Tuesday, July 26, 2011

Getting the Change right - Leadership and Innovation

Change is constant. Change is ephemeral. Change is permanent. Change is never-ending.
Regardless of the sector in which you operate. No matter how big your company. Notwithstanding how large or complex your organizational structure. Change can be subtle, it can be violent. Change can be beautiful and embraced, it can be ugly and feared.
Globalization, social media, exponential technological development, morphing markets, emerging new markets, offshoring, and low-cost competitors. These are just a small selection of enablers and accelerators of change.
Many leaders consider their organizations, even themselves, as failing to implement change effectively. Transformational change is one of the biggest challenges facing most businesses whose products, markets and customers are themselves rapidly changing and demanding new and different goods and services.
But some leaders excel at delivering and benefiting from meaningful change. These leaders learn to manage change effectively, so that they get ahead of, and even become the driver of change. One thing they have in common is a view that change is a catalyst of Innovation.
Long gone are day-to-day operations that fall into a static or predictable patterns that are interrupted infrequently by only short spells of minor adjustments. Many employees lament these good old days of predictability and fear larger and ongoing change, but these days the opposite should be the case: periods without change often mean an organization is about to be overtaken by another business that has already recognized and adapted to the changing marketplace.
So, where is your organization heading to in the next few years? Hopefully, you're already trying to balance the mix of a need for quick wins with longer term culture changes and business outcomes. You should be trying to lead your competition in growth and revenue, rather than reacting to their initiatives, developing yourself the next generation of highly new innovative products and services. Or will you simply be manning the tiller and keeping the ship afloat?
Corporations of the future must become well-equipped to adapt and respond to an ever-increasing pace, variety and ubiquity of change. And as leaders, you must embrace change, become expert at understanding and involving change in your business, and constantly encourage innovation across your organizational culture, in the products you deliver and the services you offer.

Monday, July 25, 2011

Bilge pumps - Why we all need an Archimedes Screw

Ever wondered about the origin of the phrase pump the bilge? Do you know what a bilge pump actually is? And why is pumping the bilge important in the modern business environment?

Well, to understand what a bilge pump is, we should first define bilge.

The term bilge dates back to 1523 and refers to the lowest compartment in a ship where the two sides meet at the bottom. The word bilge is these days generally used to refer to the water that collects in this bottommost compartment. This water collects in the bilge as it drains off the sides of the deck of the ship, or if there are rough seas and/or rain. To only way to get rid of the water, is to pump it out. Hence the origin of the bilge pump.

Bilge water is often dirty and dingy since it is not limited to water, but rather, any sort of fluid(s) that happen to collect at the bottom of the ship. The Bilge water can be extracted by bucket or other hand pumps, but nowadays many boats and ships are equipped with automated, electrical bilge pumps.

The earliest known bilge pump is the Archimedes Screw, a pump purportedly designed by Archimedes in the 3rd century B.C. for the Syracusia, a luxury boat commissioned by King Hieron II. The Syracusia is said to have been the largest boat of classical antiquity that could carry 600 souls. As such a large ship would undoubtedly take on water, Archimedes developed his Screw to pump the bilge water. His machine was a device with a revolving screw-shaped blade inside a cylinder that was turned by hand to remove the water.

The fundamentals of Archimedes' design are still used today, though generally not on boats, but in sewage treatment plants and mining industries for transferring liquids and granulated soils from low-lying areas to higher positions.

However, many boat owners have a somewhat casual attitude to bilge pumps and don’t have them installed, or don't have enough of them installed, because they don’t see the need. This is a mistake that can have dire consequences. Small sail boats are often the worst culprits when it comes to not having a bilge pump installed, as many owners don't see it as an important part of boat safety. Part of being a responsible boater is to know what kind of equipment you should have on board. Even smaller boats should always have at least two bilge pumps (at least one for backup).

It's a sad fact that in today's business environment, many leaders and managers also neglect to invest in a bilge pump and avoid pumping the bilge.

The downbeat economy, challenging revenue targets and the need for transformational change in many businesses all require leaders and managers to focus on forward-looking initiatives and new product development.

