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There are 4 Ds in Direction

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I enjoy working to support Noble Purpose Organisations get their best work done.  The collective focus of a group of people at all levels and in all roles can achieve so much.  This sense of purpose and priority provides the bedrock for the attitudes and accountability needed for the best progress in their important work.

However, building this alignment takes time.  And it is important to keep re-iterating it once agreed.

An organisation or team on the ‘front foot’ has the focus that a clear, collective direction provides.

But how to get that?  There is an approach to ‘scenario planning’ that I find helpful.  This is where the group explores and agrees the preferred direction.


Getting the team exploring and discussing the 4 Ds of ‘Direction’ helps:

What is the Default case.  What happens, if nothing happens?  What is ‘inevitable’ with no change to strategy or no improvement to how things are arranged?

The Disaster.  How might things go horribly wrong for the overall intention and organisation pursuing it?  How close to the default future is this disaster case?

The Dream.  What is the best case that can be achieved.  Not fantasy planning.  But realistic with the best organisation of effort.

The Different. Having warmed up with these three, what other ideas are there?


[For a deeper approach it can be worth considering these Ds at three different horizons:

1.  business as usual, managing risk and operational excellence over the next few months;

2. innovation and drive for growth over the medium term; and

3. more radical transformation and creating a new future that emerges over the longer term.]


Having had this discussion it becomes easier to talk about:

How to respond to what is driving or demanding some change.

What is likely to be the tipping point or moment that defines whether a positive or negative outcome occurs.

What to decide to do now and what to try out or explore some more.

The ways of working, skills, research and influence that will determine and be needed to achieve the best impact.


The insights from this process should be shared widely to help others understand the ideas, and as a reminder.  A visual summary in the form of a wall poster or table mat or digital file (and used as an ongoing ‘dialogue map’) can make things clear.  Using it participatively promotes the continuing conversation underpinning the timely action needed.  Leaders can keep referring to this agreement in the stories the tell and the questions they ask.  They ensure it is central to organisational life.


With these steps noble purpose groups can start to get and stay on the front foot.

Are you eFical? Something Scandi style might help

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Three business sectors have a massive impact on the sustainability of our world. There is a burgeoning demand for the products from all three, as the global economy grows and societies develop. They make our lives better.  But the choices made in servicing and using these three industries are massively responsible for the environmental and social footprint of our lives.

Fortunately, for me at least, all begin with F:

Food – how we ensure we are nourished for life.  And how we demonstrate out concerns and taste(s);
Furnishing – how we create a comfortable home.  And how far we work to keep up with the latest design and trends;
Fashion – how we clothe ourselves for warmth and shelter. How we signal our personality.

All three sectors are ripe for the improvements that come from innovating to support the 6Rs outlined in my last blog.

When hosting recent industry events I have been struck how colleagues are keen to learn from each other across the boundaries between these different worlds.

I am on the lookout for innovations that help. What do you see?

These might be in the industries themselves.

Or in the adjacent sectors, such as the application of leading edge coding to create services and support to inform more transparent and sustainable choices.

On in the way that people from these sectors relate: how they work and learn together.

Funkis, in Sweden, is an ambitious attempt to bring all three together in a creative, inspiring way. Have a look.

Are we Rrrrrreally trying?

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You might have noticed, I love alliteration. See the 3M in my last blog. And in my work, at my best, I manage to show up caring, curious and challenging.

You may be familiar with the 4Rs to that are promoted to help us Redesign the economy to be more sustainable and even ‘circular’. There are slightly different versions.

The ‘R’s I find most useful in the in my fashion and textiles work are:
Reduce how much is bought, maybe by renting or just getting less stuff in the first place
Repair before discard, either developing your own skills or commissioning others to help you
Reuse by passing on and repurposing items
Recycle into component parts, ready for the next round of production.

At a recent European conference I suggested two more. These are more upstream, to reduce the demand for unstainable practices in the first place. These were endorsed by those there at the event via the electronic opinion research system I was using, In a way these two deepen our thinking about how to reduce consumption in the first place.

First, ‘Resource well’. Only use well sourced products and raw materials. Make sure labour practices are fair. Ensure the supply chain you are tapping into has a positive reputation and has reduced the negative impact of its footprint. As we see greater traceability this will get easier. At industry events I notice increasing confidence in the coming information to help guide choices – from Blockchain to support sector colleagues choose well to apps to inform end consumers.

Second, stifle the urge to consume, by ‘Rejoicing’ in what you have got, dampening the momentum to get the next new thing. In line with some of the latest fashions in decluttering, only buying something that gives joy in the first place is a good place to start. Savouring the recent purchase for as long as possible. Sort of like really noticing that sip of wine or mouthful of food before reaching for the next. Hindering the drive to immediately satiate our urges.

