Top 10 Great Ideas in 2018 from the Field-Walk

Hey, I am back after long hiatus (exactly 1 year!). Been super busy, I will make more commitment this year. One article at least per month. Let’s work it out. 🙂

This post is about Ideas that I have personally observed that were generated by participant of our Design Thinking Innovation workshops in 2018. I started compiling these ideas and take note how popular these ideas among the participants. I also have super great news that some ideas in 2017 became reality and being implemented (some at national level!), it was thrilling feeling to see this happening.

Now let me share 10 Great Ideas in 2018:

  1. Thrash for Wifi access. This idea came from Sabahan because internet cost for mobile is quite expensive to Sabahan graduates and average household. Therefore they rely (especially youth) on public wifi. The youth willing to collect thrash around the cities and in return they get wifi access (via coupons or digital link)
  2. Smoking ban in public place. This idea came from several groups during early 2018. It was laughed at and ridiculed by mostly smokers because of the wide scope of the implementation. Interestingly, now at the time of writing, smoking is now completely banned in public eateries nationwide and progressing to wider coverage by 2019 end.
  3. Open banking, share all banking data in one app or one source. This interesing fintech ideas came from several banks and customers. It used to be each bank collect their own customer data and they shouldn’t (and couldn’t) share it with other bank. For example if you are a user of credit card from Bank A, if you are applying another credit card for Bank B, they wouldn’t know. This became a problem especially if the customer is a bad paymaster of credit card Bank A. The problem later might spill to Bank B. On the other hand, if you are a great paymaster, your credit ratings improved, your data is shared with other banks, you become a highly sought customers from various banks. That’s the advantage.
  4. Trap rubbish at the river or drainage using mesh. This idea came from people in flood-prone areas. The flash flood usually happened in rainy season and caused major traffic problem. One of the problems are clogged drainages and rising water from the rivers because of thrash! While it is understandable we shouldn’t throw rubbish, I personally found the thrash sometimes from factories because of the quantities are massive. So to effectively and efficiently clean up the river, using wire or nylon mesh to trap the river would be quick.
  5. Auditors and HR staffs are from business departments and branch operations. This fabulous ideas came from multiple banks. The audit and HR departments found out 2 major problems. First, these two departments are not well liked by the staffs because of poor misperception. Second, most staffs joined these two departments are juniors hence little operations and business experiences. Consequently, most of their work deemed lack substance and lack empathy. An insight surfaced, those with experiences that joined audit and HR department tend to be more matured and heightened empathy. They also managed to convince their former colleagues to be more receptive and cooperative in bringing the business to the next level!
  6. Video conference for long distance meeting. This idea came from government officials that live far from the headquarters. Some had to travel 8-10 hours for an hour meeting. To cut time, cost of travel and health bills, the use of video conferencing could effectively and efficiently for both parties. Let’s use meeting for key decision making. Hopefully the next phase of national broadband plan in 2019 will be spearheaded faster than expected. Faster connection will definitely help!
  7. Tax break for donations by the public to schools and universities. It is true and evident the government funds to schools are getting lesser by the year due to various reasons. It is also true and evident, most parents would want to donate (and willing) to donate for schools where their kids studies. Tax is a very good tool for the government to use to invite this “money on the table” by giving tax breaks (double if possible).
  8. HR to drive innovation capabilities development. This idea came repetitively from banks and MNCs pointing that many HR “waits” for business departments request for innovation program. HR in their views still see “innovation” as technical know-how, technology-based and only for selected people. HR as the people builder needs to step up quickly grasp the big gap of innovation capabilities by launching innovation training programs and workshops because innovation today and beyond is everybody’s business.
  9. Artificial Intelligence (AI) powered & gravity dumb-bell. It turns out a lot of people want to get fit by using dumb bell (including me). The insight we found that a lot of people don’t know what kind and how much weight they should do that will effectively help them meet their goals. Using AI & gravity, user only need to buy one dumb bell of this kind and start getting fit progressively, without having to own a whole rack of those bells!
  10. Launch fintech fast to collect data. Fintech is pervasive these days, many local banks turn confused what they should do actually. They found many banks took very long time to think “analytically and holistically” so much so go to market become painstakingly long. The idea is about fast launch of basic fintech products & services for example CASA account, children account or loan application with primary purpose to collect data and learn from it before even considering the full blown product. This could make sense because by the day there are many more technology players in this area, therefore investing in sophisticated technology may not pay off in the long run. Think about it.

 

Hope you enjoy this piece. Any brickbats please email to donkhairul@gmail.com 

Happy New Year 2019!

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The One Word That Make People Hate Innovation

I stumbled on my current research by accident. By observing people’s reaction. Let me explain.

Every time in my design thinking workshop I asked my audience, whether they love innovation in products and services they used, of course they loved it to bits!

They spoke about how the food delivery service such as #FoodPanda, #Ubereats and #GoFresh (among others) helped them deal with life when they need food.

Some Muslim ladies also spoke about their hijab, tudung and scarf that make them look gorgeous , beautiful and of course more confident when they work and socialize professionally and personally.

Many men also expressed their love for e-commerce sites such as Lazada where a number electrical hobbyists and car enthusiast including aspiring botanist found their haven for things they love doing.

Most of the people I met during my workshop claimed their live getting much easier these days because of all these innovative products and services integrated into their lifestyle. Of course, smartphones and apps are the most popularly quoted as innovative products and services.

When we discuss deeper, what constitutes successful innovation, there is one word that put the world a stop for a moment. This word makes everyone reconsider what they said earlier about innovation and their love of great products and services.

The word is CHANGE. Everybody hates change – especially when the change go against your will. This include my 4 months old baby when I wanted to change his diaper, come on! I am helping you getting clean lols

When we run design thinking innovation workshop for senior management (or any innovation workshop for that matter), the discussion on change is very crucial. How tolerant is the management towards CHANGE? How committed they are? What are they willing to give up? Why do they want change? Who needs change first? When do we should give up those baggages?

I found discussion on change in very key in successfully getting the buy in prior any innovation or transformation work. The senior leadership themselves must be in unison when it comes to commitment to change. Be the change you want to see, as Gandhi famously said.

In some scenario, the current situation is already bad (or it could be too comfortable perhaps?) therefore change is “easier” to instill. Oh booy, change is difficult and change is hard. Change takes effort, effort and effort. We usually got stuck in either one of these change levers, our capacity to change, our capability to change or our ability to change. Which one do you stuck the most? Which does your organization stuck the most?

Source: Who-Wants-Change-Crowd-Change-Management-Blue | Free to use … | Flickr

For those who are leading innovation in their organization, let me share good points from this book from Noel Tichy, “The Cycle of Leadership”. I love this book so much, get a copy if you will.

