The Agony of Finding Virtue in Organisations


Dear Agony Aunt,

I lead a highly profitable multi-national software company that plots maps for use in personal GPS devices. We navigate the world well, but our organisation lacks a moral compass. What’s your advice?


Dear Anonymous,

If only leaders could punch “Shangri-La” into a Navman then the corporate world would be a more virtuous place! Engage with your people and agree on non-financial measures to expand your profitability model – for instance consider the net environmental and social impacts of your work – then see your organisation soar. Or plot the definitive route to weight loss and become instantly virtuous globally.

Agony Aunt.

The Value of Virtue in Business


One of the organisational theories gathering momentum at the moment is the concept of virtue and what it means for the success of an organisation.

As companies around the world become richer there is increasing pressure on leadership teams to not only do well, but to do the right thing well, whether that means providing nutrition programs for employees and their families or ensuring corners aren’t cut in safety checks. Transforming your business to a ‘virtuous’ model can have significant and long-term benefits, resulting in engaged employees and satisfied clients.

To help business leaders better understand the opportunities available, we have outlined the fundamentals of virtuous organisations below.

What is a virtuous organisation?

While there are several definitions of what constitutes a virtuous organisation, each has the same fundamental core: a virtuous organisation is one with a strong moral compass upon which it creates value for customers, employees, shareholders and the community.

Virtuous organisations are not concerned with chasing quarterly earnings that may have dangerous consequences for employees and the local community and environment; they put virtue at the core of their business to give them the edge in the broader marketplace.

What characteristics do virtuous organisations share?

Virtuous organisations come in different shapes, sizes and markets, but they all share the following key characteristics:

  • Concern for employees’ wellbeing
  • A long-term view, planning from generation to generation, not quarter to quarter
  • A sense of responsibility and a strong desire to give back, especially to the communities within which they exist because those communities have played a part in creating their wealth
  • A clear desire for social as well as financial betterment.

Who makes an organisation virtuous?

Everyone in an organisation is responsible for making it virtuous, but virtue must start with and be championed by the organisation’s leader: it is the leader’s values and vision that define and shape the organisation’s culture. If the leader’s values include compassion, a sense of responsibility, and caring commitment, then the company’s will too.

According to Frank Islam and Ed Crego,[i] the leaders of virtuous organisations fulfil three critical roles:

  • Navigator, guiding the business to do the right things and bring qualities like compassion and integrity into the organisation’s culture and operations.
  • Capital creator, thinking beyond the financial capital to the intellectual and spiritual capital, creating results that exceed the total brain power of the individuals in the organisation, and encouraging a motivational force that makes everyone want to do their best.
  • Value generator, creating ‘value circles’ that emanate out from them, through all levels of the organisation, and ultimately to customers and the community.

How does mindfulness work in virtuous organisations?

Mindfulness involves concentration, focus and harnessed energy, so in an organisational context, the spiritually mindful person is aware and discerning, able to identify issues clearly while also seeing the bigger picture, and acts virtuously, all of which are crucial capabilities for an organisation undergoing growth or change.

The bottom line is, how we treat each other, our customers and our surroundings, affects how well our businesses do. We know that companies benefit by considering what it means to be virtuous, because to succeed today we must do the right thing, and do it well.

Certus3 is currently working with virtuous organisations to develop sustainable operating models, which put virtuous concepts front and centre. To discuss the opportunity of utilising our experience to explore the development of a virtuous operating model for your business, contact Certus3.



[i] Islam, F and E Crego, ‘The Need to Build Virtuous Organizations,’, accessed 6 April 2016.

The Agony of Making a New Year’s Resolution


Dear Agony Aunt,

Last January my New Year resolution was to start smoking but one day in I gave up. I need to set myself a challenging goal for 2016. Have you got any advice?


Dear Anonymous,

This year I resolved to connect with my inner self and encourage everyone around me to express their feelings about me openly. I soon despaired at the flow of wildly inaccurate and libellous character assessments so, like you, quickly aborted my resolution. Keep it simple but achievable. In 2016 I’m resolving to actually finish an entire chap-stick.

Agony Aunt.

Resolve to Kick-Start Your New Year


A lethargic start to the New Year is a sure-fire way to put your project on the back foot when the team returns from the festive season.

High-velocity progress is the new normal for programs of work, so consider these 5 steps to set up your 2016 for success.

