Does your organisation suffer from Komodo Dragon Syndrome?

Does your organisation suffer from Komodo Dragon Syndrome?

“Dragons are creatures of legend, but in a world as fantastic as Indonesia, myths become reality. On a small, 22 mile long island among the thousands of Indonesian isles lives the planet’s only living dragon -the Komodo (Varanus komodoensis)”

Extract from Wild Indonesia

In 1910, in eastern Indonesia on the island of Flores a Dutch colonial administrator, Lieutenant J.K.T. van Steyn van Hensbroek received word of a “land crocodile” living on the nearby island of Komodo. Intrigued, he decided to visit Komodo to investigate. He returned with a photo and a skin. The reptile was not a crocodile, but a large monitor lizard. In 1912, it was recognised as new to science and the first formal description of the lizard was published. It became known as the Komodo Dragon, the world’s largest living lizard.

So, what is Komodo Dragon Syndrome?

Komodo dragons are endemic to eastern Indonesia. They are found only on the northern coast of Flores and on three nearby islands including the island of Komodo. The Komodo Dragon can grow to over 3 metres in length and weigh up to 130 kgs. They are territorial, can run at up to 20 kph, are carnivores and have very sensitive forked tongues that sense prey and food, such as rotting flesh kilometres away. With a powerful tail, large claws and serrated teeth they have a fearsome reputation. Their bite is toxic due to the bacteria in their salvia and glands in their mouth produce a venom that prevents blood clotting and leads to unconsciousness.  Known to occasionally eat humans, they predominantly eat deer and pigs, which they ambush and bite, and wait then for them to succumb to their toxic bite.

No, it’s not about a fierce venomous predatory reptile.

The Dutch had been in Indonesia as a colonial power since the early 17th Century with the establishment of the Dutch East India (VOC) Company in 1602. The VOC was one of the world’s first multi-national companies. By 1800 however, due to mismanagement, corruption and fierce competition from the English East India Company, the VOC was bankrupt and was nationalised by the Dutch state.

The Dutch had been in Indonesia for over 300 years and had not found the Komodo Dragon, the world’s largest and most dangerous lizard. Even Lt van Steyn van Hensbroek, the ‘discoverer’ of the Komodo Dragon who was living on the island of Flores where it also lived, went to the island of Komodo to find it.

This defies explanation.

How could such an animal remain ‘undiscovered’ for so long?

This is what I call Komodo Dragon Syndrome, where the management can be so inward looking that something so obvious can be missed.

Perhaps the Dutch colonial administrators were ostrich managers or were so blinded by their colonial superiority and preconceived ideas that they failed to see what was virtually right under their noses.

The message is, to avoid suffering from Komodo Dragon Syndrome, we as managers need to ask questions, be inquisitive and manage by walking around.

Are you being complacent?

Too comfortable in your position, inward looking and missing the obvious?

Perhaps you have Komodo Dragon Syndrome.


New Year’s Resolutions for you and our business…..

New Year’s Resolutions for you and our business…..

“We adopted a strategy that required our being smart and not too smart at that, only a very few times. Indeed, we now settle for one good idea a year”

Warren Buffett – business magnate, investor, and philanthropist.

It’s the new year and the festive season is over.

The start of the calendar year is a time for reflection, recharging your batteries and planing for the year ahead.

Was last year a challenging year for you?

Did you achieve your professional or business goals?

If not, why not?

Many of us make long lists of New Year’s resolutions that are unfortunately never fulfilled. Maybe we had too many resolutions, or they were too difficult or we were just plain lazy. One study found that less than 10% of New Year’s resolutions are never completed or considered successful.

However, as business owners or managers we are obliged do better and are expected to do better!

For example, as a manager or business owner, you will probably have a couple of new year’s resolutions about being more productive, expanding or improving your business.

Are they the right goals?

Will they make a REAL difference and become habits and a mindset so that you succeed now, and not just for the next 365 days?

As Warren Buffet suggests in the quote above, making a few significant right decisions will make a real difference. With New Year’s resolutions, set the right resolutions, limit the number and keep them simple – the KISS principle: keep it simple stupid. Using this principle, they are more likely to be effective and result in changing your habits.

Here are three resolutions you could consider for next year with three aims of being positive and habit forming, changing your mindset and having a positive impact on you, your business and your team.

Resolution 1: Ask More Questions

How often do you meet people and find they rarely ask questions?

Asking questions is not a sign of weakness. Questions are a tool to drastically improve your knowledge, resources, and even your network. Put your ego aside and ask questions. You will be surprised at what you will learn. I recently attended a training course and met some new professional consultants. By asking questions I found some surprising links with people we knew and experiences they had that could be useful in the future.

Asking questions is one of the most valuable skills a manager can have, whether it’s asking for advice, asking for feedback, or simply asking for help. It also demonstrates empathy and builds understanding. Great leaders do not have all the answers, however they usually ask the right questions.

Resolution 2: Work On My Business, Not Just In It

Most businesses start with a technician wanting to work for themselves because they have technical skills. However, as the business grows there is a tendency to work on the activities you know and enjoy doing, that is working in the business not on the business.

To build a successful team or business, you need to learn how to create an entity that can exist without you. Leading rather than doing. Simply working harder, or working longer hours is unlikely to improve your business as significantly as required or desired. Whilst you may know your business better than anyone else, or are the most efficient person in the business, the time you spend doing jobs that other people could be doing is time not spent running and improving your business.

