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Recent blog posts - Derek's Blog on everything and everything else...

Derek's Blog on everything and everything else...

The Derek Hendrikz blog mostly relates to issues of organisational leadership, management, relevance and performance, but there are times when it does not. This is an interactive forum where we debate relevant and not-so-relevant issues… No holy cow’s kept alive here, thus please say it as it is (according to your world)…

You are because love is…


The “good and bad” as well as the “right and wrong” that we perceive and accept in our journey brings a reality of “now”. This is what we are conscious of in the moment. As we grow older day by day, we learn novel words, which we use to speak our “truths”. And as we meet new people, we will use our “truth” to judge them.

In this journey there are people who teach us about good and bad, and people who help us transform, both physically and mentally. Therefore, this isolated road that we must travel has blessed us with more ego’s than only one. And often some of these egos will come with love.

It is hard to explain this, but love is powerful to both the giver and receiver. So, it is important to love to accept the feeling of love and to love to love yourself. My belief is that to love yourself as well as another, one must accept those that come and go through our journey of life. The person in the mirror has both faults and magic, and it is also a person that we cannot go a day without. There are scars and sometimes even addicted insanity. To accept the “good” and the “not so good” is soul food for the heart and can end up to slowly kill an ego that is not ready to give in…

Love is phenomenal because it is honest and works from the inside out. If you want to know now, what you might not have known at all, then look in the mirror while speaking beautiful words upon the body that you own right now. Speak words of passion to the one vehicle you will own until darkness introduces you to the unknown. Yet, if you speak words of hatred upon yourself more than once, then you will see how the person in the mirror, has no more faith to own the greatest gift of all – the self.

I believe that you can choose to love, but it is as true that love can also choose you.

When you do choose love, you take ownership to choose who you want to love. I trust that the love that you give to yourself, is core to the love that you can give to a receiving soul. When you love yourself, you decide the direction of a journey, and therefore also the love that you are bound to choose. But, because you love yourself, you will not choose someone or something that is bound to hurt you. In other words, you have the conscious power to hold on, or to let go.  The love that you choose, holds a considerable risk, as it might not stay or wait for you to accept it, or you might just to let it go.

When Love chooses you, such as the case with Romeo and Juliet, the love that they have for one another is a passion, which they cannot deny or stop. Mostly the ethics of what should be and what must not, has no meaning to the souls whose hearts draw each other like magnets. This is a process that will go on until their hearts beat no more. In the movie “Titanic”, we can learn how the ego of Jack was less important than his need to love Rose.

Sometimes destiny is not a choice that we can make. It could be to rewrite the stars or to make war. Love can kill or conquer or be a thunder to never ending calmness.

When I grew up, I always wanted to fit in, and had the need to be in the spotlight. I wanted to wear a golden crown so that others would accept me. I wanted to have the power to say when rejection can take place and when not. I wanted to hide who I am, and I wanted to strengthen my perspective that I could be the same as everyone else. I did this just so that I could stay sane, and not to explain the unique way in which I crafted my life. To be like someone else and never having a story to tell, is the most downgrading project that you can ever force on yourself. To not be YOU for this yearning world might be left as a mystery unsolved till time is irrelevant, and no more. The price that you will pay is that you will never share your own thoughts and gifts, which you have been given in the race that you won in your mother’s womb.

Dare to have moments of insanity even if it lasts only for a second or three! Be different, make it a life goal to not be the same but different! Be an Arnold Schwarzenegger who was deaf to all things that others said, to make his journey a number one hit; be a Rocky who made history; or a Gandhi who made fear disappear through the ownership and pride of all that he believed in.

Stand in frot of a mirror, and say to yourself…

I am now;

I am love;

I am truth;

I am a story untold;

I am me;

I am a purpose.

The show must go on, with or without the gifts that you own. You see, we all have a role in this world which we are conscious of and that we know by heart. By acknowledging this, we begin to live in the “here and now”, whilst we make choices on the go - no matter what the consequences might be.

We are only a project within this process of life. The gifts with which we were born gives us great responsibility and power. Make this life a life that you can be proud of. All will come to an end as darkness awaits. Time ticks away every second and every day.

Why wait for action to come your way when it only depends on the choices you make? Why wait for another soul to love you the way you can already love yourself? Why wait till it is time for love to come your way?

Make time a friend. Make love a superpower. Make life an answer. Make dreams the history you leave behind. Make this day one of a kind.




© 2018: Claudia Hendrikz

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Beyond Comparison – unravelling the secrets of personal brand…

Beyond Comparison – unravelling the secrets of personal brand…

By Derek Hendrikz


Johnny Depp, Nelson Mandela, Madonna, Desmond Tutu, Michael Schumacher, Oprah Winfrey, Vladimir Putin and many others… These are some of the names that we think of when we talk about personal brand. But, there is also Jorge Wilson, the accountant; Willie Shabalala, the sales executive; John Naidoo, the artist and hundreds of others whose names you will never hear.

Whatever your occupation or trade, there will be people who struggle, people who make it and, yes, there will be super stars. This is as true for accounting and sales as it is for acting and music. You can be mediocre, supersede or even fail in absolutely any profession.

But, what are the secrets? How do you excel at that which most people are simply mediocre with? How do you become a brand? In this article, I propose 10 simple steps to be beyond comparison at whatever you do. Practice these principles and you will move from being good to being great… 


1.     Be You..

In the words of Albert Einstein: "Everybody is a genius. But if you judge a fish by its ability to climb a tree, it will live its whole life believing that it is stupid." I recall once, walking on the shores of Accra in Ghana, seeing how fishermen pulled out nets from the sea. One of the things that they tossed to the side was an eel. I recall how the eel was struggling to breath, desperately trying to move and survive on the dry sand. I then took this eel to the water, and remember how it recuperated for a small while and then beautifully and graciously swam into the deep. Now, if I had to take a monkey to the see, it would probably be a very disruptive monkey. I would have to offer it huge incentives and it would surely be high maintenance to keep it there. The reason for this is simply that monkeys do not belong in water. Yet, if I gave that same monkey a tree, it would need absolutely no motivation or incentive to climb.

Monkeys climb trees and fishes swim; this is what they do best. It is the distinctive features of different creatures that creates the diversity needed for evolution and growth. Similarly, as humans we have different aptitudes, which makes us unique and special. These ‘gifts’ are mental and physical abilities and preferences with which each of us are born. Many people never do what they are born for and in this they continuously experience immense discomfort. Mostly, they will never even understand the source of their unhappiness. Examples of this would be were a born accountant becomes an actor or where a born musician does administrative work.

You see, the greatest actor of all time was perhaps not Robert de Nero, but very possibly James Smith. Unfortunately, James was too busy preparing for a ‘real job’ to realise this. We are all born with a gift, which is something that we are immensely good at. Discover this, or even better, let it discover you. When this happens, success transforms into substance. You can never be both, successful and happy at something that that is not your thing.


2.     Take a Stand, Niche and Stick…

Neutral people attempt to avoid the conflict of taking a decisive stand on something. For this reason, they are often also very mediocre people. In so, Jack of all trades will absolutely master none. I often watch butterflies and it seems that they never enjoy the aroma of one flower, since they are always moving along to the next one. This ‘butterfly paradigm’ has the consequence that people who never stick to one thing, mostly struggle to master anything.

It is decisively important that you find something that you are good at and then stick to this. Research suggests that it takes an average of 10 000 dedicated hours to become an expert. Austrian psychologist, Mihály Csíkszentmihályi, argues that a state of optimal focus (flow) requires both high skill level and demanding challenge. He further states that it is not possible to master any focused skill in less than 10 years of technical practice and knowledge. This means that it will take you at least ten years of specific focus to be an expert at what you do. It is therefore well recorded and accepted that you must stick to your knitting for a while before others will dub you as the Ultimate Knitting Master.

 In précis, to become an expert, you will need four primary attributes. These are, purpose; intelligence; energy and intent.

  • Purpose will guide you to focus on that which you were made for;

  • Intelligence will enable you to comprehend the complexities of what you do;

  • Energy will afford you the resources to expend on your task; and

  • Intent will motivate you to continue in doing what you love most.




3.     Be WoW…

As an author, a good friend once gave me extremely valuable advice. I needed guidance on how to publish a book. Most advice I received related to some ‘tricks of the trade’. But this friend gave me something different. His advice was simple and powerful; “Write a really good book.” There are no shortcuts, if you want to succeed, you must excel at what you do. Unfortunately, there is no way around this. Something beautiful and good can never hide. The world will find it, some way or another.

To excel at something, you need to create intelligence within your field. This is a process of achieving a high level of consciousness in something specific. In simple terms; focus will make you ‘WOW’.


4.     Freak People Out…

If you do it in the way that most do, you will be remembered in the way that most are. The word ‘outstanding’ implies that you stand out. This is certainly not possible when you are simply part of.

We remember and celebrate extraordinary people because what they do is just so different to how others would do it. Think Lady Gaga, Salvador Dali, Snoop Dog, the Dali Lama, Keith Richards, Muhammed Ali, Einstein, or any other name that everyone knows. They stand out!

Often – and even predominantly – standing out relates to freaking out. But make sure that the strange hat you wear actually fits. If this is not the case, you might simply come across as ridiculous. Whatever you do to make people remember you must fit your construct and character. Furthermore, you must have the ability to be consistent in your uniqueness of character.

Standing out often requires some hyperbolic behaviour. This could be your personality, wardrobe, mannerisms, thinking, verbal expression, written expression, or anything else that makes you distinctive. Great comedians do not just pull a slight face; they pull a ridiculous one; top engineers are micro pedantic on detail; legendary world leaders think three or more times before speaking; etc. Overdoing things, without doubt, gets a whole lot of attention.


5.     Do not be Cheap…

Of course, we all wish to be paid well, and if you are skilful at what you do, you most certainly will be.  However, the ‘cheap’ I refer to has much more to do with submitting to that which is beyond your purpose. Saying “Yes” to secure a short-term benefit might very well create a long-term dis-benefit.

In my career, there were times that I have often engaged in something that I call, ‘professional prostitution’. In simple terms, this is when you render services purely for money. Of course, the reason that we deliver services is to receive remuneration. But where we do something that conflicts with our purpose and values, it is no more than professional prostitution.

As a consultant, where I’ve engaged in projects and services that I did not really believe in, it was always to make ends meet. What I did not realise is that the customer always remembers you by your last gig. A specific instance jumps to mind: I took on the presentation of a ‘disaster management’ training workshop. This is not my area of speciality, but I needed the money and thus I went ahead. I must have done a good job since many asked me to do so again and again! Eventually, I ended up as the ‘disaster management trainer’, and did these workshops for two-years! Now, this all sounds good and well, but the problem is that, although I pulled this off, it was not my speciality, and even though these workshops were good enough, they were never great. Consequently, customers regarded me as an average trainer, where if I focused on my real expertise, they would distinguish me as ‘the top trainer’.

This is as true for any employee, entrepreneur or manager. It is important to say “NO” to things that will leave a mediocre memory and as important to say “YES’ to things that will make you shine. NEVER BE CHEAP!

In fact, everything said here can be summarised in one word: Assertiveness. I do believe that assertiveness and success are companions to the end.


6.     Move On…

The past is a place that does not exist. Self-endorsed victimisation is the practice of not leaving the past. The ability to move on after any emotionally disturbing experience is of essence to personal success. When you struggle to do this, you imprison yourself in a place that only exists in your own mind. To everybody else you are simply a sad soul.

