Commitment in Organizations

Much of my work with organizations involves creative review of one or more issues and then developing a strategic direction. Often the situation is complex, or is subject to regular change and is one where no single answer will suffice. Complexity is a function of our society today and is difficult to avoid when strategy-making. Complexity can be countered by crafting something that we call guiding principles. These are key to helping the organization to act in a consistent and coherent manner in situations of complexity or change.

Guiding principles complement, not displace, an organization’s detailed strategy and business plan. The detailed strategy and plan are the systems (or the outline for systems needed), while guiding principles are the commitment. Guiding principles can help a collection of people to understand the very essence of an idea, interpret it for their situation and then act on the idea in their own way.

Guiding principles can help us make sense of things through our own, personal lens. They keep us consistent and aligned to an overall identity or strategy and to do this they must hold particular meaning to you or your group. They are willingly applied by a collection of people. Principles help us to understand a general direction, then personally interpret and apply them to situations that arise afterward.

A good guiding principle has the following characteristics –

  • It achieves a great deal with very few words.
  • It is applicable across a range of situations, but interpretable at an individual level.
  • It is memorable.
  • It uses straightforward language.
  • It will often begin with an action verb to help decision-making.
  • It is one of a small number of principles. Having just one is probably not enough. More than six and you reduce their effectiveness of being memorable, straightforward and so forth.

A good example is the following – Everything in moderation, nothing in excess. This phrase can have a number of interpretations for different people. Some will see it as the need for a steady approach. Others might see that within this phrase, extreme peaks and troughs are fine – on occasion, but not regularly. In all cases, users of the principle will interpret its overall meaning to suit their specific situation. In brief, they will be able to commit to the general idea, in a unique way that has the most relevant meaning for them.

The key aspect of guiding principles is that they help a collection of people to commit on a personal level. They are very helpful in generating strategically-aligned momentum with a variety of stakeholders. This is important. Strategies and plans are written regularly, but it is rare indeed when a strategy is enacted with no interruptions or hiccups along the way.

German Field Marshall van Moltke, who was a brilliant military strategist, once said, ‘No battle plan survives contact with the enemy’. Moltke did not avoid the discipline of making strategic plans; indeed, he was apparently a very meticulous planner. What he did recognize, however, was that battle plans do not remain static. Any engagement is an emergent activity and strategies should be capable of dealing with emergence.

Guiding principles, I believe, are the bridge between outlining a system of strategic direction and building strategic commitment among those who will make the strategy a reality. Guiding principles give momentum to strategies by providing a clear way for individuals to make a commitment. The key connection of commitment, change and principles is the ability to receive the gist of a direction and to apply it personally. This makes sense. Regardless of the systems provided in each environment, it is individuals who must decide if, and how, they will personally commit and engage.

I am not advocating the end of strategy-making. No set of statements, principles or otherwise, should ever completely displace detailed strategic planning based on evidence, insights and genuine needs. However, I have seen how far-reaching the concepts of principles and individual commitment can be. The idealist in me asks if it is possible to ascribe or co-create a set of global guiding principles that serve fundamental concepts and which could be interpreted and applied by individuals? If whole regions, like Europe can do this, then perhaps there is hope for a global perspective to develop.

What would a global set of principles look like? How could they possibly encapsulate the enormous complexity of the planet we live on and yet be memorable and applicable for everyone (or those willing to participate) to embrace? Is it naïve or hopeful to think that agreeing to a set of world principles is possible? We will not know the answer to this, unless we attempt the debate. Below is a set of six principles which if applied at a personal level by individuals, might sharpen global focus on some significant and persistent issues of our time. These are suggestions* – the beginnings of a conversation about committing to key principles and working together to make them a reality.

  • 1. One Earth.
  • 2. Reduce, Reuse,Recycle.
  • 3. Treat Others as You Would Have Them treat you.
  • 4. Good Parenting is Priceless.
  • 5. Knowledge is Nothing Unless Shared.
  • 6. I Can 2.

Changing Our Minds

“The problems that exist in the world today cannot be solved by the level of thinking that created them.”
– Einstein (attr.)

