I Will Be On A Hiatus For A While 😊

A shot of our amazing Kings Park – Lycopod Island. This is part of a children’s playground which has a multilevel treehouse on the middle of the island

I am not sure how long I will be away from the blog, but I thought I would make a post now to let you know that my focus has been elsewhere for a little while and it will continue to be for some time yet. Of course, I will keep reading the wonderful blogs by my amazing blogging friends I follow and I should be able to keep sharing my comments with you from time to time.

I am conscious of the fact I do have some comments on the blog that I still need to respond to, and I will soon(ish)!

In the meantime, I am thinking of you all and I may be able to post something every now and then.

Here are some quick snaps of my journey last week to Merredin and of where “Spring has Sprung”…

A pair of very wet Kookaburras at my Mum’s unit. They are part of a family of seven!
A snap of my news socks from my sister courtesy of The Sydney Sock Project. In case you were wondering about the image, they are wombats
My motel room during my stay at the Merredin Motel and Gum Tree Restaurant last week. My “room” had another room and separate kitchen and ensuite.
The Big Breakfast – I Couldn’t Eat It All 😎
My “office” during my visit to the Shire of Merredin. There’s a door to the right that leads into the CEO’s office.

A snap of downtown Kellerberrin on my way through to Merredin
A shot at Kings Park – of the May Drive Parkland – a park through time. The view is rom the Lycopod Island playground looking back towards Zamia Cafe. Kings Park is one of the World’s largest parks and home to 3,000 species of our State’s unique native flora
Mum and Dad are very proud of their young family
The Floral Clock at Kings Park
Our Iconic Kangaroo Paws (my photo doesn’t do them justice)
The view from the top of Mt Eliza (Kings Park) over South Perth

So, take care, be safe and see you again soon…

Draw Blood From a Stone – Metropolis

One of my favourite songs from my favourite movie…
File:Filmplakat Metropolis (cropped).jpg
Image Courtesy of Maria X 2000 – Creative Commons – Wikimedia Commons

Sometimes there is a song or a piece of music that sums up a certain feeling, a reflection or mood. One of my favourite songs is Draw Blood From A Stone. It was composed by the fabulous Giorgio Moroder and performed by Cycle V as part of the composer’s 1984 sound track to the version of Metropolis restored by him at the time. Metropolis also just happens to be my favourite movie of all time 😎

My great friend Big Dave and I went to see Giorgio Moroder’s version of Metropolis when it was first released. We watched Metropolis in an old restored Art Deco cinema so the ambience added to the wonderful experience of Fritz Lang’s 1927 film classic with a modern sound track (In case you were wondering, Giorgio was the founder of disco and is an electronic musical genius).

When the Shift Change scene came on with Draw Blood From A Stone playing, I remember how I was immediately drawn in and captivated. There was no need for an exchange of words in this silent cinematic classic. The music and the lyrics said it all. It was also the song that got me thinking once more about what a leader should do when faced with what the world should be, what a corporation should be, what family and friends really mean.

to make someone give or tell you something, when it is extremely difficult because of the character or mood of the person or organization you are dealing with: 

Persuading Chris to buy a round of drinks is like getting blood from a stone.

Cambridge dictionary

The song itself encapsulates that feeling we all have from time to time regarding the futility of our lives. We have given as much as we can give and yet someone wants to take more, that very last drop of blood. The film footage shows a dystopian future between the have and have nots. The movie as a whole addresses the question of “be careful what you wish for.”

So next time you feel that every ounce of your being has been squeezed from you, give yourself a break. Perhaps do one of the following:

  • Reach out to a friend, mentor or colleague. Their alternative perspective will help break the cycle of dread you are in. I had someone ring me today, who in the end apologised for venting regarding their feeling of being caught betweem a rock and a hard place. I didn’t really need to offer many insights as such, but I helped release the pressure valve ;
  • Listen to your favourite song over a cup of tea or coffee or even a hot chocolate. Get up and dance if you want to. Alternatively, embrace that musical instrument you have ignored of late;
  • Go for a walk (or a run if you are so inclined) , and embrace the scenery around you. Meditation or yoga might be more your thing. Talk to the man upstairs;
  • Watch a favourite film or TV show (or read a book). In my case it will be a kdrama. My current favourite show: One the Woman;
  • Talk things over with a loved one. Remember not to leave them out of the loop regarding what you are going through. They understand us much more than we think.

