Brought to You By Yellow 428

 

Yellow 428's last resting place
Yellow 428’s last resting place

By Chris Gandy

This morning I found one of our of Dorper sheep dead in the paddock. We knew her only by an identifying ear tag – Yellow 428. She was 5 years of age, had a lamb 2 months ago and seemed to be a picture of health – and for me couldn’t have picked a worst time to die.

I had a day full of appointments and a to do list as long as your arm.

So as to not attract wild dog and foxes, our practice is bury any dead animals. With our tractor out of action, I had no choice but to grab a pick and a shovel, start digging a hole – and quick!

When I was younger I would have cursed poor Yellow 428 with every shovel load of soil I threw out of the hole. My mind focused on the other things I should be doing and how this inconsiderate sheep had thrown my day into chaos. With each shovel load the hole would seem to be getting smaller not bigger. I could feel my blood pressure rising and by the time I had finished I would be totally knackered and in a lather of sweat.

But today was different.

I am not too sure when it happened, think it was soon after I started part-time farming, but I now view physical chores as an opportunity to think.

So here’s what I accomplished in the time it took to bury little Yellow 428:

  • Composed 4 email responses I needed to get away today.
  • Finalised a strategy for a difficult conversation with a colleague later in the week.
  • Can up with 3 ideas for future blog posts (including this one).

All up, by my standards, a pretty productive 20 minutes or so. And here’s the other strange thing. I didn’t even raise a sweat and had no lingering aches and pains either (and I am not the fittest person going around).

Thanks to Yellow 428, I was again reminded on the power of positive thinking and what a wonderful organ the brain is. Lets use it constructively. It’s there to make life easier, richer and more productive

Chris is the founder and a Director of Cause & Effective. Our mission is to strengthen the leadership and capacity of cause-based organisations

Running Barefoot

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By Attila Ovari

Yesterday I did my morning run a little differently. I ran without shoes. I had heard about barefoot running and wondered what it was all about. It was an interesting experience.

At the start it was a very strange feeling and then in a remarkably short period became quite comfortable, even relaxing. I was enjoying the run. However that relaxing feeling did not last as I developed some blisters….

There is much writing online about the pros and cons of barefoot or, as it called, minimalist running. I am not going to get into that debate as it is not my personal area of expertise, however I will say it was a new experience and it did have me running differently.

This change of routine had me thinking about many of my new life experiences.

At the start we can feel awkward and very uncomfortable. However over time we often become more at ease with the experience and eventually the new way can seem the norm.

I encourage you to explore your curiosity. A new way may be a better way. If it doesn’t prove to be at least you have satisfied your curiosity!

  • What is something you are curious about?
  • What is holding you back from exploring your curiosity?
  • What can you do this week to start your exploration?

Attila is a Cause & Effective Associate. He loves life and thrives on helping people become more effective leaders.

Leadership Lesson From a Death Adder

 

Our not so friendly Death Adder after being relocated
Our not so friendly Death Adder after being relocated

By Chris Gandy

I read something the other day from Steve Gordon where he was referring to the many successful business people he has met over the years. In Steve’s opinion:

“Here’s what’s true about them all…

  • They are voracious collectors of business ideas and principles.
  • They are fanatical about implementing good ideas fast.

Movement builds momentum…movement attracts clients. Because they can’t do everything, they get outside help to move from idea to done”.

Isn’t this so true for good leadership.

Stagnation, torpidity, sluggishness and dullness are killers for effective leadership. Your not inclined to seek and implement new ideas and any suggestion of self-improvement is an anathema. And your followers eventually follow suit or leave.

Movement, on the other hand, evokes feelings of progress, energy, life, hope and optimism.. To paraphrase Steve,

“For Leaders, movement attracts followers”

While movement attracts attention it still has to be used intelligently as our friends in the animal world have learnt.