But remember that sailing a ship isn't always about raising the boom, setting the right bearing and manning the tiller. It's also about swabbing the decks, mending the sails and pumping the bilge. Neglect at your peril the basics such as customer service, employee health and safety, and internal regulation.

It's in these times of choppy waters and high seas that we should make sure we have got our bilge pump safety net.

Saturday, July 23, 2011

Würst of the week - Currywurst

This week's Würst is the Currywurst.

This Würst is one of Germany's less gourmet Wurst offerings but has been selected due to its popularity as a fast-food staple and national food obsession in Germany.

Often sold from fast food trucks and Imbissbuden, this Wurst is generally made from pork, and served cut into slices (easier to eat with a plastic fork) with a generous helping of curry ketchup (normally consisting of standard ketchup or tomato paste with a liberal sprinkling of curry powder).

Also known as the Phosphatstange, this Wurst is most popular in the larger metropolitan areas of Germany, particularly in Berlin, Hamburg and across the Ruhr. Traditionally, every candidate for Berlin mayor is photographed at some point consuming a Currywurst from a fast-food stand.

This Wurst is so popular it has its own museum, the Deutsches Currywurst Museum in Berlin.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Break free from your moorings - Leading Change

As a leader, how often do you ask yourself the question: do I steer, or simply man the tiller?

Are you making a difference to your organization, empowering your employees and effecting change, navigating your way through choppy waters towards a sun rising over a broad horizon? Or are you simply sailing the ship, keeping it upright and moving forward, avoiding the rocks and any risk of running aground?

When taking over leadership responsibility of a company or organization, the latter course is likely to be your immediate priority.

But before you nail your colours to the mast, what if your new ship desperately needs you to pump the bilge? Do you throw all hands to the pumps and try to weather the storm, or do you change tack on a bearing for change?

Before making any rash decisions you need to take soundings and get the feel of the tiller, but if the organization is suffering in the doldrums, then undertaking some immediate sail-trimming and realigning your ballast is likely in the long-run to be one of the most effective ways of keeping the ship afloat and it's course true.

Breaking free of your moorings and effecting change sends a positive message to your co-workers, energizing them to stop swinging the lead and empowering them to raise the boom.

Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Potato girls get hitched

One night, the Potato family sat down to dinner – Mother Potato and her three daughters. Midway through the meal, the eldest daughter spoke up. “Mother Potato?” she said. “I have an announcement to make.”

“And what might that be?” said Mother, seeing the obvious excitement in her eldest daughter’s eyes.

“Well,” replied the daughter, with a proud but sheepish grin, “I’m getting married!”

The other daughters squealed with surprise as Mother Potato exclaimed, “Married! That’s wonderful! And who are you marrying, Eldest daughter?”

“I’m marrying a Russet!”

“A Russet!” replied Mother Potato with pride. “Oh, a Russet is a fine tater, a fine tater indeed!”

As the family shared in the eldest daughter’s joy, the middle daughter spoke up. “Mother? I, too, have an announcement.”

“And what might that be?” encouraged Mother Potato.

Not knowing quite how to begin, the middle daughter paused, then said with conviction, “I, too, am getting married!”

“You, too!” Mother Potato said with joy. “That’s wonderful! Twice the good news in one evening! And who are you marrying, Middle Daughter?”

“I’m marrying an Idaho!” beamed the middle daughter.

“An Idaho!” said Mother Potato with joy. “Oh, an Idaho is a fine tater, a fine tater indeed!”

Once again, the room came alive with laughter and excited plan for the future, when the youngest Potato daughter interrupted. “Mother? Mother Potato? Um, I, too, have an announcement to make.”

“Yes?” said Mother Potato with great anticipation.

“Well,” began the youngest Potato daughter with the same sheepish grin as her eldest sister before her, “I hope this doesn’t come as a shock to you, but I am getting married, as well!”

“Really?” said Mother Potato with sincere excitement. “All of my lovely daughters married! What wonderful news! And who, pray tell, are you marrying, Youngest Daughter?”

