Monday, November 02, 2009

Wednesday, November 19, 2008

Is your iceberg melting?

I keep on coming back to this management model - and like it more every time I use it.

Time and again I encounter troubled programmes that have just started too far down the transformation track, and run into predictable difficulties as a result.

Rather than re-invent the wheel I would suggest you refer back to a tried and tested approach primarily attributable to John Kotter (renowned author, previously a professor at Harvard Business School). There are various versions and you can find more on his work here, including his book that will explain the article's name.

In short there are 8 key steps on 4 main stages:


1. Create a Sense of Urgency.
Help others see the need for change and the importance of acting immediately.
Communicating the realities of the market and competition

2. Create a Powerful Guiding Coalition
Make sure there is a powerful group guiding the change-one with leadership skills, bias for action, credibility, communications ability, authority, and analytical skills.


3. Develop the Change Vision and Strategy.
Clarify how the future will be different from the past, and plan how you can make that future a reality.
Mobilise the necessary resources.


4. Communicate the Vision.

Make sure as many others as possible understand and accept the vision and the strategy.
Use every vehicle possible to communicate the new vision and strategies.
Teach new behaviours by the example of the guiding coalition.

5. Empower Others to Act.
Remove as many barriers as possible so that those who want to make the vision a reality can do so.
Encourage risk taking, non traditional behaviours and actions.

6. Produce Short-Term Wins.
Create some visible, unambiguous successes as soon as possible.
Recognise and reward those involved in enabling the quick wins.

7. Don't Let Up.

Press harder and faster after the first successes. Be relentless with instituting change after change until the vision becomes a reality.


8. Create a New Culture.
Hold on to the new ways of behaving, and make sure they succeed, until they become a part of the very culture of the group.
Ensure the means to ensure leadership development and succession.

Avid Kotter fans will note I have changed a few of the words. For example he tends to use "set the stage" more than "make it essential" but I like the urgency and clarity of the latter phrase.

Monday, November 26, 2007

Mechanism design and the Nobel Prize

So, the latest Nobel prize for economics goes to three people (Hurwicz, Maskin & Myerson) for work on "mechanism design".

The statement announcing the award: "The theory allows us to distinguish situations in which markets work well from those in which they do not. It has helped economists identify efficient trading mechanisms, regulation schemes and voting procedures."

This sounds interesting as it develops on game theory but moves us away from the notion of perfect markets and recognises the role of self-interest, information asymmetry and so on.

Amongst other applications out in the real world include the design of the auctions for European 3G licences.

John Nash (as in "a beautiful mind") has been a key player in this whole field. Some talk about it being the basis of a Third Way between the market led capitalist approach and the command and control socialist approach.

I need to look into this some more but some readings can be found at:

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

Lord Levy arrested - the plot thickens

So "Lord Stashpoint" has been arrested under suspicion of perverting the course of justice. Having lived under the rule of Ian Smith (not Duncan) and Robert Mugabe I was suspicious that things would not even get this far. How wrong I could be.

What with the early arrest of Ruth Turner and this new charge it is reassuring to see the police using a wide ranging approach. The concern has been for so long that the very narrowest approach would be taken, and much as Watergate unravelled on the detail of the cover-up rather than the crime - so this whole episode could have passed by quickly and relatively quietly.

All credit to the police so far!

Friday, November 03, 2006

Confirmation bias

Just been reading a great article on confirmation bias. This was by Michael Shermer in Scientific American and not brand new (see link below). Why do we always find overwhelming support in favour of what we believe in? And more importantly why do others (with different opinions) not seem to understand this overwhelming evidence and just give in??

The answer lies in confirmation bias. And in fact has a physiological basis. There is more in his article but MRI scans were used on a sample "strong" political supporters assessing speeches by Kerry and Bush in the run up to the 2004 elections. In each case, when faced with statements containing internal contradictions they tended to "let off" their man and criticise strongly the opposition. Most interestingly of all:

"The neuroimaging results, however, revealed that the part of the brain most associated with reasoning--the dorsolateral prefrontal cortex--was quiescent. Most active were the orbital frontal cortex, which is involved in the processing of emotions; the anterior cingulate, which is associated with conflict resolution; the posterior cingulate, which is concerned with making judgments about moral accountability; and--once subjects had arrived at a conclusion that made them emotionally comfortable--the ventral striatum, which is related to reward and pleasure."

Listening to the Today programme on Radio 4 (BBC) will never be the same again armed with this information.

This has fascinating implications around business decisionmaking. It could explain so much about my main area of activity - project management - which has such a notorious track record for failure - why do people never see the evidence.

The essence of this has been known for a long time. Remember how, in Ancient Rome, any General, when riding through Rome in Triumph after a great victory would have a slave on the chariot holding the laurel wreath over his head and whispering in his ear "remember you are only human".

Mmm somehow I am sure I will need to return to this whole subject.

To read more in Scientific American follow this:

Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Cash for peerages - which way will it go?

Inch by inch this seems to progress as a police process. More and more people interviewed - even Michael Howard, now will they talk to Tony?

But more importantly will anything ever happen? Or will everything just become so big, so confused and so widespread that action becomes impossible and nobody could possibly be held accountable?