How do you like your Brexit: Hard, soft, scrambled, or Vegan?

December 8, 2017
charismatic-leadership
Today, after a tortuous period of over a year, the departure of the UK from the EU takes one step further forward. The week demonstrated the difficulty in setting a deadline as an absolute one, rather than a guideline in a search for reaching an objective.
I made the point some years ago in a talk to NHS professionals. Deadlines, I argued, could be treated as hard or soft. As an advocate of creative thinking, I was arguing for avoidance of Either Or thinking.
The Government (and worse, large numbers of people in and outside the UK) will, I believe, suffer from the unnecessary imposition of hard deadlines on the process of moving towards leaving the EU. The process has been widely described as Brexit, helpfully explained by Prime Minister May as ‘Brexit means Brexit.’
As with deadlines, Brexit was variously seen as hard or soft. The PM had the find ways of gaining support from those who wanted a  harder version, as well as those who wanted a softer.
Ways of serving an egg
But even that over-simplifies the assorted dilemmas to be addressed. For from being Either-Or, Brexit could be seen in a range of different ways.  How would you like your Brexit egg served: hard, soft, scrambled or without eggs at all. After all,  for ethical reasons, Vegans don’t eat even eat eggs.

 

charismatic-leadership

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Christmas Reading

November 29, 2017

 

 

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My first three books selected for Chrismas reading

I could not resist reading John Crace’s collected pieces in advance of Christmas. The humour sustains itself, although not quite as memorably as when served up fresh and regularly.

LWD Subscribers are invited to send me their books and reviews.

 

 


CREATIVITY IN AN AGE OF CHAOS

November 25, 2017

CREATIVITY IN AN AGE OF CHAOS

Creativity has often been associated with chaos and disruption. In this respect, Schumpeter’s economics of creative destruction comes to mind. His insights have influenced much of the work on innovation theory for economists.
But we can go back in history to find creativity as a disruptive force. In the philosophy of Plato, we are warned of the dangers to stability of the state, or republic, in the creative work of the poet. Plato, of course, always requires careful treatment. He intends us to work out for ourselves the ideas he is interested in.
The American creativity scholar Stein traced the origins of the adjective ‘Creative’ in a different way. The creative artist, he suggests attempts to imitate the features of the natural world as they were created by the first creator. We might chose to see in this an echo of Plato, again, with his idea of human perception being a poor distorted reflection of reality.
I want to explore the inter-relationships between creativity, innovation, and change, with particular emphasis on contemporary events in business and society. The post is based on a presentation to ISSEK from Manchester to Moscow, November 2017
In part my presentation draws on studies by myself and colleagues over nearly forty years at The Manchester Business School, (now renamed The University of Manchester Alliance Business School). Over that period, research into the nature of creativity has flourished with journals and international networks bringing together scholars and professionals. Yet many unresolved issues remain, which I consider as challenges, or dilemmas to be addressed.
One widely accepted view today comes from Teresa Amabile, one of the giants of the field, and is found  in the title of her book, Creativity in Context.
Creativity reveals itself when considered in its social context. Amabile’s  ‘Creativity in context’ is a good ‘lens’. It encourages us to look for the uniqueness of each example of creativity, as well as seeking its connectedness with other examples.
Rickards’ rules for understanding creativity
In an hour of gentle grilling recently in Buffalo, New York, by Professor Gerard Puccio about my views on creativity, I suspect I had not got further than a modification of  Warren Buffett’s famous laws of finance:
Rickards Rule no 1: There are many ways of understanding creativity
Rickards Rule no 2: never forget Rule no 1.
The age of chaos
The contemporary era has its own particular brand of chaos. If we are to make some temporary sense of it, we need to be constantly reviewing and revising our understanding. The information, though still partial and filtered, (as Plato taught us) is more widely available than ever before. So our individual challenge is to make sense of the ‘maps’ we come across, and from them create our own interpretations.
The workshops at Manchester Business School were designed to provide opportunities for   ‘Learning through doing’ using contemporary cases.  Over the years, I have found this a skill which can be developed with practice.
I believe creativity will become recognized as core to effectiveness in an age of chaos.

Creativity and Leadership Moscow 2017


Guardianistas Anonymous: A recovery plan

November 8, 2017

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In escaping from my addiction to the Guardian newspaper, I have today taken the first step. Recovery begins in recognizing the dangers accompanying your condition

 

My decline into the addiction is easy to trace. For some years, my loyalty was for another British newspaper. It fell on hard times, and in time, reduced its print content, including dispensing with a daily chess column of which I was inordinately fond.

