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Tag Archives:: business

Communicating with the runner’s feet…

running-shoesSometimes when I am out training I wonder about the amazing machine that is the human body.

  • How do my feet know to jog around my running route?
  • How do my arms know to work in rhythm?
  • How do my heart and lungs know to increase their work rate to provide the power?

I am an engineer, not a physician, but I do find it fascinating that the communication and coordination between all of these separate functions appears to be effortless.
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To boldly go …

trekyThe CEO of a major company asked me how he could drive growth in his organisation, “I’ve tried everything,” he said.

“Really? Everything? Including the crazy ideas?” I replied.  “How brave have you really been in exploring your business from every angle?”

We were in a conversation with his global colleagues about the importance of driving challenge and change through their organisation – not just from time-to-time, but regularly.  My point was that it is not about market share; it’s about opportunity share.
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Look out for killer whales!

Kevin Gaskell PhotoOn our recent North Pole expedition we knew that the competition would include intense cold, moving ice sheets and hungry polar bears, so we prepared for all of those challenges. The unexpected competitor was the one which eventually caused us the biggest concern – the killer whale that would come through the ice in anticipation of a fleece wrapped hot meal on skis!

Back at work half my time is spent working closely with new and fresh young companies.  Straight out of business incubators these exciting businesses identify a new market niche, rush in with an innovative proposition – often employing fresh technology or an application of social media – try out new ideas, make mistakes, try another idea, learn quickly and begin to grow rapidly.
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What inspired you to get to here?

KG-may-blog-photo-1Two weeks ago I stood at the geographical North Pole – the roof of the world.  With me were my son Matt and my sisters Jayne and Clare.  Matt was standing next to me; Jayne and Clare were there in spirit and in the photographs we carried with us.

It was Jayne who had inspired Matt and me to walk to both the North and the South Poles, although she never knew it.

Jayne died of cancer eight years ago leaving behind a devastated young family. I vowed to discover how treatment could be enhanced so other brothers, sisters, husbands, wives, parents and children might not have to suffer the loss of someone they loved.
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Please don’t try to motivate me…

Kevin Gaskell PhotoDespite all the management guru speak and various models of personal motivation I don’t believe you can motivate someone else.  Business leaders often ask me “How do I motivate my team to …” They’re usually taken aback when I tell them that they can’t!

You can’t motivate someone else because motivation comes from within.  The leader’s job is to inspire people to contribute their creativity and talent.  Inspiration creates the environment for motivation to develop – the ‘want to’.

When people want to make a difference and are invited to do so, that’s when the magic happens.  People who are working in an environment that inspires them and who have been invited to step up to the challenge of achieving positive change become high performers.

So, what is the corporate leader’s role?  Corporate transformation is based on inclusion.  People who are involved become so much more committed. If everyone in the organisation feels inspired, involved and invited to take action, the organisation will be revitalised.

The role of the leader is to create the excitement around the challenge, to embrace the team members and stimulate their creativity.  Most people want to do a good job – and be recognised for doing it – giving them the opportunity to make a difference and see the results they can achieve is the jumping off point for a really high performing team.

Empowerment and trust are strong words which lead to stronger actions; “Give me a challenge, make it fun by showing me what success looks like and then let me explore ways (good, bad, crazy, inspired) to find what is possible and you will be surprised by the creativity we have in the team”.

So where should corporate leaders start their transformation process?  Start at the end and work backwards. Illuminate the opportunity, shine a light on a clear picture of an exciting future and then quietly stand to one side and let the team create the new way. You will inspire, they will achieve.

Forecast: Storms and high pressure – with sunny periods

Kevin Gaskell PhotoThe economic storm continues to hammer businesses and too many organisations respond by closing the windows and battening down the hatches.  Despite evidence that the current strategy is not working, the idea of making change strikes fear into the hearts of management.

Ask any manager “If you could wave a magic wand and change anything what would you most like to change to improve your business?” and the responses indicate that they would rather do anything – except change.  Hanging onto the familiar ‘furniture’ with tooth and nail is the norm.

The opportunity for change should be one of the most exciting and interesting offered to any manager.  It’s an opportunity to search for the sun and for the organisation to make real progress:

  • To reconnect with customers to demonstrate the value proposition offered
  • To review the business model
  • To inspire teams to embrace change with excitement
  • To explore opportunities ignored by competitors

A smooth sea never made a skilled mariner.  New businesses that have spotted a gap in the weather, or those progressive companies that are using the stormy conditions, and the strong winds it produces, to make rapid progress will be the winners.  They are looking hard for opportunities to change and grow, listening aggressively to the market, asking key questions:

  • Which way is the storm blowing?
  • Which way are the currents flowing?
  • What are the trends?
  • What are new ships in the sea doing?
  • What new opportunities exist on our current course or in potential new dynamic sectors?

Good people are inspired when they are given the opportunity to contribute – and I mean really contribute.  When they can see the leaders are committed to real change the team will begin to believe that they can look out of the window and see patches of sunlit opportunity beyond the storm.

As a friend who has her own new business said recently; “Yes, I am aware of the economic crisis but I have decided not to play. If I change my perspective I quickly find that I’m too busy prioritising all the new opportunities it’s bringing me!”

The storm will pass and the best captains will have enjoyed the energy it delivered and the progress it enabled.