To illustrate, had an interesting experience with the attention grabbing qualities of movement recently when gardening. Poking around under a bush I disturbed a Death Adder snake (not too common in these parts thankfully). With Megan’s help we were able to successful catch and re-home it.

The thing about the Death Adder is that it is one of the most deadly snakes in the world and has the longest fangs of any Australian snake. So you would think it would be marauding the bush knocking off prey at will. But it doesn’t. That would be an inefficient use of its energy and time. It is far more strategic than that.

You see the tip of a Death Adder’s tail is a different colour to the rest of it’s body and is used as a lure by wriggling it to attract potential prey. It lies well camouflaged in the leaf litter twitching only the tip of it’s tail, then wham, goodbye frog etc.

Put simply the old Death Adder would wither and die without movement. Don’t let that happen to your leadership and the organisation you run.

Chris is the Principal and Managing Director at Cause & Effective – an organisation focused on successfully guiding not for profit Boards through leadership transitions

 

 

Rules. Stupid Rules

 

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By Joe Moore

In the last quarter of 2014, Deloitte Australia released their report into the productivity challenges of red tape.

Australians have a mixed response to rules. When something seems confusing we want more rules – just recently for example, about what clothing you can wear to Parliament House. We also loved the book – “First Break all the Rules”. We all know people at work who do not follow rules – it’s cute until you turn two. And we all have experienced working with those who only follow rules, which is not cute at any age. Maybe the convict backgrounds of some Australians explains our ambivalence?

Despite the ambivalence, Deloitte figures that one in every 11 employed Australians now works in the compliance sector. This makes the compliance sector a greater employer than the education, construction and manufacturing sectors. Some progress for a country colonised on non-compliance!

The Deloitte study focused on the written rules of the workplace. There are also the unwritten rules. Sometimes called the unwritten ground rules.

Unwritten rules may be helpful and contribute to how people can deal well with each other at work. Some unwritten rules are not helpful, and cover those behaviours we feel we have to tolerate at work, and would rather not. Many times the unwritten rules mean that one may break a written rule and there will be no consequence.

Identifying unwritten rules is best done by having work groups talk about how things get done, what is talked about, how they work with each other and with other business units. Once the unwritten rules are identified you can then apply some of the techniques for reviewing rules advocated by the Deloitte report.

Here are some rules for rules.

Ask for each rule:

  1. Why do we need this rule?
  2. Is there a better way?
  3. Does the rule overlap with others?
  4. Are staff unclear about which rule has the higher priority?

Challenging and reducing rules demands candid conversations. The ideal is fewer rules, repeated often, consequences unambiguous, and compliance made easy.

One in every 11 employed Australian employees in the compliance business? Who’s looking at you now?

Joe is the founder and principal of Kimber Moore & Associates. He and his team are highly skilled in helping leaders and staff deal with uncertainty, change, complexity and conflicts. You can contact Joe here.

Is This Your Year of the Ninja?

 Productivity Ninja

By Chris Gandy

Around this time of year I try to indulge myself with a bit of “personal development time” and dive into a book that might help me be more effective and productive in the coming year. Sometimes, I am disappointed with the outcome and have felt I would have got more out of reading back issues of MAD Magazine. Other years I go “Wow, I actually learnt something helpful from this!”

This year’s book, How to be a Productivity Ninja.Forget Time Management: How to Get Things Done in the Age of Information Overload by Graham Allcott elicited the latter response.

Productivity Ninja has been out for a few years now and you may well have read it yourself – I’d be interest in your take on it.

For me it was highly entertaining, practical and particularly insightful around office dynamics and the time pressures brought to bear by the proliferation of media channels. It challenges the notion of Time Management and argues that the main game today is Attention Management – something I can relate to!

What I found really helpful with the concept of Attention Management, especially from a leadership perspective, is Allcott’s suggestion that…

“In any knowledge work job, you’re really playing two roles at once: you’re simultaneously the boss and the worker”.