I remember once, sitting in a pub next to a man who was sobbing in tears over his wife who has left him. It was such a sad sight that I thought it had happened this morning.  After some conversation, however, I found that this is something that took place more than six years ago! A twilight zone, which only existed to this poor creature, tragicomically trapped him. His ex-wife has moved on – and in – with someone else and most probably rarely thinks of him.

It is a hard and painful reality when one realises that being a victim is no more than a self-imposed choice. Life happens in present moment. What you keep alive from the past is a choice that you make.


7.     Negotiate…

Successful people have an amazing ability to hear the word, “YES”. Most authors in this field, would agree that leadership is about influence, which inevitably implies a ‘yes’ response from those whom you attempt to influence. This is the essence of negotiation.

I have always been a staunch disciple of duality; a philosophy that suggests a paradoxical relationship between concepts. In negotiation, for instance, we will assume that the rule is to negotiate. The inverse of this is to NOT negotiate. To understand this duality, we need to appreciate that an increase on the one side necessitates a decrease in the other. In other words, the more I must negotiate, the less I must not not negotiate. Now, if this is true, then vice versa is as true. In other words, if rule ‘1’ is not to negotiate then rule ‘2’ would be to negotiate.

Please bear with me on this conundrum since understanding it is of extreme importance. Let us work with a practical example. When Apple created the IPod, they limited the need for negotiating a bigger piece of the customer pie, which Sony Ericson’s Walkman at that stage controlled. Instead, they baked a new pie. And if you own the entire pie, you do not have to negotiate a bigger piece. If the penny has dropped for you, then at this point, you should understand that where you must negotiate, it infers that you have not been able to position yourself in a place where you do not have to negotiate.

Since any negotiation will create uncertainty of outcome, the most powerful position will always be to not negotiate.


8.     Manage Stress…

It is a warm afternoon in the Serengeti as a herd of Impala graze peacefully. A hungry lioness has been watching them for a while. She slowly creeps closer. The scent of danger was sudden as the Impala bull’s entire body snaps into survival mode. The Impala is now in a full physiological state of fight or flight. In this state stress hormones will override all other systems in its body. All major organs no follows suit to provide quick energy. Adrenaline and cortisol, better known as stress hormones, will now flood the Impala bull’s bloodstream. This will increase his alertness to potential danger. To survive, the bull will need every drop of energy. And so, the stress he now experiences will increase his body's metabolism so that he can overcome the effects of fatigue. As the Impala speeds up, his breathing becomes shallow to increase the oxygen supply to his muscles. The need for strong blood flow to his limbs will increase his heart rate and blood pressure. To survive, the Impala will need quick energy. The bull will generate this needed energy through his liver, which will convert all available sugar, fat and cholesterol into fuel. His saliva dries up and the digestion and elimination systems stop so that blood flows away from his internal organs to his muscles and brain. His muscles become tense and ready for action whilst perspiration will cool his body allowing him to burn more energy. But these are not the only physiological changes that takes place. Also, blood-clotting mechanisms will activate to protect him from blood loss in case of injury.

The stress that our Impala now experiences, will depend on the duration and intensity of the threat. And this is exactly the problem. For the Impala, the threat was external, physical and real. As soon as this danger disappears, the Impala’s physiology will return to a normal state. He will now continue to peacefully graze as if nothing ever happened.

This is very dissimilar to the situation where your manager wants a report at 2 p.m.; where you are going through a divorce or where you have excessive debt. Most stress that people experience rarely pose a real physical danger. It is typically one’s own psyche that triggers the emotional trauma. The belief that your stress has an external cause is mostly no more than a self-generated perception.

The problem posed here is that where you cause your own stress – but believe that an external entity is responsible – it can never stop. This is so since the entity that you believe caused your stress has no awareness of such. It is simple logic to assume that the best person to stop something is the person who started it. And every so often, that person is you. In so, clean denial of responsibility for your own stress will be the sole cause for continuation thereof.

The purpose of stress is to prepare your body for a fight / flight situation. Because most human stress is not caused by any real threat or danger, it is self-imposed and therefore it will continue until you stop believing that it is real. Stress suppresses your immune system and this is not meant to last for more than 60 minutes. When stress is excessively prolonged it will cause immense physical harm. There are several health threatening side-effects to drawn-out stress, such as insomnia; heightened tension; irritability; inability to concentrate as well as headaches and increased heartbeat.

Deepak Chopra, an internationally renowned physician and author, states that more than 80% of all diseases are caused by stress. Therefore, to live longer, you need to stress less. If the danger is not physical or life threatening, it is not real. 


9.     Avoid Depression…

Alec Baldwin; Beyoncé; Marlon Brando; Jim Carrey; Helena Bonham Carter; Ray Charles; Winston Churchill; Kurt Cobain; Charles Darwin; Ellen DeGeneres; Diana - Princess of Wales; Charles Dickens; Bob Dylan; Ernest Hemingway; Sir Anthony Hopkins; Angelina Jolie; Stephen King; John Lennon; Abraham Lincoln; Michelangelo; Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart; and Trevor Noah all have something in common, which is that they all suffered, or are still suffering, from severe depressive disorders. These people all exceled in creativity; mathematics and philosophy, which proves that you can be both, immensely successful and depressed. Moreover, they are just a small group of people that I have extracted from a very long list.

Frequently traumatic life events such as loss of a loved one; unemployment or divorce will cause depression. Yet, there is ample scientific evidence proving that it is very often not a state brought on by choice. In fact, most psychiatrists will state that depression is caused by a chemical imbalance within the brain.

I know many people who suffer from severe depression, and all of them will testify that this is something which they have been living with their entire lives. And so, to state that one should avoid depression is ridiculous.

What I do believe, is that one can manage and live with depression. Research proves that people who suffer from depression should be extremely careful of the choices they make. Bad choices such as substance abuse will for instance increase a depressive mood. In reverse, good habits such as physical exercise; creative hobbies and goal setting will decrease a depressive mood.


10.     Resolve Conflict…

As a student of duality, to me, it is always a critical dimension to success. In so, the ability to create conflict is as important as the skill to manage it. The best way to stay relevant is to continuously innovate, but, this causes conflict. At the same time, we do not want our implementation team to have conflict. This is a duality because companies must create conflict to grow and reduce conflict to perform. The one is inversely reliant on the other.

It is not possible to be successful without conflict. This is so because success will require you to challenge ideas, structures, constructs and processes. But mostly, success stands on the shoulders of a team. And as much as this team will experience conflict, they must resolve it to grow and learn. Unresolved conflict will without doubt result in demise.


Take these 10 steps to heart – they will assist you in climbing the ladder to personal branding success! 


© 10 October 2016
Strategic Leadership and Organisational Performance Specialist



© 2016-10-18 Derek Hendrikz - www.derekhendrikz.com

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Diversity Dynamics

Diversity Dynamics

By Derek Hendrikz


As the world becomes more complex, and as people migrate from this country to that one, the need for workplace diversity training will rise. But how deep do most of these programs go, and what effect do they actually have in the long run? I have been part of many such courses, and often felt that participants leave without grasping the real dynamics that govern workplace diversity.


During my work with groups over the past years, I’ve come to learn that there are two distinct processes that has an impact on diversity dynamics. The first of these, is the process of forming individual and group identity. The second process is that of discrimination. I believe, without doubt, that where diversity programmes do not focus on these core processes, they might prove to be very shallow.


To my mind, both processes are natural and subconscious. With this, I imply that they will spontaneously happen, except if there is a conscious intervention to do otherwise. Think, for instance, of the last time someone new was appointed at your workplace. The first thing such person usually does, it to try and fit in somewhere. All of us have a strong need to identify with a collective. This probably has something to do with the fact that survival is much easier in groups than it would be for an individual. This is a process of identity forming. And where resources are limited, such group will try and control it. This inevitably implies that any other group, or groups, become a threat. In so, it is just natural for a group to exclude others from entering their group. This is a process of discrimination, and it will follow the process of identity forming. Below, I explore the two processes in detail.


(1) Identity Forming:

Identity Forming starts with a need to survive. Resources are mostly limited and not easily attained. And often one must confront danger to obtain such. This was especially true for the cave man. In fact, a critical success factor in controlling resources, is a species ability to hunt in teams. Humans; orca’s; chimpanzees; lions; etc., are clear examples of “super” predators who have mastered this art. For humans, it was beneficial to work in teams, simply because this made it easier to get food, and it curbed external threats. The anxiety of not being able to survive individually, therefore moved people to be part of teams.


This is as true of modern society as it was for ancient groups. For instance, in South Africa today, we see more and more multiracial consultancy groups. So, the black and white consulting team has become quite a familiar sight. Once more, this is a manifestation of people who create collective identities so that they can survive. People; teams; and organisations, might have many reasons for this, but it is simply a strategy to survive.


Unfortunately, where we form and join a collective identity, it creates a new anxiety, which relates to an intense fear that the group might break up. To the individual, the group has become a container of safety and survival. There is also the possibility that one can be expelled from a group. Or worse, that the group is absorbed or controlled by other groups. To contain these anxieties, groups very quickly develop common purpose and rules of behaviour. In essence, the difference between a group and a team is that the latter has clearly defined purpose (mission). As the implicit beliefs of group members become explicit, values will evolve. And as the group grows into their mission, leaders will come forth with intent.


Now, human anxiety is a catch-22 concept, since where you try to contain it, a new anxiety will rise. In so, the anxiety to survive will create shared identity, which in turn will cause a fear of group annihilation, etc. In due course, groups will try to preserve their social constructs in binding their uniqueness through symbols and rituals. This process will not only define their identity, but it will also fulfil a feeling of oneness and belonging.


And as this process strengthens, culture is born. In this, the collective identity is now “glued” and bonded. For this reason, culture is no more than a collective identity forming process.


Also, a covert purpose of culture, is to contain the anxiety of a world that changes and evolves, without end. In having a culture, we create an illusion of stability. This is a phantasy that things are not changing, and that the group is safe and secure. I use the word “illusion”, because we know that change is not only an inevitable reality, but also the only constant within our time and space bound existence.


It is key to note, that our survival is not only physical, but also psychological. For instance, a group who gets together to gossip, would consciously find fault in others so that they can unconsciously “export” their flaws. In doing this, they create a brief feeling of inner strength and power.


In precis; the collective identity forming process starts form a need to survive. This need creates anxiety, which leads to the forming or joining of a group. Once a group is joined, it creates its own anxiety in terms of ‘group non-permanence’. This fear of group expiration will now lead its members to foster common purpose and behaviour, which is then, metaphorically, preserved through symbols and rituals. As this collective construct becomes part of the groups being, it will become culture.




(2) Discrimination:

It is likely that where the group identity is formed, a process of discrimination will follow. Mostly, this has a lot to do with power. As mentioned, resources are limited. This makes an established group a threat to any other group, simply since they all survive from the same resource pool.


Discrimination is mostly not a thing that we consciously do. Its starts when we put groups into categories such as, men and women; black, white and asian; heterosexual, bisexual and homosexual; Zulus, Xhosas, Afrikaners; etc. This is categorisation, and it takes place when we split groups by giving them clear definition and traits. Of course, this is a method to simplify difference, and it holds no harm. It is functional and makes life easy.


