September 2009


Hands up who loves the idea of applying for a new job or a promotion and knowing that, in addition to a 1:1 interview and probable tests, you are going to be asked to go through an Assessment Centre?

Don’t panic: best foot forward! Truth be told, this is your best chance to shine, your best prospect for instantly raising your profile, and your best opportunity to get ahead of the field.

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Perhaps we’ve all been too wrapped in ourselves for 33 years to correct the misquotation, but the phrase Tom Wolfe used in New York magazine way back in 1976 was actually ‘The Me Decade’, rather than generation. (For a cheap exercise in time travel, the article is still online.) Mind you, in helping ourselves [sic] to this handy epithet, we’ve been misinterpreting as well as misquoting him. As enotes.com summarises, Wolfe was describing:

… the new American preoccupation with self-awareness and the collective retreat from history, community, and human reciprocity. The term seemed to describe the age so aptly that it quickly became commonly associated with the 1970s. Compared to the 1960s, Americans in the 1970s were self-absorbed and passive. Americans turned from street theater to self-therapy, from political activism to psychological analysis. Everyone, it seemed, had an analyst, adviser, guru, genie, prophet, priest, or spirit.”

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Andrew Leigh recently contributed an article – The 21st Century Leader – to www.trainingzone.co.uk, listing the five key attributes he felt were those most likely to be required. He listed trust, respect, integrity, inspiration and innovation – although he acknowledges that:

No single ability is likely to count above all others. As now, great leadership will hinge on achieving a unique mix for each person, and as the particular situation requires.”

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As we’ve commented or touched on Alain de Botton’s work in a number of earlier posts here (Happiness is like compost …, You Don’t Have to Get Mad to Work Here … Anger at Work, and The pleasure and the pain – working with Alain de Botton), we’re delighted to be able to publish a review of his recent book – The Pleasures and Sorrows of Work – by another new guest contributor, Clifford Peat. (We’ve also, as with most of our guest contributors, published Cliff’s Personal Learning Profile.)

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We’re proud to have supplied the first guest article at the weknowmore.org blog – and similarly proud of their favourable opinion of our contribution. We’ve published a synopsis – which, like the parent article, explores the conundrums in defining human value in organisations – below, but you can read the full article online at their website.

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Two articles today about engagement – and sadly nary a convenience or a proposal in sight. (For more snippets from around the web, see the full Crackers list.)

Engagement Soup: a veritable storm in a soup bowl by Bret Simons, wondering aloud how anyone can confuse optimism with engagement – and fail to distinguish between effect indicators and causal indicators. And, more importantly, questioning what engagement in isolation proves- or do I mean indicates. We’re sorry about the illustration, by the way (not our work).

The Age of Commodified Intelligence: while George Balgobin is writing for the online edition of the Economist’s Intelligent Life about culture and our consumption of it in a broader sense, there is an important point about learning and self-development here too. As he writes “But if we fail to distinguish between attendance and appreciation, we may end up poorer for it, left with a corporate caricature of our cultural richness. The “intelligent” masses will work hard mining the store of culture artefacts, but will they read the texts and learn from them, or only use them as objects for trade?”. And there’s a big difference between reading and turning the pages.

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Back in June, we commented on Peter Cook’s Academy of Rock and associated book Sex, Leadership and Rock’n’Roll. We were honest enough to admit that we hadn’t read it at the time, and pleasantly surprised to receive (positive) comments here from Peter. Our interest appropriately stimulated, we were off to Amazon for a copy. Given our initial dialogue with Peter, we also decided that – rather than a traditional review – a ‘Q&A’ style interview may be more informative and interesting for our readers. Peter’s answers to our questions are shown below: a guest contributor, you can also read Peter’s responses to the Don’t Compromise Personal Learning Profile. And now on with the show …

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