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Are your expectations clear? | The Melting Pot Newsletter | #96


‘I know what’s expected of me at work’.  It’s no coincidence that this is the first, foundational question of the Gallup Q12 measure of engagement. Everything flows from this.  It’s pivotal to happiness and personal fulfilment, not to mention productivity.   And yet, so few companies are really clear on expectations.

You want all your staff to get to the end of their day and know they’ve done well. To do this, it needs to be clear what game they’re playing, the rules they’re following and where the white lines are on the field.  And they need their score in real-time. It’s amazing the difference this can make. I don’t believe people go to work to under-achieve.  In my opinion, most will want to do a good job. But to do that, they need to have a clear understanding of what good looks like. 

This may seem blindingly obvious but it amazes me how often people are totally reactive in their jobs.  They arrive at their desk and do the first thing that crops up.  Or they fill their time with busywork.  This is because they have no clear idea of what’s expected.  I had breakfast with someone who worked for a large corporate recently.  He’d just had his annual appraisal and been told he was a B performer.  Apparently, he hadn’t done the things his manager had wanted.  But not once in the entire 12 months had he been told what these things were.  Incredible!

Innovating Your Business Model with Alex Osterwalder

Innovation, according to entrepreneur, author and co-founder of, Alex Osterwalder, is what your business needs for longevity and success. Alex believes that successful companies are those that compete at the level of business model, not just at the level of product, or service, or price. 

“Innovation is not a talent or idea problem. It’s a process and culture problem. Companies are not putting in place the right systems for the great innovators and great ideas to emerge. People on the ground know very well what could work, but we don’t give them the space to explore. And if that doesn’t change, a lot of companies are actually going to pay the price and go out of business.”

Alex knows what the challenges are in driving innovation. He knows what needs to be done in terms of structure, power and resources. And he knows how company culture fits into a business model.  In this incredibly insightful episode, he shares his thoughts and actionable processes with listeners. 

“An invincible company has three characteristics – they always reinvent themselves, they compete not just on products, technology, price and service, they compete on superior business models. And they understand transcending industry boundaries. People who see themselves in one industry, usually that’s not going to play out well in the long term.”

It’s a slightly longer episode, so make sure you’re sitting comfortably, and don’t forget to bring a pen and paper – you’ll want to take notes.

Recommended Podcasts


David Sparks and Mike Schmitz are not nearly as productive as they’d like to be. Join these fellow travellers (and a bunch of special guests) as they share the best ways to get focused, and talk though their successes and failures along the way.

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The line between work and personal life has blurred. Social issues such as a global pandemic, racism, and economic turmoil are taking a heavy psychological toll on us. More than 80% of people believe the future is a significant source of stress. Organizations must support employees and help them cope in times of crisis.


The job interview is a ritual just about every adult goes through at least once. They seem to be a ubiquitous part of most hiring processes. The funny thing about them, however, is that they take up time and resources without actually helping to select the best people to hire. Instead, they promote a homogenous workforce where everyone thinks the same.


The Covid-19 lockdown has forced millions of employees to adapt to working remotely, with the trend expected to continue well after the pandemic subsides. More than half of US adults want to work from home permanently, according to an IBM survey, while three-quarters would like to at least occasionally swap the office chair for the kitchen stool.

Recommended Reads


Mark Copeman has spent a decade working with 100’s of IT support and Managed Service Provider (MSP) organisations across the world. Through his natural curiosity and journalistic skills, he now brings together experiences from 85 individuals in a single book, to benefit others in the industry. With peer groups prevalent in different regions, until now, no one has yet brought together the best of the best. From small to large, every MSP has a unique set of experiences. Mark has sought these experiences out and curated them into a single place, this book, where others can learn from both successes and mistakes.


Casper ter Kuile, a Harvard Divinity School fellow and cohost of the popular Harry Potter and the Sacred Text podcast, explores how we can nourish our souls by transforming common, everyday practices―yoga, reading, walking the dog―into sacred rituals that can heal our crisis of social isolation and struggle to find purpose. “After half a decade of research and hundreds of conversations with people around the country, I am convinced we are in the midst of a paradigm shift. That what used to hold us in community no longer works, and that the spiritual offerings of yesteryear no longer help us thrive.”


The CEOs I’m speaking to right now are exhausted.  The challenges of the last few months have been monumental. Try to remember your own needs in the midst of this crisis. Allow yourself a half-day, every week, for thinking time.  Turn off the screens and the phone.  Find a space that’s free of pets and children. Make yourself a cup of tea and find a pen and paper.  Sit back and think.  It may take a while to rise above the everyday clutter but after a while, you’ll find some clarity.  Remember, you can’t outrun the treadmill. You need to step off it occasionally. Strategy doesn’t happen by accident.  If you want to change your business, you need to allow some thinking time. 

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