Enjoy the video of the song 😊

Blood From A Stone (Giorgio Moroder – Cycle V) courtesy of RADIO MIPEBAR

Roger Ebert gives a wonderful review of Metropolis here

My next post will be regarding Group Think, so watch this space…

Enjoy the weekend ahead. It is a long weekend where I am, so its band practice on Sunday and as Bryan Ferry would say “with rhyming guitars.” Remember: be awesome 😊😉😎

The One Responsibility Good Government Has…

I thought I would reshare a very short, but salient post of mine from several years ago

Thomas Jefferson once said:

“The care of human life and happiness and not their destruction is the first and only legitimate object of good government.”

Food for thought…

What Leaders Are Not – Perfect

In case you didn’t know, leaders are all seeing and all knowing (errr, no they’re not)…

Photo by Vladyslav Dukhin on Pexels.com

The perception…

In today’s world, and I suspect the perception for quite some time, is that, leaders are supposed to be perfect. Well, that’s what the media appears to keep projecting anyway. Before the advent of TV, and the age of streaming content, leaders of all descriptions could hide behind the perfect photo and even the safety of the radio (until the age of the “shock jock”). Before these mediums, leaders were enshrined in the most wonderful painted portraits and statues. In ancient times, the most amazing sculptures, hieroglyphs and monuments were made as a tribute to a civilisation’s leaders (See my post: Rameses II – A Leader Among Leaders).

Leaders are supposed to be rational, logical, calm, socialable, wear the latest fashion with an awesome hairstyle and have great interpersonal skills. Leaders are also supposed to be visionary, strategic, values orientated, driven, bullet proof, earth shatteringly influential, not have a narcissistic bone in their bodies and so, dare I say it – perfect!!!

So who are the best leaders?

I have been fortunate in life to listen to, meet and also work with, some of the most astonishing leaders from around the world. What is even more amazing is that some of them have moved on in life and have decided to live in the same city as myself and embrace the lifestyle here.

The best leaders I know are not perfect. By this I mean they freely admit they are not all seeing and all knowing. They are: WYSIWYG. So they don’t mind dressing down and feeling “comfortable” or dressing up and shining brightly when they need to. They are extremely capable and have the ability to see what is over the next hill. However, that doesn’t mean they know what is coming at them day in and day out. They know many things, but not everything. So where I am getting to is this:

😎 Leaders are, quite simply, human.

😎 Because they are human, they make mistakes.

😎 It’s what a leader does with the mistake, that makes all the difference.

Cynicism and leadership

There is certainly a level of cynicism out there regarding the capability of leaders from all walks of life. We are seeing across organsiations what is referred to as the cynism to change (CTC). It can be a real problem if employees no longer want to be a part of the leader’s change program. This is where transformational leadership (Ideas for Leaders, 2021) comes into play and can be used to address such a change in mood within an organisation.

At the political level, we are seeing an inherent distrust in the political leader (ABC, 2019). Just log on to any social media page when a leader is speaking live and see the emojis that come through 😡👎🤬👿 In a related twist, social trust between people has followed suit. However, most still believe that those in their neighbourhood would help them out if they needed it (ABC, 2019).

OMG! – Stop The Train

Photo by David Music on Pexels.com

I can certainly attest to my time as a leader over many years making mistakes that were both small and some that were like OMG, stop the train!