And as a result we are constantly juggling our “thinking” boss role with our “doing” worker role. So, for most of us it is not that we are “time poor” but “attention poor” as we continually flip between both roles and lose productivity along the way.

Allcott provides a guide for separating the two roles and how to set up systems to help you be effective when in either boss or worker mode.

It’s worth having a read if you are struggling with information overload or simply have a new year intention to be more productive.

During 2015 I look forward to working with all of you who care about strengthening the leadership and capacity of cause-based organisations.

Oh, please be patient if you call or email while I am in “boss mode” as you will have to wait till I switch to my “worker mode” and reply!

Image from Amazon UK

Chris is the Principal and Managing Director at Cause & Effective – an organisation focused on successfully guiding not for profit Boards through leadership transitions.

Salad Days

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By Sara Harrup

Each year some of my partner’s friends make the trek from Victoria to the Gold Coast for a three-week holiday. Each year they also head on up from the Gold Coast up to see us for a lazy afternoon of food, swimming and chats. This morning as I was preparing the salads for our lunch I was struck by the lessons one can learn from a seemingly non educational activity.

  1. Keep it simple. As I put together some beautiful basil from our garden with Bononcini and cherry tomatoes I realized that keeping things simple can yield great results. How often do we overcomplicate life? How much simpler could life be if we let it? This weekend we didn’t set ourselves any “jobs” to do! We just ambled through the weekend taking it moment by moment. It was refreshing and rejuvenating. How can we apply simplicity to our work week? Do one task at a time? Pause briefly between each task? Stop and breathe?
  2. Do something regularly that completely immerses you. Whilst cutting the ingredients for the salad I realized that it’s quite an “in the moment” experience. Activities which hold our attention in the moment and prevent us from ruminating on our worries are good for us. We all have something which captures us. Find a home version and a work version and do it regularly. For my partner it would be surfing and working in spreadsheets.
  3. As my Dad used to say “If a job is worth doing it’s worth doing well”. I was tired this morning but saw creating a delicious lunch that looked and tasted good as a way of honoring the effort my partner’s friends make to visit us each year. I felt good about the effort I put it.
  4. We all do things differently. Everyone makes their own signature salad. My mother’s salad always has boiled eggs in it. I think a salad isn’t a salad without avocado. We are all making salad, just in different ways. Tolerance and acceptance of our uniqueness can make our lives easier.

The afternoon was lovely and finished with a classic Brisbane storm to cool us down. The lessons from my salad making were illuminating and hopefully something to reflect on as I head into another week of a busy life.

Sara is a Cause & Effective Associate and a highly experienced not for profit CEO, Senior Executive and Board Member.

What Would You LIKE These Holidays?

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By Chris Gandy

The Christmas/New Year Holiday Season is a great opportunity for many of us to catch-up. A time to grab that book, read some articles we have bookmarked, maybe listen to some music.

But what to read? The media is awash with suggestions of what we SHOULD be focusing our eyes and ears on.

Well we thought we would approach it a little differently this year and tell authors, publishers and record labels what we would LIKE to read and hear.

Here is a “wish list” of titles from some of our regular B-Cause contributors………..

Dennis Fischman would love to toast his toes in front of the fire in Boston this Holiday Season reading:

  • Successful Mideast Peace Negotiators Offer Services to Ukraine, Russia
  • Facebook and FaceTime Face Off
  • Today’s Beijing Weather Report: Sunny and Clear
  • Experts Declare Businesses Should Be Run Like Not for Profits
  • Americans Stop Mentioning Crocodile Dundee to Every Australian They Meet
  • Every Nation Now Offers Free Higher Education
  • Scientists Invent Time Machine, Go Back to 2001, Halt Global Warming
  • Government Offers Grant to Read Fiction and Play With Your Cat
  • Jennifer Lawrence wins Oscar for Amazing Performance As Meryl Streep
  • Rich People Give Everything they Don’t Really Need to Poor People. (Poor People Agree to Accept)

