Every muscle contraction we have, every sound we produce is stimulated by what we feel. Consequently, to improve our actions and interactions we should not ignore our emotions ("No, no. I'm fine...") nor let them loose ("Aaargh! F***$#%!") but observe them, recognize them and express them with precision ("I'm scared"). The problem, however, is that we never learned how to do it and the current models designed to help us present a few flaws:
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"I'm disappointed! Very disappointed!" These are the words of Agbegnenou and Manaudou when they received their silver medal last week. A surprising but common reaction of athletes receiving a silver medal. How can people be disappointed when they are recognized in their field as one of the three best athletes in the world? In the Olympics three medals are given: gold, silver and bronze, and one could expect that the level of satisfaction would be found in the same order: the gold medalist being the most happy, the bronze being the least. But reality is that bronze medalists are happier than silver medalists. How can this be?Read more 1 comments
This is my last blog for AirBusiness Academy and the last one before Christmas and moving to Airbus Group leadership University in January, so I am in Xmas mood and thinking about what presents I may buy or give to others. Here goes….
First idea. How about one of these? A table that connects to your smartphone or tablette and acts as a huge touch screen. If you have ever been to a workshop where you work in groups and end up having presentations back to the plenary with illegible flipcharts then surely this is the answer to get everyone’s feedback in one place instantaneously. Order me 12 of those please.
Next gift idea for myself. The Hawaii Chair. It takes the work out of your work day. A chair that will get rid of the excess kilos accumulated over Christmas. Take a look and please keep a straight face.
Actually, forget the Hawaii Chair. Just get me the promo video above playing on a continuous loop in every room in the house.
Or if you don’t want to buy me one of those chairs, how about a USB Finger Dance Mat? Then I can have a party on my desk with everyone invited.
To use the device, you just plug it into your PC, slip your digits into the cardboard finger character (two choices: Disco dude or Flashdance chick), and tap your fingers in time to the flashing lights on the 4x4in dance floor. It is fresh, it is funky, it is totally **********.
Unsurprisingly the Dance Mat was discontinued shortly after it was launched but you might still find one on www.leboncoin.fr.
Next idea for a gift …. I usually buy my pets a present. A mouse to chase for the cat, a Christmas lettuce leaf for the tortoise (but they never come out to get it until April), a special cuttlefish for the bird. But as we are in the digital age I think this year I will buy the cats a Webex account so they can connect with other digital cats.
What if cats had webex meetings
Wouldn’t that be fantastic. I can imagine them all with their videos running, not saying (meowing) anything but just apparently pondering where the next meal is coming from. From time to time one of them would lick a paw or chase a fly off the screen. To get attention in the meeting they would click the ‘raise a paw’ button but then have nothing to say but at least they would be into the digital age.
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A long time ago in a far off land people went to work. They worked as Tops, Middles or Bottoms and whatever name they had they still went to work.
The Tops made the big decisions. They spoke about strategy and examined markets.They had important lunches and could only ever spare you 5 minutes.
The Bottoms did the real work (they said). They made things work and delivered stuff to customers. They had an opinion on everything that they were never asked about and that’s why the lunch table often sounded quite critical and downhearted.
The Middles were in the middle. They had to translate the decisions of the Tops so that the Bottoms knew what to do. They had pressure from the Tops always asking for more and they had pressure from the Bottoms always asking for less (or more depending what was in the pipe).
On some occasions the Tops, Middles and Bottoms all got together but not to talk about anything critical. It was just for celebrations, end of year events and market places where the things that were really in people’s hearts were not on the agenda.
But all that was a long time ago in a far off land.
Today, there are still Tops, Middles and Bottoms. But when Tops have the most important decisions to make they can check their thinking with a whole bunch of other people … Tops, Middles and Bottoms. The Tops know that the more people they talk to the more sure they are that they are on the right track. With the ability to connect with people via company intranet, in-company social media, Trello, Snapchat, Facetime, WhatsApp, Linkedin, Twitter, Instagram and ...and … the capacity to share a problem with others is huge.
When Middles have to describe how their teams will implement a shift in the strategy, a reorganisation or whatever, they now have all the technology available to be able to connect with the Bottoms to involve them in the decision and to use the brain power of the crowd. And the Middles’ teams expect them to do just that because the Bottoms are connected too.
The appetite to get ‘the crowd’ involved is 10x huge. People do the same level of connecting at work as they do at home.