The thing with little mistakes is they are an irritation at best. If they are worth fixing, we fix the mistake and move on. If they aren’t worth fixing, we move on anyway. That being said, I can still remember my days as a junior public servant where the little mistakes were not tollerated. A severe tongue lashing was often the result or a threat or two regarding not making the same mistake again. You and I both no longer have the time to sweat the small stuff and we shouldn’t, but my suggestion is, if you do have the time, spend the 1% needed to make the corrections.

Under the Westminster conventions (which many politicians in the Western sphere now seem to completely ignore), you put your hand up, admit the mistake and resign. Once upon a time at a large local government, I had the responsibility for more things than I could poke a stick at. Making an error echoed around the organisation quite strongly. On one occassion, where a faux pas was made, I protected and encouraged my staff of that particular branch of the organisation to look for a way through the quagmire and then went to advise my director of the situation. I explained what had happened and said I accepted full responsibility. My director looked at me for a moment (this is the same person I used to call a dinosaur to his face). Then with almost a sigh, he said “for god’s sake Sean, stop falling on your sword.”

Trust and credibility and a different take on leadership

The one attribute a good leader must have above all else is the ability to build trust. Perfection is not required. In simple terms: say what you mean, deliver on what you have said and at all times, be genuine. Trust is a currency that will see you through the most demanding of ordeals. The other attributes a leader should have are up to you, as it is your call. Kally at MiddleMe has some further thoughts on the issue of trust in her post: 10 Ways to Lose Credibility as a Professional.

If you want to see what leadership isn’t, but strangely is, take a look at Apple’s Mythic Quest 😂 (The Ringer: How ‘Mythic Quest’ Is Breaking the Sitcom Mold – 4 June 2021)

Watch Mystic Quest season 2 online
Poppy and Ion – Image credit: Apple TV+

Are you perfect as a leader? Perhaps you have an interesting tale to tell regarding being fallable!

References

WYSIWYG – What You See Is What You Get. I had forgotten about the wonderful Flip Wilson who had coined this phrase which was used by his character Geraldine Jones. Computing Engineers began designing programming in the 1970s so that the user (such as web designers and bloggers) could create documents and web pages without coding or markups. They called it WYSIWYG, inspired by the Geraldine Jones catch cry. Microsft Word and Excel are other examples of this application.

Rameses II – A Pharoah of Ancient Egypt, often considered the greatest of pharaohs.

ABC Australia, (2019). Party’s over: In a nation of cynics, we’re flocking to the fringe. (online) Available at: https://www.abc.net.au/news/2018-09-20/in-a-nation-of-cynics-we-are-flocking-to-the-fringe/10281522 (Accessed 25 July 2021)

Ideas for Leaders, (2021). Resistence to Change: Overcoming Multilevel Cynicism. (online) Available at: https://www.ideasforleaders.com/ideas/resistance-to-change-overcoming-multilevel-cynicism (Accessed 24 July 2021)

MiddleMe, (2021). 10 Ways to Lose Credibility as a Professional. (online) Available at: https://middleme.net/2021/07/26/10-ways-to-lose-credibility-as-a-professional/ (Accessed 26 July, 2021)

Skills You Need, (2021). Interpersonal Skills. (online) Available at: https://www.skillsyouneed.com/interpersonal-skills.html (Accessed 24 July 2021)

The Leader’s Prayer

I promise not to lift up and look under any rocks today!

The Background To This Saying

The great Western Australian conservationist and environmentalist Harry Butler was well known for looking under rocks and finding all sorts of surprises. Harry had an awesome show on TV a long time ago – In The Wild, which was a family institution. He was also a friend of my grandparents. They first knew of him when he started out as a teacher and also through a mutual friend Vincent Serventy, another noted environmentalist.

My grandparents, who were great caravaners, apart from travelling the world, liked to take their caravan all over the Australian continent, just like many other Australians (our home is a big place). On their return they would regale us with a tale or two and on at least a couple of occasions told us how they had come across Harry in the middle of nowhere. There he would be, broken down, without a care in the world, looking under rocks or chasing a rare lizard, just like on his TV show.

