In the early part of the 20th Century, a simple question was asked in a physics exam paper at the University of Copenhagen in Denmark: ”Describe how to determine the height of a skyscraper with a barometer.”
One student replied: “You tie a long piece of string to the neck of the barometer, then lower the barometer from the roof of the skyscraper to the ground. The length of the string plus the length of the barometer will equal the height of the building.”
This highly original answer so incensed the examiner that the student was failed. The student then appealed on the grounds that his answer was indisputably correct, and the University appointed an independent arbiter to decide the case. The arbiter judged that the answer was indeed correct, but did not display any noticeable knowledge of physics.
To resolve the problem it was decided to call the student in and allow him six minutes in which to provide a verbal answer, which showed at least a minimal familiarity with the basic principles of physics.
By Phil Shipperlee
How have the last 12 months been for you? I have asked a lot of people this question recently and almost all of them said that that business has been tough, tight, difficult or delayed. Almost universally, they admitted to problems where previously they would have tried to put a positive shine on whatever had really happened. So it seems that there is now a general acceptance that this prevailing economic gloom is the new normal for a while at least. None of us like it but we have to accept it.
Digging a little deeper, a number of other common themes started to emerge.
The first complaint was that after what appeared to be a positive first meeting with a potential new customer who has expressed real interest in the solution being discussed, nothing happened. No response to follow-up calls, no further meeting and in some cases, the prospect failed to do something they had committed to do. The supplier may have sent a proposal or quotation but still could not get a response.
Many people have told me they have a sales pipeline full of great prospects, but no one is making decisions. Prospects are often difficult to contact and their buying process has become convoluted and drawn out.
By Jurgen Wolff
Since we’re all different, we need a variety of ways to address procrastination – there’s no ‘one-size-fits-all’ solution. So start with the one you think is most likely to be effective for you. If that one doesn’t work, cross it off and go on to another one. I’m confident that you’ll find at least one strategy here that can help you greatly improve how effectively you use your time.
1: Make sure you have to do it.
First, is this something that you can outsource? Can you barter with someone else (spouse or partner, offspring, friend) to do this, and you’ll do something they don’t like to do? The fact that you’ve always done it isn’t a good reason to assume things must stay that way. If there’s a way out that still gets it done, take it.
“Never put off until tomorrow what you can do the day after tomorrow.” [Mark Twain].
If the task IS something you have to do, the rest of these tips will help.
2: Make the thing you are avoiding as attractive as the thing you’re tempted to do instead.
Focus on the outcome of the avoided task – how great it will feel to get it done and the benefits you’ll reap.
Visualise the result, not the actual doing. For instance, perhaps there’s a phone call you’re avoiding making. How does that make you feel, physically? Is there a weight on your shoulders or a pressure on your chest, perhaps? Now imagine how good it will feel to be rid of that, how much lighter you’ll feel both physically and emotionally. With that good feeling still in mind, get started.
Background: John was MD of a £6 million turnover family business in the manufacturing sector. His father had originally founded the business which the three children eventually joined. However, there was a general lack of structure in the company which also manifested as poor communication, not only between John and his father, but with the other children too.
Issue: This was creating a number of problems that were hindering the smooth management of the business and rather than being focused on growth, energy was being diverted into family feuding.
“We started having a lot of fall-out in the family through lack of communication,” John said. He was not getting along with his brother, who would side with their father, while their father was digging in his heals and their sister found herself in the middle of it all trying to play peace-maker. Clearly, something had to be done or the future of the business would be at risk.
John was advised by his Academy Chairman in their one-to-one coaching session that this would be a good issue to raise with the rest of the group in one of the afternoon sessions which are reserved to deal with these sorts of dilemmas.
By Myra White
Narcissism is on the rise. Research among University students in the USA has found that more and more young people think they are something special. In fact American students now score 30 per cent higher on the Narcissistic Personality Inventory than they did in the 1980s.
Moreover, this trend has been steadily gaining momentum over a number of years. An examination of teenage scores on the Minnesota Multiphasic Personality Inventory has found that in the 1950s, just 12 per cent of teenagers agreed with the narcissistic statement, “I’m an important person”. By the late 80′s this figure had jumped to 80 per cent.
