Going back to my roots

Hello everyone ..

I have been absent for some time and switched focus to other platforms and media for sharing news, ideas and general thoughts .. forgetting that I was originally on the right track having set up my Blog site, invested in my own domain and expended lots of effort to build and establish my brand.

It’s truly ironic how one’s life takes you in different directions and how, in our rush to get on with things, we often forget about what truly drives us and what we should be focussing our energy on.

Well, those are the types of things that have been running through my mind for the past two years and, with the rollercoaster ride I engaged in, I am determined to rediscover my passion and make 2019 the start of ‘me’ returning to my r’roots’ .. rediscovering and celebrating my core interests.

I invested 5 years of my life developing my interests while moving from being an undergraduate to a postgraduate student. That was over 25 years ago … a quarter of a century. Wow .. time really doesn’t wait for any person (man and/or woman!).

I hope to return to a time where I had boundless energy and enthusiasm for knowledge with the expectation of breaking new ground augmenting machines and systems to make human lives less monotonous.

With that in mind, I will return to my interests in Artificial Intelligence, Machine Learning and ‘Thinking Systems’ .. topics which are now mainstream and an active part of everyday vocabulary.

This should me my time .. given my personal history and aspiration to be useful and add value to others both in academia and the professional workplace.

So … (note to self) .. remember the words of the wise old men & women of the past.

Bring on 2019 .. and be congruent with your conscious and unconscious self.

Greatness or Goodness

I am taking a much needed rest this week .. after having worked hard over the past few months without a break.

I have started to experience “burn out” symptoms yet I struggle to “unplug” and keep away from my mobile & tablet – which appear to be increasingly attached to my core .. an essential part of my everyday routine. Or am I just deluding myself?

Earlier today, I watched a documentary featuring Mike Tyson – talking about his autobiography .. he talked about his youth and how, with age, he is becoming increasingly humbled .. by life .. by family .. by reflecting on what ‘greatness’ really means. Having achieved many trophies (or more correctly, ‘belts’ in the sport of boxing), he now discards them and refers to them as ‘trash’ with little real value or worth. The man previously known as ‘Iron’ Mike Tyson is now like malleable, softly spoken, tender and considerate who chooses every word carefully as he engaging in discussion .. Today, he prefers instead to focus energy on his wife and children … his family and lives – simpler life free from the shackles that almost destroyed him .. money, fame, vices and women.

This got me thinking .. why is it many of us strive so hard every day at work? 

We constantly feel that we need to prove our self-worth, our value .. often seeking approval and recognition of our ‘output’ and ‘contribution’ to those around us – our team, our manager, our company .. others who hold some form of power and control over us. 

We work ‘for the man’ (and perhaps, in today’s world, ‘for the woman’) striving to provide for our families, pay off mortgages and other debts which continually mount up because this is what is expected of us who live in a capitalist society (in the West) .. where time with family is sacrificed for the love of money and therefore the excuse of work .. whatever that means. Sadly, by the time we figure things out, we are either too old to enjoy the fruits of our labour, or are busy handing down to our children and worrying about setting them up for their future .. which hopefully will be nothing like the lives we have lived and endured .. in this ‘dog eat dog’ world.

This is made harder still by our ever changing world continuously disrupted by technology wizardry .. surrounding and engulfing us .. in digital make belief .. while there is devastation (man made and natural) around us .. viewed through our TVs, web browsers, mobiles and tablets .. increasingly connected as we begin to embrace IoT, IIoT, AI and all other fascinating technology led revolutions.

Depending on our own definition of ‘greatness’, we can either achieve success through demonstrating ‘goodness’, by ‘walking the walking’, by showing the way to those around us .. sadly, many of us are in a rush to achieve ‘greatness’ quickly opting to take short cuts, to cheat the system, to somehow fast track success. 

Without becoming embroiled in philosophy or religion, many of us are unable to combine ‘greatness’ with ‘goodness’ as we somehow fail ourselves or others or a combination of the two … 

Ofcourse, throughout this article, I am (ofcourse!) speaking about myself .. while, at the same time, hoping that there are many others out there who are experiencing the same torment, equivalent pressure, similar desires and aspirations – to be able to live our lives with a balance that affords us time with our loved ones while also being considered success amongst our peers in the workplace.

So how do we achieve ‘greatness’ AND ‘goodness’ .. are these mutually exclusive or is there a way to attain both?

I continue to reflect .. hoping that I will learn of answers that work for and help me find some form of harmony .. and peace.

