More and more organisations today face a dynamic and changing environment. The oft-heard rallying cry in today’s organisations is “Change or die.” Survival in today’s global economy requires organisations to be flexible and adapt readily to the ever-changing marketplace. Change has become the norm. It is as necessary for organisations to pay as much attention to the psychological and social aspects of change as they do to the technological aspects.
We live in an era of risk and instability. Globalisation, new technologies, and greater transparency have combined to upend the business environment and give many CEOs a deep sense of unease. Just look at the numbers. Since 1980 the volatility of business operating margins, largely static since the 1950s, has more than doubled, as has the size of the gap between winners (companies with high operating margins) and losers (those with low ones).
Change is the one true constant in business, especially when it comes to operating a business. Having defined processes in place to effectively manage change can help companies sustain success.
In today’s business environment, knowing how to successfully navigate these changes and develop appropriate and effective processes to properly manage such change is a must. It’s virtually impossible for organisations to make sound strategic decisions and completely accomplish objectives when deprived of strong change management strategies. This is especially true in the world of project, program and portfolio management, where obstacles and ambiguity are inevitable at every juncture.
Companies all over the world find that they have to continually make changes to the way they work in order to stay ahead of the game, be profitable, and be relevant. Oftentimes, the changes could be externally mandated, internally conceived, or both, but the reality is that companies do have to evolve, change, or die. The global landscape is changing: businesses are moving to take advantage of new markets; organisations are restructuring to operate better, given the current market dynamic; competition is causing companies to radically change the way they do business.
The old business is not coming back – this is not just a statistic, it is a fact.
Companies operate in an increasingly complex world: Business environments are more diverse, dynamic, and interconnected than ever – and far less predictable. A study I read recently suggests that 75% of the S&P 500 will turn over in the next 15 years.
Many businesses that “have done things the same way for years” are affected by disruptive change: the economy changes, the competition changes, products change, technology changes, customers change, employees change, vendors change, buying methods change, delivery methods change.
Disruptive change is coming, and the only question is whether companies are going to cause it or fall victim to it. Disruption is not easy, to create or to confront it.
Businesses need to grow continuously in one way or another to achieve and maintain success. Growth comes by making positive changes that promote growth and by responding correctly to external changes.
Organisations throughout the world and across the global markets also recognise the need to embrace ‘nimbleness’ and ‘agility’ if they are to survive in the long run. The ever-changing landscape, globalisation, global dynamics, make it inevitable that companies have to evolve fast, repeatedly, and in a continuously improving manner in order to comply with regulations, collaborate with customers, and stay ahead of competition.
Whilst awareness of the challenges associated with change is prevalent, there is also compelling evidence of the long-term benefit of being great at driving organisational change. Therefore, it is expedient to look at some of the reasons why change is difficult, so that we can deliberately tackle the reasons for change complexity.
Sustaining success depends on an organisation’s ability to adapt
Why can some companies take advantage of any change the market brings, while others struggle with market-necessitated modification? The reasons why will differ for each organisation, but the question is definitely worth asking especially in light of the fact that the pace of change is accelerating at the fastest rate in recorded history.
Most companies find it hard to transform themselves in difficult circumstances. Corporate transformation under pressure.
Leadership needs to have a mindset that although change ability (agility, resilience) is essential for the survival and growth of many companies, there needs to be a concerted effort to build capacity to lead change effectively, and to purposefully build a change friendly culture in a systemic manner. This means that change leadership or sponsorship becomes a leadership competency that is recruited for and developed in leaders in the same way that it is done for other competencies such as decision-making.
Companies most likely to be successful in making change work to their advantage are the ones that no longer view change as a discrete event to be managed, but as a constant opportunity to evolve the business.
Change readiness is the new change management: change readiness is the ability to continuously initiate and respond to change in ways that create advantage, minimise risk, and sustain performance.
Organisations, and the people within them, must constantly re-invent themselves to remain competitive. Sustaining success depends on an organization’s ability to adapt to a changing environment.
Senior executives recognise that in order to compete optimally in the current and future landscapes, their companies will be expected to do more for less in a more dynamic landscape with issues of globalisation, new market opportunities, and new ways of doing business. There is a recognition that the changes are going to increase and the demands for business benefits realisation will also increase. It is therefore no longer optional for leaders to increase their ability to successfully implement strategies by increasing their ability to manage change and in fact leveraging this change management skill to become a competitive advantage.
If you’re struggling or your market is down, change management is especially critical because growing companies are not afforded the time to weather the storm of down markets or decreased demand. Offensive change when the company is doing well is a whole lot easier to manage than defensive change.
With this sentiment, I am not suggesting that you overhaul your business entirely change your mission, vision, and values or abandon your product strategy with every minor bump in the road. I am suggesting, however, that the best companies the ones that experience exceptional long-term success are able to quickly recognise the need to change and make the tweaks necessary to help their business continue its growth trajectory.
Here are three tips that can help the journey of change easier:
Top down support from the CEO level down to the senior executives below the CEO is what ultimately drives successful change. When the changes are major, you need to create a burning platform scenario that will encourage a sense of urgency.
Clear, consistent, and transparent communication by all executives is critical to explain why the change is necessary. Throughout the change process, it’s important to regularly and clearly communicate the reasons for change and reinforce that message to your team so they understand why you’re taking the hill in front of you.
Quickly identify the senior team members who don’t buy in and encourage and support them to leave the company if they refuse to embrace change. This means you may lose some very good people who helped you get to where you are, but those people won’t be as valuable going forward if they aren’t willing to help you get to where you need to be.
Final thought on the subject – business is a little like the growth rings on a tree. Every year, something changes it could be your product, your top competitors, your customers’ preferences, or any number of things. The best companies adapt to those changes, reinvent themselves when change requires it, and find a way to grow – in good times and bad.
Successful organisations foster a positive attitude toward change by anticipating it and purposefully planning for change. Change must be addressed in an intentional, goal-oriented manner. Change is something that people should do, not something that is done to them. People are more comfortable with change when they participate in planning for or implementing it because they gain some sense of control which reduces their fears.
As George Soros once said:
‘Market fundamentalists recognize that the role of the state in the economy is always disruptive, inefficient, and generally has negative connotations. This leads them to believe that the market mechanism can take care of all the problems.’
As all leaders experience the highest of highs and the lowest of lows, you will know you have been tested in ways that you never expected. And yet, somehow, we all prevail. Despite the frustrations, anger and fear, you will have learned a lot about yourself. You will be be forced to recognise your own weaknesses and eccentricities, and discover reserves of strength that you had not known existed. In the process, you will become less judgmental and more accepting of yourself and of others.
Leadership forces you to stay true to yourself and to recognise when you are at your best and when you are at your worst; the important thing is to stay focused and keep moving forward. You will learn that overcoming adversity is what brings the most satisfaction, and that achievements are made more meaningful by the struggle it took to achieve them.
Leadership will conquer, the most profound truth of your individual journey’s. Courage, drive, determination, resilience, imagination, energy and the right team, you will find success.
Winston Churchill once said:
“This is not the end. It is not even the beginning of the end. But it is, perhaps, the end of the beginning.”
A single brain sometimes cannot take decisions alone. One needs the assistance and guidance of others as well to accomplish the tasks within the desired time frame. In a team, every member contributes to his level best to achieve the assigned targets. The team members must be compatible with each other to avoid unnecessary conflicts and misunderstandings.
Every team should have a team leader who can hold their team together and extract the best out of the team members. The team leader should be such that every individual draw inspiration from them and seek their advice and guidance whenever required. A leader should be a role model for his team members and a great mentor.
I had the pleasure of meeting Brendan Hall for lunch recently – he led the Spirit of Australia crew to overall victory in the Clipper 2009-10 Race, when aged 28. It was the second of three times the trophy has gone to an Australian team.
Recruiter 360 TV – Brendan Hall, Author of “Team Spirit” and winning Clipper round the world captain
Following the win, Brendan wrote the book “Team Spirit”, based on his race insights into the teamwork, leadership, skill, courage and focus required for performance.
Talking to Brendan he discussed how his team had just faced the ultimate challenge and one that they could never have been prepared for but circumstances dictated that they sail across the world’s largest ocean at a particularly fearsome time of year, on their own.
‘They had pulled together in the true sense of teamwork, and kept each other safe.’ ‘I feel it was their greatest achievement, and it was mine by association as I had got them to the point where they could take on that challenge. Ultimately that experience and those qualities led to our overall result.’
His crew were the same raw materials that every other boat had. They had characters and influential people and its leaders, together they made a great leadership team. The approach Brendan took was to empower everybody throughout the race and the goal was to get to a point where Brendan was redundant on deck and he could concentrate on everything else, the weather routing and the navigation.
A true team leader plays an important role in guiding the team members and motivating them to stay focused. One who sets a goal and objective for the team. Every team is formed for a purpose.