I turned to The Guardian. A. Fatal choice. Admittedly, my new paper lacks a chess column, a grievous weakness. However, I found the content greatly to my liking. I had been a latent Gardianista for many years. I was soon hooked.

 

What is a Guardianista?

The term is used typically to categorize Guardian readers as being disposed to socially liberal and politically correct views (well, OK, I can live with that), and hypersensitive to politically incorrect actions or language.

A good example of the view from the outside can be found in a discussion thread from mumsnet:

What do mumsnetters mean when they use the phrase “Guardianistas”?

Ok, Dinosaur, I admit I use the term in a derogatory way, and I would not use it to classify all Guardian readers  I started to explain but it turned into a mini-essay, so to cut it short a middle class but not necessarily wealthy person, who is extremely pretentious about “art” and other “bohemian” topics. Feels superior to those on similar incomes who perhaps have less education etc. because they use recycled loo paper. Will stop now.

The critical incident for me in my descent into helplessness was another dependency-inducing product I began overdosing on everyday, and which I found lurking on the back page of the G2 supplement, itself concealed in the Sports Section of the Guardian.

The Quick Crossword

I became hooked very quickly. In time, I became unable to attend to other matters until I had completed the quick crossword. It is particularly seductive as you become increasingly addicted as you appear to be needing only two or three more answers to obtain the gratification of closure. Even sneakier, The Guardian provides a free solution on line, either for a frustrating clue, or for the entire puzzle.

The on-line fix

Then already weakened, I fall more deeply into helpless addiction. I now subscribe to the free daily on-line Guardian, an equally potent drug. Day by day, my resistance is weakened. I now spend increasing time considering the merits of full-on Veganism and everyday cruelties to oppressed minorities.

I reach out to other Guardianistas

I am seeking help from the institution for recovering Guardianistas. I am still at the first of their ten step journey to partial recovery. I am already able to read the headlines off other newspapers. I am starting with the new mini Independent, The i. Later I will be encouraged to look at the headlines of The Mirror. When these challenges become less threatening, I shall move on to confronting the terrifying front pages of The Daily Mail and The Sun.

Further reports on my steps to recovery to follow.


Relationship Leadership

October 31, 2017

Free Seminar: BLCC Seminar Series (INT): Wed 6 December 2017,14:00 – 16:00 

Rm 3X110 Bristol Business School. Title: Do relationships matter in the work place?

 

Bristol Leadership & Change Centre Research Seminar Series

 

Do relationships matter in the work place?

Relational leadership – rethinking organisational change through the lens of relationships

Speaker: Elinor Rebeiro, Delta7 Change Ltd

 

Speaker: Julian Burton, Delta7 Change Ltd

 

 

Abstract

We want to show that the quality of interpersonal relationships is central to the wellbeing, performance and success of every organisation. This is why we believe that leaders can¹t afford not to focus on building relationships as the central theme in leadership development programmes and organisational development work. We would like to use this session to share our perspective on relational leadership and shine a light on some of the unexamined assumptions we believe are maintaining cultures of disconnections and getting in the way of creating more human organisations.

As practitioners we find ourselves enveloped in our client¹s worlds. Their worlds are, without doubt, messy and complicated as they continually strive to achieve something different, something better.  We find many leaders are experiencing more complexity and uncertainty in their role leading change, and it¹s getting harder to resolve the wicked problems facing their organisations with traditional management practices. Many people feeling stuck, overworked and exhausted.

What’s not working?

For example, most organisational cultures we work in don¹t seem to have an emotional climate that nurtures experimenting and innovating new ways of working, yet there are strong intentions to move away from command and control and create more collaborative ways of working. The dominant view of management is that work is done transactionally  by individuals (Hartling, L. & Sparks, E., 2008); yet the collaborative, interactive nature of organising and coordinating mutually interdependent tasks and roles means that effective working relationships are what gets things done (Fletcher 2001).

We care passionately about how theory and practice can inform each other and how to combine the two things together to make them meaningful and productive for our clients. Yet we are noticing that theory still seems pretty far ahead of the reality of practice in organisations. What we are making sense of is how can we connect together theory and practice in a way that helps organisations but doesn’t put them off the possible innovations that can emerge from this praxis.