“I’m marrying Joe Buck!”

“Joe Buck?!” Mother Potato scowled suddenly. “But he’s just a common tater!”

Monday, July 18, 2011

12 Most Engaging Leadership Palindromes

Leadership today can be an all-consuming activity, so it's nice sometimes to kick-back and have a bit of fun. Do you ever spend just a few minutes engaging and exercising the mind with alternative intellectual activities during your busy schedule?

Just a few moments of fun thinking can put a smile back on your face, relax you, and reenergize and remotivate you for that all-important presentation or boardroom meeting. So how about a few palindromes? See how many you can spot in the following leadership commentary...

We few who occupy the top spot as leaders of today's corporations and organizations are peppered with so many dynamos that it is natural to ask inevitably: are we not drawn onward to new era?

Back in the day getting things done was a much simpler exercise, such as the example of von Humboldt: a man, a plan, a canal: Panama. These days however, leadership is a more collegiate affair and none of us want to exclaim: I am a fool - aloof am I.

We also need to dip into the reward drawer for ourselves as well as our employees, provided they follow your commands to "pull up if I pull up", observe the mantra that they must sell at tallest sum, and are allowed to fail on occasion, remembering that no demerits tire me Don.

Rewards come in many forms. But don't be tempted to pull out a cigar. Toss it in a can. It is so tragic. A better result for morale is to take your valued employee out for dinner. For me, you can't beat a nice Wurst, and if it's German sausage you're eating, wash it down with a nice Helles, for Lager, sir, is Regal.

How did you get on?

In no particular order, here are my 12 Most Engaging Leadership Palindromes included in the above passage:
  • We few
  • Top spot
  • Reward drawer
  • So many dynamos!
  • Must sell at tallest sum
  • Are we not drawn onward to new era?
  • A man, a plan, a canal: Panama!
  • Pull up if I pull up
  • I am a fool. Aloof am a I
  • Cigar? Toss it in a can. It is so tragic.
  • No demerits tire me Don
  • Lager sir, is Regal

Sunday, July 17, 2011

Würst of the week - Thüringer Rostbratwurst

This week's Würst is the Thüringer Rostbratwurst.

This Würst is a unique type of roasted Bratwurst from the German state of Thuringia, a region known as the green heart of Germany, due to the dense forests covering the state's mountainous terrain (Harz mountains to the north, and the Thuringian Forest to the south).

The oldest known reference to the Thüringer Rostbratwurst, found in the state archives, is from the transcript of a bill from the Arnstadt Convent in 1404. This Würst also has Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status under EU law.

The Thüringer is made from only finely minced pork, beef, or sometimes veal, and in addition to salt and pepper, can be seasoned with caraway, marjoram, and garlic. A stipulation of its PGI status, is that at least 51% of the ingredients must come from the state of Thuringia. These ingredients are blended together and filled into a pig or sheep intestine.
Thüringers are distinguished from other Bratwurst and the many other types of German Wurst by their distinctive spice mix, but significantly also their low fat content (25% as compared to up to 60% in other Wurst).

Generally sold raw, Thüringers are generally roasted over charcoal or on a grill rubbed with bacon. The fire shouldn't be so hot that the skin breaks, though some charring is desired. It is a tradition in Thuringia that the grills be cooled with beer rather than water.
Usually, a Thuringian sausage is presented in a cut, open roll and brushed with mustard. And this being a Wurst from Thuringia, don't forget to wash it down with Köstritzer Schwarzbier!

Saturday, July 16, 2011

Potato Royale - a PR master class

French royal Marie Antoinette famously promoted the potato during the 18th century, by wearing potato blossoms in her hair. But why?

The royals were introduced to the potato by French nutritionist, agronomist and chemist Antoine-Augustin Parmentier, who had a penchant for potatoes and a real skill for Public Relations.

Parmentier had served as a army pharmacist during the Seven Years War, and was taken prisoner by the Prussians. During his captivity he was fed only potatoes, at that time a foodstuff only fed to pigs, not humans. Indeed, at that time a 1748 French law was in place explicitly forbidding potato cultivation, chiefly on the grounds that it was believed to cause leprosy.