The leader alone should not set the goal, suggestions should be invited from one and all and issues must be discussed on an open forum. He must make his team members well aware of their roles and responsibilities. He must understand his team members well. The duties and responsibilities must be assigned as per their interest and specialization for them to accept the challenge willingly.
Never impose things on them.
Encourage the team members to help each other. Create a positive ambience at the workplace. Avoid playing politics or provoking individuals to fight. Make sure that the team members do not fight among themselves. In case of a conflict, don’t add fuel to the fire, rather try to resolve the fight immediately. Listen to both the parties before coming to any conclusion. Try to come to an alternative feasible for all.
The following 5 reasons summarise the importance of teamwork and why it matters:
Teamwork motivates unity in the workplace
A teamwork environment promotes an atmosphere that fosters friendship and loyalty. These close-knit relationships motivate employees in parallel and align them to work harder, cooperate and be supportive of one another.
Individuals possess diverse talents, weaknesses, communication skills, strengths, and habits. Therefore, when a teamwork environment is not encouraged this can pose many challenges towards achieving the overall goals and objectives. This creates an environment where employees become focused on promoting their own achievements and competing against their fellow colleagues. Ultimately, this can lead to an unhealthy and inefficient working environment.
When teamwork is working the whole team would be motivated and working toward the same goal in harmony.
Teamwork offers differing perspectives and feedback
Good teamwork structures provide your organization with a diversity of thought, creativity, perspectives, opportunities, and problem-solving approaches. A proper team environment allows individuals to brainstorm collectively, which in turn increases their success to problem solve and arrive at solutions more efficiently and effectively.
Effective teams also allow the initiative to innovate, in turn creating a competitive edge to accomplish goals and objectives. Sharing differing opinions and experiences strengthens accountability and can help make effective decisions faster, than when done alone.
Team effort increases output by having quick feedback and multiple sets of skills come into play to support your work. You can do the stages of designing, planning, and implementation much more efficiently when a team is functioning well.
Teamwork provides improved efficiency and productivity
When incorporating teamwork strategies, you become more efficient and productive. This is because it allows the workload to be shared, reducing the pressure on individuals, and ensure tasks are completed within a set time frame. It also allows goals to be more attainable, enhances the optimization of performance, improves job satisfaction and increases work pace.
Ultimately, when a group of individuals works together, compared to one person working alone, they promote a more efficient work output and are able to complete tasks faster due to many minds intertwined on the same goals and objectives of the business.
Teamwork provides great learning opportunities
Working in a team enables us to learn from one another’s mistakes. You are able to avoid future errors, gain insight from differing perspectives, and learn new concepts from more experienced colleagues.
In addition, individuals can expand their skill sets, discover fresh ideas from newer colleagues and therefore ascertain more effective approaches and solutions towards the tasks at hand. This active engagement generates the future articulation, encouragement and innovative capacity to problem solve and generate ideas more effectively and efficiently.
Teamwork promotes workplace synergy
Mutual support shared goals, cooperation and encouragement provide workplace synergy. With this, team members are able to feel a greater sense of accomplishment, are collectively responsible for outcomes achieved and feed individuals with the incentive to perform at higher levels.
When team members are aware of their own responsibilities and roles, as well as the significance of their output being relied upon by the rest of their team, team members will be driven to share the same vision, values, and goals. The result creates a workplace environment based on fellowship, trust, support, respect, and cooperation.
Leadership is a necessary element to promoting teamwork in an organisation. When leaders are great, there is a lot of positive teamwork and many benefits. However, when leaders are poor there can be negative consequences that are completely opposite to the benefits of teamwork.
In business, leaders have the responsibility to do what they reasonably can to promote a good team environment. Practicing team-oriented leadership strategies can do a lot to usher in a sense of teamwork among professional team members. It is up to the leaders to make sure teams are functioning to their highest capacity. Although it sounds like a large responsibility, the benefits of promoting teamwork are incredible!
Henry Ford once said:
“Coming together is a beginning; keeping together is progress; working together is success. Failure is simply the opportunity to begin again, this time more intelligently. Whether you think you can, or you think you can’t – you’re right. Anyone who stops learning is old, whether at twenty or eighty.”
“I want you to understand that the island of Ceylon is for its size the finest island in the world, and from its streams comes Rubies, Sapphires, Topazes, and Amethyst and Garnet.”
Marco Polo – 1292 AD
I recently had a business trip to S.E Asia and the fortune to visit the beautiful island of Sri Lanka.
Sri Lanka is officially the Democratic Socialist Republic of Sri Lanka, an island country in South Asia, located in the Indian Ocean to the southwest of the Bay of Bengal and to the southeast of the Arabian Sea. The island is historically and culturally intertwined with the Indian subcontinent, but is geographically separated from the Indian subcontinent by the Gulf of Mannar and the Palk Strait. The legislative capital, Sri Jayawardenepura Kotte, is a suburb of the commercial capital and largest city, Colombo.
Sri Lanka’s documented history spans 3,000 years, with evidence of pre-historic human settlements dating back to at least 125,000 years. It has a rich cultural heritage and the first known Buddhist writings of Sri Lanka, the Pāli Canon, date back to the Fourth Buddhist council in 29 BC.
Endless sunrises, sunsets, beaches, timeless ruins, welcoming people, oodles of elephants, rolling surf, cheap prices, fun trains, famous tea and flavourful food make Sri Lanka irresistible.
But these are only some of the characteristics, as I was fortunate to find out when I met Rauf Abdul and Ishan Rox from The Jewel Court in Bentota.
With a huge smile and a welcome warmth Rauf greeted me with ‘Ayubowan Geoff’, I was inquisitive to learn more about what Rauf and Ishan had to tell me about the beautiful island of Sri Lanka and one of the largest precious stone collections in the world.
So, Rauf and Ishan, what can you tell me about Sri Lanka and the precious stones that has made this beautiful island a world leader in gemstones?
‘Bohoma Istuti Geoff’ (Thank you very much Geoff), historically from the Ancient times Ceylon (now Sri Lanka) has gained a very good popularity and good name for the world famous and rare and precious and semi-precious naturally formed supernatural gems. The great chronicle of Ceylon Mahavamsa too mentioned about the valuable gem and jewelleries of Ceylon. Of course, from the time immemorial a separate group of people especially skilled craftsmen have had well trained in the creation of enchanting mater pieces and beautifully hand-made gem studded jewelleries and ornaments specially for Queens and Kings of the Sinhala and of the different kingdoms of Lanka.
King Solomon was also reported to have had brought valuable gems from the island of gems at that time (Ceylon) (Ratna-Deepa) literally means island of gems to win the heart of the beautiful queens. Ratnapura located at 103km from the metropolis capital city of Columbo is the famous traditional gem mining town of Ceylon. Ratnapura is also literally means the city of gems. Sri Lanka has the greatest concentration of gems on the Earth and Sri Lanka has been ranked among rh five gem bearing nations. One can find different varieties of precious and semi-precious and some of the rarest and expensive gems in Ratnapura, are found in abundance in blessed city. Gem mining is also one of the natural resources.
Ratnapura is very popular and famous for gems and specially well known for magnificent sapphires of different colours natural corundum’s in white, yellow, pink, orange, purple, alexandrite and padmaraga, king of the gemstones star-sapphire and star ruby are actually different colours of the same mineral (corundum). But while rubies are always red, sapphires come in varieties of colours. Sapphire is a cold gem with the same hardness and specified gravity as those rubies. The best blue-sapphire does not change its colour when held upfront of an electric light.
Diamond is the hardest and most dazzling jewel in the world. The hardness of diamond is (10 density) and the hardness of sapphires and rubies are (09 density). The blue sapphire stone has the power to enhance the status of an individual who is in possession of a blue sapphire gem. There is a common belief that the sapphires are beneficiaries to kings, queens, princes, princesses, administrators’, political leaders and the hearts of the government for the protection and safety. Unlike other stones, sapphires prized for their clarity, carat weight and masterfully cut shaped, lustre and beauty. As for carats the natural royal blue colour magnificent blue sapphire can easily cost more than twice as much as one carat.
Blue sapphire is the stone of the kings, queens, princes, princesses, head of the government, intellectuals, dignitaries-business magnates, wealthy and respectable people. Blue sapphires make the way for luxurious joyful royal life and happiness. Blue sapphire is a valuable gem net to the hardest gem in the world you can cut glass with a point of diamond but of course you can scratch glass with a point of blue sapphire gem. Blue sapphires are naturally formed super natural gem always seen in the island of gems. It is obvious among the different colours of sapphire available in the gem trade. Indeed, royal blue, corn-flower blue, medium blue, lighter blue is generally the best colour and has been accepted and recommended by the international gem and jewellery trade.
Historically many coloured gemstones are born natural, means the stones are genuine and natural have been enhanced to improve their appearance. Thermal enhancement of rubies and sapphires is considered stable and permanent under the normal wear and handling conditions and it is generally accepted and recommended by the international gem and jewellery trade.
