Mike Barnato

Strategy, leadership, organisation, programmes

Are we obsessed by appearances?

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Don't jump to conclusions for blog

I first wrote this piece six months ago. I thought that we might start getting away from an over fascination with appearance and skinniness. And avoid jumping to conclusions about appearance.  But perhaps not.

We are obsessed by appearances. We judge a book by its cover.

Women and men resort to the 3Ps – plastic (fillers), poison (botox) and photo shopping to look “better”. It was different.

And use corsets and starvation diets.

“..in the evenings, it’s peopled with gentlemen of a certain age, accompanied by ladies of a surgically enhanced uncertain one.”

“Getting to the top is as much to do with how you look as what you achieve.”

When can we get back to “fit, not thin”?

 

Sources: Image by the Hiking Artist. Quote 1: Review of Rowley’s restaurant by Andrew Baker, Daily Telegraph, March 7 2015. Quote 2: Schumpter, The look of a leader, Economist 29092014

The ABC of communication and language of politics

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Ex BBC Director-General Mark Thompson discussed his new book “What’s gone wrong with the language of politics” on the Andrew Marr Show today. Some of the problems with politics and the media are: wild exaggerations, crude and aggressive styles , soundbites and possibilities presented as certainties. For example in relation to Brexit:

“Austerity budget

A bomb under the economy

£350m a week to the NHS” 

 

And yet, I still like simple “rules”. Like the ABC of effective communication.

A. is for Action

Start with the reason for the communication.

B. is for Brevity

Keep it as short as necessary, but no shorter.

C.is for Clarity

Put the message into context.

Cheryl Cole provides a good example. When she was reported to have separated from husband, Chelsea footballer, Ashley Cole, she apparently sent him a five word text. It said: ” Move out, it’s over.” A call to action – Move out. Clarity. It’s over. And brevity – only five words.

Now she isn’t necessarily an overall good role model for communication, but on this occasion, her words from the Coleface are useful.

Child Sex Abuse Inquiry: Is it doomed?

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Don't jump to conclusions for blogelephant going under

UPDATE: 11092016. The Times reports that the ex Chair wrote that there needs to be a full review of the Inquiry and basis and scale of the inquiry. The Home Secretary rejected this view but announced two practical pilot projects – safe house s- on 11/092016 on the Andrew Marr show.

The Independent Inquiry into Child Sexual Abuse (IICSA) is currently led by Professor Alexis Jay. The Prime Minister recently queried the governance of large businesses. What about the governance of this inquiry? Here are seven questions to ask (SSHARKS).

Strategy. What’s the end in mind and what are the priorities? The IICSA seems to have three purposes. Catharsis? Prosecution? Stopping abuse in the future? But what are the priorities between them? If it is stopping future abuse, do you really need to try to uncover all historic abuse first?

Structure. Does it have the right skills and roles? It has had four chairs in two years. Has it got the right combination of people with leadership, management, legal, administrative, IT child, institutions, evidence and project skills? Should there be shared leadership?

Happen. It has massive scope – all instances of abuse in living memory in all institutions in England and Wales. Is that do-able? What’s  actually happening in performance? It is difficult to tell. It has c200 staff but little has been reported.

Actions. Do its actions combine engagement and discipline? There are no  published deadlines, not even for emerging findings. “Justice delayed is justice denied.” In my experience, no project (and the inquiry is a collection of multiple projects) can really work without deadlines.

Resilience. Are risks understood and actively managed? The appointment risks didn’t appear to be. If, as some argue, it has been an establishment conspiracy, then it is difficult to appoint figures from the establishment.

Ki. Does it comply with the spirit, and letter of good practice, transparency and integrity? On the one hand, victims’ memories will fade of the details of historical abuse. On the other hand, some people will be mistaken. Is it fair not to allow cross examination by representatives of the accused.

Sustainability. Are there biased incentives? People paid by the day have little incentive to speed things up. Fantasists may hope for damages. Establishment offenders want to cover things up.

Images. Jumping to conclusions. The elephant (in the room?) is too big to grasp.

 

 

Governance: 6 key questions (SSHARK)

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no-problems-only-challenges

I recently attended a Round Table on governance issues at the Institute of Governance.

Good governance has become more challenging in these Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous Times (VUCA).

Here are 6 key questions (SSHARK):

Strategy. What’s the end in mind? Why do we exist? What are the priorities?

Structure. Is it fit for purpose? Do we have the right skills and roles?

Happen. What’s happening in performance? Are measures meaningful and manageable?

Actions. Do actions and behaviours combine engagement and discipline?

Resilience. Are risks understood and actively managed?

Ki. Do we comply with the spirit, and letter of good practice, transparency and integrity?

In my experience, few organisations can answer positively to all six questions.

RESPONSES RECEIVED:

One person (a non executive director) felt that his organisation could answer “yes” to the 6 questions (most of the time). A corporate lawyer feels that Board remuneration should be mentioned. Twenty five likes.

 

Appearance: Jumping to conclusions

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Don't jump to conclusions for blog

We are obsessed by appearances. We judge a book by its cover. Women and men resort to the 3Ps – plastic (fillers), poison (botox) and photo shopping to look “better”. And use corsets and starvation diets.

“..in the evenings, it’s peopled with gentlemen of a certain age, accompanied by ladies of a surgically enhanced uncertain one.”

“Getting to the top is as much to do with how you look as what you achieve.”

When can we get back to “fit, not thin”?

 

Sources: Image by the Hiking Artist. Quote 1: Review of Rowley’s restaurant by Andrew Baker, Daily Telegraph, March 7 2015. Quote 2: Schumpter, The look of a leader, Economist 29092014

 

 

 

 

 

 

Written by Mike Barnato

March 23, 2016 at 6:13 pm

Taking action! Three dangers for leaders

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We live in a world that believes in action. The Nike slogan “Just Do It!” is a reminder.

Is action good? Yes!

It’s an antidote to No Action.Talk.Only. (NATO).

It’s not new. Disraeli, wrote “Action may not always bring happiness; but there is no happiness without action”.

Social media and fast communications add to the appeal of instant action.

Many successful people failed several times until they found success.

Agile project methods emphasise trial and error.

Is action ALWAYS good? No! Watch out for three dangers:

No learning. So the mistake is repeated.

Catastrophic failure. No second chance. Think hang gliding.

No thinking. Fire. Aim. Ready. Organisations. (FAROs).

So? Action and thinking should go together!

They are interdependent, are not alternatives. It is”and”, not “or”. A key for leaders(hip) is to get the balance right between them.

 

The Bats of Austin

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abritinaustin

One of the most surprising features of Austin is the city’s large bat population. Actually the largest population of urban bats in the world. This population lives underneath the Congress Avenue Bridge, in downtown Austin.

This is an example of how urban development can sometimes help an animal population grow. When the bridge was reconstructed in 1980 no one had any intention of helping boost the local urban bat population. But the crevices underneath the bridge proved popular and new bats in vast numbers settled underneath the bridge.

In the summer at dusk lots of tourists will stand watching for the nightly flight of the bats as they go hunting. I have included a video that I took of this event a couple of weeks ago. You can see the bats showing up against the evening sky like a undulating swarm of wasps that goes on and on and on.

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Written by Mike Barnato

December 7, 2015 at 6:47 pm

Posted in Uncategorized