It is when we make assumptions about these categories, where the evil begins. These assumptions are mostly motivated by a group’s own anxieties. For example, where we state that “Afrikaners are racists”, we then locate racism in Afrikaners, and in so we do not have to deal with our own issues of racism. In such we can, for instance, assume that Zulus are violent. And in doing so, we now perceive ourselves as peaceful.


It is human nature to assert your own assumptions. As we continue to do so, we will build evidence that prove our assumptions of different categories. The effect is that these assumptions now become beliefs. A belief is a non-negotiable truth that one holds about something. Mostly such a “truth” is defended without proof or evidence. This is the process of stereotyping. We might, for instance, stop assuming that women are bad drivers, since we “now know” that they are. When we stereotype, we uphold our beliefs, such as; “black people are not intelligent”; “white people are racist”; “Indian people are sly”, etc. Where you stereotype, your view is mostly oversimplified and one-sided. The process is mostly a subconscious one, and its use is to protect the phantasy of a group or person, that they are superior in some way. A stereotype always seems to have very distinctive labels attached, such as, “good” or “bad”; “strong” or “weak”; “more” or “less”, etc.


It is key to note that discrimination is very much a dynamic where we split and project. This is the process of taking a part inside oneself – a part that one does not want to admit or own up to – and then locating it somewhere else. A practical example would be where a group starts working with the “evil” group, or the “non-cooperative” department down the hallway. In this, the group starts a phantasy that they denote something “good”, and the other group something “evil”.


As we continue to split; project; and stereotype, the need to “deal with” the other group will strengthen. This is prejudice. Examples are where white people start discussing methods of controlling black people, before they get out of hand; or where black people suggests that white people should be sorted out, before they do worse things than they have done before. Prejudice is a fixed generalisation, and we mostly base it on data that has no proof.


Where a group starts with prejudice, it will end in discrimination. It is when we purposely exclude a human category from a specific privilege, or from being part of a group, where we discriminate. There are several ways in which we can discriminate, such as being, sexist; racist; homophobic; ageist; etc. Mostly the purpose of discrimination is to hold on to power, and the anxiety of losing control over resources, often provokes this act.


At a very deep and subconscious level, we often use discrimination to flight from our own dysfunctions. Again, I refer to split and projection. Let us entertain the example of Hitler and his theory of a superior race. Problem was that Hitler himself did not fit the Arian description. He had brown hair, brown eyes, and a weak physique. In fact, very few Germans actually fitted the Arian bill. They somehow had to deal with these perceived impurities, and the Jewish people were very conveniently used for this purpose. By putting Jews in concentration camps, and through torture and abuse, the Germans could split, project, and “kill” their own “impurities”. These Jewish people were also Germans. Thus the German nation has split themselves into different parts. In this, they were able to project their own perceived impurities onto a minority group. This action firmly proved their illusion that one group is “good”, and that the other is “evil”.


It is important to know that it is in our human nature to discriminate. It is a way of surviving. Groups and individuals must consciously work hard at not discriminating. Even if you do not want to do so, you eventually will. Human history is adequate proof of this statement.



I hope that this piece has shown that human diversity has many complexities, which one must deal with. Some of the dynamics are conscious, but many are not. It is key to grasp the effect that survival; identity; and discrimination, has on human diversity. We must further know that these processes do not deal with the whole diversity spectrum. A few other aspects are: character; nature; paradigms; and relatedness. But these are themes that I save for another write-up.

Originally posted on www.derekhendrikz.com in 2000, revamped in 2016.

© 21 September 2016

Strategic Leadership and Organisational Performance Specialist






© (c) 2016 Derek Hendrikz Consulting

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What is a High Performance Team and how are they created?

What is a High Performance Team and how are they created?

By Derek Hendrikz


Those who have experienced youth during the 80’s, would know that when referring to a high performing team, it inevitably implied a ‘notorious’ team led by Colonel John "Hannibal" Smith. The A-Team, an acclaimed 80’s television show, kept millions around the world nailed to their seats.


‘High Performance Teams’, a phrase echoed in meetings, trumpeted in workplace passages and often tabled as the business case for expensive team building interventions. So then, what is this phenomenon that we so eagerly demand and encourage?


"...he and his team outperformed all expectations, and moreover, they achieved that which no other could possibly dream of achieving."


In the book, ‘The Wisdom of Teams’, Katzenbach defines high-performance teams (HPT’s) as; “A concept within organization development referring to teams, organizations, or virtual groups that are highly focused on their goals and that achieve superior business results.” Katzenbach continues to state that HPT’s outperform expectations compared to all other similar teams. Maybe this was the underlying message when Colonel Hannibal Smith, at the end of every programme, always said with a broad smile; “I love it when a plan comes together.” Hannibal, knew that, at the exact point of that statement, he and his team outperformed all expectations, and moreover, they achieved that which no other could possibly dream of achieving. With that smile, the Colonel knew that they have reached a point of superior performance.


The concept of High Performing Teams is older than most would imagine. In fact, many scientists have attributed superior intelligence to species that could develop the ability to hunt and kill in teams. We, for instance know, that the reason why Orcas are our ocean’s top predators, is primarily due to their ability to work in teams. This amazing ability has led them to create different cultures and dialects. The only other animal species who operate at that level of team performance are chimpanzees. And, of course, our own specie, humans, would have not been able to produce a fraction of our current modern advancement if it were not for our ability to work and produce in teams.



"...the process I’ve just described sometimes has a sense of ‘divine intervention’ – magic happens!"


The HPT concept was first described in detail by the Tavistock Institute, UK, in 1950, but was only popularised during the 1980’s by companies such as General Electric, Boeing and Hewlett-Packard. During the first decade of this century, the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Human Dynamics Laboratory team, investigated explicitly observable communication patterns and found energy, engagement, and exploration to be surprisingly powerful predictive indicators for a team's ability to perform. My own research fully concurs with this finding, and I therefore propose that for any team to produce superior performance they must have the resources (energy), which implies sufficient people, money, assets and time. Secondly such team must focus (engage) with the task at hand. This is more than knowing that they should do something, but rather matter of being passionately involved with a task, to the extent where consciousness beyond such task is lost. Lastly, there is the ability to collectively explore. Here, the team needs to solve, resolve and change whatever it is that they are working on. This dimension is much more complex than a ‘face value’ understanding would permit us to perceive. Collective exploration directly implies that minds must meet, merge and produce synergy. Hence, tacit intelligence (that in the individual minds of people) must become explicit (explained and understood by all in the team) and then internalised into a process (made implicit). Those who have the privilege and opportunity to function in a high performance team, would testify that the process I’ve just described sometimes has a sense of ‘divine intervention’ – magic happens!


Yet, with all this said and done, I cannot help but think of the Colonel’s words; “I love it when a plan comes together”, since these words indicate that beyond energy, engagement and exploration, there is something else; a pivotal glue that orchestrates the magic that must happen. I believe that this central nexus is a clear and undisputed goal. Plans only come together if those who have to get it done unquestionably believe in the possibility, probability and impact of the final result... Hence, there must be a clear, well communicated and concurred goal.


"...even though they have their differences, they have the utmost respect for each other’s skill and ability."


At this point we have, I believe, established sound definition and elements of a HPT. It might now be a good time to work with the character of such a team. Of course, my first thought would be to analyse the amazing A-Team of Hannibal Smith, especially since they were so diverse in terms of character and behaviour. They were absolutely nothing alike. There is Bosco Albert "B.A." (Bad Attitude) Baracus, the practical strong guy of the team. BA fixes things and is a hard opponent to beat in any physical battle. Then we have Templeton "Faceman" Peck, who is the team’s negotiator and seducer. Where resources are needed, Faceman is the guy who will negotiate for such. Lastly, the A-Team has their precision pilot, "Howling Mad" Murdock, who lives in a metal asylum. The team tolerates Murdock’s madness for his ability to fly any aircraft. Now, what strikes me most is that it is the different personalities and skill of these team members that make them great. They rarely like each other and often have immense conflict, but where task calls, they unite into a formidable force. It was mission that brought them together and it is mission that puts them into action. Moreover, even though they have their differences, they have the utmost respect for each other’s skill and ability. Where Murdoc gets into an aircraft, the whole team believes and trusts that there is absolutely no one better for the job; where resources are needed, every member knows that Faceman will negotiate that; where something has to be build, the team never interferes with the instructions of BA; and where the plan is made the team knows that the Colonel knows best.


"Of course there will be conflict and there should be, since this is nature’s way of testing the strength of any argument."


Most articles that you read will emphasise communication as key to effective team work, but I strongly believe that goal clarity is the real key. People at a party communicate effectively, but we can hardly call them a team. That which separates groups from teams is mission. The stronger the goal, the more effective the team. Where you add trust and intelligence to a goal, you have a formidable force. I am in no way implying that communication is not important. I am merely emphasising that clear goals attract functional communication. I’ve been to many meetings where competent people sit and talk rubbish; simply because they have no idea what the purpose of the meeting is. In this example, the lack of effective communication has nothing to do with communication skills, but rather reflects on the absence of a gravitational force that pulls relevant information. When you add competent people to a clear goal, effective communication will follow. To me this is the bottom line. Of course there will be conflict and there should be, since this is nature’s way of testing the strength of any argument. You might argue that people, even though competent, might take things personal. This might be so, but even then, it is a matter of weak emotional intelligence, of which communication is only one facet.


Through the years, may attributes and characteristics have been listed under the heading of ‘High Performance Teams’. I have read many of these and offer the following list as my contribution to a myriad of existing advice…

1.    Clear Goal

I have said much on this, but would like to add, that it is not only about having a clear goal, but also about having a goal that is 100% acknowledged, sponsored and sanctioned.

2.    Competence

Irrelevant of how well you define your goal, it can never outperform stupidity. Our A-Team was not great because they had clear goals, they were fantastic because each team member possessed extraordinary and relevant skills. Surround yourself with brilliance that holds relevance to your goals and the results will be beyond comparison.

3.    Trust

I sincerely do not think that team members must get along, be friends or even like each other. But trust is non-negotiable. In one episode, BA Baracus (who dislikes Murdoc beyond expression), saves Murdoc from drowning. BA did not do this because he likes or dislikes Murdoc; he did so because they are team members who trust each other. This is the essence of integrity. No team will surpass mediocracy without this virtue.

4.    Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

Yes, teams will have severe conflict and will differ on many occasions, but at some point you need to move on. The past is a place that does not exist. Those who live there, without doubt, struggle with emotional intelligence. EQ is tested on two levels, namely; (1) your ability to work with own issues and (2) your ability to function within a community or group. The former strongly relates to your ability in moving past disturbing experiences and the latter to connect and communicate with those whom form part of your system. High EQ is essential to high performing teams, especially if they have to keep on performing over a long period.

5.    Conflict

No, I am not referring to the effective management of conflict; I am referring to actual conflict. Conflict is the essence of evolution and growth. It is nature’s way of eliminating the weak. You might complain that your ideas are never accepted because the people who judge them are stagnant thinkers. But, just maybe, the real reason is that your idea is simply not strong enough to withstand the turbulent forces of organisational functioning, in which case it is a good thing that it is not accepted. Ideas and creativity are like tadpoles. There are millions being born and ponds are often swamped with such. But, very few ever become frogs. The purpose of conflict is to test, scrutinise and judge your ideas, concepts and creative thinking. And, as with tadpoles, you have to earn the right to become a frog.