White sapphire resembles same as the diamond, the most dazzling jewel in the world. White sapphire has the lustre, beauty and the same hardness as the different colours of sapphires. Any person can imitate and pretend a white sapphire is a diamond. White sapphire is also a valuable gem with sheen and lustre like a diamond.
Star sapphire is a miraculous and wonderful stone. It is a blessed stone to Sri Lanka, because it is the wonder of asia found only in Sri Lanka. It is a natural formation available in the popular and famous traditional gem mining town of Sri Lanka precious and semiprecious stones and different colour gems can be seen in and around the city. Star sapphire is a re gem and an amazing jewel because no one is capable of inserting the star into the stone. It is a natural formation naturally formed supernatural gem star sapphire is the stone of destiny in which three crossed lines intersect in the centre of the stone symbolising faith, destiny and hope. Star sapphire brings one’s good fortune, fame, wealth, longevity and popularity. It is a very rare gem. Star sapphires always comes in blue and slightly blackish blue in colour.
An expensive and gorgeous gold ring set with a huge natural blue sapphire gem (natural corundum) colour royal blue, double cluster set with VVS1 (VVS1 is actually immaculate) diamonds around, which was gifted to princess Diana at the Royal wedding function took place at Buckingham Palace by our former president. Britain’s Prince William married Kate Middleton in April, a ring set with the same stone previously worn by Princess Diana originated in Sri Lanka which was gifted to Princess Kate Middleton by Her Majesty.
The best-known fact that Sri Lanka was called as Ceylon in the ancient times Ceylon was very popular and famous for magnificent natural blue sapphires. Whenever an Englishman come to Ceylon (Now Sri Lanka) who never missed the opportunity of buying at least a piece of precious blue sapphire gem. It promises wealth, name of fame, joy, love and happiness to the wearer. It increases once’s good fortune, fame, health and wealth, longevity and popularity, peace, patience and tranquillity. It helps reach a high level and will always triumph. This is a well-known fact of a person who is in possession of a blue sapphire gem ensures a very long energetic life with dignity and inspires love and faithfulness and harmonious. There is a common belief that the precious gems have magnetic powers in varying degrees and have the curative and healing power to cure many illnesses unlike other gems, blue sapphires are prized for their clarity, weight, cut and lustre is more valuable.
Yellow Sapphire is also one of the different colours of sapphires found in the world. Known very popular traditionally manual gem mining old town of Ratnapura. Ratnapura literally means City of Gems. Ratna is the gem and pura is the city. It is also a natural formation same as other different colours of sapphires. Yellow Sapphire is a very famous and familiar gem among the Indian people. It is obvious that, on the advice and the guidance of the Sage (Samy) most of the Indians used to adore a ring set with a yellow sapphire gem. Because the yellow sapphire gem has the magnetic power to increase good health, wealth, longevity and popularity. It brings good fortune, and protects and safeguards from evil effects and spirits.
Indian people of course call the yellow sapphire gem as Pushparagam. Literally mean ‘Passion of Flower’. It flowers life of the person who is in possession of a yellow sapphire. Indeed, he is a very lucky and fortunate human in the world. Try to be a proud owner of a ring set with a yellow-sapphire gem and feel the benefit and enjoy fortunes and experience the difference. Yellow Sapphire is an enchanting gem with beautiful lustre and attraction.
Ruby is a gem of various shades of red corundum, generally some stones are hot pink, some are blackish red, and some are pale coloured. Of course, it is a hot stone and most valued among precious stones. Most of the rubies are translucent and suitable to wear due to the wide range of colour and hardness. Ruby is an enchanting gem.
A flawless ruby is smooth and having a attractive lustre, brilliance and radiance and a rich red-colour. Rubies are very costly because of the scarcity. A large ruby is rare and very expensive than a large diamond. The rarest and most expensive shade is described as being the colour of pigeons blood a rich velvety deep red, but without fire or sparkle. A few people only prefer the red ruby. It brings wealth and leads a prosperous and joyful life and popularity. The person who is in possession of a ruby is a blessed and always triumph in his life. It activates and vitalises the whole body through the circulation of blood. Ruby will make on with courage of determined, cheerful, active, ambitious and successfully blessed with sterling qualities. Ruby is generally an enchanting gem to win the heart.
Star ruby is also a very rare gem rarely come to the hands of fortunate gem merchants. Of course, the Star Ruby is also a wonderful gem. It is also naturally formed, supernatural gem found in the famous and very popular traditional gem mining town of Ratnapura. It is also the wonder of Asia. As mentioned before, Star Ruby is the stone of destiny. Same as the Star Sapphire three crossed lines intersect in the centre of the stone. Symbolized the heart of spiritual love and devotion.
It is also a natural creation of nature. A blessed stone rarely available in Ratnapura and found only in Sri Lanka. The Star Ruby paves the way for achievement of goals and betterment in life. No one is capable of inserting a three crossed-line star into the stone. It is truly a naturally formed wonderful creation of nature.
Cat’s Eye is a wonderful and rare gem. It is a blessed stone, naturally formed a super natural gem found only in the traditional gem mining town of Ratnapura. It is a hard gem belonging to semi-precious and transparent variety of quartz because of the rare gem much valued in the gem trade. It is a hot stone and appearance opalescent available in various shades, ranging from a cloudy yellow to brownish green colour. The pure variety has a yellowish radiance and white brilliant straight band. It is a miraculous and vary rare gem. Only a few people whoa re blessed to be the proud owner of the naturally formed supernatural and amazing gem in the world of a person who is in possession of a cat’s eye brings success and prosperity, longevity and happiness in the life. Cat’s eye is a very rare gem extremely unique gem remarkably resembles same as an eye of a cat is called cat’s eye.
Zircon is also a rare variety of gem rarely found in the traditional gem mining town of Ratnapura. Means literally the city of gems. Yes of course it brings success and prosperity. It ensures good health, wealth, safeguards one from enemies and criticism. It is naturally colourless, reddish orange, brownish red, grey, violet-grey or green. A very good stone reflects a golden colour, when seen from a distance. It is transparent, soft to the touch, lustrous and ample radiance. Zircon is also a very rare gem.
Padmaraga is the King of the precious and semi-precious gem. It is also a wonderful stone in the world, a blessed gem very rarely come across to the gem dealers’ hands. It is also found in the old traditional gem mining town of Ratnapura. Padmaraga is a very beautiful and enchanting gem-like florescence of blossomed flowers. It is also a very rare, expensive and unique gem.
Topaz is also a naturally formed beautiful gem. Adequality available here in Sri Lanka in different colours. Topaz is transparent mineral gem being a silicate and fluoride of aluminium and generally found in rocks. It is a cold gem occurring naturally in a prismatic form and also found in yellow colour, pink and blue shades. The jewelleries settled with blue topaz are beautiful has an enchanting power to attract the teenagers. Of course, it is a very beautiful gem.
Aqua Marine means sea water. The finest beryl and is called so because of its bluish, sea green, bluish green tint and it is transparent. It is also a very rare gem found rarely come across to the hand of gem dealers. It is also a valuable gem found in Ratnapura.
Amethyst also a violet variety of quarts is used as a gem containing traces of manganese titanium and iron found in the gem mining area. It is a very beautiful stone and gives more appearance of sets in the enchanting design of jewelleries. Amethyst is an attractive gem also found in Sri Lanka.
Garnet is a hard-vitreous silicate mineral occurring in a number of varieties. It is also a natural stone found in the popular traditional mining town in Sri Lanka. It is a very familiar gem common deep red colour and transparent. It belongs to the Capricornian garnets are available in different varieties namely rhodolite garnet, hessonite garnet, spessartile garnet and alamandine garnet. Most of the people knows about the garnet it is an internationally well-known gem.
Alexandrite is a blessed gem. Very rarely found and seen in the traditional mineral mining town of Ratnapura. For popularly famous for rare and unique gems. Alexandrite is also a very rare and wonderful gem. Also naturally formed supernatural gem. Alexandrite was discovered on the day King Czar Alexander was born. It shines green in the natural day light and turns raspberry red in the artificial light. Of course, it is a very rare and very expensive gem found only in Sri Lanka.
Moonstone was the first stone discovered about one hundred and fifty years ago in an alluvial mine located in an old village called Meetiyagoda in the Southern Province (Galle District). The employees who engaged in the mining used their own traditional system with the support of the poles and planks to go down about twenty or twenty-five metres or sometimes further down. It was very dangerous because always the alluvial floor is liable to collapse at any moment. Nowadays we use advanced scaffolding system to go down further with the support of planks is safer.
