Economics – Why It Has The Wrong Focus

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Our World In the 2020s Has To Address This Issue.

Let’s take a little look back at the things we have been taught about Economics.

OMG…you just switched off and thought ‘boring…I’m not interested’ but here’s why you should be and why I’ve made it easy to understand.

Firstly, and quite astonishingly economics calls itself a science. It is one of the many social sciences that isn’t really a science. Secondly, economists cannot agree on the definition of ‘Economics’ or indeed why it isn’t a science in its present form. But it should be a science…so please, bear with me.

Economics is a belief. It is a guess at what we might need and how we all pay for it. (Or will we?) Maybe we don’t need to pay for it. Maybe this ‘brave new [AI] world’ will provide abundantly for us and ask nothing in return…maybe, just maybe, we are on the threshold of a utopian lifestyle revolution and, well, just maybe, it was how it was supposed to be…all along…can you imagine what would have happened if…

Please read on…

One of my oldest and dearest friends invited me for breakfast the other day. This person has worked hard all of their life. They have taken risks. They pay their dues and they support many good works and charities. They’ve made a small fortune through their hard work and tenacity. They have played by the rules and contributed massively to society. I admire this person very much and I trust them.

We had a great time. We caught up with tales about our family and friends. We talked about life and love. We pretty much have the same beliefs apart from one or two fundamental issues around work. They maintain that work is essential. It is necessary. It is good for the soul. It is what is expected of us. It is good and wholesome. It is honourable. It is the answer to poverty. People just need to go out and work hard if they want to get on in life. “If I can do it”, they said, “anyone can”. They were resolute that work = happiness.

Now I really don’t want to diminish what they have achieved or their aspiration for others to achieve what they have…starting from scratch and being kind on the way up. I deeply admire them and love them.

So Why Don’t We Agree?

But the concept of work is a modern phenomenon. It came about because of greed. It happened because humans became a means to an end. It spawned the construct of master and slaves. It became most corrupt when people were made to work in order to create wealth for those that didn’t work. It blended the notion that doing work was subordinated in favour of telling others to do work. Somehow, telling people to work became more rewarding than doing the work. Economics is about the management of grossly disproportionate inputs and outputs.

Modern economics came about when we stopped using our gross domestic product to support people and instead, we were made to feel that it was more important to use people to support and serve the money that was being made from our gross domestic product.

It was power that saw the opportunity to be powerful and this power came from a subtle invention that money became a just reward for our toil and could be used to buy the things that others toiled to produce. Profit was made and it filtered up to the powerful.

Where Did It All Go Wrong?

It starts with the word of God. Wait…bear with me (again). There’s a reason it starts with God. Virtually all of our moral constructs, our beliefs, our morals and values all started with God…or at least they started with what the church says about what God says. This doesn’t require that you believe in God, just that you understand where your beliefs came from. They got passed down. They asked us to do the right thing…or else.

So, God says (in the bible) that the first man (Adam) broke the covenant with God and as a result, all men were sent to toil the land with their hands (there’s no mention of getting others to toil with their hands on your behalf). The problem we are facing, more and more, is we are being updated and uprooted by robots and AI. They can work 24/7, they make the right decisions each time, every time and they have far better emotional intelligence.

I know, I hear ya…how can a machine have better emotional intelligence than a human? Well. it’s because they make the right decision each time and every time…humans don’t.

So How Do We Fix It?

Economics is an art form bounded by the science of finality. There is no infinity in economics, there is simply managing the effective use of resources and aligning our expectations downwards towards sustainability. So the glaringly obvious answer to our existential conundrum is that we should work less, live off life’s abundant provision and consume way less than we are doing right now. Interestingly, this is also mentioned in the Bible.

According to Benjamin Davis
“Economics is the science that studies how scarce resources are allocated to meet competing and unlimited wants and how human beings satisfy their material wants and needs.”

According to Bradely R. Schiller 
Economics is the study of how best to allocate scarce resources among competing uses.

According to Jackson and Mclver
“Economics is concerned with the efficient use of limited productive resources for the purpose of attaining the maximum satisfaction of our material wants.”

