Are You Thinking What I Was Thinking II

  • The ice bucket challenge, another “fad” (like TQM, Lean, Big Data) that starts with the strand of a good idea, grows to a point in the wider public consciousness that it steadily loses its’ resonance and ends up disappearing into a vortex of dullness
  • We search for more one-of-a-kind holiday experiences that bring us closer to the great (changing seasons, unexplored oceans, diverse animals) and the bad (windstorms, disease, life-threatening interactions) of nature. Yet our beliefs about those who put themselves in harm’s way or disrupt nature have yet to adapt at the same speed. So we are shocked about shark attacks (Australia), shipwrecked pleasure craft (Indonesia) and whole countries exposed to Ebola.
  • We overvalue “potential” (Snapchat, Alibaba) and we undervalue “results” (Apple, 3M, Coca Cola)
  •  Surrounded by jihadists (Middle East), regional conflicts (Ukraine), religious civil war (Syria), earthquakes (California), and cyber attacks (JP Morgan), we are in a period of impressive financial prosperity and abundant opportunities  in many mature economies (Dow, FTSE and Hang Seng nearing or at all-time highs). You wouldn’t get that turning on the television news or flicking through most newspapers.
  • Financial analyst, Abigail Doolittle, warns that the stock market could be heading for a “scary” 60% crash without a greater impetus to raise interest rates in the G8 (sorry, G7 without our Russian friends). How many analysts, economists and forecasters get fired if their assumption is wrong? Zero. Why should we take notice if no one is held to account?
  • We have greater financial regulation, capital and human resource deployed to compliance in the financial services sector today than at any point in history. Yet we have greater incidence of alleged and actual wrongdoing (South Korean banks inter rate rigging, Wall Street banks subprime wrongdoing, RBS mortgage advice to name but several firms currently “in the dock”). Isn’t it time that those banging the drum loudest for change (politicians, the media, regulators and electorates) focus on changes that see bankers own self-interests (career development, health and well being) met in the proposed changes?
  • We lionise popstars (Bieber), models (Cara Delevigne), politicians (Obama), business executives (Prince Al Waleed) and sports stars (Beckham) way too fast and are “astonished” when their human failings tarnish our image of them.
  • Cries of alarm about excess capital (foreign or non-traditional sources) buying up businesses, real estate and so on is largely a good thing. Competition  in capitalist societies has accelerated re-invention and innovation, enabling customers and clients to buy in new ways, to access resources in new ways and enhancing our experience. Why, the alarm?
  • The “past” has seen firms encourage their best people to learn more and more about less and less (niche expertise), the “future” will see firms encourage their best people to learn more and more about more and more (generalist expertise). In a fast changing world, our ability to rapidly adapt our competence and passion to existing and anticipated market needs, will determine our success or failure.
  • We have more communication tools in business today than at any point in the past, yet we have more people who know less about the range of competencies a firm has and its’ ability to provide tremendous results for its’ client base.
  • Most corporate organisations talk about life-balance and the steps they have undertaken to improve their employees’ lives in grand sweeping statements. The reality is that few employees have truly found the correct balance for long. Why? The initiatives are largely reactive, not proactive.
  • We have become addicted to “high tech” (online, social , mobile, desktop) but we have rarely integrated it well with “high touch” (a seminal customer experience). Those few firms that have been successful are largely to be found in the consumer retail space (Apple, Uber, Citimapper, Spotify). How many firms that serve corporate customers can you put in the same category?
  • Our use of technology is increasingly passed off as an excuse (“I didn’t see you there”) for a lack of manners and human kindness (public transport in London, New York, Paris, Hong Kong). We are increasingly allowing ourselves to be unhealthily selfish to one another, yet we are choosing to live and work in greater numbers and closer proximity to each other. Something has to give.
  • When you last received a written thank you letter or a note of appreciation, did its’ rare occurrence,  create  a far more lasting impression and an urge to prioritise a future time and date to meet again? When we want to create impressive entries into important prospects, clients, clubs or associations, sometimes we need to look back, not forward in how we choose to communicate with those individuals if we want to stand apart from the crowd.
  • Our decision to “hide” behind email, has more to do with our own fears and less to do with the fact that we will elicit a timely and positive response. If business leaders and employees don’t address the cause of that fear, we increasingly dilute our productivity and our own “worth” to the firm and our clients’ future.
  • We have created more titles in firms today than at any point since the beginning of not WWII but WWI. Yet understanding the value that individual brings to bear on the prosperity of the firm and its’ clients is with rare exception less easily understood by a firm’s key constituents (customers, shareholders, business partners, employees) than at any point in the past. The net result, is that the investment in establishing people’s credibility with those people it wishes to influence, has never been higher. Almost all mid and large-sized businesses could eliminate 20% of all titles, the associated pay and perks, and the impact would be immense and immediate on the bottom line. It doesn’t happen largely because the ego and belief systems of top management won’t allow it to happen.

© James Berkeley 2014. All Rights Reserved.

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