Moonstone is always a translucent variety of feldspar with a pearly lustre. Once it is cut and polished having a glistening white, brilliant straight band inside, which rolls with the turn of the stone. Moonstone is a very famous and familiar gem among the Germans. The Germans believe that Moonstone has the magnetic power to give good health, wealth, longevity and specially popularity. Moonstone brings good fortune, protects and safeguards from dangerous diseases and evil effects. When a German visits to Sri Lanka, never misses an opportunity of buying a piece of moonstone available in the island of paradise and the pearl of the South East Asia.
This is a gem of rich variety of beryl and the colour is due to the presence of chronium oxide. It is a hot gem and one of the expensive gemstones in the world. The lush intense green colour of the emerald is associated with wisdom, fertility and life. It is also instilling divine quality through the power and beauty of its ray. It is a symbol of regeneration and life flowers with creative and artistic abilities while energising and replenishing. It has the magnetic power for calming. Its rays always help in healing and balancing and providing with a tranquil and a serene state of mind. It increases one’s intelligence, farsighted vision. Commonly people will think of having an emerald gem will help to preserve the chastity and protect from evil spirits. Of course, it is a sure cure for stammering, ensures wealth, popularity and prosperity.
The world famous and very popular Cleopatra is most desirous and willingly adored gem was the emerald. She always adorned some of the enchanting jewelleries set with valuable emerald gems.
It is a well-known fact in the world. The gem emerald protects from evil effects, ill eye and specially from venomous snake bites. A flawless emerald is smooth and transparent and has a radiance brilliance. It is also a rare and unique gem in the world.
As old as civilization itself the Sri Lankan Gem Industry currently ranks with those of Myanmar, Brazil, South Africa and Thailand as one of the world’s most prominent gem-bearing nations. Swathed in the myth, legend, religion and the occult of Sri Lanka, gemstones, precious and semi-precious, have enriched the island’s economy, culture and reputation since about the year 543 BC.
Gemstone mining in Sri Lanka is mostly from secondary deposits. The gravels yield sapphires, rubies, cat’s eyes and other chrysoberyls, spinels, garnets, beryl, tourmalines, topazes, quartz and many other gemstones. In Sri Lanka, gem-bearing gravels known as illam are some of the richest in the world. Blessed with geological conditionsmade up of the ideal blend of chemistry, heat, pressure, time and weathering, the island is a veritable nature-made gem laboratory. Besides the well-known Pangaea, which existed about 300 million years ago, there were several other supercontinents in the Earth’s early history, their assembly and break up cycle helped form most of the world’s gem deposits. A number of these cycles are linked to the formation of gems in Sri Lanka. Most of the country’s gem deposits are in an area known as the Highland Complex, extending northeast to southwest and containing high-grade metamorphic rocks.
Sri Lanka boasts a true mine-to-market industry, both domestically and for export. A fascinating aspect of this is the harmonious and productive blend of tradition, experience and modernization. Mining is done primarily by use of traditional methods, and is small-scale by choice and design as such mines are considered to be less harmful to the environment and a more stable source of employment for more people. Pit, river and mechanized are the three types of mining practiced in Sri Lanka. Manual labor is the primary method used in mining. The National Gem and Jewelry Authority is the regulatory body responsible for the issuance of mining licenses and ensures that all related processes are conducted according to the set standards and rules. The NGJA is particularly strict when it comes to the requirements for mechanized mining. This strategy fortifies the continuous employment of 60,000 to 70,000 gem miners.
Such a fascinating set of historical facts and truly these semi-precious and precious stones are simply stunning.
It is clear that there is a long and rich history of producing and trading precious gems within the eastern world. Looking through historical and fictional writing, it is easy to establish the longstanding connection of Sri Lanka to the gem industry.
If you have any questions or if you would like to know more about the gems available through Jewel Court, do contact Rauf and Ishan on the following email address:
Psychologists have explored the tricky question of how our sense of uniqueness and identity develops. When a child is born, it has no clear idea of where ‘myself’ ends and ‘the external world’ begins.
It takes a while before the limits are established. And not until the age of two will a child begin to lose its preoccupation with itself, and start to become interested in other people. It is at this time that pronouns begin to appear in its vocabulary ‘my’, ‘me’, ‘you’, ‘I’ and usually in that order. And while the child is two it goes through a stage of rebelliousness and wilfulness in which it suddenly becomes domineering, endlessy, inquisitive, and impatient when its wishes are not gratified straightaway.
The child seems to be waking up to the fact that it has an identity of its own which needs to fit in alongside the identities of other people, and is simply testing out the limits of its powers and freedoms.
However, there are multiple theories about what makes us unique, some related and some not so interconnected. We have been pondering the topic for thousands of years – the ancient Greek philosophers Socrates, Plato, and Aristotle all theorised about the nature of human existence as have countless philosophers since.
With the discovery of fossils and scientific evidence, scientists have developed theories as well. While there may be no single conclusion, there is no doubt that humans are, indeed, unique. In fact, the very act of contemplating what makes us human is unique among other animal species.
Apart from our obvious intellectual capabilities that distinguish us as a species, humans have several unique physical, social, biological, and emotional traits. While we can’t know precisely what is in the minds of another being, such as an animal, and may, in fact, be limited by our own minds, scientists can make inferences through studies of animal behavior that inform our understanding.
Humans also have unique memories, that Professor Thomas Suddendorf calls “episodic memory.” He says, “Episodic memory is probably closest to what we typically mean when we use the word “remember” rather than “know.” Memory allows human beings to make sense of their existence, and prepare for the future, increasing our chances of survival, not only individually, but also as a species.
Memories are passed on through human communication in the form of storytelling, which is also how knowledge is passed from generation to generation, allowing human culture to evolve. Because human beings are highly social animals, we strive to understand one another and to contribute our knowledge to a joint pool, which promotes more rapid cultural evolution. In this way, unlike other animals, each human generation is more culturally developed than the preceding generations.
Profesor Thomas Suddendorf once said about these stories:
“Even our young offspring are driven to understand others’ minds, and we are compelled to pass on what we have learned to the next generation…. Young children have a ravenous appetite for the stories of their elders, and in play they reenact scenarios and repeat them until they have them down pat. Stories, whether real or fantastical, teach not only specific situations but also the general ways in which narrative works. How parents talk to their children about past and future events influences children’s memory and reasoning about the future: the more parents elaborate, the more their children do.”
Thanks to our unique memory, acquisition of language skills, and ability to write, humans around the world, from the very young to the very old, have been communicating and transmitting their ideas through stories for thousands of years, and storytelling remains integral to being human and to human culture.
Clues about the evolution of our extraordinary minds: Thomas Suddendorf
The big question is: what defines us?
In recent years, many traits once believed to be uniquely human, from morality to culture, have been found in the animal kingdom. So, what exactly makes us special?
Ever since we learned to write, we have documented how special we are. The philosopher Aristotle marked out our differences over 2,000 years ago. We are “rational animals” pursuing knowledge for its own sake. We live by art and reasoning, he wrote.
Much of what he said stills stands. Yes, we see the roots of many behaviours once considered uniquely human in our closest relatives, chimpanzees and bonobos. But we are the only ones who peer into their world and write books about it.
We see the roots of many behaviours once considered uniquely human in our closest relatives
“Obviously we have similarities. We have similarities with everything else in nature; it would be astonishing if we didn’t. But we’ve got to look at the differences,” says Ian Tattersall, a paleoanthropologist at the American Museum of Natural History in New York.
Charles Darwin, in his book ‘The Descent of Man’, wrote that humans and animals only differ in degree, not kind. This still stands true but Professor Thomas Suddendorf says that it is precisely these gradual changes that make us extraordinary and has led to “radically different possibilities of thinking”.
And it is these thoughts that allow us to pinpoint to our differences with chimpanzees. That we do so is because they are the closest living relative we have. If any of the now extinct early humans were still alive, we would be comparing our behaviour to them instead.
Still, as far as we know, we are the only creatures trying to understand where we came from. We also peer further back in time, and further into the future, than any other animal. What other species would think to ponder the age of the universe, or how it will end?”
We have an immense capacity for good. At the same time we risk driving our closest relatives to extinction and destroying the only planet we have ever called home.
Finally thoughts, no matter how you look at it, humans are unique, and paradoxical. While we are the most advanced species intellectually, technologically, and emotionally, extending our lifespans, creating artificial intelligence, traveling to outer space, showing great acts of heroism, altruism and compassion, we also continue to engage in primitive, violent, cruel, and self-destructive behavior.
As beings with awesome intelligence and the ability to control and alter our environment, though, we also have a commensurate responsibility to care for our planet, its resources, and all the other sentient beings who inhabit it and depend on us for their survival. We are still evolving as a species and we need to continue to learn from our past, imagine better futures, and create new and better ways of being together for the sake of ourselves, other animals, and our planet.
As Kallam Anji Reddy once said:
‘Everyone has a purpose in life and a unique talent to give to others. And when we blend this unique talent with service to others, we experience the ecstasy and exultation of own spirit, which is the ultimate goal of all goals.’
