2014 – Where is the silver bullet?

Polman CEO of Unilever says, “nobody created a business for shareholders” and “we need people who are more concerned for others than themselves”.

I would go further and add we need people who

•             Care more for the business than themselves… vs caring far more about themselves

•             Care about the vision…  vs the vision being irrelevant to their own interests

•             Are thinking … nearly everyone does not know how to tell if someone is thinking.

Thinking is the only process that develops capability.   What value is created by people who are not thinking?

No relevant vision, no care for the business, and no thinking – what is the outcome?

… Uncertainty

•             One of our greatest flaws is our yearning for certainty.    This is because certainty even when it comes in the form of a bad decision is preferable to uncertainty.     We cannot digest uncertainty

•             Certainty for certainties sake remains the most common response to Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous business (VUCA) situations; “the new global norm”

•             How do you manage in a VUCA environment?    These skills are created during the unique privilege of leading a turnaround.   Here there is no certainty and the business has lost sight of its core.    This core has to be recreated, then immediately re-launched with a high performing capability.   Then the continuous and rapid vocational learning starts.

To turn around a business you must be more concerned for the business than yourself.    Why?    If you put your interests first; you will become conflicted.     These selfless traits are developed by the humble people who are best at delivering a company turnaround.    The same unique traits apply to the most successful CEOs that “Get (businesses) to Great” research by Jim Collins.

A time for complacency?

•             The climate remains difficult, the level of UK debt remains at Weimar Republic levels 9x GDP. History shows the only likely outcome is certain to be catastrophic economic failure.

•             Leadership role models who have only succeeded in 1 sector, often can lack breadth of experience

•             Businesses have to be proactive – yet most businesses mindset is to wait for the phone to ring

•             The way things are being bought is changing every 6m or so

•             Both of the fast growth, technology businesses I have engaged with this year, were only firing on 2/5 cylinders.   Consequently, both lost sight of their core and didn’t see the double digit profit improvement opportunity.       Getting to the core is a unique turnaround capability.


•             It seems pretty clear that most people in large organisations are not doing what they want to do?

Concerning normal responses

•             Recruitment remains sector and not scenario or capability centric

•             The past is the best indicator of future success, when the past is fast irrelevant

•             Fixed mindset “Intelligence centric recruitment” in many high performing businesses such as google

•             Deploying strategy without any idea or focus how to transform capability at the same time

•             Off site management development that bears no relevance to the executives behaviour

•             A reduction in an appetite for being challenged & less innovative forms of collaboration

Businesses rejecting challenge are driven by leaders with fixed mindsets.

The cost of a fixed mindset

•             The brain is malleable and intelligence can be developed, it’s not fixed

•             It squanders intelligence by limiting growth

•             I have noticed given the right opportunity and culture that most people often have the same ability

•             A fixed mindset cannot deal with failure and finds it difficult to compromise; it is fragile and undermines teamwork

•             Whereas a growth mindset asks “how can I do better next time?”

•             Passion is squandered

What people traits matter?

•             Humility is the main driver for high performance

•             Organisations have no idea how to execute strategy

•             Grace

The magic bullet is having the right people with growth mindsets

•             Magic bullets are only apparent when you put the jigsaw back together and check its validity from experience drawn from many different sectors.

•             How many people have succeeded x sector and what do they find?

•             What drives people to work x sector?   It is a growth mindset

A Growth mindset

•             A Growth mindset is the difference.

•             A fixed mindset says “I cannot do that”.

•             What do you add if an employee says “I cannot do that”?    … YET?

Growth based mindset and attitude opens up the willingness to compromise.

Without a growth based mindset people simply don’t grow.     A growth mindset is the basis of creating a high performing business.

How can you create a high performing business without everyone growing, being present and at least spending some of the day thinking (about their work!)?

My passion is creating organisations in which people excel.     In so doing, organisations create far more cash and can compete on a global scale.

•             The world has become transparent

•             Why think outside the box – how about fixing the box?

It is time for me to change too.    I have now decided to join a significant ambitious organisation in an Executive or Portfolio role.   Could I help you create a high performing business and create far more cash?

I welcome your thoughts or an introduction – feel free to call me.

Best wishes for 2014, Tom

Tom Pickering FIET

UK: +44 (0) 207 193 5518

E:    tom.pickering@icebreakerexecutive.com

W:   www.icebreakerexecutive.com