6.    Diversity

At the core of our A-Team lies diversity. In terms of personality, behaviour, physical ability and thinking; Hannibal, BA, Murdoc and Faceman have very little in common. And exactly that, is their secret. Two sperm cells can never produce a baby. It is in the crucible of opposites where innovation and renewal is forged. The price of uniformity is stagnation and the price of diversity is conflict. The former will pave your road to the kingdom of irrelevance and the latter will ensure long term survival.


The next question into our journey of discovering HPT’s, is how to create one. I believe that this was already answered by explaining the characteristics above. To recap, I offer the following steps…

1.    Define a clear and relevant goal;

2.    Attract and recruit brilliant people to execute that goal;

3.    Build trust trough constant and honest feedback and facilitate processes whereby members can understand each other. Psychometric testing such as the Myers-Briggs Type Indicator and team development will go a long way here. In my previous article; “Does Team-building Really Work?” I discuss this thoroughly.

4.    Tolerate conflict. Instead of trying to avoid and resolve conflict, rather endorse and develop emotional intelligence.


I hope that this article has contributed to your quest in developing a high performance team. If this write-up has stimulated your interest, then please make use of my resource centre on ‘Team Development’. Where you struggle with the given link, you can simply go to www.derekhendrikz.com and under the ‘Resource Centre’ tab, click on ‘Management Resource Centre’. From there you can select the ‘Team Development’ resource page. There is no ‘log-in’ procedure and all slides, video clips and other information is directly downloadable. 


Thank you for reading this article…



  •  Katzenbach, et al.: 2003: The Wisdom of Teams, HarperBusiness
  •  Pentland, Alex "Sandy": 2012 Issue: The New Science of Building Great Teams: Harvard Business Review
  • The A-Team: Wikipedia: Accessed 19 May 2016



© 18 May 2016

Strategic Leadership and Organisational Performance Specialist






© 2016 Derek Hendrikz

  6854 Hits

What is Leadership?

What is Leadership?


By Derek Hendrikz


What is leadership? A question that has evaded precise definition for decades now; and I certainly have no intent to solve this conundrum where answers equal the number of people who attempt such. Each bestseller has new advice, and now and again someone claims deeper thinking on this matter. The best I can do, is to give my opinion and experience on what leadership is, but more importantly, what I believe it is not...


Through the years I have worked hard as leadership trainer and strategy development consultant to determine some common characteristics to leadership. My criteria for such dimensions was that it must be applicable to leaders in government, business, religion, non-profit causes, science, academia or any other sphere where a person has taken leadership. This is what my research produced…


The purpose leadership…

Before understanding the purpose of leadership one needs to understand the purpose of organisations, since no leader can exist outside an organised system. Consequently, without organisation there can be no leadership. The purpose of organisations are to stay relevant and to perform. This is what all organisations do, irrelevant or their sector or industry. Performance is the ability to maintain established cyclic processes and relevance is the ability to stay externally sponsored. At the workplace we mostly refer to processes as operations. This is where we repeat and perfect that which we have done yesterday. In my experience this is a management function. To stay relevant, on the other hand, requires an ability to negotiate sponsorship from the environment who warrants your existence as well as the competence to initiate and execute projects, which ensures the change that is necessary for continual survival. Thus, the purpose of any leader is primarily to influence change and to negotiate relevance. This could be a military General on the battle field, a supervisor leading a team who are developing new prototypes, or any other person who acts as guardian against the kingdom of irrelevance. To define the purpose of leadership seems straight forward, but the question remains, what common characteristics do leaders have?


The character of leadership…

Over the years, literally hundreds of qualities have been ‘bestowed’ on leaders. Some of the most assumed traits are, pro-activeness; good communication skills; respectfulness; quiet confidence; enthusiasm; open-mindedness; resourcefulness; the need to reward others; creativity, organised; consistent behaviour; delegators; positive attitude; intuitive; well educated; open to change; interested in feedback, just to name a few. Yet, with a bit of thinking, I was able to create doubt on almost all of the characteristics named above. In my research, I could only find two truly common virtues that great leaders must have. These are…

  1. The ability to create vision; and

  2. The ability to influence others to work towards such vision.

Some leaders might have good communication skills, are respectful, interested in feedback, etc. but many are not. To my mind, the only true characteristics of leadership are vision and influence. All other attributes relate to mere personality preferences and follower needs. This brings me to the next point, which is that much of what we believe of leadership are mere myth…




The Five Great Myths of leadership (what leadership is not)…

1.    Leaders have high Emotional Intelligence (EQ)

It is most common of blog-authors and motivational speakers to endorse the ability of leaders to be intra- and inter-personally intelligent. Of all the leadership myths, I believe this one to farthest from the truth. In his book, ‘A First-Rate Madness’, author Nassir Ghaemi draws strong links between leadership and mental illness. All you have to do is pick the name of a great leader and google will prove that there is a 5/10 chance that such person suffered from some type of emotional disorder. Nelson Mandela cheated on his first wife and was married three times; Charles Darwin suffered from severe agoraphobia and had an intense fear of people; Abraham Lincoln, Ludwig von Beethoven, Charles Dickens, Winston Churchill, Marlon Brando, Jim Carry, J.K Rowling, Ernest Hemingway and Vincent von Gogh are but a few examples of immensely influential people who all suffered from bipolar disease and manic depression; Lady Diana, princess of Wales, had an bulimic addiction and suffered from severe depression; Heath Ledger, Kurt Cobain, Elvis, Michael Jackson and Witney Houston all suffered from drug addiction and suicidal depression; George W Bush, John F Kennedy and Franklin D Roosevelt are only a few examples of American presidents who have been reported to abuse alcohol; and it is recorded that the father of modern science, Sir Isaac Newton suffered from bipolar disorder combined with psychotic tendencies and a total inability to connect with people; Benjamin Franklin was addicted to a mixture between alcohol and opium up to the day of his death; Pope Leo XIII was addicted to cocaine; Mahatma Gandhi and Martin Luther King Jr., both made suicide attempts in adolescence and had a number of severe depressive episodes in adulthood. I could go on and on with this list, to the point where it becomes a recipe for insomnia. In the 2013 Forbes article, ‘Why The Brains Of High-Powered People May Be More Prone To Addiction’, author Alice Walton explains, “that the best leaders among us – the most driven, dedicated, and outside-the-box thinkers – are wired a bit differently from the rest.” Two things that we have to agree with here, is firstly, that all the people mentioned above were great leaders in their respective fields, and secondly, that being chronically depressed, suicidal, avoiding people and drug abuse absolutely contradicts the notion of being intra- and interpersonally effective. In reality, there is probably a greater case for emotional dysfunction than emotional intelligence as common factor to great leadership.

2.    Leaders are Proactive

In his book, ‘Seven Habits of Highly Effective People’, Steven Covey argues that proactive people focus on things that are important but not urgent, whereas reactive people will focus on things that are both urgent and important. Much of the motivational gospel today claims that leaders must be proactive. Yet, great leaders are made in times of mammoth reaction. Winston Churchill was immortalised through his reaction to Hitler in the Second World War; Sir Isaac Newton and Albert Einstein both changed science history when they reacted to incorrect thinking in this field, and today, the most powerful person in the world (Forbes List 2015, December), Vladimir Putin, made social media waves when reacting with large scale attacks against Syria after a Russian fighter aircraft was shot down. In terms of Covey’s definition, I would suggest that leaders are far more likely to be created in circumstances where things are both important and urgent as opposed to where things are important, but not urgent. Thus by nature, leaders are reactive. This explains why leadership mostly creates an immense amount of dependency with those that follow them. Of course, you could argue that many leaders react as a proactive measure, but I would counter argue that even the most proactive action is a reaction to something, thus making pure proactive action impossible.

3.    Leaders are Positive

In the 30 June 2011, Wall Street Journal article, ‘Depression in Command’, Nassir Ghaemi states, “Normal, non-depressed persons have what psychologists call ‘positive illusion’—that is, they possess a mildly high self-regard, a slightly inflated sense of how much they control the world around them. Mildly depressed people, by contrast, tend to see the world more clearly, more as it is.” As stated earlier, leaders change things. Where no change is needed, leadership becomes irrelevant. Mostly this change is the result of being negative about something; e.g., Mandela was negative towards apartheid, Ghandi was negative towards British rule in India; Steve Jobs was negative towards the current state of home computing, etc. A common trait in leadership is that leaders are mostly negative towards the past and positive towards the future, especially if such future is a creation of their own vision.

4.    Leaders put People first

Leadership implies followership. Thus, by its very nature, people are important to leaders, because without such they cannot exist. Studies have shown that depressed people often demonstrate a higher level of empathy towards others. Earlier I have eluded to the possibility that many high powered people are often depressive, and therefore possibly care deeply about others. There is thus no question that great leaders care and feel deeply for their followers. But do leaders put people first? My research has shown that, although most leaders care deeply about their followers, it is their vision or goal that comes first, even if this means sacrificing the same people that they love. The greatest leaders of our time, including political leaders as Mandela, Ghandi, Lincoln, business leaders and even spiritual leaders did not blink an eye to sacrifice their own people and in many cases themselves for (to their minds) the greater goal.

5.    Leaders are Democratic

There prevails a strong romantic notion that leaders are democratic. There are even a number of psychometric tests that aim to verify that you have democratic tendencies, and if so it is professed that you will be a good leader. But, in my research, I could not find one great democracy brought about by democratic leaders. When the South African Government wanted to talk to Nelson Mandela, whilst he was still in prison, fellow political prisoners, outvoted such move, but Mandela nevertheless went ahead. After his release from prison, Mandela’s executive team voted that the Springbok rugby emblem must be changed to a Protea (the official South African flower). Mandela had a vision of uniting the South African nation and knew that changing the emblem of a sport mainly supported by white South Africans could do much more harm than good. Subsequently he made a very autocratic decision to keep the emblem. This decision later proved immensely wise when South Africa won the world cup in rugby on home ground. Similarly Abraham Lincoln was outvoted when suggesting that they should abolish slavery, and neither did Ghandi ask Great Britain to leave India, he told them to go. These are small and mediocre examples of how great men made high impact decisions against the wishes of their constituencies. In fact, I found the greatest democracies of history being established by incredibly autocratic leaders. The mere semantic of leadership implies autocracy. The true nature of leadership is much more autocratic than democratic. Leaders who have left legacy beyond comparison, all very much knew their own autocratic tendencies, and for this reason they knew when to leave. Mandela only stood as South African president for one term, Ghandi refused presidency of India, Bill Gates reigned as CEO in 2000, etc. But, this is a topic for another article.


Are Leaders Born or Made?

This is a favourite debate during leadership workshops. The easiest way to answer this question is to revisit our primary characteristics of leadership, namely the ability to create vision and the power to influence others towards such vision. In terms of influence, of course it can be taught, coached, mentored, etc. Negotiation skills training is a good example of teaching people to influence others. Thus we can teach a prospective leader in the art of influence. But can I teach you to create vision? This becomes more problematic, and if not impossible, very close to such. Then there are the circumstantial factors, such as upbringing, problems posed by the environment, etc. Throughout history leadership has been very context specific. Most great leaders were made during a very specific time and within a very specific environment. To answer the initial question, I would advocate that there are leadership characteristics that can be taught, such as the art of influence, but that there are an equal amount of characteristics that cannot be taught such as the ability to create vision. Also, you cannot teach a person to be born at a specific time within specific circumstances and in a specific environment.


