Management Insights


Practicing management over more than two decades has resulted in numerous insights.

In fact every day, we learn from our clients, our peers and the world around us.

We believe in sharing these insights and welcome your thoughts, ideas and feedback so together we can be better leaders and, most importantly, better people…

BY TOPIC
Why Honesty, Humility and Hard work are necessary for performing teams… 11 February 2021 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 After more than two decades in management spanning various types of organisations we’ve concluded (supported by an increasing volume of research and science) there are three critical traits that contribute to good character: honesty, humility and hard work. Continue Reading »»»
Trust & Vulnerability – The secret to indomitable teams 10 June 2020 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 Of the six core values necessary for performing teams, Trust & Vulnerability form the foundation. In their absence, there can be no meaningful relationship between humans. Not only are these two critical, their symbiotic interrelationship makes it impossible for one to function without the other. Together with Candour & Communication and Commitment & Accountability they round out the necessary rules of engagement for any team. The Power of Trust Amongst them all, trust is the most powerful. Trust inspires. It… Continue Reading »»»
Commitment & Accountability – the key to unstoppable teams… 1 June 2020 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PERFORMANCE 📈 Following our last note on Candour and Communication, we turn our focus to the next set in our core values of performing teams: Commitment & Accountability. Commitment Commitment in this context refers to the person’s contribution to the team and the organisation’s purpose. Whilst accountability is about meaningful ‘controls’ (measurements) to authenticate that commitment. Based on the premise that every individual brings with them unique strengths which must be maximised to achieve performance, commitment requires identifying what they are and… Continue Reading »»»
Candour & Communication – Critical to performing teams 25 May 2020 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫, PERFORMANCE 📈 Candour & Communication, when working together can be a very powerful tool for organisations. They ensure clarity, efficiency and effectiveness. They can accelerate performance, provide agility and most importantly influence the way things are done. Continue Reading »»»
The power of strategic abandonment 17 May 2020 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PURPOSE 🎯 Over time, organisations, like human beings, tend to become blithe, lazy, and inefficient. Gaining unnecessary ‘weight’ by adding costs that are not always productive. We are all susceptible to atrophy. But as Peter Drucker noted, “In turbulent times the enterprise has to be kept lean and muscular, capable of taking strain but capable also of moving fast and availing itself of opportunity.” And these indeed are turbulent times. In our experience, there are few initiatives more effective than the pursuit… Continue Reading »»»
The six core values of performing teams… 12 April 2020 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫, PERFORMANCE 📈 What is the secret to performing teams? What are the key ingredients to a successful team...in professional sport, organisations of all kind, even families? We are often asked this question in our practice. The short answer is: lots of factors! Otherwise, everyone would attain elusive results. Almost like a golf swing, numerous little things go into a achieving excellence. For context, we believe values form the building blocks of organisational culture. Clearly defined behaviours and adherence to them is fundamental… Continue Reading »»»
The pursuit of goodness… 15 February 2020 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PURPOSE 🎯 What is our defining purpose? Amidst this fast-paced world where we feel we are are either fighting for survival or competing for success we may sometimes lose sight of the end game. Are we paying enough attention to the “Why”? Our Purpose! In an earlier article we asked: How will we lead our lives? The sum total of our efforts. Everybody in their life will leave behind a body of work - It is important to reflect on what that… Continue Reading »»»
Failing our way to success… 20 October 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PERFORMANCE 📈 Failing is an inevitable part of our lives. We experience it from a very young age. As we take our first steps, we fall...but we get up again and keep at it until we master the art of walking! And that pattern continues as we learn new skills - like playing a musical instrument or riding a bike. Why is it then, that as we grow older - in business and in our careers - failure is frowned upon. Should… Continue Reading »»»
Four proven steps to manage conflict… 16 October 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫 Wherever there are two or more moving parts, we are bound to experience friction - in our personal and professional lives. Learning to work with others requires the ability to manage different ideas, personalities, values and cultures. If there is one area of deep learning over my twenty plus years working in management in corporate, social and professional sporting environments it is in performing teams. It is both a science and a practice. It takes time and effort. It takes… Continue Reading »»»
Rethinking ‘Moneyball’ 10 September 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 How do we get our teams to perform? This is a question we get asked almost every day in our practice. It’s one of the highest priorities of every CEO, chairman leader, manager and even coach. Unsurprisingly, there is really no simple answer! In our management framework, we work through twelve principles that we have successfully used over the last twenty years to deliver outstanding performance both in business and in sport. It’s our unique version of ‘money ball’ -… Continue Reading »»»