I learnt this the hard way in my former logistics business. I was spending too much time calculating the productivity of the different sections of the business by employee and customer – working in the business. It dawned on me that someone else could prepare the productivity reports for me. With the completed reports, I could then concentrate on the areas that needed action plus of course highlight and praise good performance – working on the business.

So, force yourself to look at your organisation objectively and determine what needs to occur so you can achieve your goals.

Resolution 3: Do more Networking

Networking is one of the most valuable tools you can have in your manager’s tool box. Knowing the right person provides opportunities to grow your business, from new markets or products to finding yourself a mentor.  Those managers or business owners who surround themselves with a diverse, dynamic, long standing and large network increase their likelihood of success.

I was able to successfully find a prospective buyer for our logistics business through a networking contact that went back over 25 years. However, networking needs to be approached with the mindset of maintaining a relationship and helping others. You are likely to have contacts, skills and experience that can assist others and in turn, they are more likely to help you. Remember, people do not like being used.

You are far more likely to develop relationships when you are not selling or asking for something. Networks are support systems. You are more likely to gain assistance through your network when you require assistance.

So, force yourself to make phone calls, catch up for coffee or join an organisation, whether professional or a service club. You will be surprised how rewarding it will be.

It’s not long to the New Year…………

Have you started thinking about your New Year’s resolutions?

Will these New Year’s resolutions meet the KISS principle?

Will they be habit forming, change your mindset and have a positive impact on your team or business?

………….and finally good planning and action for the coming year.



“Having my priorities in order has really helped me look better, fresher and more relaxed”
Kim Cattrall

Maybe a quote from a TV star (Sex and the City) is not what you would expect to head a blog about priorities in work and business. However, it does highlight the fact that if you have your priorities in order, you can achieve great things and not be side-tracked by unimportant issues.

Let me give you an example. A friend of my daughters popped in recently for a quick catch up. I asked casually how things were going in first 12 months of her job. She started to complain that the new managing director (and this was a multinational company) had decreed that only white coffee cups were to be used and she wanted to use her Lord of the Rings coffee cup. Other people were complaining as well.

These types of decrees are not uncommon as shown by the linked article about the former managing director of BHP Billiton, the world’s largest mining company. He put out an edict about desk ‘etiquette’ that bordered on the neurotic, at a time when the company had both great opportunities and of course many problems. He subsequently left the company with very little to show for his tenure at the helm, in particular the missed opportunities.

Micro management is normally a red light that may indicate that management does not know how to prioritise; treats staff as unimportant, and is not up to the “real” job. I once worked for a manager who was obsessed with orderliness, where all prospective customers were placed in labelled manila folders and filed (and that’s where they stayed!) whilst he complained that I should not keep active files on the floor near my desk as it made my office untidy. Perhaps it did make my office untidy, it certainly did not stop my success in achieving sales. I can remember another good example from years ago. I was studying whilst working full time and thought it would be a good idea to give my then manager a draft of one of my one of my assignments (which was about the industry we work working in). He proceeded to mark the spelling and grammar (this was before Spellcheck)

…………..little wonder he was dismissed some years later.

So what would be your advice to my daughter’s friend?

Be defiant and show independence and continue to use her Lord of the Rings cup?

It’s all about priorities.

Is it important?

………possibly demotivating, irritating and annoying ‘yes’ but important ‘no’?

We asked her:

“Is this important to you doing your job to the best of your ability?”


“Then it’s not a high priority is it?”

As the link to blog below, the expression “when a dog is in the hunt, it has no time to search for fleas” has relevance.

Remember it is up to you get your priorities right………………..

If you do, life and work is far less complicated and you are more likely to be much happier and more successful.

Leadership v Management

Leadership v Management

“Management is doing things right; leadership is doing the right things.”

Peter Drucker

Management is the act of exerting influence on individuals, therefore wielding control over a business or organisation. Good management achieves this in such a way that a positive outcome is achieved. Bad management is the opposite!

Competent managers organise, summarise, administer and communicate with other people, departments and organisations. However, management is not a substitute for leadership. People cannot be managed into responsibility or competence, however they can be lead there. A competent leader may also be a good manager, but a good manager may lack the inspirational or creative traits to be a ‘real leader’.

Leadership is ‘the ability to influence the opinions, attitudes and behaviour of others’. Note the difference between control (management) and influence (leadership). An effective manager normally displays leadership qualities. Think of Winston Churchill as the Prime Minister of Great Britain during World War II. He worked in the War Rooms beneath Whitehall with the War Cabinet (management-control) whilst the bombs rained down on London. He also provided inspiration and leadership (leadership – influence) to the British people through his speeches and walking and talking to Londoners during the ‘Blitz providing hope and vision for overcoming the Nazi threat. He was both an effective manager and leader.

Here are some of the characteristics of managers and leaders :



Rely on control of the situation Inspire trust in their followers
Have a short range view Have long range perspectives
Generally accept the status quo Usually challenge the status quo
Administers and maintains the organisation Motivate and develop the organisation

Having compared the two, most managers develop leadership qualities over time, given circumstances, training, support and ability.

There are 6 main characteristics of being an effective leader:

  1. Having – clear sense of direction (vision and goal setting)
  2. Communicating – the vision to others
  3. Being – innovative and searching for opportunities (taking risks)
  4. Empowering – by building and encouraging strong teams
  5. Leading – by example, having clear views and being consistent (moral authority)
  6. Knowing – your own and followers strength and weaknesses

As leaders, whether at the local sports club, charity, department, organisation or business we need to develop our leadership skills and understand the main characteristics of being an effective leader?

How can you become a more effective as a leader?