... can seriously damage your majority
Two years ago in 2015 it all looked to be going swimmingly in the political arena, especially if you were a member of the Conservative party. Having put in five years of coalition government with the Liberal Democrats they managed to almost wipe that party off the political map and instead of ending up in another coalition they had a majority government.
It was at the time totally unexpected as another coalition was supposedly the most likely result of that election but with a majority in the House of Commons the government can pretty much get through all its legislation. There was just a small matter of a promised referendum on the UK’s membership of the European Union (EU) but we all know that it would be disastrous for us to come out of the EU so no one is going to vote to leave. Are they?
What followed in 2016 was quite remarkable. The UK decided by the squeakiest of margins that it should leave the EU which triggered all kinds of mayhem. The Prime Minister resigned, the facts used in the referendum debate turned out to be complete nonsense and the Labour party decided its leader wasn’t good enough, triggering a leadership challenge. It was the HMS UK trying to stay afloat in a hurricane and being tossed and turned in all directions.
But all hurricanes come to an end and eventually everything seemed to settle down. Theresa May became our new Prime Minister and car crash Brexit from the EU was the way to go. If we couldn’t get a good deal from the EU we were going to throw ourselves off the cliff anyway. That was the strategy and it seemed popular as the Conservatives were way ahead in the opinion polls, they had a majority government and there didn’t seem to be any credible opposition. All steady as she goes then into 2017 and the triggering of Article 50 indicating the UK’s intention to leave the EU by 2019.
And then Theresa May went walking in the Welsh hills.
When I was in IT support we used to have this team mantra “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it!”
It was with some surprise then that on her return from Wales, Theresa May decides a General Election would be a splendid idea. This would increase the Conservative majority in government and strengthen her position in EU negotiations. Why this seemed to be a good idea I’m not sure as she had a majority anyway, she seemed to be popular and nothing was broken, so why fix it?
As it turned out things didn’t go quite to plan for Mrs May and the Conservatives as the election returned a hung parliament and although the Conservatives remain the largest party their majority has gone.
The common consensus was that the Conservatives had a very poor election whilst the Labour party had a great one even though they didn’t end up winning. The blame game for the Conservatives started almost immediately and I’m sure much head scratching will go on to find out why it all went so wrong. For us on the outside we see the results of this lessons learned exercise by the number of resignations it produces and what those people say afterwards.
One thing I have noticed from this fallout is the emergence of this phrase “bunker mentality” when referring to communication with the Prime Ministers’ office. One of the exercises I use on project management courses is asking people to think of reasons why projects fail and poor communication comes out on every single list, without fail for the last 10 years!
I see it in organisations where individuals do not collaborate with each other either on an individual or functional level. In fact in one organisation I did some training for if I hadn’t forced the people in the room to do some exercises together they wouldn’t have spoken to each other for the whole week! Yes, poor communication was on their list of failure reasons, you think?!
Collaboration for me is one of the key areas not just in projects but throughout the entire organisation and when you consider the world of small business owners it becomes even more so.
Helen Keller said "Alone we can do so little, together we can do so much."
Over the past year I’ve entered into the land of being a small business owner and there have been times when I first started that I felt isolated and alone. It wasn’t that I wasn’t busy because I was. There were sales and marketing to do, website to set up, accounts to keep up to date and actually delivering what I was selling. There just didn’t seem to be enough time in the day and because most of these areas are things I’ve not done before it was all getting a bit daunting trying to do it all by myself.
What I have found however is that people around me want to help, not be employed but actually help. My son arranged for my web hosting and domain name, my partner helps maintain the website. My neighbour used to be an accountant and offers advice on how to deal with my accounts and taxation and on top of that my business network group can give me access to HR specialists, financial planning experts, wellness consultants and hypnotherapists to name just a few. Alone? Not anymore!
Sales and marketing however was still an art I was struggling to come to terms with. I used to spend so much time trying to find out names of contacts in companies to talk to and when I did it was difficult to get time in front of them or even get them to acknowledge me and if they shut the gate on me then I was never getting past.
Then one day somebody referred me to one of his clients.
I received an email from a friend who had heard from one of his contacts that they needed a project management trainer. He immediately thought of me, knew I would be a good fit and passed my name on. He was already past the gate as he knew this client and had a level of trust there so that when he did refer me all I had to do was get in touch, agree a rate and bingo, sale made!
A short time after this I met Jacky Sherman from Asentiv who specialise in techniques to help entrepreneurs build up contacts that generate business together by primarily using referrals. By encouraging collaborative working between small businesses so they become something bigger than just being by themselves.
Because it’s not just your network that’s important because by learning the Asentiv techniques I have come to recognise that it’s not just my network that’s important but I can also utilise their networks as well as them using mine. By working together like this we can encourage and inspire each other, share ideas and generate not good or great but amazing business.
It was interesting in the General Election to see the slogans of both major parties. The Conservatives were promoting Theresa May as an individual, in fact you could hardly see the name of the party on the adverts or the campaign bus. Labour had a much more collaborative message and hardly mentioned the leaders name at all. Politics aside, pinning all your hopes on an individual may not work out quite so well as you hope, whereas working together can bring up some surprising successes.
And just be careful if you decide to go walking in the Welsh hills!