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Sunday, 24 November 2019

Time To Go - Albeit Very Reluctantly

I have been mulling over my rather truncated work commitments of late and I have sadly come to the conclusion that, much as I regret it, I have to cut down. Age is beginning to intrude on just about everything and because of failing eyesight and increasing irritability it now takes twice as long to put my Sunday morning blog together.

I hadn't realised how important Ivan's Blog has become in my life.  When I started, it was the result of a challenge in a workshop on accountability when I rashly, I thought at the time, started it, with a colleague being entrusted with ensuring that I compiled with a promise to publish a blog every week.

It took three weeks or so for the group to collapsed (don't they all eventually?) but sheer bloody mindedness took over and I surprised myself by keeping going.

That was just over 10 years ago and the result has been in excess of 550 posts almost every Sunday (3 exceptions) a total in excess of 400,000 words and good del of hard thinking to make sure that I am not becoming too repetitive.

Sadly age is now taking over and apart from not wanting to stop, there is now a noticeable slow down in the generation of good ideas.  Accordingly I have decided to call it a day.

Thank you to everyone who has been in touch, who has taken part in comments and discussions and has contributed to keeping the blog constantly alive.

While it won't be posted on a regular basis now don't be surprised to find Ivan's Blog popping up occasionally simply because I have had an idea that perhaps you may enjoy.

Bless you all.

Ivan J Goldberg
Author, professional writer, content producer and leadership specialist.      
Email me me for a discussion via ivan.goldberg@maa-uk.co.uk

Sunday, 17 November 2019

Offering a Status Symbol to an Individual? It’s Performance in the Role That Matters!

Some time ago ago I posted a blog about the proliferation of titles in business and I had a really valuable comment from TV presenter and speaker, Art Halai.  Arti suggested that there is much more to the use of titles in business and for that matter in general and it is a subject that would repay some discussion.

Lee Thayer, noted US  speaker and author, considers that the most important factor for people in the business is the role description.  Please note: NOT the JOB description which is too restrictive.

Logically then if the role description has been defined accurately, theoretically there is no need for a title as such. Of course that is not the case in general and titles of all kinds abound especially in the public sector where perceived status can be considered as a reward.

The question is why do people need to have a title?  Is it so that others know what they are there for, could it possibly be for reassurance that there function is important or is the basic fact that some people need a title to give them status.

When I started in business a long time ago, status was relatively easy to define.  It rested on which canteen you ate in, where you parked your car and did the parking slot have your name on it, was your name (and title) on the door of your office and did your title express your seniority in the company.  Question: do you actually have an office?

The matter of canteens is an interesting one.  I went at one stage to a subsidiary company on secondment for a period of a few months and was astonished to find that I had been allocated a seat in the mess; not, you will note the canteen.  I discovered that lunch in the mess followed a strict routine with a defined pecking order.

Following an obligatory dry sherry, the senior director carved the joint, which was a fixture every day by the way, and seating at the table defined where you were in the aforesaid packing order.

It was all a little surprising to me although I have to say that I soon dropped into the very pleasant routine.  However, what on earth had it to do with the effective running of the business?

The fact is that it was all a matter of visible status.  When you were invited to join the mess it said that you had arrived and were accepted as important, admittedly in the very small world of that company.

It stands to reason that they were also fixated on title because a title would tell the world who you were and what you did in the company.  Status was all-important and because it was a small company (in a small town as well) by comparison with the patent group, they felt that they needed the reassurance of a splendid title.

In essence we need to decide whether a title is merely a status symbol or a genuine assistance to the smooth operation of the business.  Does it add or detract from the individual?

The question then is: what is more important, the title or the role?   Even more so, what is the purpose of the role and how does it fit into the culture and the strategy of the business?  Moreover does it fit into the above?

Taken all in all, it seems that titles can be used as a description of what the role implies while no frequently actually describing the role which outs us into a raft of complications.  I worked for a while at Renold Limited where all “job titles” were descriptive of the function and that made life simpler to some extent at least.

In the end the best solution seemed to be stick around and you will suddenly discover who to see if you needed something which we called experience.

That wonderful book, The Puritan Gift by Ken and Will Hopper describes it as Domain Knowledge and that encapsulates the whole problem.   The longer you are with us the more knowledgeable you become about how the business works and accordingly a short period of acclimatisation in all significant department of the company can save a vast amount of time during the working week.

In general, I think that I rest my case.  However hard we try titles, role descriptions and so on will exhibit their amazing ability to stick around so accept the inevitable and go with the flow.  It will win in the end anyway!

Monday, 11 November 2019

Another Lousy Meeting? It Needs Purpose For Things to Happen!

I came across a maxim recently during an excellent session with speaker Mark Fritz (www.markfritzonline.com) which caused me to give some thought as to its meaning, its value, its relevance to leadership in business and also to its relevance to life in general.  It is very simple and very deep:

·      Think, Feel, Do

It has a significant similarity to the ancient Jewish mysticism of Kaballa which says, in effect, that intuition and understanding lead to knowledge.

