Saturday, 29 March 2014

First build trust

I've been in India for a week talking about a number of issues, including skills development.  India is making a big investment in Sector Skills Councils to try to work with industry to identify and fill skills gaps. Unfortunately, this dialogue is not proving easy.  Industry is not used to being consulted and to participating and is wary of government agencies asking for 'partnership'.

There is a general lesson here - building trust takes time - and takes mutual respect.  Without it, however, true partnership is not possible.  So, as well as investing the money, the Indian government and its skills agencies need to invest time in building that trust.  The exercise of transforming the India skills landscape might take a little longer than hoped for, but it will be built on more secure foundations.

Saturday, 22 March 2014

Does nature know best

The UK has had severe flooding this spring – especially in the South West of the country.

The reasons are not fully clear – but the weather conditions have been remarkable and relentless.

Over the last few decades, farmers in the affected area have been encouraged to drain the peat moors to improve grazing for sheep and raise agricultural productivity.  Unfortunately this did not have the beneficial effects expected.

What is did do (as planned) was to restrict the ability of the land to hold water. Excess water runs off carrying silt and the water itself down the moor to the next farm.  We see the effects – flooding.

Too often this happens when we try to control nature. Nature seems to be better at us at keeping several factors in balance.  We might be better served in working with that natural balance.

(It is often the same with people. Thinking we can change their natural makeup leads to disappointment..  we are better understanding them and working within that understanding.)

Saturday, 15 March 2014

Avoid Changing the Paradigm

Paradigm changes are rare - and when they occur, they can be very disruptive and threatening to those with a significant (financial or emotional) investment in the status quo.

They are also unexpected - almost by definition.  'Normal' thinking tends to be analytical and constructive - and we tend to get what we expect to get.  Whoever comes up with paradigm-changing thought arrives somewhere he/she never expected to reach.

Change is a spectrum - with paradigm change at one end and the status quo at the other.   Just 'short' of paradigm change is 'disruptive innovation' - often creating 'winners' and 'losers' by changing some important factor of a process or a whole industry.

If you want to avoid the signifiant disruptive threat that comes at this end of the spectrum, you'd better secure continuous innovation - to give you controlled, stepwise - though still radical - change.

Saturday, 8 March 2014


How many people in this world do you trust?

My answer is 'All of them' until they suggest to me that they cannot be trusted.  If we start from a position of trust, we normally end up approaching discussions and negotiations in a positive and constructive frame of mind.  if you trust employees, for example, then 'industrial relations' can also be positive and constructive.

This means that - whatever the personal, ethical and social implications, adopting a stance of 'trust first' makes good business sense.

Saturday, 1 March 2014

Give them what they need

Our office is quite small - a few desks ... and computers of course.  One of our members of staff is a graphic designer (amongst other things, for of course we cannot afford single-specialism staff) and this week I provided him with a graphics tablet.

He was slightly surprised - but very grateful. More importantly it transformed his ability to do (some parts of) his job.

It is good to be reminded of how important it is to:

(a) have the right tools and technology
(b) ensure we allow all our staff to use their talents to the full.

A simple review of how well we do these things is a useful exercise.  Try it!