Transformation: why you should start phasing out that word

“The problem with transformational change is that it implies ordinary change has no change in it whatsoever”. So quipped the comedienne Sandy Toksvig on this subject.

If comedians are using one of your key business terms for their material, isn’t it time to reflect?

The problem is that the word transformation is now so deeply ingrained in the grammar of business language that’s it’s scarcely conceivable to imagine its absence.

If you type the word transformation into the search box of LinkedIn the result is shocking. The word is attached to everything from job titles to programmes. It’s ubiquitous.

But why shouldn’t it be? Why shouldn’t job titles include that word? What’s wrong with a bit of tautology if it encourages improvement? Does the use of language really matter?

It’s easy for comedians to joke and business writers to pontificate but it’s people like you who have to “deliver, execute, and step up”. And if you don’t, you’re in trouble. So for you, on a daily basis, this is no joking matter.

That’s why I invite you merely to consider phasing out the word, not dump it. Because it won’t be easy.

But you should consider doing so because it will make your life so much easier in the longer term and it will improve your business faster. I say this for three reasons:

First, there’s the slightly embarrassing reason  that the use of the word is, literally, ridiculous. And why would you want to be associated with anything even remotely ridiculous?

I mean how many transformations have you actually witnessed, heard about or “delivered”?  Few, I suspect, because transformation means changing one thing into another. It’s about alteration or conversion. These are lesser spotted.

I recall a brand of  toy our kids played with called Transformers. These looked like innocent toy cars but then, with a twist here and a yank there, they could be transformed into scary monsters. They were what it said on the box: transformers.

But few transformation programmes are sufficiently well funded, supported or thought through to be worthy of the name.

What they really mean is change. And change,  I’m afraid, is part of BAU. Calling it transformation helps no one.

Ryanair is an example of transformation. Michael O’Leary and his team contributed to the transformation of the airline market. Time was that flying was for a certain class of person and cost a small fortune.

Mr O’Leary, and other similar airlines, decided that this could be transformed and they did. But Mr O’Leary was called a CEO, not a transformation director.

Some  IT transformation programmes are genuine transformation programmes but most are change management programmes where the greatest roadblock is the behaviour of users. Believe me, behavioural transformation is as rare as hens’ teeth.

Between 1995 and 2000 I worked at ITN the UK news provider. I witnessed and was a minor player in the conversion of the newsroom from analogue to digital. That was a transformation programme.

While at ITN my job was to manage and exploit its moving picture assets which were significantly large and grew daily.

It took me five years to lead change in the behaviour of how moving pictures were used on the news bulletins and how their secondary rights were exploited. While I feel proud that I facilitated significant business and behavioural change, I transformed nothing.

So why use a word that will set you and the people you lead up to fail? The reason is that most people in business are terrified of behaving normally and feel that they must use abnormal and grandiose language.

And it’s certainly not normal to say you will transform something when you know you can’t.

You wouldn’t say at home that you have transformed the family culture by persuading everyone to sit around the table for dinner and chat instead of watching the telly. You might feel like you had done so but you know that if you do, you’re  just doing your job.

The second reason is that the word undermines trust in any change process. And without trust there is no change. If people don’t believe that change is possible and desirable they won’t buy-in. So why undermine your own change process?

The third reason is that it reminds me of Original Sin. If you are a Catholic or come from that culture you will know what I mean. If you don’t suffice it to say that the word transformation carries with it an implicit dollop of shame about how things are now.

If we need to transform then we must not just be bad, we must be terribly bad. And some business leaders are pass masters at creating feelings of shame.

The problem is that many so called transformation programmes fail because of implied shame because people don’t like to be shamed and are not motivated by it.

And if you’re trying to change something but call it transformation you might fail because of shame. And that would be a shame.

Purpose: why you should use that word carefully and sparingly

If you are reviewing your career and or organisational purpose you may find it a useful exercise to reflect on the meaning of the word purpose, it’s use and frequent abuse.

The word purpose is a noun meaning, according to The Oxford English Dictionary,  “the reason for which something is done or created or for which something exits”. The example given is: “the purpose of the meeting is to appoint a trustee”.

So far so straight forward. But the purpose (sic) of management-speak, with which we are bombarded daily, is to render meaningful words as emotionless as possible.

