Step back. It’s wonky!

May 4, 2017

Two weeks ago I had the privilege of spending a few days with many of my LMI colleagues from around the world at our annual convention in Florence. Our flight from London went into Pisa so, having never set foot in Italy before, it would have been rude not to stop and have a look around. As every good tourist does in that small-ish Italian town, we headed in what seemed like the direction of that world-famous wonky tower.

pisa

It’s more wonky that I thought!

You can’t see the tower from miles away so it came as quite a shock when we rounded a corner and there it was, leaning away, just like in the pictures. Having seen it’s picture dozens of times, I was still amazed, when confronted with it in real life, at just how much it leans. It’s impressive!
Something I then found very interesting. The closer I got to it, the less obvious it’s lean became. It’s basic physics I know, but these things make an impact when you experience them first hand. Close up, it could almost be straight. Start walking away and look back, it’s lean becomes stark once again.

Lots in our lives and our businesses can be like this. We get so involved, so consumed by the the day-to-day demands, so ‘close’ to all that’s going on, we don’t notice how wonky it is.

When I look at the pictures I’m reminded to step back and notice where things may have become a little wonky.

Am I working too many hours & have lost balance?

Have I stopped being so careful about prioritising my work?

Are my goals a little out of focus?

Has our passion for great customer service dropped off a little?

Whatever ‘stepping back’ means for you at the moment, it’s well worth doing. And when you notice something’s wonky, get help to fix it (unless it’s so extraordinary that you can get rich off people coming to see it)!


The critical importance of a lasting change process

September 9, 2016

We often define change that we’d like to see, even implement change in a positive way. But how many times do things waver or even completely disintegrate so that 2 years, 2 months, even 2 weeks later, the initial enthusiasm and adherence of the new way has evaporated and things are back the way there were before.

In this video, taken from the Foundations of Success Workshop, I share one of LMI’s foundational concepts – the critical importance of securing lasting change through spaced repetition.

 


I knew the rules but not how to win!

February 18, 2015

In our house board games are big! We love them!

The old classics – Monopoly, Cluedo, Scrabble. There are some fantastic new kids on the block, our current favourite being Sequence.

One of the kids’ birthdays recently yielded a new delight – a game called Scotland Yard. There is great excitement in the house when a new game is being unveiled and the learning of the rules followed by those first few run-throughs is an almost-sacred ritual!

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On this occasion I was not around when the cellophane was pierced and the game learnt. Neither was I present for the second and third outings. The rest of Team Howes had become fairly well versed in this new entertainment and I was at a significant disadvantage.

Finally I get to play and the kids explain the rules to me. This piece moves here. This card does that. You can’t lay this card when that happens. You must collect six of these before you can do this.

Ok, I think I understand the rules. But what’s the aim of the game? How do I win?

This was the bit that was not so well explained by the kids in their eagerness to get started…and beat me!

I find myself in the middle of the game, asking questions as we go and squinting at the tiny instructions without my glasses to try and make sense as we went along as to how the game eventually gets won.

Work can feel like that. Sometimes for the owners / leaders…often for staff. I know what I’m supposed to be getting on with, but how do we win? What does success look like? How does today, or this week really count?

We want (and for our own well-being, need) to succeed. Victories keep us fresh, energised and creative. Knowing the rules without having a clear and imminent sense of a goal to reach, a finish line to cross, it’s drudgery and no-wonder the productivity levels aren’t what they could be.

Whether it’s for yourself, or for those you lead, make it clear where the next finish lines to cross are, and make a deal of it when the tape is broken. Mine today was a short list of ‘Must do today’ tasks, the last of which was writing this blog. My prize – I’m off to make a fresh pot of very nice coffee!


The Alignment Triangle

December 10, 2014

Following on from the last post about the need for the large Tube map and the single line plan, here’s my ‘Alignment Triangle’ diagram which illustrates an effective process for keeping today’s activity aligned with the’Big Picture’ aims of the organisation. Every company knows they should be doing this, but I’ve come across very few that are systematically implementing this on a continual basis. That’s why a simple model to follow can really help.

Alignment Triangle

The Big Picture – start with defining the Mission, Purpose, Vision and Values (this is no twenty minute exercise – take time to do this well).

Create a Master Goals List – this is the place to record every significant goal that will help move your organisation towards the defined and agreed Big Picture.

Monthly Goals & Priorities – a refined and repeatable format to clarify the goals and priorities for Dec 2014 or Jan 2015 is essential. The Master Goals List will have far too much on it to be able to focus effectively. We suggest a 2 – 3 hour monthly planning process to set each month up so everyone knows exactly what they are shooting for in that 30 day period.

