The world was never flat (and why this is good for you).

Ideas are always waiting to be displaced.

It was once believed that the world was flat and if ships sailed too far, they would fall off some imaginary cliff. All contrary opinions were treated to the latest methods of torture. This suggests that man has always seen things not as they are, but as he preferred to.

Again, it was once believed that twins were to be killed because it was the “right” thing to do. Why was it the right thing to do? Because they were supposedly possessed by “evil” spirits. And those who carried out the executions were possessed by what exactly?

Some held the idea that there would never be need for more than 5 computers in the world and others that sound could never be successfully transmitted over a distance. Again, certain ailments were held as incurable – until summarily dispatched by the most basic of remedies.

It is a distinctive quality of the environment to strongly suggest where the barriers are, what the limits should be, and what is likely to happen if they were crossed. In some cases, this is correct in that jumping out of a moving car will have consequences irrespective of any ideas held by the subject.

However, there are times where it is of absolute importance that these rules be re-written for the sake of a future worth living in. A future of sharing the new, communicating the best and raising the bar on the way life is lived. To replace the existing with the better.

The best way to predict the future is to create it. Peter Drucker

Thing is, today’s box (of “think out of the box” fame) was yesterday’s breakthrough idea that has overstayed its welcome. Stepping out of the box is necessary, for that was how the present box was entered – by stepping out of the previous box, displacing the reigning idea of the day.

Going beyond this charge to step out of the box, it is equally important (if not more so) to stay the course of a new idea, process or strategy irrespective of the roadblocks ahead. Ideas must also be challenged so that they get stronger, more refined and so that the innovators build the internal fortitude necessary to spread the idea once fully developed.

Of course, there are instances where objections to an idea should be completely disregarded. But then there are also instances where objections should be curated and seen for what they are – constructive feedback.

Every idea is waiting to be displaced. Make sure it’s not yours.

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Taking things personal

Why ideas are important

Why decisions matter

Leadership lessons from military strategy

Working in teams


Why quality is important and what your organisation can do (Re-Mastered)

Here’s a summary of what we’ll be looking at


How quality affects efficiency

How quality affects the Product

Customer engagement



The Chartered Quality Institute defines quality as “…an outcome – a characteristic of a product or service provided to a customer and the hallmark of an organisation which has satisfied all of its stakeholders…”

Of importance in this definition is the satisfaction of all the stakeholders.

This is even more so in today’s connected and competitive marketplace where missteps spread quickly. Brands live on their ability to consistently deliver as promised. This ability to deliver is a function of quality.

Taking this further, the concept of quality assurance lies in ensuring that the products or services being delivered meet the customer’s requirements, as wide as they might be. This is done by following a series of processes that cover the client’s needs, broken into emotional, psychological and technical aspects.

Putting it differently, to every cause there is an effect and when we reverse same, we find that for an effect of high quality, a cause of high quality is required.

Put quality in, and quality will come out. The impact of this concept becomes more critical as the projects become more significant, either from a perspective of cost or sensitivity. Some economic applications of quality assurance include:

How quality affects efficiency

Reorganising processes so that they align with an organisation’s strategic direction is a focus of quality assurance.

This reorganisation improves the firm’s time to market, resolution of customer complaints, improvement of staff morale and the consequent creation of an energized work environment.

This energized environment becomes the breeding ground for innovative solutions. In effect, profit rests on process efficiency.

How quality affects the Product

The improved processes adopted by have brought customers to a point where a high level of quality is expected.

Toll free numbers, personalised service, money back guarantees and instant replacements are all service and product quality standards regarded as commonplace in today’s business environment. Years ago, this was not so.

Customers don’t just want an item – they want the highest quality money can buy, and they want it as quickly as possible. And all this with a smile!

Customer engagement

The customer is the ultimate decider as to whether an organisation lives to see the next quarter.

While there exist businesses in which the customer doesn’t have a choice (think Utilities), many firms would do well to improve the level of quality experienced by the customer.

