Thursday, February 22, 2018

The Excellence Dividend

Tom Peters just sent me a proof of his latest book, The Excellence Dividend, which will be published by Penguin Random House in April.

I think it’s Tom’s 17th book – and it’s a brilliant pulling together of his critical thinking over the past 50 years.  Tom is a brilliant speaker, an original thinker and a provocateur extraordinaire.

His first book – In Search of Excellence, published an amazing 36 years ago, changed everything for me as a Manager and a Leader.  And his A Passion for Excellence and The Little Big Things kept the fires burning.

The Excellence Dividend is a great airplane read, full of tips and treasures.  Put it on your list in April.


Sunday, February 18, 2018

Multicultural Television

It’s great to see foreign language dramas getting an airing via Netflix and iTunes.  Different countries have their own special blends of pacing, storytelling, filming and directing – just as they have different styles, values and cultures.

Six foreign language series I’ve been enjoying (all with English subtitles of course) are:

An Israeli production set in the Palestinian Territories, Fauda (Chaos in Arabic).  Complex, contemporary, human, conflicted, back-stories abound with both Israelis and Palestinians appearing completely real.  Rejected by Israeli mainstream channels, YES committed to produce it and Netflix came on board to make it happen.
Series Two premiered in Israel on New Years Eve.  Can’t wait to see it here.

La Casa De Papel
A Spanish heist series – one of the best of 2017.  Am in the middle of it now.  Fascinating storytelling.  Great characterisations.

Babylon Berlin
Berlin 1929 – 1934.  $40million production from Sky Deutschland.  The most expensive non English language TV drama series ever made.
The Weimar Republic, the Soviet Union, the Jazz Age, sex, crime, politics and history.  Unmissable.

La Mante
The Mantis, a serial killer offers to help police solve a string of copycat murders – but only if her cop son handles the case.  Recommended by Stephen King.  A TF1 France production.  Scary.

Suburra: Blood on Rome
I wrote about this a couple of weeks ago.  Based on the 2015 film, this is a terrific Italian production based in Rome 2008.  Mafia, Vatican, politicians, family.  It’s got it all.

And Marseille
(Second series out this month.)  With Gérard Depardieu as the consummate old school, no-holds-barred politico in that most fascinating, multicultural hotbed city, Marseille.

A great way to feel the street-beat of different cultures and different cities.

Wednesday, February 14, 2018

The Power of Three

The Power of Three

I recently wrote an article in Cumbria Business on The Power of Three.  In today’s volatile, crazy, Trumpian world, all businesses are facing pressure – pressure coming at them from all angles, all directions – all the time.

Employees at every level of the Company are facing this pressure 24/7 at work, at home.

Pressure is expectation, scrutiny and consequence.

It is the curtain coming down, the shutters closing, the red mist rising.  It leads to tightening, anger, panic, choking and poor decision-making.  (Watch the US President for all five symptoms – sometimes all in one Tweet.)

Inspirational leaders realise that pressure is a privilege – it shows we are standing up and trying to accomplish and achieve.  They relish it because they know themselves and their instinctive reactions to pressure and have identified, practiced and ritualised simple techniques to absorb the pressure, and to use it – jiu-jitsu-like – to feed calmness, clarity and capability.  They keep a ‘Blue Head’, not a ‘Red Head’.  This is practiced throughout the All Blacks rugby organisation – players and coaches are taught to focus on Clear Thought.  Clear Talk.  Clear Action.

I’ve been a Manchester City supporter since my favourite player Colin Bell moved from Bury to the Cityzens in 1966.  And today the world’s best football coach, Pep Guardiola, has got the entire squad focused on relishing pressure, and thinking and acting clearly and cohesively as one.

Bad decisions at the highest levels of sport and business are not usually made through lack of knowledge or lack of skill.  They are made because of an inability to handle pressure at the pivotal moment.  In 2003, Clive Woodward and Brian Ashton called this TCUP – Thinking Correctly Under Pressure – and England’s 2003/2007 Rugby World Cup squads demonstrated their mastery of these principles time after time.

In Peak Performing teams and companies, people share the same Purpose, same Dream, same Focus and same Language.  In Pressure situations there is nothing as successful as The Power of Three.  A common language shared by all that delivers clarity in pressure situations.   If you have a direction you want to go in, if you can describe it succinctly and clearly, that’s the starting point.

