IN A great book titled Rework: Change The Way You Work Forever, authors Jason Fried and David Heinemeier Hansson put forward the idea of scratching what’s itching you as a great way to create, build and grow a business. I think it is also an insightful way to look at leadership.

Steve Jobs and people like him are heroes to me because they have scratched what’s itching them and we all benefit. Next time you use your mouse, think about Steve Jobs — who didn’t invent it but was so inspired when he first saw the technology.

He glimpsed a way to scroll on his jeans, and envisaged far-reaching benefits for the masses. The rest as they say is history.

What is making you itch in your business, community, the world and what are you doing about it?

As I reflect, I can see that I have developed much of my expertise as a business mentor by collaborating with my clients to find ways to remove what irritates both you and me. Here are some of the things that make me act:

•   When I see time, energy or money being wasted, I initiate a time-out and work with people to end the waste and turn deficit into surplus.

•   When I encounter or observe poor service, I instigate an accountability conversation with the perpetrator/s.

•   When a great strategy isn’t being fully executed, I work with others to engage or re-engage the executors.

•   When everyone is zigging, I work with others to find a way to zag.

•   When it is clear that conventional wisdom isn’t helping to solve a problem or overcome a challenge, I work with others to find an unconventional way to win.

•   When the status quo is no longer serving people, I feel a deep urge to help people to change what’s normal. I act on the urge.

•   When I notice a lack of common sense, I enact ways to uncover the cause and help to restore sanity.

•   When bureaucracy, red tape and/or politics (internal and/or external) are inhibiting people’s performance, I desperately want to get rid of the crap and seek out people prepared to shovel.

•   When I see people giving less than their best, I have to find out why and inspire them to find flow.

•   When people say something can’t be done this way or that way, I want to find out why not.

•   When I see barriers in the way of people bringing their best to their work, I feel compelled to work with them to remove the barriers.

•   When I see leaders frustrated with people as they are, I help them to see people as they can be.

•   When meetings meander, I speak up.

•   When I witness the blame and shame game happening, I point people back to accountability agreements. When these don’t exist I help to create them.

•   When I observe or encounter conflict, difficulty or disagreement between people I am candid, change the conversation, break the deadlock and help people to discover or restore shared-view.

•   When the system, process, policy, procedure, or practice isn’t making it simple for people to bring their best to their work, I prompt others to change the rule/s.

•   When I encounter people acting as if their way is the only way, I point out that nothing great is easy and nothing great is ever achieved completely alone.

All of the above are itches I have to scratch, problems I feel compelled to solve, and challenges I must overcome. Do you feel the same way, and what are you doing about it?

They are also signs of the maverick in me — the rebel, radical, dissenter, disrupter, heretic, non-conformist, contrarian. The label doesn’t matter, I am one of those who dream every day of finding a better, different or more unique way to let people loose and unleash the gifts/talents lying dormant in so many people.

Leaders with a heart for people and willingness to think and act like mavericks matter today more than ever. Are you such a person?

Scratching together is the simplest and most rewarding way to build a better world by building a better business. Be the difference you want to see in the world.


Article by Ian Berry, an international business speaker, workshop leader and author with Training Edge International. For more information, e-mail or visit