He said this interesting view of leadership, they are autocrats (who forcefully lead change without taking any feedbacks) and they are abdicrats (who take all the feedback without taking any decision or stand to move out). These two extremes create leadership vacuum and ultimately power failures. This need change.

Better your best!

Wait for my follow up article on this topic soon!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Top Five Great Ideas in 2017 From “The Field”

In 2017, my team and I met more than 1,000 people from multiple workshops throughout the year when we ran our flagship training,  Design Thinking Innovation workshop. The significance of design thinking workshop is in the fieldwork, which I’d like to call as ‘The Field”. During the fieldwork, the trainees last year interviewed between 2,000-3,000 people last year.

From those multiple workshops we had, they generated lots and lots of ideas. The following were the Top Five Great Ideas in 2017:

 

1.Student loan (PTPTN) becomes the employer’s benefits for employees. 

Most employees, young executives particularly carry substantial student loan – around RM 30,000 – RM 45,000 (locally known as PTPTN). Screen Shot 2018-01-01 at 8.58.49 PM.png

*Source: iMoney

These loans were part of their commitment when they study in local universities. Part of the deal with PTPTN, once the students graduated they need to repay back to PTPTN. Somehow this didn’t happen as effective as both parties wished, PTPTN overall repayment rate is very poor, only 3% .

What if the PTPTN loan is taken over by the employers as part of employees benefits? It could be carve out from the insurance provision or medical benefits. Someone from Compensation & Benefits (ComBen) in HR department could advise this better. Or maybe if you have thousands of staffs with PTPTN loan, it certainly could amount to few millions RM, how about having a company to manage this loans? Well, something to think through.

 

2. Children bank account package just like we used to have 30 years ago.

Wither children bank accounts in our local bank? You probably noticed that many banks these days do not really have an attractive children bank account like we used to have aeons ago such as Yippee, Bank Bumiputra and Tabung Haji (where you get a replica of Tabung Haji building as your coin box). I opened bank account for my kids recently and few years ago, then I received a link via SMS from the bank – excited then I clicked the link – the I was upset – because it was a bad link (automated from their system but poorly maintained either by the marketing department or webmaster – yes let’s start the blame game!)

From “The Field”, we found a lot of respondents wondering why the bank no longer offer beautifully designed children bank account. Actually later I found the answer from some senior bank managers who said, “deposits are outdated, banks prefer offering financing these days.” I was rather upset because the answers we “soooo like bankers”. LOLS. Haven’t they heard Fintech? LOLS

What if the local bank could revive and rejuvenate children bank accounts once again? Make investment and saving as part of everyday lingo in the family. These days, saving and investment is missing in children’s vocab, all they know is buying this and that. I know some local banks offer children bank acccount, most of it dull. Make it fun and exciting please!

 

3. Investment account that’s accessible by “normal and average Joe”

Normal and average Joe has only saving account. Many roll up their eyes when we talk about investment products from banks. They either just haven’t heard about it from the bank or they just said the bankers tell them these investment products are only for the HNWI (high net worth individuals).

Again, I was rather upset because the answers we “soooo like bankers”. LOLS. Haven’t they heard Fintech in Wealth Management? LOLS

What if the bank could give access to their simple product that usually require RM 100k deposits from one HNWI to “100 normal people and average Joe that have RM 1k for investment and wealth creation?”

product-discoverability4

Source: Centric Digital

 

4. Make Top Management (Senior Vice Presidents and C-suites) teaching in the company

The knowledge gap in the company (especially tacit and implicit) is growing wider. The gap is widely seen between the Top Management and Middle Management to Entry level Executives could only be fixed not with hiring external consultants or run training programs after training programs or coordinate leadership development programs after programs, ratther companies have to start to look for the solution internally.

The challenge is often, the management is asking the wrong question and always in a hurry to look for the right answer. The question they usually asked is “why our knowledge gap is getting wider?” which is looking for the right answer. Instead the appropriate question should be, “how to accelerate the spread of knowledge between the management faster?” which is to explore possibilities. One of the popular ideas generated in our workshop is to “teach the top management how to teach their managers”.

What if we could teach leaders how to teach their strengths and transfer their skills? Further research would validate this idea that General Electric (GE) have done this many years ago via Crotonville University.

Things+Leaders+Do+GE_s+Jeff+Immelt+on+the+10+keys+to+great+leadership.

Source: Slideplayer

5. “Dress down” day to Productivity

In Malaysia, the proliferation of new generations as the workforce is already between 50-70% at the executives and junior managers level. Some companies that have thousands of employees, could save money from providing uniforms for white collar executives and junior managers. In some companies, the top management still frowned upon the concept of “Dress down” day. The concept allows the employees to dress with anything they like within the formality guidelines, although some companies have little guidelines, having something to rely on will do more good than harm.

The new generation prefer freedom of expression and they do have nice collection of wardrobe simply because fashion these days are cheaper and with so many options. Therefore allowing them to “dress down” in most of the days, it will give them the “extra benefits” to stay in the company and would boost their morale and consequently productivity while working in the organization. In other words, when you allow them to wear jeans, slip on shoes, hoodies etc, they will work harder.

In our interviews with the millenials respondents, that was the feedback and the great idea was “Dress down day”. Check out this analysis from NY Post on “Dress down and productivity”.

What if “Dress down day” could boost productivity and increased morale of the employees, would that save the company in medical bills and unproductive work habits? Of course, save of the uniform tailoring too!

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Well, those are the Top Five Great Ideas in 2017. I will be sharing more stuffs and great ideas from “The Field” from my LinkedIn-Khairul Anwar. See you there!

Brickbats? Email me at donkhairul@gmail.com 

Megatrends 2020 and Beyond, Quick Summary

I have been wanting to write this Megatrends post for some time, its just I couldn’t. I was going through multiple reports on Megatrends from the net and they are very exciting. I also read some books to dig deeper into the subject and trying to find out what is it all about.

Here are the Quick Summary from various sources, which I will provide you the links at the bottom of this post.