Emotion, which is the expression of feelings, is the mortal enemy of management speak because feelings make us question orthodoxy. And mainstream management orthodoxy doesn’t always brook questioning.

So, the word purpose which was going about its business contributing beautifully to our sentences down through the ages was recently hijacked by management speak and converted into a proper noun as in “purpose-led, purpose-driven and purpose based”.

What’s wrong with those terms you may reasonably ask? Isn’t the intended meaning clear? Is it not pedantry to challenge a well intentioned use of a word, albeit ungrammatical?

Well it does matter not only because grammar matters but because the use of the term “purpose-driven” may assume that we share the presumed definition of their purpose. And we may not.

There are of course many organisations whose purpose is to promote better behaviour in business and who use the word as a shorthand for a higher purpose. This works provided everyone has a shared understanding of what that higher purpose might be.

Your business purpose may be to maximise shareholder value. Another might see that merely as a collateral benefit of providing excellent products and services. A third might view their purpose as neither of the above but to be the best in the world at what they do. And so on.

The point is you can’t be told what your purpose is. It’s yours. You can be led or driven by your purpose but not by purpose itself.

The precise use of the word matters for a second reason: it’s imprecise use can contribute to conflict in the boardroom because conflict is reduced when board members have a shared purpose. A purpose can’t be shared fully if there are preconceived ideas as to its meaning.

The third reason you should use this word with care and sparingly is because it has a direct impact on strategy, another mightily abused word.

If purpose means why you do what you do, then strategy means how you achieve that purpose. It doesn’t mean anything else. As the OED helpfully points out, strategy serves purpose.

So if there is confusion about your business purpose then your strategy will be flawed. If some of your directors feel that purpose is a proper noun with an inherent meaning and others don’t well the board is going to be at, er, cross-purposes.

This happens more frequently than you might think. I’m often taken aback in my work  at how often boards, particularly operating boards, do not have a clearly articulated purpose and a strategy which serves it other than to make money which is neither a purpose nor a strategy but a result of both in combination.

If you treat the word purpose almost as a sacred term you will derive more benefit from it for yourself and for the people you lead and for the organisation for which you work.

Jim Collins in his bestselling book Good to Great set out a framework for what he called your business BHAG: a big hairy audacious goal. I call it purpose.

His framework requires your board to answer three questions: what can we become the best in the world at? what can we become passionate about? and how will we drive profitability?

I think his is an elegant framework for figuring out your purpose whether personal or organisational and I commend it to you provided you use the widest definition of profitability which can be intangible as well as tangible.

So, there is nothing wrong with board members wanting to be purpose-driven or led provided they all share the same meaning of the word. The problems occur when the don’t.

But communication in boardrooms is frequently constrained by interpersonal politics. This often results in confusion. The word purpose is a special word and should be used carefully and sparingly. Purpose matters.

Taking stock of your career: an alternative approach

You, like many who lead busy lives, probably take stock of your career at holiday time. Or, like others, you may do so more frequently and more formally using a variety of career management tools, books and even leadership consultants like me.

I offer the following approach as an alternative to these and, in some cases, complementary to them:

First, decide on your life’s purpose. That’s a tall order. And it’s completely different from “objective setting”. It can’t be done in five minutes but it can be done. And unless you carry out this step properly your career review will be flawed.

You don’t have to decide on a life purpose forever, just for now. You can change it later if you like. What’s important is that you have one.

But how do you go about it, properly? What more can there be to it than setting clear medium term financial, physical, psychological and any other goals you feel are appropriate?

There’s nothing wrong with this list of goals. Indeed if we all attended to this list in a robust way we might all lead happier and more fulfilling lives.

But I propose a different starting point because it delivers better results: what can and should you be?

Abraham Maslow, creator of the Hierarchy of Needs, invited us to “be what we can be”. His invocation should be part of your answer.

But I propose an additional nuance to his challenge: what should you be?

If this smacks of paternalism it’s unintended. By “should” I merely mean “ought” as in “what should you do to make the best of what you can be”. Maslow + , if you like.

So what can you be? Well that depends on what you’re offering to “the market”. For the avoidance of confusion my analysis excludes those who are not engaged with the market in any way.

In other words, what are you offering the market as an employee, consultant or pro bono volunteer or NXD in return for cash and/or intangible benefits? What could you offer? What should you offer?

You could offer more of the same, less or raise your game and offer more. But what could you offer at a maximum and what should you offer as a minimum?

