to transform your situation. Unfortunately, that is only half the story. Randomly spouting 'power words' is utterly meaningless unless those words are wired to a mind that is mapped to values that anchor the very things that you are talking about. In simple terms, there is not point saying that you can solve a problem, if you do not fundamentally believe the problem can be solved. Simply saying something that does not really reflect your values, is a bit like speaking words from a language that you don't really understand.


2. Defy conventional logic

What is conventional logic? Well, it is nothing more than what the majority of people think and believe. Conventional logic does not make right; it just establishes the norm. However, the beauty of success is that it does not always inhabit the spaces given over to conventional thinking and reasoning. By contrast and by its very nature, to be fluent in the 'language of success' you have to be willing to defy 'logic'. To do so, you must refuse to be the rule and choose to be the exception. Success is not always to be defined by conventional reasoning, but rather, by uncommon wisdom.


3. Practice the power of pause

A pause is no more than a delay. However, in the context of your ability to be 'fluent in the language of success', even a momentary pause may be enough to enable you to re-appraise a situation, re-evaluate your options and re-direct your effort. The practice and power of pause, should not be confused with slowness (or silence, which is also addressed in this blog). When deployed effectively, pause can be an extremely effective strategic tool, not just buying you time, but also ensuring that you remain in control of your decision-making space. By contrast, slowness is often characterised by indecision or risk aversion.


4. Practice the science and art of strategic silence

Sometimes when you are speaking the language of success, your most powerful voice is the voice of silence. Simple right? Well maybe not. Silence is often confused with indifference, consent and even stupidity. Therefore the practice of silence requires both self-confidence as well as self-control. Let's be clear, the use of silence is not always appropriate. However, used strategically, tactfully and artfully; silence can convey calm assuredness and competence. To the extent that effective and impactful speech is reliant on good judgement and good judgement relies on informed reasoning (not the propensity to think and act impulsively) then silence demonstrates that you can often say everything when you choose to say nothing.


5. Learn to look and expect to find

There is a simple point to make here, which is that sometimes people do not enjoy or experience success, not because it is unachievable, but because they do not even know that it is within reach. The language of success is not just about what you say, but also what you see. Two people can see a glass of water filled exactly half-way and one will celebrate the fact that it is half full and the other will bemoan the fact that it is half-empty. Each of the above perceptions, will then affect how each individual weights the possibility of their success, how they communicate the possibility of success to others and how others see the possibility of success for themselves. In simple and unambiguous terms, if you are searching for success then you will find what you are looking for, but if you expect to find failure then you will find that too.


6. Straighten-up your posture, establish your position and adopt your stance

Speaking success is no more than organising your effort and that of others, around your individual or shared goals. If we speak success to failure we say: 'what do we need to do to be successful next time' and if we speak success to risk we say: 'what do we need to do to avoid consequences'. There is no great science to this. Instead of saying 'I can't', it is simply about saying 'how can I' or better still 'I can'. Speaking success is about putting yourself in the success space and providing pathways to problem solving, rather than crowding out solutions.


7. Find others who speak your language

There are few things more inspiring than being amongst the 'can-do'. Therefore, just like any other language, you will learn to speak success more fluently when you associate with other fluent speakers. The point about who we associate with is critical because it is through the repetition of words and actions that we gain experience. Experience is crucial because it inspires confidence and confidence is crucial because it builds resilience.


If you want to fully maximise the potential of your personal economy, then organise your thoughts, set your goals and speak success.


By pa360, Jan 21 2015 07:41AM

I love the word momentum because it has a powerful ring and real sense of purpose about it. If you are going to get anything done in life, you need to keep things moving and to keep things moving, you need momentum. At the heart of every laudable achievement is the ability to organise effort, energise capacity and drive things forward. If you have a goal, set a target or define an objective, you will need momentum to achieve it. Similarly, the better you are at sustaining momentum the quicker your goal will be achieved.


