James Lawther

McPizza

Imagine you worked for McDonald's and you had a super new idea for a product, the McPizza. How would you test it? Option 1: Launch it nationwide Create the recipe Build a supply chain for the ingredients Buy the ovens Train all your staff Develop…

How do you Make a Pencil?

In 1958 Leonard E Read wrote an essay about making pencils. He described: The growing of trees The work of a lumberjack The operation of the saw mill The making of the saw The transportation of the logs The mining of the graphite The production…

How to Sink a Ship

Come at once. We have struck a berg. It's a CQD, old man You have heard this story On the 15th April 1912 the Titanic sank on her maiden voyage from Southampton to New York. Whilst steaming at high-speed through an area of pack ice…

Are Tall People Better Managers?

We all have biases; things that we believe are true, that drive our decisions and actions. But those biases can be blind spots, so they may drive the wrong decisions and actions. The worst thing about biases is that we don't realise that we have…

How to Ride a Bike

My youngest daughter has just turned 5. She is a big girl now. For her birthday we gave her a bicycle, it is all pink and sparkly and covered in princesses (you can never have too many pink sparkly princesses). Last...

The Shocking Truth About Your Improvement Project

Yesterday I read that only 5% of the changes we make at work are changes for the better. Only 1 in 20 improvements actually improve things. Allegedly everything else we do is ineffective or, worse still, counter-productive. Ungrounded statistics I thought that sounded horribly harsh.…

The Problem with NPS (Or Do I Look Fat in This?)

I am 45. They say that when middle-age is upon us our broad minds and narrow waists swap sizes. It is happening to me, (certainly around my waist, and as I no longer enjoy finding strangers in my kitchen first thing in the morning, probably…

How to Walk in Your Customer’s Shoes

We have all been told to "walk in our customer's shoes". When we walk in our customer's shoes we can understand what our customers want: What their problems are What pressures they feel What is going on in their minds And if we can really…

The Simple Reason People Won’t do as You Ask

People won't follow commands. They won't follow directives; they hate being told to what to do. This is a problem, particularly if you want that all elusive "cultural change". Some cultural changes are harder than others Imagine the challenges facing Mustafa Kemal Ataturk, the man…

Facebook: It is so Rewarding

We work in large organisations that ban access to social media. We have long-winded IT policies that forbid our employees from tweeting, liking, stumbling or commenting. After all we are paying these people to work, not to surf the internet catching up with their friends.…

Eating at McDonald’s Gives you Acne

That is a libelous statement, but it is fairly obviously true, I was in McDonald's with my children only last weekend and it was jam-packed full of spotty teenagers. It is a slam-dunk case of cause and effect. All those burgers will make you...

How are you Organised?

When you ask for an organisation chart I bet you expect to see something like this: If I gave you an organisation chart that looked a little more like this: What would that tell you about the organisation? Would you like to be an employee?…

Targets: The Simple and Ineffective way to Improve Performance

There is a line of thought that there are three types of target: 1. Fact of life targets If you don't meet these targets you simply don't qualify: To be a world-class 100 meter sprinter you have to run sub 10 seconds If you want…

The Way of the (Process) Ninja

A terrible headline, I apologise, but now I have your full attention… 1. Find inner clarity All processes do things, they have a purpose, a raison d'être. That might be to mend broken arms or to let people know how much tax they owe. But...

Are Your Team High Performers or Losers?

What do you think of the team you manage? Are they the crème de la crème or a shower of … Is that a rather harsh question? Perhaps, but the answer may well have a lot more to do with you than with...

Money, Motivation and Monkeys

We have all heard that "money doesn't motivate". I'm not sure I totally agree. If you can't afford your weekly food bill then I suspect that making money comes high on your list, but I guess we pass that point fairly quickly. What...

Serious Business

I travel to London on the train more regularly than is pleasant At the end of each journey a steward passes through the carriages with a big plastic bag, collecting the rubbish. They never look too enamored with their job. This morning the steward entered...

Fear or Boredom?

My daughter is learning to play the flute. As far as musical instruments go the flute is without a shadow of a doubt the best your child can learn. I am still emotionally scared by my sister's attempts to play the violin 30 years...

Payback Time

Maz Iqbal told me a great story this week…. Imagine you were an employee of a large business. You worked in a factory, or a shop, or a warehouse or maybe you were an agent in a call centre. A big call centre where they...

Can You Have Too Much Information?

We live in a world of big data. We are all collecting information, compiling it and then trying to work out how to use it to our best advantage. So of course we want to see all the information available and then some, before...

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