The three critical perspectives for any organisation… 3 September 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 A key function of leadership is to constantly maintain a comprehensive perspective of the organisation. This means regularly taking time out from doing to observe. Getting the balance right is vital. Too little doing or too little observing can lead to failure. Performance relies greatly on results, but the right results are achieved only if the organisation’s purpose is well aligned. In order to gain the right insight a leader must seek to understand the organisation, the environment in which… Continue Reading »»»
Three traits that make a good manager 5 August 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 Recently in our practice we've witnessed an increasingly recurring question from our clients: What makes a good manager? It seems to be a common theme in the work place today. In fact, most people leave jobs not because of the organisation or their remuneration, but because of their managers and the workplace culture. Gallup studies have shown that there can be as much as a 70% variance in workplace performance based on the manager. We spend most of our waking… Continue Reading »»»
How will we lead our lives? 28 July 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 Life happens! Our environment shapes it and we adapt – until a defining moment when we must all pause and question: How will we live our life? It takes curiosity and courage to ask ourselves how will we be remembered and to live in accordance to those values. For it is not how long we live, but simply how? Continue Reading »»»
What I learned from spending an hour a week on the frontline… 21 July 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 “Why don’t you have anything for infants,” said the doting grandfather as he walked around the store. “What do you mean,” I responded, rather perplexed. “We’ve been life-long fans of the club and now that we have just had our first grandson and we’d like to get him something.” “Frankly, it never crossed my mind,” I apologised. “But I assure you, we will, very, very soon.” This conversation occurred more than a decade ago in a sporting franchise’s merchandise store.… Continue Reading »»»
How to have a difficult conversation… 14 July 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 Addressing concerns in the work place can be uncomfortable. Most of us naturally tend to avoid conflict and sometimes postpone the difficult conversation, or at worst, don’t have it at all. As a result, the concerns persist, and often times worsen. Left unaddressed matters reach a point of no return. It is not uncommon for people to be advised of their errors or even non-performance for the first time just prior to their termination. This unfair on both the organisation… Continue Reading »»»
Why I banned swearing at the Perth Wildcats and here’s what followed… 7 July 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PERFORMANCE 📈 In early 2009 I was assigned the task of managing the Perth Wildcats, a professional basketball team in Western Australia. Given my lack of basketball or even sporting expertise, I had to rely entirely on my management experience to turn around what was a failing organisation. There are very few benefits of practicing as a consultant - particularly in turn-around management. Of note, however, is the fact that some, if not many, of the existing practices have not worked, or… Continue Reading »»»
The Next Play – How to navigate the future 30 June 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PERFORMANCE 📈 How often do we find ourselves overthinking our last mistake or spending too much time re-living a recent success? Neither of these are healthy. What then is the best way to move forward? Team USA and Duke University’s basketball head coach Mike Krzyzewski recently shared his views on this, in what he called ‘the next play’ - providing a great answer to this question. It’s one that he has practiced since the early ‘80s along the sidelines of the basketball… Continue Reading »»»
Trust Trust, the fundamental requirement of management 16 June 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫 Good managers require certain characteristics for success. Contrary to popular belief, being charismatic is not one of them. There are many great managers who have led their organisations to unprecedented sustained success with personal charisma no greater than that of a dead fish. There are many other qualities that sit on the scale of what is required, but none more than TRUST. Trust must be the starting point for every relationship - inside and outside the organisation It is possible… Continue Reading »»»
The six most powerful questions great leaders ask their people… 9 June 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫 During my career in management and consulting I’ve been blessed with the opportunity to work with numerous entrepreneurs and managers. Whilst there were many things that were different, there were some commonalities - especially amongst the successful ones. From my 20 years experience, here are the six most powerful questions great leaders asked of their people: 1. What’s our aspirational Plan A and our bullet-proof Plan B? One of the most successful entrepreneurs I know had a habit of asking… Continue Reading »»»
Putting Our People First 2 June 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫 What is most valuable in an organisation has changed over time. Not long ago, it was capital - that scare resource that gave those with it an advantage over the competition. Early entrepreneurs employed capital in agriculture and industry for profit and growth. International corporate empires were built in ensuing years, often making their sheer size impossible to compete with. But even a fleeting glance at the global landscape today reveals a vastly different picture. Many of the largest entities… Continue Reading »»»