We will also engage in some experiential exercises to explore the different ways we can relate to each other at work and discuss how that can illuminate the direction that leadership development might need to take in order to more fully support organisations to thrive.

When was the last time you discussed your relationship with another at work?

Campus parking is limited so please book early to request space.

Contact details: UWE Bristol, Frenchay Campus, Coldharbour Lane, Bristol BS16 1QY. Telephone: +44 (0)117 9656261. Email: infopoint@uwe.ac.uk

 


Seconds Out by Martin Kohan

October 25, 2017

Book Review

Seconds Out, by the Argentine intellectual and novelist Martin Kohan, is a literary ‘who done it’. Its seventeen chapters each covers a single second of the time when the world heavyweight boxing champion Jack Dempsey was knocked out of the ring in a title fight in New York. He was allowed to recover by a hapless referee, and managed to climb back in, to resume a fight he should have lost by a knockout.

Woven into each of the chapters is a news item of a mysterious death in a hotel room in Argentina, which took place at the same time as the fight. This was followed up many years later by a journalist. His speculation that the two events were connected was dismissed by colleagues as their lives continued.

Eventually, there is a satisfactory resolution to the story, which I will not reveal.

This is an elegantly written book translated from the original Spanish and one which rewards readers with its power to sustain the themes of boxing, and wider existential issues. It happens to have another unexpected turn for me. In 2016, I began writing a story with the provisional title Seconds Out: A Memorial Hall mystery. My own idea is to draw attention to the emerging mind-and-body sport of Chess Boxing in a ‘cosy’ thriller format. Subscribers to Leaders We Deserve will not be surprised to learn it also touches on political and political leadership.

In 2017, as my own book was approaching publication, I came across and purchased a copy of the Martin Kohan novel. I enjoyed it thoroughly. I can only hope that my own tale, which also has a bizarre boxing match in it, will give as much pleasure to readers as Kohan’s gave to me.


Susan Moger (6 July 1954-12 September 2017)

October 13, 2017

Susan Moger

 

Susan Moger: ‘She was beloved on earth’

 

We all have our own Susan though our various memories. I want to share some of mine, together with contributions from Susan’s family and from her many friends around the world.

At first, I thought our various individual memories would be unique, but I quickly discovered several widely shared themes. For example, if there is an essence of Susan that could be bottled, it would be undiluted high-concentration determination always to do what she had set about doing, to the limits of her remarkable abilities.

In this respect, I recall catching a glimpse of her many years ago, walking up Oxford Road to the University of Manchester, though a blustery rain storm, leaning into a head wind. Metaphorically, it captured how she met subsequent headwinds in a similar way.

Another favourite memory of mine illustrates how she was often incapable of claiming credit for much of what she did for others. At times that later became painful, as she learned how the world rarely notices unpublicized efforts. We were working together once with a particularly favoured organization, Guinness Ireland, in Tinnakilly, County Wicklow. Susan had become a huge favourite of the Guinness executives. Our job was to help them come up with their own ideas to solve a tricky corporate problem. Susan came up with the idea which was eventually implemented. The client thanked me for the idea, publicly, at the end of the meeting.  Our rule was to say the team got the idea not an individual. Susan never claimed ownership, although she rightfully reminded me of the injustice of what had happened.

Her distaste for self-marketing was shown in her customary introduction to new groups of executives. When teaching together, Susan would begin “I qualified as a nurse, becoming a Senior sister in intensive care. I then took a degree in history at the University of Manchester, before becoming involved as a member of Manchester Business School.” For whatever reason, I had to add the additional information that her degree was a first-class honours one, and that she also had a most appropriate Masters’ degree, by research, in business, researching personality styles.  The case examples from her Masters’ were later to form the basis of the Handbook for Creative Team Leaders.

Theory and practice from her research were to come together when attended a session on personality profiling on styles of innovating and managing change. It turned out we had polar opposites on all the factors of the test. The distinguished tutor used our results to suggest that if we worked together over an extended period we would be an example of a dysfunctional team, because we would have too many personality differences to resolve. He was right about the differences, but was wrong about his prediction that the relationship was ultimately doomed through our incompatibility.

We had a scholarly riposte to that scholar, subsequently. We wrote and published a paper examining the dynamics of the film The Odd Couple, with its characters Felix and Oscar. We drew on our own diverse styles, to illustrate the tensions and nevertheless the richness found in such a diversity. Felix, the neat meticulous and responsible partner, Oscar the slovenly disorganized one.