  1. DEMOGRAPHIC CHANGE – In all megatrends report, demographic change becomes the central theme that’s driving all the other elements. I still remember Drucker’s word in one of his chapters titled “Sources of Innovation”. He said, “when there’s huge demographic change we should expect huge change in other variables.” Demographic change includes ageing population, drop in birth rates, people live longer, greater access to basic needs, access to education and urbanization.
  2. ENVIRONMENT SUCCESSION – Many called it crisis, I prefer the word “Succession”. Dr Thomas Friedman in his book “Thank You For Being Late”, called it “Mother Nature”. We need to make sure we are able to successfully cater to few more billions people in the next 2-3 decades. This include access to food, water, energy and air. When we have more people, we need more space. When we need more space, we clear the environment to make way to housing etc. All of us need to be creative in consuming. As it is our consumption habits may not be sustainable in the long run. Hence I prefer the sharing economy.
  3. MACHINES & TECHNOLOGY – The “rapid feeling of change” that we feel today started around 2006 & 2007 (Tom Friedman). It is the time in between when Facebook & Apple technology hit the market. Fast forward 10 years later, all the technology converged and “gave birth” to Industry 4.0. Now, you can feel the word “disruption” and it is not going to stop. There’s a lot of development in internet, telecommunication, smart factories, artificial intelligence, robotics, data analytics, automation, virtual reality, IoT and digital solutions. You will probably gain more insights by reading Moore’s Law on how technology double itself in almost every year these days.
  4. MONEY MODELS – Whilst not many Megatrends cover this specifically, I intend to add on and highlight this as an important trend. The freenomics is an interesting money model. The rise of social enterprise also a trend that corporations need to consider integrating in their overall business strategy. The sharing economy is creatively emerged as the way forward for us to adapt to new pattern of consumption. As the number of connected population increases, innovative money models certainly more sustainable for any organizations.
  5. PERSONAL EXPRESSION – This trend is covered in one of the reports which I found important to point out. Most people have more choices now. Thanks to wealth created from various economic entry points. Consequently, corporations are struggling to meet everyone’s need (although it is impossible, similarly impossible vice versa!). This includes the way people want to work, what they want to wear & use (brands & functional), how they think, when they want to be with their families, who they want to be their boss and so on. This will demand more flexible, adaptable and much less command & control organization. I remember reading PwC report back in early 2000, about the future of work, it says something like this, “in the future there’ll be a few large organizations and these organizations are served by SME, micro enterprises and independent experts.”
  6. GEOPOLITICS – Several of the reports covered this topic. I could agree that geopolitics is also important. Our economies are more integrated than ever before. When some nations in crisis, some other nations are in growth mode. Some countries have more money and on shopping spree around the world. This posed a new dynamics in terms of culture and national income. The big trading nations such as China, USA, Russia, Brazil, UK (?), Euro (?), Middle East (?), Asean countries (?) and thriving ground for new market. Then there’s war going on in some parts of the world, war-mongering attitudes around neighbouring countries and strained international relations.

 

Khairul in the opinion that in the coming years and beyond 2020, human values becoming very central and core to nation, organization and personal development. Be nice to others, because we can!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

www.designthinking.com.my

Sources:

  1. http://www.ey.com/gl/en/issues/business-environment/ey-megatrends
  2. https://www.pwc.co.uk/issues/megatrends.html
  3. http://www.haygroup.com/leadership2030/about-the-megatrends.aspx
  4. https://www.nytimes.com/2016/11/22/books/review/thomas-friedman-thank-you-for-being-late.html?_r=0
  5. Top 20 Global Mega Trends and Their Impact on … – Frost & Sullivan

It Doesn’t Have to Be Lonely At The Top, Tips from HP Founder – Dave Packard

In the past 3-4 weeks, I met some top management executives and 2 CEOs. We were discussing about innovation, culture, mindset and some latest technology stuffs. In one company they wanted to increase innovation competency, in the other they are looking for young genuine leaders to drive new digital initiatives and the next company is looking to hire innovation managers to administer their innovation projects.

What I found in common from these leaders & business managers, they have shared vision that sounds like this “I am looking for some talents that are different from me but almost all of them becoming just like me.” I responded by saying that is a good reflection and they are in the power that are able to change it.

Interestingly, they replied to me, “Khairul, it is very lonely at the top.” I drove back to my office several times in recent weeks getting the same replies (can you imagine that??), “It is very lonely at the top.”

Guess what, it doesn’t have to be. The modern organization is active, progressive and forward looking. How is it possible to be lonely? Leaders will only feel lonely when they isolate themselves in higher office, corner rooms and closed doors. It is very disturbing to me when leaders say “it is very lonely at the top” because it doesn’t have to be! Period.

And these leaders are managing multi-million dollars business, where thousands of people working for them, yet they feel “lonely”? Something isn’t right. Most of the time I found these “lonely” leaders create those disadvantages themselves.

Here some advice to get back on track.  The timeless piece from Dave Packard, the founder of HP shared his 11 Simple Rules. It was delivered by Dave in 1958, 20 years after HP’s founding which was in 1938.

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  1. Think first of the other fellow >> This is akin to put yourself in the other person’s shoes. Try looking from his / her perspective. Try to put yourself in their situation.
  2. Reinforce the other person’s feeling of importance >> Everybody loves to feel important. If you are already a leader, it is your job to make your team’s needs more important than your own need.
  3. Respect the other person’s personality right >> We were born different. Our personality doesn’t justify our intelligence. As leaders, we need to be open and appreciate someone’s individuality.
  4. Give sincere recognition & appreciation >> I found this lacking among top leaders. They don’t sweet talk anymore once they hold the big office. Give pat on the back even to the lowest staff rank. You will go miles.
  5. Eliminate anything negative >> Put it this way, negative sucks energy in no time. Positivity gives energy after some time. Train your mind to offer more positive thoughts.
  6. Avoid to openly change or told-off people >> No one likes the idea of being changed or told-off. As leaders, you should help the person to set goals and offer guidance. Let the team runs it. Of course they will take time initially, eventually they will succeed.
  7. Try to understand the other person >> Consider viewpoints of others around you. Particularly those whom report to you directly. Avoid making hasty decisions and overly-exercised your executive power.
  8. Check your first impressions >> Yes, first impression counts and it should be kept in check all the time. This is a useful reminder if you don’t like certain things emotionally although you can pin-point what is it actually. It may been related to your first impression that lasted years!
  9. Small details? Take care of it >> The details are the one that make the difference. Leaders need to appreciate finesse in their tone of voice, the way they walk, their smile, choice of words etc..It is simple because as leaders you are a role  model and people are looking at you; all the time.
  10. Be sincerely interested in people >> If you think you are not good at it, go take some classes. You can fake it temporarily, and it will eat you inside. Hence it is best for you to learn to authentically be interested in people. Leaders, open your heart, head and hands.
  11. Practice practice practice >> I like the advise from Dr John Medina, he says ‘Repeat to remember’ and ‘Remember to repeat’. This is the path to mastery.

If you as Leaders, sincerely practice all these and sincerely its values; it is very unlikely you become lonely at the top. I personally know several senior leaders who live and breathe these 11 rules, and they are loved by their comrades and colleagues.

It shouldn’t be lonely at the top. It doesn’t have to be.