The Secret Power of Rituals 26 May 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 Most of us have a general idea of our aspirations and what we must do to achieve them. The difficulty, of course, is in the execution. We also have a very human weakness of over-reaching for our short term goals and under-reaching our long-term goals. This often results in us, say, planning to run five miles a day starting tomorrow!!! We may start well but within a week we find ourselves not running at all. Few of us have the… Continue Reading »»»
The five duties of a manager 19 May 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫 Management at its most basic, is about clarifying an organisation’s purpose and empowering its people to achieve performance. But what are the key duties of a manager? Here are five, collated from available research and our own management consulting experience. 1. SERVANT LEADERSHIP Above all else, good managers have the mindset of a servant leader. Placing the needs of the organisation and its people above one’s self. Focusing on what needs to be done, not what one wants to do.… Continue Reading »»»
Understanding Organisational Performance 12 May 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PERFORMANCE 📈 Organisations (and individuals) must eventually consider their results. Not in a one-dimensional utilitarian mindset but in the context of their existence and contribution. This provides everyone - inside and outside the organisation - an understanding of how time and valuable resources are used and managed. In our management paradigm, people and the organisations they work in, must have an aligned purpose. They also need to be engaged in a far more meaningful way than ever before. We no longer follow… Continue Reading »»»
Three steps to defining your organisation’s purpose 5 May 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PURPOSE 🎯 What should we do? This is one of the powerful questions we must repeatedly ask of ourselves and our organisation. In our fast-paced environment the answer changes all the time. It is why we may need to change the management mind-set from Strategy to Purpose. The latter is iterative, involving the entire organisation all the time. The former takes too long to develop and even longer to adopt and adapt. Defining and clarifying organisational Purpose should not only be the… Continue Reading »»»
6 Areas that contribute to a meaningful life.. 28 April 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫 In an earlier article, I shared my thoughts on purpose and “how we would like to be remembered and lead our lives.” Purpose provides context and meaning that helps us with our life’s direction, our aspirations and our goals. But what does it mean in real terms? What happens next? For starters, life and time is finite. It does not exist in endless supply and we do not know how much of it we have - the only certainty is… Continue Reading »»»
Is servant leadership worth the effort? 21 April 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫 Many Christians, this weekend celebrate the solemn triduum of Easter commencing with the commemoration of Jesus washing the feet of his apostles. Regardless of one’s beliefs the growth of the Church is an amazing achievement for an organisation that began with just 13 men and at a time in history where there was little mass communication or technology - this is even more remarkable if one does not subscribe to the divinity of Jesus. The ‘washing of the feet’ symbolises… Continue Reading »»»
Three key factors to organisational success 13 April 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PERFORMANCE 📈 What are the key factors to look for when considering the environment an organisation operates in? This has been a recurring question arising from my recent conversations with CEOs and managers, and one worth exploring further. In our PURPOSE, PEOPLE & PERFORMANCE model - the very first step is to consider the Environment (the other two are Comparative Core Competence & Value Creation). Environment Analysis can take various forms - but from a commercial view point there are three key… Continue Reading »»»
What limits us from success…and how to overcome it. 7 April 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PERFORMANCE 📈 Last week, I spent a day with Lewis Trigger organised by the Institute of Management Consultants here in Perth on the theory of Constraints (TOC). Trigger is a global expert on Constraint Innovation having dedicated the last few decades to it, studying first under Eliyahu M. Goldratt who originated the theory of constraints (TOC) and more recently teaching it at university after practicing it in the airforce as well as various industries across the world. Here's what I learned... Put… Continue Reading »»»
The importance of being innovative… 31 March 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PURPOSE 🎯 innovation creates value from new capabilities, often of existing resources. And creating value is the everyday mandate of any organisation - it ensures finding and keeping a customer. Continue Reading »»»
How do we spend our time… 24 March 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PERFORMANCE 📈 “Time,” as Peter Drucker said, “is our scarcest and most precious resource. You can obtain greater quantities of every other resource except time.” PRIORITIES Purpose! It is not just about getting things done, but about getting the right things done. For there is nothing worse than performing with excellence those things that need not be done at all. Just as critical is the need to eliminate wasting the time of those who we work with. For only by purposeful abandonment… Continue Reading »»»
Winning isn’t everything 9 March 2019 - PURPOSE 🎯 Winning isn’t everything - It’s just as important to follow the compass as it is to check the clock when pursuing our personal best. Continue Reading »»»
