Vogel Wakefield blog

Vogel Wakefield blog

January
25
2013

Who will get us out of this mess?

Jarrow marchers en route to London

Jarrow marchers en route to London

 

Two recent articles bring home – if you still doubt it – the redundancy of the shareholder value model of capitalism. It’s not just that it has proved an ineffective way to run companies. It’s actually undermined the long-term viability of the economy by creating inequality of such depth that the markets for the products of business are weakened.

Read the rest of this entry »

January
18
2013

Antony Jenkins and the FIFO test at Barclays

An inspiring model of leadership

An inspiring model of leadership

Many a year ago, when I was working at BBC News, leadership by acronym was very much in vogue. One department head who favoured a flamboyantly macho style enjoyed satirising the culture by describing his approach as the FIFO model.

The Vogel Wakefield blog is too polite a space in which to spell out the meaning of FIFO. Suffice to say the manager’s broad intent was along the lines of, “Kindly toe the line or consider finding employment elsewhere.”

I was reminded of this on reading the email to Barclays’ staff sent by the bank’s chief executive, Antony Jenkins, redefining Barclays’ purpose and values.

Read the rest of this entry »

January
15
2013

It’s happiness, Stupid!

Happiness

 

As a postscript to Martin Vogel’s blogpost here last week about our shock at realising that we weren’t properly communicating to our clients the strength of our commitment to what we do, here’s a reflection on what led to this epiphany. I think this was a long time coming but, for me at least, our recent meeting with the very impressive but self-effacing Andy Street, CEO of John Lewis, had a lot to do with it. When preparing for the meeting I was puzzled to find that the John Lewis Partnership defines its chief purpose as “the happiness of all its members, through their worthwhile and satisfying employment in a successful business.”

Read the rest of this entry »

January
11
2013

For happiness and against toxicity

The good life

At Vogel Wakefield HQ yesterday we were undertaking our annual strategic review and pondering our deep motivation for building our own business. We reached a startling conclusion: we don’t surface in how we present ourselves to clients our real passion for what we do. Instead, we neuter it by smothering it in business-friendly language. Our passion is to challenge the things that are toxic in organisations: to inspire people both to align themselves in their working lives more closely with their positive values and to push organisations into making a more positive contribution to society.

It’s not that all corporations are toxic nor that they make no contribution. But we have worked in organisations long enough to have developed a deep aversion to the negatives caused by internal politics, short-term perspectives, spin and the like. We have reached a stage in life where we can do more to mitigate these negative impacts on others, and to preserve our own welfare, by holding ourselves outside the organisation and working with those within.

Read the rest of this entry »

June
16
2012

Renewing corporate culture one soul at a time

Gary Hamel wants business to embrace timeless human values

 

Book review: What Matters Now: How to Win in a World of Relentless Change, Ferocious Competition, and Unstoppable Innovation by Gary Hamel.

What Matters Now by Gary Hamel is a critique by a renowned management thinker of the apparent collapse in moral values in big business that was revealed by the financial crisis. It’s a startling read because, while being a contribution to the airport news-stand canon of management literature, it uses language and imagery which is alien to the corporate world – precisely to question their absence. Hamel offers an impassioned call for a more compassionate and ethically-grounded capitalism which puts value rather than cost at the centre of its concerns.

Read the rest of this entry »

March
21
2012

Life affirmation courtesy of Camden Council

My son is in there somewhere.

I’ve experienced quite a number of concerts over the years at the Royal Albert Hall. But the one I had the privilege to attend on Monday night ranks possibly as the best. Let me declare an interest, I was the parent of one of the performers. But the same goes for nearly all the 3,500 other members of the audience.

For this was the Camden Music Festival, a bi-annual event which brings together schoolchildren aged between six and eighteen from across the London Borough of Camden in an extraordinary spectacle of collaborative music-making. It wasn’t simply parental pride that made this a heart warming event. It was an ambitious, entertaining and impressive performance of undeniable quality. And it exemplifies important characteristics of the value a local authority can deliver to its community even in a time of austerity.

Read the rest of this entry »

March
15
2012

A master of the universe resigns

Goldman Tower, Jersey City

Goldman Tower, Jersey City

Greg Smith had been working for Goldman Sachs for twelve years before he published the resignation letter yesterday which has caused a furore.

It presents a devastating portrait of a corporate culture that is entirely self-serving and betraying the interests of its clients:

“I attend derivatives sales meetings where not one single minute is spent asking questions about how we can help clients. It’s purely about how we can make the most possible money off of them. If you were an alien from Mars and sat in on one of these meetings, you would believe that a client’s success or progress was not part of the thought process at all.

“It makes me ill how callously people talk about ripping their clients off. Over the last 12 months I have seen five different managing directors refer to their own clients as “muppets,” sometimes over internal e-mail.”

Read the rest of this entry »

Nav menu