Crisis Champions: Centre

Almost all of us have a set of values for our organisations; we all say our people are our most important asset. Which is a terrible saying. We should indeed manage assets, but we lead people. But it is only under pressure our true organisational values are exposed, as are our personal virtues. If they are true values and virtues they do not change due to circumstances. "Great occasions do not make heroes or cowards; they simply unveil them to our eyes. Silently and imperceptibly, as we wake or sleep, we grow strong or weak; and at last some crisis shows what we have become"according to renowned scholar Brooke Foss Westcott

So what will we choose? Will we throw out our values because the pressure is on, or will we stay true to what is important to us and those around us? It’s a pivotal question for me because at its core, is a call that will determine the engagement of our stakeholders, and therefore ultimately the organisation’s sustainability.

A crisis is a test of...

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Crisis Champions Commit


You can plan, collaborate, engage and do all the things you need to do and still fail unless you do this one thing. Commit! Risk is a relative measure. In a crisis the riskiest thing you can do is do nothing. The second riskiest thing is to react rather than consider and act. Be proactive not reactive.

Nike’s famous slogan is ‘Just Do It!’ Great advice in a crisis. Having a can-do attitude goes a long way in leading in a crisis. You have to be action oriented but remain flexible and learn as you go. In strategic terms it’s an action learning cycle. That cycle of act, think, adjust and go again. Without action there is no result. Commitment is a great trait as long as its balanced with an understanding that you will sometimes be wrong, and that’s OK. It’s not a measure of weakness to have a crack at a solution and get it wrong. It’s a sign of ego if you then persist and don’t flex. That’s why your communication...

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Crisis Champions: Create

“Sometimes you need a little crisis to get your adrenaline flowing and help you realize your potential.”Said Jeannette Wall, and I tend to agree.

Necessity is indeed the“mother of invention”.

A need or problem encourages creative efforts to meet the need or solve the problem. This saying appears in the ‘Dialogue Republic’, by the ancient Greek philosopher Plato. So, its nothing new. Yet we still reach for the blunt axe when faced with a crisis.

Taking a moment to consider the consequences. Thinking a little more medium term, looking at our resources, considering options, understanding the changing landscape and appearing opportunities, is how we become successful. It’s where the true pivot comes from. Unlocking creativity in crisis is not a natural response and we have to remind ourselves, and our people, to keep calm and considered, in order to remain creative.

In crisis the marketplace is moving at a staggering rate. Your business...

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Crisis Champions: Communicate


How and what you communicate in a crisis will very often determine the success or otherwise of your endeavors. It’s that important!

Building trust quickly is essential. You will need people to respond quickly and effectively if you are to move fast enough to react to the crisis unfolding.

Transparency builds trust, and a willingness to be open, vulnerable and authentic goes a long way to building trust.

A wise person said that “the problem with communication is the illusion that its taken place”. Just when you’ve repeated your message yet again, and you’re thinking surely, I can’t need to say this again; it is just starting to land with those who need to hear it. More is better; be succinct and clear yes, but it’s hard to over communicate. What you communicate is also important, be genuine, open and transparent; no secrets, or ‘need to know’ policy, which often becomes weaponised in the hands of power...

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Crisis Champions: Clarify

In the midst of a crisis there is overwhelming pressure, both from within the organisation and from external forces, such as stakeholders and environmental factors.

The key is to generate clarity in uncertainty by holding to a set of agreed priorities.

The opportunity to be distracted by the urgent rather than the important is heightened in a crisis. Beware the noise that comes from someone else’s agenda.

Ensue the organisation is focused on what is truly important, and absolutely foundational, or it will busy itself in the urgent minutia. 

Whatever you do, if it’s going to be effective it has to be simple, super simple. This is not a time for complexity it’s a time for simplicity. You need a clarion call to galvanize an organisation to change its behaviour based on a simple set of imperatives.

The great Kiwi, Sir Peter Blake led Team New Zealand to successive victories in the America's Cup yacht competition in 1995 and 2000. The key to this success was...

