Do Category

What DEE-cisions?

Do, Improvement, Meetings, Organisations, Reflect, Teams No Comments

Imagine the scene. A producer pitching the idea for a film: in Africa, people are living insecure and impoverished lives; thousands of people decide to start an exodus to Europe; they walk and walk and walk, and they talk to the media covering their movement – “we are poor because you are rich”; those in the North are fearful of the mass migration from the South.

The surprise about this film? Well, firstly it is has already been made. By the BBC. A long time ago. In the 1980s a pitch something like the one imagined above actually happened. ‘The March’ was made with leading figures in front and behind the lens. It was broadcast over 25 years ago.

Even so, the surprise is not that it was so prophetic – the story remains prescient.

Rather, it is striking that the film is almost totally forgotten. It has never been repeated. You can’t buy it online – even through the BBC bookshop. It has just about disappeared, other than a couple of YouTube clips, for example.


This film was an insight – into insecure lives and the challenge of economic development.  Today, in our work (and lives) we are offered insights all the time. Sometimes our colleagues or bosses or contacts expect us to act.

We have four options in any situation:

First, we can IGNORE the information and time to decide.

Or, we might DO something. Possibly instinctively.

These are the two main responses. Both can be due to cognitive biases. The complexity or anxiery might just be too much for our busy life – so we ignore it. Or we are a bit discombobulated and just want to do something – so we rush to action.  Either way, we may (over) rely on our intuition.

Or possibly we want to take our time. Our third option is EXPERIMENTATION. We might want to give something a go. We might wish to try something out.

The fourth and final possible choice is EXPLORATION – wanting to find out more, or reflect.

When viewers saw ‘The March’, my hunch is most ignored the implications. Maybe it seemed too fanciful. Or worrying. Some probably signed up to the campaigns for third world debt relief that were popular at the time. Others maybe chose to give supporting a particular charity a go. Some others might have decided to read more about the issues and think about how best to respond.

In our organisations we can manage our DEE-cisions by:

1) being totally clear of the criteria for ignoring a topic or possible choice. Maybe it is the responsibility of another group. However, ignoring should be used sparingly.  Often issues that are important are not on the radar. Methods like ‘scenario planning’ help shift some issues from being tuned out to ones that have further effort put into them – i.e. making the shift from ignoring to exploration or maybe even experimentation.

2) Deciding and acting is important for progress. Even here, ‘do and review’ is both poetry and philosophy. When will you take time to see if your ‘no-brainer’ decision had indeed worked?

3) Setting up some trials is at the heart of experimentation. What ‘improvement cycles’ or ‘prototypes’ can you try? The 90 day cycle is really valuable – what will you take stock of in a Quarter? Or 30 days? Or even after a week? This tweet remains a very popular tool for managing this spirit of trial (and error) and taking stock.  Experimentation builds momentum.

4) I do believe in the ‘art of procrastination’ in decision making – and this is where exploration can really come in.  The ‘art’ thing is the difference between ‘ignoring’ and ‘exploring’ – the difference between unecessary or unproductive delays and choosing deep, insightful thought. Keeping an eye on a topic or deciding to come back to an issue before making a decision can very helpful – or it can be avoidance. A symptom of a troubled group is continually revisiting and changing prior judgments – very sloppy governance indeed. But if it is well managed (sparingly, with strict deadlines and some effort) then exploration is helpful time to ponder and consider – and helps limber up our thinking for a future experiment or action.

So why not try triaging your next set of decisions in the group you work with. What can you ignore? But most importantly, what would DEE have you decide? What should you DO? What could you EXPERIMENT with? What might you EXPLORE a bit more?

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OOO too

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Welcome back, if you are returning to work after a summer break or a slower summer period.  (And enjoy the lengthening days and warmer weather if you are in the Southern Hemisphere.)

You may recall our analysis of Out of Office (OOO) messages in 2010 and our four blog refrain on the topic last year (this is the last in the series).

Our favourite message to have arrived this summer:
“Many thanks for your e-mail, which is extremely important to me. I am on holiday in Italy, and contractually obliged to eat and drink in considerable amounts, as well as laying in the sun and swimming a bit. I will be back soon, and I will address your query then. “


Improvement mindset?

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Recently, when staying in a hotel, I went out for an early morning run on a very hot and humid day. On return, the doorman offered me a glass of water and a towel. When I expressed my gratitude and surprise, he said: “we try to find ways to improve what we do all the time.”

Do you have an inclination to seek out improvement? A mindset to try and make things in your sphere of control that bit better?


To memorise or not to….um…

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I have a new passport. With a nine digit number. With a date of issue. And expiry.

Thinking ahead to those online visa applications and the many landing cards to be completed over the next 10 years, is it worth memorising all those details so I don’t need to dive into the document draw or retrieve my jacket from the overhead locker or cupboard?

Broadly there are two schools of thought on this one.

The first (epitomized by Dave Allen author of Getting things Done), argues to supplement our minds as much as we can – with lists, data banks – creating the space for attention on important tasks. On the other hand, some (such as the Brain Gym movement) argue that exercising our ‘mental muscle’ with simple memory activities improves the functioning of our minds.

Whilst I quite like numbers, am good at recalling upcoming diary dates and can remember many phone numbers (mainly those from years ago before the era of mobile phones and digital landlines with rapid dial), I do find numbers over 7 digits hard going.

But on this occasion, I have decided and already learnt those passport details.  I think.  54…Or is it 45… Hum

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Listening with our eyes (and ears)

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Regular readers will know we make a big deal of listening in our blogs – and the links to note taking.

I am just back from the Cambridge River Festival.  I was watching a guy teach some kids djembe drumming. He asked them what are the most important parts of our body in group drumming.  The answer?  Our ears and eyes – so we can pay attention to what others are doing.

Occasionally we teach a bit of percussion or rhythm in our workshops – like that man, we too emphasise the importance of listening to the contribution of others…watching for the cues they make.

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What makes people successful?

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We believe…the key thing with successful people is NOT what happens to them, but how they react when things DO NOT happen for them – when that job application is filed, the contract doesn’t come off, the relationship goes wrong.

The Art of Resilience is key;

  • Not being overly negative (or positive) – realism is powerful.
  • Seeing things from a range of perspectives.

How do you beef up your resilience?

Have a look at this assessment.

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First follower

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This was passed onto us  –

showing the importance of leadership AND followership

Enjoy 🙂


Where do you put your attention?

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If we create what we talk about, should you start your day with an argumentative media source?

Or with laughter and love?

Really, we have a choice…

An interesting interview from the guardian picks up the caution of starting the day with BBC Today programme and the power of Twitter.

Well, at least as long as it has only one mode of operation: argument.

A US-based collaboration provides an option for seeing the media as “an agent of world benefit”.

If you love news, why not skim read a number arguing different points of view – but do it lightly, and only for a while.

All this links to what we ‘feed’ to our heads and hearts during the day – and the power of positive thinking (see our think piece from a few years ago).

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Helping your customers choose.

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This website from a hospital was pointed out to us by a client this week. It gives patients as much information as possible to guide their decision about whether, where and when to go to emergency health services in Lincolnshire.

We like this.

What can you do to help your customers make the most informed choices about your products and services?

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Meditation as an organisational intervention?

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Being still is getting to be quite popular (in literature and magazine articles) it seems.


Recently, a client group chose to pick up an offer from a funky venue in London for a 30 minute meditation session.  It was very popular with this rational and scientific bunch – so much so, they have experimented with a minute of silence at the start of their team meeting.

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