One of the questions I hear frequently from emerging and current leaders is this one: “How has leadership changed from 10 years ago and what do I need to understand about running a successful enterprise that I don’t know today?”
Well the reason is simple: only 14 Percent of CEOs Have the Leadership Talent to Execute Their Strategy.
The data in Global Leadership Forecast 2018 shows that organisations with effective leadership talent outperform their peers. Yet very few organizations manage this high-value asset in an integrated, cohesive way.
Even after spending more than $50 billion annually* on developing their leaders, many companies still don’t have the bench strength to meet their future business goals. And despite the spending, investments are often fragmented and see a lack of returns.
Leadership models and development programs abound; few ties to business goals. Worse yet, there’s scant evidence that they actually work. What’s needed is a coherent, integrated leadership strategy.
A well-crafted blueprint ensures that companies have the right talent, at the right cost, and with the right capabilities to deliver today and into the future. Yet, this report found less than one-third of the HR professionals surveyed feel their organisations have an effective leadership strategy. Companies that do have such strategies in place report better returns on their investment in talent. They consistently feature deeper leader bench strength and stronger leaders at all levels.
Many leaders are living under an identity crisis. They are uncertain about how to lead in a more diverse, transient, multigenerational environment that requires them to embrace diversity of thought – and they fail to see the potential opportunities this represents to both workplace and marketplace success.
When leaders become too comfortable with a one-size-fits-all approach to leadership, they conversely become uncomfortable with the uncertainty and change that more successful leaders embrace as part of the job. Complacent leaders are at risk of becoming irrelevant because they are unable or unwilling to course correct their style, approach and attitude to the environment of change they must lead through.
Leaders fail in their primary role and responsibility of enabling the full potential in people and the business they serve because they don’t know the difference between substitution and evolution. Instead of leading the organization and its people to continually evolve, they get stuck in a cycle of complacency and the substitution of activities associated with it. As a result, the company cannot grow or its growth cannot be sustained.
The result is a major shortfall in competent, clued up global leaders.
According to a 2017 report by Price Waterhouse Coopers, 75 percent of hiring managers believe leadership skills are hard to find in new recruits. And a Deloitte study found a whopping 87 percent of companies aren’t effective at building global leaders.
What could be more vital to a company’s long-term health than the choice and cultivation of its future leaders? And yet, while companies maintain meticulous lists of candidates who could at a moment’s notice step into the shoes of a key executive, an alarming number of newly minted leaders fail spectacularly, ill prepared to do the jobs for which they supposedly have been groomed.
Look at Coca-Cola’s M. Douglas Ivester, longtime CFO and Robert Goizueta’s second in command, who became CEO after Goizueta’s death. Ivester was forced to resign in two and a half years, thanks to a serious slide in the company’s share price, some bad public-relations moves, and the poor handling of a product contamination scare in Europe.
Or consider Mattel’s Jill Barad, whose winning track record in marketing catapulted her into the top job—but didn’t give her insight into the financial and strategic aspects of running a large corporation.
Ivester and Barad failed, in part, because although each was accomplished in at least one area of management, neither had mastered more general competencies such as public relations, designing and managing acquisitions, building consensus, and supporting multiple constituencies. They’re not alone. The problem is not just that the shoes of the departed are too big; it’s that succession planning, as traditionally conceived and executed, is too narrow and hidebound to uncover and correct skill gaps that can derail even the most promising young executives.
However, Harvard Business School released some research into the factors that contribute to a leader’s success or failure, the findings found that certain companies do succeed in developing deep and enduring bench strength by approaching succession planning as more than the mechanical process of updating a list. Indeed, they’ve combined two practices: succession planning and leadership development, to create a long-term process for managing the talent roster across their organisations. In most companies, the two practices reside in separate functional silos, but they are natural allies because they share a vital and fundamental goal: getting the right skills in the right place.
A final thought: to succeed in the 21st century workplace and marketplace, leaders must come out from under their identity crisis and embrace diversity of thought so that those they lead can overcome their own identity crises and reach their full potential. They must embrace risk and change as opportunities that others may fail to see as such. And they especially must understand the difference between substitution and evolution: one leads to the trap of complacency, the other leads to a path of growth and continued success. In the end, the wise leader knows their subject matter expertise and specifically what their leadership (identity) solves for – in support of the organisation’s evolution.
Perhaps the underlying lesson is that good succession management is possible only in an organisational culture that encourages candor and risk taking at the executive level. It depends on a willingness to differentiate individual performance and a corporate culture in which the truth is valued more than politeness.
A.P. J. Abdul Kalam once said:
“When we tackle obstacles, we find hidden reserves of courage and resilience we did not know we had. And it is only when we are faced with failure do we realise that these resources were always there within us. We only need to find them and move on with our lives.”
I recently had a meeting in the City of London with a group of executives – the interesting fact was when I left the boardroom, there was this picture on the wall with the words:
‘Do more things that make you forget to check your phone’
– which prompted me to write this blog.
The facts, do we actually have time for our most precious relationships, do we give the time to build lasting relationships around trust and values or do we constantly feel we can always do better with the latest api or technology app?
Let’s face it: Technology is everywhere, but the more we depend on it, and the more we use it when we don’t really need it, the harder it becomes to create meaningful relationships — and sometimes, it actually makes things more difficult.
Is it really best to brainstorm an upcoming project with your co-worker over email, or would it make more sense to walk over to that person’s desk and have a face to face discussion? Can you actually go a whole dinner without checking your smartphone? Is it necessary to charge your phone right by your head at night?
In February, 2017 I wrote a very interesting blog ‘Has Technology Killed Love and Romance?’. The attributes that have now come to define us and the overexposure that the 21st century human is subjected to leaves no dearth of psychological problems. More and more people each year are diagnosed with clinical depression and anxiety problems. This becomes a detriment when it comes to business and personal survival with relationships. With dissatisfying home, office or academic environments the relationship in many cases becomes the dumping ground for emotional baggage.
I challenge you to try going without technology when possible you will be surprised how great it feels (and how little really happens when you’re out of touch). While some business people avoid e-mail and mobiles during their time off, others find it tough to remain out of contact.
According to the study conducted by a group of international researchers, anyone who devotes more than four hours daily on screen-based entertainment such as TV, video games or surfing the web, ups their risk of heart attack and stroke by 113 percent and the risk of death by any cause by nearly 50 percent compared to those who spend less than two hours daily in screen play – and this is regardless of whether or not they also work out.
A very interesting TEDx video by Leslie Perlow – Thriving in an overconnected world, Leslie Pernow argues that the always “on” mentality can have a long-term detrimental effect on many organizations. In her sociological experiments at BCG and other organizations, Pernow found that if the team – rather than just individuals – collectively rallies around a goal or personal value, it unleashes a process that creates better work and better lives.
A very good friend of mine, Moran Lerner, is a behavioural and experimental psychologist with expertise in the fields of Cognitive Behavioural Innovation, computational intelligence and human-machine interaction. Moran has founded/co-founded over 20 market-leading global companies with 14 successful exits in Computational Intelligence, Biomimetics, Interactive Gaming and Behavioural and Bio Engineering over the past 20 years.
We often explore new and creative ways of listening, engaging, working together, learning, building community and being in conversation with the other. We are more connected than ever through technology and at the same time the disconnect with ourselves, others and our environment is growing.
We need ‘Meaningful Conversations’ to help us reconnect, going beyond our egos and our fears to build strong relationships, communities, networks and organisations, so that through collaboration.
Anyone who has sat on a Caribbean beach this summer will be familiar with the thrill of mobiles producing an instant response among supposedly off-duty executives. Mobile phones, BlackBerries, iPads, WiFi and sub-miniature laptops make it all too possible to pack the office along with your luggage. But how in touch or out of touch should businesspeople be?
So, what happens if you run your own firm?
You might have the big salary that comes with the top job, but little time to enjoy it.
Can CEOs ever release their grip and truly take a break?
The biggest obstacle to disconnecting is not technology: it is your own level of commitment or compulsion when it comes to work. If you work 80 hours a week, 50 weeks a year, you may find it pretty hard to get your head out of the office – and even harder to break the association between hearing the ping of an incoming email and immediately shifting into work brain.
If you told somebody 50 years ago that the most world-changing invention of the near future was telephones you could carry around in your pocket, they’d probably look at you like you were insane. But it’s true — mobile phones (and the data networks that have grown with them) have drastically reshaped the way we live in thousands of different ways.
Remember when horror movies had people menaced by slashers with no way to call for help? Remember unfolding confusing paper maps, trying to find where you were on the road? Remember racking your brain to think of that actor who played a robot on that one show? All of those things are gone thanks to Google and the incredibly powerful networked computers we carry in our pockets.
With great power comes great responsibility, however, and scientists are starting to learn that spending so much time staring at our phones is actually doing some damage to our physical, social and intellectual lives.