If you are reading this, I hope you find your answers too .. assuming any of the above resonates with you. 

If not (its probably me, overthinking everything!?!), I wish you continued success – whatever that may mean for you.

Adieu xx


Inspiring Encounters

Inspiring Encounters

The last few days have been particularly inspirational .. why? 

Simple. Because of the everyday people I have met who each have unique experiences they shared about their lives, changing responsibilities and .. in my view, real life wisdom gained from hard times and changing circumstances.

I have my own challenges .. and conscious that my troubles, though they may appear to be large and difficult, pale into insignificance when I hear the stories of others. 

I’m a father who is keen to provide stability and a good foundation to my wife and family. Thanks to God, I am in the process of establishing my own business (an alternate Management Consultancy – my 3rd company) with some very experienced colleagues with whom I hope to do some great things. Each day brings new challenges which I most often am able to deal with .. but there are days when life is overwhelming. However, perhaps because I am edging ever closer to the grand old age of 50, every so often I am able to reflect on how beautiful my life is .. despite several low points, there are opportunities in front of me that are beckoning me to just believe .. in myself, my loved ones and a few colleagues .. all of whom need me .. all of whom I am lost without.

So .. while I continue to reflect on what lies ahead for me .. I am slowly letting go of my worries, choosing instead to focus on small steps .. small victories .. each giving me renewed confidence and small bursts of self-belief.

This leads me to some interesting encounters, over the past few days, which reminds me how we all need to take a step back, remember why we do things and take pleasure in knowing that life will always present opportunities .. to succeed .. keeping in mind that we should ALL ask ourselves WHAT SUCCESS MEANS .. and .. KEEP CLOSE WATCH OF WHEN WE HAVE ACHIEVED SUCCESS. Questions, only we can answers ourselves without the hang ups of “keeping up with the Joneses” and feeling like we need to compete with or measure ourselves against others. 

After all, how much do we really know about what others around us and what they have had to endure to achieve (their) success?

Encounter One (Taxi Driver, mid 30s, young wife & 3 children)

Returning home from a busines trip, I meet a taxi driver who tells me his story. White male who was once a passionate footballer who had his faor share of fights and squabbles .. his girlfriend, a childhood sweetheart, falls pregnant and presents an ultimatum. “He needs to choose her or his friends”. He thinks carefully, realising what each choice may lead to .. and choose the girl.

10 years on .. they have THREE children (2boys, 1 girl) and he has turned his life around. Deciding to put his family first, enjoy his children, devote himself to his wife and live with honour. Today, he coaches a football team (for one of his boys who has promising talent), has changed jobs (a cabbie for 7 weeks) and now has a work/life balance that gives him, his wife and children joy and happiness. Amazing! 

For me, this is a real life story of a Briton who has made tough choices .. which, thank God, have proven to be the right ones – for him (and therefore his young family). This man has wisdom and lives each day, working to build a bright future for his children. Amen. Who says miracles and the signs of God are absent from our lives in the 21st century? Praise be to God.

Encounter Two (Two young boys, Jehovah Witnesses)

So .. I am doing way too much .. at the expense of my own family .. mostly my Mum and my sisters who I love dearly. I am constantly working .. trying to build something for my wife and children .. hoping that one day, their lives will be full of whatever it is they choose to do .. ideally, with dignity, grace and success (whatever that means to them individually).

The doorbell rings .. two boys present a Watch Tower magazine about “How we use out Time .. Are we doing too much”. I smile and accept their gift .. and laugh to myself .. God really does work in mysterious ways .. and does talk to me!

Encounter Three (Elderly Lady, 60s)

I have stupidly neglected my health and by way of encouragement and support my dear wife has got behind me to support my new fitness regime. Most Sundays, when I am home (I work abroad), we now go for a 8-10K walk through the neighbouring woodland of Epping Forest. At the end of the 1st leg of our walk, we normally stop off at a lovely Pub / Restaurant where we have a delicious Sunday meal together (as some families still do!). 

This weekend, while eating a small meal, an elderly lady is looking for some salt to start (and enjoy) a lovely Sunday roast. I clamber over tables and reach for the salt and present it to her. She rewards me with a beaming smile and thanks me .. apologising for any inconvenience. I remember my dear Father (who passed away in 2012) who would be radiant with a boyish smile offering this type of assistance to any older person, especially the ladies (!) and I offer a prayer – hoping that he is proud of his son who tries always to keep his memory alive by doing small gestures like this .. keeping alive the ideals of yester-year .. where we ALL respected our elders (including our beloved parents).