Consider that intuition and understanding can be construed as feeling and thinking (in that order) then the acquisition of knowledge will lead to action.

Mark Fritz mentioned that someone had suggested to him that the maxim should be Feel, Think, Do in that order and there is some measure of logic about that.

However, the logic (at least, my logic) would say that we initially think about a situation and feelings about it then start to develop.

The route to action consists of thinking about the situation and then drilling down into our feeling to help us determine what to do and probably how to do it.

However, the more important question to ask ourselves is WHY do we do it?  Unless we know categorically why we take action in any circumstance then we achieve little more than activity and that can be pointless and valueless.

How many times have you been to a meeting which went on for ages, you have come out of the meeting room and wondered what the meeting had been about?

How often as a leader have you asked for a decision about something only to be told that “we just need a bit more information to be on the safe side”?

Do you, as a leader, ask your people what they FEEL about a situation rather than just what they think about it?

Ask yourself a really important question – how many meetings have you attended where the very first item on the agenda is a statement of the purpose of the meeting?  Perhaps to make a decision about capital expenditure, about marketing effectiveness or about changes which need to be made in the business?

Unless there is a stated desired outcome the meeting has no purpose other than to discuss and that in itself can be extremely frustrating.

A meeting must have a purpose, an objective which needs to be SMART:

·      Specific – the objective of the meeting must be stated with clarity
·      Measurable – the outcome must be measured against an accepted norm
·      Achievable – everyone concerned must know and accept the route to success
·      Relevant – if it isn’t relevant to the overall business, why is it being discussed?
·      Time based – no arguments, no discussion, no excuses; the objective must be delivered on time.

It is all about purpose; everything that we do in business must be allied to what outcome we intend to achieve.  Notice, the word is INTEND, not hope, not wish, not try, but INTEND.  That way there is more likely to be a positive outcome.

Ivan J Goldberg
Author, professional writer, content producer and leadership specialist.      
Email me me for a discussion via ivan.goldberg@maa-uk.co.uk

Sunday, 3 November 2019

What do Your People Want at Work? These Ideas Can Help!

One of the minor irritations in life these days is the proliferation of those tweets, updates, statuses and the like which list the “10 Ways to be a Successful.....“ or “6 Top Tips to Financial.....“ and so on.

I suppose that one of the drawbacks of regular blogging is the danger of falling into a state of imagined invincibility and I promise that I will try to avoid just that.

Even so, I recently did fall into the trap of listing some aspects of leadership that I really do consider significant and as they had originally been devised by Google, I felt that there was some valid reason for passing them on.

If followers can give an opinion of what they would like in a leader (and rightly so), why not some thoughts of what a leader looks for in the team and what would contribute to a happy, motivated and productive workforce?

So going right against my better judgement, the following are some random thoughts which would tend to improve our enjoyment and pleasure at work, and why not indeed?

Be Positive

There is nothing so depressing as being around people with a negative slant on life.  It really does drain all the energy out of a group and can be very catching.  That excellent speaker on leadership, John Cremer, uses the “Yes, and....(rather than Yes, but.....)” method which raises the energy and increases the positivity in any discussion.

Learn Constantly

There is a lovely question about experience which I heard recently: “Is it 20 years experience or is it one year’s experience repeated 20 times?”.  The fact is that unless we continue to learn and consciously, then we stultify and I strongly believe that can lead to real problems as we age.

Constant, conscious and consistent learning is vital part of business life.

Be Open

There is little worse than being with people who always seem to hide their inner feelings or, more frequently, don’t disclose what they are doing or achieving. 

It may be a defence mechanism at work but it contributes to a lack of trust.  Openness and transparency in business is essential even in difficult times when being honest and bringing people together can help in a tough situation.


Don’t just stand there – join in!  The very act of joining in a project or being part of a team generates job satisfaction while hovering on the outskirts of the scrum without taking part brands you as an outsider.  Taking part enthusiastically in what is happening increases the enjoyment of the process and builds confidence.

Find Meaning

Someone once questioned three artisans who were working on the construction of a cathedral and asked the fist “What are you doing?” to receive the reply “I’m laying bricks and that is my job”.  The next one replied “I’m constructing a wall for the outside of the building”.

The third person said: “I am building a cathedral to the glory of G-d”.

That is a perfect example of what it is to have purpose and meaning in what we are doing.


Whatever we do, whomsoever we deal with, all needs to be done with respect to their feelings, to their needs and aspirations and to their abilities.   Everyone has something to offer, to a greater or lesser extent, and accepting that fact requires respect.

We can’t demand respect; it has to be earned.

That is the end of the philosophical debate for today and, I promise, the end of the “How to do” or “How to be” lists from me. 

Sure, this is just a GBO (Glimpse of the Blindingly Obvious with thanks to sadly missed speaker, Ray Wilshire) but it isn’t a bad idea to mull it over from time to time.

Ivan J Goldberg
Author, professional writer, content producer and leadership specialist.      
Email me for a discussion via ivan.goldberg@maa-uk.co.uk