Harry’s looking under rocks has stayed with me for as long as I can remember. In my mind, it has come to symbolise how, on the surface all looks fine until you pick up a rock and find something you were not expecting. In essence, it is the equivalent to always putting out fires in the workplace and, every now and then, coming across something of such a magnitude that, if it is not dealt with promptly, will cause an even bigger problem.

If you want some respite as a leader, leave the looking under rocks for a day or two. In other words, remember your strategic focus. Someone else should be looking under the rocks, anyway. However, if you absolutely must take a peek at what’s under there, read this Harvard Business Review article first: Stop Fighting Fires by Roger Bohn. Stop Fighting Fires has been one of my go to tools since it’s publication two decades ago.

When severe fire fighting sets in, managers and engineers find themselves spending more time responding to irate queries than working productively.

Roger Bohn, Stop Fighting Fires HBR July August 2000

Some more about Harry…

Harry was the Australian of the Year (1979), a National Living Treasure, held the Officer of the Order of Australia (AO) and was a Commander of the British Empire (CBE). The Harry Butler Institute, located at Murdoch University, was founded in his honour. He also received an Honorary Doctorate from Edith Cowan University.

Taking Time Out – My Hofner Congress Guitar – Serial No. 11417

The Hofner Congress was a budget guitar. It was produced between about 1955 through to the early 1970s. Mine is one of the models from 1962 – 1964 (Vintage Congress, 2021) , but there is a twist to my tale…

This is what it currently looks like:

Author’s own image 😊

Many years ago, Linda gave to me for a birthday present a reconditioned vintage Hofner Congress guitar. The serial number puts it firmly in early 1962 in terms of age. It is a restored guitar that has the original body and other parts. The Compensator Tailpiece (the silver comb/rake looking structure at the bottom of the guitar) alone is worth what Linda paidfor this gutar all those years ago.

The Hofner Congress is a small body guitar with a “brunette” finish and is the guitar that Hank Marvin started out on (Vintage Hofner, 2021). It is said he made it famous and almost collectable (Really Great Guitars, 2021) These days, Hank lives in the same city as me, has a recording studio in Perth and his son Ben, a guitarist in hos own tight, works at Concept Music, a music shop I like to frequent.

The Hofner Congress was also owned by the famous British Composer and orchestral conductor Malcolm Lockyer (Vintage Hofner, 2021). He sometimes used the pseudonym Howard Shaw. Malcolm was involved in the Eurovision Song Contest, wrote many film scores (including Dr Who and the Daleks – those who know me know what a fan I am of the doctor, hence my mention of this film here) and tunes for a range of TV series. He was the BBC’s conductor and he also orchestrated Bing Crosby’s album ‘Holiday in Europe.’ (And The Conductor Is, 2021).

So how did my Hofner end up looking the way it does? Well, once upon a time, I used to allow Savannah, when she was little, to keep this guitar in her room. At her seventh birthday party, I really didn’t think much more about it until I heard a twang, crunch, bing. One of her friends had managed to produce the above result.

It does have a very nice sound and an easy action. It is also worth six times what Linda paid for it. So I do need to take it to a luthier that specialises in second hand guitar restorations and see what can be done as I want to recapture the tone it originally had.

This is what it should look like:

Image courtesy of Juan Ponte, Spain – http://www.vintagehofner.co.uk/vintagehofner/archtops/arch27.html

Hank’s 1958 Fiesta Red Stratocaster

Currently on display at Concept Music is Hank’s 1958 Fiesta Red Stratocaster:

Graham (the Boss of Concept Music) and Hank – Image Courtesy of Graham Hoskins, Concept Music

Vale to the Sharp Dressed Man…

Dusty Hill – Former Bassist with ZZ Top – Image courtesy of ZZ Top: https://www.instagram.com/p/CPDmUQ_ng4v/?

zztopVerified

“We are saddened by the news today that our Compadre, Dusty Hill, has passed away in his sleep at home in Houston, TX. We, along with legions of ZZ Top fans around the world, will miss your steadfast presence, your good nature and enduring commitment to providing that monumental bottom to the ‘Top’. We will forever be connected to that “Blues Shuffle in C.” 

