#EmptyShelf17 #15 Do Purpose by David Hieatt

Do Purpose: Why Brands with a Purpose Do Better and Matter More (Do Books)Do Purpose: Why Brands with a Purpose Do Better and Matter More by David Hieatt
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

This is a very simple visual book (would go well in the loo, for those who have those sort of things), that’s full of useful insights. I always say I don’t want to teach people to sell more shoes, but this guy sells jeans, and has brought 400 jobs back to a jobless part of Britain in doing so … products with values, that’s what I want to see!!

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#EmptyShelf17 #4: What Money Can’t Buy: The Moral Limits of Markets by Michael J. Sandel

The introduction starts strongly, and throughout the book it challenges our thinking, and what we’ve become used to as the ‘norm’ in our contemporary society (this is partly why I think history and anthropology are helpful, the help us see that life was/can be different according to different values, beliefs and social norms):

The years leading up the financial crisis of 2008 were a heady time of market faith and deregulation – an era of market triumphalism. The era began in the early 1980s, when Ronald Reagan and Margaret Thatcher proclaimed their conviction that markets, not government, held the key to prosperity not freedom. And it continued into the 1990s, with the market-friendly liberalism of Bill Clinton and Tony Blair, who moderated but consolidated the faith that markets are the primary means for achieving the public good.

Today, that faith is in doubt. The era of market triumphalism has come to an end. The financial crisis did more than cast doubt on the ability of markets to allocate risk efficiently. It also prompted a widespread sense that markets have become detached from morals and that we need somehow to reconnect them. But it’s not obvious what this would mean, or how we should go about it.

The main reasons for worrying about a society in which ‘everything is for sale’ (I think we have seen, with e.g. the NHS) are inequality (if you have less, you’ll have less access) and corruption (as money buys political influence, etc.) and as the gap gets larger, this gets more problematic.

I talked to people for several days after finishing this book about aspects that I’d read in it, including the notion that money can buy your way to top of the queue for everything, how money is used as an incentive – and those who are poorer have less choice but to accept the incentives – including for sterilisation (there appears to be a choice, but it’s a limited choice), questions of authenticity in friendship and best man speeches, an investigations into insurance industries where investors are basically invested in the insurance holders dying early, and the question of how far every aspect of life should be open to advertising and naming, and how this has changed the fundamental nature of e.g. baseball matches – where everyone used to stand side-by-side, and now many are ‘up in the boxes’, and the sport less brings people together than reinforces pre-existing divdes. Each section has interesting ways in which attempts have/are being made to ‘do things differently’.

Buy the book (Amazon)

See this TED talk by the author:


Developing Cultural Intelligence for Leadership (MOOC, Week 2) #FLdevelopCQ

So, just catching up with Week 2 of ‘Developing Cultural Intelligence for Leadership’ from Common Purpose/Futurelearn.

Talking Core and Flex

Do you know what your central values and purpose are – do you know what to hold onto, and what you can adapt to fit different (cultural) circumstances?

Our Core comprises the things that define us: our own personal ‘over my dead body’ list. These are things that won’t change (or won’t change easily). Their solidity is our strength. In our Flex are things that we can choose to change – things that we can adapt to circumstances, or to other people or other cultures. Their fluidity is equally our strength. (Common Purpose)

This video is suggested as worthwhile to watch:

More than Identity

In many ways it appears that as a child we have very strong ideas of our core identity, and then as we meet others our identity is challenged as we engage with different beliefs and backgrounds.

I would never

List what you believe to be in your own Core and Flex. Think about values, behaviours, skills, beliefs and identity. List them fast. Don’t stop to put them in any order.

  • “I would never………!” (CORE)
    • Kill someone
    • Cheat anyone
    • Want to disrespect anyone
    • Want to give up without really trying
  • “I don’t really mind…….” (FLEX)
    • If someone thinks differently from me – but I want to understand where you’re coming from – I enjoy difference/identifying connections

Is it Core or is it Flex?

