Tag Archives: hindsight

The one with the peer’s pressure

It’s very easy (in my opinion) to admire Baroness Martha Lane-Fox. She created a successful business (lastminute.com), she’s given her time and energy to public service (as UK Digital Champion), she put money into the pleasure of bad singing (Lucky Voice), she’s overcome adversity (a significant car accident) and most importantly she replies to my tweets! The only thing I struggle with is she’s only a year older than me which has me thinking what I’ve been wasting my time doing!!

MLF

In celebration of the 25th Anniversary of the World Wide Web she lead a debate in the House of Lords yesterday and having seen her tweets and a piece on the BBC News I ended up reading the full text of her speech that you can find here. As a brief aside another Peer Lord Jim Knight crowd sourced his speech from social media and whilst I am still recovering from the blow of my input not being included it does make me marvel at how the world has changed.

Whilst there is lots of interest in the speech the line that got me thinking was this one:

“only 4 ftse 100 businesses have a cto or digital executive on their plc boards and yet all of these businesses are facing potential upheaval.”

You don’t have to look hard to find a blog in support or challenge of the so-called Social HR movement and how we are apparently embracing social technologies to improve the way we deliver our roles. You would be hard pressed to avoid a blog citing yammer, jive or some other community and the impact it’s having on collaboration or community within organisations. The reason Baroness L-Fs quote got me thinking was that there isn’t much discussion about digital and/or social capability in senior managers, leaders or board directors.

Sure there’s stats about CEOs that tweet etc but they are usually in pursuit of brand, customer or staff and increasing the transparency or accessibility of the leader. But what about those CEOs who really understand the impact that the pace of technological evolution is and will continue to have on their organisations? How many CTOs are lying awake at night obsessing about the disruptive impact of technology rather than the go-live of the new data warehouse or the cost of SAP support?

Yesterday morning, by chance, I had breakfast with my first proper boss (from waaaaay back when) who ran a publishing company. I found myself saying how hindsight was a wonderful thing and referencing a conversation I’d had with him and my then manager about our under investment in the web and the impact I thought it was having on the business. It was a salutary tale about the dangers of trying to influence people with a beer in your hand but it remains true the only 20/20 business vision is hindsight!

If HR are truly the custodians or challengers of talent in the organisation is it not incumbent on us to not just play with the latest shiny and count our retweets but to actually challenge the leaders of our organisations to ensure that they are equipped to lead in a world where the rules of the game are being reinvented monthly rather than once a decade?

If you could picture having breakfast with one of your team in 15 years time what would be your hindsight observation about what you would have done differently to ensure the business was fit for the technology challenge? It certainly wouldn’t be how many twitter followers you had although it may include the fact that Baroness Lane-Fox replied to your tweets!!

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The one where its about reflection

When I was 6 years old I wanted to be a Builder… I wrongly understood my Dad to be one (he wasn’t)

When I was 11 years old I wanted to be a Journalist…I had seen “All the President’s Men”

When I was 14 years old I wanted to be an Accountant… then realised it involved lots of numbers and having attention to detail

When I was 16 years old I wanted to be a Doctor…then realised there were easier ways to get a Mercedes and I like my sleep too much (the white coat would have worked for me though)

When I was 23 years old I had a degree (in Biochemistry) but with no clue what I wanted to be when I grew up…

I’m now 36 and seem to have ended up doing something I love without much of an idea how I got here and the nagging fear that if I went back and told the 16 year old me how it would play out if he wouldn’t have run in the other direction!

Why share this?

As you will know if you’ve read some of the other posts, I am currently in the process of finishing a Masters degree and am completing a research project. It involves interviewing senior business people about their achievements as Corporate Entrepreneurs.

So far I have completed one interview, with a guy who used to work for one of the largest retailers in the world (you won’t have to think hard to work it out). It was a nerve racking but seriously enjoyable interview which ended up (probably against protocol) being more a conversation. This guy had done some fascinating things, in circumstances which were probably the antithesis of standard corporate operations for the specific and many other corporations. What was really surprising was his comment at the end, “it’s been really interesting taking the time to reflect and explore this stuff”

Since then I have spoken to several more of my “recruits” and there seems to be a theme emerging on how much people are looking forward to reflecting on their careers and not just over a beer. It seems many of them have charged through their careers with a great deal of momentum but not much direction and being able to have an agenda-less conversation with someone (who isn’t trying to lead them, manage them or recruit them) seems to really appeal.

Personal reflection is a whole other subject and I wouldn’t want to be seen as advocating a session of navel gazing but if there is a take home from this post then it’s don’t wait to be recruited for a Masters project to reflect on your career. You may be amazed at how enjoyable it is and you never know it could inform your future decisions…

Now where did I leave that white coat?

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The one where I share my not last words

Firstly, thank you so much for response to first two posts. Some great leads on finding corporate entrepreneurs for the project (but happy to have more suggestions –I need about 20!). Already some really interesting people who, as an aside, sound like they have awesome jobs!!

Secondly, having been in Tokyo last Friday and now watching the trouble the Japanese are facing in managing the nuclear situation and keeping basic services functional, my thoughts go out to the people all over Japan who are fearful for their immediate safety and security.

Thirdly (and mainly) I would like to take you back to a sunny afternoon in the summer of 2004. I had just finished my CIPD exams and my 5th or 6th pint and declared in a quasi-drunken voice to anyone who would listen “if I ever suggest studying whilst working full time again – please, someone shoot me”. Talk about famous not last words…

I remember standing outside Birkbeck in Bloomsbury now in the late summer of 2009 with those words ringing in my ears and if there was a man stood next to me in a black bowler hat I would have delivered the “this is another fine mess you’ve got us into, Stanley” line but alas I was stood alone (but from memory I did tweet my quote and a picture)

Due to my work schedule I could only consider the distance learning option which I have found particularly hard as I prefer to learn through debate and discussion which unfortunately has been restricted to the 5 weekend workshops we have attended. The workshops will be worthy of a post in themselves I’m sure but I generally work 10 hour days, then get home do normal stuff like catch up with friends, eat, chores etc and then the thought of sitting down with a journal article has been about as attractive as root canal surgery (and that’s pretty bad I assure you).

Learning on our course has been mainly about reviewing a volume (around 5-6 per fortnight) journal articles and then discussing them with other students in a moderated online forum run by the Uni. We are supposed to make a certain number of posts per week and contribute to the discussion. This has been a slog which at times (and on several occasions) I have failed at…

So what’s my point? Well there are two of them:

1. Before taking on a course such as this consider how much you want it and if the mode of learning suits your style and life style

2. If I ever suggest studying whilst working full time again – please, someone shoot me. No, really I mean it!!!!!

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