Khairul believes that getting along with people is super important these days for modern leaders. Yet, it is the hardest thing to do especially once leaders occupied the big office.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com 

10 Symptoms of “DTO”

Heard this phrase before? “Practice make permanent?”. My team and I been working and practicing DT back to back with some clients, so much so we forget how much “DT” is embedded to our brain – almost permanently. We think we are experiencing symptoms of DTO. Are you? Here the 10 symptoms of DTO – design thinking overdrive:

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  1. When you see someone carrying brown carton boxes, you think it is a prototype.
  2. You run to a group of people in a mall holding paper folders because you thought they are looking for Testers.
  3. You seriously believe that crazy & wild ideas are ideas worth exploring…
  4. You have Sharpie pens inside your jeans, leather bag, laptop bag, handbag, satchel, wristlet and stucked on your t-shirt!

  5. Joking around is considered brainstorming to you (except everyone else!)
  6. You doodle more and speak less, to deepen the “conversation”.
  7. Every question starts with How Might…..
  8. Sitting down makes you feel strapped to the chair, you stand up to listen.
  9. Everything you can get your hands on can be a prototype – instantaneously!
  10. You sleep on your ideas and think about it meditatively! The next day, viola!

  11. It seems no one can stop you from doing something about any problem. Who’s stopping you anyway?

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It turns out there are 11 symptoms of DTO! It’s really driving us “mutts”!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

or visit us at www.designthinking.com.my 

Demise of Innovation As Good Corporate Culture

Corporate culture means how the company workforce behaves and carry themselves when they interact with the company’s stakeholders. Corporate culture includes the company values (what they believe in). Good corporate culture means the company workforce (including the top management and the rank & files) able to provide highly positive experience during those interactions. They are motivated, upbeat and offer leadership in a good way. Bad corporate culture? Means simply the opposite experience.

In some large companies, entry level executives till mid managers are very afraid to give suggestions and improvement ideas (that makes more than 50% of the total workforce!). They are waiting for orders from the top leaders (as high as board members) and interestingly the top leaders enjoy this “treatment”. Little that the tops realized the demise of innovation under their very own nose. In an extreme case, staffs get warning letters (2 letters!) after giving 2 ideas on how to improve their work. Reasons? Bypassed the managers because the staff submitted the ideas through “Suggestion Box”. This idea of politically correct “touchy-feely-kissy-assy” is a worrying trend.

In most companies, innovation is one of the most important words used in company values. This applies to large MNCs, big local corporates, SME and including micro enterprise. I recalled one conversation with a nasi lemak seller, “I have to make sure my sambal has to be better than anyone else. People around here like it sweeter compared to some place they like it spicier.” Knowing your customer preferences is one of the reliable sources of innovation opportunities. Innovation unlocks company potentials and allow them to compete positively in today’s highly competitive environment in any given niche possible. Often successful innovation focuses on customers needs and wants.

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Innovation is important. Everyone knows that. Alas, not everyone understand how importance of innovation until they hit a roadblock. Often small companies hit many roadblocks compared to large ones. Therefore they usually innovate faster, better albeit smaller steps. Large companies are latecomers when it comes to innovation because the roadblocks that can stall their move are only the big ones, shape shifting and tectonic change. The small roadblocks can be overcome by commanding higher resources ie money, manpower or infrastructure. Hence, the large companies ability to change only happen when they got it big. Therefore the people in large companies are not trained on the job to seriously look at small roadblocks, to them these are just hurdles that they can skip, jump or push aside. You can’t cut queue in roadblocks, can u?

Because large numbers of workforce are not trained to innovate, they simply don’t have the skills to do so. All they know, when they face hurdles, just command more resources. More stuffs stuffed, without having to think what to take out in the process. This has been happening again and again, on and on until some day the resources drained. The roads become stuffed stucked. No more. The big roadblock come, hit them and they become immobilized.

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The top management suddenly realized their workforce machinery unable to deal with it and oppss the machines stop functioning or go much much slower. Only then the top management come down to inspect. Its too late. They are stucked and it is so stuffy.

An example of simple innovation (yet neglected) in companies are many – no I don’t mean technology neither products not services. Let me give you an example. A Process Executive from Project Department said his department job is to receive process improvement instructions from other department. They are the  document controller for processes. All they do is, receive processes instructions from various departments. Although some of the processes are conflicting from one department to the other. But because other departments don’t know in great details of each other’s processes, this issue is buried in the busyness of corporate demands.

Successful innovation comes when the Process Executive decided to bring this up and help facilitate the conflicting processes from the concerning departments. This simple act of creativity, whilst negligible and not in the job scope of the Process Executive (you can embed in job scope but not doing it is another problem), he takes it up and help facilitate to make a difference. Simply because he understands conflicting processes “it is not how the design (processes) should work.”

His refreshing approach is the simplest example of how “re-imagining” can help large organizations innovate at the smallest level. This act by the Processes Executive can be a cumulative and collective acts by thousands more executives and this inspired feelings are contagious. The ripple effects will enable large organizations deal with small roadblocks again or potentially avoid the big roadblock altogether. Alas, big roadblocks are the compounding effect of ignored small ones.

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In conclusion, innovation as good corporate culture may kiss you goodbye even though you have “innovation” printed everywhere in your brochure, website or conference booklets. Maybe a kick in the teeth that you needed the most as wake up call. See you on the other side.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

So Graduates, Job Secured, What Next?

Your tenacity paid off, your attention to your resume works wonders, your responses to the interviewers seem plausible, the way you carry yourself during the interview were convincing, your voice modulation saying that you are confident and voila! You secured a job that you wanted (at least at that moment). You jumped so high that you could touch your house ceiling! Congratulations graduates! I still remember my own moments when I secured a job, it felt so grown up and excited. I told my mum and dad that I can now pay my own petrol and transport. #grin So what next?

How to stay on the job? What to do to get to the next level? When is the right time to showcase your skills? Why your degree has little meaning to workplace? Why it is not important to “be yourself” when starting out? Do you want to be at the next level, faster?

I wish to offer 5 things for you to consider “be” that may guarantee your next promotion in the next 4-5 years after you secured your first job professionally:

  1. Be Hardworking

At the beginning of anyone’s career, you should consider looking for great experience over great salary. Great work experience will make you do multi things (yes you become multi-tasker). You prepare report, make sales calls, go networking events, lead company’s family day and write report again. Sound busy? Yes you should be. Although you may not see the relevance (yet), you will gain because people started to know you and you start to notice varieties of characters and people around you as well. This is important.

Shohoku

Volunteer to do all these activities around your workplace if you can physically and be positively motivated when doing it. Being motivated is the only difference between being hardworking compared to being overworked. Your bosses will start to notice your face is almost everywhere. You get what we called “attention”.

For those of you that usually skip the university’s events and persatuans, you missed out these moments at that time. Therefore you should take the advantage to pick up again these “getting attention” skills at the beginning of your career.

 

  1. Be Trustworthy

Okay, so you are hardworking and volunteer in a lot of things around your company therefore you are about to walk on thin ice. So you made some mistakes in some of the things you do? The tips is to be honest about your shortfalls and how would you make it differently next time. It is ok to look vulnerable or “weak” because you apologize.