On his return home Parmentier made it his mission to popularize the tuber, hitherto so dismissed by his countrymen. His first breakthrough came in 1772 when he won a prize from the Académie Besançon for his proposal of potatoes as a source of nourishment for patients suffering from dysentery. As a result of his efforts the Paris Faculty of Medicine then declared potatoes to be edible.

A year later, in 1773, Parmentier published his thesis, Inquiry into nourishing vegetables that at times of necessity could be substituted for ordinary food. His growing notoriety gained Parmentier an invitation to the court of King Louis XVI on the occasion of the king's birthday.

Parmentier showed his mastery of public relations by bringing to court a bouquet of potato flowers as a birthday gift. The King graciously accepted the gift, deftly placing one of the flowers in his lapel.

But it was the king's wife, Queen Marie Antoinette, who most sponsored Parmentier's cause by later wearing the potato blossoms in her hair. Potato flowers quickly became a fashion among the aristocracy, just as potatoes were now permitted to, and did, become a staple for the poor.

Wednesday, July 13, 2011

Potato Economics - a lesson in alternative currency

Seattle University professor was forcibly ejected today from a Pike Place Market deli after he attempted to pay for a sandwich with a sack of potatoes.

The professor, Frenchman Francois Cloche-Fin, a native of the Isle Noirmoutier, is an instructor of economics, management and leadership at the Albers School of Business. He was not immediately available for comment.

“We get our fair share of freaks in this neighborhood, no doubt,’ Deli owner Pieter van der Hoogstrand said, “but I had never seen something like this before.”

At approximately 11:45 am Wednesday, Cloche-Fin entered the deli and ordered a Polish Sausage ciabatta with Emmental cheese. When he approached the cash register, he allegedly brought out a potato sack and pulled out two La Bonnotte de Noirmoutier potatoes, placing them neatly on the counter in front of him.

“I said, ‘what the hell is this?’ van der Hoogstrand recalled, “and he said that the sandwich cost $7.50 and so he wanted to pay with 2 potatoes. At first I couldn’t believe it, but the line kept growing so I told him to either give me cash or a card or get out.”

When van der Hoogstrand refused to accept his potatoes, Cloche-Fin allegedly grew agitated. “He kept shouting, ‘How dare you reject my potatoes? This is discrimination! My money is just as good as everyone else’s!’ ”

At that moment, two Pike Place Market Deli employees emerged from the kitchen and removed Cloche-Fin from the premises. As he was leaving, Cloche-Fin reportedly screamed, “You owe me a half-potato in change!”

Speaking to reporters some hours later, all van der Hoogstrand could do was shake his head and laugh. “I guess where he’s from, potatoes are a form of currency. But where does he think he is? We don’t even accept Diners Club here.”

The La Bonnotte potato variety, grown only in Cloche-Fin's native Isle Noirmoutier, is of course one of the most expensive foods in the world. Due to the manual nature of the growing and harvesting of this potato variety, one kilo can fetch us much as $700.

It's quite possible that Mr van der Hoogstrand and the Pike Place Market Deli missed out on a very good deal...

Monday, July 11, 2011

Remember your Munter Hitch - the Leadership safety net

The Munter hitch creates friction by having the rope rub on itself and on the object it has been wrapped around. There is no static friction on any part of the rope as it is a continuously moving knot. A key facet of the Munter is its reversibility; it can be pulled from either side of the rope and it still works just as effectively.
During such times of flux, employees, boards of directors and shareholders alike, all want to know: where's my safety net?

Does our leader know how to tie a Munter Hitch?

Is our leader able to belay us safely and gently, to a position where we can reassess our priorities, regroup our resources, and reascend the peak?

The key for leaders needing to implement the equivalent of the Munter Hitch in the workplace is the establishment of strong employee capabilities. Having an effective, enthusiastic and empowered workforce will enable organizations to glissade gracefully, identify opportunities for change and create competitive advantage in a slowing economy. An elite talent pool should have the determination, enthusiasm and ability to drive the business into increased revenue growth and market share.