Thus far, I have been focussing on international leaders that have influenced the world, but most reading this article will need to understand leadership in a much smaller and localised environment, such as their organisation. I do not think that the character of leadership is any different on any level. I do, however, believe that people loosely use the term leadership for contexts that actually imply management. A lot of the characteristics like emotional intelligence, democracy, positive thinking, pro-active action and people orientation are strong requirements for management. Most books, articles and workshops on leadership are often more directed at efficient management, although it is sold as effective leadership. I am a strong advocate that the one is not more important than the other, and that these crucial elements should be in equilibrium with each other. In essence leadership is about changing things and management is about maintaining things. The former is project-based whilst the latter focusses on cyclic processes. Together they keep the system relevant whilst ensuring that it performs optimally.


To answer the question to what leadership is, I would simply say that whoever you are and within whichever environment you function, the need for change will determine and endorse your leadership behaviour. High impact change such as establishing a new government will require highly disruptive leadership, whereas low impact change such as arranging a year end function will favour a process efficiency approach. It all begins with a clear goal or vision, which is then translated to a strategy, executed by a team, and sponsored by an external environment…




  • Analysing the environment
  • Setting goals
  • Creating options
  • Creating strategy
  • Innovative solutions                                           
  • Selecting a team
  • Motivating people
  • Getting the environment to sponsor your vision
  • Securing stakeholder goodwill


If you are a prospective leader, then the best advice I can give is to find your place of influence and then to make things happen by using what you have at your disposal. Find your strengths, and know that even weaknesses such as depression, peculiar looks, a terrible childhood, etc. can be strengths. Use everything at your disposal as a tool of influence. Danny De Vito used his peculiar body type to become one of Hollywood’s top comedians, Arnold Schwarzenegger used his strange accent as a trademark and Churchill’s depressive personality drove him to immense defeats. Secondly, turn all the energy of those around you towards achieving your vision. Create a powerful team and sell your vision with all that you have. Where your team believes in your vision they will follow and become an army of focus.


In my strategy development and implementation workshop, I work with strategic leadership, which combines leadership skills with strategy development and implementation.

Click Here for more information on Strategic Leadership Training


Derek Hendrikz; © 29 November 2015

Strategic Leadership and Organisational Performance Specialist




© 29 November 2015 Derek Hendrikz Consulting www.derekhendrikz.com

  5748 Hits

Does Team Building Really Work?

Does Team Building Really Work?

By Derek Hendrikz 


Organizations, worldwide, often spend vast amounts on team building interventions, but are mostly unable to prove any significant return on investment. Although these interventions are usually great fun and participants find activities highly entertaining; the question remains whether such team building was really worth money spent? Questions such as, “Are we a more effective functioning team?” or “Are we now more results driven?” are mostly answered with positive excitement right after the intervention. But, test these questions three months post-hype, and the answers may seem far less optimistic.

Organizational development consultants are repeatedly confronted by EXCO teams to develop and initiate interventions that bring about real and actual change. This will stay a major challenge; one in my experience, that can be vanquished if team building is an outcomes-based intervention. The implication of outcomes-based team building is not about what delegates do during such team building, but rather about how we could utilize and process experiential activity to resolve dysfunctional workplace dynamics.


Where, for example, workplace culture needs remedy, we would provide employees with an experiential activity, and observe how they apply organizational values or a specifically selected value during the activity. Participants will have fun and experience camaraderie during the activity; and that is good. However, the consultant will see fun as a side effect of achieving something that has much greater effect, which is to solve a pre-defined problem. In the above example, dysfunctional workplace behaviour, resulting in unsanctioned organizational culture needs remedy. In this case, the consultant will carefully analyse team behaviour and give feedback accordingly. This process is facilitated and not instructed. The team needs to become conscious of their ‘blind spots’ as opposed to being told how to behave. This process of experience, reflection, learning and applied remedy will normally continue for about two to three-days.

Of course, it would be incredibly naive to think that any team could sort out their problems in two consecutive days. OD consultants might be group dynamic experts, but they are certainly not magicians. The best we can do is to make a team aware of that which causes their problems, and then guide them to practically resolve this back at the workplace. But, the real ‘fix’ will take place in absence of the consultant. It is for this reason that organizational values form a foundational basis of any team development intervention. Collective values is the only possible benchmark against which to measure ‘good’ and ‘bad’ behaviour. Where team problems have escalated to a point where it significantly affects goals and process outcomes, I recommended to rather contract a team coach than to run a once-off intervention.

The following table highlights some of the major differences between traditional team building and outcomes-based team development interventions...

Traditional Team Building

Outcomes Based Team Development

Activity Based.

Outcomes Based.

Results are measured against the amount of fun that a group has.

Results are measured against changed behavior at the workplace.

Consultant has a short term relationship with the client.

Consultant has a long term relationship with the client.

Usually a once-off intervention.

Part of a continuous development process.

Little time spent with the client, before and after the intervention.

Consultant spends lots of time on behavioral analysis before and after the team building event.

Approach is superficial, with focus on having fun, entertainment, adrenaline and excitement.

Focus is on the development of a relationship; involving pre-analysis, follow-up and impact assessment.

"Immediate gratification' approach, focused on obtaining favorable evaluations right after the event.                                                

Functional approach, focused on attaining outcomes and moving the group towards optimal functioning through constant conditioning.

In outcomes-based programmes, the whole intervention is focused on attaining pre-negotiated outcomes. Activities are mere vehicles in getting the group to a pre-determined destination. Learning and growth takes place during the processing of an experience, which the facilitator presents to the team. Strategically, the facilitator will link such experience to the groups operational functioning. This learning is then practically applied during a next experience. This cycle continues to the point of renewed behaviour. It is for this reason that it is better to have less team development goals than having more. In my experience, more than three / four intervention goals is very hard to achieve.

Typical phases of an outcomes based team development intervention will include…

  • Pre-assessments (questionnaires, individual interviews & focus groups)

  • Setting up a team development plan

  • Team development interventions (structural reorganization, strategic planning and alignment, managerial development, team development, intra- and interpersonal relations)

  • Continuous follow-up and impact assessments sessions to determine the impact of the development as well as further development needs

  • Continuously working with appropriate group processes and dynamics (making meetings, planning sessions, etc. more effective)

In conclusion I advocate that team building can definitely work, provided that the sponsor has a clear idea of what he/she wants to achieve, and that a programme is devised to specifically address these pre-determined outcomes. Where you increase the developmental focus of a team building intervention, the long term impact will correspondingly increase.

This article is adjusted from my 2003 article “Outcomes-based Team Development”.


© 02 November 2015

Strategic Leadership and Organisational Performance Specialist




© (c) 2015 Derek Hendrikz Consulting

  6139 Hits

How to lose your customers – SIX fool proof ways!

How to lose your customers – SIX fool proof ways!

By Derek Hendrikz


Customer relationship management is something that everyone talks about and frontline staff are usually over trained in this area. I run a number of these workshops each year and it was during a second CRM workshop with the same customer when I realised that very little of what I have taught on a previous visit was actually implemented. This led me to the idea of teaching companies on how to lose their customers. At least in this way, they can be really good at what they do; especially since losing customers seems to be the favourable option to many companies…


Having trained thousands of people in the area of customer service, I was able to come up with six excellent ways of losing customers. That’s right, six fool proof ways that will ensure that you lose your customers without delay. Not only do my methods work, but they work fast. If you apply these methods with discipline and consistently, your company could close down within the next six months. Here is my secret formula…


Losing Your Customers – Rule 1: Focus on the inside…

Internal focus is the first and most dynamic way of swiftly losing customers. The secret is to create a company culture which has a much bigger focus on what’s going on inside the organization than what’s goes on outside. Employees must be taught, from the onset, to focus on promotions, internal politics and pleasing their managers. You need to impress many people, have lots of ‘Highly Confidential’ files on you table, and attend endless meetings. If you want to climb the ladder of status and importance, you need to play the game right. To do this you need to move in the right circles, and say the right things to the right people. The playing field is set in the world of strategic sessions, task teams and work-groups, a sure recipe to get nothing done. But then again, it’s not about getting something done or about client service, since these things simply won’t add to your importance. Being important is at the core of an internally focused company’s needs. How many times have we become frustrated with the front desk attendant who puts up the ‘CLOSED’ sign at exactly 5 seconds to 10, “I’m sorry its teatime, you have to come back at 10:30”. My frustration becomes her delight. One cannot help to wonder that if her senior manager had to descend from the 17th floor to request a specific service; if she would have put up the ‘CLOSED’ sign in his face. Highly unlikely! You see her future is dependent on the way she treats her superiors and not the way she treats her customers. With us, the mere paying customers, her importance is derived from the power of demonstrating her control. Customers have the power to kill or grow a company. The way you treat them will secure their choice. Thus, to lose your customers simply focus on the inside.


Losing Your Customers – Rule 2: Believe you have the upper hand…

The success of any entrepreneur is embedded within one word, SURVIVAL. Therefore, to lose your customers, you need to get really comfortable. Believe that you are too big, too strong and too experienced to go down. Even better, believe that since you are a government department, you can never close shop, as the kings and queens of the past did of course. We, the customers, are the lifeblood of your enterprise. We are the guardians of your mission. If you do not meet our every specific need, you will not survive. And where you do not deliver, your competition will kill you. In a private enterprise your competition are those who are prepared to serve us better; and in the public service, your competition is an idea or ideology. You might tell me that your sponsorship is guaranteed, and yes, keep believing that. In government, departments rarely close down, even long after their reason for existence has expired. They are often artificially kept alive, like a brain-dead patient on a heart and lung machine. But ideas, ideologies and software solutions will assassinate you with amazing ease. Keep on doing what you did yesterday and an angel of irrelevance will soon fill your vacant post. Intensity of competition creates effective organization. So then, keep on doing nothing, as you are doing now. You can stay as long as you like, but without doubt, your customers will not do the same.


Losing Your Customers – Rule 3: Reward incompetence…

There are amazing internal benefits of not delivering. Yes, it pays to be ineffective. I know a man by the name of Joe who has recently been appointed to distribute toilet paper throughout Babalingwe Pty (Ltd). His job is simple. He needs to get three quotations and then make the necessary arrangements with the cheapest supplier. His work includes delivery of toilet rolls to the various departments, where a store clerk will issue them to the different toilets. For Joe to be effective is easy. However, the question is not whether he can be effective, but rather what’s in it for him? In which ways will Joe benefit from the effective distribution of toilet paper? The answer; not very much! On the contrary, if he continues doing his work in this manner, chances are good that he will stay a clerk for life. The secret of climbing the ladder to bureaucratic success, is to create an empire. Success in large organisations do not lie in the deliverance of Service Excellence, but rather in your ability to create internal dependency. The first step for Joe will be to complicate communication, since this will enhance the level of dependency which the company has on him. Lots of people within all departments now have to interact with Joe. From now on it’s not just a matter of ordering toilet paper. No, no, no. You must place an order on form ToiP6660PK. This form then needs to be sent to the authorization office where form ToiP837494K09JL will be issued. Once signed by two clearance clerks, the order can go through to the final approval office where a ToiP854758J00ML form will be issued and stamped by the senior approval clerk (who is in meetings most of the time). I think at this point you will agree that Joe cannot cope anymore. What he needs is staff, lots of them. Once he has staff he will need to appoint managers and get a personal assistant. Soon Joe will be appointed as the Director of toilet paper, and before long he will be running a toilet paper head office. His reason of existence will be entirely based on functional incompetence. You might think that this example is outrageous, but think again and you might just identify a number of Joe's in your own organisation. I remember just a few years back, a news announcement was made, reporting that police officials were to be given extra allowance for working in high crime areas. Really? Why would these Police Officials want to reduce crime especially if, high crime equals better pay. To lose your customers, keep rewarding incompetent people and keep sponsoring internal empires that were built on nothing more than perceptual dependency.


