Normalising Change and Surprise Outcomes


We might need to get a bit more specific. 

When change is the norm then it goes unnoticed (and often unrewarded), often with unintended consequences.

Anyone who has a school age child will have asked  “What did you do at school today?” or some variation of it. The typical answer is, “Nothing”. As adults are we all that different or are some things part of the human condition? Continue reading

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Evidence Based Coaching and The Importance of Insight

In any change situation there is going to be better results if there is reliable, valid and timely evidence and feedback.  And who has access to that can make a profound difference.


This is what my head told me I was doing!

Brisbane has long history of producing world champion swimmers (Leisel Jones, Keiren Perkins, Hayley Lewis) and many more have trained here. I’m not one of them. I’ve been encouraged and given feedback as I happily churned out a few laps at the University of Queensland pool or perhaps the Centenary Pool. Keep my head down, lengthen my stoke, reach out more, keep my hips higher, increase my kick rate and breath both sides. I worked at everything I was told and there was almost no improvement in my results. I thought doing it harder and getting stronger would help. It didn’t, at least not much! Then something important happened.

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Business Has A Short Memory and So Do We!

The Archives.jpg

Dust off your archives and check out where you’ve been. There can be lost gold.

Over years it’s easy to forget even the really useful things. Then one day you rediscover them and wonder why they disappeared in the first place. Nowhere is this more true than in the corporate world.

New business trends and ideas easily swamp us seemingly rendering older ideas obsolete. Employee Engagement has been a big thing for businesses over the last 10 years. To go with that has been a head spinning number of ‘models’. Just search ’employee engagement models’ and then click on images. There are hundreds of illustrations of employee engagement models and a quick scan can give a good idea of how diverse the models and language can be. That all points to an idea with some theoretical underpinnings, some will be well researched however there will be a lot relying on surface validity (seems to make sense). However for this post it is about what gets forgotten in this emphasis. For me looking at the engagement literature reminded of good work done in the 1970’s and 80’s on job design which gets very little or no explicit mention in any of the models. Even the term job design sounds so last century, mechanistic, old fashioned and too slow for this agile, divergent, disruptive, digital age. That is rubbish of course, every job has certain characteristics or a design if you prefer.

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A Coaching Case Study #1: Rod The Philanthropist


Kate Ceberano in concert has almost nothing to do with this article however you can bet both the wonderful bassist and Kate have had a lot of coaching and performance opportunities. And I just loved their performance and the photo.

Coaching and counselling opportunities have provided both professional highlights and disappointments. Some opportunities were specifically commissioned while others just occurred within or around ongoing consulting work. Early cases that motivated and changed me were mainly the second type and usually when there was sufficient time. The following is one of the earliest I remember well. I was involved in a restructuring initiative and temporarily had line responsibility.

Rod was mid to late twenties in a clerical administrative role working in an investment organisation. He was sharp, sarcastic, wary of the executives and labeled by those executives as disrespectful, rude, lazy etcetera. He was also articulate, insightful, well read and Continue reading

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Not Every Relationship Is Straight. Looking for the unexpected.


Our brains are well conditioned to see what they expect. Image from:

We all make the mistake, even when we know better. If something is good then more must be better. A nice, straight, linear relationship … except it’s not! At some point exercise will just injure and fatigue us, the extra serve of ice cream stops being a treat, working longer doesn’t improve your work performance and trimming more costs can make matters worse, etcetera. In these cases there’s an inverted U relationship. Recognising when something else is going on can make you a better consultant, manager and person.

Our day to day lives makes us familiar with other relationships in specific situations such as  recognising some diminishing returns relationships. That is, doing more will lead to improvements but less improvement for the same increase in effort. Weight loss could be an example. Another familiar relationship is in consumer pricing where the addition of more benefits and features leads to big increases in price (a logarithmic relationship). Mostly we’ve learned to expect these relationships and they influence how we think in a variety of situations however there are any number of things where we don’t know what to expect. We can’t be so certain what the relationship is. When that happens then logical errors are much easier to make e.g. if the threat of jail stops some crime then increasing the harshness of sentences will stop more crime. Perhaps, I don’t know exactly, however the US has the death penalty and a high murder rate for a western country, so maybe not. Perhaps you have to do other things if you want the murder rate to come down.

The Inverted U Curve.png
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Deregulation, Trump and Being Careful What You Ask For!


Pittsburgh: One reason regulations were developed.

Regulation: A rule or directive enforced by an authority. Trump has started rolling back regulation because proponents argue it costs jobs. Like most things it’s never really so simple e.g. rolling back the Clean Water Provisions allowing Kentucky coal miners to pollute streams and water tables impacts negatively on the communities the miners live in and those downstream. Many miners need the work and if the job bump happens then they will also need to endure the negative  impacts which will come later. It is also likely to see lower standards in new mines. See: Mining is Transient In the end the mining community will still need to face the problem that the amount of coal mined will reduce.

Why regulations?: Business doesn’t generally like regulations. And it’s true there is a history of bad, outdated and poorly implemented regulations that do need reform. There are also good, well structured and implemented regulations that act to protect us and that includes business.

Regulations are generally assumed to be negative for business and a cost and (in the case of the USA particularly) they can be presented as unnecessary government interference/intrusion. The exceptions are when regulations help maintain a businesses competitive position e.g. stopping or limiting others entering their market. Then a  Continue reading

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Mining & Resources: Behind The Political Rhetoric


From Queensland Mining and Energy Journal

Can Australia be ‘open for business’ and more strategic about the extraction and use of it’s resources at the same time? And does it really need to limit public scrutiny and make mining protections and applications easier to get through? Mining and resource extraction is absolutely essential to our industrial society. However the mining sector is powerful and influences government in ways that distort good economic and social policy.

It’s Transient:  Use public transport or a smart phone and you’re using a multitude of mined products. It takes a lot of money to do and a lot of money is made. Also keep in mind that all mining and resource extraction is transient though some projects are more transient than others. In any location it comes and it goes. It’s important when considering any project e.g. coal seam gas (CSG) extraction with it’s thousands of transient sites (4,489 Queensland sites in 2011) and environmental and social impacts. Income from any particular CSG site is relatively short lived 5 to 20 years.

Hidden Costs and Industry Strategy: Besides the potential to leave behind a very Continue reading

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