Thank Goodness that first bit was a long time ago in a far off land.Write a comment
Usually I think I know if an idea is good or bad. I can make up my mind pretty easily … good or bad. Cooking sausages without a shirt on, practising your golf swing in the bathroom, wearing Hawaiian shirts when not in Hawaii ….all clearly bad ideas. But the other day I was in a supermarket and saw one of the workers holding a big green hand. The idea is that the hand indicates to customers the checkout where there is the smallest queue.Read more Write a comment
Money...what gives a relatively small piece of paper 1,700 times its real worth? Trust. Trust in the system. Trust in others. In The Trusted Advisor Maister, Green & Galford suggest an interesting way to measure trust. According to them trust (T) is the sum of our credibility (C) plus our reliability (R) plus our intimacy divided by our self-orientation (S). In other words, people will trust you the more you work on yourself, the more you deliver, the more you are able to connect to others and the less you focus on yourself.Read more Write a comment
This story starts with an ordinary letterbox. You know the kind of thing, square, plain, nothing special...A rectangular hole in the wall near the entrance of a house through which letters and bills are delivered.The only difference between this letterbox and others of its kind is that it remains open. There is no key safeguarding its contents. Who would have thought that behind its ordinary façade something magical was taking place?Read more Write a comment
Last week I was in China helping a new board of directors define their team culture. A team culture being the sum of the beliefs and values of each of its team members. We decided to share life stories and annecdotes which had been a turning point in our lives. The first Director started:Read more 1 comments
So the answer to last week’s brain teaser is that the man in question is a dwarf and he can’t reach the top buttons of the elevator. If someone else is riding the elevator with him then he can ask for help and if it has been raining he can reach the buttons with the tip of his umbrella;
Oh come on! That’s not a real brain teaser that’s just a trick question.Read more Write a comment
A man lives on the twelfth floor of an apartment building. Every morning he takes the elevator down to the lobby and leaves the building. In the evening, he gets into the elevator, and, if there is someone else in the elevator -- or if it was raining that day -- he goes back to his floor directly. Otherwise, he goes to the tenth floor and walks up two flights of stairs to his apartment.
Can you explain his behaviour?
Answers welcome … my own explanation will be available next week with a blog about assumptions.Write a comment
I used to go for a bike ride and choose my route from my memory of the map I had looked at before I left the house. I used to come across a traffic jam in my car and wonder if taking the side roads would be quicker. I used to buy a kitchen cupboard and wonder what it would look like once it was installed. I used to have a dog and ask myself how often it should be fed. I used to put on a few kilos over Christmas and ponder how best to get back in shape.
Now I can download an app to take the mystery out of all of these situations.Read more 1 comments
As I was out walking in the countryside with my kids, we came across a field of corn on the cob. We got closer and saw the green silks emerging from the dark green leaf whorl. The cobs were still young and tender. We went into the field and I showed my youngest son how to uncover the sugary baby cob from the several layers of leaves tightly wrapped around the corn cob. As he found one and cleaned the cob from its leaves and silk, he called me with much excitement:
“Dad, look, the corn is bleeding.”
I thought that maybe he had seen some sap dripping from the stem. So, I went to get a closer look and saw a few drops of red blood on the corn. Clearly, it wasn’t the corn. My son had cut his finger on a leaf edge.
“Liam,” I said calmly, “the corn is not bleeding. Look at your finger. You cut yourself with a leaf.”
Liam who was previously joyful and smiling, looked at his finger and, as he saw the blood dripping, his face turned white and he started to scream.
Such is life. We can make believe that the corn is bleeding and smile while we slowly bleed away or we can face reality. The second choice will surely make us cry at times. But it will also make us learn and grow.Write a comment
A new regulation is to be introduced in France to ban the use of hands-free kits while driving. I can see why this rule is being introduced but probably it is more dangerous to eat Smarties straight from the tube as you’re driving but that’s another matter (ask me about my choking story!). The question is … how do you get people to follow the rules? It’s pretty clear by looking at how many people you see driving their car while on the phone that just having a rule doesn’t make people live by it./nbsp] As my son once said … just because we are taught French in school doesn’t mean we learn it!
There was an experiment I saw recently that took particularly bad drivers (who run red lights, put on their lipstick while driving and play games on their smartphone while at the wheel) into a simulator. The simulator is a static real car with all the controls of a real car and all of the noises and vibrations of a real car and it is connected to an identical moving car which the simulator driver controls. The moving car is out on a private driving track. So when the driver brakes, steers or accelerates in the simulator the real car brakes, steers and accelerates out on the track. Inside the simulator the driver sees the real world via cameras mounted on the track car.
The simulator driver, chosen for their bad habits, is not told that the real reason for their simulator test is to shock them out of their habits. After a couple of hours in the simulator when they are now feeling really comfortable a copy of the car they own is rammed into the side of the car out on the track. Inside the simulator they feel all the shock of the crash … the noise, the scream, the impact … without any harm to them because they are still in the simulator. The cars out on the track are destroyed.
The point of the experiment is to get the drivers to feel what would happen if they run a red light, for example, and have a collision. No amount of explaining, looking at photos, or analysis of traffic statistics could have the same effect. People need to feel the bang.
At work you can’t conduct a similar high impact experiment just because someone goes out of the fire door to have a smoke, arrives a bit late or cracks inappropriate jokes (the last one is the toughest scenario especially when the jokes are funny). But how much tolerance have you got? And what do you do about it without getting all tough-guy about things that may not matter so much? Maybe nothing but it’s the fraction-of-a-second moments of behaviour which create the culture you work in, so there’s something to positively manage.
