Tag: values

More on Noble Purpose Organisations

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The more noble the purpose, the more the leadership and the team working, needs to be top notch.

The more passionate and powerful the mission, the more the organisation needs investment to live up to the individual passions and motivations.

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Advanced Team Training?

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As someone who travels by nearly all modes of transport and who has benefited from advanced driver lessons, I am taken by the potential for advanced cyclist training when I see some very scary bike work each day!

A small number of cyclists give the rest in Cambridge or London a bad name and generate less leeway for others from rageful drivers.

The same maybe true in teams.  A few bits of bad behaviour undermine the efforts of the many.

I did three fun game based training sessions yesterday.  These were to explore and emphasise the behaviours needed for great group work – ways of working that would help underpin that organisations stated values (nb they do indeed use their values in their recruitment and appraisal processes – so they are right up there at level 5 of our values model – but that is another story).

Anyhow this work got me thinking of about Advanced Team Training and how rarely that happens in a planned way.

What would you put in the curriculum?

I would include;

  • Bill Isaacs dialogue skills, dilemma resolution and negotiation for handling conflict with lightness and tact
  • John Heron’s six ways of intervening
  • Myers Briggs understanding of strengths and difference

…amongst many others to develop the disciplines for great team work and experience.

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Interesting turn of phrase

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One of our team pointed this out…

In keeping with a positive theme at Apple’s retail stores,

those who hold the title of  “Genius”  are reportedly told to say

“as it turns out”

rather than use the word


This choice of language is intended to sound less negative for situations when a Genius cannot solve a customer’s problem.

Might you try that?

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Who are you?

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Before ‘who am I’,

lets consider ‘what are we’?

The sum total of our roles?    Father?  Sister? Colleague?

Or is there more?

Actually, what is your ‘guiding purpose’ ?


What really motivates you?  What makes you tick?  What are your values?

It took Jayne a while to realise that it wasn’t feeling important at work that made her feel good, but having a chance to encourage people wherever she went – to get into conversations with them and help out.

On reflection she discovered she hadn’t been brought up (or made) to put herself first all the time, but to live as if reciprocity, rapport and commitment were the norm.

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No, smoking allowed – no salads outside

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Entering a swanky building in the West End today, I saw this happen:

Someone was sitting on the wall eating a salad, with smokers each side.  The security guard asked the woman eating the salad to move on.  He said the space was reserved for smokers and the office owners didn’t want anyone eating by the door.


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What and where is ‘typical’?

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Where do you see a typical cross-section of people in a nation?

In friendship groups – too like each other?

At an airport – too biased to those with money?

At the post office?  Probably not.

What about at a supermarket – depends which one?

A motorway service station?  Hmmm possibly…

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In whose interest?

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We remain committed to supporting the success of ‘noble purpose organisations’ and the well-being of the people that work in them. These are institutions where an allegiance to the organisation is said by staff to be their primary motivation for joining up.

As we’ve noted before, they can be places where, paradoxically, there is not a fully or sufficiently ‘shared purpose’ between people. There can also be a lack of attention to the necesary culutre needed to achieve the organisation’s aims.

Here is another cross-sector hypothesis, drawing on the work of Art Kleiner on ‘Core Groups’:

1. Despite the mission statements, in the public and third sectors there can be a propensity to run the organisation in the  interests of the bulk of the staff (and, for example, in some local government arenas to the interests of those at the lowest level of the organisation). This requires skilled leadership to ensure that the overarching purpose of the work remains clear and that the end users being served actually do turn out to be the ultimate beneficiaries.

2. In commerce, the core group whose interests are served are more likely to be at the top, running things under the veneer of customer and shareholder value.

What do you think?  Please let us know.

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Which flavour of CSR – pure or impure?

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One way of thinking about corporate social responsibility is to ask:

– what a business must do?
– what a business could do?
– what a business should do?

What are the reasons for adhering to ‘ethical’ values? If managers make the link to business goals (ie to help make money by pleasing customers or improve the experience for staff) then the CSR interests are aligned with those of the shareholders. Alex Oliver at Cambridge University calls this ‘impure’ CSR. Milton Friedman describes impure CSR as “hypocritical window dressing”.

Friedman says the social responsibility of for-profit businesses (as opposed to businesses like Divine chocolate who are set up with more than shareholder return in mind) is “to increase profit”. That is their utilitarian role and how they bring most benefit to society. So if a business pursues profit and stays within all laws and regulations, have they fulfilled their CSR? It can also be argued that a focus purely on shareholder interests is the legal obligation of the executives – their fiduciary duty laid out in company law.

‘Pure CSR’ sees the managers go against the desires of the shareholders in spending their money for social good. Friedman says this is taxation (of the shareholders) without proper representation.

Or maybe it’s ok for CSR to be ambiguous? Machiavelli would say its about looking good in the eyes of different audiences – telling them what they need to hear. So the City gets told one message and customers and staff another.

Perhaps that is the difference between the nature of ethical decisions for a company (the ‘collective corporate mind’) in contrast to the ethical positions we are able to take as individuals?

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Valuing corporate social responsibility

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Many companies are serious about their social responsibility…but find it hard to get to level 3 of this model:

1. Offering funding or staff time to worthy charitable projects

2. Entering into partnerships with social enteprises

3. Integrating ethical values (such as promoting biodiversity) into the heart of business decisions and reward structutures.

 Practising what is preached matters, it really does – see www.idenk.co.uk/values

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Rescue or rip off?

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The luxury cruise ship Celebrity Eclipse has cancelled its launch celebrations in Southampton to help rescue 2,000 people stranded in Spain by the flight disruption who want to get back to Britain. The launch of a £500m boat is a big deal, so it’s quite a gesture. It looks good. The Chairman of the Cruise company described it as “a fitting mission for a ship dedicated to the UK to mark her arrival.”

Of course, they are also getting a lot of coverage for this – all of it positive. Doing this is far better for the visibility of their brand than any launch, however fancy.  They deserve it for taking the right stance. By being seen to be generous when people are stuck.

Compare this with how certain airlines have reacted. Some have complained about having to reimburse passengers under long-standing EU regulations. Others have sought to hike prices to take advantage of those desperate to travel. A friend of ours was quoted 6,000 Euros for an economy ticket from Spain to Canada. In strict business case terms, the airlines have a case on both counts. But it doesn’t look good. Their brands and customer loyalty will suffer.

How we deal with ‘distressed’ customers tells us a lot about the organisation we run or work in. It reveals our values and ways of thinking.

Imagine customers in your market in the equivalent situation of the people stranded by volcanic ash. How would you want to act?

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Email: phil.hadridge@idenk.com