Are You Flexible Enough for Flexible Work?

 4th December 2018 by gihan

The Fair Work Commission recently added a new rule about flexible work in Australia that tips the scales in favour of employees. In a nutshell, if an employee wants more flexible working hours, their boss can’t automatically refuse it.

Even if this ruling won’t apply to you, it should be a wake-up call for all workplaces. There’s a war for talent, and the best people have the choice of work and workplace. One of their most common requests is for flexible work, and the organisations and teams that allow it have a clear advantage over everybody else.

I wrote about this in my recent Smart Company article “Are you flexible enough for flexible work?”.

Read the full article here.

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Would You Trust a Robot to Drive Your Car?

 29th November 2018 by gihan

As AI and automation continue to expand, we’re finding more human tasks being done by software or robots. But just because a robot can do something, it doesn’t mean we trust it to take the place of a human being.

In a survey from, more than 1,000 adults answered questions about what everyday tasks they would trust to robots and software. Here are some of the results.

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Find Talent Everywhere

 22nd November 2018 by gihan

Many leaders and business owners ignore one of the most powerful sources of ideas and insights that’s right in front of their eyes: the unique skills and talents of their most junior people.

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They Are Smarter Than You Think They Are

 20th November 2018 by gihan

If you asked a random group of people for their general impression of a brilliant scientist, many of them would give you a stereotypical description: the lone genius working long hours in a private laboratory, labouring over his instruments until he has a flash of inspiration that changes everything.

That’s not the way science works anymore. Most scientific discoveries are made by teams. We still hear about individual geniuses making a breakthrough, but they rely on the insights, ideas and plain hard work of others (often geniuses in their own right). As Isaac Newton famously said:

“If I have seen further, it is by standing on the shoulders of giants.”

If that was true in the 17th century, it’s even more relevant now.

Paradoxically, the best way to build your team is by focussing on each individual.

Like brilliant scientists, your team members want you to recognise their uniqueness and build on it. They don’t want to be treated the same, but they do wanted to be treated as equals. They want opportunities to grow (inside and outside their field) and will use those opportunities to make a greater contribution.

Of course, not everybody wants to be a scientist, and genius doesn’t only occur in the domain of science, so I don’t want to take the scientist analogy too far. However, it doesn’t hurt to think of your team as a group of brilliant, passionate, dedicated individuals who bring those talents to the workplace.

Your brightest and most motivated team members don’t want to be told what to do, don’t want to be restricted by unnecessary policies, and don’t want to be constrained by their current position. On the other hand, they don’t necessarily want to be left completely free to their own devices, either. They recognise the value of being part of a team, working together for a common purpose, and using the organisation to further their own goals. If you support them, they will be more than happy to support you as well.

The best thing you can give them is experience: theirs and yours. You can tap into their own experiences (which makes them feel more valued), give them more experiences (which helps them build better judgement), and share other people’s experiences with them (to help them grow).

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Top Trends for 2019 for Financial Planning and Advice

 15th November 2018 by gihan

It’s been a challenging year for the financial services industry. What does the year ahead hold?

Here are three consequences of the Royal Commission, three external trends, and three key skills for financial advisers and their businesses. Oh, and one piece of hype you should ignore!

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The Power of the Pivot

 13th November 2018 by gihan

Many people think of disruption as a bolt from the blue that comes out of nowhere and shakes up an entire industry. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Sometimes you can “disrupt yourself” by making a small change in a slightly different direction.

This is not just doing the same thing better, faster, or cheaper than before. That can be useful, but it’s just an incremental change. We’re talking about a change in direction – or, as the management consultants call it – a “pivot”. Think “different”, not just “better”.

A pivot doesn’t have to be a major change. Sometimes it’s just one degree away from where you’re heading now. But that one tiny change in direction will take you into a completely new future.

Here are five examples of companies that successfully pivoted – and in different ways – to transform their business.

Market Pivot

You might know Mark Zuckerberg started Facebook to connect university students. He started it at Harvard, and then gradually extended it to other American universities. The next step of his plan was to expand Facebook into high schools. But he shelved that plan, and instead opened it up to a much wider market: everybody. As a result, we have the Facebook of today: the biggest social media platform on the planet.

Thinking Ahead: What product or service could you offer to a different market? You don’t have to reach “everybody”, but a small shift to an adjacent market might create a profitable opportunity.

Side Pivot

In 1891, William Wrigley Jr. was running a business selling soap (Wrigley’s Scouring Soap) and baking powder. As an incentive to customers, every time somebody bought a can of baking powder, he gave them two packages of chewing gum. Eventually, he realised customers wanted the chewing gum more than the baking powder, and he switched to that as the main product of the company.

Thinking Ahead: What side product do customers value enough that they might be willing to pay for it?

Focus Pivot

Instagram, the popular photo-sharing site with more than 800 million users, started out as a “meetup” service. Founder Kevin Systrom, a fan of Kentucky whiskeys, created an iPhone app called “Burbn” to help people “check in” at various locations, post photos of their location, and make plans to meet up later. But the app was too complicated, with a confusing “jumble of features”, as he described it. Systrom and his colleague Mike Krieger decided to pare down the app to focus on the most popular feature – photo sharing – and renamed it Instagram.