Losing Your Customers – Rule 4: Reward complication…

Do not underestimate the power of complication. It is your tool to domestic power, and a very powerful virus that eventually secures organisational demise. Maybe the term ‘skills monopoly’ is somewhat more politically correct. This reminds me of Susan, a lady who worked with leave forms. Only she knew how to complete them, and when she was not there, nobody went on leave. Complicating things to the extent that only one person knows how to deal with it, makes the organization incredibly dependent on that individual. The power that this dependency holds is highly seductive. We often hear people boosting about the fact that the whole place will fall apart in their absence. These are the bureaucratic knights of your organisation. They love to invent official forms, and create protocols and structures that nobody understands. They demonstrate their superiority through quoting policies and procedures off by heart. Of course we need people who ensure that rules and regulations are met. But where focus creates dependency, the aim is always to become indispensable. And where employees are indispensable, they become more important than customers; a sure way for service excellence to collapse. To lose your customers, complicate things, to the extent where unravelling red tape has taken prominence to your actual purpose.


Losing Your Customers – Rule 5: Do not give any reason to provide customer delight…

Employee motivation is a big thing. We give incentives for excellent work and pay bonuses where you make sales or exceed expectations. Yet, when I get to the front desk, Steve spends more time on impressing Rebecca, his boss, than giving me good service. The reason, I found, was that giving me good service was not part of Steve’s KPI’s. There is thus absolutely no reason for Steve to provide me with customer delight. What’s in it for Steve? Why should he give me excellent service? Management tries their best by sending out motivational letters, providing customer service training, and mounting glossy service excellence posters on company walls. Statements such as, “It’s our company and we should be proud of it”, or “We all need to work together to achieve success” are advocated with increasing crescendo. But, customer service training and motivational messages do not put bread on Steve’s table. Neither does providing good customer service. The antithesis, of course, is that feeding his manager's ego will definitely ensure Steve’s bonus. If you want someone to be more effective, you need to make it worth his or her while. Service excellence will not get Steve promoted, or make him more important, or ensure more money, or give him more benefits. What Steve must do is make his manager feel important, significant and even omnipotent, if that is the command. To lose your customers, stimulate a performance system where employees will have no reason to provide customer delight. Make them bow to their managers, who, in the greater scheme of things, are not only more replaceable but also less influential than the frontline who will eventually produce the bottom line.


Losing Your Customers – Rule 6: Give employees authority without power…

Power without authority leads to dictatorship and authority without power leads to demoralisation. Of course, both will rid you from your customers, but here I would like to focus on authority without power. This is the case where a high earning director cannot authorize the purchase of a date stamp. Better even is the case of a frontline employee who cannot give me discount, replace my product or sort out my problem. It says on her desk plate “Customer Service Desk”, but apparently such service is limited to three restricted things that she can do. Large organisations have many positions and posts, but when it comes to making a decision the buck stops nowhere. The power to authorize is usually shifted from office to office, using every trick in the book to avoid responsibility. I need to get the green form from the blue office, and then return to the purple office where I must fill in the orange form, which must be authorised at the brown office who will issue a pink form which I can then hand in at the red office (round and round we go, no start or end, just stepping out or giving up). To get the simplest thing done can take months, or sometimes even never. To lose your customers, it is of utmost importance that you authorise your employees with titles such as customer service representative, floor manager, supervisor, etc. But never empower them. Dress them as the batsman but never throw them a ball. And of course, do not trust them. You know, that only you know, how to do stuff…


Now that you know the six secrets, go fort and lose those customers… Let them feel helpless and dependent, and I can promise with certainty, that they will go. It works…


But, if you do insist, that keeping customers is important, well then, you can attend my 'Customer Relationship Management (CRM)' workshop. Click Here for more info... 



This article is adjusted from my 2006 article “The Six Poisons of Government Service”.


© 19 October 2015




© 2015 Derek Hendrikz

  7004 Hits

Why I do not hunt has little to do with animals….

Why I do not hunt has little to do with animals….

By Derek Hendrikz


Unlike my regular posts on strategic leadership and strategy formulation this one is about whether or whether not humans should be allowed to hunt. Of course this blog is highly fuelled and motivated by the recent international outcry for Cecil the lion killed in Zimbabwe by the American Dr. Walter Palmer.


Shortly after reading about the killing of Cecil, I saw an article about how chimpanzees in Kibale National Park, Uganda, are currently hunting the red colobus monkey to extinction. This immediately triggered the thought that hunting is a natural phenomenon. It is our instinct to hunt and kill! This is how we have been obtaining energy for thousands of years and its how natural selection separates strong from the weak…


Now, this brings another question to mind, which is whether there is a difference between hunting for power and hunting for food… Many arguments can be put forth in this regard. We for instance know that chimpanzees kill in order to gain territory, thus humans are not the only specie that kills for power. Also, most hunting groups would claim that they eat the animals that they hunt, and that this justifies their killing. Thus, one would be able argue favourably on a number of reasons to kill.


I do not intent to argue for or against the moral or practical justifications to kill living beings. Reality is that our material world is one where death brings life. Energy needs to consume energy to evolve and manifest. This is the story of life…


There, however, is another view here. For a moment, let go of the argument for or against hunting and entertain the hypothesis of a direct correlation between why you kill and your level of consciousness. During the early stages of human evolution we had to kill to survive. Our superior intellectual evolution enabled us to work in teams and kill with speed. This evolved to a stage where our ability to kill led to an ability to conquer. We were very much where chimpanzees are today. The reason why chimpanzees are able to hunt the red colobus monkey to extinction is because of their superior intellectual ability. Should we stop these chimp tribes to do that? Of course not, since doing this would directly interfere with their evolutionary process. As the superior specie on this planet we should allow other species to evolve and to consciously awaken. If this results in the extinction of the red colobus monkey then so be it!


Now before becoming hunting happy, ask yourself whether you are still where the chimps are? Humans have evolved. We do not have to obtain our food in the way we have done before. We now have identified and domesticated animals specifically to serve as food. We regulate the killing of such animals and we have created an organised system where we divide roles and responsibilities to serve a variety of purposes….


Are we fully evolved? Now this is not much of a question since the world is riddled with poverty, pollution and extinction. Our need for killing has not disappeared. Nope, we simply sifted it out of awareness to abattoirs and corporations… Human beings are facing the same evolutionary threshold that chimps face. As chimpanzees are evolving to a place of conquer and kill, humans are now on the threshold of evolving to a place of compassion and responsibility. If we do not succeed on this evolutionary step, we, without the slightest doubt in my mind, will orchestrate our own extension.


As humans we need to move to place where we take responsibility on how we populate this planet, how we consume its resources and how we show compassion to those and that which have not reached our level of intelligence. This will require discipline in what we kill, how we kill, how much we kill, how many we allow to populate, how we teach our children, how we respect the elderly, how we reorganise ourselves, etc…


The outcry against hunting as a sport and protection of species is more than animal benevolence. It is an unconscious battle of conscious awakening. Our narcissistic self-importance and indulgent self-righteous behaviour has to end otherwise we are doomed as a specie. I truly hope that humans will evolve to place where the need to eat meat will disappear, where we show respect to the energy that we consume and where we realise that we are just a small part of a big system – a system that will get along perfectly well without our existence!!! Having not (even remotely) been able to reach such a state myself, I fully realise that his will take time. Time which we do not have much of… Thus I fully support the current outcry and rebellion against hunting, pollution, animal cruelty, protection of our oceans or any other endeavour where disrespect to our host is challenged…


Now, I’m not directly saying that where you hunt as a sport you have missed out on thousands of years of mental evolution or that you are on the level of a current day chimpanzee, but I do pre-suppose a strong possibility that this indeed might be the case…



© 01 June 2015




© 2015 Derek Hendrikz Consulting

  4657 Hits

Do KPI’s actually work?

Do KPI’s actually work?

By Derek Hendrikz


If you do a google search on whether KPI-based systems work or not, the amount of ‘against’ arguments definitely outweigh the ‘for’ arguments. More alarming is that most arguments in favour of KPI-based systems are made by companies who sell these systems.


Over the past 20 years I have touched base with more than 170 companies, and could not really find users of KPI-based PMS’s (performance management systems) who actually has confidence in its application. In fact, in most cases it’s seen as a necessary evil. Mostly it is strategic leaders who, after a strategy formulation session, demands that strategy must be translated to action. Of course, nobody in the company knows how to do this, and then balanced scorecard or other systems are implemented to link strategy to human performance. In the process a huge consulting and training industry is stimulated and, in my mind, this produces very little results.


Now, the problem does not lie with having Key Performance Indicators (KPI’s). The term basically says that there are indicators of performance that is key and that we should focus on such. Nothing wrong with that! Thus we start looking for the problem with how we define KPI’s or what their characteristics should be. Still, after all the research and money spent, it ends up being something that everyone within the organisation hates…


Due to my intensive involvement with strategy development; I have been compelled to grapple with this problem for many years now. And it finally seems that I have gained some comprehension to this conundrum. You see the problem never is, nor ever was with the concept, but rather with the belief construct or philosophy that drives the concept. There is absolutely nothing wrong with having performance indicators. The problem is your perception of how to locate those indicators.


All performance management systems that I have ever viewed has a basic process. This process entails creating a strategy, defining a structure, creating job profiles for such structure, developing KPA’s (key performance areas) that link strategic objectives with job profiles, and then creating key performance indicators that assigns specific performance to each job profile.


Although the above methodology seems sound; it has a critical error or rather a fundamental flaw, which is that we attempt to manage the performance of people without understanding the process within which such person must perform. Reality is that no person can perform outside a process. Therefor all we need to do is manage the performance of a process and assign people to tasks within such process. Where an employee is linked to the inputs, outputs and behaviour of a process his or her performance is already defined.


Why on earth would you want a job description if you have a well-defined process, or KPI’s where processes have clearly defined inputs, outputs and behaviour? In fact, even a structure is no more than the mapping out of process relationships; a budget no more than an understanding of the shared fixed cost between processes and the variable cost within a process; a managerial position no more than authority over parent and child processes and asset management no more than understanding which non-human resources are consumed within a process. In effect an organisation is no more than the defining of process relationships and targets are no more than the quantification of process results.


Are most companies barking up the wrong tree? Yes they are! Is this costing a lot of money? Absolutely!


It is time to realise that managerial models have not evolved at the same pace as with most other disciplines. In reality, we are so far behind that it’s too late for evolution. We now need a revolution. In this light I advocate that we should forget about restructuring, reengineering, KPI’s, KPA’s, Job grading systems, structural development and all the other nonsense that goes with this. It’s a trap! We have created experts in HR, Supply Chain, Strategy, Finance, Governance and many other areas that specialise in the solving of problem complexity; but at the cost of failing to understand context complexity.


