Scott McKenzie's Collective Conversation Blog » John Lewis Partnership http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie Fri, 01 Jun 2012 10:48:08 +0000 http://wordpress.org/?v=2.9.2 en hourly 1 Coming up for air http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2012/01/25/coming-up-for-air/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2012/01/25/coming-up-for-air/#comments Wed, 25 Jan 2012 10:43:22 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=434

My second daughter Niamh  is 7 months old today.

It’s fair to say that I subscribe to the concept of the second child multiplier-effect… in other words 1+1 does not + 2… it feels many times harder than that!

The early casualty of this has been what Sir Clive Woodward calls the critical non-essentials. The things that make an incremental difference but could be described as non-core. A bit like this blog.

The cumulative effect of very little sleep, an incredibly hectic work schedule and no free time has often felt like both myself and my wife have been living our lives under-water… in a kind of parallel world, where everything takes much longer but paradoxically you have even less time…!

Since the new year I have tried hard to change things. I’ve taken a bit more exercise. I’ve had the odd night out with friends. I’ve booked a holiday to go and see my parents who live in Canada (it’s the first time my dad will have seen Niamh since she was born). It all feels a little bit selfish when there are so many other demands on your time. But in another sense it has felt like I am coming up for air…

For example, last night I attended VMA’s excellent event at The Hospital Club which revealed the results from their comprehensive Business Leaders in Communications survey. It was a stellar panel with senior communciators from GSK and BP as well as academics and thought leaders. The key-note speaker was Charlie Mayfield, Executive Chairman of John Lewis Partnership. Clearly John Lewis have been much in the news recently, with the Deputy Prime Minister seeking to build what he describes as a “John Lewis” economy. Charlie rightly pointed out that the co-operative model is not a panacea for all known ills. As I have stated in previous blogs I am a huge fan of co-operatives but would also concede their limitations.

Instead what I took out of Charlie’s remarkably candid and inspriring discussion was his clear view that communications is a major cultural lever. His view is that great communications contributes directly to increased engagement from partners (employees), and as a result… an increase in dicretionary effort. So this is not fluffy. There is a clear competitive advantage to be drawn from great communications.

That message certainly helped me take a deeper breath…

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What we can learn from Robert Owen http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/04/04/what-we-can-learn-from-robert-owen/ http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/2011/04/04/what-we-can-learn-from-robert-owen/#comments Mon, 04 Apr 2011 08:29:51 +0000 Scott McKenzie http://blogs.hillandknowlton.com/scottmckenzie/?p=269

I’ve been reflecting a bit more about how “wellbeing” connects to Employee Engagement.

I recently watched a fantastic BBC documentary on the co-operative movement. One of the founders Robert Owen has become a bit of hero to me .

Owen was literally a hundred years ahead of his time. He sought to build working environments which were safe, sustainable and sustaining for those involved. He was aiming to build communities which were genuinely collaborative, where colleagues worked for the greater good.

Profits were ploughed back into the business. Investments made in the working environment, living conditions and education.

Indeed, there was a real focus on taking children out of poverty and putting them in purpose-built schools – at a time when there was no state education system and children commonly worked in factories and mills in truly appalling conditions. I have no doubt that all of these initiatives were key factors in genuinely engaging employees.

Owen was a visionary and a philanthropist. A leader in every sense. His ideas shaped the co-operative movement which has given us great companies like  the John Lewis Partnership.

As our Prime Minister puts his weight behind employee engagement, and struggles to bring his vision of a Big Society to life he would do well to reflect on Robert Owen’s work.

Indeed you could say the same for our business leaders as they bring their organisations through this economic crisis, and prepare them for growth.

These leaders are demanding more innovation, more productivity and more discretionary effort from their employee. They would do well to think back to Robert Owen and ask themselves what they are offering in return?

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