Backbone of our global trading world: Shipping

A short, fascinating look into the industry behind 90% of our global transportation system. Journalist Rose George’s TEDTalk covers the crew, fuels, piracy, and marine life. Upon reflection, it is surprising how little we ever hear about this industry, so if you are curious, take a few minutes to watch this talk.


What does your brand really stand for?

Personal Branding Formula
Personal Branding Formula (Photo credit: stefano principato)

One of the initiatives that I have been focused on over the past several months is helping to create and deliver a public offering on “creating your authentic brand”, through my business Career Coaching International.  The word choice “authentic” is a critical part of the whole exercise, as it doesn’t really matter what you say about yourself (your “brand”) if it isn’t believable or supportable by the story you tell and the way you present yourself. The reality: everybody’s got a brand, whether they are proactively managing it or not: “Disciplined”; “Persistent”; “Rainmaker”; “Lazy”; “Suck-up”; “Flaky”. What are these descriptive words if not Continue reading “What does your brand really stand for?”

For real and lasting change, build in “drip-feeding”

Shower Water Snake feeding :)
(Photo credit: Images by John ‘K’)

Last weekend, I spent my Sunday facilitating a fairly large not-for-profit board of a national association. My remit was two-fold; first, to help them develop an action plan for a major internal (mandatory) initiative spanning about 10 months, and second; to help them through a “visioning exercise” on the future of their professional discipline.

As it turned out, it took over 2 hours to work them through the first key deliverable and arrive at a real, tangible game plan (specific actions identified with names, dates, and such) for the internal initiative. The board itself was made up of a diverse group of about 18 people that were — perhaps not surprisingly for a volunteer Continue reading “For real and lasting change, build in “drip-feeding””

My dream projects and dream collaborators (#1)

Dream! (Photo credit: Melody Campbell)

After much internal musing, I have decided that I have a lot to gain from “going public”, as it were, and clearly declaring my interests in dream projects I would like to be involved in, and the kinds of people that I think might want to collaborate on those projects with me.

For anyone who has read my various materials on my “business detox project” (check here, here, and here for some quick background info), you will quickly see that my dream projects strongly intersect with my personal beliefs about how business is evolving (or more accurately, needs to evolve if it is to help us transform our Continue reading “My dream projects and dream collaborators (#1)”

Reprint: “The Source of organizational dysfunction, revealed!”

English: Dead tree Deutsch: Abgestorbener BaumI came across this article recently in the online version of strategy+business, which is the magazine published by management consulting firm Booz & Company.

The article makes the case that the source of much of the dysfunctional behavior our modern organizations demonstrate is due to the fact that for “simplicity’s sake”, we organization them as hierarchical tree structures, despite the fact that they do not at all operate that way in real life. Of course, we intuitively know this, however we’ve organized this way for hundreds of years, so it is how we do it anyway, reality be damned…

The full article is reprinted below for your ease of reading; the key take-away it makes is that what actually can pull our organizations together is shared understanding of Purpose, Values, and Performance. However, we tend to focus exclusively on measuring and chasing Continue reading “Reprint: “The Source of organizational dysfunction, revealed!””

Want to transform into a high performance business?

A car crash on Jagtvej in Copenhagen, Denmark.
A car crash on Jagtvej in Copenhagen, Denmark. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been thinking about this question a lot lately, as I work to better relate my own “transformation” value proposition into language meaningful and attractive to my clients. I mean, who wouldn’t want to own and operate a “high performance business”? But, what does that actually mean? What does a high performance business actually look like, and why are they so darn hard to build and maintain?

It’s pretty easy to speak generally about a “high performance business”: superior performance through a tight, well articulated business model and associated streamlined Continue reading “Want to transform into a high performance business?”

Change management? Change required = management

London underground, mark "Mind the gap".
London underground, mark “Mind the gap”. (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Last evening I sat through a very informative presentation given by a colleague of mine; the topic was on why Canadian industry is suffering from an “innovation gap” (comparatively speaking, based on international ranking systems) and what the various actors — industry, government, academia, etc. — needs to do about it to systematically close the gap. The objective, of course, is that improved innovation (at the company level) leads to improved profitability and sustainable company Continue reading “Change management? Change required = management”

Are you a reluctant change agent?

Radio Dial
Radio Dial (Photo credit: tmray02)

A few days ago I was in Maryland visiting with some good friends. We had a thoughtful discussion about “change”, in which they suggested that most people are forced through circumstances to deal with all kinds of change. Family issues. Career challenges. Business issues. Whatever. The key is — something is happening and we’re forced to face up to it and deal with it. Whether we want to or not.

More concretely, what does this look like? In our business and career life — and maybe more broadly in our personal lives — I think it comes Continue reading “Are you a reluctant change agent?”

What makes an effective change agent?

Paradigma del Change Management
Paradigma del Change Management (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

I’ve been mulling this question over for some time now, partly as (one of many) ways of continually improving my own articulation of my value proposition and brand as a “change guy”.  Here’s my short list for how one should approach a potential change initiative with multiple stakeholders involved:

  1. Get everyone to the table.
  2. Forget everything you know.
  3. Hold your tongue. Listen. Deeply.
  4. Dig through your toolbox and share your tools with the team.
  5. Collaboratively construct possible solutions to try out.
  6. “Lock and load” on something. Move forward. Measure.
  7. Adjust the path accordingly based on real feedback about the progress made.
  8. Be a good guest and leave before you are asked.
    Continue reading “What makes an effective change agent?”

Weighing in on the “unpaid internship” debate

sign unpaid intern
sign unpaid intern (Photo credit: pameladrew212)

On a local radio call-in talk show today,  the subject was “unpaid internships”. It’s been in the news a lot recently, and it seems to me that a lot of fairly unscrupulous companies are taking advantage of getting access to free labour under the guise of “unpaid internships”.

Full disclosure: A young German woman worked for me a few years ago as an (unpaid) intern. She sought out my company (Career Coaching International) and approached me about taking her on as a summer intern as part of her university program requirement. It was great to work with her and I tried to get her involved in all the different parts of the company. Based on that experience, I’m a big fan of the school-based intern approach. Continue reading “Weighing in on the “unpaid internship” debate”