The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives – Forbes


Do yourself, your family, industry and society a favour…if your boss or senior executives at your company exhibit several of these traits, now is the time to start looking for a new job.

The Seven Habits of Spectacularly Unsuccessful Executives – Forbes.

What if “counterintuitive” is THE mark of a leader?


Sustainability, like Complexity management, isn’t just “good for business” it’s good for everyone.

imageAs it is something that has been of great interest (and concern) to me I keep an eye on what is happening with business and sustainability. For too long the business perspective was that it was a case of the “politically correct – treehuggers – costing hard-pressed businesses money that they couldn’t afford”! But, low-and-behold, the evidence is mounting that:

(1) business leaders – particularly the “greed is good” MBA variety WERE WRONG

(2) working with nature isn’t only good for the planet but is also good for profitability  

Of course I just love the fact that this fits very well with my own thoughts (and I am far from alone) on the lessons that business can learn from nature…something I have been banging-on about for the last few years.

Unfortunately, as we have endured the current crisis (of our own making) the intuition of Bankers and Politicians has been allowed to prevail. Instead of acknowledging that they had no knowledge how to “fix” the broken system they have attempted to justify a prolonged period of micro managing (national) macro (global) issues. They did what they “knew” in the belief that their actions would/should/might correct things and the socialised costs would be repaid as things returned to “normal”.

What if this is the new normal?

Read more of this post

Good Decisions. Bad Outcomes revisited


We can’t entirely avoid outcome-based decisions. Still, we can reduce our reliance on stochastic outcomes. Here are four ways companies can create more-sound reward systems.

1. Change the mind-set. Publicly recognize that rewarding outcomes is a bad idea, particularly for companies that deal in complex and unpredictable environments.

2. Document crucial assumptions. Analyse a manager’s assumptions at the time when the decision takes place. If they are valid but circumstances change, don’t punish her, but don’t reward her, either.

3. Create a standard for good decision making. Making sound assumptions and being explicit about them should be the basic condition for getting a reward. Good decisions are forward-looking, take available information into account, consider all available options, and do not create conflicts of interests.

4. Reward good decisions at the time they’re made. Reinforce smart habits by breaking the link between rewards and outcomes.

The article below is of particular interest to me and my colleagues at Ontonix because it reinforces the approach that we advocate and that is supported by our unique technology.   Business is no longer about linear relationships or processes with the post-industrial resilience suggested by terms like “supply chain”. As was highlighted in this recent blog (video) Eric Berlow: How complexity leads to simplicity, when dealing with the modern [ … Read More

via Get “fit for randomness” [with Ontonix UK]

Living with Black Swans: balancing the books in uncertainty


OK I’m a self-confessed fan of NNT but early on in this interview with his former Professor he again hits the nail on the head. He reminds us of the lessons that every business (and political!) leader needs to learn..

“…You have to avoid debt because debt makes the system more fragile. You have to increase redundancies in some spaces. You have to avoid optimization. That is quite critical for someone who is doing finance to understand because it goes counter to everything you learn in portfolio theory…. I have always been very sceptical of any form of optimization. In the black swan world, optimization isn’t possible. The best you can achieve is a reduction in fragility and greater robustness. You may have heuristics, but not an optimization rule. I hope the message will finally get across because I haven’t succeeded yet.

People talk about black swans but they don’t talk about robustness, which is the real lesson of the black swans.”

Business Leaders of the current culture are not, generally, “agents of change”. As I have said before we need to cultivate Risk Leaders. Those who, not only,  recognise the flaws of the current culture but are motivated to create, champion, execute and capitalise upon new models and strategies.

Apart from the clamour, from better informed and more demanding consumers, for greater transparency, accessibility and demonstrable sustainability, the pressing NEED is for this new breed to embrace the concept that robustness (or NNT’s anti-fragility) can ONLY come from by creating (and maintaining) a sound business infrastructure…from the bottom up or, as I feel is even more appropriate, from the “inside out”: i2o”.

The relevance of scaling and causality

Such problems as Taleb highlights can only be addressed if the owner can view the business (or system) at the appropriate “scale”. Otherwise how would one know where and by how much to “increase redundancy” to build RESILIENCE in order to survive unforeseen and unforeseeable future events?

After all redundancy and robustness cost NOW and need to be maintained, so, have an ongoing impact upon profitability.

SWOT analyses: Complex “heart” surgery can’t take months


It doesn’t matter whether it is a business YOU have built from scratch over many years; if it is a business turnaround; introducing Enterprise Risk Management; Corporate Process Management; Operational review, etc. getting to the heart of a complex business is a notoriously slow, painful and potentially costly process.

Financial data will provide little, as it is probably the reason why an exercise is being undertaken!

Qualitative feedback comes with a “tainted” perspective – whether top down or bottom-up – and can say more about the scale of the problem than it does about its nature.

Silos can be difficult to “get inside” or break down.

Buy-in is a whole different ball-game!!!

CHANGE MANAGEMENT ain’t easy and “time is money” that, often, can be ill-afforded.

One sure-fire way of getting insight, that is otherwise unavailable and provides an objective [100% quantitative] is a Complexity Analysis from Ontonix.

SO, if someone tells you “all I want is the best for the business” and that they, their role or their division “…are part of the solution, not the problem” you can test that out by mapping the interdependencies, strengths and weaknesses within the organisation.

Once you measure the health of the system you have a basis for sound, verifiable, decisions that are geared to maintaining, managing or improving the health of the business for its stakeholders.

WITHOUT measurement the complexity of the organisation may be compounded by that of the task: rendering projected timescales, improvements, savings and meaningful (sustainable) change, ineffective OR able, only to be assessed in terms of random outcomes…pot luck!

Good luck with that!

However, if you want to eliminate as much of the uncertainty and risk from these processes as is possible, I would be happy to hear from you. The Ontonix technology is unique: rigorously tested; reliable; effective; quantifiable; verifiable and, depending upon the size of the task, considerably cheaper that deploying a competent person.

Quantitative SWOT analysis Most people in business will have had, at least, a “brush” with an analysis of: STRENGTHS; WEAKNESSES; OPPORTUNITIES; THREATS (SWOT). Done properly, it can be a very useful tool. It can bring focus to key issues for the business to consider, can contribute much to strategic planning, change management and, even, negotiations…EVEN THOUGH, WHEN CARRIED OUT IN-HOUSE, IT IS SUBJECTIVE AND QUALITATIVE! Imagine how POWERFUL it would be if it was: OBJ … Read More

via Get “fit for randomness” [with Ontonix UK]