Post of the Month – February 2019 – The Winner


There was strong initial voting for Jan Gooding’s post on Brands are the campfire of the company and also for Shane O’Leary’s D2C playbook, but I’m happy to say that the winner of this month’s vote is Rob Campbell’s important post When Work Tries to Destroy You. Well done Rob, it’s good that a post on such an important issue won, and you join the hall of fame. My thanks to all that took part. 

Post of the Month – February 2019 – The Vote

Post of the Month – February 2019 – Nominations


It’s time again to open nominations for Post of the Month (crikey – already?) so as usual I’ve selected a short starting list below but ask you to nominate your own favourite reads from the past month to add to these and once I have a good list I’ll put them all up for the vote. So my starting list of four is:

Brands are the campfire of the company by Jan Gooding

Oh God it’s raining newsletters by Craig Mod

The D2C Playbook by Shane O’Leary

When Work Tries to Destroy You by Rob Campbell

Please do add to these nominations either direct or in the comments below.

I’m Writing Another Book


It’s been almost two years since my first book came out. Writing that book was something of a cathartic exercise for me, having worked for many years to help companies of all types become more native to the digital empowered world in the way that they think and operate. At the time there was plenty of material that talked about the ‘why’ of transformation, but precious little that talked about the ‘how’. The book was designed to fill this gap. Thankfully it seems to have struck a chord and whilst it’s difficult to know what good looks like in this context it seems to have done really well. At least my publisher (Kogan Page) thinks so since they’ve asked me to write another one. 

So why do I think it’s important to write a second book on transformation? The work that I’ve undertaken since the first book came about, working with a broad range of large corporates, has thankfully served to validate a lot of the approaches that I set out but it has also opened the opportunity to go deeper in to some of the fundamental areas of change and opportunity. I do still believe that whilst the business environment has fundamentally changed forever, many companies still haven’t adapted to face this challenge.

Digital technologies have impacted in countless ways to create a climate of rapidly changing competitive and consumer dynamics, heightened unpredictability and disruptive new market entrants, and yet many businesses remain stuck. Stuck in outdated modes of working that keep them from moving fast. Stuck with structures that originated in a different era and that actively hinder agility and horizontal collaboration. Stuck with processes that make bold innovation difficult if not impossible. Stuck with cultures that reward conformity and status rather than entrepreneurialism and originality. Stuck with approaches that celebrate efficiency over learning.

After several years of corporate focus on digital transformation many organisations still pursue rigid, linear change management programmes that are doomed to fail. Many still prioritise chasing shiny technology over empowering their people to drive lasting change. Many pay lip-service to new ways of operating without ever really changing the fabric of how the organisation works or building the culture that can genuinely support change.

More recently the potential of agile working and principles to generate business value far beyond technology teams has been recognised by some enlightened companies as a route to greater organisational agility. And yet in so many cases these principles remain poorly understood, undervalued, or badly applied. In some organisations the word ‘agile’ has become overused and abused to the point where it is no longer helpful, where it fails to represent the true potential of what is possible. Many businesses are playing at the edges, or scratching the surface, or still failing to grasp the scale of change that is really needed. 

If we are to truly reshape organisations for the new world we need to take a more sophisticated, adaptive approach to transformation. We need to rethink embedded assumptions about structures, processes and leadership that were born of a legacy, industrialised world. We need to understand how we can scale agile principles and culture appropriately to support lasting change. We need to take a far more sophisticated approach to the application of different ways of working, both new and old. There is a need to build on what has come before, to go beyond most interpretations of ‘digital transformation’ and to go deeper in to fundamental aspects of organisational structure, process, culture and leadership to help define what organisational agility really means and help leaders of all kinds to build a practical roadmap for lasting change.

This book is about helping businesses to become unstuck. It is about generating an entirely new level of organisational agility. It is about transforming business to become truly fit-for-purpose for a very different world.

I’ll be sending out (very) occasional email updates featuring some of the ideas that will be explored in the book. You can sign up to those here.

Post of the Month – January 2019 – The Winner


Despite being nominated several times Rory Sutherland has never actually won Post of the Month but happy to say that his post on advertising efficiency and effectiveness has won through in this month’s vote. So well done Rory, you join the hall of fame. My thanks to everyone that took part. Don’t forget that nominations for next month’s vote will open early March.

Post of the Month – January 2019 – The Vote

Thanks for the nominations all. So our vote this month is between:

I’ve cried on a few runs lately by Heidi Hackemer

Advertising is in crisis, but it’s not because it doesn’t work from Rory Sutherland

The Public Media Stack (part two is here) by Matt Locke

Katie Lee’s Top Tips for Surviving Redundancy by Katie Lee

Context is all by Dave Trott

And you can vote below:

Post of the Month – January 2019 – Nominations


It’s (already?) time to open nominations for the next Post of the Month vote. As usual I’ve written a starting list below but please do add to these with your own nominations of favourite reads from the past month. You can nominate by leaving the link in the comments or drop me a note directly. So my starting three are:

I’ve cried on a few runs lately by Heidi Hackemer

Advertising is in crisis, but it’s not because it doesn’t work from Rory Sutherland

The Public Media Stack (part two is here) by Matt Locke

Please do add to these nominations with your own and as soon as I have a good number I’ll pop them up for a vote.

Bullshit Jobs

‘Huge swathes of people, in Europe and North America in particular, spend their entire working lives performing tasks they secretly believe do not really need to be performed. The moral and spiritual damage that comes from this situation is profound. It is a scar across our collective soul. Yet virtually no one talks about it.’

The premis behind David Graeber’s book ‘Bullshit jobs: A Theory’ (building from an original essay on the topic) is that there is a notable proportion of the working population doing jobs that they do not feel create much value or even really need to be performed at all. These are the kind of jobs that feel somewhat pointless and don’t seem, at least to the outsider, to really accomplish very much or make any discernible difference in the world. Graeber’s ‘official’ definition of a bullshit job is:

‘…a form of paid employment that is so completely pointless, unnecessary, or pernicious that even the employee cannot justify its existence even though, as part of the conditions of employment, the employee feels obliged to pretend that this is not the case.’

He cites a 2015 YouGov poll in the UK that found that 37% of British workers think that their jobs make no meaningful contribution to the world. And one conducted by Dutch firm Schouten & Nelissen that found that out of 1900 workers surveyed 40% did not think that their work was useful.

This is, he believes, a great tragedy. A situation that generates resentment and even quiet rage amongst the notable numbers of people (he believes around two-fifths of jobs in the developed world) who work harder than they should at jobs that they secretly believe should not exist. 

Whilst his book doesn’t necessarily generate many powerful theories for what we need to do about this situation it’s hard not to agree with his arguments around how important meaning is to us in our working lives, how we’ve become a civilisation that sees work as an end in itself but also how often meaning is lacking in that. There’s certainly some truth in the assertion that it seems to be a general rule in our society that the more obviously someone’s work benefits other people, the less likely they are to be paid well for it. 

It’s hard to quantify how many people feel that they do a bullshit job but it’s a powerful thought that this could be a phenomenon that is far more widespread than we recognise and yet we never talk about it.

Post of the Month – December 2018 – The Winner


I’m a little late with this due to a heavy work schedule (sorry) but I can formally announce that the winner of Post of the Month is Gareth Price’s post on the personalisation problem. We had some good voting around Noah Brier’s excellent thinking around Marketing and the Tension Between Contrarianism and Tradition but in the end it was Gareth’s EatYourGreens presentation that won, so well done to Gareth. You join the hall of fame. My thanks to everyone that took part. Stay tuned for next month’s vote.

Post of the Month – December 2018 – The Vote