An achievement of which Susan was rightly proud, was the success of the international journal, Creativity and Innovation Management (CIM). At first it was produced by ourselves, during which she showed her exceptional editing skills.  It was work for which determination and acceptance of little immediate recognition are required. The Felix of the partnership so often took the lead. Susan had those requirements in bucketfuls. As the Oscar, I had thimblefuls of either, in comparison.

One article from Japan was eventually to become a tipping point. We could have rejected it as it needed such extensive deciphering. Late one Sunday night, with the copy still incomplete, we decided we had gone as far as we could with the article and of ten years of editing the journal.

A new editing team was needed, and ownership passed to a wonderful group at the University of Twente, and later, more recently to Potsdam.

Today it is one of the recognized journals in its field, retaining our original concern for understanding the practice of business creativity and innovation, while holding to high standards of research excellence. In recognition of her contribution, an annual best paper competition was instituted in her name, giving her great pleasure as a way of continuing our association with the journal.

Over time, Susan became a much-loved member of the international community, and a familiar contributor to conferences around the world. Friendships were forged from Twente to Taiwan, from Buffalo to Brussels. Her editing skills also began to reveal themselves in a range of books. Notable among these were collections of he annual conference reports from The European Association for Creativity and Innovation (EACI). The rewards were friendships made around Europe.

Back in Manchester, Susan became a source of comfort for ‘our’ students who often became part of our extended international family.

Another editing task she later would refer to time and again, was that of The Routledge Handbook of Creativity during which she was the ‘front office’ for dealing with twenty or so groups of leading academics in the field, including some for whom the description Prima Donna would not be too far from the truth. If the Japanese paper was my sticking point, this Handbook was Susan’s.  She vowed never to edit a collective work of that kind again. You will not be surprised to know that she kept her word.

On a more personal level, Susan was a gold-medallist in sending greetings and Thank-You cards. She would replenish a stock which was being regularly depleted through birthdays, anniversaries, congratulations for achievements, and after social meetings. I would sometimes be co-opted to share in their signing.

In these and other more personal situations, Susan had a remarkable memory. Her knowledge of sports of all kinds was encyclopaedic. In football and tennis, she was unmatchable. As far as I detected, it was only cricket which defeated her, and in particular the follow-on rule.

Her greatest sporting love was tennis. She became a member of the Northern Tennis Club, Didsbury, and helped for several years in running the junior tournament, and one of the Ladies’ teams. Both would have served as case studies of sports leadership and creative problem-solving.

One of her other sporting memories was of work at Manchester United, where at a dinner at the end of one event, she won a competition for a signed United shirt awarded by Sir Bobby Charlton, ever-after a prized possession.

Susan was a much-loved sister and aunt, generous to a fault, always willing to be supportive and provide encouragement. Never looking for recognition and with her contribution often only really known to those who were the direct recipient of it. As I learned later, in her final months, Susan kept sets of rosary beads – in her handbag, in her home desk and also in top bedside table drawer along with rosary prayer books and prayer cards for those in pain. One can only hope that in small hours of the night these brought her comfort and strength.

In the last decade of her life, Susan encountered a series of illnesses which required all her determination, and which left her increasingly frail.  Recently she regained her old enthusiasm with involvement with riding for the disabled. Music filled the house, until one piece from Sibelius became one of those themes which would not go away, as she prepared for an event which would require her to demonstrate new skills of dressage from a standing start.

In this, as in her later determination to continue to pursue tennis using lightweight balls and racquets, her courage shone through.  I began to see in her an anger against the challenges posed by her illness, which reminded me of the famous Dylan Thomas lines

Do not go gently into that good night.

Rage, rage against the passing of the light.

 

A consoling few lines were sent by editor Katharina Hölzle, speaking on behalf of the CIM journal. I will let her words speak for themselves.

“Susan was one of the most inspiring persons we have ever met and her warmth and passion have inspired us tremendously. And if there is a person where we found the Late Fragment by Raymond Carver better reflected, then it was Susan.”

Late Fragment

by  Raymond Carver, A New Path to the Waterfall

And did you get what

you wanted from this life, even so?

I did.

And what did you want?

To call myself beloved, to feel myself

beloved on the earth.

 

As Katerina put it, Susan was truly beloved on earth.

We must appreciate her as a gift received, and , together with our mourning, cherish the memories of the kind I have outlined

TR, October 10th 2017