Another fad, another failure

Anyone has read my blog over the last decade will know that I have been pretty vocal about the faddism in business management and leadership. We like nothing more than getting behind the latest silver bullet destined to solve all our problems. Employee Engagement, Human Capital Management, Big Data, Disruption, the list is both endless and entirely vacuous.

I’m going to add a new one for you, a term that has been creeping into the marketing descriptions of consultancies across the world like an outbreak of Japanese Knotweed.

Employee Experience.

I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve talked about this in the past, a quick scan through the archives shows a first post back in 2011, but you know that when a once meaningful, philosophical concept becomes the next management buzzword it will turn into first fad and then failure. Why? Simply because it loses sight of the original intent.

There is a significant commonality (and indeed irony) between both Employee Engagement and Employee Experience. Both in, their essence,  are about feeling, emotion and attachment but instead are replaced with systems, processes and measurement as the consultants promise us “sure fire ways” to drive the “performance of organisations” through “unparalleled insights” as a means to monetise our desire for a quick fix.

There is no doubt that leadership and management need to focus more on the working environment, that goes without saying. But ultimately that is about the way in which we see work and our beliefs about the treatment of employees in the workplace, not about systems, apps and fancy branded interventions. Once we’ve got the belief system in place, the rest will follow in due course.

It is too much to ask that we drop our addiction to faddism, but I hope at least we can open our eyes and realise what exactly it is that we’re doing. Change comes from within, it comes from our desire to create something meaningful and different. It seldom comes in a beautifully branded brochure.

And if you want to understand how to make the world of work a little better, start by reading this.

Five simple things

1) Learn in times of adversity – when things are tough you’re forced to look at life with a level of granularity and forensic inspection that can be absent in normal or easier times. Understanding the insight you gain, but not dwelling on it, is key

2) Walk forward with kindness – in the current climate it feels easier to polarise, to hate and to divide. Walking forward with kindness is a simple way we can all shed a little light n the world and bring small actions together to drive change.

3) Action is everything – in the grand scheme of things, we have so little time. Action is everything and defines who and what we are. We can talk and mull and ponder, we can write and reflect and rework. But only the doing actually matters.

4) Live in the gaps – busy lives are full of stuff, of competing demands. They’re noisy and pressured and complicated and oppressive. Live in the silence and gaps that emerge between. Indulge in the moments of nothingness.

5) Do over (and over) – there is no start, no middle, no end. Just a series of iterations and circles. Don’t be afraid to do again, to try, to repeat, to renew and revise. There is no path to take a wrong turn from, just a simple horizon to head for.

Have a good Christmas break and see you in the New Year.

The end of 2016

So, here we are. Coming to the end of 2016 and for me, the last time this year that I’m going to sit down and write.

Glad it’s over?

Yeah, the prevailing view seems to be that 2016 has been a bit of a sucky year. But I’m not so sure. Beyond the hype and the hyperbole, the media column inches, I see some good things out there, things that warrant a mention.

The first round the world solar-powered flight – This is serious game changing technology. We might be having arguments about who runs this and who runs that. But that all seems pretty pointless if the actual planet that we’re on is going to hell in a handcart. Step forward Bertrand Piccard and Solar Impulse 2. Now imagine if we replaced all of the flights taking place across the world with solar-powered planes and the impact that would have on our ecosystem. I’m not saying that is going to happen over night (no pun intended) but it sure took a major step closer in 2016.

The tiger population is growing for the first time in 100 years – See my previous point about going to hell in a handcart. Are we slowly getting to grips with endangered species? Maybe, certainly not quickly enough, but it’s a positive step. And we did that, human beings. By our actions and changed behaviour. Though consistently coming together to try to make amends. Another small step? Sure. But one that shows what we can do, against the odds, if we really want to. And I know the tigers are grateful.

The fight against HIV moves on – When I was growing up, the fear of AIDS and HIV was everywhere, on the television, in the papers, on the radio. There was a genuine sense that we were sitting on a ticking time bomb. And whilst there is much to be done, the year has also seen a number of major advances in the fight to eliminate HIV, at least in the West. Whether it is the advances in cell therapy in Israel, or the provision of “prep” drugs in the UK, 2016 has been another big step forward.

The ice bucket challenge came good – I’l admit I was a hater at the time. I didn’t get it (still don’t), but you can’t be right all the time. Seems like those of you who tipped water over yourselves for fun and charity were on to a thing. The money received as a result of your collectivity stupidity actually did something good and 2016 has been the year where scientists have identified a new gene associated with ALS and therefore the chance to better figure our how to develop new treatments.

We created a new generation of heroes – 130 million of them to be honest. That’s the approximate annual birth rate I’m told, I haven’t counted. And in a world where we are bemoaning the loss of so many of our existing idols, isn’t it exciting to think that we are also creating the future? The people who will change our world, make us laugh, entertain, build, design, create and lead. A new generation of people to make the most of the planet that we’re trying to preserve.

So the thing is; some things might not have gone your way this year. You might not have got the result that you wanted in some way or another, but I’m sure that other people did. Put that aside and look at the amazing power that we have as humans to change our circumstances and make things better. To innovate, to protect and preserve, to cure and solve and to recreate.

We can dwell on the things that don’t go our way, we can talk about our moans and our groans. But as 2016 comes to an end, try to find a little bit of space in your head and your heart, to think about the future, the opportunities, the positives and the successes. When we come together as a species, we can do bad things, but we can also create the most incredibly beauty.

Have a good break. Peace out.