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Plasticine Strategy

A plasticine strategy requires a culture that is underpinned by strong ethics and high performance. We all know what happens to a house built on weak foundations, it doesn’t stand the test of time and an organisation is no different.

Most organisations around the globe whether large, small, public, private, government, not-for-profit, sporting or recreational are faced with the challenge of how to remain relevant in an ever demanding world.

Strategies that assume a relatively fixed course over a set period of time fail to recognise that everything is in a state of flux and constant change. This has always been the case and as far as we know will always be the case. It is only the degree of change that differs.

Nevertheless, many are struggling to form a clear view of the future and are asking the question “how do we set a course for a future that we don’t understand?” Besides consulting a clairvoyant (check failed stockbroking firm BBY) or even those rare breed of people called futurists, there is a way to approach this dilemma.

Plasticine strategy is all about being highly adaptable in a way that allows you to not only survive but thrive in a demanding, rapidly changing world. Assuming the foundation is in place the next step is being absolutely clear on what you do and why that is valued by others. From there you need to be able to continue to evolve what you do in a way that justifies the organisations on-going existence.

Here are the keys to implementing an effective plasticine strategy:

  • Great leadership;
  • High level business acumen;
  • Relevant real-time data; and
  • Quality, timely decision making.

Don’t forget that an effective strategy is delivered from a foundation of strong ethics and high performing people (check out how Netflix did this). Making strategy part of “business as usual” is also critical – that will foster open-mindedness, innovation, collaboration and resilience.

So much opportunity, so little time!


Winston Churchill

Change is hard

Winston Churchill said “to improve is to change; to be perfect is to change often”.

If we are not committed to continually improving ourselves, or if you like developing our characters, how do we expect to make the most of our time on the planet?

For the majority change is hard, we are creatures of habit whether those habits are good, bad or indifferent. Typically change will come from three places:


  • I want to change (internal – desire);
  • I need to change (internal – desperation); or
  • I have to change (external – law, regulation).

Change for the sake of change is foolish so it is vital to have a clear view on the objective and inherent value before embarking on a process of change whether personally or in business.

On one hand I find change to be exciting and on the other scary – working through the fear is my biggest challenge!  However, if we risk nothing and do nothing we limit our experiences, our growth and our capacity to be of use to others.

If you struggle with change or just don’t know how to go about it, look for someone who can help and live your life with no regrets!

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Emotional Intelligence

‘It’s just a stage he is going through” advised the well-meaning friend to the parent.

I have recently had the good fortune to listen to Greg Hywood, Managing Director & CEO, Fairfax and Carolyn Stenhouse, Managing Director, Stenhouse Consulting talk about leadership. They talked about fear, emotional intelligence and the need to continually develop your character – how outrageous!

When you peel back the layers of the chest beating, tantrum throwing, ego driven adult what you find is a big lump of gooey fear. Typically, “fear that I will lose something I have” and “fear that I will fail to get something I want”.

Leadership requires a range of attributes and “by example” is key. Tone is set from the top and if a leader has little or no idea what he or she is really like, nothing or very little will improve – self-justification and self-righteous indignation are the primary behavioural characteristics.

Wouldn’t it be grand if we could build personal development, personal relationships, communication, culture and leadership into the heart of every school curriculum with the aim of making character development a life-long pursuit. Thoughts?

Disclaimer: I am 56 years old and still trying to grow up!

Leadership - black ball white balls


A few thoughts on leadership:

Above all leadership requires courage, integrity and trust.

Leaders have a clear purpose, learn from the past, constructively deal with today, see and plan for the future.

Leaders are consistent and persistent, always fair in their dealings of others placing principles before personalities.

Leaders review their behaviour, acknowledge and take responsibility for their shortcomings always striving to grow their character.

Leaders are focussed on helping others and will confront and solve the needs of their people.

Leaders think before they act (every action has a reaction).

Leaders understand that everything is connected, consider the big picture avoiding decisions in isolation.

Do you have, and are you developing, leaders of substance in your organisation?


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Tick Box Management

Beware tick box management and tick box managers.

Acting with your customers best interests in mind, prudently managing your business risks, satisfying compliance requirements and completing the many necessary and recurring tasks associated with running your business are part and parcel of everyday life.

However, when activity is primarily driven by the need to complete the “to do” list we are in danger of engaging in a management process that will result in diminishing returns. Just as insidious is having managers, who may look and sounds oh so impressive, but who lack substance, creativity and the ability to lead. Avoid having these people in your business at all costs! Be prepared to challenge what they have done and what they plan to do to add value to your business.

Whether at the owner, board or executive management levels we need to be ever vigilant and prepared to stop and ask questions like  “why are we doing this, how does it add value, is it consistent with our strategy, will it satisfy our customers’ needs?”

Also, watch out for business fads and fazes that may simply divert you from the main game.

Build a culture that is driven by values in action, clear direction and purpose. Reward and encourage everyone in your business to challenge the status quo – avoid the “yes people”, eliminate mediocrity.



Managing ego in your business

Manage and mitigate the negative side of ego in your business


In his book The Long Term Starts Tomorrow, Nigel Lake addresses, amongst many interesting and important issues, the dangers of the supremacy gene. “The moment that a company starts to believe that its current strength and sophistication compared to its competitors is likely to be genuinely enduring, the rot sets in,” states Nigel. In essence the supremacy gene stifles vision, innovation and the drive needed to continually challenge and develop the organisation’s capacity to remain competitive.

The underlying cause of the supremacy gene is ego which is typically driven by the double edged sword of false pride – “you don’t need to look” and irrational fear – “you dare not look”.

I see so many situations where traits like supremacy, complacency and ignorance progressively destroy an organisation, some slowly, some quickly. Read more