The good news is you project trustworthiness in you to the people around. You will be seen as more open to ideas and feedbacks, this deepen your relationship with co-workers and managers. Remember, trust takes time to develop, you have to invest in it.

For female graduates, don’t beat yourself up so much. Don’t over exaggerate the situation if you make mistakes. It’s enough to just say sorry and “it will not happen again in the future.” For male graduates, learn to say sorry too and please don’t blame others for your own mistakes.

 

  1. Be Resilient

True, there are times things just get so difficult. Not to mention, you received harassment from some dungus, that’s normal. Life’s like that and by knowing this you need to endure it. What is resilient? From Wiki it means, “Able to recoil or spring back into shape after bending, stretching, or being compressed.” So after all the gruelling, you still stand tall and chin up. Like what Michelle Obama said, “When people make you feel so low, you don’t stoop to their level. You go high!”

In the course of your 4-5 years during your initial working career, resilient is key for the top management to observe your endurance. Some corporate projects can take 3-4 years to complete therefore the top management is keen with someone that can take things through thick and thin of situation. Corporate projects are such as opening new branch in new country, implementing new system or lead new business area or products. In the absence of knowledge and experience, resilient is your currency for exchange.

200116804-001
Coach talking to pee wee football team
If you are a leading a team, try to motivate your team to be as resilient as you, more is better. Have conversation with them if you find them lagging behind or dragging their feet to work. It is not ok to be seen as one-man-show whilst you actually have a team with you. Bring them along with you.

 

  1. Be Resourceful

Whenever, whenever you feel you don’t know things your boss asking you to do, you either ask him directly for clarification or google it. Say after you asked, and you still don’t quite get it, you can google it too. Find information online and ask smart questions – specific and to the point.

presentation_pitching

I remember one time when I had to organize company’s event and I was asked to find media contacts, I said yes to my boss. I googled and found few contacts online, but it wasn’t enough because we targeted 10 media companies to cover our event in their publication. I presented to my boss and said I only managed to get three. You know what? He said, “Good job! I could see you tried hard. Now here’s the whole list!” Yayyy!!

Although you are a project manager, you must know that decision making of the project still has to be discussed with you supervisor, superior, manager or boss. This little known tips could help you build lasting relationship with your upline. Some younglings excitedly make all the decisions without enough consultation, they are in for the trouble. Therefore, being resourceful means that your tentacles reach out to information fast enough and your problem solving ability is above average. Yet, when it comes to decision making, make sure it is a consensus with the team (including your upline).

 

  1. Be Knowledgeable

This is where power reading comes in. Not reading Facebook comments, I mean reading thick book (150 pages above), cover to cover. Some magazines considered reading as well such as Fast Company, The Economist, Bloomberg, MIT Sloan and so on. Reading help you imagine the future you never experienced. For graduates, choose your materials widely.

Read magazines, real books (on management, creativity, science, fiction and so on) and please make yourself available to training programs. I found reading autobiography enjoyable – bios I’ve read are Arnold Schwazenegger, Sidney Poitier, Kuan Yew, Alex Ferguson, Tun Mahathir, Mydin, Boon Siew, Jay Z Gandhi, Jack Welch, Prophet Muhammad, Hamka and many more.

weheartreading

It is ok to sound smart when you converse with your boss or colleagues. It helps your maturity and boost your confidence level when talking to someone when you know you are knowledgeable. Nonetheless, it is not okay if you pretend to be smart. Trying to goreng things you don’t know have its own limit – worse off when people can catch it. Being knowledgeable sometimes will make people around you feel threatened, do it anyway. Simply because when you become a big fish in a small pond, time to make that jump to bigger pond or go to the ocean instead.

Wrap Up

I believe many of seniors and professionals would agree with me the 5 tips above. There are many more of course, I found the above suffice for you to do and practice in the next 1-3 years of your initial career. If you still get stuck you can write me an email, we can take it offline. Maybe you need different help.

I found male and female graduates are wired differently (of course!). One thing in common I wish to emphasis is to not get overly obsessed to “be yourself”. You can be yourself when you are in private settings or in family environment where people can tolerate “yourself” over and over again. However, in public place or social setting, people are impatient and have very high expectation of each other (although each other know their own insecurities).

Therefore as someone that’s climbing the work ladder, open up yourself to be more accepting others’ and adjust yourself necessarily. Being overly yourself is akin to break the coconut too early to enjoy the coconut juice. Give yourself time to learn about others and pay attention on how you respond and react to those moments – soon you will learn more about yourself, really.

I wish you beshh of luck. Any brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

 

 

Just Don’t Be Leaders

Leadership is a very popular topic. Try to Google it, you’ll get millions of pages from all around the world. Leadership is one of many critical skills for modern workforce. Leadership has become the raison d etre of every level of employees particularly Executives and above. Leadership is a must have for every Top Management and C-suites. It is an important subject that companies around the world spent money on to develop their talents. There is one my favorite author and Master Coach wrote a book “Leading Without Title” – by Robin Sharma. It is a good book and easy to understand content. I’d reccommend you to have a copy and read. However leadership isn’t enough these days.

Please let me explain the 5 Why.

1. Too Many Leaders, Already

Robin Sharma says, “Leaders choose which mountain to climb, Managers will work on how to climb that mountain efficiently.” We have far too many “leaders” in organization these days. Don’t you think? Telling us they want this and that but have little notion and understanding on what it takes to get there. These leaders unapologetically make unrealistic demands that they themselves care little about.
2. Leaders Don’t Practice

Leaders sometimes are wishful thinkers. They have lots in their heads, but they share too little. They let their comrades and others to second guess their thoughts all the time. These leaders said we should share but they don’t practice what they preach. These leaders compare themselves a lot with their staffs. These leaders cunningly said, “I can think that’s why I am your leader (read boss).” Because of that when the staffs unable to deliver their wishes, they are called “poor performers”.

3. Leader Isn’t A Title

Guess what? Before modern organizations exist, leaders are made of those who get things done and make things happen – without a name card bearing their name with titles such as “Vice President, Managing Director, CEO, Head Finance, Operations Director etc…” Leaders of the olden days decide which mountain to climb and rally people around them and show them how to scale it efficiently. These leaders backgrounds are not based on creed or education level, they are measured based on the outcomes and impact to the world around them. They are very passionate individuals convinced others to follow their journey.

 

problems
4. Leaders Failed Executors

Because leaders are seen as higher management, they tend to over rule decision making at their on whimps and fancies. Although their comrades have presented the facts and figures to climb the mountain efficiently, these leaders intervene in the name of “bigger picture”. When things go wrong or sideways, these leaders let the executors face the music  alone, in the name of accountability. Leaders abandoned their crews.

