Tag: working life

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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eFFOrt in the NPO

Front foot, Noble Purpose No Comments

In seeking to improve the ways of working in Noble Purpose Organisations, where is it best to start to get (or move further) onto the front foot?

To mix my metaphors, many are interested in ‘culture’ and ‘tools’ to fix the organisational ‘DNA’.

I have just read another ‘top 50’ list – the top innovators.

So here is my ‘top 6’. A few things I find helpful.

For Alignment: preferred scenarios and journey planners

For Attitude: working to ‘practice what is preached’ with the 5 level values model and perusing and encouraging strengths based leadership in groups

For Awareness: WITOS and the perspective assessment to try and see at least 2 sides of any issue – especially in meetings

And for Accountable Autonomy: the work of Gerard Fairtlough and ‘the three ways of getting things done’

Fundamentally, I think the cultural dynamic of Noble Purpose Organisations can be a pretty huge barrier to fundamental improvement. Blind ‘ego’ is part of the core dynamic. These 6 methods help increase the sense of
– agreed direction
– reinforced momentum
– co-ordination and collaboration
– and balanced working.

Or in other words, they help leaders get themselves and their teams on the front foot.

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Delegation demonstration

Personal productivity No Comments

As part of our conversations about ‘responsible autonomy’ and team working the topic of delegation often comes up. Will others we work with pick up the baton when we make a request? Who can you trust? How to line manage well is a key managerial skill.

So in our new podcast, at the second link here, we share our practical way of thinking about this challenging topic – with a nice illustration (and a bit of alliteration!).

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On the purpose of rules

Reflect No Comments

Rules can help us achieve at least two things…

Here are some suggested new rules for urban (cage) cricket – designed to broaden the appeal of the game.

And here are some rules for great fiction advocated by the ‘Dickens of Detroit’, who died earlier this week.

In your workplace, what rules would you like to
1) Break – to bring down stuffy barriers and increase inclusion of those who don’t normally get involved in things?
2) Suggest – to improve quality of various work outputs?

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Noble…energy, this and that

Front foot, Organisations No Comments

You may have seen our recent blog and our book idea on Noble Purpose Organisations. We have had a great response. However, please do pass on the idea to others you know…and please say if you want to get involved.

Our intention is to write an entertaining and personally practical book – full of ideas for people to put into action in whatever role you have in a NPO (from volunteer to trustee, admin to CEO).

We want to do it with a really positive energy too….and on the importance of a positive stance, have a read of this.

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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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Curiouser and curiouser?

Checklists No Comments

You know of our love of checklists – and curiosity

We like this set of prompts from a tweet: “5 a day for 2013 1) Connect 2) Be active: move 3) Be aware: of others and yourself 4) Be curious: keep learning 5. Be generous: give.”

And as we continue to review the idenk website (did you notice the new design, what did you think?), and continue to share our ideas through this blog and twitter….we are reminded of this helpful set of prompts for using social media.

Happy, Curious, New Year….



Personal productivity No Comments

We liked this piece – on energy and productivity – from HBR recently.

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Top Tips to Transform Team Working…#3

Teams No Comments

What are the most important words in any team interaction?

IDK are the initials. “I don’t know”? That’s it!

Owning up to what isn’t known, what isn’t right, what has been done wrong gets the team working going on the right track. The spirit of vulnerability between team members builds the trust necessary for great group working.

So we have the first three of the idenk checklist of signs for great team work:

1.Continuously improve: Seize problems + curiosity = progress

2.Make time: to get the personal productivity habit… so you have time to think, for email, to meet 1:1, to meet as group, to do great work…

3.Be prepared to be a bit vulnerable: “I don’t know”; “sorry”; “I got that wrong”

Please email by return if you would like the other 7 in the list – or a bit more on these 3 (including some video clips from a 1 hour talk that brought ‘the 10’ to life with stories and examples).

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Top Tips to Transform Team Working…#2

Teams No Comments

So if the first thing to invest in to transform your team is the desire to improve (seizing problems with a spirit of curiosity and determination), the second is pretty familiar to readers of these blogs:

2.Make time: to get the personal productivity habit… so you have time to think, for email, to meet 1:1, to meet as group, to do great work…

3.?…coming soon…

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Email: phil.hadridge@idenk.com