You will be missed greatly, amigo. 

Frank & Billy

I am heading off to band rehearsals. Enjoy your Sunday!

Employee Engagement – 4 Key Steps

Keeping employees engaged is an ongoing challenge for any leader in an organisation. This presentation sets out the four key processes you can use and adapt to break through the engagement hoodoo 😊

I have converted the presentation I use regarding employee engagement into movie format.

The presentation has a pause function so that you can spend more time with a particular slide and also rewind and fast forward functions to help manage your viewing experience.

There is no sound track at this point, but like all good things – one step at a time 😎

Psst… I have also put this on YouTube: https://youtu.be/JDpTpqL4j2o A sign of things to come. Maybe a podcast one day too 😉

How do you engage others at work?

Making Sense of Organisational Change – Part 1

In the workplace, we are all on the road to somewhere. Using a roadmap regarding organisational change can make that journey much easier…

In 1947, Kurt Lewin explored how change could be effected in the workplace. He came up with a static model, which in its most simplistic form made perfect sense:

In the late 1990’s, my colleagues and I looked at changing the static model to a fluid model using a very simple step – building in a feedback loop. This easily embraced change as an ongoing process:

With this very simple approach in hand, I commenced making changes in each role I was responsible for, as I moved from organisation to organisation. So, over a number of years, this saw me introduce key changes at the team level, then the branch level, departmental or divisional level and then finally at an organisational level.

Of course, I have come to appreciate in the last eight years, there is a requirement to build some further intricacies into the process. So, the organisational change model I use today, The Roadmap looks like this:

There are a number of models and theories out there regarding organisational change. Some of them, like the one I now use, are based on personal experience. Others are developed on the back of examining how people respond to different aspects of leadership and management in the workplace. We know that there is always room for improvement in how such models are developed and used. The key requirement with any successful organisational change is to establish buy-in at the very start of the process.

Join me in future posts where I will discuss the finer detail regarding how the process evolution or Roadmap works (including where the Engagement Diamond fits in to such a model)😊

Faster is Slower – Managing Impossible Deadlines

Here is something for you to think about: Pushing for an outcome right now, when you haven’t considered all the inputs, will lead to either a very messy and costly solution or even one with no outputs or outcome at all!

Photo by zhang kaiyv on Pexels.com

Most of us are familiar with Aesop’s fables and one in particular regarding the race between the Tortoise and the Hare. In short, during their race, the Hare falls asleep and the Tortoise plods on towards the finish line and crosses it before the hare realises what has happened.

Often, there is immense pressure to do things quickly. When we are at work, it would seem that it’s not enough to be aware of the looming and unrelenting deadlines. There also seems to be someone constantly reminding us of the need to drag ourselves kicking and screaming to meet these tight deadlines, as well.

So it all comes down to this. When we are hit with that almost impossible deadline, we need to decide one of two things:

  1. Meeting that target or deadline at all costs that includes stress, no hair and people not wanting to engage with us any more; or
  2. Phasing the target or deadline and living with the outcome of enjoying peace of mind.
Photo by Vincent van Zalinge on Unsplash

When the pressure is on, it is not uncommon for us to become inefficient and ineffective. We start earlier, we finish later and we even watch our weekends disappear in order to meet that illusive target. We become tired, irratible and almost impossible to deal with. We become frazzled and even burn out.

The further problem with meeting a deadline at all costs is that there is no redundancy built into the solution or outcome. By this I mean , if a mistake occurs during production (even writing or perhaps construction), there is no time to correct the fault. The end product, in whatever form it takes, often with costly repurcussions, is released.

