Vogel Wakefield blog

Vogel Wakefield blog

October
25
2012

Jimmy Savile and tacit knowledge: what the past can teach us about the present

A different era?

 

The Jimmy Savile scandal is a textbook example of wilful blindness. It viscerally underlines the necessity for leaders to  free up tacit knowledge in their organisations.

The BBC is not alone in facing questions about how it allowed a predatory paedophile to conduct a career of child sexual abuse stretching over decades – apparently to the knowledge of colleagues around him. The NHS, the police, sundry care homes and approved schools among others also have to account for apparent failures in their duty of care. But the BBC holds a special responsibility, having provided the platform upon which Savile built his celebrity as a family entertainer and sustained his powerful influence over vulnerable people. Such is (or was) the trust in the BBC that the halo effect it conferred over Savile possibly encouraged others to drop their guard.

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July
05
2012

Dysfunctional banking cultures: what they need is servant leadership

How do you set right a corporate culture beset with “systematic dishonesty” – as Barclays has been described by its former chief executive, Martin Taylor?

The scandal at Barclays over its rigging of financial markets seems to represent a turning point which will require all banks to take a long, deep look at how the ways in which they operate may contradict the public interest. Were we not already in the worst financial crisis in living memory, the computer failure at RBS – which has prevented customers accessing their money and is still ongoing at Ulster Bank – would count as a monumental banking failure in its own right, evidence itself of the incompetence, negligence and greed that over many years has overwhelmed an ethos of stewardship at the major banks. On top of that, came news last week that the big four banks had committed serious failings in their mis-selling of interest rate hedges to small and medium-sized businesses

Small wonder that the Governor of the Bank of England has described the banks as “shoddy” and “deceitful”. Or that the Director-General of the Institute of Directors has said the banks “should feel deep shame for the damage they have done”.

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May
11
2011

The emotional context of business

A healthy emotional climate is a competitive advantage

A healthy emotional climate is a competitive advantage

 

Organisations are emotionally-charged places.  But little of this ever reaches the boardroom.  This means that directors cut themselves off from some of the most important knowledge they need to hear.

Some organisations have a knack for creating great places to work which get the best out of their people.

John Timpson, the chairman of the Timpson chain of shoe repair shops, swears by his system of “upside-down management”.  He believes the people in his shops have the best knowledge about the business and that it is his job is to get management out of their way.  He insists on as few rules as possible and gives staff the freedom to set prices, deal with complaints and decide their own training needs.

The John Lewis Partnership makes everyone in the company an owner, conferring on each of them a responsibility not just to do their jobs but to contribute to the leadership of the firm.  One John Lewis employee – quoted in The Guardian – speaks of:

The “passion and commitment” that come from “being engaged, because you have a vested interest in making sure it works, for you and for the people you work with.”

These companies – both doing well in difficult economic circumstances – are successful examples of what the writer, Bob Garratt, calls the emotional climate of an organisation.  They make the emotional climate a source of competitive advantage, by ensuring that employee behaviours deliver excellent customer experience.

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