Most of us have heard this quotion which says that we are limited by the quality of our own reflections. That is, the paradigm we live from and the language we use determine what we see and do. Our conceptual framework constantly shapes the questions we ask, the targets we set for ourselves and the way that we measure success. While our language empowers us to create successful systems and to change them, our language also limits our thinking and perpetuates the problems we want to solve – if we are resorting to ‘reflexive fixes’ and failing to address the fundamentals that created the difficulty. Thus, the linguistic-mental framework that created our success becomes a prison locking us into actions that feed the problem rather than solve it. What we need is a new type of reflection.

Among the daily challenges for leaders should be the development of a new level of thinking that is not at the same tier where the problems were created. This applies to the leader as an individual, as well as to the organizations they manage. I would argue that due to the deep, systemic nature of current global problems, a ‘third order’ change is called for — beyond doing the same things more efficiently (1st order) or slightly changing the rules (2nd order). We need change of a fundamentally different nature.

Organizations need to be able to create that change and leaders are the essential catalysts in such a process. Leaders need to develop the ability to appropriately respond to rising complexities by creating the conditions that will stimulate fundamental change as it is needed. From business thinkers come suggestions for developing leadership competencies in the areas of ethics, aesthetics, and wisdom in response to early 21st century needs. In the brief space of this article I would like to touch on the merits of giving attention to the middle quality – aesthetics – as a leadership compentence.

Aesthetics and Business

There are at least three different ways that aesthetics and business meet: in the tactical importance of design and aesthetics for products and services, in attention for aesthetic leadership as a personal quality and as the strategic application of an aesthetic paradigm to rethink business and economy. “The MFA is the new MBA” is probably the most concise way of introducing the growing importance of ‘the right brain mind’ in business. Daniel Pink made this comment in the 2004 Harvard Business Review, when remarking on large corporations hiring promising arts school graduates in a market placing increasing importance on creativity.

Design and the ability to ‘create experience’ increasingly determine the value of products and services and this requires new competencies for key employees and managers. They must be able to identify, stimulate and organize the creative and narrative powers that shape these products and services. Already such competencies moved from ‘nice to have’, ‘need to have’.

Aesthetic Leadership

During the 1990’s, Pierre Guillet de Montoux started unlocking the deeper potential of aesthetics at the Stockholm School of Business. In Aesthetic Leadership- Managing Fields of Flow he talks about “aesthetic management” and describes how companies and managers can use their aesthetic abilities to envision their future and inspire their organizations. His treatment makes clear that aesthetics is part of a long historical development:. “Arthur Schopenhauer extended philosophy into a new market for metaphysics where art could work. Joseph Beuys extended art into society. Now the time has come to expand the art firm from … theatres to business on a vast aesthetic field…”. This trend is found in other business schools – Helsinki, Copenhagen, Oslo and Insead who are all adopting programs or activities researching the promise of aesthetics, while companies themselves are engaging in practical programs that draw from art appreciation in order to stimulate creativity and innovation.

Strategic Aesthetics and Third Order Change in Business

Matthieu Weggeman of the Netherlands identifies aesthetics as one of the distinguishing characteristic for a possible “Rhineland model’ of doing business, offsetting it against the Anglo Saxon approach. Back in 2006 and 2009 Göteborg University School of Business organized a conference “The Design of Prosperity: The Driving Forces of Our Present Future” and the Borås summit on “The Design of Change and Innovation”. The underlying question on the summit’s announcement asked “The dream of modernity of over: what happens to prosperity?”. During its lectures and workshops, Scandinavian CEO’s met with European artists to discuss possible relationships between art, design and new roads for prosperity, economics and business. Their aim was to see whether using a humanistic, cultural paradigm allowed new questions to be asked and new solutions to be formulated. This sort of development may seem elusive, but there is nothing trivial about aesthetics in business. Its development can mean the difference between success and failure, while its adoption might completely transform organizations. For leaders to benefit from this trend, however, they need to first be aware of it and able to distinguish its different levels/possible effects as well as having the competency to engage its support when necessary.

