1. Editorial: What are basic values?
Welcome to the 238 readers who have subscribed during our annual summer holiday. We are back publishing every Monday until our next break at Christmas.
Apologies to those readers in the southern hemisphere for whom August is the winter - I know, I have been freezing in Melbourne for a couple of weeks!
Many thanks to those readers who met up with me in Dubai, Mumbai, Singapore, Melbourne and Sydney. It was a joy to meet you and a great help in deciding our strategy for international growth.
Now it is back to work. We have a major scenario planning exercise coming to completion this month and the last module of a year's programme with Robert Dilts. We have lots of new developments in the pipeline, so watch this space for announcements.
And so to the editorial: -
In 1969 I travelled with 500 students on an overland expedition to India. On our way out we visited Tehran and were 'chaperoned' by tourist officers, who were reputed to be members of the secret police. On the previous expedition, two years before, one of the party had flown home from Tehran and given a press conference at Heathrow airport, complaining at the way Iranians were treated under the Shah.
On our return trip, having travelled through Afghanistan (which was then an absolutely wonderful country) we were stopped at the Iranian border and accommodated for three days in tents at the government's expense. This was a quarantine exercise while we were each tested for cholera. Political freedom is a basic value - but so is freedom from disease. Iran was the only country on our 13,000 mile journey that took such measures to protect its population.
During the summer I visited Dubai to deliver a course "Management Leaders" to an international audience. Dubai is a remarkable place that has grown out of a small pearl fishing port as a result of the intelligent investment of oil revenues. Where there were two hotels on the coast there are now 17. Dubai already has more tourists than Australia and plans to more than double this number. The old town is surrounded by skyscrapers, the international airport, with the world's third largest duty free business, is undergoing at least its third major expansion scheme and there are large tax and planning free zones such as Media City, Internet City and Knowledge City. They are building holiday and leisure complexes into the Gulf that are so large they can be seen from space, and there are plans over the next ten years for a theme park in which Disneyland could get lost. The place is a remarkable commercial success and 80% of the population are foreign workers who have been attracted to support this phenomenal growth.
However, on the first morning of my course I used half a glass of tap water to take my anti-malaria tablets. Within twenty minutes I had stomach pains and I was ill for ten days. When I enquired, I was told that you cannot drink tap water in Dubai. Here we have major international tourism and commercial centre, the result of investing many millions of dollars, and yet they have neglected a fundamental value.
During the time that America was counting votes in Florida and deciding whether George Bush the younger should be the next president, I was in the USA. I watched a very interesting television programme about Bush's time as governor of Texas. He had instituted tests of literacy and numeracy that were dominating the syllabus of junior schools at the cost of a more balanced education. The debate was about which was more important - the general education of the brighter pupils or the minimum achievements of the many. Which was worse, a syllabus dominated by testing or significant numbers of pupils who failed to achieve basic standards of numeracy and literacy.
I was interested to read last week a report in The Economist on a study to measure the impact of the knowledge economy. The question was "To what extent is economic growth driven by the acquisition of 'human capital'?" The conclusion was that, although higher education was good for the earning capacity of the individual, there was only weak evidence that high or rising completion rates of secondary or university education are associated with a country's long term growth. However, there was a clear and significant association between literacy, labour productivity and rise in gross domestic product per head. "Raising the basic skills of the whole population can bring tangible macroeconomic gains that can help justify the cost of remedial literacy programmes."
So, what are your basic values? Where should you, your organisation or your government focus effort? Sometimes the activities that make a difference can be quite mundane. We know some companies whose Corporate Social Responsibility programmes include staff visiting schools or adult centres to help with reading practice. Seems like the right priority.
Probably the greatest gifts I have received in life are good health and the ability to read. So let us give thanks for public health officials and teachers.
PS: I am returning to Dubai in December to address a conference on Career Development.
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2. Coaching notes: Balanced Business Scorecard
Two of the most useful things I have come across in my business life are the Balanced Business Scorecard and Robert Dilts' neurological levels. The very first Harvard Business Review that I subscribed to was the issue in which the scorecard was first described. It hit me as a great tool.
More recently we have met companies that have 'done the scorecard' and moved on, leaving it in the litter of their past. I believe that it is worth more than that and should have a permanent place in any manager's portfolio. The concept of the balanced scorecard is that other great tool that we use - perceptual positions. It grew out of a frustration with company performance being measured only in financial terms. The 'balanced' scorecard measures performance in terms of: -
Having considered a vision or strategy from these perspectives the scorecard approach asks the following questions: -
This gives a four by three grid to be completed. I have found it to be really powerful when working on an organisation's vision, mission and values. It is not restricted to commercial organisations - the first time I used it was for an Investors in People project with a careers service. The four perspectives can be adapted to whatever might be appropriate. The key is to get a balance.
You can download forms for use with the balanced business scorecard from the Brefi Group web site.
Next week I will review the neurological levels.
We aim to make the Brefi Group web site the premier developmental site for teams and individuals in organisations, so do please send us your suggestions and requests for further development. And let us know what you think of this newsletter, and comment on the content.
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We hope you enjoyed this issue of CorporateCoach. If you would like to learn more about how we can work together, then please contact me, Richard Winfield:
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