A visit to Sheffield: City of Steel

October 4, 2016



This week I visited Sheffield, a city that is busy re-inventing itself. As ever, it had some surprises for me. Starting with the brightly coloured elephants outside the rail station

Sheffield lies about forty miles to the east of where I live. Using public transport, it takes me roughly two hours to reach my destination, an indication of the pressure for a Northern transport system fit for the Northern Powerhouse.

The visit might never had happened. I filled in the date of the meeting on the page in my planner (old fashioned kind) as 3rd November not 3rd October. A blunder. Later in the day, I had a little guilty pleasure when I received a note from someone using a new-fangled electronic diary which had managed to invite participants for an event on 11th November which actually should have been for 11th October. Make what you will of that.

Sheffield, city of steel. Also of two fine Universities I am always pleased to visit. Today I was at a brand new-building on the Sheffield Hallam site. New enough for the DBA students to be sheep-dogged into the high-technology meeting room. I adjust to plasma screens on the walls, and the absence of flipcharts. Another fine old piece of communication hardware being consigned to the museum of pre-modern technology.

We discuss the foundations of leadership and management (not my title, and perhaps a little ambitious for a morning of contact time). Decide to start from the student’s interests, connecting them with my favourite foundation texts on leadership and creativity, (not exclusively my own), and management, (exclusively not my own).

Time left to explore the leadership lessons emerging from two current ‘living cases’, The EU Referendum in the UK, and the Presidential Campaign in the USA. What sense might be made of a system which results in two candidates each deeply unpopular not just with the general electorate, but within their own parties? Forget to mention the various posts here in LWD.

Declined what is always a pleasant lunch (get well soon, Murray, your contributions in session and as lunch host were missed). Instead, I tried the fare at the railway station, just past the last of those coloured elephants.

“Any onions in that toastie?” I asked

“Don’t know, love I don’t make them, I only sell them.” The motherly server replied.

On the train home I sat opposite a student studying a course manual on individual and organizational creativity. Discovered he had been learning the same sorts of things which we had been discussing, but on anuther course, elsewhere in the University.

Synchronicity or coincidence? Discuss.

Confusing the elephants

For reasons unknown, my images of elephants came out upside-down. Readers accept apologies if my favourite green one remains inverted while rescue work continues.

Catch-up Part Two: The campaign to become Prime Minister

August 3, 2016

David Cameron ListeningIn Part One I looked at the developing stories from June 23rd 2016, the date of the European Referendum in the UK. To deal with the next part of the story, I have to go back to February, to the start of the months of national campaigning. 

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The EU Referendum: Fate knocks on the door

June 23, 2016

June 23rd 2016. After a fractious period of debate, the voters of Great Britain head for the ballot boxes. Some for various reasons have already recorded a postal vote

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Billionaire donates millions to Brexit, but may lose them more from the undecided vote

May 17, 2016


Billionaire Peter Hargreaves is the leading donator to the Out of Europe , or Brexit campaign. But other supporters worry that his enthusiasm for creative destruction may cost them the election

I have tried to remain an impartial observer of events in the build-up to the EU referendum.  This week [May 9-15] it has been easy, as David Cameron for the In group, and Boris Johnson for Brexit have been equally strident and over-the-top in their main offerings.

Shooting Self in Foot Award

But my candidate for a shooting-self-in-foot award is Peter Hargreaves

Much admired for his entrepreneurial spirit, Mr Hargreaves was a student at Clithero Grammar School, an education which equipped him in life to find success from a financial start-up ‘in the spare bedroom of his Bristol flat’ in the early 1980s.

More recently he has backed the Brexit campaign through his substantial financial resources and high voyage energy which helped him accumulate his Moola.

Not a vote-winning message?

But his message, while likely to bring a resounding round of applause at an Institute of Directors meeting, may not swing as many votes as he is hoping for.

Voting for uncertainty and creative destruction may be counter-productive among a sizable proportion of older voters believed to be sympathetic for a Brexit . It could produce the well-known Marmite effect.

Mr Hargreaves could consider staying stum, but sponsoring Uber to ferry voters to the polling stations.

Oops. Have I suggested a better use of his millions?