Here a few reasons why you should balance you time on your device:
– It damages your eyes – Experts advise that prolonged screen usage can be seriously detrimental to eye health
– It makes people perceive you negatively – Studies from Takashi Nakamura – Professor in computers in human behaviour reveal that frequent peeks at your device might damage your friendships as much as your eyes.
– They carry bacteria – A study conducted by the London School of Hygiene & Tropical Medicine determined that one out of every six cell phones in England is contaminated with fecal matter, and 16 percent of them carry the E. Coli bacteria.
– It’s bad for your neck – “Text Neck” has been springing up more and more in the last few years. The human head is a heavy object, and our neck and spine are designed to keep it up at a certain angle.
– It makes driving dangerous – Recently released results from a new Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) naturalistic driving study continue to show that distracted driving is a tangible threat. The study showed that a staggering 213,000 accidents involved cell phone usage.
– It makes walking dangerous – Phones can distract you on the street just as much as behind the wheel. In fact, an increase in pedestrian deaths last year was partially due to distractions caused by smartphones – some countries including the Netherlands – the Dutch town of Bodegraven has come up with a clever new way of keeping phone-obsessed pedestrians safe as they cross the road, a strip LED traffic signals installed in the pavement that glow red or green, allowing pedestrians to see if it is safe to cross, even if their eyes are glued to their phone screens.
– It can damage your hands – We have all heard about “cell phone elbow” and “Blackberry thumb.” We’ve heard that looking down at a smartphone puts pressure on the spine and may damage your eyes. We are now experiencing “text claw,” a soreness and cramping in the wrists, forearms and fingers resulting from overusing our phones. But now we’re learning that such overuse might lead to temporary pain or even a deformity of your pinky finger.
– It’s bad for sleep – Many people have a hard time putting down their cell phones before bed — when your Twitter interactions are going crazy, that temptation to take just one more look is hard to resist. Unfortunately, a number of studies have revealed that using LCD screens — especially close to your face — can upset your natural sleep cycle.
– It makes you stressed – A study at the University of Gothenburg in Sweden attempted to measure the effects of cell phone usage on people in their 20s over the course of a year, the study connected mobile phone use and stress, sleep disturbances, and symptoms of depression among young adults.
– It can make you hallucinate – even when you’re not looking at your phone, it can still mess with your mind. A professor at Indiana University-Purdue University conducted a study on “phantom pocket vibration syndrome” — i.e. people thinking that their cell phone was vibrating to alert them even when it wasn’t. In her survey, 89 percent of undergraduates reported thinking that their mobile was vibrating even when it wasn’t. The fact that our brains are being rewired to constantly expect this stimuli can also lead to stress, with another study observing significantly elevated anxiety levels in subjects separated from their phones for an hour.
– It is altering your brain – this last one isn’t a definite negative — scientists still don’t understand exactly what is happening — but it’s troubling nonetheless. A study from the National Institutes of Health hooked up 47 people to PET scanners and observed their brain activity while a cellular phone was kept close to their head. The scientists observed a visible increase of about 7 percent, but as of yet don’t know its cause or what kind of long-term effects it will have. What we do know, however, is that the radiation is up to something in there, and are you really willing to take that risk?
“Most people check their phone every 15 minutes or less, even if they have no alerts or notifications,” Larry Rosen, psychology professor and author of The Distracted Mind . “We’ve built up this layer of anxiety surrounding our use of technology, that if we don’t check in as often as we think we should, we’re missing out.”
Rosen’s research has shown that besides increasing anxiousness, the compulsion to check notifications and feeds interferes with people’s ability to focus.
Besides the wasted time, there’s also the psychological grind that comes from spending too much time on your phone. Several studies have shown social media can be bad for your mental health, and Facebook admitted last year that passive use of its social network can leave people in negative moods. Researchers are still trying to figure out what long-term effects channelling so much time and energy into our devices will cause.
Some large investors are even pressing Apple to develop new tools to help users curb their phone addictions, saying that a feeling of dependency is bad for the company’s long-term health.
Fortunately, you don’t have to wait for Apple – you can simply become more deliberate about how you use your phone.
One group of business people at The Boston Group, a consulting firm, discovered just that when they participated in an experiment run by Leslie Perlow, who is the Konsuke Matsushita Professor of Leadership at the Harvard Business School and author of the book, “Sleeping With Your Smartphone”.
As described in her book. the group found that taking regular “predictable time off” (PTO) from their smartphones resulted in increased efficiency and collaboration, heightened job satisfaction, and better work-life balance.
Four years after her initial experiment, Leslie Perlow reports, 86% of the consulting staff in the firm’s Northeast offices including Boston, New York, and Washington, D.C. were on teams engaged in similar PTO experiments.
Final thought….. If you use your phone less, you’ll end up with more free time. Much of this will be in small chunks, such as when you are in the elevator, waiting in line of on the train. These can be great opportunities to take a deep breath and just do nothing (which can be a surprisingly relaxing and restorative experience).
You’re also likely to find yourself with longer periods of time to fill. In order to keep yourself from reverting to your phone to entertain you, it’s essential that you decide on several activities you would like to use this time for and then set up your environment to make it more likely that you will stick to these intentions.
For example, if you say you want to read more, put a book on your coffee table, so when you flop down on the couch at the end of a long day, your book will be within eyesight and reach. If you want to practice playing music, take your instrument out of its case and prop it up in the hall, where it will be easy to grab when you have a few spare moments. If you want to spend more time in mindfulness take the time to schedule time for meditation and practice it daily. If you want to spend more time with your family or a particular friend, make plans to do so and put your phone in your pocket or bag for the duration of your time together. Smartphones are habit-forming, so think about the habits you want to form.
As American author Regina Brett once said:
“Sometimes you have to disconnect to stay connected. Remember the old days when you had eye contact during a conversation? When everyone wasn’t looking down at a device in their hands? We’ve become so focused on that tiny screen that we forget the big picture, the people right in front of us.”
A discussion and running theme that seems to be on every leadership and executive director’s mind, is ‘what is required to be an effective leader in today’s totally disruptive business world’?
Experts have opined for decades on the reasons behind the spectacular failure rates of strategy execution.
In 2016, it was estimated that 67% of well-formulated strategies failed due to poor execution.
There are many explanations for this abysmal failure rate, but a 10-year longitudinal study on executive leadership conducted by my firm showed one clear reason.
A full 61% of executives told us they were not prepared for the strategic challenges they faced upon being appointed to senior leadership roles.
It’s no surprise, then, that 50%–60% of executives fail within the first 18 months of being promoted or hired.
Becoming a disruptive leader is not a straightforward journey, no matter your background. It requires the embrace of wholesale change, the nurturing of innovative thinking and behavior, and the management of outcomes rather than resources. It requires a personal transformation that many will choose not to make.
Over the past year, we’ve been struck by how many times we’ve heard C-suite leaders use these words, or very similar ones, to describe the strengths they believe are critical to transforming their businesses, and to competing effectively in a disruptive era.
What’s equally striking is how difficult organisations are finding it to embed these qualities and behaviors in their people. That’s because the primary obstacle is invisible: the internal resistance that all human beings experience, often unconsciously, when they’re asked to make a significant change.
Cognitively, it shows up as mindset — fixed beliefs and assumptions about what will make us successful and what won’t. Emotionally, it usually takes the form of fear.
Amazon changed how we buy things. Netflix transformed how we consume videos. And companies like Airbnb and Uber have shaken up the hotel and transportation industries.
A few years ago, digital disruption was something that happened to someone else. Now, no company is immune.
Disruptive technologies, products, services and business models are being introduced almost daily. So executives need to take charge of their organisation’s response to ensure long-term business success.
But while many organisations are eager to “get ahead of the curve” on digital, there’s no instruction manual or template on how to do it successfully.
A recent KPMG survey of chief executives and chief information officers found that while most are concerned about digital disruption, few are adequately prepared to address it.
Although digital may be disrupting your business model, it also creates opportunities for those that embrace change. Organisations that don’t will find it increasingly difficult to catch up as technology continues to advance rapidly.
So where do you start?
First, understand how digital disruption is affecting your products, services and business model. Then develop a digital strategy. That includes acquiring the necessary digital skills and getting the company to buy into the required changes.
KPMG’s CIO Advisory survey shows this won’t be easy.
The majority of CIOs (58 percent) and almost half of the CEOs (43 percent) are involved or very involved in their firm’s digital business strategy. But only a small number are actively leading the effort.
Given the magnitude of digital disruption, the lack of strong leadership could have a major impact on the company’s ability to adapt.
Companies must master and implement new technologies. That requires new skills, many of which are in short supply. Most CIOs in the KPMG survey cited a lack of critical skills and the limits of existing IT systems as their biggest challenges.
There are no quick solutions to these challenges. But first, companies need to develop a strategy. Without one, it is impossible to tackle the other issues.
