How To Prevent Catastrophic Decision Making (3 min read)

How many times do you hear of a work initiative, company plan or government project that fails and you think it was obvious that was going to happen? Think government projects to upgrade IT systems or building new transport links or think company plans to go digital or break silos. 

Continue reading “How To Prevent Catastrophic Decision Making (3 min read)”

13 Rules For Have-Nots To Gain Power

Obama used his ideas on his path to the US Presidency, Hilary Clinton wrote her thesis on his work, and grass-roots movements, from both the left and now the right, treat his work as the template for action. Yet many people have never heard of the American Saul Alinsky. He is thought be the founder of modern community organising and wrote one of the most influential books on setting up grass-roots movements: the 1971 book “Rules For Radicals”. The basic philosophy was to give power to the have-nots. In his introduction he wrote:

“WHAT FOLLOWS IS for those who want to change the world from what it is to what they believe it should be. The Prince was written by Machiavelli for the Haves on how to hold power. Rules for Radicals is written for the Have-Nots on how to take it away”

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Life Advice From the Best Sports Coach Of All-Time (7 min read)


It was a sad day last weekend when I discovered that my local second-hand book shop, Copperfields, was closing down (see picture). The only silver lining was that all books were selling for incredibly low prices and I ended up buying books I would not normally buy. One that stood out was called “The Essential Vince Lombardi” – it cost £2! I had vaguely heard of Lombardi with his saying “Winning isn’t everything, it’s the only thing”. Continue reading “Life Advice From the Best Sports Coach Of All-Time (7 min read)”

Why Business Plans Are a Waste Of Time (5 min read)

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I was clearing my stuff recently and I came across some business plans from previous years. They were all well written with nice flow charts, action points and promises of better performance. Of course, what we did over the following quarters and years had no connection to the business plan. I doubt I’m alone in this experience. In fact, I imagine most management deep down think that business plans are a waste of time. Continue reading “Why Business Plans Are a Waste Of Time (5 min read)”

Never Before Had Europe Been Overshadowed By Four Giants – Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman

That’s how John Julius Norwich characterises the early 1500s in his book Four Princes. The four were all born in the 1490s  and went on to shape Europe for centuries to come:

      • King Henry VIII ruled England. He broke from the Papacy of Rome, established the Church of England, created a superb administration and transformed the navy.
      • King Francis I ruled France. He was the Renaissance man. He brought Leonardo da Vinci from Italy to France. He transformed the Louvre from a medieval fortress to a vast Renaissance Palace. He made French, rather Latin, the official language of the country.
      • Suleiman the Magnificent ruled the Ottoman Empire. He created a single code of law, expanded the number of schools and was extremely tolerant. He gave artists professional status and encouraged every form of artistic creativity by attracted artists from all corners of Europe whether Muslim or Christian.
      • Holy Roman Emperor Charles V combined rule in Germany, Spain and parts of Italy to create a new heart of Europe. Under his rule, European rule expanded to the New World defeating the Aztecs of Mexico and the Incas of Peru. 

But these highlights mask the violence and divineness of religion that was unleashed during the period. Continue reading “Never Before Had Europe Been Overshadowed By Four Giants – Henry VIII, Francis I, Charles V, Suleiman”

My 23 Favourite Podcast Episodes So Far This Year

I’m a huge fan of podcasts. Listening to them forms part of my daily routine and I get many of my insights from them. I typically list my favourite podcasts, but this time I thought I’d list some of my favourite specific episodes. These may give you a springboard to enjoy the rest of the episodes of those podcasts. So here they are for this year (episode name first, followed by podcast name): Continue reading “My 23 Favourite Podcast Episodes So Far This Year”

Why Most Teams Are Dysfunctional and How To Fix It (5 min read)

I’ve worked in so many teams over the years – sometimes as a team member and sometimes as the team leader. I’d love to say that these teams were super high-performing ones, but I’m afraid they were not.

How do I know this? Well, according to Patrick Lencioni, teams suffer from 5 dysfunctions: they lack trust, fear conflict, lack commitment to decisions, avoid holding each other to account and not paying attention to team results. In that light, I think most my teams have been dysfunctional even the ones I have lead.  Continue reading “Why Most Teams Are Dysfunctional and How To Fix It (5 min read)”

What Buffet, Bezos and Dimon Told Me About Being Successful

After my blog on What I Tell Young Researchers, a friend of mine suggested I add the annual shareholder letters of Warren Buffet * (Berkshire Hathaway), Jeff Bezos (Amazon) and Jamie Dimon (JPMorgan) to my recommended readings. I read their latest letters and my friend could not have been more right. This trio of leaders talk about bureaucracy, high standards and the dangers of debt: Continue reading “What Buffet, Bezos and Dimon Told Me About Being Successful”

The James Comey Book – Be Afraid, Very Afraid (6 min read)

James Comey, the former director of the FBI, recently published his account of working under the Trump administration in the book, “A Higher Loyalty: Truth, Lies, and Leadership”. It’s the second high-profile book of the workings of the Trump administration – the other being Michael Wolf’s “Fire and Fury”. That was revealing in parts, and Comey’s book is also revealing, though not in the way many reviewers have focused on. Continue reading “The James Comey Book – Be Afraid, Very Afraid (6 min read)”

Are You Obedient To Authority? (3 min read)

The Set-Up

In a chilling experiment conducted in the early 1960s, Yale University psychologist Stanley Milgram set out to understand why Nazi soldiers followed orders to murder millions. The set-up of the experiment was clever. Members of the public would act as a teacher and test another supposed member of the public, the learner, on simple word association tests. A scientist, the experimenter, would oversee this.

The teacher was told by the experimenter to impart successively larger electric shocks to the learner when they made errors – the voltage started at 15V and would go up to 450V. Continue reading “Are You Obedient To Authority? (3 min read)”