The answer to what you could offer is a function of the difference between your best behaviour and worst. I use the word behaviour in the widest possible sense. It includes what you can do as well as how you do it in relation to others.

The answer to what you should offer is the difference between what you need from your work in financial and intangible terms and the cost to you in those terms.

So let’s apply this analysis to you as if you were a typical client: a senior leader in a business or organisation, although my analysis applies to all levels.

You have a reputation, a set of skills and experience as well as a level of emotional intelligence. Together these constitute your perceived value in the market.

As part of this perceived value you are known to be excellent at doing X , and have domain knowledge of Y. But what about your potential, Z? What do you or the market know about that?

In addition you have a known outstanding behavioural weakness at work A, and other career contextual weaknesses B and C comparative to others. The latter might include – though they shouldn’t and are illegal – age, race or gender. The extent to which these issues are abused is truly shocking.

Perfectly legal comparative weaknesses might include education, years of service, or a narrow range of experience. Whatever your weaknesses, your task is to manage them not ignore them.

The two most important components of this model are A and Z. Your outstanding behavioural weakness at work, as agreed by others, masks your deeper potential.

You have skills, competence and passions which no one has seen but which only you can reveal. Furthermore no one else owns your potential. That’s an awesome competitive advantage. And one which we rarely exploit fully.

If you can confront your outstanding behavioural weakness and commit to making small changes in it then you will soon find your hidden potential. It’s your hidden potential that is most valuable to the market. It is this you should focus on in your career review.

Once you have confronted your “A and Z” then you can figure out what you need from your work and at what cost.

For example, if you need high levels of autonomy, complex problems to solve and plenty of people around you but are not willing to “work all the hours” then you have to find a context that will deliver that outcome.

In rough terms I believe that if you can say 75% of the time “I love my job” – then that’s as good as it gets, except for those who make a living from their hobby.

If your self score is today less than 75% then the cost of what you are getting isn’t worth it. Often scores of less than 75% are reported to be related to a person or persons who are “making my life a misery” and “not to do with the job per se”.

This doesn’t stack. Managing relationships is what work is about. Either you find a new way of managing these or you should leave.

Either way you deserve your 75% and it’s there for the taking. The catch is that you must be willing to make the small changes necessary to achieve your true potential. Anything less is selling yourself cheap.

Zen and the Art of Being Alyssa Mastromonaco

I know it’s August, a time for light and fluffy business stories but this, I assure you, is not one of them. I’m deadly serious. Leadership development has to soldier on, even on the beach. It stops neither for sangria nor sun cream.

I have a crow to pluck with the Observer newspaper about its recent review of Who Thought This Was a Good Idea?, a new book by Alyssa Mastromonaco, who worked closely with Barak Obama for many years.

I have a very high regard for Mr Obama and, by extension, anyone he rates. My children roll their eyes at my Obama-isms: “yes you can”, I would say to them before school. And they would roll their eyes.

My children roll their eyes at my stories all the time. Like the story about the time I met Nelson Mandela – I did, in Cape Town in 1994. Unimpressed – or is it because of the frequency of my telling that story? I dunno – they roll their eyes.

Or my story about the time I performed the Heimlich Manoeuvre – I did, on a train at Victoria Station in London about ten years ago. At that one, they roll their eyes and at the same time they make gagging gestures.

Perhaps my children feel that my stories are thinly disguised virtue signaling. They’re so wrong. I’m merely trying to use stories to help others. But, as the Bard said, “sharper than a serpent’s tooth is the ingratitude of a child”.

Anyway, enough about me, and back to Alyssa Mastromonaco. Gawd I love her name. Don’t you? Why don’t I have a name like that? Ciarán Fenton doesn’t quite roll off the tongue like Aly-yssa-Mastro-mon-aco. I could roll that name around my mouth all day.

All that was by way of a circuitous introduction to address the critique the Observer reviewer gave Alyssa’s book with the damning summary: “It all gets a bit ‘Dear Diary’, giving the book a dated “Bridget Jones in the Oval Office” feel”.

That’s a bit harsh. T’is true that the book is heavy on personal anecdote, light on deep Obama insights. Yes, there are several pages of fine detail on how she managed to get the first Tampon dispenser into The White House, which left me blushing on my own, but that’s a statement about me, not she.

