Motivation: Stick? Carrot? Or is there a third option?

May 1, 2018

As a former Finance Director I bring an unusual insight into motivation. In my quest to build a strong and highly profitable business, I loved direction, clarity, structure and processes. We’d become ISO accredited in Quality, Environmental and Health & Safety, and had excellent Business Operating Systems. But even I eventually realised that authority, financial controls, stick and carrot only get you so far. I found ourselves creating more processes to catch out the people who weren’t complying – before realising I just need to understand why.

Wasn’t it Einstein who said the definition of insanity is to keep doing the same thing and expect different results?

‘Why?’ is intangible and open ended. It might open up questions and thoughts that we don’t want to explore. It’s not as simple and clear cut as a nice process. BUT, if you are committed to significantly improve business performance, we need to move beyond authority, processes and control. And by ‘we’, I also mean ‘you’. This is not a challenge we can leave at HR’s door.

In a world that’s focused on productivity, it feels crazy to leave untapped ability on the table. The UK is 20% behind the rest of the G7 countries in terms of productivity, which simply means it costs more to do business in the UK. It means there less money in the UK economy for wages, innovation and the NHS. And yet, 64% of people say they have more to offer in their skills and talent than they’re currently being asked to use or demonstrate. That’s 20 million workers. (According to Engage for Success.)

And whilst motivation is not as definitive as a nice process – but it’s a far better way to do business, especially with today’s VUCA (volatile, uncertain, complex and ambiguous) environment and complex demographics.

So how do we motivate people?  Read more

Aspirin Business’s UK Network Expands

March 14, 2017

Dorset based Aspirin Business continues to go from strength to strength adding to their 30-strong network of Motivational Map Practitioners across the UK.

The Lucid Group, based in Birmingham, became the latest organisation to be accredited in using Motivational Maps. Lucid help clients in areas such as change management, strategic planning, marketing & sales improvement.

Read more

Your Weekly Aspirin: Scenario Planning – The Business World in 2025

November 4, 2016

Yesterday, with our peer group of top UK Business Advisors, we reviewed the capabilities we’d need in 2025! No one knows what the world will look like – especially in terms of technology, in 2025. Sounds bold – but in 2000 could you have predicted where we are now, especially in terms of smartphones, apps and the cloud? Read more

Fit, lean and agile teams – getting fit for change

June 7, 2016

by Paul Kinvig and Susannah Brade-Waring – Business Coaches & Facilitators with Aspirin Business Solutions


The Scottish golf club Muirfield’s decision not to change its 272 year men-only membership policy has proved to be very costly, as it’s lost the right to stage one of the most prestigious golf tournaments in the world – The Open.  By contrast, it came as a real surprise to us just how many world changing inventions/ discoveries/ innovations can be attributed to Scotland and its people. Here are just a few – pneumatic tyre, telephone, television, hypodermic syringe, penicillin, flush toilets and refrigerators.

Contrast that again to the high speed world of Formula 1, which has made a number of mind-blowing changes – for example moving from being predominantly funded by cigarette advertising prior to its international ban, and in achieving the seemingly impossible feat of a sub 3 second pit stop.

In order to survive and thrive as an organisation, the need to both embrace and drive change has passed from being an option to a fundamental requirement.

Racing drivers know that going slow into the bend allows us to be faster going out.  Leaders who deliver change successfully, know the same holds true for organisations.  So it’s in the preparation for change that the race is won.

Whilst every organisation is going through change, for some it is slow and predictable. Whereas, the retail market is moving so quickly it’s difficult to know what we need to change to, let alone how we do that.  The best we can do is become more agile, leaner and well-equipped so we are fit and ready for change.  And, the golden lining, when the team are ready, they’ll start to drive the change themselves.

So, how do we become more agile, leaner and well-equipped?  Here are 3 things to consider:

1. Re-recruit

We’re very familiar with re-recruiting for sporting teams, picking the players who’ll help us achieve our objectives for the next season.  But what if we applied the same policy to our teams?  After all, even if we are in the same role today as we were 2 years ago, it’s highly likely that the requirements of the job have changed.  So bearing in mind the current and foreseeable future requirements of your team, who would you automatically re-recruit, who will make the grade given training, mentoring or coaching, and who probably won’t?  We acknowledge that this idea will feel intensely uncomfortable to some, however we’re actually being much fairer to everyone if we acknowledge the likely struggle to keep up and, as leaders, to face this head-on.  A good test of whether we need to think about re-recruiting is that when a vacancy comes up, do we just automatically use the same job description?  And if someone is unlikely to ‘make the grade’ they may thrive incredibly well in a redefined job role.


