Beyond Self Development?

Hey so here’s the thing. We spend all this time working on SELF-development – but how often does it result in same thing different perspective?

What would it look like to actually meet people where THEY’RE at rather than where we’re at? And what would that look like at scale? Well that’s what had me thinking this week!

Leave a comment below, I’d love to hear your thoughts.

Video transcript and relevant links

So, something that I’ve been thinking about recently is this boom we’re having self-development, personal-development in bettering ourselves whether it be through diet or more exercise or improving our emotional intelligence or building resilience.  And I for one think it’s GREAT that this industry is booming, that people are taking a real interest in bettering themselves as human beings. Fantastic! The world needs so much more of that.

But it also occurs to me that there’s a big gap potentially, that we’re not looking at yet, and there’s a huge opportunity here.  That is if you have all these individuals that are doing the work on themselves and working out how to be better human beings, what does that look like when we come together, when we organise and when we gather together in groups?

Because what I see happening very very often is that people go through the transformative experience.  They’ve worked on their communication style, they’ve gone through this program and out the other side of it they’re saying “I’m a better person as a result” but I’m not seeing a tangible shift in the behaviour and how they interact with others.   

What I’m seeing is that there is still this expectation that you as an individual will speak to me as I need to be spoken to and will work with me in a way that I’m still comfortable with – rather than necessarily meeting others where they’re at.

I think that’s the big gap.  So all very well to go and work on ourselves but really that transformation should be about how do we then work together in groups.  And that’s more about how I meet somebody at the level that THEY’RE at, rather than them necessarily coming to me in a way that I’m comfortable or I’m familiar with, or in a way that is in line with all of this new knowledge that I’ve found.

So it’s something that continues to fascinate me.  I came across a little meme that somebody had sent me just last week and they talked about self-care, self-soothing, and structural care – and the difference between those three things.

So you know self-soothing is very much the Netflix and chocolate which I’m sure all of us are familiar with to some degree.  Self-care is doing those things that are really important to us as individuals, like our finances, but maybe it’s not the most fun that week.  And then this concept of structural care, and does it look like to build structures, to build society in a way where people can live and interact as fulfilled human beings. And I think THAT’S the gap that we’ve really got to go after now.  

We have a huge wealth of people that are prepared to help us as individuals, let’s take that next step and say “OK, so what does it look like to organise ourselves scale?” 

Maybe we can start to stem the tide of people who are leaving organisations feeling disenchanted and starting their own thing to get some degree of freedom and control back in their lives.  And actually if you were building a way for people to interact that meant that they could get purpose and they could get fulfilment in a large organisation, then, that would have a real effect.

Because on some level I believe that ultimately human beings are going to have to organise ourselves on a scale that’s greater than 2, 5, 20, even a couple of hundred people.  It’s not going away and so let’s go after that gap around how we’re interacting as more fulfilled, more capable human beings as a whole, rather than focusing on the individual improvement.

I think that’s where the real opportunity lies.

I’m Danelle, from tribe Leadership Retreats, drop us a line below, leave a comment – I’d love to hear your feedback and hear your thoughts.



Curves, curves CURVES!

Ok so here comes part two of our series on value, and how to get more of it in the hands of your customers more quickly.

Today I’ll show you two different curves, why they’re different, and how you can use one simple visual aid to track your progress and encourage the right conversations.

Make sure you leave a comment to let me know how you’re going to use this in your own organisation.

Video Transcript and Relevant Links

Hey everyone, Danelle Jones here

Curves.  Curves, curves curves! Today we’re going to be talking about curves!  Super excited. So last week we did a whole conversation about the difference between value and benefits and then this week I promised that I was going to share some work around curves.

So, before we get started, if you haven’t watched the video from last week, it could be super handy to go back and just get your thinking straight around that one, and then come back and do this video as well.  The last video is only about 3 minutes long, it won’t take you very long at all.

