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, Mar 8 2015 10:14AM

Aspiration and a clear vision are crucial to improvement. After all, if you don't know what you want to achieve, how will you be able to organise your effort and those of others in order to achieve it? And if you cannot achieve it, then you will not improve it. Aspiration is very similar, but not quite the same as a vision. I once read a very simplistic definition of the two, which described aspiration as what we want to achieve and vision as how we want to achieve it.

Once you know what you want to achieve (aspiration) and have a broad idea of how you want to achieve it (vision) you actually need to educate people to want to care about it (inspire), equip them to act upon it (empower) and encourage them to do something about it (transform). Here, leaders play a unique and critical role. Set out below are the three powerful ways that leaders can inspire, empower and transform.

1. Inspiration

The wonderful thing about aspiration and vision is that once they come together they often create a third thing which is inspiration. I often think of inspiration as being like the explosion that occurs when a source of combustion (aspiration) is brought into contact with a source of ignition (vision). It is essentially the "kaboom" effect that helps us to keep going even in the most adverse of conditions and to come up with unique solutions to the most complex of problems. But what is the role of the leader in inspiring others? Fundamentally, leaders inspire others by 'educating' and influencing them through the passion of their arguments, the strength of their convictions and the power of their example. If inspiration is the ability to get others to share your passion, then the full of extent of what you see in others, is likely to be a reflection of what they see in you.

2. Empowerment

As noted, inspiration is useful because it empowers. To be empowered is to be enabled, strengthened and fortified. Empowerment is more than just the knowledge and understanding of how something is to be done, it is also having the confidence to do it. An empowered person is therefore able to navigate their way around seemingly insurmountable obstacles and sees every new challenge (no matter how daunting) as an opportunity. In a nutshell an empowered person can do all that a disempowered person cannot do. Here, leaders play a critical role in empowering others. An effective leader understands that empowerment is the authority to act and the authority to act is more than a verbal conferment, but rather the practical tools such as choice, autonomy and the capacity for disciplined risk taking.

3. Transformation

So far we have dealt with the unique relationship between inspiration and empowerment, but what about transformation? Well my recent blog 'making transformation happen' is entirely devoted to that subject and I would encourage you read it as a companion blog to this. But essentially, the purpose and effect of transformation is to bring about change so fundamental, that a situation becomes unrecognisable to what it was before. Through transformation, we don't just create new beginnings, we create new possibilities, new opportunities and new futures. Leaders in particular, play a critical role in the transformation process. An effective leader understands that transformation is brought about by disciplined stewardship. The image to hold in your mind is that of a gardener who thoughtfully, carefully and steadfastly nurtures seedlings to the point where they eventually mature and flower. Transformation simply speaks to the quality of leadership and stewardship that brings it about and makes it possible.

Bringing about change can often be a long, painstaking and challenging process. To get things moving, you need to have an aspiration and a clear vision. However, to get things done you need capable leaders with the leadership qualities to inspire and empower others. This will help to transform your circumstances in a way that will bring about the change that you desire and deliver the results that you want.

By pa360, Feb 28 2015 08:03AM

We have all heard the word 'transformation'. To transform something is to make it unrecognisable compared to whatever it was before. Think of a business, on the brink of going bust at the beginning of the financial year, recovering to become the market leader by the end of the financial year. That's transformation! For some organisations the key to their structural transformation relies on a similar seismic change in circumstance. But whilst transformation implies something dramatic and life changing, the key to transformation does not always have to be so dramatic. Set out below are six keys to make organisational transformation happen.

1. Realisation

I am sure, like me, you have walked into a dark room to look for something and instead of fumbling around in the darkness, your immediate impulse has been to switch on the light. That very act of turning on the light will have a transformational effect on your surroundings. Suddenly you will be able to see clearly and your spatial awareness will be immeasurably increased. As a consequence, you will be more confident and better able to find whatever you are looking for and avoid tripping over things. Strange isn't it that an effect so transformational as illuminating a dark room, can be brought about by an act so simple as switching on a light. The key learning tip for organisations is that to get to a point of realisation, you need to unclutter your thinking. Informed speculation and reasoned logic can often provide enough 'light' to enable you know what is important, see what you need to prioritise and understand what you need to do next.

