The Business Doctor

'eradicating the Mad Management Virus'

Friday, 26 November 2010

Its a Friday

Well I’m sitting in the only ‘business meeting’ hotel convenient to the M4, Valleys and Cardiff and it’s a strange world if I'm honest. Firstly I’m sitting here in casual dress, and jeans are definitely not the standard dress in this establishment. However, what’s strange is the conversations going on around me. Now I don’t normally eves-drop on peoples conversations, but some of these people are what my Grandfather would call ‘Characters’. That is they are loud and wanting to be the centre of conversation. I have one former student (seems to happen everywhere I go these days, and is a distinct sign of age) sitting opposite trying to sell something with great care and concentration and another by the side, desperately trying to convince the three quiet suits he’s their man…..why, he’s even written a book on the subject. Yet despite this, his loud tie, flamboyant arm gestures and of course obligatory book, not gaining much ground with his surrounding suits…..

I’ve never felt at home with the business world or indeed business discourse.  It is as I grow more experienced (okay older) with running various organisations and tired of the traditional Business School teachings, (which for the most part of not moved on since the 1990’s), I grow more comfortable with this gap. This world ‘ant-just like that’ I was once told by a leading business academic Charles Handy. Which was a strange tone of voice for a very ‘well-to-do’ chap like Charles, but his point was clear, books, theory (which is someones experience made formal) are fine but they don’t help much in real world of business itself. And why should it…..its someone else's experience....simples!

I have often said that people are inherently messy, than getting a group of them together in one place for one cause is well, even more messy and yet Business Schools and society seems to expect the manager to manage this mess into order, neatness, uniformity and well structure. Its just not going to happen. The 21st Century needs to understand that whilst we may all dress the same, we are not the same underneath. The great company understands this and celebrates individuality, mess and creativity which results. Great service doesn’t come from a company or organisation, it comes from a human at the point of contact with that customer.

Lets stop management, managing and all that silly stuff produced about people in organisations in our failing Schools and lets start ‘emergent leading’ or allowing the ‘mess-influence’ to start moving us into the sustainable world of great companies.

Leadership is about, passion, people, energy and love. Its not about, the appearance, the tie, the strategy or the ‘book’….they are all meaningless if you don’t love people, can handle the mess each day and have the energy to lift others to that happy place who are delivering your product, service or simply doing the back office stuff. 

You have to love it, for it to work. I always say that the day you get paid for the thing you love you will stop working….

Friday, 19 November 2010

Dear Public Sector Leaders!

Dear Public Sector Leaders, 

I am writing confidentially to express an interest and volunteer to help with the current drive for efficiency within the Public Service (any public services, Police, Fire, Health...). 

As you may already know, I have recently completed two major in-'company' research and change projects in Public Services. The most 'public' being the Environmental Services Department in Blaenau Gwent County Borough Council. My methodology has now worked on 26 companies, mainly UK based, but also from 17 countries around the world. These companies range from small to large, national to multi national, the largest being USA based with 48,000 staff. In short, the Human Architecture Intervention (HAI) has seen 26 sustainable interventions, ranging from saving companies from bankruptcy to recovering over £750k in a public services dept. The results would be seen in weeks, not months and is also driven from the customer (frontline) backup the system, ensuring all staff are adding value to service quality, cost and performance. 

The process is not radical, or controversial but stops, simplistic reduction in staff or process or simply on financial savings at the expense of long-term sustainability. It offers a real alternative that limits damage to already stretched resources by working out with frontline staff where and more importantly how service cuts and improvements are made. It defines three phases of activity, Fluid-Diagnosis, Adaptive-Connectivity by frontline and seamless Emergent-Implementation. 

HAI is a cyclical methodology that operates very clearly in unstructured and uncertain environments. It is intended for a team of inquirers such as us to examine the various perspectives of a situation, organisation (large) and produce appropriate system models (human based) to act as an intervention strategy for change (continuous and sustainable). It should be seen that normal models and methodology might become invalid when the situation that they are intending to represent is subject to environmental change. The HAI method is well proven to establishing core strategic directions incorporating change and environmental dynamics, without the normal harm seen by convention thinking in cost reductions. 

HAI also provides a returning structure for inquiry to the core values that, for example the employee passion for customer/service user experience, so the principle of iteration to deal with uncertainty and human interaction, individuality and identity (change) is built into the process. 