It is important to point out that momentum does not operate in a vacuum. Rather it is the product of our beliefs, values and aspirations. These in turn fuel our passion and enthusiasm and create a highly combustible mixture that, once ignited, produces motivation. It is motivation that provides the momentum to drive us closer to our goals. So how do you build and maintain momentum? Well set out below are the seven things that you need to know.


1. Anything that you build must have a foundation

It is all very well to talk about momentum when things are going well, but what if they are not? What happens if you are faced with apathy, disinterest or outright obstruction? What happens if endless drudgery and monotony present a far more compelling case to slow down rather than speed up? What do you do then? The simple answer is that anything that you are committed to building, must first have a foundation. For momentum that foundation must be established on discipline, determination and dedication. The disciplined are not easily shaken because they have deep-rooted principles, whilst the determined and dedicated, fuelled by their deep-rooted principles, remain resilient even in the most adverse circumstances.


2. It is better to focus who is in front of you, than be distracted by who is at the back

Under normal circumstances you are only as strong as your weakest link. However in a competitive environment, you need to compare yourself with whatever lies ahead of you, not what is trailing behind you. If you peg your performance to those who are going slower than you, the risk is that you will only maintain a level of momentum sufficient enough to remain ahead of them. The disadvantage of that approach is that, in the meantime, the gap between you and those that are ahead of you will likely increase, which will almost certainly leave you in an uncompetitive position. The key learning point here is that with momentum there are times when competition means nothing without comparison.


3. Arithmetical increment always come before geometric progression

In the world of momentum, rapid and massive progression is often the most desirable measure of effectiveness. If you are a business, for example, you want to see exponential growth and expansion into new markets. Unfortunately, as a rule, that is not how momentum actually works. Have you ever watched a sprinter coming off the blocks? You will notice that there is an initial explosive release, but the first few strides are incremental and geared towards building momentum. Then, as momentum increases and pace gathers, the strides become longer and the pace gets even quicker. This is one of the ways in which momentum works; building slowly at the beginning and accelerating more rapidly by the end.


4. Know what you need for the race that you need to run

Staying with the athletics theme; it is well understood that the best sprinter doesn't make the best middle distance runner and the best middle distance runner doesn't make the best long distance runner. My point here is that even in the same discipline (running), the demands and requirements of momentum are distinct and different. In the one instance, momentum is about explosive energy, in another it is measured in moderate endurance and for the other it is all about dogged staying power. To understand momentum therefore, you need to recognise that there is no one size fits all definition. In addition, you need to be able to adapt and adjust to the unique requirements of your operational space.


5. Be mindful that there is no such thing as standing still

It is important to keep in mind that in the context of momentum, you are always moving. In a competitive environment, that movement either takes you towards your end goal or further away from it. There is in reality, no such thing as stagnation. Time does not stand still, when we wait to see what others do next. When others are waiting to take your place, the decision to press pause, means that you will ultimately be overtaken by those who decide to keep going. When we lose momentum, we risk losing our advantage and narrowing the range of options available to us in the market-place of opportunity.


6. The culture of complacency

There is no bigger drain on anyone's progress and momentum, than the ever present risk of complacency. The danger of complacency is that it gives rise to a false sense of security; not just thinking that you know it all, but also thinking that you know enough. Here is an interesting way of looking at it: if, for the sake of argument, we accept that your personal brand is your 'currency' and the influence derived from that brand is your 'credit card', then complacency is your 'tax'. The 'tax' of complacency depletes reserves of aspiration, it saps the energy of ambition and ultimately robs you of momentum.


7. That which propels you forward may also move you to the side

When we think of momentum, it is all too easy to view this in a linear context (ie: as a movement forward in a straight line). However, momentum is also lateral (ie: a movement to the side or from side to side). This nuance is important because in the wider world of opportunity and access, if you only see momentum through a narrow linear prism, then you won't see what is in your lateral peripheral vision. As such, the definition of momentum is the extent to which you are progressing in whatever direction in which you need to go in order to arrive at whichever destination that you need to be.