To be fair, she makes very clear, from the outset, why she wrote the book and what the book is about: it’s not only about the truism that “hard work and a good attitude” gets you far it’s also about how to do it, which she demonstrates through anecdote. And there are lots of good Obama stories.

And yes some of the anecdotes are a bit pedestrian, but work is sometimes a bit pedestrian, even in The White House.

I’m enjoying reading this book and recommend it, not only to those starting off their careers but to everyone interested in how to work under extreme pressure.

It contains useful “in the moment” descriptions about reactions to crises. I particularly liked her riff on her anger at being referred to almost like a “travel agent” by the Press on one occasion. She describes her feelings and her actions and how others reacted to them including how POTUS told her off for sending a “snippy email” about the incident. How many of those have you or I received or sent?

But he didn’t just tell her off. He told her she needed to “realise the power of [her] words” and she learned from him that “developing self-awareness is a lifelong process”.  It sounds like President Obama was a good boss.

I hope my children don’t read this. They will roll their eyes and make gagging gestures. Then again, they haven’t yet started work. And it ain’t easy.

Why business plans should include director behaviour forecasts

It’s the holiday season, and operating board directors like everyone else are setting their Out of Office email modes to On. But while they may be demob happy, many are not happy at work at all. Not one bit.

Typically the cause of their ennui is the dominant poor behaviour of other directors, as they see it, towards them on their operating boards. It often keeps them awake at night. It makes some even weep. Over the years I’ve identified three broad categories.

First, there is bullying behaviour. It can be conscious or unconscious, but the effect is the same: other people suffer. And usually, that means the business suffers because the business is a collection of people.

Second, is passive aggression. This too can be conscious or unconscious but has the same impact as bullying does on people and the business.

The third is hubris. You can be neither a bully nor passive aggressive to exhibit hubristic behaviour. Exponents chief behavioural trait is that they appear to listen to you but not a word you are saying is getting through. They are often very nice people, and for whom the glass is always not just half full, but overflowing.

Very little upsets them. But, as one client put it, “they are capable of extreme levels of unconscious cruelty” towards others. The impact on the business can be disastrous.

While we are all capable of each and all of the behaviour listed, my focus is on the impact of those whose dominant response is just one of the above and is extreme.

So, even if only half of what I say is true regarding the impact on the business, why don’t operating boards try to predict director behaviour in their business plans? Surely it would make commercial sense to do so?

The answer is partly that the bullies, passive aggressors and hubristics (sic) sign off the business plans and partly because there is no business planning language to cover off this nebulous issue.

I propose that the solution to the second part of this problem is to have a section under the SWOT heading in the business plan that addresses poor conduct i.e. poor director behaviour over time is a top risk.

This solution may help to solve the first part of the problem because any Threat in the SWOT section of a business plan is a risk and there is precedent for including mitigation of risks in business plans as a matter of good practice.

So is this not an opportunity for business planners to put in place, at the outset, processes and governance structures that at least reduce the impact of the risky behaviour?

And of course, business planners can avoid the thorny issue of naming the behaviour in the business plan. All they have to do is to name the potential risk attached to it.

For example, one risk is the failure by any director to call out their concerns on any issue at operating board meetings which could lead to significant risks to the business.

Therefore the business plan should include processes to mitigate that conduct risk. I propose the appointment by rotation at each operating board meeting of a Devil’s Advocate whose sole purpose at that meeting, and with the full permission of the other directors, is to spot and call out conduct risk by drawing attention to behaviour at that meeting which could give rise to such a risk.

Now that step would require courage – a behaviour which is the greatest mitigator of all risk events in business. And courage thrives where directors “have each other’s backs”.

So, as you set your email to OOO for your summer break can you honestly say that your colleagues have your back or, indeed, you have theirs? What can you do to improve that mutual support when you return? What might stop you?

Perhaps you might feel better if you gave these questions some thought on the beach. At worst you might be able to make small changes that could make a big difference.

Happy holidays. Happy returns.

Some in-house counsel teams are missing an opportunity around ethics

“Most lawyers take ethics, speaking up and doing the right thing very seriously…and you won’t make many friends if you suggest otherwise” was the response I received from one GC when I mentioned I was writing a piece suggesting that they should do more.

So, let me be clear from the start: I’m not saying they don’t; I am saying that many lawyers appear, for good reasons, to care much more about, and have more energy for, risk management than ethics management. The key word here is “more”.

