Tag: values

Cultural insight interventions: when start ups level down it helps the rest of us see how to aim high

Organisations, Uncategorized No Comments

This year we have seen Airbnb seeking to shift the culture of the world whilst Uber get into bother about its internal culture .

Getting the culture of start-ups right is increasingly discussed – this list of things to watch out for has resonated for many on one social media platform.

The culture of a business or charity is formed in its early days – often around the behaviours of its founders and the way other colleagues respond to it, and that normally involves acceptance or leaving. The truth is that once a culture of an enterprise is formed, it is very, very hard to shift it.

So getting it right at the start is key – and not just for start-ups in the sharing economy.

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Are you FREe?

Checklists, Front foot, Improvement, Organisations, Reflect, Teams, Think, Values No Comments

Earlier this week I attended a concert at Kings College Chapel. As I sat there in the dark stillness a storm raged outside that rattled the ancient doors as a nearby college clock chimed the hour. I recalled how exactly 27 years before I had first been in that place.

I remembered I had been a little shocked to find myself in higher education – as a working class lad who struggled a fair bit at school. Yet in my mid 20s I had applied to study at tertiary level. When interviewed, some of the alternative angles I shared from my experience as a front line NHS worker, plus the insights from my union activism seemed to appeal to those who selected students.

Over the years I have found sitting in that building to be a powerful place for reflection during times of significant personal change.

So, I was thinking – but on this occasion about my work. My studies all those years ago were the start of my deeper interest in how organisations perform (or don’t). Over the last few months I have been crystallising what I now know about institutions – from larger networks to smaller teams, from commercial enterprises to noble purpose initiatives – based on my experience of working across sectors and continents. What makes an organisation worthy of commitment? What are the features that make them likely to succeed? And fail?

After a quarter of a century, I think there are just three things that are crucial. I summarise these with the word FREe (actually FRE, as you will see below).

Firstly, FOCUS. Is the purpose of the organisation shared? Is the strategy clear – is it understood? Has the governing group set out its intentions (and limitations) for the wider staff to work toward and within? Do individuals know how their particular role contributes – and do they realise where their personal motivations fit, and where they do not?

RESPONSIBILITY: are staff expected to use their initiative to sort out issues? Do they have freedom to act? Do governing boards avoid overstepping the mark and resist micro-managing the executive – and do line-leaders avoid constraining their staff with overly detailed instructions or the expectation of involvement in all decisions? How clearly are all staff held to account for how they have used their autonomy?

Crucially, EXAMPLE highlights the role of senior leaders in setting the cultural tone for an enterprise plus the part played of line managers in re-iterating this – and the importance of peers in reinforcing the ‘right’ behaviours. Most of us are not saints or sinners, rather we absorb the ways others work. This extends from basic ‘pro-social’ interactions to do with decency and civility through to the modelling of focus and responsibility and other important attributes like curiosity. ‘Example’ also concerns how the implied attitudes at the core of a business’s purpose are demonstrated by staff in their dealings with each other as much as with customers: be that caring in the case of health services, learning for an education provider or speed for a high street fashion brand, for example.

I am discovering how this simple framework is powerful in a range of settings.

It helps individuals: it is useful in ways from coaching leaders through to prompting those being interviewed for new jobs to ask useful (and interesting) questions.

With teams it is a checklist to test that the platform for achieving positive results is in place.

For organisations it highlights three important factors to work to get right in all places – to ensure well-served customers, content staff and a fulfilled mission.

Are you ready for FREe business?

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The 2×2 Holy Grail

Feedback, Improvement, Reflect No Comments

There is one 2×2 matrix I am drawn to (and draw on) more than any other.

One that I have heard applied to government ministers, heart surgeons and sports players.

It is described in a number of ways, but it is really the same each time:
• Technical ability vrs living corporate values
• Aptitude vrs Attitude – see this tweet on it
• Skill vrs will
• Competence vrs likeability – see this  and the middle of this

When Secretary of State for health Alan Johnson was described by a few senior officials as a rare minister in the upper right box.

I have heard managers (and sports coaches) say they hire for aptitude and fire for attitude.

I have seen star performers sacked for refusing to budge out of the top left box.

It links to level 4 and 5 leadership in my values framework: www.idenk.com/values

Where are you? Where are your colleagues? Do you feedback on these things to each other? See the third type of feedback here.

The Holy Grail? Certainly the hardest.


Recruiting for values…????

Teams No Comments

One of the truisms I hear a lot at the moment is about the importance of recruiting for values – be that in the NHS, post Francis inquiry, or even a leading men’s fashion shop in Cambridge that always fields a brilliant team of staff runners in the annual Chariots of Fire race! We agree with that focus, as per the 5th level in our values model: integrating desired behaviours into the choices about who is hired, let go, disciplined, rewarded.

We see how many organisations,who are now aware, recruit for aptitude and tend to fire for attitude – this is a huge motivator for getting selection right. However, we do note, there tends to be a bit less interest amongst senior leaders to develop the trust and systems for honest feedback – feedback that is at the heart of work to get the most important thing right: leaders themselves modelling the desired behaviours (level 4 in our framework).

For example, I do wonder how the NHS would be different if those at the top did model a passionate commitment to safety and compassion – and not just financial balance targets (which, by the way I think are important – the 4 hour trolley wait standard has served people I have been attending well, during my A&E visits over the last couple of years…and overspending is never a good idea).

Maybe the reason leaders in many industries like the focus on level 5 is it is about ‘them’, ‘the others’.  Level 4 and Level 5 are a winning combination….but if I could only have one it would be 4, not 5.  Like curiosity, if you get the level 4 going then rest falls into place.

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How to live life? A-F

Personal productivity, Reflect No Comments

Anticipation > anxiety?

Broadening >belief?

Curious > certain?

Determined > demanding?

Example > exhort?

Fascination > frustration?

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Complaint handling checklist

Checklists No Comments

You will know how much we like checklists to guide professionals as reminders to do what is known – be they surgeons, pilots or engineers or facilitators!

This checklist gives some useful pointers to anyone in any industry facing a complaint.

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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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Curiousness #2 – an example of the need for more..

Think No Comments

The previous post (the one sent on George Smiley and Seth), values curiousness.

In many health care arenas, there is a love of competitions and prizes.  These tend to be for innovation, not adoption and adaption.

My critique of prizes?  They pander to the default health care culture of pursuing the discovery of creative new ideas and then using conferences/papers to show your brilliance.

In contrast, the alternative approach focuses with a deep interest into what you can use from others’ research and practice.

In our 4C model (at end of this link) we sum that for many organisations and individuals, creativity and communication is more the norm, not curiousness to seek out things to copy.

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The wheel of (good?) fortune

Facillitation, Plan No Comments

We have a range of assessments that we do in advance of a development workshop – or on arrival. This one exploring team or organisational culture has been used with well over 1000 people since we started using it 5 years ago. We have results from teams in commerce and education, health and charities, in the UK and abroad.

There are some familiar patterns when reviewing the results from all the assessments. First, many groups rate themselves highly on their sociability or drive to get things done. However:

1) The quality of meetings regularly comes out low.

2) Living and reinforcing the values is often a challenge too.

These are two dimensions that get to the deeper levels of relationship and performance – beyond the fire fighting culture and the desire to get on with each other that many people report.

There are a couple of things we offer to help better meetings from DIY effort to developmental help .

And our values in practice paper continues to be popular .


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Does warmth matter?

Reflect No Comments

A number of years ago we wrote a fair bit about some of the defining aspects in health care, with a particular focus on compassion

This ‘poem’ is a more recent take by one of us.

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Email: phil.hadridge@idenk.com