The Pursuit of Skippiness

What does it take to build a company where staff skip to work, where customers quietly appoint themselves as guerrilla evangelists, and where owners are supportive and happy? A place where, in their quiet moments, customers, staff, and owners admit they're glad they got involved.

I'm curious about the magic source that creates great companies, about the make-up and leadership of teams who really know how to get things done, about preparation and follow-through, about the human condition and how the world works, about the conditions for and the determinants of success and failure.

I'm convinced the answer involves clarity and cohesion. This means building a clear vision of what we're trying to do around here, and a team with a shared approach actively tying to achieve goals they care about.

But even with a strategic framework and motivated team in place the pursuit of skippiness means more. It's about how leaders manage the conflicting demands of clarity and flexibility. How can we be clear but not limiting and flexible without flopping about in the breeze?

Shorthand, I'm exploring the how of skippiness and there are no direct routes. I'm looking for patterns and ways of understanding, finding routes around obstacles, spotting short-cuts and avoiding dead-ends.

This blog is about the pursuit of skippiness. I'm thinking out loud, trying to make sense of the things I see.

I hope you'll subscribe to email updates.

Nick Shepheard

I'm on a life long mission to understand the business of business and I've never met a concept or whiteboard I didn't want to introduce to each other.

I've recently finished three years as Chairman and Chief Executive of an AIM listed company, under the London Stock Exchange. I cut my management teeth with information giants Dun & Bradstreet and Reed Elsevier before starting my second life as an outsider where I've consulted and interimed in technology companies, run the world's oldest newspaper, and set up a market development company. Along the way I've built teams, started and shut down divisions and businesses, and bought and sold companies.

Whatever I've been up to, as an insider or outsider, I've always been an organisation geek. I don't mean corporate stooge, I mean I'm fascinated by how things happen, change, and get done inside the walls of organisations. I'm not interested in steady-state, administering, incremental. I want to know how teams set and achieve objectives. What leadership means. What levers move which parts? What makes a company break through? What is an organisation anyway?

Most importantly, I'm curious about how great products, great teams and great companies are built.

You can get me at:

I'll reply with a skip.

Out of the office I still think of myself as a triathlete, although I run more than swim and bike these days. My best Ironman was my first, in France; most beautiful and fastest (9:53), Karnten, Austria; toughest (12:23), Lanzarote; and I had varying degrees of misery/ecstasy in Switzerland, Florida and Arizona. Ironman: months of training followed by a single day in the sun; each race a ritual of humility, determination, patience and just showing up.

I live in Brighton, on the south coast of England.

Why the name shearing layers?

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