Thinking Ahead: What features of your products do customers rarely use? Can you strip them away to focus on the key features?

Digital Pivot

In the last decade, Air New Zealand has transformed itself from posting the largest corporate loss in New Zealand history to being consistently profitable, and is now one of the most highly-rated airlines in the world. Much of the credit goes to its visionary decision in 2016 to appoint a Chief Digital Officer (CDO), replacing the role of Chief Information Officer. This led to new initiatives around automation, data analytics, optimising manual processes, and a cultural shift of changing everything in the existing operation.

Thinking Ahead: Are you fully tapping into the power of digital, first to replace and enhance existing operations, and then to create new opportunities using AI, analytics, and Big Data?

Perspective Pivot

Intel, famous for the “powered by Intel” processor chips in millions of devices, started with memory chips, which were used for storage rather than computing power. In 1985, facing fierce competition from Japanese companies, Intel was wrestling with the decision about whether to continue with “memory” or move fully into “processors”. Intel president Andy Grove broke the deadlock by asking his CEO, Gordon Moore, “If the board sacked us and brought in a new CEO, what would he do?” Moore instantly replied, “He would get us out of the memory chip market”. Grove said, “In that case, let’s walk out the door, come back in, and do it ourselves.”

Thinking Ahead: If somebody else took over your organisation, what would they do differently because they are not holding on to “baggage” from the past?

What’s Your Pivot?

Which of these examples resonate most with you?

Sometimes it’s not easy to see possible pivots when you’re caught up in your existing operations and focussed on your current strategy. Take a step back and assess each of these five pivots, and what they might be able to do to your business.

Don’t start by asking how you make them happen, because you get bogged down in details. Instead of asking, “How?”, ask “What if?”

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Are You Tapping Into the Power of Wearables?

 8th November 2018 by gihan

Everybody is walking around with data collection units strapped to them in the form of smart watches, Fitbits and other wearables. Are you tapping into their potential to gather, filter and analyse all this data to provide better experiences for your clients, customers, and patients?

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Five Smart Ways to Double Your Team’s Productivity

 6th November 2018 by gihan

Most leaders and managers don’t know how to lead teams in a disruptive, fast-changing world. This is true even if you’re an experienced leader – or, dare I say it, especially if you’re an experienced leader. What used to work doesn’t work anymore, and you need new strategies to lead and manage effectively.

When Harvard workplace researchers Rob Goffee and Gareth Jones asked people about what makes “the best workplace on earth”, they identified the things that attract (and keep!) the best talent. They are exactly what disruptive organisations offer now to find the best people.

Here’s a quick summary of the five key differences between the typical workplaces of established and disruptive organisations:

Let’s take these in turn:

  • Fit vs Diversity: It’s still important to find people who fit with the rest of the team (especially when it comes to shared values), but it’s just as important to bring diverse thinking to the team by attracting people who aren’t a perfect fit.
  • Information vs Authority: Everybody has more information than ever before, but people also need authority to act on that information (and even on misinformation or partial information).
  • Training vs Talent: It’s still important for the organisation to provide training and ongoing development, but it’s just as important for the organisation to learn from talented individuals – regardless of their role, experience, or seniority.
  • Money vs Meaning: People expect to be paid – and paid well – for their expertise, but money alone is not enough. The best people also want work with meaning, in a place where they feel proud to work.
  • Policy vs Judgement: Official policies can never keep up with a fast-changing, complex world. Instead, the best organisations build the judgement of their team members, and then allow them to exercise that judgement rather than relying on policies.

These are profound shifts in thinking, especially for experienced leaders who have always done things the old way. You might think you don’t need to think this way, but that’s a dangerous mindset for long-term success. If you don’t make this change, your best people might stay for a while, hoping to be attracted and inspired, but they eventually get pulled by a stronger magnet and leave.

How does your workplace stack up?

When I work with leadership teams in this area, one of the first things we do is conduct a quick survey to see how their current workplace stacks up with “the best workplace on earth”.

If you would like to try this yourself, here’s a cut-down version of the survey.

Read each of these 15 statements below and select those that are true for your workplace. Be honest, and be tough on yourself. If it’s not a strong “Yes”, treat it as a “No”.

  1. We proactively embrace and encourage diversity.
  2. We operate flexible teams (flexible work hours, working from home, freelancing, global teams, etc.).
  3. We help people build their personal brand.
  4. When we delegate work, we also delegate authority.
  5. We transparently share information with our people, even “above their pay grade”.
  6. We identify emerging leaders and fast-track their leadership.
  7. We encourage reverse mentoring.
  8. We offer other on-the-job learning (e.g. shadowing, job swaps).
  9. Our new recruits often come through referrals from employees.
  10. We’re clear about how we’re changing the world.
  11. People say they are proud to work here.
  12. People think their day-to-day work is meaningful.
  13. People know which rules they can break (and they do).
  14. We teach decision-making and good judgement.
  15. We encourage people to make judgement calls, and support them when they do.

How did you do?

If you’re going to be tough on yourself, I reckon 12 out of 15 is a pass, and everything else is a fail.

There’s no shame if you scored low – as long as you don’t stay this way!

If you want my help in doing something about this, please get in touch. I would love to help.

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