Organic Proof that ‘The Times They Are A’Changin’

11 April 2017

In the sixties few cultural gaps were greater than those between hippies (with their shocking suggestions for alternative ways of organising communities and the business of living) and the corporate world. On the one hand: communes, music, protest, experimentation with drugs and other alternative realities, sexual exploration, the cult of the individual. On the other: conformity, obedience, the corporate suit and tie in the suggested corporate style and colours, the cult of The Organisation. These were two polarities which would never swing around to talk to each other.

This week, Frontier Tech Investor alerted readers to ‘A colossal NEW opportunity for UK investors!’ What could this be? Robots? Driverless cars? Some hitherto-unheard-of tech start-up, worth nowt today, but billions by the middle of the week after next? No, none of the above. Frontier Tech Investor is advising us, urging us, to go and buy cannabis stocks. I was so gob-smacked, I thought for a short moment I must have accidentally ingested something hallucinogenic. Is nothing sacred? Must the money-juggernaut undermine all our favourite totems? Where will it end? Johnny Rotten advertising butter?

Staggering news that this premium emblem of resistance to the world of conformity and sameness is being touted as the next hot stock to add to your portfolio. The ultimate symbol of footloose irresponsibility, refusal to sign up for the rat-race and an icon of times when life seemed easier is co-opted as just another way to be financially responsible, make enough money to leave the rat-race and a promise of times, if the stocks do well, of life being easier. ‘Turn on, tune in, drop out’ has mutated into ‘Invest, tune in, drop out.’

According to FTI ‘At least 11 cannabis stocks surged over 1,000% in 2016’ and, as if that isn’t startling enough, ‘One has soared over 3,000% (and another over 5,000%) in the last 3 years.’ You’d better get your skates on, fingers on your keyboard and get buying, because ‘By 2020 the entire industry is expected to rocket-up 700%!’. So, if you missed the boat with cannabis the first time around, you’d have to be really out-of-it to miss it a second time. Currently, only eight states in the US have ‘given the green light to legalise recreational cannabis’ but, as we all know, what America does today . . . the world does tomorrow.

This is a serious indicator of how much our little world is changing. In a professional environment of exponentially-increasing effectiveness, high-performance and the elevation of the profit motive agents of the legitimate economy are endorsing the legal ingestion of, and profitable investment in, a drug which is notorious for making you giggle, get the munchies and want to lie around doing nothing . . . i.e. the complete and utter antithesis of the capitalist work ethic. For what it’s worth, my investment advice would be to put your money in stocks which are about increased drug checks at work.

Watch this space for news of hash brownies at Starbucks, cannabis vapes and e-cigarettes for sale on the high street. In other news, last week Bob Dylan released a triple album of songs from The Great American Song Book. Life’s getting really weird! Not only are the straights stealing from the hippies, the hippies are also stealing from the straights. What to do? Best go off and have a nice, strong cup of tea . . . some things never change.

‘Come mothers and fathers throughout the land
And don’t criticize what you can’t understand
Your sons and your daughters are beyond your command
Your old road is rapidly ageing
Please get out of the new one if you can’t lend your hand
Cause the times they are a-changing.’

Bob Dylan 1964

‘How are you?’ ‘… Oh! Dont Ask!’

07 April 2017

For the Americans and the British in particular (Europeans in general being better at achieving balance in their lives) being over-worked, and/or complaining about being over-worked, is the new  professional status symbol. To misquote Descartes: ‘I’m busy, therefore I am.’

Writing in The Times, Sathnam Sanghera states that ‘humblebragging’ about being over-worked has replaced conspicuous consumption as the most effective way to signal social capital. For much of recorded history, leisure was seen as a status symbol, now we ‘proudly complain on Facebook of desperately needing a holiday’ or of being too busy to take one.

Our attitudes to work, to leisure and to our lives in general are in a state of frantic, worried change. This is driven by, amongst other things, globalisation, fake self-employment aka ‘the gig economy’, the increasingly-uncertain nature of work, the debt disaster lurking in most developed economies and the worrying prospect of an automated future where we will be replaced by machines which are more effective, efficient, easier to manage and cheaper than humans.

We are afraid. Existentially, we are possibly more afraid than at any time in history, at a time when more of us are more comfortable and possessions-rich than at any time in history. We are afraid of being unemployed, afraid of being overtaken, afraid of missing out, afraid of not being noticed, afraid of being ignored, afraid of being irrelevant. Saying that we are constantly busy must prove to someone, anyone, that we are needed, worthwhile . . . necessary!
In the end, Sanghera writes, ‘how busy we want to be, and how busy we want to appear to be’ is a choice we make ‘both personally and culturally.’

Effective people are those who create a balance in their lives between different elements which are mutually-beneficial. You cannot continue to be highly-effective at work if you do not take time to think, to rest, to read, to relax, to recharge, to pay attention to relationships, to reflect, to do nothing. Being busy is best done in short bursts. Equally, you won’t be effective if you stay in bed all day . . . although once in a while it may help.

All this may just boil down to the one vital fact that too much of anything, in the end, isn’t good for us. Work more effectively by being less busy. Balance is the necessary ingredient for a rich life.

Dropping the Pilot
– The FourSight Team

27 January 2017

The Dropping the Pilot FourSight Competence Team is growing. As is the Coaching Team. There are now six FourSight Team members including a Strategic Adviser. All are  experienced, senior professionals with deep and long experience of managing, development training, mentoring and coaching. See them here.

Each of them has insight into the curiosities of organisational life, consequently each has a wealth of experience and expertise, developed through success and adversity, all of it married to a good sense of humour, healthy scepticism, hard-won maturity and unbridled enthusiasm for getting the best out of people.

The FourSight Competence Team are all experts in delivering work based on Dropping the Pilot’s FourSight Competence framework. They also support participants on M3M, Dropping the Pilot’s highly-practical one-year, behavioural management development programme. See more on M3M here.

Burns Night in Slovakia

26 January 2017

Off to Bratislava in Slovakia with Bill Dunlop for Burns Night. No, nor did I! They’re held all over the world, why did I expect Slovakia to be any different? Anyway, important to attend these cross-cultural celebrations with an open mind and a sober blue suit, I’d feel like a complete fraud in a kilt.

While we’re there we’ll be discussing our joint Association of International Credit Directors/Dropping the Pilot conference in Bratislava in May.

In addition, we have other meetings and discussions about various initiatives. It’s looking as though Dropping the Pilot will be doing an increasing amount of work in Central Europe . . . that makes the fall in sterling a silver lining for us.