  1. Resolve to communicate with positive intent. Move early on your return to gather your team and refresh the collective understanding of short and medium term deliverables and to prepare solutions to the blockers that tired teams invariably hold over for New Year resolution.
  2. Re-connect with stakeholders. The New Year often entails getting to grips with year-end BAU organisational re-design and the consequent permanent departure of long serving and newly redundant BAU staff. Take time to re-connect with your business stakeholders and re-affirm shared commitment to your project objectives
  3. Manage expectations. Be clear with yourself and your sponsors about what your team is to achieve in the near term and that assumptions made earlier remain true. The chance for objective reflection that Christmas leave provides can often alter previously strongly held beliefs.
  4. Celebrate success. Recognise your team’s 2015 achievements and highlight the positive behaviours that contributed to those great outcomes. Avoid the trap of repeating mistakes made in the past when a slight chance in course can save recidivist practices.
  5. Achieve a quick win. Nominate a task that has a high likelihood of success early in the New Year to quickly restore motivation and instil confidence in the year ahead.

Make it your New Year’s resolution to accomplish these steps with grace, goodwill and cheer and you’ll make a fantastic transition from the festive season back into your program of work.




Certus3’s Christmas Soiree 2015

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Certus3 was pleased to host a Christmas Soiree on Tuesday, 8 December 2015 at Centennial Park Dining’s Wine Room.

Imbued with the requisite amount of Christmas cheer, our guests enjoyed a three course Christmas-inspired meal whilst being entertained by our fabulous band – Watson, James & Gale, & our two comedians – Rodney Marks & Ryan Crawford.

Special thanks goes to:

  • Virginie Rutgers at Merveille Event Planning – for styling the event
  • Rodney Marks – for his inspired comedy set – Linked In: Comedian at Corporate Comedy
  • Ryan Crawford – for his equally inspired humour – Twitter:  @RyanTheCrawford
  • Helen, Bob & Col (AKA Watson, James & Gale) – for their wonderful music
  • Cathy Morrison – for photographing the event
  • Alisha Yee from Centennial Park Dining
  • Sotiri from Squeeze Creative – for developing our Christmas Party Slideshow

Enjoy our Christmas Party slideshow.

The Agony of Managing Christmas



Dear Agony Aunt,

Lacking the Gantt Chart structure that governs my life as a Project Manager throughout the year, come holiday season I struggle to apply the same order to our Christmas lunch menu. This year is chaos, since among the 12 guests we have two vegetarians, two gluten-free, one anaphylaxis, one vegan and a toothless aunt who consumes only pureed solids through a straw. Any advice?


Dear Anonymous,

Christmas is no time to depart from your winning ways. There are plenty of online project management resources solely designed to manage your Christmas menu. At my place, nothing happens unless it’s in the Gantt Chart. One time, our  family sat immobile and starving for a week since the predecessor task for lunch (food shopping) was incomplete and in amber. Apply your project management skills to event management and have a great Christmas!

Agony Aunt.

Certus3 Helps to Achieve Asciano’s Initial Move to the Cloud

151125-Certus3-News-1400x800px_Cloud Computing

Asciano, Australia’s national rail freight and cargo port operator has recently completed a major IT Transformation Program, aimed at moving key IT infrastructure and applications to the virtual cloud environment.

Asciano “has achieved the initial platform from which further cloud-based, Software as a Service (SaaS) and Infrastructure as a Service (IaaS) enhancements can be made,” explained Sarah McCullough, Program Gemini’s former Business Program Manager and current Asciano IT Customer Experience Manager.

The program, spanning almost three years found its origins in the leading edge IT Strategy led by Asciano’s forward-thinking CIO, Kelvin McGrath, who sought to achieve multiple aims by moving in the ‘As a Service’ direction:

“The achievement of economies of scale and the need to reduce spending on nearing end-of-life technology infrastructure topped the list of aims, closely followed by the need to set Asciano’s path to future IT sustainability and improved accessibility for its internal and external customers.”

As the program’s implementation partner, Certus3, partnered with Asciano and its private cloud solution provider, Fujitsu, to:

  • deliver and embed IT Service Management (ITSM) protocols and processes to support the ongoing development of a managed service relationship with cloud partner Fujitsu
  • deliver more than 4800 new cloud desktops complete with hardware to more than 130 sites across Australia
  • migrate 6700 employee mailboxes to the cloud
  • merge two legacy email systems into one new enterprise-wide standard
  • recreate eight legacy business-critical enterprise systems in the cloud environment
  • replace existing Interactive Voice Response (IVR) systems with a single cloud-based Software as a Service (SaaS) application
  • stabilise Pacific National’s transport management system, through the migration to the cloud of five integrated applications, five servers and the data warehouse

“The completion of Asciano’s first major cloud-focused foundation-building program of work, led by our CIO, was made possible by a team of great people, including Certus3 and its team of expert PMs.