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People Always Assume the Worst

What is it about bad news?

It sells well, travels fast and seems to catch our attention. Our 24-hour news cycle is unfortunately built on it. Despite all the views to the contrary there is nothing wrong with communication in most companies. All and every staff survey will put communication at the top of things to improve, and yet bad news will get around a team at the speed of gossip.

Organisations leak news and despite all the efforts to maintain secrecy, people inevitably know something about what is going on.

Many leaders endeavor to cloak everything on a ‘need to know’ basis, as if there is a risk of everyone knowing what’s going on. The trouble with this is, people talk and if there is bad news brewing, they will automatically assume the very worst. 

So even if you have dire news, let people know, be transparent, go broad in your reach for ideas and input, and trust your team to handle it well.

Have one plan; make it very open and transparent, super...

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Productivity is a Fruit of Environment

Paul Krugman, the Nobel Prize [winner] in economics, once wrote: "Productivity is not everything, but in the long run, it is almost everything."

Are you frustrated by how long it takes to get things done? Why is that? What would it take to get higher productivity? We do have a major problem with productivity levels of below 1%, despite all our technological advances. Something is fundamentally wrong, not at the fringes but at the core of how we do leadership, business and run organisations.

Productivity is not an outcome driven by stopwatches and clipboards.

If it were, we would see gains. It’s a product of an engaged environment, created by a leader as its catalyst. The leader encourages and protects the environment, the environment delivers engagement, and engagement produces productivity. Authentic leadership creates an engaging environment that leads to increased productivity.

In today’s business environment, trust in leaders is at an all time low according to...

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Everybody Has An Off Day

People are human, would seem to be self evident; yet do we treat our teams that way? Are they just organic machines? Of course not!

Sometimes as leaders we become so fixed on our goals and KPIs we forget we are hiring flesh and blood, flawed, inconsistent and subject to outside influences. They are not unlike you and I.

Occasionally I wake up and don’t want to do today, it’s not my usual good morning God, it’s more like good God it’s morning. We all have families and relationships that aren’t always perfect; or is it just me.

Build in some grace and some flexibility for your team. Don’t expect 100% performance all the time.

Allow for some ups and downs. Have the conversation when it’s not going well, not from a ‘you should’ perspective but from a ‘how can we help’ stance. Who knows what others are going through?

Asking the question may help rescue a wonderful employee who is going through the mill, and just...

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No Innovation, No Business

The marketplace is moving at a staggering rate, digital disruption is everywhere. Your business model is under duress regardless of your industry. Business models used to fail every ten to twenty years now it’s every three to four years; sometimes less. Recently Spotify disrupted iTunes, the iconic disruptor of the music industry. “No innovation no business!”

To move fast enough organisations and their leadership have to be inherently agile, encouraging innovation to be in their DNA. Only in agility and innovation is there the likelihood of sustainability. If you don’t innovate, you die. Look at Nokia, absolute global dominance gone in less than a decade. They ignored the smartphone revolution and became irrelevant very quickly. Their response was to defend the status quo. This is a very natural reaction. Defend what you know, but now we have to embrace what will kill us.

The scale and speed of the digital revolution means we are all being disrupted,...

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People Own What They Help To Create

Is it hard to implement strategies and get alignment in your organisation? Are your team not engaged in your strategic direction and lack passion? Perhaps they lack ownership; and there may be a reason for that. “People own what they help to create.”

How inclusive are you when you plan, create ideas and establish direction? I have found that almost universally in our Stragile planning sessions, we have high involvement and engagement, and subsequently implementation is a breeze in comparison to traditional strategic planning. Check out if you want to know more.

Suffice it to say that if you put a large group in the planning room, you unlock the latent potential of your people and leverage their collective experience and diversity.

The turnarounds at Gloria Jean’s Coffees and at the Charles Parsons Group were done by people already in the organisation, when it wasn’t going well. The ideas were already in the building as were the resources. Good...

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