The European Union should review its strategy

The importance of the EU is increasing, but its continuity is threatened by the actions and behaviours of its own leaders

Picture EU article

By Dirk Verburg

European cooperation is now more important now than ever

To state the obvious: we are living in a VUCA world, a world that is Volatile, Uncertain, Complex and Ambiguous. The world order as we know it seems to be threatened by multiple problems, including (in arbitrary order): the nuclear ambitions of North Korea, the geo-political ambitions of China, wavering loyalty of the current US president regarding NATO, Climate Change, the Refugee crisis, the rise of populism in Western Democracies and Muslim extremism, to name but a few.

Given the nature and scale of these challenges, European countries have a far better chance to achieve a successful outcome if they deal with these challenges jointly, rather than individually.

EU politicians are ignoring warning signals about the lack of support of the EU by their voters Continue reading

Book Review: Pariahs, Hubris, Reputation and Organizational crises

Tw Cover PariahsA ‘must read’ for the C-suite.

By Dirk Verburg

Ever since the industrial revolution, large corporations have played an important role in our society. Due to the globalization in the past decades, their influence is continuously increasing.

At the same time it seems that the number of scandals caused by these large organizations is growing as well. Established names, such as Barclays, Siemens, Wells Fargo, Ahold, VW, BP, Shell, Worldcomm, Tyco, Enron, Olympus, Arthur Anderson, E&Y, the BBC and many others, have all experienced scandals, and some no longer exist as a result.

What complicates this situation even is that governments and other institutions (e.g. regulators and ‘independent’ accounting firms) do not seem to be able to control, or at least monitor, the way companies in the private sector are operating. Continue reading

Why I feel sorry for Donald Trump

By Dirk Verburg

How you can prevent pursuing the wrong role and what you can do if you find yourself in one.

Trump Skidmore
Photo by George Skidmore

No – this is not the title of yet another ‘Trump-bashing’ article, but a genuine empathetic feeling I have for Donald Trump. I already suspected for a long time what Donald Trump recently admitted, namely that he finds the job of being president of the US harder than he expected. The reason I feel sorry for Donald Trump is that I think he might have made a mistake a lot of us are prone to. It is the mistake of applying for a prestigious job, without a proper vision as to what the actual content might be and without honestly reflecting whether this content plays to our strengths and will keep us engaged in the future.

Why people pursue roles that do not fit them Continue reading

How you can make engagement surveys work

By Dirk Verburg

Despite the importance of employee engagement, more and more organizations decide to cancel their employee engagement surveys due to a perceived lack of ROI. Leaders can make engagement surveys work however, by applying three simple principles. Continue reading

When do you need to think different?

By Dirk Verburg

One of the most inspirational videos I have ever seen is the Apple commercial ‘Think Different’. This video shows footage of several leaders from the worlds of business, arts, politics, sports and science, such as Richard Branson, Pablo Picasso, Albert Einstein, Martin Luther King, Mohammed Ali and Mahatma Ghandi. The key message of the commercial is that these people were able to change the world, because they were thinking differently. The suggestion is, of course, that people who purchase Apple products also ‘Think Different’.

The ability to ‘Think different’ is extremely important, but unfortunately not something that comes ‘naturally’ to us as human beings. There are several reasons for this. The most important ones are our ‘Bounded Rationality’, reliance on ‘Heuristics’ and ‘Theory-Induced Blindness’. Continue reading

The Fear Factor

Why a sense of belonging is crucial for a healthy corporate culture

By Dirk Verburg

According to Professor of Psychology Kip Williams, the human race ows its success to the fact that we learned to collaborate in groups. We learned that through organizing ourselves in tribes, we hugely increased our chances to survive in a hostile environment. The tribe enabled us to protect ourselves from wild animals, other tribes and food shortages.

The prospect of people who were being ‘ostracized’ (forced to leave the tribe) looked bleak. In pre-historic times, ostracism did not only result in social, but also in a certain physical death. People, who were kicked out of their ‘tribe’ and left to their own devices, were doomed to die, because they could not defend themselves effectively against predators, other tribes and could no longer collect sufficient food.

Because of the latent fears of ostracism that human beings have, managing human behavior by using this threat requires surprisingly little effort. Setting an example by ostracizing just a handful of individuals in a visible manner is enough to instill a sense of fear in a complete community. Continue reading

Why we need to have a new discussion about HR

Why the current debate about the ‘HR’ function is superfluous and why a new one should start to take place

By Dirk Verburg

It seems like the Human Resources function attracts more and more criticism over the years. This criticism was initiated by a few articles in high profile publications. The most important are: ‘Why we hate HR’ by Keith H. Hammonds in Fast company,‘It’s Time to Split HR’ by Ram Charan in the Harvard Business review, ‘Why We Love to Hate HR and What HR Can Do About It’ by Peter Capelli in the Harvard Business Review and ‘Companies Say No to Having an HR Department’ by Lauren Weber and Rachel Feintzeig in the Wall Street Journal.

These articles had a lot of impact and resulted in a great deal of soul-searching by HR leaders and HR practitioners. Although critical self-reflection is usually a good thing, the question is whether this is justified merely on the basis of these articles. The second question is whether or not this is the most important debate to have about the HR function now – or are there more important issues for HR to focus on. Continue reading