Tag: knowledge

Making the hard stuff easy?

Improvement, Personal productivity, Teams No Comments

You have probably come across the business adage, “the soft stuff is the hard stuff”. Like a number of famous quotes, is not quite clear to me who first coined the term – there is quite a lot on it online. But was it Covery? Enrico? Anyhow…

When thinking about organisations I like the distinction between structure, process and behaviour.

In one meeting last week I was challenged: “so, are you an organisational behaviourist?” Normally, I prefer to use Edgar Schein’s language and see myself as a ‘helper’ – and not even an OD specialist or Change Manager, which LinkedIn endorsements tend to say I am. So, I wasn’t sure I wanted the Organisation Behaviourist tag. But I guess I am the OB title. I see behaviour as key for it provides the physiology of organisational life – ways of working that can make any ‘anatomy’ work, or not. If I ask people to think of a leader they admire or a team that is performing well, and then write what it is about them down that impresses them, it is clear that the vast majority of the positive attributes are attitudes not technical skills, behaviour not knowledge.

There are some notable approaches to orchestrating behaviour shifts through ‘nudges’. Also, there is lots of training offered to change behaviour – from ‘difficult conversations’ to ‘line management’ to ‘team working’.

For me, the most significant improvements in organisation come from a disciplined focus on behavioural improvements around R and E in FRE – that is ‘responsibility’ and ‘example’. But I know from my work that the ongoing curiosity and empathy that is needed for this sort of sustained shift isn’t easy to generate and maintain.

A recent HBR study shows that even the most thoughtful training approaches bring about minimum behavioural changes long term, in the absence of a shift in the example of senior leaders. This makes sense – at least it confirms the finding from my decade-old research about getting values into practice, see this.

So these ‘soft’ shifts are hard. That is clear.

On a recent trip to Australia I saw a new way of promoting a long lasting shift in the culture of organisations in action. I saw it at work in settings as diverse as a bank, a commonwealth department and in a food manufacturing plant. The ‘Blue Bus’ approach started out in steel manufacturing and mining. It is spreading. It is a sticky idea. There is a pull. It seems to be passing the Chili Test. It makes the distinction between ‘hardware’ and ‘software. Between the ‘spaces’ leaders regularly ‘play’ like strategy, tools and systems and the area that is really needed for individual, team and organisational performance: mind-set, values and behaviour.

If you are in Asia or the Pacific (or even Australia!) and want to find out more, do let me know – I can make an e-intro. As there is deliberately almost nothing about it online. And, looking ahead, the guys (in a gender neutral sense) will be over in Europe in 2017.

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Wiki wiki who?

Reflect No Comments

My big surprise of 2012? And one that is continuing into 2013…

not a viral media sensation involving a K-Pop star – or anything high brow to do with economy or the defining moments for massive institutions like the BBC, Police or NHS…

Rather, this article on the most popular pages on Wikipedia reminded me of how fruitless my search to meet someone, anyone, who contributes to the online encyclopedia was during 2012 (as per this blog). In my travels and events I met some who know people who do write and edit – but no one directly.

So…maybe I should start and be that person : )


Curiosity #106

Front foot No Comments

You know of our curiosity – so we enjoyed this piece by Seth.

Being able to rapidly find things online is such a joy. Smart phones and ipad’s make this ‘Curiosity Fulfilment’ easier than ever.

So, whilst talking about our blog on ‘Ta’, in a restaurant offering the ubiquitous ‘scotch egg’, we were delighted to find this dish has more in common with Asia than north of the English border!


Can the person who contributes please stand up?

Think No Comments

I have a mystery

I don’t know any of those writers I am afraid

And I am a bit surprised –and embarrassed.

(Will the authors please stand up?)

Unlike other social media

I have yet to find anyone

No one at all.

Anyone who writes

Who edits.

To and for Wikipedia.

Will the persons who contribute to Wikipedia please stand up

I want to thank you – and wonder why with you.

Why you do

And we don’t.

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Reflect No Comments

Have you noticed how some change models and ideas in organisations get set out as a bit of maths (our favourite, is the oldest one of DxVxF>R…which I must admit to initially rejecting due to the mathematical nature of the approach). You can read a bit more here.

Though a recent piece from The Guardian challenges that sort of reductionist thinking a bit,  when applied to people and our feelings!


Digging deeply, for fair supply chains

Reflect No Comments

In your work, do you think

1) How your staff are treated

2) How your suppliers treat their staff

3) Where your products are made – and how staff are treated

4) Where the raw materials in your products come from, and how workers fare there?

This talk  gives lots to think about.  As a rule of thumb (and not just for newsworthy Apple mobile devices), the further away in the supply chain, the more there is to be concerned about, but the less likely it is to get seen or discussed.

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Satisfaction and Confidence

Plan No Comments

We regularly survey groups for their satisfaction on current issues and confidence in the future…

A client asked this week how we see they relate?  If satisfaction is a function of expectation, to what degree is confidence a function of aspiration?

Our view? In our experience satisfaction is inversely related to expectation – but confidence can GROW in a climate of more audacious goals…trying to do great things can feed great work and good feelings…


Web work for good – and ill

Reflect No Comments

This sad story shows how the internet fuels “power of the people” – for both good and bad purposes.


– good film?

Plan No Comments

What is a ‘good film’?

A feature or fact?

Positive or challenging?

Some can cover all bases….this one links nicely to my concern for developing counties, the role of women and carbon (despite the flights involved).

Will be a great film when they have finished it and it is released next year.

I would like to see more high quality documentaries next year – resolution #1 J

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To memorise or not to….um…

Do, Personal productivity No Comments

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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