These encounters offer me reminders .. to do good .. based on manners, etiquette and ideals I have learnt since childhood that makes me proud to be a Londoner and British.

Encounter Four (Taxi Driver, Lates 50s, wife and 4 children (all girls!))

Back in the teaxi, on my way to the airport .. back to work. 

My taxi driver shares some lovely stories about his family. One thing that sticks in my mind is the idea of material objects becoming OBSOLETE (words of his 15 year old daughter). We boh laugh at how, we both used to collect CDs, Videos and DVDs of classic albums and movies .. only to find we can give them away today because they are antiques .. of NO INTEREST whatsoever to the younger generation who live in the world where everything is streamed by virtue of the Internet and increasingly sophisticated digital technologies which the millenials and Generation Z expect to just work (!) and be available regardless of where they are .. at home, in the car, on public transport .. and, yes, even in the skies above us when travelling on an aeroplane.

I remind the taxi driver that there was a time where our parents, grandparents and others of the “older” generation would reminisce about the “good old days” and wonder at how life “used to be”. 

Concluding Thoughts

Alas, as I approach 50, I am getting closer to becoming the “older generation” .. 

Thinking back to my childhood when life appeared simpler, happier, etc.   I wonder .. was it really? Or is this just life teaching us all valuable lessons about growing up .. urging us to learn lessons .. turn our experiences and everyday encounters into pearls of wisdom for those we come into contact with .. reminding those we meet to keep strong, believe in the collective human spirit and remember that regardless of our colour, creed or income levels, that we are afterall flesh and bone .. with the same wants, desires, troubles and aspirations like the person next to us, behind us and in front of us.

We are all becoming scarily obsessive about our mobiles, tablets, gadgets .. that keep us hostage to the digital world around us.

Let’s remember to unplug every now and again .. look up and around us .. gaze into the eyes of our loved ones and connect with them in normal, human and, perhaps, “old fashioned ways”.

Whatever you are doing today, this week and long after, keep healthy and embrace every encounter – at work, at home, at play.

Remember to listen to everyone around you .. young and old .. male or female .. perhaps you too may be inspired an encounter!





Great Teams Are About Personalities, Not Just Skills

(Original article available here)




As the world continues to be disrupted by technology, economics and changing political landscapes, business needs to be able to respond in smarter and sustainable ways.
The heart of this will involve people. More specifically, individuals and teams led by leaders NOT bosses or bossy managers!
The article below highlights interesting statistics and insights which every HR leader, CXO executive and change agents should explore.

HBR Article 

At the start of 2016 Google announced that it had discovered the secret ingredients for the perfect team. After years of analyzing interviews and data from more than 100 teams, it found that the drivers of effective team performance are the group’s average level of emotional intelligence and a high degree of communication between members. Google’s recipe of being nice and joining in makes perfect sense (and is hardly counterintuitive).

Perhaps more surprising, Google’s research implies that the kinds of people in the team are not so relevant. While that may be true at Google, a company where people are preselected on the basis of their personality (or “Googliness”), this finding is inconsistent with the wider scientific evidence, which indicates quite clearly that individuals’ personalities play a significant role in determining team performance. In particular, personality affects:

  • What role you have within the team
  • How you interact with the rest of the team
  • Whether your values (core beliefs) align with the team’s

Importantly, the above processes concern the psychological factors (rather than the technical skills) underlying both individual and team performance. These psychological factors are the main determinants of whether people work together well. If team fit were only about skills and experience, Donald Trump might invite Bernie Sanders to serve in his administration — yet it is unlikely that they would work together well. Likewise, there are often substantial compatibility differences between you and your colleagues, regardless of how similar your expertise and technical backgrounds are.



For example, a study of 133 factory teams found that higher levels of interpersonal sensitivity, curiosity, and emotional stability resulted in more-cohesive teams and increased prosocial behavior among team members. More-effective teams were composed of a higher number of cool-headed, inquisitive, and altruistic people. Along the same lines, a large meta-analysis showed that team members’ personalities influence cooperation, shared cognition, information sharing, and overall team performance. In other words, who you are affects how you behave and how you interact with other people, so team members’ personalities operate like the different functions of a single organism.

Consider the crew that will one day (soon?) travel to Mars, perhaps working for Elon Musk or one of the government space agencies. Simulations of such voyages put astronauts in cramped quarters for hundreds of days. They show that different cliques form in the crew based on values similarity and that higher agreeableness and lower neuroticism predict better team cohesion and cooperation.