5. Leaders Avoided Path Less Travelled

Leaders have bigger offices, salary, parking space and benefits. These comfort perks are highly prized by leaders. They sometimes think it is belong to them because they deserved it. What if one day these perks taken away from me? Therefore these leaders minimize their risks of making mistakes. They chose the common path therefore no mistake, as a result nothing new can be learned. They avoid mistakes in experiments that could go wrong. They are not willing to spend money on new venture because their perks will be taken away, if they make mistake.

Just don’t be leaders. These leaders.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Wrap Up Year 2015, Welcome 2016!

The year 2015 has been an aweshemm year for some and trying year for another. As for me, it has been a mix of both. Towards the end, my team and I at DT LEADERSHIP,  finally concluded (today!) that it was an aweshemm year indeed. 🙂

Three things that attracted our interest has always been design thinking, leadership and top talent development. We engaged few hundreds people this year in the three domains above. It feels aweshemm and enlightening! Thanks so much.

I wish to highlight three highlights that captured my personal attention. The designs may be great, good or oopss; but they did catch my attention.

1. Miss Universe 2015 & Steve Harvey

Unexpectedly, I believed, Mr Harvey (the host and winner announcer), wrongly announced the winner. You could see the full video here – Miss Universe 2015 Announcement. He did the right thing, albeit the mistake, admitted that he wrongly announced it and quickly announced the right winner (Miss Philippines the right winner). The mistake later attributed (besides Harvey mistake) was the announcement card was poorly designed therefore confusing (see below). It was chaotic for a while but sorted, well done!

miss_universe_card_zoom
Was this card designed to fail?

2. OXO Measuring Cup

I recently watched GEL Conference 2015 held at New York City – video Alex Lee @ GEL Conference. President of OXO kitchenwares, Mr Alex Lee, talked about OXO’s measuring cup. It was really nice (see below). It solved our human-problem to keep looking whether the liquid reach the right level yet or not. Usually we will stoop to keep checking, with OXO new measuring cup, you don’t have to do that! Brilliant design! Interestingly during their initial research, none of the users mentioned the action of “keep looking up and down” was a problem. However, OXO design team has keen eyes for users behaviours, so they spot it. Now this measuring cup selling by millions around the world.

Humanized-design. Take a closer look!
Humanized-design. Take a closer look!

 

3. Pop Corn Royale @TGV Cinema

I brought my family recently to TGV Cinema to watch a movie –  “The Good Dinosaur”. We havent been out for a get together for some time. We decided to enjoy our time a little bit more. The kids loved the Pop Corn Royale Caramel (see below). However, when we arrived we found out that the Caramel has been replaced by a new flava – the Cool Mint. I hesitated to buy (while queueing) because pop corn and mint – hmmmm…My turn came and I asked “Is the Cool Mint nice?” “What happen to the Caramel?”. I was amazed by the response I received from the guy who was at the counter – “You should try, let me take some of it.” He smiled and offered us to try without any hesitation. We tried and we loved it!

It looks to me, the service design as simple as “offer trial or offer sampling on the fly” helps customer to feel safe and build trust. I could tell that this guy is aweshemm because while his supervisor wasn’t that appreciative of what he tried to do – “make me feel safe to try the new flava.” The experience was fantastic, I recommended the Cool Mint for you as well! 😉 Well done TGV!

The Caramel and Cool Mint, which one do you like?
The Caramel and Cool Mint, which one do you like?

There you go, as we wrapped 2015 those are the things that captured my attention. So what’s next for 2016? Because our interest are in design thinking, leadership and top talent, we asked ourselves four questions for us to dig deeper in the coming 2016. Here are the questions:

 

  1. How might we retain our top talent in cross countries and global projects that rely in virtual teams set up?
  2. How might we create a safe environment for senior operational leaders help the top talents grow exponentially in their career?
  3. How might we rapidly develop new products and services that customers love in our verticals?
  4. How might we improve our service design (people, process, tech and planet) to increase our bottomline / profits?

That’s all for now. We look forward to see you in 2016!

Happy New Year 2016! May the year brings us abundance, happiness and love.
Happy New Year 2016! May the year brings us abundance, happiness and love.

How to Take Advantage of Mentoring in Organizational Development (OD) and Leaders Development

In the last few years OD has become very popular framework to redesign holistic people & leaders development for large organizations. In this “renewed” war on talent, where it is no longer about quantity of talent that matters rather it is more about quality or right talent that is in dire need for most organizations. Although we hear several companies in manufacturing, banking and IT are making layoffs, the way I see it these companies are retaining and keeping their best talents braving the perfect storm coming their way.

One common theme in OD is mentoring and coaching. I have worked with several clients to design part of OD components (few get implemented), but often OD becomes a long list of training programs after training programs with various consultants and trainers (internal and external). There is little thought in optimizing the OD outcomes to the organization. I think we shortchanged ourselves by not taking advantage of mentoring. The mentoring portion often not implemented because “too much resources needed” to roll out.

Here I wish to share how organizations can take advantage of mentoring in OD. This is simple, practical and implementable at small scale, which later can be scaled up further.

A. Decide 1-2 mentoring goals. Yes, just one or two goals first. I learn from behavioural change model, once we are able to change one or two behaviours, our confident level improves and we start to tackle other challenges next. Example mentoring goals are:

  1. Developing leaders for non-core businesses
  2. Retaining Gen-Y workforce in key positions
  3. Promoting high performance Gen-X for global expansion
  4. Improve customers base for new products and services
  5. Supporting emerging leaders for career direction
  6. Encouraging leaders to learn and develop each other

B. Find and recruit the people and leaders that most attracted to mentoring and people development. Often not all top executives love mentoring idea because they need to make time for it. However, OD chief needs to be able to present a compelling business case for it. Prep sometime with the CEO prior this engagement. Bring along several key talents in the initial meeting to convince the CEO.

C. Present a business case that outlines the following:

  1. Mentoring goals.
  2. Business SWOT – Strength, Weakness, Opportunity, Threat
  3. Skills available and acquired in the company – identify the leaders (potential mentors)
  4. Skills required and needed in the company – identify the content (potential faculties)
  5. Rolling out plan and scheduling (start small – have 2-3 mentors assigned to less than 10-12 talents)
  6. Guidelines, processes and coordination (keep it minimal and spartan)
  7. Measurement of outcomes and duration (6-12 months is enough)
  8. Monitoring plan and expectations
  9. Proposed investment (only include this once the rest has been thoroughly discussed with CEO and CFO)

D. Say if you still find it difficult, here you can do it the stealth way:

    1. Find organizational leaders that love people.
    2. Find talents that show exceptional performance and demonstrate leadership qualities.
    3. Conduct 30-45 minutes behavioural interviews with your colleague or partners.
    4. Find good matching between the leaders (mentors) and talents (protégés)
    5. Speak to friendly direct supervisors of this plan (recruit the direct supervisor to oversee the development)
    6. Prepare some basic guidelines for mentors and protégés.
    7. Roll out under stealth mode.

