We are all heroes without capes – if we back off

As a recently certified Emily Post Business Etiquette trainer, I have been delivering sessions at Edith Cowan University about the usual stuff: how to write an email, how to work a room, how to post on LinkedIn without looking awkward or cringey. I was recently asked to write an article for one of my favourite publications, The Conversation interviewed on ABC radio and on a breakfast show on the social norm of greetings and the demise of the handshake or hug. The article posits this: while most greeting rituals denote status, dominance, relationship and cultural norms, not touching each other does one more thing. It contributes to communal well being.

Yoda: Not the baby we wanted, but the baby we needed

I have to admit it. I fell for Baby Yoda at first sight. Those big black eyes, the tiny nose, the big ears, the swaddly-looking robe. The absolutely perfect expressions, somewhere between wisdom, vulnerability, naivete and knowingness. My frequent writing colleague Jeff Volkheimer and I just published an article about Baby Yoda, and how it is an example of how market actors use clout to shape markets. Or, in non-academic speak, how power market actors exert their influence by using their own power, and those of others, to bend the market to their will. Disney is a big actor, and Disney+ will disrupt even further the fractured subscription service scene. Baby Yoda is a big weapon in that arsenal, perfectly executed, meme worthy, and the tiny being that seems to unite us all across the world this holiday season.

Drinking the Tears of My Haters

Coming up with a good title for a presentation is essential – especially at conferences where people have other things to go to. I recently presented at the Australian Institute of Project Management’s “Revolution” National Conference. The AIPM is a fantastic industry body. This conference has great networking, a friendly vibe as well as sessions that can relate to management of anything: not just projects. My colleagues Richard Hughes and Jeff Volkheimer worked with me on a presentation about managing resistance in leadership. The presentation was well attended and so much fun to give. I look forward to developing the ideas and writing more about them because what to do with your haters is a frightfully small part of the business literature out there.


How you doin?

It is the 25th anniversary of the TV Show Friends, and when I saw the call to write something marking the occasion, I wrangled my writing buddy Jeff Volkheimer, and told him what I loved most about the show: the authenticity of the characters throughout the series. Both Jeff and I work in large corporate environments, and have many managers over our 20-plus year career. As managers as well as those being managed, we had lots of opinions about what made a good manager. The idea for this article in the conversation was born – and although some commenters thought learning anything from watching Friends is a bit of a stretch, I disagree. Everything we know and observe can make us better managers, colleagues and people.

Technology is an investment, especially in healthcare.

In health care settings, as in educational institutions, we like to think of our customers as different to the usual definition. They are called “patients”, “clients”, “partners” or “students”. These names denote the special and particular relationship we have with them. There are very solid traditional and cultural reasons for that difference. Nonetheless, in all these settings, technology is an investment which can deliver better outcomes if it is used properly, is culturally appropriate and if we don’t make the mistake of thinking that machines can always replace people. In this article, taken from a ServiceNow conference I recently attended, I was on a panel with technology in Health Care specialists who are delivering results for their organisations, and patients. but there is a lot more to do in this space to breakdown the notions (and accounting cost codes) to see tehcnology as delivering the results it does.

Longevity and leverage: stakeholders and staff in Project Management

The AIPM WA was kind enough to invite me to speak at an industry breakfast this week on Longevity and Leverage, or managing people during a project to get the maximum discretionary effort possible. The breakfast was held during one of the stormiest weeks in Perth on record, but we still have about forty people in the room who shared their perspectives on what engaged them emotionally in their work and on “soft” versus “hard” skills – and their value in the modern workplace.

I was honoured to be invited and have such an engaged audience. The perspectives I shared are part of a growing interest in the overlap between our behaviours in our personal lives around love and how they can manifest, to our benefit, in our work life. Many people say “Love your work” but they often don’t say “Love the people you work with”. However if you use the basic tenants of love and attachment and (appropriately) tie them to the workplace you can find that the way you are projecting positivity is more impactful than traditional management models.

Thanks, AIPM, for the opportunity to share the love on love – and I look forward to engaging with my PM colleagues at the AIPM national conference in Melbourne this year!

Customer Experience in Health Care: What role does technology play?


“Knowledge” is the name of the annual conference for a product called ServiceNow. I was glad to be invited on a panel about customer experience across the service continuum in health care environments. Are patients customers? When does their experience begin and end? What role do invisible and visible technologies play in the patient experience? I was lucky to appear on this panel with my colleague, Jeff, from Duke Health, Michael Warden and Erik Zempel from the University of Michigan and ServiceNow’s own Barbara Rotondo. This conference, about 20,000 strong is a great example of generating enthusiasm, sharing learning and showcasing products all in one geographic, simultaneous space.

“Hey Google, open the pod bay doors…”

The Conversation is an international, non-profit publication of some repute in academic circles. Mainly because it takes research and knowledge from academic experts and applies it to contemporary issues in a relevant way. Jeff Volkheimer and I are pleased that they have published a recent article of ours on the film 2001: A Space Odyssey and its prophetic projection as it relates to voice assistants in consumer electronics and who they really work for. The upshot? Google Assistant, Siri, Alexa and that crowd aren’t working for you even though the companies make it look like they are.

The process of writing this article, and the editors at The Conversation (along with the internal ECU team) were so supportive and made writing this a pleasure. I look forward to more Conversation articles to come.