Ideally, leaders will be encouraged to develop their ‘rhapsodic mind’ and be able to think like a Leonardo da Vinci, or at least emulate this sensitivity with its requisite ability to respond appropriately and from a place of depth. To do so we will need to identify new sources of inspiration, develop new qualities of reflection in order to develop that potential into practical solutions for business and society at large.

Strategic Development and Project Management

Chris Parkhouse is an expert in business development issues, who has spent over 25 years with various high profile organisiations, operating both domestically and internationally. He has worked for groups such as Provident Mutual, GRE, Aegon, Virgin, Abbey/Santander, in roles such as Corporate Sales Director and Director of Strategic Alliances.

In 2005, Chris Parkhouse founded Deyton Bell to provide specialist professional business services to other organisations. Still led by Chris, as Managing Director, the business has grown rapidly since its launch and now operates across the UK and international markets, working with clients of all sizes and from all business sectors.

Chris’s areas of expertise centre around business development issues: sales development, building strategic alliances, proposition development, strategic development and project management. Chris has particular specialist knowledge of international business development, having worked with clients from Asia, Australasia, Europe and particularly from the USA.

Chris is a non-resident US citizen, who has been educated and worked in the US and who has resided in the UK now for 30 years with his family. Chris is also a very experienced speaker and has taken part at conferences/seminars in the UK, Europe, Far East and USA, as well as contributing to various publications, TV and radio programmes and participating in a variety of forums and groups throughout his career.

Away from work, Chris likes to keep fit and is a rowing enthusiast, who trains and competes in all types of boat and crew and enjoys any opportunity to be out on the river.

As well as running a successful business, Chris holds a number of senior roles in the wider business community, providing him with a greater depth of business experience, insight and contacts in both the private and public sector. These roles include:

• Chairman, East of England IDB Limited
• Chairman, Institute of Directors East of England
• Fellow, Institute of Sales and Marketing Management
• Member of the Worshipful Company of Management Consultants
• Member, Board of the Greater Cambridge Partnership
• Member, British American Business Council
• Member, Chamber of Commerce US and International Committee

For further information, please contact:
Chris Parkhouse
Managing Director
Deyton Bell Limited
Newton Hall
Town Street
CB22 7ZE
Tel: 01223 873033 (office)
Tel: 07730 718218 (mobile)

Building Peace and Good Will

“Rotary International is an organization of business and professional leaders united worldwide who provide humanitarian service, encourage high ethical standards in all vocations, and help build goodwill and peace in the world.” ~

Rotary club memberships represent a cross-section of the community’s business and professional men and women. Speaking with several Gibsons Rotary members, I heard a common refrain: People join Rotary because they are community-minded and wish to embrace the motto “Service above self.”

“You get what you give,” says Blane Hagedorn, who has been a member for 18 years. Hagedorn’s business is based in retail foods and the service industry. While Rotary membership develops business relationships, he said that is not why he joined. Fellowship and service to the community are uppermost in his mind.

Lynette Robinson, a top-producing realtor for 15 years, is excited about the good that is done by Rotary. She has been a member for just one year, but was involved with the organization for quite some time before that. Robinson greatly admires the positive differences made by members, both globally and in their own community.

Carol Doyle owns the unique Gift of the Eagle, a gallery that features the work of local artists. “Rotarians are from every walk of life,” Doyle says, “and so they offer a great deal of expertise and support, both to their members and the community at large.” Doyle looks forward to her weekly meetings where members work on common goals involving global projects or raising funds to put back into the Gibsons community. Some examples of projects the Gibsons Rotary Club has been involved in are the gazebo in the harbour, the stage in Winegarden Park, the first three computers at Gibsons Library and the change rooms at Brothers Park. Doyle feels that Rotary is like a family where everyone is equally valued.

Gibsons Rotary unites with other Coast clubs, particularly on international and joint projects. Additionally, each club has its own projects.

Gibsons Rotary has made young people in our community a high priority. The Beachcombers Gala and Auction set up an endowment producing thousands of dollars in scholarships annually. Interact Club, which involves local high school students in projects both locally and internationally, just celebrated its 15th anniversary. This was the first Interact Club in our Rotary District, which includes part of upstateWashington, most of Lower Mainland, Powell River, Whistler, and up to Prince George and Terrace. International student exchanges, Rotary Youth Leadership Camp and Sprockids programs all benefit from strong Rotary involvement.