Is it time to abandon annual performance reviews? 7 March 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫 (This is part#2 of a series on PEOPLE - see part#1 here) Managers and leaders have to re-wire their organisations to evolve in order to satisfy these needs and still perform in a competitive and challenging environment. They need to constantly calibrate their purpose in an ever-changing global marketplace. What is irrefutable, is that the current management practices are failing...and miserably. A case in point is the annual performance management review - still in vogue today. Whilst even its usefulness… Continue Reading »»»
How organisations can truly engage with their people… 6 March 2019 - MANAGEMENT 🧭, PEOPLE 👫 People are the core of any organisation. Attracting the right people, engaging them with a meaningful purpose and empowering them to perform is critical for success. Continue Reading »»»
Rethinking Management 5 April 2018 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 It’s time to rethink management - not just for the current environment but for what lies ahead. Many of the most valuable and successful organisations in the world today, did not exist a decade ago - evidence that a flexible, nimble and proactive approach is required. Management must move beyond the traditional model of Strategy, Structure and Systems to a far more dynamic model of Purpose People and Performance. The old Strategy framework is top-down, prescriptive and formulaic having evolved… Continue Reading »»»
The urgency delusion of work 30 November 2016 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 The immediacy of our work environments have had numerous positive and negative implications on how we perform. One phenomenon, is the sense of urgency that has permeated everything we do in the work place. The addiction to ubiquitous screens endlessly screaming for our attention has only worsened our consciousness. It has led to a delusion of self-importance – a false sense that the organisation simply will not function in our absence. Our response to this has been to stay constantly… Continue Reading »»»
Primacy of the human Person Focusing on the person – the primacy of the individual 8 November 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 There are no teams! There are no departments. There are no business units. There are no customers and there are no suppliers. There are, however, individuals who comprise all of the above! The human person. It is the human in management that must take primacy at all times. Teams don’t under perform – individuals in teams underperform and when such mediocrity is tolerated, over time, it becomes the norm and that’s how teams fail. For, in every grouping of individuals,… Continue Reading »»»
Eliminating the weakest link 1 November 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 The management practice of maximising an individual’s strengths and making their weaknesses irrelevant is rightfully becoming widespread these days. However, this will only be successful if weaknesses are above a certain acceptable level. A person with a speaking difficulty or hearing impediment will not make a good telephone receptionist. Similarly, as discussed earlier, one’s strength must be useful, a competitive advantage and add value to the organisation. Attention to the organisation’s areas of weakness is just as important. Weaknesses in… Continue Reading »»»
Short and Long Term Goals Managing for the short and long term 25 October 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 In the not too distant past, when time and weather permitted, I used to find myself on a stand-up paddle board on Perth’s beautiful Swan river. Over the hour-long paddle the often calm waters could turn into quite a swell depending on the wind and passing boats. Negotiating these unsteady times involved keeping one eye on the board and the shaky waters at hand and another on the horizon to ensure you stay above board, travel at a good pace… Continue Reading »»»
Beware the first straw Beware of the first straw on the camel’s back 11 October 2015 - PEOPLE 👫 There is an old saying about the last straw that broke the camel’s back. Whilst this is a valid statement, in management, one must pay more attention to the first straw. Whether it’s people, processes, the economy, markets, even disruptive technologies the first significant sign of change is important. Ignoring it, just like ignoring a 60-year-old’s first heart attack, can be fatal. This does not necessarily mean managers must jump at shadows, but they must pay close attention and assess… Continue Reading »»»
Management is performance The true test for Management is Performance 4 October 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 In a recent conversation with an ex-colleague, I was asked the question: “What must I do to go to the next level in my career?”. Answering it took some thought and consideration. There are two types of people in an organisation: managers and non-managers - and the answer to that question differs considerably for both groups. When non-managers ask, “what must I do to be a success in my role?”, I encourage them to focus on their core competence –… Continue Reading »»»
Developing Business Strategy The four steps to developing your business strategy 21 September 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 This week, I had the privilege of spending some time with post-graduate business students from the local university. The topic for discussion was creating a business plan. The conversation gave me an opportunity to reflect on the matter and put some of my thoughts in writing. Following are the four ‘C’s to consider when developing your business strategy. CORE COMPETENCE First, clarify the core competence of the organisation. In simple terms, this means establishing your key strength. What does your… Continue Reading »»»
