As a lover of long distance rail travel, one journey on my list to take is the Trans-Siberian express. I know of a traveller who did this journey taking the Trans-Siberian from Beijing on a Saturday night at 22.55 and arriving into Moscow at 18.30 the following Friday. He recounted that it was, to the minute, on time.

It was an epic journey slowly watching the east turn into the west, and the sunrises and the long sunsets, the vastness of the wealth dividing Russia was quite unbelievable, from seeing farmers loading donkeys up with fuel wood on the Mongolian border to seeing Ferraris triple parked in Moscow.

“Good is the enemy of great” says Jim Collins. Here in the UK we do OK, we get by and we will make a go of Brexit etc. But if we are honest, our trains are not reliable (Southern Railway!); we improve performance statistics by changing targets and assumptions and think that is progress; and we kick difficult questions into the long grass eg social care.

All too often we make do and mend. If we are self-critical, are we about creating wealth that buys Ferraris or are we still farming in the middle ages?

Where is our passion? Where are the people who will put their head above the parapet and say “Good is not good enough, we are going for greatness”? My hunch is that they are all around us but often not yet in senior positions to make the real difference they could. My fear is that by the time they are promoted, their passion and creativity might be diminished!

Those of us who are baby boomer business leaders need to harness the talent and ideas of the millennials, X and Y generations. But to do this requires humility and trust on the part of the current senior leaders. I found this saying by Edmund Burke very perceptive “The arrogance of age must submit to be taught by youth.”

Jim Collins again “The good-to-great leaders never wanted to become larger-than-life heroes. They never aspired to be put on a pedestal or become unreachable icons. They were seemingly ordinary people quietly producing extraordinary results.”

This is where a new mind-set comes in. We need the belief that as ordinary people we can produce extraordinary results – but our ‘production’ may be about getting the right people, the brightest young talent in the right places to achieve greatness. We rarely achieve greatness as individuals. We can then create functioning diverse teams – even one that gets the Trans-Siberian express to make its 6 day journey and arrive dead on time.

So, this New Year, rather than a resolution why not look at 2017 with a fresh mind-set? Use it to run your train set, whatever that is, with the greatness of the Trans-Siberian trains – not the oft mediocrity of our own railways.

If you want some help with this to make a real difference to your business as we begin 2017 just get in touch with us now – so the view from your business could be a Ferrari, or equivalent, not a donkey (as much as I love and respect the latter!).

Have a great New Year not just a good one.


Good to Great – Why some companies make the leap and others don’t” by Jim Collins. Random House. 2001

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