Ian Sampson would like to wile away the hours in Brisbane reading, visiting new websites and listening to a little music:

  • The Narcissism Anonymous Website: It’s for the kind of person who has a lot to be modest about
  • World Peace.org. Their motto is: “It is only when you see a mosquito landing on your testicles that you realize that there is always a way to solve problems without using violence.”
  • Ivehearditallbefore.org. Their motto is: “How come the only people who know how to run the country are either driving taxis or cutting hair?”
  • Tony Abbott singing “Promises. I’ve made a few, but then again too few to mention.”
  • Bill Shorten singing “Howzat!” after another of his zinging political ripostes.
  • Tony to encore with “Colleagues; I’ve bruised a few, but then again, too few to mention.”
  • Mediocrity.com. It’s the site for most of us.
  • The Password to the members’ area on www.yourpasswordisinvalid.org

Attila Ovari (Canberra) and Joe Moore (Blue Mountains) obviously don’t expect to have as much  time on their hands and will be restricting their reading to:

  • How the World Can Work Together Without a Disaster or Common Enemy (Attila)
  •  Federal Politicians Working Together” (Attila)
  • The Rise and Rise of Australian Migration (Joe)
  • The Fall and Fall of ……. (Joe)

As for myself, in an effort to reduce medical bills and save time in getting treatment for pesky skin cancers I would like to read:

  • Suture – Self – A DIY Guide to Surgery”

What would you like to read or hear these holidays?

Have a peaceful and restful time everyone

 

Breaking A Habit

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By Attila Ovari

Do you have habits you would like to change?

Maybe its a change in diet, maybe a change in sleeping habits, maybe it is change in routine or maybe it is around exercise. Whatever the habit, have you noticed how hard it can be?

One definition of a habit is “a settled or regular tendency or practice, especially one that is hard to give up.”

So what can you do to change a habit? Here are two suggestions:

  1. Replace the habit with another habit. Instead of trying to stop one habit, which is hard to do, work on replacing it with another…. For myself I like to snack all day, sometimes not having lunch. Instead of stopping the snacking, I have worked on replacing the chocolate and processed food, like muesli bars, with fruit, vegetables, nuts and seeds. In this way I have been able to eat healthier with less effort than just trying to stop snacking.
  2. Reward yourself for breaking a habit. If you don’t have a habit that you can replace your current one with, try rewarding yourself for stopping the habit. For example, I have started getting out of bed early to exercise before work…. I do like my sleep, so I reward myself with some extra time to read most mornings as well. I do like reading books….
  • What habits do you want to change?
  • What habit can you replace the current habit with?
  • What way can you reward yourself for breaking the habit?

Attila is a Cause & Effective Associate. He loves life and thrives on helping people become better leaders.

Turning Lemons Into Lemon Sorbet With Interim Leadership

 

We have published a number of posts on Leadership Transition over the year and attempted to argue the case for not for profit Boards to seriously consider following a formal Transition Program when recruiting a new CEO. Here Tara Levy of Greenlights points out that such a Program is of great benefit to an organisation even when the “recruitment phase” is not required.

Image from good-cooking.co.uk

I sat in the office of a board chair this week discussing her parting Chief Executive Officer, she shared her frustration that the already-identified successor couldn’t start for another 6 months. In our conversation, I shared my perspective that this was actually a great opportunity for the organisation to make ultimate use of an Interim CEO.

At Greenlights, we embrace the Prepare-Pivot-Thrive framework for executive transitions. This guides an organisation in clarifying its trajectory before bringing a new leader on board and highlights the importance of change management between the outgoing and incoming executive as a time for the organisation to both “detox” from the prior leader and set the new leader up for success. No matter how good or bad the outgoing ED has been, the organization will have been shaped by his style, preferences, and skills, and engaging an interim provides an opportunity to neutralize those adaptations or decisions with a focus on the mission. Because the interim is an objective, external consultant who does not have an eye towards creating processes that suit her personal talents or quirks (because she won’t be the one implementing them for the long-term), she is able to prepare the organisation for the next leader by making decisions that are more mission-centric than a regular CEO often can.