At least that’s my impression after working with in-house teams over many years. I’m also aware that most organisations have Compliance functions and some even have Integrity or Ethics functions and work on ethics tends to sit there. I know also that the subject of ethics is entwined with company values and culture.

But my point is that there is a very good reason why in-house counsel spend more time on risk management and that is because it’s measured, to some extent at least.  And people tend to deliver only what’s measured.

One definition of ethics is “…a set of moral principles that govern a person’s behaviour or the conducting of an activity.” One can see why, therefore, that broad work on ethics isn’t easily measured, so broad work on ethics is, understandably, not a priority.

Moreover, in-house teams are under enough pressure doing “more for less” without inviting yet more work. The over-worked GC can also rightly point out that ethics are the responsibility of everyone in “the business”, not just lawyers. I wholly agree with this point and therefore feel that no function should have ethics with a capital E in its title.

Yet we know that poor conduct creates legal risk. Conduct is defined as observed behaviour over time. Poor conduct is poor or unethical behaviour observed over time. So why are ethics management not, typically, front and centre as a part of Legal’s strategy, to the extent that risk management is?

The answer is that there is neither a financial nor an emotional incentive for doing so. But why isn’t there? The recent high profile corporate “risk events” which involved seriously unethical behaviour by senior executives in organisations were, surely, in part  a failure to anticipate and avoid the conduct which led to that wrongdoing.

With hindsight, would not the CEOs of those companies have approved a much greater Legal spend on reducing conduct risk if they had been forced to confront the high probability of those events occurring in advance?

One CEO said to me many years ago – “All I want from Legal is that they anticipate risk”. “Is that all?”, I thought. And what crystal ball were they going to provide in-house to do this? And is not risk anticipation a joint endeavour? Is that not the reason that in-house exits?

The average Top and Emerging Risk Report produced by GCs doesn’t place “the conduct of our directors” as its No 1 risk. If it did there’s a strong chance the risk would be mitigated by remedial action in respect of that behaviour.

It’s not that conduct risk isn’t by now a familiar term, particularly in the financial services sector. But this is not by choice. The Regulator has regulated conduct heavily since the Global Financial Crash.

But it’s not working. Earlier this year The Banking Standards Board published its second annual review and in respect of which The Financial Times ran the headline: “Bankers battle with ethics versus career quandary”.

Based on a survey of 28,000 employees at banks and building societies “more than a third fear negative consequences of voicing concerns…one in eight had seen instances where unethical behaviour had been rewarded…[a large number saw] a conflict between their organisation’s values and how it did business”.

“Conduct” has been commoditised as a term, reduced to a box which needs to be ticked, just like board “effectiveness”. Unless and until “the business” honours the spirit as much as the letter of the law then nothing will change and it’s only a matter of time before we open our newspapers to the next avoidable corporate scandal.

If a company’s Risk Register is a list of top and emerging business, legal and reputation risks, which could affect outcomes, it follows that conduct by directors should go right to the top of that list because most risks are forged in the crucible of boardroom relationships.

The topmost risk is the risk of systemic weaknesses in board decision-making and governance due to the failure of each director to change their worst behaviour and exploit their best.

What if the Legal function, in addition to the regular “calling out” it currently does as part of “BAU”, addressed this matter head on and became an agent of conduct change and demonstrated a link between improved conduct and reduced legal risk? Would that not make the annual battle that is the GC’s lot, of making the business case for legal spend easier?

My proposal is that you, in your role as in-house counsel, can choose to change the status quo. The incentive to do so is threefold: your function will receive more money if you sell in the idea properly; the business will be better protected and, crucially, your job will be more fulfilling.

But I don’t believe that the nettle has yet been fully grasped regarding the relationship between the GC and the CEO. I have spoken and written about this many times, particularly in a pamphlet entitled The GC-CEO Relationship post Global Financial Crash: Flourish or Flounder?. I help GCs and CEOs to grapple with these issues in the first hundred days of a new role. So I am close to the arguments on both sides.

The core of my argument is that GCs often fail to confront CEOs with the truth that they cannot do ten things for seven dollars, if ten things actually cost ten dollars. Often they retreat to the “diving catch” mode drummed into them at law school which is that you get it done, no matter what. This behaviour must have a knock-on impact on the time available for ethics management.