This is really interesting, and summed up in the final paragraph:

Over time, we will also find that our Core is likely to get smaller and contains fewer things that really must be there. It is important to have the duality of having core values and, at the same time, the openness to challenge our beliefs and assumptions from experiences of different cultures. As it gets smaller, our Core will also become sounder and more robust. Though this may sound counter-intuitive, the more inflexible our Core becomes over time, the greater our abilities to Flex become, because we’ll know where we genuinely can and where we genuinely can’t move. All this improves our trustworthiness, and with it, our Cultural Intelligence.

Nothing but Core

Those who are too certain about their core tend to be inflexible (and therefore poor) leaders. Can you identify something that has moved from Core to Flex or from Flex to Core in each decade of your life?

  • 70s-80s: Probably all about me – don’t remember too much about these few years!
  • 80s-90s: Pretty ‘certain’ time in life – things were black & white, until moved into teenage years..
  • 90s-00s: Start to question things a great deal more – especially once entered PhD “the more you learn, the more you realise the less you know”
  • 00s-10s: PhD completed, difficult first few jobs which led to questioning of what ‘really want’, started engaging with coaching/questioning options for choices
  • 10s-date: Super convinced knew where was heading for = not worked out as expected. New role, seeking to ensure ‘what I want’ figures in there whilst giving as expected.

Learn to Flex

Another interesting paragraph here, before it goes onto questioning beliefs:

We have to get the basics right. Flex generally starts with behaviours which are very important signifiers as we operate in other cultures, not least because they demonstrate that we have Flex and we’re not too arrogant (or frightened) to actually change. Take every opportunity to understand how other people express their values through behaviour. It is not about changing who we are but helping us to change how we express it. There’s no quick way to learn it either.

The exercise goes on to consider Julia Middleton heading into an Arabic country where she would have to cover up head-to-toe. Originally thinking this went against everything she stood for, she then decided to go with it, and learnt a huge amount about what life was truly like as a woman in that position. Having taken a flex position, she was then able to speak with an Arabic man more deeply about how he struggled with the behaviour of western women. Flexibility opens your eyes.

Not too much

An interesting analysis of those who have ‘not enough’ core, and become over-flex, including ‘going native’, proving that one is ‘in’, as an immigrant want to ‘fit in’ (losing roots), avoiding polarisation, or hiding that don’t have enough core.

This reminds me of many a conversation that I’ve had about ‘Christian distinctiveness’ – how do we engage with the earth whilst holding onto the core of heaven?!

Our personal perceptions

Does our self-perception match those of others? ‘People assume that I am………..’

I’ve done this several times during coaching – so I’m just going to link to my outcomes from that exercise.

The anchor

A useful analogy:

The analogy that someone once said to me was somebody who’s into boating. Not my strength, but it was quite an interesting analogy. And he was saying if you moor a boat and anchor it, if you make the anchor very strong but the anchor rope very, very short, the boat, as soon as you get any waves or winds, begins to fight the waves and begins to crack and crash on the waves. If, however, when you moor your boat, you make the rope long enough, then the boat has this ability to float and go with the waves. And it doesn’t end up crashing.And I think that it was quite a useful analogy is that if your Core is strong enough and clear enough, then it allows you to be enormously flexible.

If you are going to become a strong leader, then you need to allow people to see your core (vulnerability).

The Sliding Scale

A consideration of whether any of your core are problematic, and could they become flex? Is any of your core putting up barriers to others, or even offending them? Could you relax some of them?

A moment of realisation

A video with Myrna Atalla, the Executive Director, of Alfanar and Faraz Khan, the CEO and Co-founder, of SEED Ventures, highlighting when they noticed these subtle shifts in their Core and Flex; and how that impacted their ways of working.

Interesting re growing up in the United States with a ‘work all hours’ ethic, then working for an American Law firm in Paris, where the demands were endless (and a desire to finish kept her going), and often found herself the only one in the office, as the French workers had a clear approach to work and had gone home. Set up own company so could work with what she thought was core to ‘make things happen’, then had a child – realised her core to be with husband/child was more important than spending all hours at work!

The intersection

Once we understand our own core/flex, we need to think about how we are engaging with others, and whether they are working in core or flex? Are they in an area of comfort/discomfort, and is there space for manoeuvre? Operating effectively at the intersections requires:

  • believing that all people have good intentions and bring added value to the interaction, until we see real evidence to the contrary
  • being open to the fact that people are different: sharing our own Core while not imposing our Core on them
  • avoiding the trap of labeling people and limiting respect to those with the same Core as us
  • seeing the value in having uncomfortable conversations, and not avoiding them.