Interviews with Newly Appointed ILOL Fellows

Interview with:

  • Professor MUDr.Karel Pacak, DrSc. ILOL Fellow in health care

Chief, Section on Medical Neuroendocrinology, NICHD, NIH, Bethesda, USA

Research Topics: Neuroendocrine Tumors and Endocrine Oncology, Functional Imaging

1. What trends do you expect in your professional area in the coming three years?

In the next three years I expect changes in new therapeutic options for tumors based on new functional imaging approaches. New functional imaging approaches will detect the degree of hypoxia, apoptosis, angiogenesis, proliferation as well as tumor-specific markers. This will open a new therapy called “individualized medicine” and will efficiently target tumors by reducing cost and use of many ineffective drugs that cause serious side effects.

2. What do you consider the worst threat of the future development in your profession?

I see the worst threat as having a “gap” between newly gained scientific knowledge and its application into clinical practice in my profession. Even at present, clinicians are not able to apply more than 10% of new scientific knowledge available to them simply due to work load, complexity of patients and the lack of proper education in new clinical fields (proteomics, genomics, metabolomics, ethical issues sharing health related patients’ problem with 3rd parties).

3. What does desired quality of life mean for you – now and in ten years?

Desired quality of life is related to a so-called psychological wellness. Depression, anxiety, and nervousness derived from the inability to manage workload and multitask will significantly influence how we function, behave and obtain a sense well-being. If there is no change in attitudes and accesses towards work and evaluation of employees in the nearest future, the majority of people will take drugs and depression will be the number one illness.


  • Carlos Valiente, Ph.D. ILOL Fellow in health care

1. What trends do you expect in your professional area in the coming three years?

During the next three years I expect scholars to increasingly focus on the dynamic interplay between neural or physiological systems and environmental conditions when predicting key developmental outcomes. I further expect that family scholars will be motivated to pursue research agendas that are funded by organizations that have not traditionally played a significant role in shaping developmental science.

2. What do you consider the worst threat of the future development in your profession?

One of the most significant threats is the difficulty of disseminating scientific knowledge in ways that positively impact public life. The devaluation of scientific gains can undermine public support for future investments, particularly given policy makers’ needs to balance significant financial pressures from multiple constituents.

3. What does desired quality of life mean for you – now and in ten years?

There are individual differences in how one achieves and maintains a quality life. To me, a desired quality of life stems from an observance of basic human rights that allow individuals and families to balance working to meet their physical needs as well as the emotional and relational needs of the family members. Most precisely, fulfilling the purposes for my life is the best way to achieve a quality life. While the precise nature of these elements change over time, I do not think the fundamental premise changes.

The Truth About Network Marketing

It’s interesting to hear people’s opinions about Network Marketing. There are some people that think It’s a pyramid scheme, a scam, not a profession, or that it does not work. Shame on them. If only these same people got educated about the industry, they would think differently. The people that I’m referring to are the people who have been exposed to our industry either directly, they have been approached in the past or indirectly, they know of someone who was in Network Marketing, or was also exposed.

This is sickening! Uncle Harry tells you It’s illegal and that you’ve been brainwashed into thinking you can be successful in Network Marketing. Your landlord thinks It’s one of those “pyramid thing’s and that Network Marketing doesn’t work, and your friend Marty says, “Your doing one of those things AGAIN?”

Two of the above situations happened to me. No, I don’t have a Uncle Harry. First of all, my landlord is closed-minded and doesn’t care to know the truth. Now don’t get me wrong, I don’t say that to poke fun but to illustrate how there are other people like my landlord. I once heard that the truth shall set you free. Lets just hope they accept the truth.

As for Marty, that was a legitimate question. I’ve been in the marketing industry off and on for 5 years. My first experience was direct marketing traveling the East Coast, business to business, selling an all natural degreaser. I spent 3 months BROKE, living and mooching off the company, and only sold 1 case of 12 bottles the entire time. It was a very interesting experience and one I will never forget.