So in conclusion, momentum is not just the energy you need to reach your destination, it is evidence of the progress you are making to get there. Critical to momentum is the realisation that it is not just about how fast you can go, or indeed how far you can reach, but perhaps more importantly how sustainably you can endure. As surprising as it seems, to maintain momentum you need to allow yourself to be defined by your failures or disappointments. By so doing, you will be able to draw positive insights from experiences that might ordinarily be seen through a negative lens.


By pa360, Jan 20 2015 06:22AM

Learning is an empowering, enabling and enriching activity for any organisation. When organisations are able to perfect their approach to learning, they know better, can adapt quicker and improve faster than those whose approach to learning is less sophisticated and nuanced. Organisations learn every time they go through a new experience, when they triumph over adversity and when they demonstrate resilience in the face of disappointment or failure. They also learn remotely, by observing those around them such as market leaders and innovators or when they 'live their experiences' vicariously through the actions of competitors and other entities.


For any business learning is not just an important mechanism to ensure sustainability, it is also a critical survival skill. What an organisation acquires through learning can be exploited to create opportunities to diversify, consolidate and compete. The need to learn reveals a fundamental truth about organisations, which is that they do not know it all - whether they think they do or not. That said, how do the most successful organisations learn? What are their habits, traits, customs and practices? Well set out below are seven of the most effective ways.


1. They work on the presumption of ignorance

To learn, an organisation must first be open to learning, but to be open to learning it must accept that it still has something to learn. Sounds straightforward doesn't it? Well yes and no. Sometimes an organisation's need to be right is the biggest barrier to its learning and development. I remember many years ago working in a particular organisation, where the aversion to correction was almost pathological. The entire culture, predicated on the need to demonstrate how a small coterie of 'leaders' were fundamentally right, only served to prove how they were all fundamentally wrong. By contrast, in healthy and self-reflective organisations, learning starts with the presumption of ignorance, not the assumption of rightness. In these organisations the presumption of ignorance is not evidence of stupidity; rather it is an acknowledgement that learning starts with how little you realise, not how much you know.


2. They practice the art and science of educated guesswork

Before learning comes discovery and before discovery there is educated guesswork. In simple terms, an educated guess is an informed judgement based on objective reasoning and common sense. Given the dynamic nature of consumer preference and behaviour, no organisation can ever have a monopoly on knowledge and insight. As such, an organisation's ability to make an educated guess can empower it to probe its operational environment, explore alternatives and learn. The most successful organisations have mastered the art and science of guesswork. They understand that without empirical evidence to guide their decision-making, the likelihood of an outcome may just as easily be determined by plausible probability as hard fact.


3. They have access to a 'mixed-economy' of knowledge products

Healthy organisations subsist on a diet of learning that is varied, balanced and rich in knowledge. They don't just have a hunger for knowledge derived from the same sources, they are also discerning enough to appreciate knowledge derived from different sources. When an organisation seeks or acquires the bulk of its information from the same place, no matter how reliable, it runs the risk of creating an echo chamber that will only serve to confirm biases and preconceived ideas. However, an organisation that learns successfully cultivates a mixed-economy of knowledge products. By so doing, it is able to create a richer picture of its operational environment and make better informed decisions.


4. They understand the difference between linear and lateral learning

In a previous blog, I focused on the distinctive difference between linear and lateral 'momentum'. However, the same spatial constructs also apply to learning. Linear learning is the ability to process experience and insight from where you have come from as well as what you see in front of you. Linear learning is probably the most common type of learning style for most organisations. However, the most successful organisations are also effective lateral learners. Lateral learning is the ability to make connections between events occurring in the peripheral vision (ie: on either side), away from direct line of sight (what is front) or experience (what is behind). Therefore, lateral learning provides organisations with a much more reliable set of reference points to safely navigate their operational environment. Organisations that adopt the lateral learning model will be just as keen to gain insight from those who are not even their direct competitors, as those who are.


