Five years ago this coming summer Hillary Clinton gave the best speech of her life. Unfortunately it was her concession speech, allowing Barack Obama to become the Democratic National Party’s candidate and ultimately President. But she gave eloquence to the much-used “glass ceiling” phrase about women’s barriers to success by noting that there were now, thanks to her supporters, “eighteen million cracks” in it. We know all about the shortage of women breaking through boardroom barriers and political barriers now. Change is in the air. The F-word (feminism) is back in vogue, being argued and debated with a passion not seen since the 1970s. Good. But where are women’s voices about the big ideas in society? In business? Where are the women with books like ‘Outliers’, ‘Nudge’ and ‘The Switch’? I greatly admire and envy writers and thinkers such as the Heath Brothers, Steven Johnson, Malcolm Gladwell, Daniel Pink, Daniel Kahneman. Big ideas from Big Blokes. But women are cracking through the ideas barriers at a great speed and I welcome this. Here’s some of my favourite women thinkers and their books I recommend: Jane McGonigal’s Reality is Broken : Why Games Make us Better and How They Can Change the World; Sherry Turkle’s Alone Together:Why We Expect More from Technology and Less from Each Other and Susan Blackmore’s extraordinary ‘The Meme Machine’; Susan Cain’s Quiet: The Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking. There are millions of women out there with millions of great ideas. Let’s hear more of them, from more of us.
January is the month most people are allowed to feel depressed at work. There is even an assigned day. But perhaps many workers, especially ‘Marzipan Managers’ as I call them (stuck below the leadership icing) feel depressed at work on more than just one day, or one month. Many are suffering from a lack of productivity, which is enough to make anyone depressed – their bosses, shareholders, customers, and themselves. Whilst the UK private sector is growing – between 0.5% and 0.7% according to Q4 figures from 2012 published by the current British Government – actual productivity, that is output, is not. British working output is way behind G7 counterparts, oodles behind Americans. Why? Well, think about it. How many of them enjoy what they do? Feel stimulated? Engaged? I think many many managerial workers in what we grandly call ‘The Knowledge Economy’ actually feel isolated, endangered, bored much of the time. They watch their bosses network in ‘The Global Green Room’ of Davos but they are discouraged from face-to-face networking, even social networking, as if somehow engaging with people and ideas which may yield long term results not bottom line quarter-led results is only for their ‘Leaders’. It’s time to re-engage and grow the existing economy of workers as well as worrying about creating new jobs. Let’s increase the ‘output’ of people by letting them like their day jobs more.