Two of them claim that it is the study of allocating resources and one claims that it is their practical application. One definition I have seen that sees economics as a PLAN > DO > CHECK > ACT cycle of actions and analysis, is the one put forward by Investopedia. As the name suggests, their slant is towards trade and the investment and allocation of resources. This, I believe, is how we focus our attention on economic ‘output’.

So What Is Economics Again?

“Economics is a social science concerned with the production, distribution, and consumption of goods and services. It studies how individuals, businesses, governments, and nations make choices about how to allocate resources. Economics focuses on the actions of human beings, based on assumptions that humans act with rational behaviour, seeking the most optimal level of benefit or utility. The building blocks of economics are the studies of labour and trade. Since there are many possible applications of human labour and many different ways to acquire resources, it is the task of economics to determine which methods yield the best results.” ***

Nah…not in my book (or God’s)…Economics is a system whereby money is used to serve humans rather than expecting humans to be used to serve money…

*** Investopedia – Guide To Economics – Terms

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Vision, Mission, Aim, Purpose, Goal…Do They Matter?

vsion, futura

There are many types of organisational statements and they all mean different things to different people. But which ones are worth having? Is there a hierarchy in their importance? And most importantly, do they matter?

Companies all over the world produce these statements without giving a great deal of thought to their meaning. They produce them because they think they should have them. It’s like authors who use quotes by famous people to get their point across. They like the words, they like the sentiment and by adding it to their work they think it validates what they are trying to say.

But it’s lazy. It’s really saying ‘I’ll put these words in, people will think that I’m smart and the words of someone else will support my words’. A bit like company owners that blindly create statements in the hope that it will present the reader with some kind of meaning or purpose that the author wants to attribute to their business.

But these statements mean EVERYTHING to the reader and you better live up to their meaning…or else.

Forest Mars, Sr. (yes, of the Mars Corporation) introduced it in 1947 in a memo, saying “the objective of our businesses is to create mutual benefit for all stakeholders.” And then they went ahead and made unhealthy products that their customer’s loved. The ‘benefit’ to which Mars referred is the enjoyment and satisfaction of his customers, he never considered their health.

This was the old principals of Taylorism where employees were grateful to have a job and employers put shareholders first. In many western businesses, it is a legal requirement for boards to put businesses first.

But this generation of business owners, entrepreneurs and thought leaders want more. They want PURPOSE to mean something. They will mend and make do instead of consuming more. They will consider sustainability ahead of profit. They want social integrity ahead of greed. They want the world to be a better place and top of their agenda is healthy people. They take these things seriously and so must you.

“We must accept the discomfort of the truth, as well as the discomfort of bringing to life a new way of doing business,” says Mars Corporation “Our kids are watching us. And we won’t be able to tell them we didn’t know.”

So choose your words carefully and mean every one of them. Your customers are your kid’s generation and you better not mess with them, they know what they want and they are uncompromising in what they do.

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PURPOSE – Mission Critical or Hipster Wishy-Washy?

RanDenHeYi model – Purpose Driven Management

What’s your Purpose for Business

At the heart of everyone is the desire to do well. There’s something at our core that wants to make a difference. To see a better world and to be part of making it happen. We feel a pull towards creating something better than what our parents had. The need to make improvements so that those that come after us are better off. This is the meaning of purpose.

Few leaders and even fewer business leaders see purpose as a completely new operating system. A new way of doing business. A new approach to management. But for the ones that do, the results have been astonishing.

Zhang Huimin is one of those radicals. He’s the CEO of the worlds biggest appliance manufacturers based in Qingdao, China. Zhang Huimin took the step of removing ALL middle management from his corporation. Instead, he offered them a chance to become entrepreneurs within the organisation but autonomous and free to set their own rules. These new business leaders set their own strategy, prices, salaries, bonuses and managed their own recruitment.

Companies like Roche India and GE (as well as US Special Forces) have adopted his RenDanHeYi management system with amazing results. Many of the worlds great leadership thought leaders hail the transformation as remarkable.

And Zhang Ruimin’s secret to it all is purpose. He recognised that everyone is deeply motivated to work where they can make a difference in the lives of others. It was quantum physics that caught Huimin’s attention. For centuries, astrologers, scientists and physicians all agreed that atoms were made of matter. They had mass, substance and it could be measured. A beam of light was just light particles bouncing off or penetrating a surface.

