Inconsistency Rules! No it Doesn’t. Yes – it Does.

Today I’m delighted to be handing over the reins on the blog to guest writer Julia Benbow. I first met Julia on our “Is Bad Behaviour Killing Big Business” LinkedIn discussion group. She’s a great contributor to the discussion. Julia has a way with words and she makes me laugh. Here she makes an impassioned plea for a little inconsistency. Enjoy the post, and why not add an idea or two in the comments? Go Julia!

What would happen if we were all just a little bit more different?

Businesses are very committed to consistency. Consistency in product, quality, brand, behaviour, etc. We all want to get something that fulfils our expectations. We have an expectation that what we get should meet the promise that we were made. Predictability is powerful and it sells.

I have a bit of an inner dialogue running and at the moment, I am in favour of a consistency rebellion. Mavericks of the world unite!

What’s the basis for this movement? Two reasons; firstly big business argues with itself and that hinders innovation and progress. We are given policy, process, scorecards, competency frameworks, telephone scripts, templates for power point presentations, reporting timetables, budgets, and on, and on…… Then we are asked to continually improve, to be fresh, to challenge the status quo, to innovate!  How? When? What with? Secondly, people are predisposed to inconsistency. A sense of ones own uniqueness is important to self esteem. Excessive consistency, too much structure, well, it just infers that your natural state is not ok. What does not okay-ness lead to? Yes folks, misery. People who bring their personalities to work, warts and all and have space to express it, teach others and they learn themselves.

I say empower people to be inconsistent. The risk averse will need to breathe deeply here. Give them some space, get rid of some of the things that you think make you or your business consistent. You don’t have to do it permanently, it might be just for a day, a week or even a month. Do it, give it time, coach and see what happens.

So, what are your ideas?  What could you do to make you, or your business, less consistent?

Smoking is good for you. Fact.


Productivity trumps presenteeism every time. Sure, input is necessary but output is what really counts. And we know that taking time out, little and often, helps us to stay sharp and to deliver. Here’s a little something that Katherine Wiid found out about and told me which may interest you:

A man by the name of Boice, has extensively researched the productivity of academics. Do you know that there is a differential of 7:1 between the best and ordinary academics?

Highly productive academics
* work early in the morning before the household gets up for 1 to 1.5 hours (maximum)
* work on one project at a time and working at it a little every day
* work in snatches of about 15 minutes and take mini breaks
* stop.

Of course, then they go into the office and attend to the busy-work of universities and the complementary work of teaching. In working regularly every day and STOPPING, they achieve 7 times more than people who “binge” work.

Despite this, we often see people running from meeting to meeting, oh so terribly busy. It feels like a competition to outbusy everyone else. What’s the driver? Fear? An attempt to make oneself indispensable? Whatever it is, a long day with no breaks serves no one well.

Which brings me to smoking. I was with a friend yesterday who suggested that maybe smoking is good for you? What!! He explained…

Most organisations I know barely if ever bat an eyelid when a smoker gets up, and pops out for a cigarette break. And yet they can be gone for upwards of fifteen minutes, several times a day. Imagine the questioning a non-smoker would get if once every hour or two they got up and wandered off for quarter of an hour. “Haven’t you got work to do?” “Aren’t you busy enough?” It probably wouldn’t be tolerated; peer group pressure at least would likely make the habit fail. Yet a much more dangerous habit at least brings with it the potential benefit of increased productivity. So you see it turns out that smoking is good for you.

OK I’m kidding, and so was he. It isn’t. What is much better is to create a culture where it’s not only OK to take regular breaks, it’s encouraged. So, if you are in a position of visible leadership. Take a break. Encourage someone to join you. Do it again, and again. Just enough that other folk know it’s OK to refresh and recharge for their benefit, and your benefit, and the customers benefit, and the shareholders benefit…

Healthy Habits

Dashing around London yesterday I spotted this sign in the doorway of Holland and Barrett.

Great idea! Will this single act save the planet? I doubt that, but if it achieves nothing else it will reduce the number of plastic bags blown on the wind into parks, playgrounds and high streets. Good work Holland and Barrett. I wonder what is stopping other retailers from pursuing a similar tactic? Why can’t the big supermarket chains just go ahead and follow suit? Come on Tesco, Sainsbury, Asda et al, get together, and agree to start charging your customers for plastic bags, or better still, just stop providing them at all. We’ll soon figure out more sustainable ways to get our shopping home, trust us, we will.