2. Beliefs

The act of belief always follows realisation and has exactly the same transformational effect on the way in which an organisation functions. Much like flicking a switch, belief is an act of faith that illuminates the organisational thinking space and enables it to see possibilities and opportunities that may have been hidden beforehand. Belief asks the question, without which the answer will always be no. I often remind myself of the great deeds of celebrated achievers in sports, business, technology, politics and science and without exception it would have been impossible for them to achieve their goals without first believing that such things were even possible. The key learning tip here is that belief doesn't just help an organisation to have a positive leaning state of mind, it also shapes its decision-making posture.

3. Behaviours and routines

Depending on an organisation's circumstances, making transformation happen may require a significant change to behaviours, habits and routines. These changes may be necessary to overcome significant obstacles that impede progress and competitiveness. However, its is important to re-emphasise that the process of transformation doesn't just end with change, it starts with change as well. At the beginning, a change in perception, creates a change in attitude, a change in attitude informs changed behaviours and changed behaviours can deliver a change in outcomes. The key learning point here is that: as much as transformation describes an outcome, it also defines a process and that process requires activity. Realising that transformation can happen and believing that it will happen will by themselves not make it happen. You need to act.

4. Disciplined risk-taking

Much as it may sound a bit like an oxymoron risk-taking can be disciplined and has to be to deliver the best effects and most meaningful outcomes. The essence of risk-taking is recognising that learning and discovery sometimes comes at a cost. The point about discipline is to ensure that such costs are acceptable in the context of broader organisational objectives. It is also predicated on the clear understanding that organisational, like individuals, cannot learn or discover things until they test things and they won't meaningfully test things until they are willing to risk things. Remember, in the introduction to this blog, we highlighted the fact that transformation represents a seismic and unrecognisable shift from what was to what is. Seismic shifts are rarely the products of over-cautious thinking and effort. By contrast, undisciplined risk-taking amounts to recklessness and it is difficult to learn anything that is useful from that.

5. Realism

Does this seem obvious? Well it should do, but is none-the-less worth stressing. There are absolutely no shortcut to transformation. On the contrary, it takes time and to experience it, organisation's need to be realistic about their expectations. Short-cut processes often produce short-lived results. This is because so-called 'over-night transformations' seldom have the roots and anchoring to make them sustainable. The key learning point here is that realism often means being ready to do the hard miles, make the sacrifices and be willing to accept arithmetical progress in the short-term to see geometric progression in the longer-term. It also means accepting the 'pain' that comes with realism. Yes, realism can be painful! It may not make you friends, but it will make you better.

6. Abandon the nostalgia

Probably the biggest barrier to transformation is the penchant for nostalgia. The sentimental or sometimes almost romantic attachment that organisation's have to the very things that hold them back. Attempting to combine a love of nostalgia into a desire to for something new is a bit like moving away from an old neighbourhood, where you fell into bad company only to invite the same bad company to visit you in the new neighbourhood in the hope that things will be different. In such a situation, transformation cannot happen and it won't work. The key learning point here is that the only thing worse than unconsciously deceiving yourself, is when you unwittingly deceive others.

In conclusion, at a very basic level, organisational transformation is not complicated, but it does require a clear-eyed focus, determined effort and hard work. Ultimately therefore, whether you're ready to work for it, is entirely dependent on whether you think it's worth it.

By pa360, Jan 17 2015 11:40AM

People often bemoan the lack of opportunity in their professional lives. Quite understandably, they want to have better jobs, that pay more money and offer better long term career prospects. The reality is that often-times we are competing for opportunities in markets that are saturated with our particular 'product'. At other times we are offering a 'product' that no-one really wants. Clearly, if you are uncompetitive either due to market saturation or low product value, you will not be able to achieve the benefits or generate the 'profits' that you are aiming for.

It strikes me that if you want to 'trade' successfully in the market-place of opportunity you must first have a marketable 'product' to offer. I think it was the late Apple Chief Executive, Steve Jobs who described it this way: "If you keep your eye on the profit, you’re going to skimp on the product. But if you focus on making really great products, then the profits will follow".

Maybe at times our focus is not quite right. Perhaps we are overly concerned with making 'profit' (eg: finding a new job, getting a pay rise or winning a promotion) and lose focus on making ourselves into a great 'product'. I believe that to 'skimp' on the product (as Job's describes), simply means to cut corners or neglect the detail. However, the points of detail that we neglect and the corners that we cut, are often the very things that distinguish us from others and make our 'product' both marketable and desirable.

