Young at Heart Achievers

clip_image002Several years ago, on a flight from London to Melbourne, I sat next to a soft-spoken Scotsman from Aberdeen, who was then CEO of a business unit of Siemens.

Long haul business travellers usually seek solitude. but on this occasion we engaged in what was the beginning of a friendship.  The humility and enthusiasm of this generous high achiever was uplifting as he talked about using role models to motivate his organization. 

One he enthused about was Cliff Young, an Australian who at 61 achieved the impossible to win the  1983  Sydney to Melbourne ultra marathon, a 900km run.

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Are you qualified to be CEO?

Free Aung San Suu Kyi

North Korea is keeping the heat up around Asia,

Myanmar is clarifying it’s diplomatic standing upon Aung San Suu Kyi.

And maybe we can have a chance to meet Iran’s first lady after the June election


What these events share in common is the question “Who’s going be the leader?”

For interest, I wondered what similarities these CEO’s have with leaders in business and what such people need to reach that position in their working career.

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Cutting out the Middle Man

clip_image002As large companies continue to consolidate and look at ways to rationalize they inevitably focus to cut out the middle man. The falling out of Singapore International Airlines with one of their major agents, Flight Centre in Australia, tells the story of this type of change.

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Is Being Social Good Business?

An example of a social network diagram.

 As social networking in business continues defining itself so rapidly we will see many large and small players circumvented if they ignore it.

 One thing I notice with many business peers, including CEO’s and business leaders alike, is they generally focus on what they understand well.

Social networks” as a relatively new phenomena is generally not one of them.

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Tackling the XY Generation Gap

Those who have come into management jobs in the last 18 years of clip_image002growth and affluence now have challenges.

Companies are now very lean and highly intent on remaining viable as they look to position for upturn when it comes.  The skills for pulling all this all together are in short supply.

I am not sure if the so called XY Gen awakening is so evident yet. But these guys are seriously racing to get skill sets needed to manage all this. I have no doubt that there is  a rapid maturing of the so called good times over indulging and conservative “me” generations that make up much of our business culture .

I am privileged as a real McCoy baby boomer, like many of my peers, to have done quite well in life, We have made the mistakes through some good and tough times and now find we can still add significant value and ideas to younger managers of today.

As source of great power for us is  the natural peerage of old boy’s networks. But adding to this now are  recent innovations such as online professional networks and social networking. LinkedIn for example has reconnected me with many former peers whom I had lost regular touch with.

I now connect and sometimes even meet up with a much wider circle of old boys for business and current issue discussions. It is like being in a private club where your past successes and sins are known and taken for granted as part of the journey of life.  The great thing is “me” is out as is competitive vying. Such self indulgence is not tolerated  so people actually make valuable contributions as they listen.

With such transparency and social circumspection the pearls of pure wisdom just drop out in most conversations. And many XYGENs are taking up these forums too and getting it all by osmosis as they quickly pick up the threads and contribute well. They are also naturally forming their own breed of networks as they realize the value more so than we ever could.

In a meeting for breakfast recently I joined one such old boy’s network, for a comfortable continuance that has met for years. Discussions were about stability issues and business and personal ongoing prosperity. Double edged and quite eclectic interaction was only punctuated  by plates clattering and “more coffee Sir”.  From this peer meeting I  left my mates with a sense, that for many of us BB, time is not quite right to let go of  the reins.

At that breakfast we discussed many things like managers ability to reincarnate themselves from acquisition to  restructure mode; from asset stripper to asset preservationist; and from strategic planner to a strategic implementer and so on. We also discussed the value of high risk investment of training  human resources who invariable left as they were coming of age. We also covered things like basic skills and willingness to do things. Consensus was clear that a plethora of ready-made skills of small contracting teams now also give us better options.

Many of these skills, being movers and shakers in their time who can still make it happen, are now keen to rejoin a team and work for a steady fee to bring in results. Hence the choice is there at least in the short term to be able to chose from the “best” without the “invest”.

We also discussed the world wide latency that is evident generally in people’s ability to plan and change and move on new strategies. A consensus also offered is that this is now limited by relentless focus on process automation and wide use of cheaper process labour that discourages initiative and innovative thinking. The  knowledge workers and middle management who are responsible for now are much more skilled at concentrating on getting logical efficiencies and KPI driven results so a large gap has opened on innovation.

Looking forward with these work practices  and markets changing rapidly, we also pondered the folly that conservative XYGENs, making up much of the middle managements, may be  displacing  aging experience that is flexible and still current and comes without attitude and  and often at lower cost to make it happen.

So seems as business leaders we need to rethink and fix this problem if our businesses are to survive another generation.  Our XYGENS must plan well the takeover completely as the old guys let go or drop off the perch.

What we read in April 2009

rapheastman1How can we take holidays in the middle of recession. Just do it, I say and why not if you can get away with it?  It is is a great thing but you sure come back to earth when you find it  all there waiting for you. But I am back now and here is a quick round up the last month and some stuff on whats’ to come.



My  Quote for this month

There is nothing so useless as doing efficiently that which should not be done at all.    – Peter Drucker

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Last month over 7000 visitors come to read us and over 60% who stayed over.  As I am wrting this there are 251 people visiting now according to our blog meter. So it looks like we got something going which we  hope we  can keep up!!

Here is what we wrote about:

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In scope or not?

BAGHDAD - FEBRUARY 16: Representative from al-...
Image by Getty Images via Daylife

This week, I had a meeting with the finance depattment of client to review their  requirements for a project to change their Business Repoting process. Turns out that most of the points we asked were responded with “please put it as an option in the proposal”. What this indicates is that clients don’t know what they want at all and go fishing. Continue reading