Final thought, the complexity of the challenges that organisations face is running far out ahead of the complexity of the thinking required to address them.
Consider the story of the consultant brought in by the CEO to help solve a specific problem: the company is too centralised in its decision making. The consultant has a solution: decentralise. Empower more people to make decisions. And so it is done, with great effort and at great expense. Two years pass, the company is still struggling, and a new CEO brings in a new consultant. We have a problem, the CEO explains. We’re too decentralised. You can guess the solution.
The primary challenge most large companies now face is disruption, the response to which requires a new strategy, new processes, and a new set of behaviors.
But if employees have long been valued and rewarded for behaviors such as practicality, consistency, self-reliance, and prudence, why wouldn’t they find it uncomfortable to suddenly embrace behaviors such as innovation, agility, collaboration, and boldness?
Einstein was right that:
“We can’t solve our problems from the same level of thinking that created them.”
Human development is about progressively seeing more. Learning to embrace our own complexity is what makes it possible to manage more complexity.
We welcome back Roger Phare as our guest-blogger, who is an accomplished Global Executive Director, equipped with a commanding track record over the past 37 years of bringing sound judgment and a strong commercial perspective to IT businesses, from ‘Mainframe to Mobile’.
Roger has been fortunate to have been part of the commercial computing lifespan. With a market-driven approach, which he has strategically supported, a number of organizations, both at significant Board, Executive and Regional Directorship and responsibilities. An expert in corporate governance and compliance and risk management; enjoying challenging the status quo and providing independent advice to Boards whilst maintaining sound judgment, impartiality and with integrity.
In the third of this series (view Part I and Part II ), we are going to look at the role of the Non-Executive Director (“NED”), which is a highly debated subject in today’s modern board.
To provide some background, before I hand you over to Roger, as an Independent Non-Executive Director and Executive Advisor on several companies, I talk with experience across the list of attributes required of a non-executive director, which is so long, precise and contradictory that there cannot be a single board member in the world who fully fits the criteria.
They need to be: supportive, intelligent, interesting, well-rounded and mature, funny, entrepreneurial, steady, objective yet passionate, independent, curious, challenging, and more. They also need to have a financial background and real-life business experience, a strong moral compass, and be first-class all-rounders with specific industry skills.
Chairmen and chief executives should use their NEDs to provide general counsel – and a different perspective – on matters of concern. They should also seek their guidance on particular issues before they are raised at board meetings.
Indeed, some of the main specialist roles of a non-executive director will be carried out in a board sub-committee (particularly the remuneration and audit committees), especially in listed companies.
The key responsibilities of NEDs can be said to include the following:
– Strategic direction
As ‘an outsider’, the non-executive director may have a clearer or wider view of external factors affecting the company and its business environment than the executive directors.
The normal role of the NED in strategy formation is therefore to provide a creative and informed contribution and to act as a constructive critic in looking at the objectives and plans devised by the chief executive and the executive team.
– Monitoring performance
Non-executive directors should take responsibility for monitoring the performance of executive management, especially with regard to the progress made towards achieving the determined company strategy and objectives. They have a prime role in appointing, and where necessary removing, executive directors and in succession planning.
Non-executive directors are also responsible for determining appropriate levels of remuneration of executive directors. In large companies, this is carried out by a remuneration committee, the objective of which is to ensure there is an independent process for setting the remuneration of executive directors.
The company and its board can benefit from outside contacts and opinions. An important function for NEDs, therefore, can be to help connect the business and board with networks of potentially useful people and organizations. In some cases, a NED will be called upon to represent the company externally.
NEDs should satisfy themselves on the integrity of financial information and that financial controls and systems of risk management are robust and defensible.
It is the duty of the whole board to ensure that the company accounts properly to its shareholders by presenting a true and fair reflection of its actions and financial performance and that the necessary internal control systems are put into place and monitored regularly and rigorously.
A NED has an important part to play in fulfilling this responsibility, whether or not a formal audit committee (composed of NEDs) of the board has been constituted.
Now I would like to hand over to Roger!
Thank you, Geoff, today I would like to discuss the role and ‘A Nod to the NED – the key dynamic of the modern board’.
Of all the Board positions the Non-Executive Director (NED) role is undoubtedly the most confusing. Not so much as to the expected outcomes of growth, compliance, shareholder returns and social responsibility but more as to the background and dynamics of the modern NED.
Surely the NED role is the most historically formulated, culturally cultivated and legislatively defined of all board member roles.
Yet instead of being well defined and well-structured the NED requirement seems to be all over the place.
Part of the issue is that demand has rapidly increased due to factors such as legislation, compliance and business growth. This has spread the net further afield and created a demand over and above the previous norm.
The result of this demand there has seen “NED Membership” organizations springing up. I recently read as part of a membership promotion the following excerpt:
“If you have the right amount of experience to offer, you could become a Non-Executive Director. This could be an especially good option if you are approaching retirement because it can be a useful way to earn money without the pressures of being involved in the day-to-day decision making of a business.”
Whoa! This conjures up images of geriatric un-prepared old-boys rolling up for a four-hour board meeting; pontificating and story-telling before retiring to their local club for a large brandy and an afternoon nap in a dark leather padded armchair!
Nothing could be further from the truth for the modern NED. Guidance around “day to day” decision making is a critical part of the NED role. Four hours in the Boardroom can equate to four days spread pre and post-meeting guiding and assisting the CEO & executive team. It is serious business.
A related problem is that somehow a “one size fits all” approach to NED requirements has become the prevailing attitude. Other than “Chair” type roles it seems that there is little demarcation in the nature of the role nor organization in which the NED is required.
Contributing to this is the definition of organization types. Most understand the concept of listed or private organizations and the duties, responsibilities and remuneration levels required by and from the NED’s. When community organizations are brought into the mix then things really go off the rails.
It starts with the concept of “Not for Profit”, equating with the concept that NED roles being “Volunteer”. To start with, Not for Profit organizations should be re-branded “Not for Dividend”. In other words, they need to be governed and run the same way commercial organizations operate with a view to making a surplus; the only difference is that those surpluses are distributed to beneficiaries rather than shareholders.
This topic is probably the subject of a whole new thread but the point is that community organizations need directors with the same level of skill and due diligence as those in the commercial world.
The question is when an ad appears that asks for applications for a NED “Volunteer, expenses only”, who is going to apply?
Yes, there is a small percentage of experienced and talented individuals who are prepared to provide their time on a “pro bono” basis and these people are to be commended. Simply having time on one’s hands and looking for an activity is not necessarily a qualification for a board position.
Even worse, to a degree, is the concept of applying for volunteer positions to “gain experience” as a Board member. This can lead to frustration and disappointment for all parties.
Yet it is not all doom and gloom. Demand for high-quality Non-Executive Directors is increasing and it is generally acknowledged that the keys to success are the right recruitment, support, training and ongoing engagement. With these factors in place, NED’s can add significant value to all types and size of business.
So, here’s a nod to the new breed NED – exciting times ahead!
You can contact Roger Phare via LinkedIn: Roger Phare on LinkedIn
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Every year, as a co-founder and member of the Neustar International Security Council, I attend The Neustar Cyber Summit, this year the summit was held at the OXO Tower in London and there really were some very interesting findings from the summit which I would like to share.
Rodney Joffe, Chairman of NISC, started to discuss where the Internet of Things fits into the equation.
‘The first thing to recognize is that the Internet of Things is a new phrase for something that’s existed for years. The only difference is scale.
Sometime in the late 1970s or early 1980s, some computer science students wired a Coca-Cola vending machine to the Internet. The students wanted to solve the problem of walking down three flights of stairs to the lobby only to discover there weren’t any cold Cokes in the machine.
It was one of the first devices wired to the Internet, and anyone could connect to it and ask for the status of the Cokes. So IoT isn’t really new. It’s probably best defined as all of the devices that can be connected to the Internet that don’t necessarily look like traditional computers. Items like smart power meters, smart lightbulbs and modern home thermostats, all the way to critical medical appliances and devices, jet engines and power turbines.
Because everyone is now focused on the IoT, we’re trying to develop rules around how all people, places and things interconnect. But millions of devices and things that are out there already are not secure, so we have to find ways of securing them and making sure that everything that gets added in the future is secure.
It’s no big deal if the Coke machine is wrong, but what if a nuclear-generating turbine goes down or if all the air-conditioning systems in a city go on at the same time because the smart meters that control the smart homes were compromised?
The other thing to recognize is that the industrial IoT is much larger than the consumer IoT. The breach of Target customer credit cards started when network credentials were stolen from an air-conditioning filtration vendor that had serviced various Target stores. Those credentials were used to hack into Target’s system, then install malware on a large number of the chain’s point-of-sale devices. The end result was brand damage for Target that has reverberations today.
