The Great Debate UK
from The Great Debate:
This essay is excerpted from Mastermind: How to Think Like Sherlock Holmes, published this week by Viking.
How do we make sure we don’t fall victim to overly confident thinking, thinking that forgets to challenge itself on a regular basis? No method is foolproof. In fact, thinking it foolproof is the very thing that might trip us up.
Because our habits have become invisible to us, because we are no longer learning actively and it doesn’t seem nearly as hard to think well as it once did, we tend to forget how difficult the process once was. We take for granted the very thing we should value. We think we’ve got it all under control, that our habits are still mindful, our brains still active, our minds still constantly learning and challenged—especially since we’ve worked so hard to get there—but we have instead replaced one, albeit far better, set of habits with another. In doing so we run the risk of falling prey to those two great slayers of success: complacency and overconfidence.
These are powerful enemies indeed. Even to someone like Sherlock Holmes. Consider for a moment “The Yellow Face,” one of the rare cases where Holmes’s theories turn out to be completely wrong. In the story, a man named Grant Munro approaches Holmes to uncover the cause of his wife’s bizarre behavior. A cottage on the Munros’ property has recently acquired new tenants, and strange ones at that. Mr. Munro glimpses one of its occupants and remarks that “there was something unnatural and inhuman about the face.” The very sight of it chills him.
-Dave Coplin led Microsoft’s Hybrid Organisation programme. The opinions expressed are his own.-
Here’s a modest proposal for your business. Stop making staff commute to office blocks and instead create attractive new workplaces that encourage people to drop in, bump into each other and hold ad hoc meetings in comfortable and stress-free spaces. Make sure you have the best coffee and food of any of your competitors. Don’t give staff their own desks but offer the flexibility to work from wherever they like and to choose their own computers. Take an axe to hierarchical constraints that constrain progress and watch out for middle managers that are likely to be your biggest impediments to change. Make IT systems accessible from any device, anywhere in the world. Sounds outrageous? Perhaps, but these tactics and strategies are precisely those being adopted by many forward-looking organisations.
-Professor Amir Sharif is professor of operations management and director of MBA programmes at Brunel Business School. The opinions expressed are his own.-
It will not have escaped anyone’s notice recently that volcanoes and aircraft do not mix. Six days of global flights being reduced by 30 percent of normal traffic volume amounted to a staggering $200 million per day loss (according to industry bodies such as IATA and the AEA).
-Melanie Franklin is CEO at Maven Training. The opinions expressed are her own.-
Businesses should have learned by now, from the unexpected eruptions of volcanic ash and the global havoc it has wreaked, that flexibility, creativity and the ability to adapt to an unpredictable environment is crucial to survival.
Having the skills to manage a crisis, such as what to do when 25 percent of the workforce may not turn up to work on Monday morning and how to manage the impact, is vital. Those that learned such project management skills will have been putting contingency plans in place as early as Thursday – when the mass flight cancellations started totting up into the thousands.
- Nathalie Harrison has worked in the broadcast and media industry for over seventeen years. A specialist in business change management in the media industry, her work has included major technological and production transformation projects for clients across the globe. Nathalie is currently Senior Business Consultant in the Professional Services division of Sony Professional in Europe. The opinions expressed are her own. -
The current economic climate has led an increasing number of businesses to seek new ways to improve business efficiency and function through change. When combined with technological advances, the media industry is one sector that has experienced record levels of change and faces some unique challenges when it comes to change management.
- Dr Martin Clarke, Director of Leadership Development Programmes at Cranfield School of Management in the UK. The opinions expressed are his own. -
With an understandable focus on the short term demands of recession, the leaders’ role of generating debate about future priorities is never more crucial. In difficult times the tendency to force decisions, to be seen to act, can often mean an organisation’s strategic assets can get thrown out with the bath water.
* Ian Kessler is a reader in employment relations at Said Business School at the University of Oxford. The views expressed are his own *
The Chinese define a crisis as ‘an opportunity on a dangerous wind’, and the crisis created by the current economic downturn has certainly placed the management of human resources centre stage. Corporate survival has become dependent on controlling and reducing labour costs, while future organisational viability has necessitated restructuring, placing further strains on the workforce. The challenge confronting human resources management is reflected in the predicted scale of job losses: the International Labour Organisations suggests that in 2009 as many 51 million jobs worldwide could be lost.