James Lawther

Make the Message Clear!

We are getting grief at work, we aren't dispatching van drivers quickly enough. (The first bit of that statement is true, we are always getting grief at work, the second bit is made up to protect the innocent, but you will get the point). My…

Rearranging the Deck Chairs

There is an old adage that form follows function. In his book "The Leader's Handbook: Making Things Happen, Getting Things Done" (which is great and you should buy it) Peter Scholtes builds on that idea. He shows how the different parts of an organisation...

Gordon Ramsay, Darcey Bussell and Your Next Re-Org

When we are faced with a problem, maybe a new competitor, a cost challenge, a product launch or simply a new job, we marshal our forces to deal with it. We reform our departments Shuffle our management teams Hire the right talent Politely ask those…

It’s all About the System Stupid

I work for a large multi-national corporation. Like most large multi-national corporations we have wisely outsourced our IT. Part of it to a "technology provider" and part of it to a "service provider". On paper this gives us a very cheap...

Caution: Management by Hippopotamus

There is a HiPPO in the room. It is big, loud, ugly and everybody is doing what it wants. The HiPPO is the Highest Paid Persons Opinion. You can spot HiPPO's quite easily, they are expressed forcefully, everybody nods and agrees with them and they...

Zombies will do Wonders for Your Motivation

I have just wasted 2 weeks of my life playing "Plants versus Zombies", the worlds most foolish computer game. The premise is at best dubious, I grow plants in my garden and these protect my house from an onslaught of brain eating zombies,...

Let’s Talk About Me

Words are powerful things; they can engage, they can sting, they can excite and they can bore. The impact words have on people is amazing, even every-day words provoke a gut reaction. Try these two definitions for size: Self-centred ~ chiefly concerned with...

Hot Chocolate Tastes Better in an Orange Mug

That is not a random provocative statement (though I am guilty of those on occasion) it is a scientifically proven fact. Charles Spence, of the University of Oxford and Betina Piqueras-Fiszman from the Polytechnic University of Valencia have statistically validated it. They served a...

Are Your Neighbours Spying On You?

W Edwards Deming is often quoted as saying: "In god we trust, all others must bring data". His point was that if you want to improve an operation; hunches, beliefs and superstitions just won't cut it. You need to have the data that shows...

Quality Control Doesn’t Work (and how to fix it)

Here is a bold statement, "inspection doesn't work"; (literally bold). Yet every organisation I have ever worked for uses and pays for quality controllers. They can't all be wrong can they? What makes me think I am so right? Maybe, if you...

“Group Think” is no Laughing Matter

In the 1970's the psychologist Irving Janis coined the term "group think" to explain why group pressure results in poor decisions, or, as he explained it, why groups show: A deterioration of mental efficiency, reality testing, and moral judgement That is a little more erudite…

The Stick is Mightier than the Carrot

Psychologists will tell you that carrots are a far more productive strategy than sticks. You might think this is a blindingly obvious statement, but the facts don't always support it. Sometimes the psychologists are proven wrong. That is exactly what happened to Daniel...

The World’s Worst Christmas Present

Every year I visit the charity shop and off load all the misguided Christmas presents I've been given. I don't wish to seem ungrateful, but the socks my Aunt sent me with individually knitted toes are at best uncomfortable and at worst a crime against...

How do you Motivate an Elf?

Things are getting a bit tight. It is the 22nd of December and Father Christmas and his bunch of elves are not on top of the situation. They are not even close. They have the backlog to end all backlogs: Wishes have not been processed…

Should you go to Work in Your Slippers?

How would it be if you could come and go at work just as you pleased? If nobody checked your hours, if you didn't have to attend meetings and if the only stick you were measured by was the results you achieved? If you...

Does the Small Stuff Matter?

How you set your stall out matters. Even the small things make a huge difference to what your customers think and the way they act. The design critic Donald Norman made the point beautifully in his book The Design of Everyday Things...

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