Quotes and one-liners

On Managing Change and Transformation

  • You cannot force a caterpillar to change into a butterfly. If you create the right environment it will transform by itself

  • Often executives wonder why their caterpillar does not transform into a butterfly, .. just after they’ve cut a big piece of it

  • Changing into a butterfly is not enough. To fly you have to let go your cocoon.

  • The merger of two fat caterpillars never results in a butterfly

  • There is no need to transform from a caterpillar into a butterfly, if you are happy and can keep growing on your little leaf and…if you don’t want to procreate.

  • Trying to speed up the transformation of eggs into chickens, by turning up the heat, only results in boiled eggs

  • Unlearning is often more important for change than learning.. and much more difficult.

  • You can’t have a butterfly without letting the caterpillar die, unless you want to teach the caterpillar to fly.

  • Resistance is better than apathy: only dead fish float with the current

  • Don’t try to teach a caterpillar to fly! Create an environment where it transforms into a butterfly!

  • A starved caterpillar will not change into a butterfly

  • Managers very often think they still can get a caterpillar to change into a butterfly... after they just cut off a big piece.

  • Arguing increases resistance, because it is about winning. A dialogue decreases resistance, because it is about understanding.

  • Pulling at the cocoon will not make the metamorphosis go faster, it will only ruin your chance of ever getting a butterfly.

  • Transforming into a butterfly is not enough. To fly you have to let go of the cocoon.

  • Celebrate your failures and take enough time to learn from them

  • If you never failed, you did not try hard enough, did not take enough risks, did take a leap of faith, did not really learn

  • The need for a turnaround is the result of a missed or messed up transformation

  • Transformation needs commitment, passion and time… lots of time

  • Big change programs are for CEO’s like steroids for an athlete: they only deliver short time results and... cause impotence

  • Dependence on authority is the dead of creativity, but you can stand on the shoulders of giants to look further


On Management and Leadership

  • As a Manager you should always wake up sleeping dogs. If you don't they will wake up anyway at the worst of times, outside of your control.

  • You cannot use a Swiss knife with all its blades out

  • If you did not learn anything from your communication, there was no communication.

  • Trust is a bucket you can only fill drop by drop, but you can empty it by one stupid move.

  • When there is no conflict, probably everybody is asleep. Without confrontation: stagnation

  • As a manager you cannot force people to have good ideas. You earn them

On Always Being Connected and Multitasking

  • Multitasking is the very special skill of … ruining multiple tasks at the same time

  • Multitasking is the very special skill of … ruining multiple tasks at the same time and creating lots of unnecessary stress

  • Multitasking is the skill of doing half the work, of half the quality, in double the time, with double the stress and forgetting half of it.

  • Multitasking is like using a Swiss knife with all its 10 blades out at the same tiem; it’s ridiculously inefficient and you risk getting hurt.

  • Multitasking is like threading water: you keep your nose just above the water, getting nowhere, while getting exhausted. Batch-tasking is like swimming you get somewhere and the more you train the faster

  • Multitasking is doing a lot of nothing

  • Multitasking is like all the time digging up the seeds you just sowed. There is no chance that they will ever root and grow into a beautiful plant that will produce new seeds.

  • Information has become abundant and cheap. Undisturbed reflection has become rare and precious.

  • Due to being always connected we have become adhocrats in adhocrazy adhocracies, replacing bureaucrats in bureaucracies.

  • Your human freedom depends on one second of reflection between a stimulus and your reaction, between a notification and picking up your phone.

  • Always connected executives are no longer able disconnect from the operational issues to develop a helicopter view. Upon lift off, their connectivity pulls them back immediately, resulting in a grasshopper view.

  • Always connected and as a result never fully present, never fully engaged, never fully productive, never fully enjoying, never fully relaxed and never fully satisfied. Exaggerated? Well: 12% to 20% interrupt sex for phone signal and amongst the 18-24 year-olds 50 to 70% say their mobile phone negative impact on intimacy and sex.

  • Always connected leads to info-bulimia

  • Information overload is self-inflicted

  • Always being connected ruins real connection.

  • Reducing antisocial media use reduces stress, anger and anxiety and increases happiness

  • Go from FOMO to JOMO. From fear of missing out to the joy of missing out.