Sometimes the best evangelism is simply telling people you're a Christian and then not being a complete jerkDeep beliefs

What happens when we are working in an area where our core beliefs are never going to flex? This is particularly key in the area of faith – where there are solid cores … are clashes inevitable? Think the following quote is from Bishop Tim Stevens, who has had extensive conversations with Skaykh Ibrahim Mogra from the Muslim faith:

And I think as a person who’s a religious leader, what that does is make me realise that any claims I make about God are always somewhat partial. That God is, in the end, God and cannot be reduced to any formulas, however profound and however deep seated I might live by.

Reminded me of this pic to the right that I agree with heartily!

Mistakes happen

Misunderstandings can occur and destroy trust – particularly likely to happen in cultures that are not that far apart, so may feel comfortable – but have misread the core.

…. official company policy:  Making any mistake once was OK, so long as it was an honest mistake made while attempting to do what they felt was the right thing. Making any mistake once was OK, but repeating that same mistake a second time was NOT OK. The hard, fast rule was that if you made any mistake for the first time the entire team would have your back in fixing that mistake if anything went wrong. However, if you ever repeated the mistake a second time, then you were 100 percent on your own to face the consequences.  This rule applied for every first-time occurrence of each new mistake you made. (Forbes Article)

There is so much that can be learnt from mistakes and can be taken into the next situation.

Papering the cracks

Someone once said that leaders are like teabags: ‘You only know if they are any good when you put them in hot water’. For those constantly working in flex, there’s nothing to fall back on. For true trust/relationship development then you need to converse at the level of core [I’m sure I’ve seen this happen on Facebook plenty of times!] – so worth seeking out those of differing faith beliefs, political convictions, or other culture/society and seek to understand where people are ‘coming from’.

Stop, start, continue

Think about what you are going to stop, start and continue doing based on your learnings from this week!

This week’s material fitted well with Chapter 42 that have just read from We Make the Road by Walking, and with conversations I had yesterday with City of Sanctuary in Manchester, who are seeking to change the perception of refugees, and ensuring that the city is a place of welcome to fellow human beings.

The Cultural Intelligence muscle

Needs to be engaged with to progress – can’t just go out and talk to others, need to understand and question your own culture:

Where does my own culture add enormous value? Where does my culture give me blind spots? What are my views that are based on facts? What are my views the are based on I’m not sure what? What is based on judgement ? What’s on prejudgment? Where does it give me biases? Where does it give me strengths? Where does my own culture give me stumbling blocks or prevent me from understanding or even hearing what you’re saying?

In conversations with others, be prepared to understand a little more about them – and yourself – and be ready to expose a little of yourself…

This week’s material finishes with:

Go and find somebody who is 25 years younger than you, or 25 years older than you, or from the other side of the world, or from the other side of your city, or works in a sector that’s an absolute mystery to you. Get out there. Have those conversations, and tell us how they go.

Thanks commonpurpose for another interesting set of material.



[SLIDESHOW] Meet Generation Z

Some interesting stats on “Generation Z” (always wary about generational divides), and what ‘pushes their buttons’:

Meet Generation Z: Forget Everything You Learned About Millennials from Anita Valerio

10 Commandments of Higher Education?

Enjoyed this piece – so important to think what higher education is about, what it’s for, and how much we can achieve when we share values (difficult in such a time of competition):

Delivering the conference’s presidential address on 12 December, Sir David said that universities needed to think harder about their “moral compass”, adding that the cardinal rule for the academy should be to “strive to tell the truth”.

“Academic freedom, in the sense of following difficult ideas wherever they may lead, is possibly the fundamental ‘academic’ value,” he said.

His second commandment was for universities to “take care in establishing the truth”, urging academics to prize the scientific method or the search for “authenticity” in the humanities.

“There’s a particular type of academic bad faith, which moves too quickly to rhetoric and persuasion in advance of the secure establishment of the grounds for conviction,” he argued.

Read full article.