In conclusion, all the answers you need for absolutely anything within you organisation is captured within the processes that construct your organisation. The intelligence is there - it creates the genetic structure of your organisation. All you have to do is define it, quantify it and measure it. Everything else is simply a result of calculating and presenting the variables defined within process families… In my Strategic Leadership Master Class we thoroughly work with the art and science of understanding, defining, quantifying and practically applying organisational processes…


© 01 June 2015




© 2015 Derek Hendrikz Consulting

  8663 Hits

Can you manage change from the bottom up?

Can you manage change from the bottom up?

By Derek Hendrikz


Where strategic leadership engages in a strategy formulation process to create strategy, the resulting change is purely a matter of execution efficiency, in other words we must translate strategy to action. Therefore it is preferred that organisational change initiatives are part of a strategy development session, for the simple reason that such change will be fully authorised. But, where there are high flyers within the organisation who have great ideas, change management becomes a bit more difficult. The reason is quite straight forward. Change that is not directly authorised will not be executed immediately. Unfortunately, irrelevant of how good any idea is, it will need allocated resources such as money people and assets to manifest. Even where executive management authorises a junior task team to develop an implementation plan for change, such might (more often than not) never see the light.


It is unfortunate that many executive teams fail to milk junior employees for brilliant ideas since the front line who produces the bottom line often knows best what the solutions to complex executive problems are. Frontline employees and junior managers know since they operate where rubber meets road. Bill Gates, Steve Jobs, Walt Disney and Oprah Winfrey are but a few examples of employees whose brilliance were overlooked by the companies who employed them. These same employees later became their former employer’s greatest competition.


So what does a young bright employee do to bring his or her great idea too life? Well, firstly, it is important to note that the primary difference between top-down and bottom-up change is that the former is a matter of execution efficiency and the latter a matter of influence. Reality is that most organisational change will take place from top-down since, at some point, change must become authorised and resources must be allocated. The implication of this is that where a junior employee wants to bring about change, he or she will first have to get such approved, which becomes a matter of influence.



Herewith Seven tips to those ‘not so authorised’ organisational rebels who wants to effect change…


1.       Make sure that your desired change will enhance mission and vision. No senior manager will support an initiative that does not strengthen purpose or which does not assist in the execution of strategic intent. Ask the right questions to ensure that there is no strategic disconnect...

2.       Learn to build a business case. Those in power are more interested in the probability and impact of results than they are in the technicalities of your ingenious thinking.

3.       Hone up your negotiation skills. You will need this more than anything else. People of influence have mastered the art of hearing others say ‘YES’.

4.       Practice your presentation skills. Your ideas needs to be heard and understood. Brilliance means nothing if no one knows about it.

5.       Be a bold. You will not succeed if you live in fear of making career limiting statements. Realising change requires courageousness, confidence and taking of risk!

6.       Get into project management. If approved, you will have to prove your ability to execute. The only way to ensure efficient and effective transformation (from idea to practical reality) is through applying proven and tested project management principles.

7.       Build a competent army. You cannot do this alone. It takes one person to generate an idea, but it will take a team to execute.


You might succeed or fail; heaven forbid, you might event get fired! But, you will get stronger. The key is not to give up. Great rewards await those who can bring about change. In fact there is ample evidence that the highest paid employees in the world today are those who can see what needs to change and then effectively produces such…


In conclusion, make the decision and then make it happen… In my Strategic Leadership Master Class we thoroughly work with the art and science of change management…


© 27 April 2015

Strategic Leadership and Organisational Performance Specialist






© 27 April 2015 Derek Hendrikz Consulting

  9380 Hits

What is the difference between Vision and Mission?

What is the difference between Vision and Mission?

By Derek Hendrikz


When dealing with issues of strategic leadership and strategy development mission and vision becomes both first and foremost… But what is the difference, which one first and how do you determine them?


The difference between vision and mission, to my mind, is one of the most confused and misunderstood concepts in any strategy formulation process. Even in fortune 500 companies, one finds missions that should actually be visions and vice versa… In fact, it is often hard to distinguish between the two statements in many companies. If you ask for an explanation on the difference, some senior executive will most probably tell you that vision is where we want to go and mission is how we will get there. With all respect, this conclusion makes absolutely no sense. Firstly, if mission is how we achieve vision, then what is strategy? Secondly, if mission moves us from a current to some desired state then mission should change quite often, yet some of the oldest and most powerful organisations in the world have missions that never change!


This perplexity most probably originated in our early endeavours to control the world with militant action. Armies had mission. This was a project-based concept which aims to conquer, kill and return home. Thus the aim was to achieve a state of ‘mission completed’. As we entered the industrial age, we started companies and corporations. We stole the ‘mission’ concept from our militant past, but unlike our military operations, we do not want our organisations to end. Thus, we created vision; that which cannot end… As we currently go far beyond the information age, the nature of mission and vision has dramatically changed in meaning and application. Maybe the right terminology would rather be ‘statement of purpose’ and ‘statement of desire’…


I believe that those who aim to create a direct relationship between mission and vision cause much of the above confusion. In this article, I intend to convince that mission and vision has no direct cause and effect relationship, but rather that they imply an inverse relationship that directs two very important dimensions within any organised system. These being to stabilise and to change. With this I advocate hat mission authorises processes whilst vision energises strategy. Mission brings stability and order whereas vision creates strategy and brings change and renewal to the system. Respectively, the first empowers and the latter influences. Mission directs processes and is primarily a managerial function. Vision on the other hand, creates strategy and is primarily a leadership function. Ultimately any organised system will attempt to increase relevance of its mission whilst focusing change initiatives that will make its vision irrelevant… The one implies processes-based and the other project-based activity. E.g. if I want to lose 10kg of weight (my vision) and I do so (vision now irrelevant) then my change initiative becomes a maintenance function. Thus a once-off, non-repetitive project became a cyclic process.




·      Authorises the organisation.

·      Ignites processes.

·      Contains risk.

·      Brings order to chaos.

·      Is evolutionary in nature.

·      Should not change, and if it does, change should be slow and gradual.

·      Aims to become more relevant.

·          Energises the organisation.

·          Creates strategy.

·          Creates risk.

·          Brings chaos to order.

·          Has revolutionary nature.

·          New or changed vision implies strategic effectiveness.

·          Aims to become irrelevant.


As with any strategic initiative, we must start by asking the right questions. To do such we must understand our end result. In the case of mission we ask questions that will enhance our reason for existence, thus creating a statement that we will nurture and grow with no end in mind. The end result of mission is therefore clear purpose that directs organisational performance. With vision we ask questions that query our future relevance. These questions will bring doubt to our current process efficiency and critically question our ability to effectively relate to our external environment. We therefore deliberately inject neurosis into our system. And this neurosis must be killed. Thus, unlike mission, the questions that ignite vision has a definite end in mind. We can only claim strategic success if vision dies! Where that which we once desired becomes our reality, we can either maintain such through process efficiency or we can create a new dissatisfied state by developing a new vision. It is for this reason that very old and powerful organisations are mostly process-driven. The Roman Catholic Church, Buddhism, the Rolling Stones, Coca Cola, to name only a few… Thus the end result of vision is a desired reality that will keep our system relevant. Hence, questions that create mission aims to provide certainty whereas questions that create vision aspires to create uncertainty. Together they will provide the organisational equilibrium needed for sustainable growth.


Questions asked to determine Mission:

Questions asked to determine Vision:

·      What is our purpose?

·      Why is this our purpose?

·      What makes our purpose relevant?

·      What must we do to manifest this purpose?

·      Where must we do this?

·      For whom do we do this?

·          Where do we want to be?

·          Why are we not there yet?

·          What if…?

·          What if we go somewhere else?

·          In which ways are we different?

·          When will what we currently do become irrelevant?


As mentioned above, a mission statement should give clear purpose and must direct process efficiency. To me this is the test of strong mission. To avoid confusion, a mission statement should not create a future desire. E.g. “To provide…” or “Being the…” indicates future desired action. A good mission statement implies immediate responsibility for an already existing state. E.g. “We provide…” or “At ABC we are the…”


10 excellent mission statements:

1.       “At Microsoft, we work to help people and businesses throughout the world realize their full potential. This is our mission. Everything we do reflects this mission and the values that make it possible.” (Microsoft)

2.       “We provide effective means for the prevention of cruelty to animals throughout the United States.” (ASPCA)

3.       “We work with communities to end hunger and poverty and care for the Earth.” (Heifer International)

4.       “We fulfil dreams through the experience of motorcycling, by providing to motorcyclists and to the general public an expanding line of motorcycles and branded products and services in selected market segments.” (Harley-Davidson, Inc.)

5.       "We bring inspiration and innovation to every athlete in the world." (Nike)

6.       “People love our clothes and trust our company. We will market the most appealing and widely worn casual clothing in the world. We will clothe the world.” (Laidlaw International Levi Strauss & Co)

7.       “We help all people live healthy lives.” (Becton, Dickinson and Company)

8.       “Our purpose is to create superior value for our customers, employees, communities and investors through the production, conversion, delivery and sale of energy and energy services.” (Duke Energy Corporation)

9.       “We provide our policyholders with as near perfect protection, as near perfect service as is humanly possible and to do so at the lowest possible cost.” (Erie Insurance Group)

10.   “Graybar is the vital link in the supply chain, adding value with efficient and cost-effective service and solutions for our customers and our suppliers.” (Graybar Electric Company)


A vision statement, on the other hand, should create uncertainty and initiate strategy to eliminate such uncertainty. Therefore, vision constructs desire, thus immediately creating a gap between current and desired reality. Finding ways to close such gap is called strategy and effectively closing such gap is called strategy execution. Unlike mission, vision implies a future state that is not yet achieved…


10 excellent vision statements:

1.       “A computer on every desk and in every home; all running Microsoft software.” (Microsoft)

2.       “That the United States is a humane community in which all animals are treated with respect and kindness.” (ASPCA)

3.       “A hunger-free America” (Feeding America)

4.       “Equality for everyone.” (Human Rights Campaign)

5.       “To be the number one athletic company in the world.” (Nike)

6.       “Our vision is to be earth’s most customer centric company; to build a place where people can come to find and discover anything they might want to buy online." (Amazon)

7.       “Amnesty International's vision is of a world in which every person enjoys all of the human rights enshrined in the Universal Declaration of Human Rights and other international human rights instruments.” (Amnesty International)

8.       "The happiest place on Earth." (Disneyland)

9.       "People Fly for Free." (Ryanair)

10.   “To provide access to the world’s information in one click.” (Google)


One last dilemma that we must work with is which one first? To me this is no chicken or egg situation. No organised system can exist without purpose. It is mission that gives birth to any system. We cannot determine where we want to go if we have no idea who we are… It is, however, common practice in marketing documents to put vision first. This is so since a vision is ‘sexy’; it creates desire and presents the external world with dynamic perception. Yet, the fact that it’s written first does not imply that it was conceived first… The power of vision is dependent on the amount of change needed. Mission can only cease where purpose has become irrelevant. As leaders come and go, visions will be born and will die. But, as long as any organised system evolves and survives, mission will stand strong. There can be no vision without mission!


In conclusion, the difference between mission and vision is not important; it is vitally crucial… In my Strategic Leadership Master Class we thoroughly unpack the nature and methodology of developing vision and mission at executive level…


© 10 April 2015

Strategic Leadership and Organisational Performance Specialist






© 2015 Derek Hendrikz Consulting

  16736 Hits

Strategic Leadership… Not to ask but what to ask – that is the question!