Address concerns in the work place How to address concerns in the workplace 5 September 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 During my time in the work-place, I’ve witnessed the ‘spray’ at all levels: staff meetings, management get-togethers, and locker rooms.  This is where the boss addresses the entire group with a generalised outburst on what’s wrong and how it needs to be fixed. As a young manager, I have been guilty of this on many occasions. It was because it was easier…not as personal and far less confronting. More recently I’ve noticed this this occurring via email – where the… Continue Reading »»»
Key functions of a manager The 2 key functions of the modern manager 23 August 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 For too long management has been mistaken for authoritative control of people. Where a manager is a powerful figure…almost dictatorial...ruling over his workers in the pursuit of efficiencies. The decline in the number of manual workers and the ubiquity of the knowledge worker has required a re-think. Knowledge workers today are often experts in their field. They are likely to be better qualified at their craft than even the people that manage them. Take the example of the operation theatre… Continue Reading »»»
Full Engagement 7 Steps to full engagement with your people… 17 August 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 You don't hire just a hand, the whole person comes to work! Managers today must understand that they employ the entire person - regardless of the role. This requires full engagement with the individual, which can be achieved by focusing on the following seven areas: 1. Understanding context Getting to know the person, their family and their background. This will give context to their actions, behaviours and proclivities. 2. How do they perform? Do they work better autonomously or prefer… Continue Reading »»»
3 ways to grow your organisation’s revenue 9 August 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭  Growing revenues and profits in any organisation must be an ongoing focus. With the ever changing environment, disruptive technologies and new opportunities and challenges, a culture of growth must be encouraged and embedded into the routine. A structured model to do this on a regular basis may sometimes be helpful. And there is no better framework than Igor Ansoff's strategic planning tool - the Ansoff Matrix. The diagram above proposes a simple matrix that has worked for me in the… Continue Reading »»»
The 5 negatives of interruptions during work 1 August 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 Getting interrupted whilst working or managing a project can be annoying. However, recent research suggests the negative effects can be a lot worse. In 2013, Erik Altmann and Zach Hambrick of Michigan State University and Gregory Trafton of the US Naval Research Laboratory found that brief interruptions, even as low as 2.8 seconds resulted in doubling the error rate of work performed. More recently, Gloria Mark from the University of California together with Daniela Gudith and Ulrich Klocke from Humboldt… Continue Reading »»»
Budget for growth to ensure organisational success 26 July 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 As we enter a new financial year, most companies have been through the process of financial forecasting or budgeting. Notwithstanding, as argued before, that a 12-month cycle may be too long a time-frame for such a process it is a requirement for various reasons. It also does provide the basis for medium-term planning. The annual ritual of budgeting takes various forms depending on the size of the organisation. Commonly this entails reviewing past performance and estimating as accurately as possible… Continue Reading »»»
Schedule your priorities not prioritise your schedule 13 July 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 For a long time now, time management experts have extolled the virtues of tasks or schedules and then to prioritise them. Whilst this in itself is a good endeavour, a more effective method to achieve one’s outcomes is to set key priorities and to schedule them. Too often our days and weeks are dictated by email, social media and other sometimes meaningless distractions. We are reactionary in our behaviours. The urgency of the immediate takes precedence over the important. On… Continue Reading »»»
Focus on the outside 28 June 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 As managers, it is often easy to get caught up in the everyday. The constant demands of the email in-box, the regular board and management meetings, the routine of operations or the unending unforeseen issues that require your attention can be quite consuming. However, a key function of the manager is to interpret the outside environment and ensure the organisation responds adequately to it. Innovation and entrepreneurship places an even higher responsibility of staying ahead of the rapidly changing world… Continue Reading »»»
Core competence – Individuals in the organisation 22 June 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 We've discussed the strengths/weaknesses theory previously, but how does it work best in an organisation? One's management of one's strengths and weaknesses is critical in managing one's self and career. Most people don't quite know what their weaknesses are, let alone their strengths. Identifying them through self-analysis and feedback-analysis is an important starting point. Doing this early in one's life is also advantageous. The second step is to find the key performance in the core competence. In other words, how… Continue Reading »»»
Here’s why you should not rely too heavily on three and five year plans… 19 June 2015 - MANAGEMENT 🧭 A critical role of management is strategy - interpreting the outside world for the organisation and ensuring it responds appropriately to it. In the past, this has meant having a long-term outlook. Three, five and even ten year plans. Unfortunately, the world is changing at too rapid a pace for such time-frames. Take the taxi industry as an example. Relying on a five-year plan, in light of such disruptive entrants like Uber, would leave it redundant, even obsolete. Good management,… Continue Reading »»»