But when the beam of light was measured as energy, something happened. Light waves were formed and these were a frequency or energy and so light is made up of both particles and energy. A symbiosis of differing but measurable elements that worked together but in different ways. The mass or particles of business are its substance, what it does, what it produces, its output. The energy of a business its purpose. Purpose is the glue that makes businesses perform to reach their aims and objectives, its vision.

Teams may well understand the product, how it’s made and what it does, but they are driven to succeed because they all believe that what they are doing makes a difference to their customers’ lives. It improves them.

Purpose is the main ingredient in any business. Without purpose, teams flounder and the most talented leave.

My thoughts here have been developed after reading Zero Distance by Danah Zohar.

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Solace of Quantum

About Business Sucess

Success – What really makes a business work? How do we get the likes of Apple, Amazon, Facebook, Twitter, Google and their like all springing up and driving stellar performance on the Stock Exchange? Well, the answer isn’t really that hard to understand.

In 2012, the world’s largest supplier of domestic appliances, Haier, based in Qingdao, China was revolutionised by its CEO Zhang Ruimin who developed a system of management that he called

For the past 130 years, we have all followed a model devised by the father of business management Frederick Taylor. It became known as Taylorism and companies like Ford Motor Company and GE were key practitioners. Companies built whole departments around the nature and construct of departments such as design, marketing, sales, accounts etc etc.

People worked in silos created by Taylor’s departmental model and it worked very well if you wanted a Ford pop in black (it was all you could have at the time). Modernist thinkers played with the model and introduced us to concepts like mass customisation, customer derived brand variants and other wonderful subsets of management.

Zhang Ruimin realised that an organisation the size of Haier had stagnated and was unable to grow through anything other than marginal gains. An efficiency here, a trimming of the fat there. Staffing levels grew but the output was very sluggish. He had no influence over the performance of the business. It was grinding to a halt (well, almost).

So he thought long and hard about what to do and came up with a management system that breaks down Taylorism and replaces it with a system known as Quantum Management. QM is a system that creates entrepreneurial teams at every level in the organisation. The only way he could really get this to work was when he also made the decision to surrender all of his power at the top, cleared away all middle management and turned many of them into CEOs of their own self-organising microenterprise.

All decision making powers, hiring of staff, remuneration packages were devolved to the microenterprise. Zhang Ruimin provides just the vision, inspiration and resources to the team and establishes the organisation-wide culture of each group consistently across the whole organisation. The ‘energy’ for this revolution came from the employees. ALL employees are driven by purpose…they want to make the world a better place. This is the energy that powers a quantum management system.

Companies such as Roche India, GE Appliances and the USA Green Berets have adopted Quantum Management in all that they do. So why Quantum? Well, Isaak Newton was convinced that all atoms were made of matter, substance, mass. Quantum scientists discovered that there was a second element called energy. Businesses are made up of matter (the substance of what it is and what it produces) and energy (the will of employees to drive a business to success, the purpose) – Quantum.

If you’d like to read more about it you can do so here… QUANTUM MANAGEMENT

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Here’s What You Don’t Know…And It’s Serious

What You need to Know

Firstly…I do have an axe to grind but it’s one that is entirely focused on your success.

I’ve had two spells living and working in this amazing city. Its people are wonderful and kind. It sits in a great big valley surrounded by nature. It really is like a big village nestled in the foothills of God’s own country.

I’ve been lucky enough to sit at a few top tables around the world where big things are planned and great (and not so great) ideas hatched. Sadly, many of these truly great intentions are reviewed unkindly through hindsight…despite one or two of us being at pains to point out why they would be.

I was once told of a Sheffield man standing in the rain at a bus stop as a Rolls Royce glided silently past…he could never imagine ever being in a position to own one of these great cars but he worked tirelessly to ensure that its owner joined him in the bus queue.

And here is what you don’t know about you and your business. Sheffield is a tough place to conduct business. Its people are uncompromising and have a bit of a chip on their shoulders. They are dour and tight fisted. They make do and mend. They voice their strong opinions and fight over seemingly insignificant things. They come from a city that has developed a ‘might-do’ attitude and it’s had several non-descript leaders all of whom became embittered by fruitless years of dogged but poor performance. We set our sights as low as we possibly can and often fail to get there.