 2. Develop an ethos of team working

Change brings new challenges and uncertainty.  Therefore, the need for people to work together as teams, with trust and appreciation for each others’ talents increases significantly.  Consider, if you will, two examples – firstly that of a flock of geese who would never migrate if they couldn’t depend on each other, and secondly the F1 pit stops – where a sub 3 second pit stop utterly depends on having the right people, in the right roles with the right equipment.

Teams waste time and energy when there is an atmosphere of mistrust and blame and lose focus on achieving what is ahead because they are looking around and behind them.  This is often exemplified by team members not believing that change is necessary, that there’s a hidden agenda or not trusting others to get their part of the work done.  And, it can be easier to fail by refusing to participate, than to be seen to fail if we can’t deliver the new requirements.

If we are to build agility into our teams so that change is embraced and, in many cases, driven, we have to create this culture of trust by communicating effectively, being honest and authentic, sharing information and actually always ‘doing the right thing’, even when it is tough and has challenging implications. Being consistent in these areas creates that culture by demonstrating it in our behaviour as leaders AND thus demanding it from our teams.

However there is one more area that we need to examine and it is that of…


3. Create a culture of motivation and accountability

You have to expect that with a former Finance Director as our leader, we believe accountability is a critical success factor.  And yet this issue of accountability is a thorny one in that knowing what to hold people accountable to, and how to hold them accountable can leave us scratching our heads (or walking away), and we sometimes think it applies to our team – but not us, as leaders.  And yet if we want to make our teams agile and responsive then accountability is one of the keys to this.

It’s defined in the Business Dictionary as –

“The obligation of an individual or organization to account for its activities, accept responsibility for them, and to disclose the results in a transparent manner.”

If we look at the definition, the words underlined give us an indication as to key areas of focus. Each individual within the team needs to know exactly what is expected of them in terms of their activities and to what level so that the results can be accounted for without ambiguity or confusion i.e. in a transparent manner.

Contrary to what you might think, research shows that this principle of accountability has a very positive effect in respect of accuracy of work, problem solving, decision making, colleague co-operation and team satisfaction. It’s our responsibility to be accountable ourselves so that that authenticity moves through the team….there is no blame or vindictiveness…it’s just the way we do things!

And whilst we firmly believe in the principle of accountability, we also firmly believe in motivation – of creating the conditions that create a great place to work.  Being able to take pride in our work through a job well done, is a fundamental aspect of this.


At Aspirin Business Solutions, we take pride in creating great results for our clients.  Helping leaders and their teams adapt to change successfully, is critical in achieving their wider goals – such as succession planning, increasing profitable growth and in ensuring organisations will survive and thrive in a changing marketplace.

Our Seven Factors to Faster Growth model fuses people and processes to release the potential in individuals, teams and organisations.  It allows our clients to scope out the intended future through vision, strategy and mission and identify how to implement and deliver that through values, objectives and team performance – and then to define and increase the capability of leaders, managers and teams accordingly.

seven steps


If this article resonates with you, we’d love to explore how we could help you achieve your organisation’s goals.  Please get in touch and let’s talk.


T: 01202 801187

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Top 10 Business Leaders’ Insights for 2016

June 1, 2016

We might not know exactly what the future will look like, but we can equip ourselves to be ready.  At our recent Business Leaders’ Academy, our members shared their insights into the challenges and opportunities for 2016 – including Brexit, technology and being agile.

Then we shared the Top 10 Insights from our partners at Mindshop, who surveyed 128 business leaders around the world to gather feedback on emerging business trends, training needs, opportunities & challenges.

Business Leader Insights Infographic

The full report from Mindshop, along with a short video from Mindshop’s James Mason, can be found here: Top 10 Business Leader Insights.

As partners with Mindshop, Aspirin Business Solutions can support you and your business with prioritising these Insights to meet your business goals, and developing and implementing solutions.



As we grow, what won’t we change?

May 10, 2016

by Susannah Brade-Waring, MD & Business Growth Coach & Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions

What We Won't Do


For our clients with a strong heritage, we’ve found defining ‘ What won’t change ‘ very powerful in helping people to create change and growth.  For example, our lovely clients at Douch Family Funeral wanted to create greater consistency across their 8 branches, without losing the heritage and individuality of each branch.  Other clients have been reassured by clearly agreeing that ‘what won’t change’ is a core focus on a certain client group, or the level of service to be provided.