I acknowledge that many lawyers disagree with me on this point and feel that the 10 for 7 argument is a red herring.  Indeed some feel it’s an affront to their professional code of doing what needs to be done. I respect this view but disagree with it.

I propose three actions:

First, the CEO should accept that they are, de facto and whether they like it or not, the chief ethics officer, all lower case.

Second the GC should help the CEO to publish a company wide ethics policy, heavy on the spirit of good behaviour and conduct, light on regulation and they should place director conduct at the top of the risk register.

Third, the GC and CEO should sign a Memorandum Of Understanding reflecting the reality of their relationship – and the reality that the GC role is a unique and tough one  to execute – and which promises “only to deliver seven things for seven dollars”.

The CEO must then take responsibility for the missing three things, especially if one of them is withholding budget for Legal to spend time on the important, but not urgent, matter of helping to create an ethical culture.

In practical terms, the GC and team – down to the most junior lawyer – is in a position to contribute ideas to creating an ethical framework on a daily basis because they see things others don’t.

Whilst contributing to the creation of an ethical culture is the responsibility of every function, in-house teams have a particular budgetary incentive to champion it because, by helping the company to avoid conduct risk in practical ways, they would have to work less hard to justify their budgets. For many, that would come as a blessed relief.

A version of this article will be published in the August 2017 edition of InsideOut, the online magazine of the Law Society’s In-house Division, their community for in-house lawyers.

What operating boards can learn from Game of Thrones

Last week, whilst home alone and idly channel hopping, I stumbled across the Top 20 Game of Thrones Moments as voted by “you the viewers”.

“I’m-not-a-Game-of-Thrones-viewer” I shouted slowly at the telly. This behaviour is an indication, I’m told, of early onset Victor Meldrew.

In truth, I have in fact watched bits of the series when battling to switch channels with my daughter, and losing those battles.

“Gratuitous sex and violence. Gratuitous-sex-and-violence”, I said – twice – when asked what I thought of it.

But somehow, that evening on my own, there seemed to be a difference between being forced to watch an episode and analysing a Top 20 countdown. Countdowns are different.

And Top 20s are special, no matter what the subject. I caught that bug from Radio Luxembourg at boarding school, ’72-’78. Never recovered. I’ll watch a Top 20 anything.

So, I decided that I would endure watching The Game of Thrones Top 20 Moments for the benefit of my customers, readers and, I suppose, as a kind of study in anthropology.

I stuck it out. Clip after clip of the most unimaginable violence and every manner of sexual intercourse known to man, woman or beast. These were inter cut with “comment and analysis” from a wide spectrum of GOT (is that the right acronym?) fans. Some of these were even adults.

The series apparently has made television history for one reason or another and that in itself must mean that it might contain “learnings” for CEOs and boards about “behaviours”. I’ll do my best:

First, bad people do bad things to good people and get their comeuppance, sooner or later. True, even in banking scandals.

Second, some people like watching other people suffer. It’s called “schadenfreude” whose emotional sibling in the boardroom is shaming.

Third, if you press your thumbs into someone’s eyes as hard as you possibly can you will make a mighty mess. Although there are directors on boards who dream of doing that to other directors there is no known record of it happening at a board meeting. That said, the emotional equivalent is a regular occurrence.

So, should boards use Game of Thrones at their next training day? No. The truth is there’s nothing in the series about behaviour that most board members don’t know already.

There’s lots of familiar M&A with the emphasis on the A. The series contains shed loads of hostile takeovers but without any bids. And there’s no shortage of SM scenes – what board of directors can honestly claim zero tolerance for emotional sado-masochism?

And my favourite moment? None. T’was all gratuitous-sex-and-violence. But perhaps, on reflection, there was one moment that could be termed redemptive. And that was when Hodor holds the door (hence his name, geddit?) to prevent a hoard of zombies killing his mate.

Reminds me of a story I heard years ago about a senior executive who deliberately took a “hit for the team” in his annual performance review so that the scores in the forced distribution bell curve system worked out ok overall.

Whilst I wouldn’t condone such behaviour, no matter how well intentioned, it nevertheless demonstrates that sheer madness isn’t restricted to television drama.

To be fair to Game of Thrones – it doesn’t pretend to be what it’s not; unlike some organisations which still use performance management systems that masquerade as mutton dressed as lamb.