Every employee should have a working understanding of the customer’s psyche and how effective interactions add to the bottom line. Organisations should go beyond customer complaints and establish preemptive strategies for keeping the customer satisfied.

A quick survey of some of the strongest brands will show that customer engagement is considered a priority, not just at strategy meetings but at budget sessions too.

Having good processes, good products and engaged customers lead to healthy organizations. This in turn attracts and retains key talent, thereby making the organization better positioned on the competitive landscape.


Investments in quality should not be considered as a secondary use of resources where an organisation is thinking for the long term.

Costs avoided now, being assessed as ‘avoidable’ would be paid later in terms of defective market offerings and the attendant recalls, clients lost, and consequent brand depreciation.

The right investments should be made in time to reap the benefits of quality assurance.

More at

Most popular

Taking things personal

Why ideas are important

Why decisions matter

Leadership lessons from military strategy

Working in teams

Two options for your future in leadership and how to decide.


Here’s what we’ll be looking at;

  1. With every decision.
  2. Turning water to ice.
  3. What leaders know.
  4. See no evil, hear no evil; just keep talking.
  5. What got you here…
  6. …won’t take you there.
  7. What the need is.

With every decision.

With every decision comes two options; “run and hide”, or “over and beyond”. In between both are several illusions of direction but in the end – a leader is deciding along one of both lines. Moving up the ladder of influence in any organisation can be challenging and as such, the tendency is to guard a position, reputation or office such that hard earned influence is not lost. This is referred to as the “run and hide” strategy and the overriding objective is to avoid loss.

Turning water to ice.

This strategy ensures stability but gradually builds an unwillingness to take actions perceived as risky reducing the chances for innovative leadership. For the leader it contributes to a steady decline in peer group relevance strategic for advancement to higher levels of influence. Leaders with high standards, if in the same organisation tend to conclude that such peers can’t be trusted with significant levels of responsibility.

Still, there is a sense of awe a leader radiates when able to retain the respect gained through past victories – the downside being referred to mostly in the context of past accomplishments from dated campaign; a record book.

What leaders know.

Leaders at the highest levels know that true innovation requires a willingness to take risks, moving ahead, improving in their capacity to lead teams and organisations. These leaders are known as “over and beyond” as they push for the new, taking necessary action to build a world worth living in.

Both leadership types believe in company goals, efficiency and the like – their difference is in mode of achievement. The run and hide leaders seem to have achieved seniority playing by the rules, taking no such leaps into the unknown, and rarely (if ever) questioning the system. Battle scars early in their careers seem to have been marked: “NO MORE RISK”.

See no evil, hear no evil; just keep talking.

In practice, such leaders remain attentive and sometimes supportive in conversations on new ideas but side with safety when it comes to taking concrete steps. Once there’s a possibility of loss, a whiff of smoke, the run and hide gene kicks in and the bunker is sealed shut. Nothing comes in, nothing goes out and status quo holds sway.

These leaders are important for freshmen wide eyed with dreams of corporate leadership and unaware of the numerous pitfalls. They teach wilderness survival tactics from how to dance with wolves without being eaten to surviving Armageddon. The down side is that a perfect defense doesn’t discover new territory and is destined to fade once current markets are exhausted after which is extinction.

Again, run and hide leaders are easier to replace when compared with the over and beyonds. No wars for introducing innovation have been won. No over and beyond victories, except a successfully defended career castle. Still the fall of the Roman empire is instructive – a position can only be defended for so long.

What got you here…

That element of fear of loss inherent in every run and hide stalwart stands as their greatest strength and undoing. As new ideas are not easily accepted, risks key to growth are not taken. Leaders stick to this system for safety reasons and as such it remains popular till date. Only the living can write history. The run and hides are key for the short term, necessary for the mid-term but mildly relevant in the long term.

The result of mastering the run and hide system is an opportunity to join the over and beyonds. These leaders, whether as a result of lessons learned, personal observation or natural inclination, have come to the conclusion that there is no future for the run and hide strategy.