Simo Popovac, Michael Devlin, Simon Toll and the extended team demonstrated a firm commitment to delivering our project on-time, within the defined budget and to a high level of quality. ” said Ms McCullough.

The Agony of Charisma


Dear Agony Aunt,

Can charisma be learned? Too often on projects I work with uninspiring men who believe they’ve inherited a charisma gene when in fact what they really need is a charisma transplant.  How can that delusion be corrected?

Cheers, Anonymous.

Dear Anonymous,

Some men do believe that charisma is “God given”, along with the capacity to pack a dishwasher, mow grass, and successfully navigate from place A to place B in a car. Charisma is a positive force of personality and can be a great asset for project leaders, regardless of gender. Charisma can indeed be learned and development starts with empathy, authenticity and clear communication. Speak to your Business Transition Team for more guidance.

Agony Aunt.

Charisma – a Key Influence in Business



Charisma is a quality that many of us in the project community often mistake for ‘charm’, but a person’s charisma can influence whether we choose to engage with them – or not.

Charisma can help enable influence and inspiration – gold for any Project Head or Business Transition/Change Manager looking to distinguish them self as a leader, rather than merely a manager.

Often associated with movie stars, sports people, populist politicians and dictators, charisma is actually identity-neutral and can be developed by anyone.

Charisma as a leadership competency

Sociologist Max Weber (1864-1920) pioneered research into charisma as a leadership capability, defining charismatic leaders as those who can inspire, motivate and attract followers.

Contemporary studies  have shown that the full spectrum of personality types, notably including introverts, can demonstrate charismatic behaviour. Indeed, sociologists appear near to arriving at consensus on the set of characteristics common to charismatic people.

Nikki Owen, of the Executive Faculty at UK’s Henley Business School, has offered a blueprint for leaders to improve their natural charisma and unlock team engagement. “The Charisma Model”  targets development and measurement of five competencies for charisma effectiveness:

1. High Self-Esteem – self-confidence, inner-calm, self-reliance, independence. Charismatic people have high self-esteem – which conveys confidence and authenticity. When you have high self-esteem you are relaxed about exposing your authentic self.

2. A Driving Force – purpose, personal values, principles. Charismatic people have an underlying sense of purpose, a set of values – principles important to them – which drive their decisions and actions.

3. Sensory Awareness – empathy, emotional intelligence (EQ). Charismatic people are aware of their own feelings and the feelings and moods of others. They are in touch with their emotions and are uninhibited about showing them, making their communication compelling.

4. A Vision – visualization, belief, a mental picture, a positive attitude towards an aim. Charismatic people have a strong vision of what they want. To imagine and believe the aim – to see it happening in your mind. This creates strong intent that others can feel, and often see and hear too.

5. High Energy – passion, enthusiasm, commitment, determination. Exhibiting high personal positive energy builds and maintains a positive energetic response in others. Positive energy makes others feel good, become energised, feel valued and productive.

Developing charisma

The significance of training and experience in effective emotional communication cannot be overstated when learning charisma since each of these three words combine to form an important underpinning principle:

  •  Effective – engaging, relevantly targeted, inspiring, confident
  • Emotional – passionate, empathic, two-way (the charismatic person feels and reflects the feelings of others)
  • Communication – beyond words alone (body language and expressive style are crucial) underpinning this is self- confidence and belief in respect of the purpose and area/audience being engaged

Charisma development & the Certus3 Business Transition Model

The Certus3 Business Transition Model incorporates strategies and activities that support the development of the abovementioned ‘charisma competencies’ for change leaders.

Wouldn’t your life be easier, if you could inspire, motivate and excite the people in your life?

For more information on charisma competency development contact Certus3’s Business Transition Lead, Mel Young.

The Agony of Tapping into Emotional Intelligence


Dear Agony Aunt,

I’m an effective program manager and meet all my stage gates. I’m always on budget and the Finance guys love me. But I feel alienated from the project team. They love regular pub dinners but I’m not into that. What to do


Dear Anonymous,

I’ve been there! You need to balance your technical performance with team-member sentiment. Take tome to associate yourself with their own personal journey. EQ is hard work but very satisfying. Clint Eastwood managed the transition, from his early ruthless Dirty Harry to the benevolent William Munny in Unforgiven. If I’m struggling with issues I turn to the business transition team for advise – you should too.

Agony Aunt.