The interim often hears “but that’s not the way [former CEO] did it,” and she can respond by engaging the staff and board in conversations about the organisation’s mission and future, nonprofit best practices, and change management. It’s much easier for this professional in a consultant role to be on the receiving end of these comments because she is prepared to educate the board and staff as part of the transition to focus on the mission.

When an interim reorients an organisation towards its mission and pivot point, the staff and board prepare for the new leader and begin to set the organisation up for that new leader’s success.

I explained to this week’s board chair that having the next leader already identified would relieve some stress for the organisation during the transition but would still provide them the opportunity to bring in an interim to cleanse their palate from the prior leader’s preferences and personality. As it turns out, hiring an Interim CEO is a great way to turn lemons into lemon sorbet.

Article posted on Greenlights Blog – 2nd April 2014.

Image from good-cooking.co.uk

Seven New Rules of Marketing

 

 

14208259_sBy Patrick McFadden

Over the past few years I’ve had the good fortune to speak and consult with start-ups and established organisations. Through my experience I have come up with the seven new rules of marketing that I think every start-up and small to midsize for profit or not for profit organisation should know. Some are new, some are old but explained in a new way, and some debunk popular myths.

#1. Branding is a Trust Mark

Against popular belief, branding is not about names, logos, or advertising. It’s about an experience. An experience that leaves a trust mark on a prospect or client. Many say the Internet (with it’s unlimited shelf-space for products and services) killed branding, that social media leveled the playing field. That’s a myth. More information and increased competition makes the customer experience even more important.

#2. Differentiate or Die

I always say that, “Pricing only matters when customers and prospects can’t tell the difference between your products and services and a competitor’s.” What if you don’t have any differences? Find some, create some, or develop some. You can choose to differentiate through products, services, processes, packaging, service delivery, methodology, approach, tools etc.

#3. Right Direction Is More Important

Strategy is everything. Make sure you have a strategy for the areas of your business where you want to see excellence. Wikipedia defines “strategy” as a long term plan of action designed to achieve a particular goal. How you strategically position your business and products is everything. And yes, you have to execute.

#4. Change Feelings

The ultimate goal of customer service is to change feelings, not the facts. Don’t build your business around stall, deny, begrudge and finally, to the few who persist on asking for refunds. The new marketing rules measures customer service on the basis of after the interaction, would the customer recommend you to a friend.

#5. Communication Is The Economy

Communication is a powerful tool for any business that can make or break a product launch or an entire company. Communication is the key factor in determining:

  • whether a customer is retained,
  • whether the customer spends more time with you, and
  • whether you outsell the competition.

Communication (which in the end is what this digital era and media is all about) is not just a sector of the economy. Communication is the economy.

#6. Tap Your Weak Ties

Your best new ideas, and most breakthrough innovations, will come when you tap your weak ties by interacting with the disciplines you know less about, or the experts you rarely consult, or the people you associate with less frequently. By contrast, the surest way NOT to have a creative breakthrough is to rely on all the experts you already know, and all the disciplines you’re already familiar with.

#7. Innovation is Not Invention

Innovation isn’t necessarily coming up with a novel idea, but coming up with a product or service people can use. My rule of thumb is that you only have to do something 10% better or provide added value to be successful.

Bottom line, marketing is key to a sustainable organisation. Business is all about marketing.

Patrick is a Cause & Effective Associate who specialises in a strategy-first and business approach to marketing. He helps organisations get real results from implementing and executing today’s marketing methods, tactics, strategies and action plans. To learn more from Patrick download his free eBook: 7 Components of a Successful Marketing Plan

Effectively assisting people doing good to do it even better

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