HAI operation lies more or less centrally within the hard-soft continuum, which should please 'both' schools of thought within the Senior People, Staff, Unions and above all customers. Indeed the approach was developed as a reaction to the difficulties associated with hard methods seen in simplistic reductions. I have also been doing this for several years. HAI is simple methodologies applicable to complex uncertain situations such as we are experiencing at the moment in Wales, UK and beyond. It is an architecture-approach that is designed to enable development of a set of intervention strategies (note the 'ies') for change, which is sustainable, and product/service led. This change is 'effective' first and then efficient. 

I would seriously offer to help the Public Services through these changes, knowing the successes, which can be, achieved overnight, without loss of key skills, frontline people or long-term recovery lapse. I am more than willing to offer my services immediately and suspend all other projects. I would also be willing to provide an 'experiment' area to prove this methodology would/could work, in providing immediate savings, increases in quality and greater service provisions and satisfaction. 

You would like to hear more, or require external references to check out this change initiative, please do not hesitate to contact me, 

Dr Paul Thomas 

A Week in Being Out

Well it’s been a very busy few weeks indeed. A great trip to the USA, North Wales, London and yesterday Pembroke.

I have already commented on my trip to the USA and I am already receiving some great ideas, contacts with possibilities of working overseas. Lots to think about over the next few weeks. 

However, positioned in between all this were the comments I made for the Week in Week Out programme shown on the BBC. Not all my interview was shown, so I'm told as I've not seen the programme. Firstly, I must add that, I have always been and still am an avid supporter of the University of Wales, indeed I have stated on numerous occasions it should be re-instated in its old form, with all the Universities positioned underneath one administration body, with one VC. The shambles we have at the moment with Universities, leadership and management is simply unsustainable in Wales. The answer is the University of Wales. However my comments were simply to say ‘stop’ the growth strategy and commercialisation. It’s so unhelpful.

I also feel that whilst the quality processes of the University of Wales are exactly the same as other Universities, the problems as seen with the Malaysian Pop-star is that the system adopted doesn’t hold when not in the host country or indeed a ‘University’ setting. So perhaps, the WAG should radically remove all the VC, PVC’s management layers and hand some of the power back to the UoW and reinvest the rest in creating more world-class education.

I’ve not seen the programme, nor read the comments from there on, but I am sure that if Business Schools do not alter what they offer in Universities such as Glamorgan then the future of our industries and communities will be at risk. The DTi in 2001 clearly stated that the only thing which students from business schools should be certain about when leaving, is the ‘irreducible core skill of thinking!’….. We are perhaps, over teaching simplistic models and techniques, crushing creativity and innovation but more importantly removing ‘Critical Thinkers’ both academics and students. We have mechanised teaching, with its measures, teaching schemes, assignments, grading and fear of being sued by students. Its time to change....or perhaps we have missed even this opportunity 

Its NOW! 

Sunday, 7 November 2010

The Business Doctor: Absent....but not gone!

The Business Doctor: Absent....but not gone!: " Oh dear, its been a long while since my last update. Not for one reason but a combination of unsavoury events coupled..."

Absent....but not gone!

Oh dear, its been a long while since my last update. Not for one reason but a combination of unsavoury events coupled with pleasant proceedings.

Firstly, I left Glamorgan University on 8th October, and despite 6 years of dedicated work commitment with only ever taking one week’s holiday in four years on the day I finish I get only a single email from the ‘establishment’….which said, “Your email account is now closed”….. that was it! Never mind, I have to say that since ending my role there, my friends and colleagues at the Business School have been in constant touch, seeking advice and information. Its good to help and be of use to people going through change.

Then my laptop completely broke! In May this year I ‘lost’ my Apple laptop, replaced it with another ‘nearly new’ identical model and the day I was intending to travel to London to teach, it had a complete, Hard Drive meltdown. Oh, yes and of course before you ask, I did not have the memory backed-up…..yep! Lost everything….including passwords, photos, files, PowerPoint’s…. I won’t say anymore at this stage for fear of crying in public.

However, having changed life-direction, and completely ‘let-go’ as a true Buddhist would expect, every aspect of past life I had a great venture to the USA. I met up at North-western University colleagues, then onto Florida and a meeting with a great academic from Mississippi University. The venue for the meeting was in Tampa, and wow what a warm place, and here I mean friendly not temperature. Then it was back to Chicago and onto Wisconsin University.

I have to say the people, staff and students at Wisconsin were truly magnificent. The faculty build, outstanding and the ideas of the staff I met, cutting edge, passionate, and I went away energised.

As a bonus, I also drove through Wales! Wales the village, not the country and met some lovely people. I called in on the Fire Chief and Village Hall and found myself feeling so proud of my home country and the Village of Wales, who had our dragon on every street sign.

Thank You Wales!

Okay, enough from me as this was just a quick email to say, normal blog will resume shortly