5. They assemble the sounding board

Successful organisations are adept at learning because they have worked out not just how best to learn, but also who best to learn from. Specifically, these organisations understand the importance of seeking the views of those who hold contrary opinions, whose judgement they respect and whose input they value. Operating within this space, these organisations are able to draw in a wide range of perspectives by bouncing their ideas off trusted others. One of the unique aspects of the way in which these organisations learn is that they drawn insights from both external as well as internal sources. They recognise that leadership for learning can come from anywhere across the their organisational hierarchy as well as from customers, competitors and interested observers.


6. They sift and sort

For the most successful organisations a basic rule of thumb is that not everything that can be learnt is worth learning about. An organisational 'scatter-gun' approach to learning creates clutter, which needlessly crowds the decision-making space. By contrast, a successful organisation applies the 'need to know' approach to the 'need to learn'. They are therefore able to 'sift and sort' that which is desirable from that which is essential and that which is essential from that which is critical. In addition to enhancing decision-making capability, the application of this approach ensures that skill and knowledge assets can be targeted, economically, efficiently and effectively.


7. They question exhaustively and relentlessly

In the most successful organisations there is a tacit acknowledgement that nothing can be learnt until everything has been questioned. These organisations are innately curious and have a strong aversion to assumptions, even if those assumptions are based on evidence of what has worked before. In addition, these organisation are both forensic and relentless in their approach to learning. They weigh, test and measure available information. By doing so they are able to narrow the margin for potential error in decision-making, anticipate the likelihood of risk and focus their efforts to produce the most desirable results.


In conclusion, learning is how an organisation approaches the need to know. For the most successful organisations this approach is multi-faceted, dynamic and adaptive. As such it is much more likely to create a richer and ultimately more productive learning environment. Any organisation with designs on mastering the art and science of learning must first and foremost know what kind of learner they are. Are they the sort of organisation that acquires information on the basis of what they want to hear or what they need to know? If it is the former, then such an organisation will likely stumble from crisis to crisis, struggling to correct unproductive or harmful behaviours and all the while nourished by the vanity of its own ego. If it is the latter, then such an organisation will approach learning as though it were a vital organ, which needs to be protected and without which it cannot expect to survive. If there is an overarching message from this blog, it is the fact that an organisation only knows what it knows, the rest it has to learn.


By pa360, Jan 18 2015 09:51AM

You must have heard that quote before? You know, the one that goes: "If it walks like a duck, quacks like a duck and looks like a duck, then it must be a duck". I like the simplicity of that quote because it infers something very simple which is: use your common sense.


There is however, one small problem: whilst most of us would have no problem in correctly identifying a duck; a shared definition of 'common sense' may not be as easy to arrive at. Indeed, common sense is the greatest of all assumptions as it implies common knowledge, common understanding and by implication a common response. As case in point, when we feel thirsty our knowledge and understanding of thirst dictates that we need to take in fluids. However, if whilst thirsty, one were to reject a glass of fresh water in favour of a bowl of salty nuts, people would rightly wonder whether that individual was using their common sense. The thing that gives common sense its 'bite' is the fact that it assumes that, when faced with a set of circumstances, most people would act in the same way.


Things get much more complicated however, when you look at other scenarios. Is there for example, a common sense understanding of how we should respond when people make mistakes? How we should respond in the face of failure? Or how we should respond to a colleague who works hard, but still doesn't quite hit the mark?


These are the sorts of issues that concern us at believermomics. From our perspective, we would like to think that many if not all of our insights are common. However, knowledge and understanding visible and plain to some, may be less visible and plain to others. Our added value therefore is to present an uncommon perspective on common issues and by so doing, make insight accessible to a wider circle of learners. We do this by assembling facts, highlighting interdependencies, spotting patterns and building profiles of successful behaviours.


Here's a closing thought, did you know that a domino effect can be triggered when you value people? It goes something like this: with a greater sense of one's own value comes greater satisfaction and with greater satisfaction comes increased productivity. Increased productivity meanwhile delivers improved performance and with improved performance comes improved outcomes. Sounds like common sense - but then again, that assumes all sense is common doesn't it?

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