A useful way to think about teams with the right mix of skills and personalities is to consider the two roles every person plays in a working group: a functional role, based on their formal position and technical skill, and a psychological role, based on the kind of person they are. Too often, organizations focus merely on the functional role and hope that good team performance somehow follows. This is why even the most expensive professional sports teams often fail to perform according to the individual talents of each player: There is no psychological synergy. A more effective approach (like the mission to Mars example) focuses as much on people’s personalities as on their skills.

In our own work we found that psychological team roles are largely a product of people’s personalities. For example, consider team members who are:

  • Results-oriented. Team members who naturally organize work and take charge tend to be socially self-confident, competitive, and energetic.
  • Relationship-focused. Team members who naturally focus on relationships, are attuned to others’ feelings, and are good at building cohesion tend to be warm, diplomatic, and approachable.
  • Process and rule followers. Team members who pay attention to details, processes, and rules tend to be reliable, organized, and conscientious.
  • Innovative and disruptive thinkers. Team members who naturally focus on innovation, anticipate problems, and recognize when the team needs to change tend to be imaginative, curious, and open to new experiences.
  • Pragmatic. Team members who are practical, hard-headed challengers of ideas and theories tend to be prudent, emotionally stable, and level-headed.

Observing the balance of roles in a team offers an extraordinary insight into its dynamics. It also indicates the likelihood of success or failure for an assigned task. For instance, we worked with a finance team charged with rolling out a novel business reporting product for transforming the culture of a staid government agency. But the percentage of players in each role showed the team was doomed from its inception:

  • 17% of team members were considered results-oriented
  • 100% of team members were considered pragmatic
  • 0% of team members were considered innovative
  • 50% of team members were considered process-oriented
  • 0% of team members were considered good relationship builders

Since no one played the relationship-building role, the team lacked internal cohesion and failed to establish any connection with the frontline leaders who were required to take on the team’s new accounting process. Similarly, with only a few playing a results-oriented role (and a leader who wasn’t one of them), the team struggled to drive itself forward.

Conversely, when too many people play the relationship-building role, it can produce a nice, almost saccharine environment, with too little challenge or contention, as in the leadership team of this social work organization:

  • 0% of team members were considered results-oriented
  • 0% of team members were considered pragmatic
  • 29% of team members were considered innovative
  • 29% of team members were considered process-oriented
  • 86% of team members were considered good relationship builders

In this example, the team spent too much time ensuring harmony and cohesion and too little achieving results. When you focus too much on getting along (with your teammates), you probably will not have much time or energy left for getting ahead (of other teams or organizations).

It is informative to use these kinds of profiles to assess how an incoming team member will impact team performance and dynamics. As the renowned teams researcher Suzanne Bell, who is working on the Mars project for NASA, put it: “…We assume that astronauts are intelligent, that they’re experts in their technical areas, and that they have at least some teamwork skills. What’s tricky is how well individuals combine.”

Thus, evaluating the whole person can offer pivotal insights into how people are likely to work together, and can help flag areas of conflict and affinity. Anything of value happens as the result of team effort, where people set aside their selfish interests to achieve something collectively that they could not achieve by themselves. The most successful teams get this mix of personalities right.

Planning with an Approach

Advices to Programme Directors, Change Agents & Business Sponsors 

When embarking on delivering business and/or technology transformation, Business leaders need a plan to mobilise. In most cases, businesses will endeavour to develop a “roadmap” that enables everyone to clearly understand each activity and what decisions need to be made, who needs to make them and when. The roadmap is translated into a project plan, specifying the nature of work in each of the associated phases of definition, construction, implementation and beyond.

There are many steps to go through in order to create a solid executable plan. This is sometimes lost on business leaders and managers who need to determine where the organisation, department or team needs to go. With the rise of disruptive digital technology and the pressure to remain competitive and customer centric, timelines are increasingly being compressed and there is a rush to get new products and solutions delivered in accelerated ways. Unfortunately a quick planning fix is not always the best solution. There are times when you need to step back and do proper planning and implementation in order to create greater business success. Otherwise, there are huge risks that will hinder and hamper success.

No plan will work without a clear and understandable approach. Before attempting to raceahead to the finishing line, take time to think before you act. Having thousands of lines in a gantt chart or project plan may present the perception that you are in control but this may cause confusion leading resources unable to see the wood from the trees and, worse, work harder rather than smarter.