…won’t take you there.

Over and beyond leaders are open to new ideas, willing to take risks, independent in their thinking and are preferred to the run and hide group. These are the ones remembered because they went beyond the normal in fighting for their beliefs – irrespective of mistakes along the way. Being over and beyond means that there is a focus on results either in business numbers or in developing teams.

Stories worth passing on are mostly about over and beyonds – who they were, what they did, how they fought, and how they lived. Ultimately, run and hides come to depend on over and beyond leaders irrespective of their positions in the organisational chart.

What the need is.

The run and hides keep things is safely in the present while the over and beyonds make it clear that the present cannot hold for too long. Both have important aspects, but one group creates the future and would likely be important for much longer.

The world and indeed business need over and beyond leaders because they take the risks necessary to create a future worth living in. Progress often depends on them and it could be said that the world would still be using horse drawn carriages as standard transportation if not for their efforts.

More at

Most popular

Taking things personal

Why ideas are important

Why decisions matter

Leadership lessons from military strategy

Working in teams

What to do when things don’t go according to plan.


Here’s what we’ll be looking at;

  1. The unusual suspect
  2. The question of perfection
  3. Business exists for the customer (and how to be in business tomorrow)
  4. There’s a light at the end of the tunnel

The unusual suspect.

Not many things become famous and remain so for being imperfect. Standing at 567 feet, bending to an angle of 3.99 degrees and having a total of 296 steps (on the north side) and 7 bells is the leaning tower of Pisa.

Built in 1173 to show the city’s importance and celebrate economic growth, the tower was planned to be upright at 183.27 feet but the ground on which it was built was soft and the tower started to tilt in 1178 at the 3rd floor. Work continued even as plans were developed to rectify the tilt – only stopping twice due to war.

Today, the tower leans a full 5 meters from the perpendicular and is one of the most visited tourist destinations thanks to the staying power of the construction team.

Serendipity: the arrival at a goal without the direct plan to achieve it.”

Merriam Webster’s dictionary

There is a value in pressing on, staying the course of an endeavour despite challenges. Sometimes, market leadership is on the other side of pain, defeat and delayed results. This would apply especially to new products and services. It might make sense to allow the process run as far as it can go before pulling the plug as the customer might prefer the output of risky development.

The question of perfection.

Much of industry thrives on perfection, or at least the pursuit of it; “Only the best is good enough”, “precision engineering” and “design at its finest” are among the tag lines of market leaders. There’s so much value placed on perfection that a leaning tower on the list of global tourist attractions is in itself an attraction. The tower is world famous precisely because it leans, that is, because it is imperfect.

There are routine standards established to produce definite results; error free processes, seamless customer service, great product experience. There are established bodies dedicated to the elimination of error and the improvement of quality – six sigma, Kaizen and the rest of that family.

There are important in fields as air travel – where pilots are expected to fly without error, eschewing any form of mid-flight innovation or surgery where performance is expected to be flawless, with knowledge bases continually updated and years of experience on the increase. The last thing a patient wants is an untested hand in a life or death situation.

When it comes to getting it right at all costs, the idea remains “the best or nothing”.

Business exists for the customer (and how to be in business tomorrow).

Still, when attempting the new (on which most growth depends) it should be understood that things might not go as expected. Embracing the curves on the journey to ‘the product’ remain a good way to find key products.

Customers know the full range of existing products but are only impressed by what comes next. How different is it from the pack, how will it change the way their lives are lived, and in what ways will it make them live differently?

There’s a light at the end of the tunnel.

Whether it’s in the areas of healthcare saving millions of lives, sport, entertainment or in learning, it should be considered that many inventions were not the original intent of their discoverers.

So, look for the goals and do what is necessary to achieve, and even exceed customer expectations – but keep in mind that the best ideas are sometimes arrived at by accident.

Here’s a lesson; what is accepted by the customer ceases to be an accident.