Strategic Leadership… Not to ask but what to ask – that is the question!

By Derek Hendrikz


Strategic leadership and strategy development is all about asking the right questions. What, who, where, when, why and how??? Five W’s and one H… the questions we ask. Commonly known as the Kipling method as made famous by his 1902 opening poem for ‘The Elephants Child’.


Easy to say – just ask the W’s and one H… Yet, how you ask them could make all the difference. For instance ‘What must be done?’ is very different to ‘What has been done?’ or ‘What is the difference between what we do and what the department down the hallway does?’ etc… The first question requires a work definition, the second an evaluation and the third a comparison. In fact, we could probably ask any of the W and H questions in a hundred different ways.


The first problem, to my mind, when working with questions is the reality of ‘personal agenda’. This relates to motivation behind the question. Mostly there is a person with very specific assumptions and beliefs behind any question. It would be naïve to believe that many questions don’t have predetermined answers. The most obvious manifestation of this dynamic would be the rhetorical question; e.g. ‘management would never say that about us, or would they?’ In this example the purpose of the question was to make a point.


The only way to deal with this possible elephant in the room is not to let it in… It is for this reason that there should be rules for questions. In other words, we must create a basic ‘if…then…’ set of assumptions – if we ask questions for this purpose then we apply those rules… In my work I mostly have one of three reasons to ask questions, and I use different rules for each. These reasons with their rules are:

·         If I want to investigate something then use questions that unveil the truth about a past event…

·         If I want to enhance process efficiency then use questions that bring order to chaos…

·         If I want to create strategy then use questions that bring chaos to order…


Below are some samples (but no complete list) of questions that can be asked to achieve different results…


Questions that aim to investigate:

Questions that define process:

Questions that create strategy:

·     Who did what?

·      What happened?

·      Where did it happen?

·      When did it happen?

·      How did it happen?

·      Why did it happen?

·      What is our purpose?

·      What must be done?

·      Who must do this?

·      Which information is needed to do this?

·      Where must it be done?

·      When should this be done?

  • Where do we want to be?
  • Why are we not there yet?
  • Why are we doing this?
  • What if we do this differently?
  • What if we do something else?
  • How did we get here?
  • When will what we currently do become irrelevant?


The article title claims information on strategic leadership, and I have not said much about that… Now, the primary task of leadership is to influence and the primary task of strategy is to keep relevant, thus questions strategic leaders ask would primarily be to influence relevance. Questions asked at operational level have much to do with empowering process efficiency. Therefor such questions aim to strengthen the genetic makeup of any organisational system. Questions that create strategy on the other hand aims to modify the genetic make-up of any system. Thus, the former enhances an evolutionary process of construction and the latter a revolutionary process of deconstruction. Every construction must be deconstructed and strengthened to stay relevant and every deconstruction needs reconstruction to perform. This is an inverse relationship that must be carefully managed. 


Central to all these question is purpose. This is the nodal point of any organised system. The answer to any question only has meaning relative to its purpose. Let me illustrate. If you jump out of an aeroplane at 30 000 feet, what is the risk? Most people reading this would answer that it is a 100% risk, since you will most definitely die! But, you see, there is one very important question that you did not ask, which is ‘What is the purpose of jumping out of that aeroplane?’ If you want to commit suicide, then it is a 0% risk, since there is no uncertainty of the outcome, but if you want to live, then it is a 100% risk. Thus, the difference between a 100% and a 0% risk lies in purpose. Without understanding purpose, no answer has meaning.


Lastly is important to note that asking questions is the foundation of learning. Therefore, the question is more important than the answer, since a right answer to a wrong question will mislead, whilst a wrong answer to a correct question will still teach!


With this I conclude that what to ask is no easy task… In my Strategic Leadership Master Class we thoroughly unpack the nature and methodology of asking questions at executive level…


In the words of Rudyard Kipling…

“I KEEP six honest serving-men

(They taught me all I knew);

Their names are What and Why and When

And How and Where and Who.

I send them over land and sea,

I send them east and west;

But after they have worked for me,

I give them all a rest.

I let them rest from nine till five,

For I am busy then,

As well as breakfast, lunch, and tea,

For they are hungry men.

But different folk have different views;

I know a person small—

She keeps ten million serving-men,

Who get no rest at all!

She sends'em abroad on her own affairs,

From the second she opens her eyes—

One million Hows, two million Wheres,

And seven million Whys!”


© 29 March 2015

Strategic Leadership and Organisational Performance Specialist





© 2015 Derek Hendrikz Consulting

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Translating Strategy to Action – the Great ‘Disconnect’…

Translating Strategy to Action  – the Great ‘Disconnect’…

During the past two decades in working with more than 100 companies in the field of strategic leadership and strategy development, I found the number one complaint from EXCO teams to be “that strategy fails at the execution phase”.

 Harvard Business Review calls this the execution gap (Martin: 2010). According to Fortune Magazine (Fortune 27 December 1982, p38) as well as renowned author, Eric Kurjan (2011), 90% (nine out of ten) strategies fail due to poor execution… In fact if you google “statistics on why strategy fails” you will get 83 000 000 results of which more than 80% tells you that strategy fails due to poor or no execution… Why, Why Why???

A myriad of authors have attempted to explain this ongoing phenomena; thus my attempt here joins a list of many. Nevertheless, I have paid my dues in this field and am confident that I can add to unravelling this predictable misery. I believe, in heart and mind, that this execution gap has three primary sources…

1.       Incompetent EXCO Team…

Amazing how much blame senior management often bestows on the entire organisation for failure to execute strategy. Maybe I’m missing the boat here, but when did life start working this way? For as far as I can remember, where the team loses we fire the coach; where the General loses battle after battle we get rid of him; and yes, where the EXCO team fails to execute strategy, we need to appoint new ones. One of the main reasons for executive failure is the classic case of a Chef who became the CEO, but refuses to get out of the kitchen. Employees are paid to do work and executives are paid to keep the organisation relevant. Keeping relevant carries higher risk than executing work, thus we pay executives higher wages. Now, to keep relevant requires effective strategy. This is all that executives must do, they have no other work. Yet, according to Kurjan (2011), 85% percent of executive teams spend less than one-hour a month on strategy issues. How can this be???

2.       Strategy is only 20-30% of what we do in organisations…

Yes, strategy is 80%+ of EXCO’s work, but this does not mean its 80% of the organisations work. Most of what we do in organisations are process-based. The accountant does the books as she has done them last year and the year before, and she will do so next year and the year after that. Reality is that most employees do what they have done yesterday, and there is absolutely nothing wrong with this. In fact, process-based work holds much less risk than project-based work (strategy & change). The one is based on a predictable past and the other on a very unpredictable future. And YES, we must work with the future, but whilst a few well paid people do this, the rest of us must keep bread on the table. In psychology this is called countertransference. EXCO has targets and so they push everyone else to follow suit, which is immensely confusing to the receptionist – what must she do now, answer the phone 3.5 times faster than yesterday???

3.       Lack of Quantification…

If you cannot measure it, you cannot manage it. Yet, from all the strategy documents I have ever seen, and I have seen many, only about 5% are measurable. Over the past four years I have spent much of my time with other professional colleagues to develop a master scorecard system, which aims to translate strategy to action through quantifying both strategic and tactical work into one scorecard. It is my view that work only starts making sense if we can accurately measure its sum total. In other words we need to create one master scorecard that measures all work within the organisation. Such quantification should be translated to other systems such as performance management, budgeting, etc. But this is a whole new story for another editorial…

      I believe that this ‘disconnect’ between strategy and action starts with a strong realisation by executive teams that strategy is their only work. To become a senior executive, you first need to be fired from your previous job. You are no longer the engineer, the accountant, the lawyer, or the whatever. Your job now is to keep this organisation relevant. Once this awareness has dawned, ask a few simple questions…

·         What must we change to achieve our vision?

·         What must we perfect to stay accountable to our mission?

·         How will we quantify the above into one scorecard?

·         Who needs to take responsibility for what?

·         How will we all behave in executing our task (our values)?


© 10 April 2014

Strategic Leadership and Organisational Performance Specialist




© (c) Derek Hendrikz Consulting

  6843 Hits

Seven Questions - please help me understand!!!

Seven Questions - please help me understand!!!
  1. Why would any normal person want warm milk with their coffee?
  2. 'Majority knows best' - how does one prove this mathematically?
  3. What happened to the other sock?
  4. Why do none of the environmental or sustainable development conferences ever directly deal with the issue that 90% of the sustainability, environmental and economic problems on this planet stem from the fact that humans are allowed to breed uncontrollably and without apology???
  5. Why, in most communities, is ganja (marijuana) seen as evil and alcohol socially acceptable?
  6. Woman?
  7. Where did it all begin and what exists beyond the universe?
  3936 Hits

Crazy Replaceable World!!!

Crazy Replaceable World!!!

As we enter the last few years of the 21st century’s first decade; I often pause in amazement on how things have changed!! Isn’t it amazing that I can open and lock my car @ a 20-metre distance by just pressing a button; or hook up with dozens of people on FB whom I wouldn’t even recognise on the street; or being out of the country and talking to family on Skype, without paying a cent to any phone network; and having a cell phone that is also a DVD player, HI-Fi; video recorder and camera!!! WoW, must tell you being a 70’s / 80’s child – things have certainly changed, especially when your kids have no idea who the Rolling Stones are or that Michael Jackson is actually black. Now – my grandfather was born in 1918 – can you imagine how this new world must seem to him. When he was a kid, there weren’t even cars, running toilets or electricity!!

Yet, with all changing so fast, the thing that stands out most is how replaceable everything has become. From cars, cell phones to relationships – it seems that everything (things and people) has a life span. On average a new car is driven for three to four years, a cell phone and computer has an average life span of two-years, and the average marriage last’s for about five years!!!

Now, the question (to my mind) is whether this is a collective mind-set, a psychological phenomenon, or is it just about money??? If more people had more money, would there for instance be a higher divorce rate? It seems that we have entered a world where money has to be spent on a daily basis – or else we face economic collapse. It is to the interest of law firms that we get divorced, it is to the interest of pharmaceutical companies that we have to stay sick and to the interest of religious organisations that the world stay loaded with sin… On a deeper level, could this be our inability to evolve spiritually – there seems plenty of evidence that great spiritual leaders (not religious leaders) had very little need for material possession or constant renewal of possession and relationships! Is our paradigm of ‘everything has to be renewed and replaced’ a manifestation of unconscious anxiety to ‘kill time’ in absence of higher purpose???


© 2013 Derek Hendrikz

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Human Diversity – is this still a Black / White issue?

Human Diversity – is this still a Black / White issue?

I've been involved with South African diversity training & consultation for more than a decade now. In most diversity workshops we deal with many aspects such as race, gender, social class, disability, etc, etc.

Yet, the hottest issue within South Africa still seems to be the tension between black and white! It just seems impossible to cool down this hot potato. What needs to happen for Black and White to co-exist peacefully? White people are leaving South Africa by their thousands - their reason being 'high crime'. Yet, I've interviewed many of these ‘leaving’ citizens, and it seems (to me at least) that their real motivation is resistance towards affirmative action and black empowerment.

Black people on the other hand are struggling to move beyond the apartheid era and after 19-years of democracy still blames white people for poor living conditions within the country. Our whole economic development seems to be based on 'how white I am or how black you are!'

What needs to happen here?


© 2013 Derek Hendrikz

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