This increase in people who narcissistically view themselves as important has real implications for business owners and anyone who manages other people. Because if everyone views themselves as an important person who is entitled to special treatment, eliciting the teamwork and cooperation that contemporary workplaces demand becomes a difficult, if not impossible, task
By Andrew Morris, CEO, Academy for Chief Executives
Through coaching and mentoring countless business leaders, I’ve observed several common characteristics emerging. One of these is that most leaders, like most people, are insecure. More interestingly, many business leaders are still trying to prove, or disprove, something to their Dad.
Writing in the Guardian last month, footballer Michael Owen revealed that the driving force behind his desire to become a professional player was his father, Leslie Owen, who played as a professional for 15 years in the lower leagues. “Being guided by a father like mine made it hard to fail,” he wrote.
“My motivation was to please my dad. He was, and still is, my hero. Putting in a good tackle, making a nice pass or scoring a great goal meant nothing in isolation. Taking a sneak peek behind the goal to where Dad was standing and being acknowledged by a nod or a wink of approval meant the world.”
But fathers can influence us in different ways, too. Perhaps we feel our Dad was a bit of a loser and we’re desperate not to repeat this with our own life. Or our Dad was a great success and we feel lost in his shadow. Or perhaps he never gave us enough time or respect of praise. Perhaps he was absent or died when young and (there is a high correlation with entrepreneurs and absent Dads) left a feeling of abandonment or insecurity.
By The Academy Team
In today’s business environment, business models are changing constantly. Technology changes, competition adjusts, collaboration opportunities present themselves. Imagine being able to view your business model on a single sheet, to be able to adjust and develop it in real time as circumstances alter and work collaboratively within the business and with your business partners.
Sorry if that sounds like a sales pitch – it is not. However, it is an approach that has many businesses thinking differently about their business model simply through the ability to see it visually and understand the connections and dependencies within it.
The original concept of a one page business model has been around for years. This approach, in its execution, has been ‘crowdsourced’ and tested throughout its development by businesses in a number of industries – including consultants and advisers.
“Business Model Generation has been co-authored by 470 Business Model Canvas practitioners from 45 countries. The book was financed and produced independently of the traditional publishing industry. It features a tightly integrated, highly visual design that enables immediate hands-on use.”
By The Academy Team
At the end (or is it?) of a long period of recession and downturn, we are faced with the problem (or opportunity) of what we should do to develop and grow a business. The future is unknown and, possibly, unknowable. Yet, we probably feel that we should be doing something to ensure that growth returns to our businesses.
The Government is depending on us growing our individual businesses because Growth (with a big G) as a nation can only come from business. Government can move wealth around, mostly by removing it from us and not giving it away to others (aka tax rises and spending cuts).
We are faced with a choice. Place a stake in the ground, build goals around that and then figure out how we get from here to there. We’ve had many articles on that approach. Where it sometimes falls short is in the setting of the goal. What is ‘realistic’ (in the SMART sense) and do we either sell ourselves short or alternatively overwhelm ourselves with the sheer ambition of the goal?
There is another approach and one that, according to a study performed by US Associate Professor Sara D Sarasvathy, is more successfully employed by entrepreneurs. She calls it ‘effectuation’ and it is an approach that is gaining traction, especially on MBA courses. It may also have uses in day to day business.
By Ian Moore
Ideas are the keystones of all successful businesses. There are many areas where creativity can be used in a business but for this article I will concentrate on three of these – idea generation, innovation and decision making.
The word ‘creativity’ has many negative ‘airy fairy’ connotations. Perhaps a better phrase to describe creativity in a business context is idea generation. As we are growing up we each pick up or develop a small number of techniques for generating ideas and these are usually different techniques from person to person. I find it odd that in general these techniques are not taught to people and so we go through our lives using only the techniques that we ourselves have developed. Some people argue with me that ‘creativity cannot be taught’ but idea generation is a skill like any other and if we can be introduced to the techniques that others use then we can all be highly effective generators of ideas. Idea generation is essentially a personal skill, ideas come from the individual.
Innovation relies heavily on new ideas. Innovative organisations effectively use the ideas of their staff to improve upon or create new products, services and ways of doing things giving them a competitive edge or accessing previously untapped markets. The new idea will come from an individual but without an innovative team around them the idea will usually be crushed.