In football, the pressure is at its highest when the opposition are in possession of the ball.  At Manchester City, Pep has coached the 5” rule.  When a City player loses the ball and the team is under pressure, everyone follows the same Power of Three mantra:
Succinct.  Clear.  In 5” – get that ball back.

In business, I used to measure all my leaders on their Business IQ – which I summarised using the Power of Three:
            Fail Fast
            Learn Fast
            Fix Fast.

Pilots when faced with a crisis in flight are all trained in the same disciplines:
First focus on keeping the plane airborne; second fly the plane in the right direction, third tell people where you’re flying the plane.
It’s a simple, practical process that has saved lives.  Its simplicity enables pilots to orient themselves and take the right steps in the right order.

Paramedics have their own Power of Three for first aid:
Assess the situation; adjust your approach to suit the situation, act accordingly.  The process creates clarity and certainty without losing urgency.

The Power of Three gives us a structure we can absorb, remember and follow in a stepwise process to handle the pressure situation.  By harnessing this three point structure, mantras create a strong linguistic chain of events; they take you from chaos, through clarity and into action, automatically.

As the Maori tell us:
Look.  Listen.  Speak.

Sunday, February 11, 2018

Good News for Western Fans

A few days ago I wrote about Clayton Moore’s Lone Ranger (and I even enjoyed the much maligned scattergun 2013 Disney remake with Johnny Depp and Armie Hammer) and his constant search for justice.

The Western genre has been taking a beating from Marvel super-heroes, horror, Star Wars and so on recently, but now it’s back.  A Western renaissance is underway.

Trudy is deep into Netflix’s Godless, a Western town populated only by women following a mining disaster, and I just loved Hostiles – Scott Cooper’s gritty, unsentimental, masterly story about a hard bitten, cynical Army captain and Indian fighter (Christian Bale) ordered to escort the dying Cheyenne Chief Yellow Hawk and his family back to their ancestral home in Montana.  And that’s just the start – the Comanche attack, families are killed, sides are blurred, values are challenged, a deranged white cavalryman joins the party.  A compelling values driven drama, in a classic John Ford-like western backdrop, around the timelessly relevant themes of bigotry and redemption.  Moral ambiguity to the fore.

And that’s only the beginning.  I wrote about the Coen Brothers’ upcoming anthology series, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs a couple of weeks ago.  I loved Series 1 of The Son – Pierce Brosnan and co – and Series 2 is due later this year.  And I hear great things about Vincent D’Onofrio’s Billy The Kid – starring Dane DeHaan as The Kid.

Look out for Wind River, a Longmire-like, modern day drama near a Wyoming reservation.  The Sisters Brothers – a great book I read five years ago by Patrick deWitt – now a movie starring Joaquin Phoenix – dark Western humour at its best.  And finally Peter Fonda and Bill Pullman in The Ballad of Lefty Brown, a real easy film to watch and enjoy in the classic Western mode.

The Good Times are Back.

Tuesday, February 6, 2018

The Lone Ranger’s Creed

I grew up in Lancaster listening to Radio Caroline’s pirate DJ’s bringing the 60’s to life via a tiny transistor radio I listened to under the covers of my bedroom after lights out.  Prior to escaping life through music, my escape through that very same radio was listening to reruns of The Lone Ranger – my hero from when I was 10 years old, and my hero to this very day.  The Lone Ranger’s Creed hangs on my study wall in our Arizona home, Desert Dream – along with other classic Lone Ranger memorabilia.

I shared it on KR Connect five years ago, on January 1 2013.
1.     I believe that to have a friend, a man must be one.
2.     That all men are created equal and that everyone has within himself the power to make this a better world.
3.     That God put the firewood there, but that every man must gather and light it himself.
4.     In being prepared physically, mentally, and morally to fight when necessary for that which is right.
5.     That a man should make the most of what equipment he has.
6.     That “this government, of the people, by the people, and for the people,” shall live always.
7.     That men should live by the rule of what is best for the greatest number.
8.     That sooner or later . . . somewhere . . . somehow . . . we must settle with the world and make payment for what we have taken.
9.     That all things change, but the truth, and the truth alone lives on forever.
10.  I believe in my Creator, my country, my fellow man.

The political leaders of our world today would do well to hang this in their offices – and to act on it.