The following key leaderships principles are central to creating such a Munter Hitch workforce during a downbeat economy.


An organization with an evolved culture of communication is well positioned to overcome skepticism and lack of self-confidence. It is crucial that leaders keep their managers engaged and positively-reinforced, especially at a time when many may have a tendency to "disconnect" due to business uncertainty, high workloads and stress.


Storyboard the organization's strategy and vision to make it more accessible to employees. Many will find a concrete example crucial in creating a mental picture of the organization's goals. This in turn engenders buy-in, commitment and ‘ownership’ within the workplace.


In uncertain times it is critical to manage change effectively and remain flexible in your attitude and approach. Challenge long-held business assumptions and practices. Taking a fresh perspective will enable you to focus on the daily execution of strategic priorities and help to maximize employee efforts and decision making in the midst of overwhelming demands.

Best foot forward 

Leaders must lead. They must provide purpose, direction and compelling values so that employees may envision a positive future. Direction must come from the top, but reach all the way down to front line staff who will ultimately pass on your positive vision to your customers.

But a strong vision is not enough.  it must be functional and memorable so that every employee will embrace it, living and breathing the vision through every task and action on a day to day basis.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

Saturday, July 9, 2011

Transformational Change - the foundation of business evolution

A good friend of mine, let's call him Steve, frequently asks me the question: what is transformational change?

It's a good question. There's change and there's transformation, and these two terms are invariably synonymous. So what's the benefit of the duplicitous adjective? Why not changing change, or transformational transformation? Or indeed a changing transformation? And why is transformational change such a key activity and concept for the modern business?

Let's consider the definition of the terms change and transformation:

change - n.
1. The act, process, or result of altering or modifying: a change in facial expression.
2. The replacing of one thing for another; substitution: a change of atmosphere; a change of ownership.
3. A transformation or transition from one state, condition, or phase to another: the change of seasons.

transformation - n.
1. a. The act or an instance of transforming. b. The state of being transformed.
2. A marked change, as in appearance or character, usually for the better.

So what's the difference?, asks Steve

Well, consider this definition of the evolved term:

transformational change
A change that is not merely an extension or improvement over the past, but a state change. 
This state change can be personal and organizational. The change is no ordinary change, it is far more bold and compelling - not simply a more or better version of busines-as-usual. When used in a business environment, this concept is an audacious vision of a new organizational structure and methodology.

Before being actioned, transformational change calls for a new level of fearlessness, of innovation and collaboration, and excites the people of the organization, unleashing their passion and creativity. After being actioned, co-workers will say that they have more than a large improvement, rather they have a different organization, a state-change, a transformation.

Achieving this state change requires altering and expanding the limiting mindset in which the individual employees and the organization operates. It is a mindset that includes the attitudes, perspectives, rationales and logic of individuals and the business, and alters how each perceives their problems and opportunities. Transformational change radically amplifies the bandwidth of solutions that individuals and organizations consider to deal with their strategy and vision.

Ultimately, then, transformational change is an important concept and activity in the development and growth of the modern business. Call it jargon if you will, as it is an idea not generally applied to the non-business world.

So, a useful summary or definition of the term might be:

transformational change
A shift in the business culture of an organization resulting from a change in the underlying strategy and processes that the organization has used in the past. A transformational change is designed to be organization-wide and is enacted over a period of time.
In a nutshell, there you have it, Steve.

Thursday, July 7, 2011

[(ET + LR + IA = BC –> ROI ) | (DVKB > R) | (C = (P+L)xF)]

WTF books have come out with some chestnuts in recent months, but the latest offering from Terry T. Derby titled Formulae for Change, Leadership and Leadership Change amplifies to a tee the whole genre of change metrics.

A compilation of compelling anecdotes and radical simplifications of concrete truths, this synopsis of the mechanisms of change, leadership and changing leadership girates the reader through the full spectrum of organizational scenarios that aim to incubate leadership gametes.

