To change an organisation most pundits are agreed you need a visible leader who has a consistent conviction that fundamental change will have a major impact on the organisation’s survival.  That person needs to believe not only that change is necessary but they need to have a vision for what the organisation will be after the change – theirs must be the dream.    But people will not buy into the dream if they cannot see that the pain and effort of the change will result in a future that is tangibly better for them than the alternative!

Successful change leaders can form a vision that is  both compelling and easily communicated.  And they communicate it with conviction!

Oh and by the way they will then need the ability to sponsor and see through the management of the change – they need the people skills and the organisational know-how to implement their vision!

So I am left wondering about change in the UK public sector and why it so often fails!  Don’t get me wrong there is much to admire in the UK Civil Service,  and I should know I was a Civil Servant for many years.  They are, for the most part, far more committed and hard working than most journalists would believe.  Most still do believe in public service and they really do care for the public they serve.  But on the whole (despite, or perhaps as demonstrated by, the ruthless, smoothness of the prime ministerial change), theirs is still a world where tradition holds sway!

But if you think about where the vision for change in our institutions comes from it is not from Civil Servants but from Ministers.  Ministers have the vision of the change, they wish to bring about which Civil Servants – faithful to the last  – then go on to implement.  But in leading their departments senior Civil Servants may well be leading a change for which they have little, or no, real sympathy.  Beyond Ministerial whim, they may very likely not believe that personal or organisational survival depends upon the change they are required to make.

In these circumstances where does the fire in the belly, that is required to lead large scale and fundamental change, come from.  Ministers have the fire but they are not responsible for leading the Civil Servants! These days Ministers are unlikely to have the people and the organisational know-how to implement their vision – many have been professional politicians for most of their working life!.

The issues are  challenging given a world in which on-going large scale organisational change is likely to be a way of life.  Am I arguing for  political leadership at the top of the Civil Service,  as in the US?  I don’t think so – we would lose a lot in the process – not least we would have to cope with the huge scale and expensive disruption that changes of government would require.

But I do think the challenges need to recognised and we need to discuss the consequences  and risks!  It is not enough to be able to write policy papers arguing how your Minister could go about implementing their manifesto pledges  – you need a slick ability to move your organisation towards the Minister’s vision and changing vision.  It always was a challenge but it just got, and will continue to get, bigger!

I would very much welcome your views. You can contact me using the form below.


We have lived here in Hither Green for the last fifteen years.  We are planning to stay here – so now we are planning a major house redecoration project.  Well, I say redecoration!  It is more complete refurbishment.  I’m just beginning to realise it is likely to be nearly, if not as, traumatic as moving house and the prospect is quite daunting.  I have less than two weeks to get ready – awe inspiring.  So I have started to clear out cupboards.

I’m a squirrel by nature when it comes to paper (and clothes).  Although I recycle junk mail, newspapers and magazines, most other forms of paper stay in the house!  But, sadly, not in very good order!  I have boxes and boxes of documents, going back to the time we first moved in.

So now each day I get to work.  And it really is a voyage of re-discovery!  Along side the old fuel bills – did we really pay so little in 1999 – are touching letters from relatives and friends.  These will continue to be treasured.  But there are reminders of much less happy things – very much the downs, as opposed to the ups, of domestic and professional life.  Most of them long forgotten and long since overcome –  except for this paperwork.  I don’t need them, or the memories, thank you!  They will be given a decent funeral in the re-cycling bin.  Others are just part of an older life – not part of now and the life I now lead.  So I am letting them go too!

For me, this is a very therapeutic process.  Good thing really, because there is going to have to be rather a lot of it, before the workmen arrive.    But I would really recommend it!  If you want to feel completely comfortable in your present skin, then let go the past and its symbols.  Clear out the old papers and the dust of mediocre memories!  Keep the things that bring you joy – let the rest go!

Make clearing out your cupboards a sacramental processan outward and visible sign with an inward and very significant meaning. Review the past and let it go!

How to Champion an Idea: Tips from the Invention of the Post-It Note | On Leadership | BNET

This month marks the 30th anniversary of the Post-It note. The story of this great invention is a classic. A Brit, Geoff Nicholson, came to the U.S., where he joined 3M in 1963. Working in the commercial tape division, he ran into Spencer Silver, who had invented a pressure-sensitive adhesive that no one else took any interest in. Another 3M employee, Art Fry, had the idea of using it on a notepad made from yellow scrap paper, and he started using his notes to mark the pages of a hymn book.

Nicholson believed  the product was great, but his managers weren’t interested.

More at  How to Champion an Idea: Tips from the Invention of the Post-It Note | On Leadership | BNET.

5 Essential Zen Habits for Balanced Living | Zen Habits

Today the world constantly tries to throw you out of balance and sometimes no matter what you do you still feel like your life is going in the wrong direction (I know I feel this way sometimes.) Balanced living might seem like one of those theoretical terms that nobody can put into practice but in fact there is nothing simpler than living a balanced life.  Read more at

My Boss Is Trying to Kill Me | Personal Success | BNET

My boss is killing me. She constantly takes on more and more for our department.  We recently got impressive new titles, which elevated us to an exempt salary level (no more overtime), no raises, and a few more hours work per day for each of us. Stress is so high, I dream about work at night (when I can sleep at all), my hair is falling out, and I’m having digestive issues and sometimes, when things are really bad, chest pains. I wake up every weekday morning with a headache.  Read more at

Do you agree with the advice given?


A survey by Motivational Leadership Ltd found  a lack of competence and lack of willingness amoung managers to recognise and meet the motivational needs of their staff.

Time pressures, over-work, and not knowing how to keep up momentum were also put forward as reasons for not taking the time to motivate staff, as well as the inevitable mention of the recession and lack of money.

The survey found over 50% of respondents were not regularly measuring motivation because they did not know how to!   Those that did measure were mainly using staff surveys and some were using the annual appraisal interview.

A report published by the Chartered Management Institute in 2006 found the five top motivaters for managers were

  1. A sense of purpose in the work
  2. A sense of achievement from reaching goals
  3. Helping others to develop and grow
  4. A sense of team responsibility
  5. The opportunity to challenge existing models and systems

You can find out more about the CMI study at and the report from Motivational Leadership is at

Bank Holidays and New Starts

It is the May Bank Holiday in the UK!  One day when everyone is supposed to be in holiday mood!  Well life isn't quite like that is it?  Particularly not when we all face a very uncertain future!  But days like this are great for taking stock – what do you want from life in the immediate and longer term future!  What changes can you make at work and home to make life better for you and yours. 

It sounds trite to say the first day of the rest of your life is tomorrow but it is true.  You can start afresh and make things different.  For example. your partner or your boss might be just as anxious as you about your relationship!  You can resolve to talk about it and start the healing process - communication really is key to so much in life.  If you resolve do no more than talk more – you are making a truly positive step.  Make an effort to listen as well as speaking yourself and try to see the other person's point of view! 

Make a real step change in your life – learn to communicate better!