Planning with an Approach

With this in mind, an approach will typically enable you to 

  • Align goals of the organisation
  • Provide focus and direction for employees 
  • Communicate a single company vision from top to bottom
  • Identify areas of common interest and synergy
  • Present a direction to suppliers, partners and customers
  • Outline key objectives for managers
  • Identify key interdependencies (and potential risks/issues)
  • Promote cross functional integration and alignment
  • Improve communication
  • Provide management control
  • Help to identify short cuts i.e. areas which maybe fast tracked, de-prioritised or deferred
  • Project a common vision about changes to people, processes and technology 

All of the above are not reflecting in project plans and will allow the transformation journey to come to life for all participants.

An 8-step Plan for Transformation

Once a consensus has been agreed and the approach finalised, it will be important to focus on EIGHT (8) key activities

  1. Identify a visionary i.e. a high level respected sponsor
  2. Establish a key leadership group (i.e a ‘war cabinet’) to develop actionable plans and support good communication
  3. Agree the timeline for executing the approach and achieving the transformation vision 
  4. Build an experienced and high powered team capable of planning/architecting and implementing change (this may include key individuals from 3rd party suppliers and agencies)
  5. Select appropriate technologies and services (e.g. Testing, Integration, etc.)
  6. Develop visual roadmaps and establish strategic, tactical and operational plans (leveraging waterfall/agile/hybrid techniques)
  7. Ensure there are mechanisms in place to win ‘hearts and minds’
  8. Communicate, Communicate, Communicate!!!

Going the Distance

And finally, it is important, with the support of the ‘war cabinet’ to go the distance

While making sure the senior management team is prepared is important, you must make sure all of the people are prepared for the implementation of the strategic, tactical and operational plans. 

You need to continue to implement your plan and use it on a regular basis (as you agreed in your execution planning). You made it this far, so go the distance. Make it work. Make the investment that will keep your plan alive. Use it in your meetings, reference it, test your people on it and make adjustments as needed.  No business leader or champion stops at the starting gate — they take what they’ve learned, agreed to, and developed, and they put it into real life practice. You need to do the same.

Enjoy the ride .. it may have its ups and downs and dark moments but getting to the finishing line is definitely worth it. 

Good luck!  



CIO Academy


Every leader that supports transformation of SME and Corporate Business needs to invest in his/her own education and growth. With this in mind, I was actively seeking new executive level education programmes that would serve this purpose for me and give me a better grounding in latest technology fad – ‘Digital’ or ‘Digitisation’. 

This led me to the CIO Academy at the Said Business School at the well renowned and prestigious Oxford University.

Programme Overview 

Modern CIO’s not only have to be abreast of new technologies and best practices in IT management, they also need to be astute strategists and effective leaders. These key areas form the agenda of the Oxford CIO Academy.  The programme provides a diverse peer group learning environment with continuous access to Oxford professors and highly experienced consultants and advisors.

Key programme themes:

  • Strategy – Excelling in the external operating context of the organisation
  • YOU as a leader – What makes a great leader in IT?
  • IT Management – How to roll out strategies within your organisation

This well established three day programme has been bringing together CIO’s and the most senior IT Managers from multiple sectors around the globe together for over 10 years. The combination of world leading faculty, cutting edge research and the shared expeirences of a truly global, highest calibre peer group are the factors that set this programme apart.   


The Oxford CIO Academy is a unique programme which combines the insight and experience of the world’s largest IT executive community with the academic rigour of a world renowned university. Group sizes are small and exclusively made up of the most senior level IT executives, for truly valuable debate and experience sharing. This is an intensive and interactive learning experience specifically for CIOs to ensure that you gain the most relevant input for your position.

Benefits for you

  • Improved ability to deliver value to your organisation as a thought leader
  • Gain tools to overcome critical challenges and achieve organisational objectives
  • A new network of fellow CIOs who are facing similar challenges
  • Time to focus on the strategic concerns of your work and career
  • Gain tools to strengthen your relationship with your CEO and leadership team, maximising your overall effectiveness
  • Tackle the current industry challenges with a high calibre group of global peers

Benefits for your organisation

  • Increase in value delivered through a truly strategic IT perspective
  • Enhanced CIO contribution to strategic business challenges
  • A stronger and more cohesive leadership team
  • Deeper understanding of and ability to overcome the latest IT-related challenges

Continuous Learning

Having attended and graduated the CIO Academy, I am now a proud Alumni member and actively engaging in further programmes to continue my own professional development and growth as a leader, mentor and business coach.
To find out more, click here. Good luck with your education and leadership journey.
(That’s me .. First row, third from the left – in the cool shades!)