So what do we do about it? I think the answer is simple: 'focus on the product'. Focusing on the product does not necessarily mean doing more of the same (although it might, if you have been significantly off your game). Rather, it is more likely to mean that you should spend time developing your brand competitiveness. As a case in point, if you are looking to trade in the leadership market, then offer a distinctive leadership 'product' or brand. To do this you will need to develop leadership insights and experience that are uncommon, dynamic and agenda setting. Alternatively, you may already have a profitable 'product' on paper, but may simply lack the skills to market yourself profitably in practice. For you, focusing on the product might simply mean getting your product pitch right or finding the most profitable markets to profile yourself in.

To conclude therefore, don't focus on making profit, focus on making great product and don't just focus on making the right product, focus on making the product right.

By pa360, Jan 16 2015 06:09AM

Have a look at the picture at the bottom of this blog. A butterfly is such a striking creature isn't it? Those beautiful colours and contrasting patterns are both stunning and impressive. However, it is easy to forget that butterflies are not born. Rather, they become, through a process of transformation from an egg to caterpillar, then to a chrysalis and finally to an adult. The final incarnation into a butterfly is as much a triumph as it is a metamorphosis.

For this butterfly inspired blog, I have highlighted four key learning points that will hopefully motivate, empower and encourage you.

First, do not despise humble beginnings. Everyone starts from somewhere, but a beginning is just that: somewhere to start. Humble beginnings build resilience and resilience strengthens character and strong character will prepare you for opportunity. Be inspired by humble circumstances, but do not let them stand in your way.

Second, see the end from the beginning. Have some aspiration and vision for your future and give some thought to what success will look like for you. Depending on your goal, there may be many stages along the way - get ready for them. Prepare for success or you will be unprepared when it arrives. Don't identify with your circumstances, but rather identify with your aspirations.

Third, be patient. Remember, transformation is not revolution. Personal growth requires learning and with learning comes maturity. The experiences and labours of today, will help prepare you for the opportunities of tomorrow. Sometimes we are over-eager to move on to the next thing, before we have finished the first thing.

Fourth, get ready for change. Make a point of learning something from every new experience. Often, change is necessary to shake us out of our complacency. At other times change happens naturally when we are ready for the next stage of our development. Whenever change happens, keep in mind that whatever you anticipate will not surprise you. Like resilience, change helps to build character, because it challenges us to be agile and adaptable.

Here's the rub; caterpillars don't win beauty contests - butterflies do. But you cannot be a butterfly, until you've learnt to be a caterpillar.

By pa360, Jan 13 2015 06:03AM

Where I work, making tea is an important social ritual. At intermittent points during the day, someone will ask for orders and then head off to the tea point, returning a short time later with mugs of steaming hot beverage on a tray. Although a mundane activity, tea making has contributed to team bonding, created a shared sense of responsibility and become part of our office 'culture'.

I will be coming back to the tea in just a moment, but first let's talk about culture. In simple terms culture describes our beliefs, values, attitudes and behaviour. It is influenced by our upbringing, education and the company we keep. It can manifest by way of ethics (culture of truthfulness), ideology (culture of fairness), goals (culture of success) and a host other ways. Culture shapes our personal brand and helps create a unique identity.

A culture is established when the repetition of behaviour translates into standards and when consistent adherence to those standards establishes norms. Norms are the things that we as individuals do everyday - often without a second thought, prompt or invitation. They are the 'hard code' for how we live; whether at home or in wider society. Queuing up at the supermarket checkout or exchanging pleasantries with colleagues at work are examples of norms. They are the sorts of things we do on impulse, without the necessity for considered thought or planning.

Now back to the tea. As I mentioned, in our office, making tea for others has become a standard. Consistent adherence to that standard has established a norm, which in turn has established a culture. As with any standard, someone started it and others followed and before long everyone was doing it. But here's the rub, if any standard, consistently adhered to, can establish a cultural norm, then anyone can become an agent of dynamic culture change in their place of work.

This means that, if there is a culture of arriving late to work in the morning, then set a new standard for arriving early; or if there is a culture of leaving work early, then set a new standard for leaving slightly late. Likewise, if there is a culture of laziness, then set the standard for hard work; or if there is a culture of blaming others, then set the standard for professional integrity.

The bottom line is this: through your example, set standards for others to follow and help to establish new cultural norms.

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