Derby focuses on a range of simple formulae offered by a variety of commentators and experts that help us focus on the weights and measures required to effect the desired results.

These include the Trinity Training Formula - How to maximize ROI from Day Camp, which outlines where to focus efforts in situations where an organization attempts to engender behavioural change through mind management:

   ET + LR + IA = BC –>  ROI

Which means Effective Training (ET) and Leadership Reinforcement (LR) and Individual Application, result in Changed Behavior (BC), which implies some possibly unmeasurable factor of Return on Investment (ROI).

Or there's the Downtown Pastor's negative input formula for positive change:

C = (P+L)xF

Meaning Change (C) comes from Pain (P) + Loss (L) multiplied by a bucket load of Frustration (F).

Or there's the Borat Armalyetee balance formula for implementing effective transitional change:


Which translates to the idea that Demand (D) x Vision (V) x Knowledge of next steps (K) x Belief (B) must always be greater than Resistance (R) in order that forward momentum be first instigated, then maintained.

In summary, this book is a must-have to all those desperate to be led in how to lead, or those wishing to change their current change management regimes. Available in all reputable book selling locations.

Wednesday, July 6, 2011

Targeting from the viral hub - harnessing disintermediated networks to optimize ROI

Monday, July 4, 2011

Taming the Leadership peak

"Mountain climbing is a risky activity and not to be taken lightly no matter how easy or benign your chosen peak might seem. Remember: Looks can be deceiving. The mountains are filled with danger and drama. Lightning can stab out of a clear sky. Thunderstorms quickly form and drench you with rain and sleet. Rockfall and avalanches sweep down mountain faces. Difficulties can slow you, forcing you to bivouac in the open. You or your climbing partner can have an accident, causing all kinds of complications. If you’re a novice and inexperienced in the ways of the mountains, then it’s wise to go with more experienced companions or a guide. You can learn from them what it takes to be safe in the mountains so you can return another day for a new adventure." - Friedrich Nietzsche
The above description of mountaineering was written at a time when mountains still evoked in many people the feeling of the Sublime, an aesthetic experience that struck a heady mix of fear, wonder, excitement and terror in those that experienced or even just considered such scenes. These were the places of monsters, demons, or simply bandits that would rob you blind. And if they didn't get you, you'd be just as likely to slip off some precipice, tumbling down the scree to a blunt fate on some rocky outcrop below.

But this was also a time when such previously unvisited regions were being trekked, charted and even inhabited. People were developing the skills - psychological, physical and technical - to overcome their fears and the challenges that such dangerous terrain presented. And a new profession of mountain guides was born to accommodate those new to such adventures.

Whilst on Nietzsche's mountain things are beautifully, if brutally, simple - it is life or death, success or failure - modern corporate culture and organizational bureaucracy make for different rules of engagement to those of mountaineering.

Success or failure of a business or organization, especially that of individual internal projects, initiatives or changes, can be measured in a multitude of ways, but Nietzsche's description holds true for today's Leadership Challenge in the following three ways.

Firstly, Leaders should prepare to take risks. But being aware of just what those risks are is essential in foreseeing difficulties or problems that either need to be overcome or require the taking of a different path.

Secondly, Leaders need to consult their peers. Just as a mountain guide is useful even to an experienced climber when visiting new ranges, so our Leaders should also listen to the wealth of advice, thinking and experience that the Leadership community has to offer.

Finally, don't fear failure. Inherent in taking risks is the risk of failure, but it's critical that Leaders recognize failure early. It's better to scrap an idea as soon as it becomes clear that it will fail, rather than blindly soldier on in order not to lose face.

Sunday, July 3, 2011

Weltenburger Anno 1050 at the Seattle International Beer Festival

With today's forecast set for showers, it looks like I caught the best of the weather yesterday at the Seattle Center, enjoying the company of my good friends Mara and Alexis at the Seattle International Beer festival.

This charitable event is held to raise funds for Pet Cross, an organization improving "the lives of many furry critters in the Puget Sound area". Beer for a noble cause! (I hate dogs.)