Daily Organising – it’s only when the above steps are done really well that organising your daily activity can be super-effective. Again, a repeatable format for planning your day in line with the monthly goals is essential for optimising performance.


Edinburgh & back before tea time!

October 10, 2013

I’m writing this in an Edinburgh cafe having left home in Coventry this morning. I shall be home by tea time!

In an hour’s time I’ll be meeting with an LMI course graduate, their line manager and a representative from the company’s L&D department to review the results from the programme and hear the course-end presentation.

It’s an important trip and well worth my time today as part of a great ongoing relationship with an important national client.

It has, however, got me thinking.

Just because I can get to almost anywhere before breakfast, doesn’t mean that I should!

For everything we do, there is not just the cost of doing it, but also the opportunity cost of NOT DOING something else.

So whilst this trip is absolutely worthwhile, there are some others that I used to make that aren’t. It’s probably the same for you. For example, for the ‘cost’ of a trip to a site one hour away, I could do the same work with two companies on my doorstep.

It may be that the meeting is important, but you could save a lot of time by doing it over the web. I’m a huge fan of Vsee (bit like Skype but more functionality & better quality) for business meetings. There are dozens of other ways to maximise your time.

It’s worth remembering that ‘just because you can, doesn’t mean you should!’

Have a great day!


What’s your Olympic Gold?

October 8, 2013
nick and chris

Meeting an absolute legend!

The weekend before last I attended the National Entrepreneurs Convention at the ICC in Birmingham and had one of those genuinely awe-inspiring “don’t-come-round-very-often” experiences.

Sir Chris Hoy, the most decorated British Olympian in history, was the guest speaker and I was transfixed! This guy has made me shout, jump, sweat, scream and even well up a little (I’m not too proud to confess!) on more than one occasion as I’ve watched the Olympics and cheered him on to victory as if it was actually me winning that gold!

Sir Chris shared the story of when he was 15 and his coach asked the club he was part of to go away and think about what the big goal was for each of them. Chris wasn’t even the best in that group of fellow young cyclists at the time, but he was the only one who came back and said he wanted to win Olympic Gold. The rest, as they say….

It challenged me, and I thought I’d share that same challenge with you, to identify the single most important goal in my life – the equivalent of my Olympic Gold. A goal that is so motivating, so important and stirs my passion like nothing else. A goal that generates for me absolute clarity about what I should be doing and what I shouldn’t be doing, enabling me to answer with sincere honesty the question, “Is my current behaviour congruent with my goal?”

A little time, a little thought, a little ink on some paper used answering this question has really helped me a lot. I hope it does you too.


Success is for everyone!

August 21, 2012

In line with today’s launch of the new Goal Setting Pack, I’ve been running through in my mind all the people I know who I think should buy one (and that’s just about everyone, by the way)!!

I’m also very much aware that whilst for some the idea of goal setting is already an absolute ‘must-do’, for others the very thought of such manufactured, dare-I-say ‘American-ised’ motivational nonsense is just not up their street at all.

So let me say a few words about why goal setting is for everyone.

A number of years ago a friend of mine was getting married in Hamburg, Germany. 5 of us piled into my old Peugeot 205 diesel and set out from London to Folkstone to catch a ferry headed for Ostend in Belgium. From there we drove through Belgium, Holland and Germany to reach our destination about 27 hours later, very tired, squashed but pretty pleased with ourselves for making it on time!

We were going somewhere we’d not been before and so the map (this was pre-SatNav days) was the most important thing we had with us, and we studied it continually throughout the journey to keep us on track.

Its easy to let life carry on, month by month, year by year, staying on the same roads, not growing, or at least not growing anywhere near as much as you potentially could, and therefore not living the adventure or making the most of the opportunities that are there for the taking.

I’m not even thinking at this point about setting huge goals like becoming a millionaire or climbing Everest (though this works just fine with that stuff). Right now I’m much more interested in the really down-to-earth stuff and helping to make life as we live it every day a little bit more like we’d like it to be. If you and I can keep making those small steps, consistently week by week, the cumulative effect is going to be MASSIVE!

Clearly identified, written-down goals are the road map to take us steadily towards the destination that we’d like to get to.

I’m privileged in my work to watch people setting and achieving these kind of ‘small’ goals almost on a daily basis. I get extremely excited when I see a business owner setting a goal to leave the office earlier to eat dinner with his family, or a mum who works and juggles all those demands, yet still sets a goal to invite an elderly neighbour round for dinner once a week.

See what I mean?

In LMI we define success as ‘the progressive realisation of worthwhile, predetermined, personal goals’ or to put it more simply, Goal Directed Action.

On this basis, I strongly assert, goal setting is for everyone! Success is for everyone! Maybe you’ll agree.