Over the past few months, I’ve committed to buying everything that I can locally and from independent businesses. I want to continue doing this if I can. If I can…

But to be honest, I’ve been forced to endure some of the worst possible customer experiences of my life by taking this stance. From auto garages to upholsterers, food shops to clothing retailers, hair salons to hardware stores…I would not give the combined customer experience more than 4/10 with one or two brighter exceptions.

I’ve lived in many places around the world and in these places I would score them a pretty healthy 8/10 for their attitude towards success. Every business has its SALES PREVENTION OFFICERS…and these range from initial customer engagement, with what appear to be real live people, to online sales platforms that are clumsy, slow and inefficient.

So Sheffield, if you really do want to play with the grown ups…have really good people review your business from top to bottom. Use people that know what they are looking for and know what is needed to succeed. People that have run exceptional businesses themselves.

I’ll have a New Year £100 bet with any of you (and I never gamble) that I can find at least THREE of these SPOs in your business…but to find everything that really stifles growth and success, that may take us a little while longer…but we will get there…

We truly wish you a prosperous 2021 and one where you set aside the things that prevent it.

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The Stranger In The Workplace

THE STRANGER

the stanger in the workplace

“When we return to normal…”

With gentle pressure on the old handle, I push and the door swings open. It’s silent in here and a little eerie. The tables and chairs look like any other office. The window blinds are a little bit crooked. That kind of thing used to really bother me but it doesn’t today. The desks are tidy, the in-trays are empty, the printer switched off and then I see it, a ghostly shadow on the wall. A stranger standing just out of sight. As the door closes it surprises them a little. Wearing a distant look of quiet menace across his face, enhanced by the piercing threat in his eyes and look of dangerous certainty etched across his forehead, he steps into the half light.

I look at him before his eyes adjust to the clawing darkness and know that I don’t fear him. I know that whatever happens next, I am in control, I have the upper hand and there is nothing he can do about it. I was at the top of my game and it felt good.

I used to live in fear. I feared losing everything. I feared for my existence and I feared what could happen to me. I feared the subtle threats. I feared being unfairly called out. But my world has changed and that fear has gone. No matter what, he can’t hurt me any longer.

Before this virus took hold and before everything changed, I used to work for someone I feared in a job that I didn’t want to lose. I did exactly as I was told, I hated it, I hated him, I hated me. He had control over everything. He had control over what I thought, what I did and how it used to make me feel. He knew it and he used it.

Over the past weeks and months, I have seen that it doesn’t need to be that way. I’d lived through it all. I’d survived. My family has spent time together. We’ve had time to reassess our values. We know what is important and what isn’t. We knew that time was precious and stuff wasn’t. We knew that relationships mattered and working all hours didn’t. We knew that it was the small things that we cared about. We’ve enjoyed being family and spending time together. We feel free.

“ok, the party’s over, we’ve got a lot of catching up to do. We need to hit the ground running from day one and we need to work over and above to make up the ground we have lost. Don’t just stand there looking lost, get the lights while I fire everything back up. There are fewer of us now and it’s going to be tougher. We will have to do what we need to in order to……..”

“In a minute,” I heard myself interrupting him, “I just want to spend a little time settling myself back in and get my head around being here again. I want to see how it feels”

He looked at me differently. He looked a little lost. He knew things had changed. The power had shifted. He no longer held a gun to my head. I was here because I chose to be. If I’m not here tomorrow it’s because I choose to be somewhere else.

If you are the boss and your people are returning back to work, know that you are the stranger in the workplace if you think things will get back to how it was. Everything has changed. Everyone has changed. Be ready to create a workspace where people want to be and choose to be. Look at your values. Look at whether your aims are aims that people can buy into. Look at becoming more flexible and treat your employees like customers…see what will attract them to you and keep them with you. Don’t be that stranger anymore.

And remember, it’s always the best and most talented people that leave first…because they can.

Photo by Mitchell Griest on Unsplash

Knowing Everything But Understanding Nothing

Managing your Business the right way

Running a business is simply managing a series of events, linked to the resources it has available to it, in order to achieve a series of desired outcomes. Inputs manipulated and ordered to change their current state into a new state of outputs (or outcomes).