We pitched up in time to enjoy a dog (hot, not furry) listening to the last jazzy bars of Hot Club Sandwich, after which it was time to see how much and what we could imbibe with our 10 free beer tickets.

With over 130 beers on offer, it's tough to know what to go for, but we did our best filling up our 4oz cups, progressing from some Pale Ales, through the Pilsners and Red Beers on to some Sweet Stouts and a couple of Weizen. We were a little merry after a few hours, but really enjoying the friendly atmosphere and the afternoon sun, accompanied by first the mellow blues of Clarence Gallagher, then later some good ole Rockabilly from the Roy Kay Trio. Getting us in the mood for the 4th!

After all's said and done though, for me, the pick of the beers was the Weltenburger Anno 1050.

This beer is not only brewed by the oldest Abbey Brewery in the world, the Weltenburger Kloster, near Regensburg in Germany, but the Anno 1050 itself, as you can no doubt infer from its name is one of the oldest beers you can buy.

It's a sophisticated golden-yellow lager, with a full-bodied balance of fine hops and bitter-sweet flavour.

I guess those monks knew a thing or two back then...

Saturday, July 2, 2011

Würst of the week - Bayerische Weisswurst

This week's Würst is the Bayerische Weisswurst!

Literally meaning "white sausage", the Weisswurst is a traditional Bavarian sausage typically made from finely minced veal, fresh pork bacon and seasoned with parsley, lemon, onions, ginger and cardamon.

Due to its perishable nature, the Weisswurst is traditionally eaten as a morning snack, generally accompanied by a Brezl (pretzel to you and me) and some Weisswurstsenf (a sweet mustard).

The Weisswurst is a favourite for those visiting Munich's Oktoberfest. So, no matter what time of day, don't forget to serve it with some Weissbier!

Friday, July 1, 2011

Stoats, Skunks and Squirrels - leadership styles for etymologists

Leadership style is critical in defining how effective you are at influencing your colleagues and thus how well you effect change and development within an organization. All leaders have a mix-and-match of various traits, but there are 3 principal leadership styles outlined below that all of us will recognize in ourselves and others who influence us.

The Stoat

The Stoat is probably the original type of management style ever employed. Just as the Stoat in real life is a solitary, but lean and effective hunter, the Stoat makes his/her own simple and direct decisions. Employees and team members are directed to follow. The Stoat commands obediency and is a good leadership style for tougher industries and working environments.

This isn’t to say that the Stoat would fail to lead in environments with less physical risk, such as creative industries. However, the more that employees are left to do imaginative or creative tasks largely on their own, the less likely the Stoat would be to really bring out the best in people.


Skunks are the complete opposite to Stoats, and so you might expect to find these types of leaders in completely different industries. As stated, Stoats aren't as effective in creative industries, but Skunks aren't just common in creative industries, they're also a dime a dozen in service industries and the professional sector.

I’m talking about lawyers, doctors, accountants, surveyors, architects and teachers. They have spent upwards of 3 years in a training contract and have emerged into either a well paid or respected job. Just as Skunks in real life like to be left alone and are easily unpleasant when disturbed or harassed, Skunk leaders expect a certain degree of ‘laissez faire’ in the way they work. They expect to be entrusted with plenty of responsibility and be left to discharge their professional duties with minimal supervision and oversight.


The Squirrel's style is probably the most popular leadership style in the 21st century management arena. It’s a style that remains popular due to the positive reaction employees have towards it. Squirrels in real life have a tendency to visit many nut trees and store nuts in many places for future use. If you're a Squirrel type of leader, you tend to consult your employees and teams over decisions that will effect them. Even if you take decisions that others disagree with, you'll have no problem returning to others' opinions at a later date and changing tack. 

However, be warned. The Squirrel isn’t perfect in every occasion. Your tendency to consult and store information can mean that decisions take much longer to take. When one only has to consult oneself, a decision can be made almost instantaneously. In high pressure situations the Squirrel is less adept at leading.

So, what type of leader are you?

If you fit the style of any other type of Mustelidae, Caniformia or Eutheria, then please let me know!