So the 6Rs.

I hope these provide a helpful Reminder of those Really Reliable actions that can help us Reduce the Risks whilst Ratcheting up the opportunities of economic life.


Cultural insight interventions: when start ups level down it helps the rest of us see how to aim high

Organisations, Uncategorized No Comments

This year we have seen Airbnb seeking to shift the culture of the world whilst Uber get into bother about its internal culture .

Getting the culture of start-ups right is increasingly discussed – this list of things to watch out for has resonated for many on one social media platform.

The culture of a business or charity is formed in its early days – often around the behaviours of its founders and the way other colleagues respond to it, and that normally involves acceptance or leaving. The truth is that once a culture of an enterprise is formed, it is very, very hard to shift it.

So getting it right at the start is key – and not just for start-ups in the sharing economy.

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Do you support the rSPB?

Improvement, Uncategorized No Comments

I live in Cambridge. The city and its surrounding area is home to one of (if not) the biggest and most vibrant conservation communities in the world. The RSPB is part of it. However, that is not the rSPB I am thinking of here.

I work across sectors. Time and time again I see the attraction of structural change to leaders. The more senior they are, the more they are attracted it seems.

However, I largely agree with the Australian organisational commentator Peter Fuda that the search for the perfect structure is futile and that “With the right values and behaviours, almost any structure can work.”

If we see organisations as communities then getting the processes, as well as behaviours, right is also crucial. Actually these ideas can be implemented more quickly than structural solutions (which, to be clear, are important too). Simple rules to guide day to day choices and moment to moment decisions about the processes used and behaviours lived are enormously helpful. I wrote about this a few years ago using a rather unsavoury example.

Recommendations for results from Structural, Process and Behavioural change. Think of something you are trying to achieve right now. Is your approach balanced – like a bird in flight?


OOO #3

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And another great OOO.

Oz wine: a metaphor

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Some things have a long reign. For example, QE2.

Others a short one (eg after the fuss on the Netscape float in 1995 things changed rather fast for them…maybe a metaphor for what Facebook faces for its future as a public listed company now).

40 years ago Monty Python parodied Australian wine, playing to long standing prejudices.

But the tables (table wine!) turned pretty quickly after that silly smugness. Top Oz wine have been highly rated for many decades now.

A lesson for us all when making firm judgements – eg about implications of the current wave of anxiety on the Euro wobbles and Austerity (along side the rise of China). Marx said “History repeats itself, first time as tragedy and second time as farce”. A hundred years later the poet Steve Turner said: “History repeats itself – has to, no one is listening”. But maybe the future may not be what we predict from our current mindset and far more than a repeat of the past.

Chatty brands – what is your online personality?

Plan, Uncategorized No Comments

We have noted before the more informal style of marketing (http://www.idenk.co.uk/blog/?p=1425 ) that seems all the rage

How chatty is your brand online (both on web pages, emails and messages) – and that might mean you (ie you as a brand – even in a charity or not for profit organisation)

What about this I just received following cashing in a voucher when switching to a greener energy supplier:

“Hello Phil
Welcome to XXXXX Wines, and thank you for giving us a try.

Before you get started, we want to be totally honest with you. There might be some wines in your case you don’t enjoy.

Not because they’re bad wines. Just because we all have different tastes. That’s the lovely thing about wine!

We only want you to pay for wines you love

So if you do come across a wine that isn’t for you, then please call and we’ll put the money back in your account. Then you can spend it on some wine you DO love.

Plus… if you do decide to come back for more, we’ll make sure you never drink a dud bottle of wine again, scout’s honour.

So happy drinking, and please don’t be shy

We won’t be offended. We would much rather you told us, so we can get it right.

Just call us and ask for your Wine. They’re lovely, friendly people and they know our wines inside out!

Best Wishes”


Words to come

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In our festive Business Briefing, we asked what words and phrases colleagues were struck by this year. Some of the answers were posted in our first briefing of 2012 on happiness.

Some others from 2011 we have received include: kind and kindness; wise and wisdom; decision loom and decision weaving ; epistemic awareness – and kitsch.

I am listening now in a new way…

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In charge of the inbox?

Personal productivity, Uncategorized No Comments

Managing emails comes up time and time again with our clients along with managing diaries and meetings.   

Being in charge of your emails is an important skill in our connected world.

We have written about personal productivity (see the second half of this Business Briefing) and this on email management from The Guardian makes similar points – and argue the ‘war’ on emails may never be won.

One thing that rarely comes up is how hard it can be to do the skim reading and quick replies needed on the small screens and handsets of  iPhones and Blackberries.

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Email: phil.hadridge@idenk.com