Knuckling Down at Tear Fund

Did you read this book yet? C’mon guys, keep up!

Break even

What did I take from this book? Well, I am do'er and I know that I am likely to go in to my new job and be guilty of cracking the whip to get things done. But this time I’m stepping back to get a lot of listening done over the first thirty days and then really think about what I am doing, what I am saying and how to make a really positive impact at Tear Fund.

The book talks about ‘break even’, which is the moment when you are costing the company (because you’re not adding any value), suddenly flips as you hit the point where you’re adding value to that company. Understanding the terrain, the people and the culture is the first objective. You need to find out where people’s strengths lie. Who needs encouraging, who needs promoting. Identifying who are the real assets in the organisation. Then it’s all about aligning your group and the teams you look after, with the strategy of the organisation.

Aligning people and strategy

So understand the strategy of the company then look at the people, the systems, the processes and make sure they are in-line to deliver the corporate strategy. It’s great advice and really interesting stuff. I loved reading it. What it’s made me think about doing on day one and two of my new job, is to sit down with proper pre-determined questions for each of my key team players. So I’m asking stuff like: “How is your team aligned to meet the strategy of the organisation? What’s your biggest challenge? What are your plans to meet that challenge?” And: “If you were me, what five things would you concentrate on?”

Loving it!


Ps: And here's some real food for thought

Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Big News

First 90 Days
My last blog post turned into a rave about ‘Have a Little Faith’, an amazing book I’d read on holiday. Well, just to clear the book shelves I’m having another rave this week about one more holiday book that knocked my socks off. The First 90 Days by Michael Watkins. This book came into my hands with such perfect timing as I was just weeks away from: Big News - taking up a new post as Finance Director at Tear Fund! About which more later – lots more in fact once I’ve settled in a bit.

Work out your strategy

But for now back to that brilliant, brilliant book. I took lots of business books on holiday; I took the Harvard business review books, three books on managing yourself, leadership and managing staff. But this book is all about how to really make an impact in the first 90 days of your new job. It is all about making sure you don’t get knee deep in the detail from day one, but you step back and you think about the strategy and you think about what impact you want to make. You think about what differences you want to make. You plan for what your annual objective is and then you break it down into more measurable actions.

So listen, here’s my plan. Well actually why don’t you order this book (No, I’m not on commission), read it, and then come back next week and I’ll tell you how my first day or two went at Tear Fund as I began to implement my own 90 day action plan.


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Have a Little Faith

Happy Holidays!
I’ve just got back from a wonderful holiday with my family and some of our best friends - it’s been fantastic - I always know it’s going to be fantastic!  We all love each other, so that means our kids and their kids and the adults all gel very well. We get such a buzz when our friends get on with our kids on a different level to how we relate to them as parents. It’s like they have an adult mentor who share your values but also have the ear of your kids.

Who's mentoring your kids?
So my son gets on with this mate of ours like a house on fire. My son’s very arty and so is our friend so where we don’t understand our son, our friend knows exactly what’s going on. He’s been such a good mentor for him, really good through his whole life. We went off to some archaeological ruins and our son just salivated the whole way round and our mate was the same, whereas we are a bit like ‘we’ve done this and we’re not really into the ancient ruins or ancient culture’. But they loved it, and then having realised they had a mutual interest in it they went off and did various other arty thing’s together.

Pete, my husband, just sits and looks and didn’t read a book until two and half weeks into the holiday. But he spends his work life reading, a lot of reading, so his idea of relaxation is to just sit and stare. But I spend my time on self-improvement; I don’t know what that says about myself, but I read business books and I read strategy books, I read leadership books and stuff, management books, together with some faith books, I read some gorgeous faith books on holiday, really, really good and not necessarily Christian.

My girlfriend gave me this book ‘Have a Little Faith’ and I just have to recommend it. It’s very much about faith in action and tells the true story of how this guy gets involved with the homeless. It has a very strong message, not about religion but about love and loving, it was lovely, I absolutely loved it and found myself crying!

Get it, you’ll love it too.


Fuelled by www.Tinderblogs.com


Heroes Throw Down The Gauntlet

Shock of the new
I was chatting the other day with a business friend about Help for Heroes, a charity that’s just come from out of nowhere to becoming one of the most effective in the U.K. Years back, when I was working for Dell Computers, we came in and knocked the socks off IBM and Compaq because they’d just stuck to the ground on which they’d originally built their businesses - Main Frame Computers. Then Dell came along. We were nimble, we moved fast and we knocked the socks off them – taking the rug from under their feet in terms of the PC market.
Wake up call?
I wonder how the old established charities are reacting to the Help for Heroes model. It may be that there’s a certain amount of outdated practice in the charitable sector just like there was in IBM and Compaq. That would mean that those established charities may no longer be the best in class. I think there’s a lot to be said for having people with corporate experience coming into charities and removing any layers of dust that may have settled there. But I’m aware of the debate around whether corporate culture and charitable organisations can push and pull on a two handed saw to good effect.

Heaven on earth?
At the end of the day any organisation has to be able to tell the world what its end goal is. Charities might well be able to demonstrate what they are doing and why they are doing it, but the fact that they’re working on a seemingly never-ending task with limited funds may, understandably have caused them to lose sight of their original goal. But I was pretty taken with Tear Fund’s five year strategy when I looked through it recently. I guess any charity’s ultimate goal would, bizarrely, be to close itself down due to the fact that they’re just not needed any more – job done so to speak. Now doesn't that sound like heaven on earth.


Fuelled by Tinderblogs


Write From The Tip Of My Tongue

A year or two back I was asked to contribute to the book ‘My reason for hope’ and the author had chosen various people, all well known in their field, to contribute an article about hope. Well although I can talk for England I’m not that confident with writing creatively. So knowing that I had something to say on the subject, but not having the time to struggle through the creative process I had a brainwave and called in a favour from a copywriting friend of mine.

Effortless writing 
It was fantastic, absolutely fantastic, because he just made it so painless. He just interviewed me and before I knew there was an article which, he assured me, I had written! It made me sound fluent, intelligent, confident and it actually did capture my personality because it retained my sense of fun, my personality and my voice. It put down in words what was in my mind.

The acid test
Then recently I was asked to prepare a written statement about myself for a job interview. It was a job that I had my heart set on so, wanting to get it absolutely right, I used the same writing technique. He came along and talked with me, interviewed me I suppose, and then went away put it in writing. What came back really captured me and my thoughts in just a few lines. I was interviewed by four people and two of them actually highlighted the piece and asked me questions around it, so it obviously had an impact on them. But the key aspect was that the writing had stayed absolutely true to me, my views and my nature. So because it reflected who I am so accurately it meant that I could speak freely around it.

You too!
My copywriter has gone on to set up Tinderblogs.com which is a great ghost-writing service for corporate blogs. Their motto is ‘Turning the art of conversation into the power of communication’ and I love it. In fact I’m having a great time returning the favour in helping to launch Tinderblogs. I think he finds having input from a creative Financial Director as dramatically powerful as I’ve found having a creative copywriter on board!
Click on this logo to find out more of my blogging secrets:


Fuelled by Tinderblogs