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You must have seen recently that about 4 million people walked in the streets in France as a simple way to express themselves following the attacks in Paris. It seems that a refusal to keep quiet and to show what you stand for is more important than ever. And after the terrorist attacks in Paris and the consequent public reaction my brain got working about self-expression, speaking up and leadership and I am left with a few questions which might be useful thought-starters for managers:
At what point do I say ‘stop!’ that’s enough?
How tolerant am I? and does my tolerance sometimes turn into over-flexibility?
How clear are my team principles at work? What principles do I stand by? What am I willing to stand up for?
Is there a moment when I should have spoken up? What prevented me from doing so?
And so on ….
For your team members there may be a real or imagined cost for them to speak up, ask tough question and say what they stand for… I will look worried … I am not sure of my facts… I have my reputation to consider … I will rock the boat … My bonus is at risk … I will look like a trouble maker … and it is absolutely the role of the manager to remove all of this threatening inner dialogue and to convince people that keeping quiet at work will trap everyone in a negative system.
Often as facilitators of team events we at ABA it is our job to help people speak up. Our role is to be challenging or cheeky with our clients, asking the tough questions that everyone else has avoided. If at any point we were worried or hesitant in our approach because we thought our reputation and job was at risk … then we have lost. Good to say we have clients in Airbus Group who encourage us to keep pushing them. Thanks!Write a comment
William Shakespeare, Orleans, 1598
The latest thing to keep me awake at night (I always need something) is when and where to ‘bise’. The bise (pronunce: beez) is the double-kiss French greeting.
At first, the rule looked so simple.
Article 5467b of the Code Civil - In France, men shake hands with other men and bise women and children. Close male friends may also do a bise.Read more Write a comment
Teenager: What exactly was a manager?
Father: Well when I started working we had managers in organisations who were there to help get things done.
Teenager: Yeah but what exactly were they supposed to do?
Father: Ok, well, erm … a manager was there to direct people so they knew their priorities, they gave advice to get people on the right track, they coached, asked questions and they kind of motivated people to keep going. Got it?
Teenager: Sounds weird, why couldn’t the people do all of that stuff themselves? Why did they need a manager to get them to decide things? Were you more stupid when you were younger? Ha ha!
Father: No it was just that things were a bit slower back then. When I started to work in 2014 I was in a team of 8 people and we had a manager who made sure we got a good idea of what was going on in the bigger company and gave us info that helped us make progress and basically challenged us to achieve more stuff.
Teenager: Sounds incredibly slow having that guy in the way.
Father: Well he wasn’t in the way..
Teenager: Sounds like it would just slow you down, if you need to find something out you could have just looked on your palmtop or yammered a question or something. Did the managers own the company and that’s why they were so stressy?
Father: No they didn’t usually own the company, they were paid like the rest of us .. and what makes you say stressy?
Teenager: I dunno, all that checking up on people sounds like they had high blood pressure or something but mostly don’t get why people didn’t just get on with things and if they weren’t motivated they could chew some Katgum and chill out.
Father: Mmm, I guess in 2014 we didn’t have much info, not the immediate info you have now where you just have to speak a question into your palmtop and bingo! … oh and in 2014 khat was still an illegal substance, it wasn’t until about ten years ago that Schweppes made a gum out of it.
Teenager: What? Sorry?... Did you see there’s a guy in Ottawa who’s calculated that one bucket of water contains more atoms than there are buckets of water in all the oceans combined?
Father: Beam me up!
Teenager: Stop talking weird!Write a comment
Looking back at previous blogs such as “Keeping Your Balance” and “Think Powaqqatsi”, I thought about two people whose stories are worth repeating. They involve people who have reached a good old age and who have shown tremendous resilience.
The first is the grandfather of a friend who lives in the Hautes-Pyrenees. He is 103 years old and is originally from Spain. He started work in a coal mine at the age of 8. On one day when he was in the mine with the other male workers of his village, the Spanish authorities came to the village to test a new vaccination for Typhoid. At the end of the day when the miners emerged from the pit, they found to their horror that all the women and children who had been subjected to the vaccination had died during the day and were already buried in a mass grave. The vaccination fluids had been contaminated.
Later in his life he married but moved to France alone to find work in order to send money back to his family in Spain; he found work digging ditches. His granddaughter told me that for two years he lived on a diet of solely onions and rabbit (the only meat he could catch and not pay for) while saving money to send back home. This man is now 103 and lives near Tarbes. He has reverted to speaking only Spanish but still tends his garden every day.
The second story is about an old man who lives in Rabastens and he is in his late eighties but looks as fit as a fiddle. His story; he was born illegitimately and his family did not acknowledge him. He was obliged to live in the hay barn and wear only rags. No-one really cared for him and he lived from the cast away food from the family. At the age of 8 some charitable nuns came across him, took pity and took him to an orphanage in Auch. In a twisted attempt to cope with their shame at having an illegitimate son, the family had forced him to always avoid eye contact. And even now he still closes his eyes when he talks to you.
These stories would suggest that you don’t necessarily benefit from leading an easy life in order to remain active and live to an old age. Maybe a difficult path where your resilience and your physical stamina are really tested is the best way to head for the 100s. What do you think?
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