Cards on the Table

Custom Made Business Cards
Custom Made Business Card

Cards on the Table

The coming together of a thriving online network. Connections developing into relationships. I’d been looking forward to our Is Bad Behaviour Killing Big Business knowledge share event for weeks. So much so that even when I got a call from the venue on the day to say there was a power failure and so we’d have no lights, I just thought – thank goodness for candles.

We had encouraged folks to design and make customised business cards to bring to the discussion. And we weren’t disappointed. In addition to the beautiful water colour cards designed by Vandy, we were treated to more unique ideas by Ian Price, Peter Burton, Peter Reid, Ian Sutherland and Quentin Kopp. I like them all and I’m particularly inspired by Ian’s jigsaw puzzle idea. We also received a lovely example from Esmé Davies from Itinerary Tours. Although Esmé couldn’t join us I wanted to share her creative card with you.

Esmé Davis’ creative business card

Long Distance

Among our guests were Ian James and Kerry Hastings, who had travelled down from the West Midlands to be with us. And Quentin Kopp journeyed down from Chesterfield. We were also joined by Shereen Qutob, and her husband Cristiano. I’ve known Shereen for over 18 months. We’ve met on a number of online networks but never in person. Shereen and Cristiano were over from Dubai on business in Europe and I was very excited that they chose to pop in en route from Paris to Edinburgh to spend an evening with us.


The Conversation Grid
The Conversation Grid – by Torch Light!

We deliberately didn’t set any agenda for this meet up. We used the grid model, so successful at the recent Connecting HR Unconference, and asked people to populate the grid with conversation ideas. We had loads of ideas and loads of good conversations. I didn’t do a very good job of keeping things on track but when interesting people meet other interesting people it can be hard to stop the conversation.

Down to Business

Here is the rough cut of what we talked about. Needs work? Absolutely and I hope that by putting this out in raw form, people will be encouraged to add to the melting pot.

• People behave to fit the system
• Do a good deed every day
• Can you balance organisational values with personal values?
• What is the opposite of honesty? Silence!
• Success is all about preparation and practice, talent is overrated
• Organisations know how to behave well yet they frequently choose not to. It’s often counter cultural to do the right thing. People who do often leave (eventually feels too much like hard work) and the organisation reverts to what it was before. Someone referred to this as the work equivalent of social dieting, love it!
• Being aggressively busy causes bad behaviour
• Unselfish is important
• Posed the question online asking for examples of inspiring/inspired change leaders. Got lots of me me me, I’ve done it, but only one recommendation of someone else doing it. Yet when we ask other questions we get more generous answers. So there seems to be a lack of inspiring change leaders – is leadership too homogenised these days?
• You get what you measure – so be very careful what you measure
• There is no such thing as an organisation, only people

Because You’re Worth It

This event felt like visible leadership (despite the dimly lit surroundings) very much in action. Thanks to everyone who stepped into the unknown and helped make this happen. We’ve run a number of events now but none quite as fluid, and easy going as this.

I’ve had some lovely feedback from our guests since the event and in response to a number of requests we will run another in Spring 2011 and hopefully build our initial conversations into something more, both at the next get together, and importantly, between now and then too. So – to those kind people who came along and invested time and energy into the conversation I ask you – what could we do differently next time? And to those of you who didn’t or couldn’t come this time – what might encourage you to join in second time around?

Stand to Attention – CEO on Deck!

A good friend drew my attention to a piece in the Wall Street Journal about the CEO emerging from hiding in an attempt to engage staff. The piece starts by saying:

“As the economy recovers, employees are more likely to see a new presence in the office—their chief executive.

Chiefs who spent last year battling the recession are coming out of their foxholes to talk more with staffers. It’s an effort to boost morale, solicit ideas and better understand employee concerns. Some hope to stave off defections ahead of a job-market recovery.”

I can’t help but feel this is too little, too late. Surely part of battling the recession involves engaging with staff, walking the floor talking and listening through all times. Good, bad and indifferent? What do you think? And how about other members of management, what have they been telling the CEO in the meantime which has maybe convinced her to stay away from the frontline for so long?

We’ll be discussing this and other current engagement issues on April 14th in London at Engaging for Growth. We’ve had a great response and there are now just a few seats left. Drop me a line if you’re interested in attending.

Here’s the link to the full article.

Team Work

Today we’re looking at how teams of people can come together and integrate difference without losing it. As a result, they can create great power with and for each other, not over each other. Here are two good examples.

Last week a committed bunch of football supporters got together at a fund raising event to raise £10,000 for their club. The club will use this money to help fund a loan player for the squad until the end of the season. The group of supporters are known as the Tranmere and Wirral Football Supporters’ Trust, the football club is Tranmere Rovers. The event was promoted on national radio by the trust and club together, it was featured on the club’s official website and doubtless elsewhere locally too. The supporters trust succeeded and hit their fundraising goal. This interested me for three reasons:

1 – It’s unusual, and impressive, to see a football supporters trust working closely with the club they support. Too often these trusts are viewed as an unnecessary irritant by the club, and I know this has been the case in the past in this example. Now, differences have been overcome, and clearly everyone is working together for a common aim.

2 – This shows how powerfully people can unite in support of a cause, or brand, they believe in. The people who supported this fund raiser have lots of differences. Where they live, how they work, what they look like, religious beliefs will doubtless be just a few differences. Yet they’ve integrated those differences and come together to show visible leadership in support of something important to them.

3 – This proves that persistence pays off. As a lifelong Tranmere Rovers supporter and former member of the Trust I’m personally delighted to see that.

I had a chat with Brad Jennings this week. Brad’s an interesting guy, currently working with Vodafone. He focuses on the power of communication to create a branded employee experience which in turn will create a branded customer experience.

Brad spoke about the excitement that can be generated in large organisations around bringing the spirit of the brand to life. He spoke passionately (well what did you expect?) about:

How powerful it is when people come together in support of the brand they work for and believe in. The people who work in Vodafone have lots of differences both individual and the role they play within the organisation, so the goal is to merge those differences and bring people together to support something important to everyone.

Each employee loves the brand in their own individual way, so why not release that spirit and encourage employees to be brand advocates not brand clones.

Brad’s approach is about energy and passion to ignite the brand by integrating the difference without losing the difference. That’s powerful.