Of course there are a number of exceptions to this situation including the release of software that allows beta testing or patches as we go or new versions that are subsequently released. This in itself can be quite frustrating for the user (but seems to be accepted practice now). There is also the approach regarding the use of actuaries – analytical wizards who calculate the cost or risk of an uncertain event. Many businesses insure themselves against such risks. An example is when a car is recalled to replace a faulty component. This also introduces a personal risk and is frustrating because of what may have been casued by someone else’s error. You will either decide to have the faulty part replaced or not, and live with whatever the outcome may be.

Photo by Julius Tejeda on Pexels.com

With phasing the target, this means putting forward the outcome in more digestble or acceptable stages. This is also where the art of negotiation comes into the picture.

Often, the boss or the client is not sure regarding the key deliverables themselves. They know there is a target or end goal. However, the execution of achieving that outcome is very much up in the air.

In a competitive world, this is where the magic of the staged approach is valuable. Stage one might look something like delivering an outcome in a more basic form to meet the timeframe required. This will satisfy most requirements, both for the client and the user. As a result, we have then given ourselves time to build the more expansive outcomes in later stages (ideally we can set some further milestones or key timeframes at this point).

I am reminded of that saying “simple is best,” or get back to basics. Stage one allows us to get ahead of the game. We enter the market with no other competitors in sight (they are in effect asleep). Stage two builds on our strong position by adding more sophistication or aditional features. At this point our competition has woken up to what we are up to, but it is too late. Even if they flood the market with similar services or gadets, as long as we continue to innovate, we will then stay ahead of the game.

Case Study

Always remember to manage the expectations of others!

I have a client who was under immense pressure last year regarding a commitment it gave to its customers to involve them in the development of a customer engagement policy. However, due to one thing or another, the promise of such a policy did not eventuate. Now, this client does take its promises to their customers very seriously.

When asked for my input into this matter, I suggested that an interim engagement policy is developed by the client with a promise that the original commitment for customer involvement in the final version of the policy is undertaken in 6 to 12 months time.

The end result was my client was happy with my proposal and also asked me to develop the interim policy. Not only that, the customers were also happy with the amended approach to their involvement in the development of the final version of the engagement policy in due course. So we all got to take a deep breath and relax going forward!

So Slower is Faster 😊

The Grotto’s Reflection – A Nod To George

So I thought that while I was on a roll, I would share my next musical creation, which is a nod to George…

My sister and brother in law flew in from Tasmania yesterday. We haven’t seen each other for quite sometime, so it is fabulous that we can get together during the time of COVID! Not only that, but Linda and two of our children return home today after spending the last seven weeks involved with a film shoot 700kms from home. In amongst waiting for my sister and BIL to drop by for a visit later today and Linda’s imminent arrival along with the two offspring, I thought I might finish my next recording. As I go to publish this post, my daughter has just arrived home first 😊

Anyway, as I continue my experiment on your listening ears, I am finally starting to familiarise myself more with what is now my desk top studio. This also means that I am improving my understanding of the technology required for my other music ventures later this year.

Photo by IJ Portwine on Unsplash – George second from the left, next to Paul, Ringo at the back and John on the right

George is my favourite Beatle. His songs are some of the most beautiful ever composed. In particular, his song Something has been described as hauntingly beautiful and an ode to the coming of age (Soundfacts.com). In amongst it all, I count myself lucky enough to have seen both Paul and Ringo perform live. Paul’s tribute to George playing Something, brought a tear to the crowd’s eye and Ringo playing With A Little Help (George had played lead guitar on the original recording) brought the house down.

I remember feeling immensely sad when George passed. The world lost a reflective and calming voice in showing us all how to embrace those around us.

George restored the gardens at his home – Friar Park and in amongst the gardens, he also had a grotto. There are photos out there of both him and John in the grotto. Although grottoes are spiritual, religious and reflective places, they have cultural significance and with many larger artificial grottoes, they are in fact places of entertainment (Mary McMahon). Hence my very humble tribute to a wonderful human being.

Part of the gardens at Friar Park – the home of George – https://www.geni.com/projects/Friar-Park-Oxfordshire-England/25406

So, how creativitive have you been today?

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