The reason most businesses exist is to add value to the inputs, in order to create desirable outcomes where the sum of the value of this outcome is greater than the initial cost of the input added to the cost of changing their state into an outcome. we term this difference as profit. People who invest in their business hope for a better return on that investment than they would by leaving it deposited in a less risky vehicle such as a bank or building society.

Businesses go through several stages and in many cases, several iterations. The first great idea should lead onto the second, third, fourth etc. Start up finance is often low but as the business grows, mezzanine finance (bank loans/family loans/friends loans etc) and even onto angel investment through selling a share of the potential in exchange for cash to grow.

People that start business are very often not the best people to run their businesses. They are the ideas people, the passion people and the main shareholders (usually). They have the vision for the business. They can see all of the parts, they can see the marketability, they usually understand their target audience. But the art is to get everything in place to manage the resources effectively and grow through the steps. Steps are when a business has to fund the increase in resources whilst driving the sales income to cover the cost of this increase (growth).

Funding growth is the hardest thing for any business to manage well. Businesses rarely ever run out of ides, they hardly ever run out of markets, but 90% of the time they fail because they run out of cash. Real cash, not the transactional notional cash we see in the P&L account, cash that they own.

Business leaders often see everything, they see the components of success, they know that if they can organise them well they will reap the rewards…very few truly know the order in which things must happen or where the steps are that will drain them of cash.

Managing a business is managing cash…it’s the only thing that I guarantee you will run out of from time to time…don’t let it close you down.

Becoming Really Attractive

How the law of attraction works in business

attraction (noun) a quality or force of someone or something that tends to pull others in or create interest in something

When we think of ourselves and how others see us we have an internal image, an internal sense of who we are. We imagine ourselves in a certain way and we believe that this is how others will see us too…well, they don’t. We lie to ourselves, we just do.

The same applies to how we sell. We have created a story about our stuff and we just don’t get why everyone else doesn’t see it the way we do. We just don’t get why they aren’t rushing in to buy our stuff.

The reason is quite simple…you aren’t attractive enough.

The first mistake is to think that people want your stuff…they don’t. The want to feel how they feel about your stuff. They want to buy things that add or remove feelings. Humans are a bundle of complex feelings split between attraction to good things and repelling bad things.

My sales teams used to take me into meetings as they couldn’t get the ‘big one’ over the line, it just wasn’t landing. I’d show them how to listen to the customer and hear their feelings. I’d show them where the ‘hook’ lies and how to add or remove the feelings around that hook. We’d close the deal, they’d get their big sale and they’d learn how to really sell.

I’ve worked with many companies around the world, big and small, that insist on ‘selling the benefits’ without really knowing that faster, longer, stronger, bigger, better didn’t really cut it when the buyer is scared of making a mistake or when they want to experience the joy of their next big purchase…often the sale contained both of these feelings.

Take a good look around you. Nature will show you the way…what tools does nature use to stand out? To be attractive? To draw in the life-giving attraction to keep on keeping on?

Whenever I go, to companies with truly great products and services, they tend to be doing the wrong things really well. They believe that they are getting it right and in some cases, they kind of are…but to really fly they need to understand what makes them even more attractive than they are right now.

Sell feelings…people love to buy good feelings, we all do…

Where To Fix The Bullet Holes – Every Business Has Them

Returning aircrews inspected their damaged machines to see where bullet holes were clustered and then asked the ground crew to strengthen the very places where they were hit.

Managers do this time and time again. They repeat this kind of thinking over and over in their organisations. They see the bullet holes and fix where they hit. They have the data and the evidence is clear for all to see. Their debriefing is full of impact drawings and hole cluster charts. They know what to do. They instruct their teams to do the fix. Yet still, there are more losses, fewer returning to base.

Hiring an experienced consultant brings with it a different way of thinking. A different perspective on the same issues. A perspective that leads to change and growth. A perspective that when seen from the edge of the battlefield, can bring solutions based on their wide array of experiences drawn from other conflicts.

A consultant would show that the place you really should strengthen is where the bullet hole didn’t hit…why?

Because that aircraft that didn’t return were more likely to have been hit there.

Those that were hit in less destructive areas all returned safely…if a little bit worse for wear.

Clearly, this is a metaphor for customers that leave the business or suffer in silence. Feedback is only one type of feedback. What about those that leave and don’t give you feedback? Surely, these are the people that you should be asking why. Why did they not come back and more importantly, why didn’t they tell you why they were leaving before they did so?