I personally feel that mentoring has strong and deep developmental advantages other than training programs. Mentoring has talent retaining effect too!

Having a basic level mentoring program would enhance training programs done in the company because the participants will contextualized what they learn and relate it back to the organization when meeting with their mentors.

Besides, the developmental programs can be more targeted and expanded based on feedbacks from the mentors.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

3 Teachable Things and 5 Unteachable Things That Every Leader Should Know

Leadership development is very key in today’s business environment. The leaders are getting younger, leadership cycle is getting shorter and the cost to retain good leaders is getting higher. If you desire to become great leaders, consider this suggestion.

Here are the 3 teachable things on goal setting and behavioural change that highly successful leaders can use to get better at their game (General Goal – Behaviour Desired – If Then Action)

General Goal Behaviour Desired If-Then Action
1. Build better relationships with the sales team to improve sales numbers. Commit one hour per week for lunch with sales team members to get to know them and understand how to motivate and dealing with them. If I am reviewing my weekly schedule on Monday morning, then I will call a sales team member to schedule for a lunch meeting.
2. Become more personally connected to my subordinates. Participate with subordinate one time per week in informal activities to learn more about their personal lives. If I am invited to join the team lunch or birthday celebration, then I will find a way to make time and say yes.
3. Demonstrate strategic thinking. Offer my support or be assertive to critique of proposed strategy and the reasoning behind my position. If a discussion about strategy occurs during executive team meeting, then I will offer my opinion concerning the proposed strategy along with my rationale.

While there are many things we could teach leaders, there are 5 Unteachable things that we can’t. Here are the 5 things, according to my friend, Mr Ridzuan Buasan (Senior Vice President, Talent Management and Organizational Development at Prasarana Malaysia Berhad)

5UnteachableThingsLeaders

  1. Will – defined as the “ability to control your thoughts and actions in order to achieve what you want to do.”
  2. Drive – defined as the “strong desire or need in people.”
  3. Agility – defined as the “ability to move quickly and easily.”
  4. Sincerity – defined as the “act of showing feelings or beliefs of what you really feel or think.”
  5. Passion – defined as the “very strong feeling of love, hatred, anger or enthusiasm.”

Leaders, start teaching while you can because it is the hallmark of super great leaders. Great leaders? Teach!

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com

Does the Success of Social Entrepreneurs Matter?

Its been bothering me for sometime to pen down this post. Does the success of social entrepreneurs matter? I teach, train and consult companies and start ups on design thinking, management and leadership. Lately the engagement has been around social enterprises (SE). I jaw dropped to learn that SE in Malaysia is growing expansively and there are many social entrepreneurs around. It is a great news and I learn so much about their businesses and most importantly their causes.

socialentrepreneur

I found most social entrepreneurs are driven by their volition to make change. They are change makers. They are the square peg in a round hole. They are the misfits where they can’t settle with seeing broken things, especially societies that are broken apart.

In the words of Otto Scharmer, Professor at MIT and Chairman of MIT Ideas, there are “Disconnects” all around us that are structural. These “Disconnects”, after sometimes somehow gone unsettled. The old way of dealing with change is over, we need to now anticipate change and take it by our hands. Two of the “Disconnects” captured my attention.

“Disconnect between the infinite growth imperative and the finite resources of the planet Earth. The overuse of scarce resources such as soil and water has led to of a third of agricultural land globally.”

“Disconnect between Gross Domestic Product (GDP) and well being. Research has shown that higher GDP and higher material consumption doesnt translate to well being.”

I found these “Disconnect” disturbing. There are other 4 which you can find in his book Theory U.

Theory-U

When I met these social entrepreneurs they usually shared their challenges, pain points, constraints, doubts, fears, problems and many more. Some of them even wonder why were they in social enterprises at the 1st place? My answer to them, “How would I know?” Social entrepreneurs are people that wake up every morning telling themselves that “I am going to make a difference in somebody’s life.” At some junction, they sometimes feel their life is more miserable than the people they serve through their enterprises. I listen attentively to most of their sharing. Why would the social entrepreneurs such hardship is their success doesn’t matter to anyone?

In one social enterprise I know, the lady founder has to tolerate with “fussy” homeless families. These families prefer not to join her re-skilling program because they find it hard to follow – “It is tiring” they said. In another social enterprise, the youth founders said they have trained 50 rural areas change agents but only 2 turned up to be change makers, the rest are just passive agents.

Successful-business-man-standing

My question is, does the success of social entrepreneurs matter?

If it matters, why when they face so much challenges they only receive very little help? if it matters, why most corporate leaders are still oblivious to benefits gained? If it matters, how can we collectively ensure the success? If their social enterprises become successful, the impact to the target group is manifold. It makes the world a better place, perhaps.

However, if it doesn’t matter, what is all the buzz about social entrepreneurship? If it doesn’t matter who are going to address the “Disconnects” above? If it doesn’t matter, who is going to look after our future generation? The recent and current generations have used up a lot of the finite resources on Earth.

Now, if the success of social entrepreneurs matter, to whom does it matter? Taking the insights of using design thinking for social innovation, picking the right stakeholders and hit it hard is very important. Yes, we can have tonnes of ideas but if we missed the right target group, the impact is poor. While design thinking as the methodology can help unleash our creative potential, we need more social entrepreneurs to “do” things.

Buildings

Leaders from big business and corporates Malaysia could reach out more to social entrepreneurs and extend hands to improve the success of social entrepreneurs. Don’t wait in the high office for the proposals to come to your desk. They might not because it is gated at your PA table.

If the success of social entrepreneurs matter, we need to humanize their experience and find ways so we can help them cross the “death bridge” successfully and sustainably. Otherwise, all of us need to find a new Earth to exploit, crash and burn.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com 

Turn On Your Headlights

In a coaching session recently I blurted out something that I thought meaningful for top talents and would-be leaders. “Turn on your headlight”. I was coaching a very smart talent and he is in the top talent pool – grooming up to lead a division of few hundreds people. Let’s just call him Saiful.

headlights

A prolific sales person cum product manager, he tops the sales chart for months this year. Last year he won the top sales awards. The clients love him. Without him, his company will lose easily 50% of sales target. He manages the sales department right now and he is very likely to be the best candidate for the divisional head. There is only one challenge, he prefers to be by himself.

His communication has always been one-to-one. Seldom one-to-group (department level) and rarely group-to-group (department to department). As a result people have heard of him but don’t really know him. The top management felt for the divisional head they need someone that are able to do more of one-to-group and more importantly group-to-group. Groups alignment is very important to ensure sustainable revenues.