The facts are, in 2016, we saw a number of huge attacks — many that exceeded 1Tbps. In 2017, by contrast, we saw fewer large distributed denial-of-service (DDoS) attacks, possibly because hackers were finding little advantage in taking a company completely offline. Another explanation is that hackers were simply enjoying the success of the previous year’s myriad of extortion and ransomware-oriented attacks, as well as the many DDoS associated data breaches.
So far in 2018, however, the big attacks are back with a vengeance. Earlier this year we saw the largest DDoS attack ever recorded — 1.35Tbps — using a new type of attack called Memcached, which will be discussed later. Then, a 1.7Tbps DDoS attack was recorded. Previous amplification attacks, such as DNSSEC, returned a multiplication factor of 217 times, but Memcached attacks returned amplification records exceeding 51,000 times! In fact, the potential return from Memcached attacks is so large that they do not require the use of botnets, making them a new and dangerous risk vector.
We are hoping that these attacks will go the way of the Simple Service Discovery Protocol (SSDP) amplification attacks, which used the protocol designed to advertise and find plug-and-play devices as a vector. SSDP amplification attacks are easily mitigated with a few simple steps, including blocking inbound UDP port 1900 on the firewall. There are similar steps that organizations can take to mitigate Memcached attacks, including not exposing servers and closing off ports, but until then, Neustar is prepared.
This year we are also seeing different uses for DDoS beyond simple volumetric attacks, including what we call quantum attacks. Quantum attacks are relatively small and designed to bypass endpoint security and avoid triggering cloud failover mitigation. These attacks are being used for scouting and reconnaissance. In a recent incident, Neustar stopped a quantum attack that never peaked over 300 Mbps, but it featured 15 different attack vectors, went on for 90 minutes, and involved all of Neustar’s globally distributed scrubbing centers.
This attack came from all over the world and was designed to bypass perimeter hardware, using protocols to circumvent their defenses. The attackers behind such campaigns may start small, but they can quickly add botnets, attack vectors, and ports to get what they want.
Neustar recently thwarted what is believed to be the first IPv6 attack. This attack presented a new direction that attackers are likely to pursue as more and more companies adopt IPv6 and run dual IPv4/IPv6 stacks. We believe that IPv6 vectors will continue to emerge as organizations around the world move to adopt the new standard.
You can also expect to see more Layer 7 (application layer) attacks, including those targeting DNS services with HTTP and HTTPS requests. These attacks are often designed to target applications in a way that mimics actual requests, which can make them particularly difficult to detect. It is important to note, however, that Layer 7 attacks are typically only part of a multi-vector DDoS attack. The other parts are aimed at the network and overall bandwidth.
DDoS attacks can be found in a multitude of sizes and for any reason imaginable. They can now be used to find vulnerabilities, to locate backdoors for exfiltration, and as a smokescreen-like distraction for other activities. Today’s organized criminals are able to focus on the results that they want and simply buy or rent the malware or botnets they need to get there. Some have gone so far as to comment that criminals are getting more and more like corporations, each with their own specialization.
The simple fact is that if you’re online, you’re susceptible to an attack. Whether you are vulnerable or not is entirely up to you.
The summit and Rodney Joffe’s keynote was incredibly insightful, but where does that leave us today and how can we guard against such threats in our business and personal lives?
A New York Times report reveals another cyberattack using stolen NSA hacking tools, and experts warn computer systems are not prepared for even more widespread attacks likely in the future. Max Everett, the managing director at Fortalice Solutions, joins CBSN to discuss the threat.
Cybersecurity expert warns the world is not ready.
We can all agree over the course of 2018, global cyber threats have continued to evolve at speed, resulting in a dramatic reshaping of the cyber security landscape. Traditional threats such as generic trojans, ransomware and spam bots were transformed.
After years of focusing on individuals, malware authors will increasingly target enterprises and networks of computers.
Powered by military-grade code allegedly leaked from the NSA, threats such as WannaCry and GoldenEye wrought havoc throughout, shutting down businesses and causing unprecedented operating losses.
The effectiveness of these threats has been compounded by novel lateral movement vectors that augment zero-day exploits such as EternalBlue and EternalRomance, allowing malware to ‘hop’ from one network to another, from organisation to organisation. These targeted attacks are reshaping corporate and government digital security, whilst simultaneously causing fallout in the consumer space.
Ransomware specifically aimed at companies has also become far more prevalent. Since the re-emergence this March of Troldesh, companies have faced extremely targeted attacks that abuse the Remote Desktop Protocol to connect to infrastructure, then manually infect computers.
Certain strains of ransomware such as Troldesh and GlobeImposter come equipped with lateral movement tools (such as Mimikatz), allowing malware to infect an organisation and log clean-up mechanisms to cover their tracks.
Following a surge of market interest around cryptocurrencies that has continued through 2018 and into 2019, miners have diversified and proliferated. Traditional illicit coin miners have rushed to adopt lateral movement tactics such as the EternalBlue and EternalRomance exploits, allowing cybercriminals to infect computers in organisations and increase mining efforts.
Based on threat developments in 2018, organisations should essentially prepare for more sophisticated iterations of malware based on the same theme in 2019.
After years of focusing on individuals, malware authors will increasingly target enterprises and networks of computers. Lateral movement will become standard in most malware samples, either via password-grabbing utilities like Mimikatz, or by exploiting wormable vulnerabilities. In addition, the number of malicious attachments in SPAM emails will increase, particularly those written in scripting languages such as PERL or Python.
“All the world’s a stage/ And all the men and women merely players”; Shakespeare’s famous line makes us consider each person an ‘actor’ in their own right, with their own individual role to play. And when looking across the cyber threat landscape, this rings especially true – each actor has their own motivations and distinct part to play.
When the proverbial hits the fan, it’s typical for the victim – a business or government entity – to focus on the indicators of compromise (IoC) rather than what led to the attack in the first place.
Looking at IoCs is an essential part of a cyber defence strategy and can help victims identify who is targeting them. But it’s a reactive approach, which doesn’t help once your organisation has been breached.
This rear-facing view is also reflected in the cyber sensationalist news narrative. The media tend to focus on the number of attacks – a vanity metric – but rarely on its complexity, length, or who was behind it, and what their motivations were for attacking the organisation in the first place.
IoCs tend to change very quickly, the actor behind does not, nor their objectives and tactics, techniques and procedures (TTPs). For example, US-CERT’s release of the Grizzly Steppe malicious Russian activity was complex in that many of the IoCs that were provided were false positives or TOR exit nodes, making it difficult for companies to make sense of them and ingest.
As such, it’s vital that organisations look to understand the actor – their motive, opportunity and means – and not merely read into the IoCs if they are to protect themselves from potential attack.
Threat intelligence highlights IoCs around an attack, such as that the actor was using cheap outsourced labour to perpetuate the attack, was using a particular hosting platform, or shared infrastructure.
IP addresses and domain names change very quickly, but the adversary’s motive does not. Knowing this is the first step towards changing an organisations’ security stance to mitigate the threat, identifying the indicators of attack (IoAs) rather than just the IoCs. Without intelligence, this would be impossible.
The type of malicious actor organisations must deal with will differ. Some may be state-sponsored, for example, carrying out cyber espionage on behalf of a nation. Others may be hacktivists, looking to incite political change, or cyber criminals looking to make a profit.
Understanding the bigger picture beyond the impact of the attack itself is critical if the good guys are going to triumph over the bad. Intelligence plays a key role in getting to the core of that bad apple.
STIX, the standardised language to represent structured information about cyber threats, helps to store and share information on actors and TTPs. It has become the de facto standard for information sharing in cyber threat intelligence as it facilitates automation and human assisted analysis.
Finally, it’s worth remembering that intelligence is not a silver bullet. It’s a part of a wider puzzle that enterprises need to put together in order to give themselves the best chance of defence against a cyber attack.
Security needs to be seen as an architecture, embedded in the foundation of an organisation. Hygiene factors such as ongoing patch management and end-user training also need to be considered.
The human element behind an attack is often forgotten. However, analysts can create a ‘big picture’ of the lifecycle and ecosystem of hackers by adding in the more specific details.
Enterprises and governments are under a constant barrage of cyber attacks. With the threat landscape evolving and attacks becoming ever-more sophisticated, having time to stop and think about the actor behind the malicious intent may seem like a luxury.
However, businesses need to start looking at cyberattacks from the adversary’s perspective to understand what is most attractive to an attacker. Without this understanding, the problem will persist and the next newspaper headline will feature their name.
In summary, the question is not whether you will be attacked. It is when, by what, and how badly your company’s reputation or finances will be damaged. And one thing is sure in the uncertain world of cybersecurity – the wrong time to consider defence is after the attack has occurred.
James Comey once said: “We face cyber threats from state-sponsored hackers, hackers for hire, global cyber syndicates, and terrorists. They seek our state secrets, our trade secrets, our technology, and our ideas – things of incredible value to all of us. They seek to strike our critical infrastructure and to harm our economy. “