  • In open plan offices workers are Interrupted every two minutes on average! Their productivity disappears in the black hole of task-switching!

  • Being always connected and multitasking kill creativity, because they are incompatible with reflection and good conversations.

  • The Solution for think-work: Good flexible offices that put focus first and contact a close second, while paying super-attention to noise reduction

  • You should never mix concentration and communication in one office space! The priority is to protect concentrated reflection: FOCUS on FOCUS

  • Calculated over 30 years, the total cost of an office is peanuts, compared with the cost of the people working in it and cutting the cost of peanuts is always peanuts.

  • Knowledge acquisition correlates with the duration of your attention, divided by the square of the number interruptions; plus the duration of your relaxation breaks (see formula)

From book "BrainChains"

“Brainworkers’ increasing lack of reflection is a huge problem we must resolve; it is not a challenge we can avoid. “

“The problem with ICT is not what we do with it, but what we don’t do any more because of our way of using it. “

“The paradox is that the hyperconnectedness that makes all this information available is, at the same time, for many the most important obstacle to their reflecting brain making good use of it”

“Reflection takes time: reconquer your time.”

“A most important rule for intellectual productivity: Totally disconnect one hour a day

“With a “flat brain” you cannot thrive in a “flat world”

“Professionals become “adhocrats” and their organizations “adhocracies”, replacing the bureaucrats in bureaucracies.”

“If right-tasking is like swimming, then multitasking is like treading water; you might stay afloat but it doesn’t get you anywhere. “

“Negative stress makes smart people behave stupid. “

“It’s worse than you think, and if you don’t think, it’s worse. “

“They don’t think, they e-mail.”

“If you use e-mail for anything other than informing people and transmitting simple, unequivocal requests for tasks with little ambiguity, you are creating problems for the receivers, the company and yourself. “

“If you want to know if you office is right for the work you do, do the telephone test: If you need to concentrate for your work and you can hear other people on the phone, you are in the wrong office.”

“Tiredness and driving are a lethal cocktail. Throw a phone into the mix and it’s catastrophic. “

“There is only one safe place for your phone while driving: in the glove box, switched off and out of reach. “

“Constantly scanning screens of information is like gobbling down your food without digesting it. The result is indigestion, infobesitas or information overload. “

“The greatest gift in a real conversation, discussion or meeting is undivided attention. If Steve Jobs had been glued to his iPhone, he never would have invented the iPhone. “

“The hyper-connected, hyper-tasking, hyper-productive brainworker is a total myth. In reality they are hyper-connected, hyper-tasking, hyper-active, hyper-underachievers. Ignorance or neglect of our brain’s instruction manual results in clever people underperforming or doing stupid things. “

“The problem is not the great technology, but the way we use it.”

“Via Homo Zapiens, Homo Sapiens evolved to an inefficient Homo Interruptus”

“Always connected in company: being alone together “

“Hyper-connected executives do not have a helicopter view but a grasshopper view.”

“When wanting becomes needing, a positive stimulant turns into a negative, if not problematic, drive. “

“Healthy stress is interval stress. “

“The local stress of always being connected: on my back, a pain in the neck, a headache, no sight for sore eyes and all thumbs”

“Drinking caffeinated drinks is simply disconnecting the sleepiness alarm signal without taking care of the disaster going on in your brain”

“Hands-free and eyes-free car-kits do not make any difference: The bottleneck is your brain. “

“A legal ban on hands-on calling gives the very strong, very wrong and very dangerous message that hands-free is safer, which it isn’t at all. “

“ICT in a car: a killer application”

“Smart phones are used by ignorant or stupid drivers, very smart phones by ignorant or very stupid drivers. “

“Batch-processing: to turn the scatterbrained Homo Interruptus back into a productive Homo Sapiens “

“Disconnecting and letting your mind wander during a boring episode of a meeting is much better for your brain and the meeting than connecting and guzzling more data.”

“The three rules to become intellectually productive:

Rule Number 1: Disconnect to reflect

Rule Number 2: Ruthlessly and radically reduce switches

Rule Number 3: Disconnect to have a break”