His feedback to me was “it is me to be by myself”, “I am not the drama type that love the limelight” and “I prefer to be the background person”. My feedforward to him (suggestion) was, turn on your headlight. It is an analogy.

Autobahn at night
Autobahn at night

When we drive on a runway at night usually there will be street lights. We speed up at 110 – 140 km/h with a good vision of what’s in front of us and we could pretty well read up the signages and signboards. But we usually turn on the head light right? Why did we do that since the street lights are already there? The headlights are not for us, the headlights are turned on because we would like others to see us.

Can you imagine someone driving behind you with his / her car headlights off? What comes to mind? Will you pay any attention to it? Turn on your headlights by reaching out to others.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com 

Five Things I Learned About Top Talent Leadership Development

My recent work with top talent was very interesting. They are mid level managers from several organizations. Some were grouped together and another dispersed in their own role while going through the program with me.

These are top talent. They earned their spot through the their experiences on the job while scaffolding their growth. They are very talented and some are opinionated. All of them went through several screening processes before being short-listed into this program.

Advertising_Executive

The insights I got here worth sharing. Here there are:

1. True Leaders Show Up

Apparently there are a lot of us want to be a leader. We like the attention given to a leader. Some crave for it from distance.

However, not many willing to show up and hustle their way to become one. Most expect someone somewhere “recognize” them as “leader material”, in other words, they are offered to be a “leader”. Please don’t be mistaken, being a leader doesn’t equate of a promotion at work. Yes, for a promotion you need someone to offer you however, there are many leaders become one without a title – said by Robin Sharma. In other words, anyone can be a leader.

This person I call Jim is very interesting. When engaging him in a group he was very quiet and a follower type. He sometimes talk about his idea but yeah all he did was talking. However in our private coaching session, he projected himself as “leader-material-that-yet-to-be-found” by someone in his organization. He reminisced about his past when his colleagues and bosses often talked about his achievements at work. He usually observed others from afar. However when asked why did he not act like one in the group, he said he had his moments so he feels others should have their moments now. That’s the reason why he “stepped aside”. Jim was making excuses. This kind of strategy may backfire if you want to be seen as a leader. True leader shows up.

2. Leader Knows and Expresses Quality

“You know it when you see it”.

This is how sometimes we used to describe quality in a person or a thing. As an adult most of us have seen lots of things. We have experienced several setbacks and winning some battles at the same time. We met so many people with varying characters and qualities. Some we like, some we don’t. In summation, we roughly know in general whether a person is with substance or whether another person is just a BS. The only thing we don’t do sometimes is to show it.

This person call Randy was given a task to evaluate his colleagues assignments. Randy has been in the organization for 15 years and he’d seen a lot. Some of them are his new colleagues and from the rumours these new people are the bosses allies. So Randy gave full marks without considering the quality of the assignments. In the private coaching he was asked why he did that. At first Randy was shocked because he didn’t realized he was observed. He thought people are not watching. Later he confessed he did that because he wanted to please the “future bosses”. Randy substandard mindset actually is a self-sabotage. He is scared to evaluate other people. He wanted to please people that he doesn’t know enough, although he has wide experience in his work and in the company. Leader should express quality.

3. Proper Selfishness Is Okay

The word of Charles Handy, proper selfishness theory means

“That in order to truly be ourselves, we need to serve others.”

A leader must go beyond his own domain and reach out to others. He usually acts even without being asked although it may cost him economically (within his means) and sometimes to the detriment of his personal life (especially his family members would say how come you always do things for others?)

This great man I call Harris is such a guy. In an open team setting, I could see him attempting to show up and offer his wealth of experiences. Although some time he successfully did it, most of the time he ended up hesitant and follow the crowd. There were cases when his team lost in games we play, although they had great chance had Harris jumped in and steer it right.

In the private coaching, he explained that he is worried that people might think of him as trying to show off and to gain merit points. Although he admitted no one has spoken to him directly in that way, he “felt” he knew it from the look “in their eyes”. This is true to most of us where we sometimes overly thinking of what others have to say. Proper selfishness is okay.

4. Some Top Talent Not Leader Material

You see most leaders in many organization these days grow up from top talent pipelines. Typically they excel in their formative education till tertiary. Some come from Ivy League universities or top scorers. Later they are groomed in a well designed top talent development program before being promoted into rotational roles paving path to leadership position. The thing is, we know the big challenge with top talent is the way they carry themselves with people. Often, this top breed find difficulties working with others. In some cases, they loathed having others around them. In the word of Marshall Goldsmith,

by the time we reach teen years our minds are already shaped of how we see the world.

Throughout our youth it get reinforced and become our identity. By the time we reach the workforce we already a “complete” person carrying our own “tainted lenses” around.

This lady call Carly is such a person. She is a product of top local university. She did very well in her academic years. According to her, she was supposed to go to USA for her tertiary education, however due to financial crisis, she only managed to complete year one before called back. She completed the remaining years here in Malaysia. In private coaching with her, you can tell that she is very proud of her achievements as a student and a career woman. After about 30 minutes into our conversation, she looked at me and said actually she hardly had any conversation like this with her colleagues or direct reports. She said she find these people are “not able to match her calibre and intellectual capacity”. She also mentioned that lately her bosses have been favoring other candidate for regional role although she hit her numbers well. There’s a saying, as you grow further in organization or in life, the only significant thing that matter is how you treat other people.

5. Leader Roles Sleeves, Ideas Are Cheap!

I hammered this many times in my program, ideas are cheap! Ideas are cheap! You can’t make money with just ideas, no matter how brilliant it is. Ask any innovators and inventors, they stumbled many times on their initial ideas. Moreover, often the things they commercialized later on is very likely something they never thought before. As a leader, we need to know that we need to milk ideas and then put the ideas to test. Some leaders, because of their position or role, throwing ideas from left right centre. Ideas after ideas and expect others to pick it up. Worst, they have this idea that their direct report should be of the “same wavelength” with them and should know how to fly the idea.

This person call Peter is a direct report to a director. Peter’s boss, is such a person. The boss will come in the office and throw in ideas. Call Peter to his room and try to win Peter with his idea and expect it fly the next day. When Peter failed to do so, his boss get very angry. He said that Peter is unable to think outside the box – even after various training sent.

In a design thinking ideation, we brought his boss to participate and we could see him in action.

However, through our design thinking guidance where we get them to try out some creative tools and active collaboration techniques, we could see that Peter and his boss could work on really well – they become great sparring partner. They work on simple prototype and test it around. It is a real hard work for any idea to win the marketplace. We leaders, lets role our sleeves.

I hope these sharing has been insightful and helpful.

Brickbats please send to donkhairul@gmail.com