“There is nothing more deceptive than an obvious fact.” ― Arthur Conan Doyle

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Strategy – Often Confused With Tactics

I’ve worked with hundreds of our oft named captains of industry, savvy business owners and budding entrepreneurs and without fail they all have great minds full of brilliant ideas.

True leaders have surprisingly little in their heads. Don’t get me wrong, they have an enormous capacity for thinking but they develop a hierarchy of thought and clarity of vision. And it is this that translates into action. The rest of it is just noise and this, they relegate to a secondary brain space. It’s just background noise to them.

All leaders want to be successful. Many are scared of the unknown and some are terrified of failure. Yet on their shoulders, many will depend and from their actions, businesses will succeed or fail. Strategy is the life-blood of any business. I hear people say that money is the lifeblood but that simply isn’t true. Money oils the wheels and is needed in various levels of supply to ensure that all of the other elements do their work.

The old saying “fail to plan and you are planning to fail” haunts many of our leaders as it did Benjamin Franklin. Simply described, strategy is no more than planning and attributing the available resources in order to achieve a goal or aim. So if it can sound this simple, why is it so hard to do for many good leaders?

Well, it’s down to two things in my experience. Firstly, many confuse tactics with strategy. Tactics are the tasks we do to work towards the strategic goal. Secondly, leaders try to serve too many masters. The first part is relatively easy to fix. Simply concentrate on the why instead of the what and the how. The second part is much more difficult. Masters are the people who have a stake in what you are doing. Time is indeed a punishing master, finances a constricting clerk. Competitors don’t stay still for long enough to shoot them and shareholders…well, they just don’t understand what you’re going through. As for family, they want what you want but they just want you home in time for dinner. And you! Well, many of our leaders work for psychopaths…themselves.

So if we think of an American football team, the goal is to win the Superbowl. They can only do this if they are consistently better than their competition, that they can consistently sustain that betterness and that they can score one more point than the third-placed team. So their first aim is to score enough points to get them to the Superbowl final.

Each area of the club will manage a prescribed range of outcomes and outputs. Physios will get them and keep them fit. Nutritionists will make sure they eat optimally to achieve their targets and ensure they have enough fuel to get them over the line. Finance will ensure that the income and expenditure flows to and through the club as and when needed. Groundkeepers will prepare an optimal playing surface including the exact dimensions of the pitch. Team managers will devise and impart to the players a whole range of tactical plays and team psychologists will ensure that they are mentally tough and resilient under any conditions. The players just get to dress up and earn most of the money…they are, after all, the dream team (and the product – the human capital). Once in the final of the Superbowl…all of these things form a microcosm of activities and events finely tuned to achieve one aim over a few hours in the game…finite details and knowing every strength and weakness both teams possess and finding those moments where the extraordinary happens.

So if we follow this model. We work out where we want to be in say five years from now. We can visualise what it looks like and how it feels. We examine where we are now and what we need to do to make the journey from here to five years away. We consider resources, the market, our products or offer and the health of the business. We know what we need to make the journey from starting point A to finishing point B. We have a plan, a strategy.

But we often disregard the most important part of the plan, the people. Imagine the Superbowl winners. They will have exactly the right person in the right role completing the right tasks at the right time. They are hired for their talent and the club then sets about developing their skills to the level at which they are expected to consistently perform. Everyone is matched exactly to the strategic needs. Most businesses fall short because they don’t recruit properly or develop their team to the optimum. Businesses simply hope that everyone will step up to the plate and do what is needed. Much of it is by chance.

The owner of the business will articulate their vision and ensure that each area of the business has the resources deployed at exactly the right time and monitor progress to ensure everything stays on track. Their sole responsibility is resources. To make sure everyone has exactly what they need to be highly successful. And as Franklin often said, “a penny saved is twopence (tuppence) dear”. By cutting corners in an attempt to serve a profit master, leaders can simply lose sight of the goal. The first thing that is cut is training…imagine setting out to win the Superbowl if you cut the training.

When I ran businesses I put myself through a system of development to learn about selecting Board Members based on their motivated abilities. When I use this tool to develop leadership teams, I can see very quickly where there are gaps and what impacts this will have on achieving the aims of the business.

Thanks for reading.

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