Rethinking Management

Purpose People Performance Process
It’s time to rethink management – not just for the current environment but for what lies ahead.
Many of the most valuable and successful organisations in the world today, did not exist a decade ago – evidence that a flexible, nimble and proactive approach is required.

Management must move beyond the traditional model of Strategy, Structure and Systems to a far more dynamic model of Purpose People and Performance.

The old Strategy framework is top-down, prescriptive and formulaic having evolved when corporations sought to minimise deviations, systemise people and processes to make them more manageable.

Unfortunately, this has made companies rigid and unable to respond to the fast-paced world of today.

An over reliance on Systems has left employees increasingly disengaged and unable to identify or find meaning in the workplace.

A Structure mindset that focusses on achieving financial and corporate targets at all costs has sidelined the importance of positive organisational culture and values – resulting in far too many scandals.

We need to explore a new way of managing organisations appropriate for the emerging economy, the greater needs of people without compromising ethics and morals.


Purpose

Identifying the organisation’s purpose. Reason for being. Why we exist. What purpose do we serve.
• Environmental Analaysis
• Comparative Competence
• Creating Value

People

Who do we want here? How do we maximise strengths. How do they meaningfully contribute to the organisation’s purpose.
• Culture & Values
• Maximising Strengths
• Contribution to Purpose & Performance – Scoresheet

Performance

How do we measure success? What time frames? At what cost? How do we execute our objectives?
• Appropriate Information
• Execution Empowerment
• Meaningful Controls – Scoreboard