Powered by FeedBurner

Monthly posts

April 2014
« Mar    

Book news

Mick contributed to "New Eyes: The Human Side of Change Leadership".

Mick addresses the leadership implications of Big Data, and suggests its value can best be realised by enterprises fully embracing customer centricity and creating strong networks of innovation.

He then shows how the 4Es leadership framework can enable organisational change to capitalise on this revolution.

Get the bookNew Eyes

mick on ..


Blog archives

My Grandmother, Customer Service and Big Data

Burton on Trent Town Hall

Great customer service – in the 1920’s

My grandmother (Nellie) was born in Shoreditch in London, in 1887. After she married, in 1917, she eventually tried Sainsbury’s. They used to deliver her groceries to her door. Nellie was not a rich woman. Sainsbury’s leadership was built on convenience, value, cleanliness and great service – and home delivery was central to this for all of their customers.

Nellie moved to Burton on Trent after my mother was born, at the end of the 1920s. She found a new grocery store, Wilkinson’s, near the Town Hall.

It was not a chain, and the staff knew her by name. She often bought the same produce. A side of streaky bacon, if I remember her stories, was a staple. And whilst there wasn’t a formal loyalty program, Nellie was occasionally given new things to try, or handed special treats for the kids.

She got personalised service from the best and most convenient place she could find.

My mother later shopped at Wilkinson’s, too. In the 1950’s and 60’s, she visited on a Tuesday, placed her order, and paid. I remember walking in with her, and was fascinated by the huge bacon slicer. The order was delivered to our home by van on Thursday.

Consider how we shop today

Buying a camera, perhaps? Well, we probably first read the reviews on the web, ask the advice of friends both real and on social media, and comparison price shop. We might also pop into a bricks and mortar store to hold the camera and ask more details. Yet the chances are we don’t buy the camera then. We might order it from Amazon before we walk out!

Customers since retail was invented have looked for perfect, personalised service – using all the channels, information and search tools open to them. Today, they are also using all the data and mobile technology that they can get their hands on – more than ever before.

And today’s customers don’t see channels – they see information and results. That’s why all retailers must understand how data and insights generated are critical to the customer experience.

Today’s Customers – and their Digital Day

First thing in the morning, we download newspapers and check email. Facebook, Twitter, eBay, voicemail, phone calls: which of these are in your morning digital routine?

At each step, data is created. What we do, where we “visit” – both in the bricks-and-mortar world and the digital one – and what we see or buy is noted somewhere. Most of the data is collected by the websites visited or the services used.

The government watches us too – they are recording what taxes are paid, what education we have, what cars are driven, what laws are adhered to, how passports are used, who is in the family circle, and what our medical history is.

At work, there’s more email and the web. Depending on the company, customer data is collected – sales, credit histories, names, addresses, likes and dislikes. Internally, the company collects data on suppliers, its manufacturing plants, process performance, and distribution systems. There is data on employee performance, salaries, and more.

Booking flights, hotel stays, or going to a restaurant creates more layers of data. In the evening, during leisure time, millions of people stream music over the web, or upload pictures so that friends and family can see what they are doing and where they have been. Not just pictures are recorded – but also which friends view the pictures, their comments, where the photo was taken, and the camera settings used.

“Big Data” is a buzz-concept

Everyone is talking Big Data. But too often it gets discussed in technological terms. What is its real meaning for business strategy?

Remember the old adage “data – knowledge – insight – wisdom”? Well, “Big Data” is only as useful as the insight and ideas that are derived from it. We accumulate lots of data but we can’t always make sense of it. We need to extract wisdom.

Read the rest of Mick’s post

Business Ethics, Business Schools, and the World of Work - University of Leeds


I am pleased to announce that I will be speaking at a conference on Business Ethics, Business Schools, and the World of Work, at the University of Leeds.

The Conference is Wednesday 2nd – Thursday 3rd April 2014, at the Leeds University Business School. It is organised by the Business School and the Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied Centre. Topics include: 

  • What are the key ethical challenges facing business today?
  • To what extent can business schools, ethicists, the professions, and the business world work better together to address the issues of ethical conduct in business practice?
  • What are the key issues in business ethics that business schools and the professions should be addressing?
  • Are there new or better ways to teach business ethics?

Together with Dr. Kevin McNeish, I will be addressing the issue of “Ethics and Big Data“.

Keynote presentations include:

  • Professor Amanda Mellor, Group Secretary for Marks & Spencer plc. and Visiting Professor, Inter-Disciplinary Ethics Applied Centre
  • “Business Ethics and the Culture of Banking”, Margaret Doyle, Head of Financial Services Insight at Deloitte, LLP and author of “The Culture of Banking”
  • “Ethics as a playground for blind man’s bluff”, Professor Paul Dembinski, Director, Observatoire de la Finance, Geneva, Switzerland
  • “What’s wrong with Bankers Bonuses?”, Dr Tom Simpson, Associate Professor of Philosophy and Public Policy, Blavatnik School of Government, University of Oxford

There are also four parallel workshops over the two days, with 3 tracks in each.


Leadership Challenges Today

A presentation given as Visiting Professor for the MSc in Management program at Leeds University Business School.

Mick addresses some of the fundamentals of leadership, and the implications of 6 of today’s most pressing Leadership challenges: high performance systems, democratisation, innovation networks, global-local paradox, employee engagement and the data revolution

Exceptional Leaders Aren’t Well-Rounded - Jim Clemmer

From Jim Clemmer’s excellent blog

“I’ve been guilty of perpetuating the misconception of the well-rounded leader. Like many training and development professionals I used to believe that leadership skills development comes from assessing leaders against a leadership framework or competency model and developing an improvement plan to round out the flat or weak spots. But this long-held view is no longer supported by more recent research. And it fails the common sense test when we think back on our experience….

Think of the best leader you’ve ever known. What strengths made him or her really stand out? Typical responses often include outstanding communicator, superior strategic thinker, exceptional coach and developer of people, very high trust and integrity, extremely inspiring and motivating, stretching others to reach higher, brilliant technical/analytical skills, or excellent team builder. Often 3 or 4 of these skills done extraordinarily well lifted this leader to lofty heights.

Did he or she also have any weaknesses? Of course; they weren’t perfect — they were human. Responses sometimes include inattention to details, poor time management, moody, narrow focus, inflexibility, intolerance, weak technical/analytical skills, not a people person, or low charisma.

When we really analyze the outstanding leaders we’ve known very few are well-rounded. All have flat spots or weaker areas. But their strengths were so towering they overshadowed these weaknesses. We were willing to “cut them some slack” or accept — and even compensate for — their weaker areas in order to be elevated by their exceptional strengths. If, however, a weakness was big enough, it has the reverse effect and this person’s “fatal flaw” sinks them to the average or even worst leader categories.

Zenger Folkman’s research on this halo effect is very clear. You can read more in our white paper “Developing Strengths or Weaknesses: Overcoming the Lure of the Wrong Choice .”

ZF Chief Operating Officer, Bob Sherwin just published an excellent article on “The Power of Counterintuitive Thinking in Leadership Development” in Chief Learning Officer magazine.

It’s time to shift thinking about leadership development from well-rounded to well-grounded — in strengths.

Read Jim’s original post