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As a non-academic, there are times when I encounter the outpourings of the higher education community and catch myself thinking “Yes, I knew that, actually. I wouldn’t have explained at such great length, or with so many historic references or such recourse to technical language. But I still feel like I knew that already.” I had that feeling recently, when I researched the idea of Organisational Citizenship.

As a non-academic, there are times when I encounter the outpourings of the higher education community and catch myself thinking “Yes, I knew that, actually. I wouldn’t have explained at such great length, or with so many historic references or such recourse to technical language. But I still feel like I knew that already.” I had that feeling recently, when I researched the idea of Organisational Citizenship.

The Assumptions Comfort Zone: Two Rights Don’t Make A Wrong

A lack of reciprocity and curiosity and an abundance of judgement doesn’t just sell the leader’s potential contribution to the organisation and/or its mission short: it sells everybody else short too.

A lack of reciprocity and curiosity and an abundance of judgement doesn’t just sell the leader’s potential contribution to the organisation and/or its mission short: it sells everybody else short too.

Interview feedback: “In five years time?”

It’s one of the classic HR/interview questions, isn’t it? Where you see yourself in some hypothetical future state, having mysteriously gained awesome prophetic powers that enable you to accurately foresee not just your own career trajectory, but the future health of the interviewing company, the economy in general, your personal life circumstances – and presumably that bus you step out of the way of just in time sometime in 2017.

It’s one of the classic HR/interview questions, isn’t it? Where you see yourself in some hypothetical future state, having mysteriously gained awesome prophetic powers that enable you to accurately foresee not just your own career trajectory, but the future health of the interviewing company, the economy in general, your personal life circumstances – and presumably that bus you step out of the way of just in time sometime in 2017.

Conventional wisdom? Meet a real maverick …

Close to ASK’s heart is Ricardo Semler’s insistence on a critical question: “why?”. And not just asking it at every available opportunity, but asking it three times. The first to get the rehearsed answer, the second to start the process of fresh thinking in the questionee, and the third to push the new thinking forward. (In an extract from his second book, The Seven Day Weekend, at inc.com, I was amused to see him draw the same parallel with four year olds as we did here some years ago – although we obviously forgot the motivational power of ice-cream.)

Close to ASK’s heart is Ricardo Semler’s insistence on a critical question: “why?”. And not just asking it at every available opportunity, but asking it three times. The first to get the rehearsed answer, the second to start the process of fresh thinking in the questionee, and the third to push the new thinking forward. (In an extract from his second book, The Seven Day Weekend, at inc.com, I was amused to see him draw the same parallel with four year olds as we did here some years ago – although we obviously forgot the motivational power of ice-cream.)

Defining Courage

Courage isn’t just about bravery and derring-do. It also includes holding yourself accountable, encouraging pushback and seeking out feedback – including negative feedback – on your own behaviours and actions: taking the personally rough with the personally smooth. To quote Hemingway, “Courage is grace under pressure.”

Courage isn’t just about bravery and derring-do. It also includes holding yourself accountable, encouraging pushback and seeking out feedback – including negative feedback – on your own behaviours and actions: taking the personally rough with the personally smooth. To quote Hemingway, “Courage is grace under pressure.”

Don’t create statements, ask questions

A question invites a response in ways that a statement simply cannot. And if a statement is a description of an unsatisfactory state of affairs, something that moves us towards tackling it is definitely a first step. Statements may make diagnoses, but getting a diagnosis doesn’t cure the patient. Questions can help us dig below symptoms. Help us realise that not banging our head on the wall is a better step forward then taking painkillers.

A question invites a response in ways that a statement simply cannot. And if a statement is a description of an unsatisfactory state of affairs, something that moves us towards tackling it is definitely a first step. Statements may make diagnoses, but getting a diagnosis doesn’t cure the patient. Questions can help us dig below symptoms. Help us realise that not banging our head on the wall is a better step forward then taking painkillers.

In uncertain times, anticipate surprises

Life does not take place at the movies. If working life does indeed have people called ‘Directors’, they don’t sit in chairs with megaphones shouting ‘Action’ or ‘Cut’. When did you last get offered a second take? Or get told that something can always be sorted out in the edit? We may prefer suspense – knowing that the bomb is under the table – but sometimes we get surprises instead.

Life does not take place at the movies. If working life does indeed have people called ‘Directors’, they don’t sit in chairs with megaphones shouting ‘Action’ or ‘Cut’. When did you last get offered a second take? Or get told that something can always be sorted out in the edit? We may prefer suspense – knowing that the bomb is under the table – but sometimes we get surprises instead.

All work and no play: how to strangle innovation

HRZone recently published an interesting article by Emma Littmoden, partner at The Living Leader, called Can HR devise rules that stimulate not stifle innovation? A question that begged for a response – possibly a fairly abrupt one – from the organisational equivalent of ‘the cheap seats’, I thought, so it’s lack of comments so far comes as a surprise. Perhaps everyone else’s HR departments have issued memos banning employees from posting comments at HRZone? But, to answer Emma Littmoden’s rhetorical question, an HR team that’s aware that innovation needs stimulating within its organisation might want to consider talking to the managers rather than just revising the rules for the employees. It might be not the rules that need changing, but the nature and culture of the game.

HRZone recently published an interesting article by Emma Littmoden, partner at The Living Leader, called Can HR devise rules that stimulate not stifle innovation? A question that begged for a response – possibly a fairly abrupt one – from the organisational equivalent of ‘the cheap seats’, I thought, so it’s lack of comments so far comes as a surprise. Perhaps everyone else’s HR departments have issued memos banning employees from posting comments at HRZone? But, to answer Emma Littmoden’s rhetorical question, an HR team that’s aware that innovation needs stimulating within its organisation might want to consider talking to the managers rather than just revising the rules for the employees. It might be not the rules that need changing, but the nature and culture of the game.

Fitter, happier, more productive?

If we’re going to really address wellbeing in its proper sense(s), do we shrug and decide it’s really up to the individual? Open the brochure drawer and leave it up to them whether they read it or not? Or do we open our ears, eyes and mouths and see wellbeing as a mutual responsibility? As something that we can not only all contribute to, but all gain from in return?

If we’re going to really address wellbeing in its proper sense(s), do we shrug and decide it’s really up to the individual? Open the brochure drawer and leave it up to them whether they read it or not? Or do we open our ears, eyes and mouths and see wellbeing as a mutual responsibility? As something that we can not only all contribute to, but all gain from in return?

Aspiration and Leadership: answering your calling, or diverting your calls?

Aspiration within an organisation can be more of a mixed blessing that is initially evident. Gwen Teatro once wrote in the article Why Do You Choose Leadership on her You’re Not the Boss Of Me blog: In many organizations, there is this implicit assumption that everyone aspires to be a leader. As a result, leadership … Continue reading “Aspiration and Leadership: answering your calling, or diverting your calls?”