I did direct marketing again selling vacuums for about two months and sold NOTHING, then I tried once more selling a pendant and ID card that was used to retrieve personal and medical information electronically. I sold NOTHING.

So I tried Network Marketing. The first company I was with is over 30 years old and is on the NYSE. First I was a customer then I became a distributor, and I still use the service today. I have saved money using this service and will continue to do so. For about 7 months, I only sold one plan to my mother-in-law and that was that. It was with this company that I was introduced to self-development or self-help. The training, support and resources were ALL there but one thing was missing- my REASONS! So I ended up QUITTING.

During my next venture in Network Marketing, I was going to college to earn an Associates Degree in Computer Networking. I was learning to become a MCSE (Microsoft Certified Systems
Engineer). I was doing great, fantastic and on my way until I let myself get DISTRACTED. Four months before the end date of college, I came across another company. The pay plan was awesome… the people were great and supportive… I paid a total of $600 to attend three seminars and I felt great. But something happened. I had a lot of products in my basement and was using the products, but I lost BELIEF.

I was off the path! Oh my God! I also had thousands worth of products that were just sitting there collecting dust! What the hell was I going to do? Well, I did NOTHING.

In between companies, I dabbled with Internet Marketing. Buying courses, ebooks, programs, websites, audios, videos, reports and almost anything learning how to have a profitable home based business.

Within a 5 year period I had invested $15,000 and felt lost, confused, aggravated, frustrated but more importantly shame. I was ashamed of myself because I was a FAILURE. I felt as if I failed myself, and others were there NOT to boost me up but to say, “I told you so? (in a nutshell). Though very few of my family and friends knew about my experiences, the few who knew was enough.

I was wrong!! I should not have felt ashamed even though I was confused, aggravated, lost and frustrated. With so many Network Marketing companies and Internet Marketing courses, how could ANYONE make an educated decision to learn ONE system and stick with it? Multiple streams of income? Which ones do I choose? The ad copy looks great and is compelling me to buy but should I buy ANOTHER ebook, program or course when I haven’t even APPLIED what I’ve learned from all the others? That if I took the time to read it.

I was blaming everything and everyone for MY failure! I fell VICTIM to the myth that all I had to do is position myself in front of a trend and the money would come to me. That all I had to do was sit in my underwear, on the couch, send some postcards every now and then and watch the money roll in. My victim mentality was getting me, my family, my dreams, my hope and future in Network Marketing NO WHERE!

Do not make the same mistakes I have made. If you are still reading this, thank you and god bless you. That tells me one of three things:

1) You have the victim mentality and you are still doing what I’ve done for the past 5 years.

2) you’ve been there and done that and have found the path.

3) You’re looking for a way out of the victim mentality and
have not found the path.

If you’re still confused, aggravated, lost and frustrated then I know how you feel. If you’ve been there and done that and have found the path, you’re a good student! If you have the victim mentality but are looking for a way out but have not found the path, this is what I’ve found out.

I used to feel that the more I knew, the more money I would make. What I found is that It’s NOT TRUE. The more you know about marketing from more than ONE PERSON, the more likely you are to be confused, aggravated, frustrated and lost. Why? Because you’re learning from more than person about the same subject when both of them give you completely different answers. How else would you explain buying all those ebooks, courses and programs about Internet Marketing? Have you read all of them? I was guilty of doing this to.

To be a good student, one must find a teacher or mentor and MODEL what they did to reach their GOALS. Notice I said “a teacher or mentor. This means ONE person, not two or more.

Very few people understand the concept of modeling and goal setting when it comes to a profitable business, whether it be Network Marketing or Internet Marketing. I know I did because I just wanted to know how to make money.

The SECRET to making money in Network Marketing, Internet Marketing or any business is a mandatory law that very few marketers know, or will share with the masses because this law will break their business or will change your victim mentality into a success mentality.

ALL successful people had a MENTOR and those who want to be successful in marketing, have to have a mentor. This is a law, a mandatory principle to your success. If you continue breaking this law, as I once did, you will have similar results in your marketing career as I once did.

For the sake of your confusion, frustration, aggravation and DEBT, either change what you’re doing RIGHT NOW or STOP what you’re doing all together because you will not succeed.