We’ve noticed this is particularly powerful with the Searcher (need to make a difference) and Defender (security) motivators.

Clearly stating ‘what won’t change’ is not a Canute-like attempt to hold back the tide, but a way of allowing people to fully support the organisation’s growth mission.  The alternative, which most leaders have experienced, is inexplicable resistance, not giving our all and questioning decisions.  After all, the individuals themselves often aren’t consciously aware of their own concerns and resistant behaviour.

We often share with clients the excellent example provided by the RNLI.  In the “Purpose, Vision & Values” section on their website, there’s a section called “Things We Will Not Change”. It’s a really interesting and perhaps surprising read, and begs the question:

“What are the things in our organisations we would not change?”


Here, at Aspirin Business Solutions, we help Senior Leadership Teams develop strategic plans and 12 month missions.  We also help them define ‘What won’t change’.  We’ve found externally facilitated group creation of the strategy to be very powerful in strengthening team bonds of trust and understanding, and in enabling the team to pull together powerfully.  It’s another way of creating alignment, at the highest level.

In the words of Steve Jobs “Deciding what not to do, is as important as deciding what to do.”

To explore how we could help your organisation create a Strategy and a 12 Month Mission & Mantra that your leaders and team want to deliver, get in touch to arrange a conversation.


T: 01202 801187

or sign up to our newsletter:


F.A.S.T.E.R Teams – Be ‘Real’

December 11, 2015

Paul Kinvig, Coach and Facilitator at Aspirin Business Solutions

FASTER Real image

In the Ridley Scott’s classic sci-fi film “Bladerunner” we are introduced to the idea of replicants – almost perfect recreations of human beings. Interestingly, you can only tell the real from the replicant by asking certain questions…it’s only under “challenging” conditions that they give themselves away. The same is true in the rise of “replica” items…..everything from Rolex watches, Gucci bags to iPhone chargers…..they look like the real thing and yet either don’t last or breakdown under usage, sometimes with dangerous consequences.

“Real” teams, however, have the strength of authenticity about them. They don’t pretend to be who or what they need to be, they ARE who and what they need to be for the situation at hand. They do this because they aware of their own and each others’ REAL motivators, REAL skills & REAL strengths & weaknesses and are comfortable with how that plays out in the workplace.

So what are the key hallmarks of real teams?

Honesty – One of the challenges of leading a real team is that the level of honesty can sometimes be intimidating. Members aren’t just honest about situations/ mistakes/ customer complaints but are honest with each other and their manager about performance. It’s not done in a vindictive or point scoring way but in a way that is bold, constructive, relevant and respectful to the person and situation.

Play – Real teams understand the value of “work & play” – at it’s most obvious level it is the appearance  of humour and the relaxed but focused way the team interacts with each other. However, the other part of “play”, as Pat Kane eruditely expresses, is this – “The play ethic is about having the confidence to be spontaneous, creative and empathetic across every area of your life – in relationships, in the community, in your cultural life, as well as paid employment.” It’s not idle, wasteful or frivolous but allows the individual personalities of the team to shine and be appreciated – and out of that can come some real ideas for improvement.

Trust – Real teams build trust by members being authentic and really understanding who they are! The phrase “walk it like they talk it” is truly indicative of their behaviour and thus there isn’t any gap between what they say & how they behave.  Teams with high trust levels often have a high degree of emotional intelligence which means that:

  1. They can “spot” when things aren’t right with other team members or situations much more quickly than most other groups.
  1. They can “sense” when a change in approach to people or customers is needed much more quickly than most other groups

It also means that can decide, act and adjust much more quickly because they function like a single organism.

When teams become “real” it’s like the final turn of lens on a camera that brings the sharp clarity needed to take a great picture….which of course brings us back full circle to our F in F.A.S.T.E.R, that of focus. And here’s the key…..great leaders & managers know having F.A.S.T.E.R teams is a continuous circle of development – Focus, Agile, Strong, Tenacious, Empowered & Real – and it’s the REAL nature of teams that separates them from the “replicants”….especially under pressure or challenging circumstances

Here at Aspirin Business Solutions we help our clients create & develop “real” teams by helping them understand their real motivators, personality, behaviours and mindset, e.g. through Motivational Map profiles. We then coach them to be authentic to who they are and each other and not to see their motivators or personality traits as right or wrong but as strengths which can be combined & focused to achieve the business strategy. Worth us having a conversation?