The HR Juggler

Day 1: Staking It All On The Advent Of Action

Posted on: December 1, 2013


So, here it is! Happy 1st December and welcome to the Advent Blogs 2013! The theme this year is Stories and Stakes…let’s see where it takes us :).

There is something incredibly special for me about curating these posts and they really do seem to have a power above and beyond what you might expect from a group of people sharing their experiences and reflections in one place.

I am also delighted to let you know that the hugely talented, creative and kind Simon Heath is joining me as co-collaborator and Chief Creative Officer on this year’s series and that he will produce a bespoke image for each daily post. I am very touched by his generosity in being a part of this project and am already enjoying seeing the fabulous images he is creating.

AdventBlogs1 AdventBlogs2

It is fitting that the first post of the series is written by Simon himself, my collaborator extraordinaire. You can find him on Twitter @SimonHeath1 or via his excellent blog. I really can’t recommend him highly enough!


All men dream, but not equally. Those who dream by night in the dusty recesses of their minds, wake in the day to find that it was vanity: but the dreamers of the day are dangerous men, for they may act on their dreams with open eyes, to make them possibleT. E. Lawrence

Day 1

I am grateful to the very lovely Alison Chisnell for allowing me the opportunity to contribute to this annual series of blog posts. The theme for this year’s series is “Stories and Stakes” and Alison additionally challenged participants to identify their stakes in the ground.  The phrase “stakeholders” gets bandied about an awful lot these days. It’s more evidence of the continual labelling of people, an effort to neatly box them up, part of the lexicon of taxonomy for the working world. Everybody has a stake in the great game of work – the disenfranchised; the unemployed; the self-proclaimed revolutionaries; NEETs; apprentices; interns; bloggers and commentators; consultants; politicians; clock-watchers; CEOs; HR; FM; banks; bakeries; technologists; astronomers and astrologers; scientists and soothsayers; environmentalists and entrepreneurs; every man, woman and child on the planet.

The predicted Mayan apocalypse never came to pass in 2012. However, we did witness the apotheosis of the seismic financial crisis and, with the dawning of 2013, the appearance of some fragile green shoots of recovery. The danger now is that these green shoots will turn out to be merely the re-growing heads of the hydra that brought us so very close to the brink of the fiscal cliff. If you do what you’ve always done, you’ll get what you always got. 2013 should therefore have been an opportunity for us to examine what went wrong and take steps to ensure we don’t make the same mistakes again. For those of us who concern ourselves with making work better and in making better working lives to confront and call out bad practice, unethical and immoral behaviour and to propose how business might be made more socially useful.

Wikipedia describes Advent thus: Advent is a season observed in many Western Christian churches as a time of expectant waiting and preparation for the celebration of the Nativity of Jesus at Christmas. The term is an anglicized version of the Latin word adventus, meaning “coming”.   The changes required to truly, equitably re-shape work are societal and systemic. 2013 has indeed been a year of waiting. Of waiting and of talking; procrastination and prevarication. The modern day prophets of the workplace comfortably share a platform with the very businesses that have a vested interest in maintaining the status quo. Like all good works of fiction, the Bible contains some insightful commentary. In this case the evils of commerce and those who practise it at the expense of others. The main character, Jesus, makes a whip of cords and drives them all out of the temple, with the sheep and oxen. And he pours out the coins of the money-changers and overturns their tables. A better way of going about our working lives is not some spiritual crusade. It is grounded in practical actions and in the taking of personal responsibility in making it so.

So, at this time of Advent, I’m using my stake to draw a line in the sand. The time for talk is past. The waiting must end. We’ve had our hackathons, we’ve read the strange truth about what motivates us, we’ve figured out who moved our bloody cheese, we’ve seen a better way to do the myriad things we know still have to be done, we know meetings are a waste of time and email a drain on productivity. We know our education system is broken and doesn’t prepare our children for the world of work. We have a multitude of tools at our disposal. We’re connected like never before. Our time has come. Our time to act.


9 Responses to "Day 1: Staking It All On The Advent Of Action"

Morning Alison and Simon, what a great start to our Advent tradition, you have really put your stake in the ground! The beautifully curated and illustrated blog is a delight to read and see.

Here’s to a fabulous 2014, the time is here for all us to act. Well said.

Thank you both and a very festive season to you and all in our world. X

Fantastic start to Advent and to stating what needs to be done (not just said and thought). Your words and illustrations strike a chord. Let’s “act on our dreams with open eyes and make them possible”.

Thank you for your eloquent call to action (and to Alison for hosting it). I can already tell that these will be an extraordinary series of Advent posts. Here’s to exceptional times ahead

Couldn’t agree more. Have a fab festive season both, and thanks for what I know will be a great series of blogs.

“these green shoots will turn out to be merely the re-growing heads of the hydra that brought us so very close to the brink of the fiscal cliff” – pure poetry that includes my favourite two words of 2013 🙂

On a more serious note: On schools and acting: I am spending a lot of my spare time opposing a scheme to reduce a local grammar school to a shadow of it’s former self. It’s almost as though the Ministry of Magic has entered the school, following a politically motivated Ofsted report that reported that ‘satisfactory’ is the new ‘rubbish’. We must act as Simon says ….

great post esp comments re avoiding another crash. you don’t need to criticise Jesus for being on a spiritual crusade – he had a particular mission. And if you’re going to use Advent as your hook please be a little more generous in acknowledging that all sorts of people see the Bible in all sorts of different ways – bits are allegory but ‘fiction’ is a bit harsh …ta!

Simon, Alison,

Thank you for this, what a wonderful call to wake up to.

I am a bit split about the emphasis on the time being now. There have been so many false dawns in the past and in my work with the change agents you are speaking to – plenty of bruised hearts.

I found this year an easier place to stand. That was to give up any expectation that the turning we are striving for would come anytime soon. Someone said to me not to be disheartened, that the work we are doing now would definitely bear fruit in a few hundred years!

Paradoxically this has given me more energy and heart for the work that needs to be done today. My expectations of having an effect day to day are reduced – but my capacity to keep going has found a new life.

Much love,

[…] road that leads to an event I went to earlier this week in London, pausing to reflect on the way on Simon Heath’s call to action in the first of these Advent blog […]

[…] The first post in the series was by me. I felt like throwing down a gauntlet. The illustration is a pretty literal depiction. […]

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