What I wanted to share today is a concept that I have found really really useful, over and over and over again.  It’s this idea of graphing out your cost versus the value that you are delivering for a project. And so using a really simple visual tool, to help you understand whether you’re heading in the right direction, or whether you might want to take a different tact.  So I have lots of little post-it notes and cards to share, I’m going to be drawing as we go, so let’s get into it!

So the graph I’m going to draw for you today is super super simple.  It’s a graph of value on the vertical axis over time. So this idea that, over a period of time in a project we’re looking to deliver anything up to 100% of the value that we thought we’d get when we started on the project.

This works super well for IT projects but it will also work well for your other infrastructure type projects, it’ll work for a lot of what you do.  But certainly in an IT project (sorry I’m going to try and get this on the right side) over time, we’re looking to spend money and so cumulatively we tend to spend in a straight line.  

What that means is that, because, if you’re in knowledge work if you’re in any of those industries that are building knowledge or knowledge products – software delivery, those sorts of things – this works almost every time because the large part of your cost base is human capital.  You might have some hardware to drop in here there and everywhere, but you can do that in stages and so ideally what we’re looking for is this straight line cost profile.  

Now it doesn’t have to be that way, but for the sake of this example we’re going to use a  straight line cost profile in each of the graphs.

So we’ve got our cost profile, that’s what we’re looking to spend on the project over time.  Now, what does the value profile look like? Well, assuming that we have done our due diligence and we’re going to deliver something that is actually of value to our customers, in a traditional project, the value often looks like a bit of a ski jump, in terms of what you’re actually delivering into production that’s having an impact for people.  

Over on this side, we start with a design process, we might do some requirements gathering, we go through a build process, we start to get into testing and at that point we think we might have something that potentially works and so we start to, I guess de-risk and have some confidence that what we’re going to deliver is of some use to us.  And then all of the value, comes right at the very end – if you’re lucky. Sometimes that time needs to stretch out a little bit longer. But all that value is delivered in one big chunk right at the end.  

Now this is a very traditional project delivery type cycle, what we wanna do is shift that up, so we want to be talking about delivering faster at less cost.  We want to deliver more value, more often.  

So what we want to be doing is that same cost profile, that same straight line cost profile, but we want to build something that looks a bit more like: an S curve.  So that instead of getting all that value right at the end, what we want to do is we’re going to chunk the work down into smaller pieces, that can be delivered independently delivered and every time we drop one of those into production we’ve got some value being delivered.  

And so this S curve, actually, is broken down into a whole bunch of pieces of work, that each deliver value, that each deliver something that we can use, that we can test, that we can get feedback from, that we can start to understand whether we’re heading in the right direction.

Pretty simple concept, as you can see, there’s a crossover point so once we start working this way, once we start breaking our work down into smaller chunks, and realigning so that we’re delivering value more early, we reach the crossover point in that cost/benefit graph much much earlier on.  

So we might find that we get to 50% of the spend and we’ve delivered somewhere more like 60 or 70% of the value.  Maybe we get to 70% of the spend and we’ve got 85, 90% of the value and we’re looking at spending the last 20% of our cash, to get that tiny sliver right at the top.

What this does, when we break work down into small chunks is it gives us pivot points.  So that the point that we’ve delivered more value than it has cost us, we might choose that that’s enough.  And so we can park that project, go and start to work on something else and not have to worry that we’ve half delivered or that we’re not getting value out of it because we’re tracking this the whole time, we’ve delivered something that is of value into production, it’s actually working for us, we don’t have to wait right to the very end to get it.  

So, if you start to look at tracking these types of graphs for your projects, then we get a couple of options right? (it’s going to get me every time) So, if you see a graph that looks like this.  What are you going to do? Well if it was my project, I’d be looking at that going “for every dollar that we put in, we’re getting about half a one out, like, that to me doesn’t look right, something’s wrong here.”  Do we want to keep spending the money? Maybe we want to spend for a bit longer and see if that value curve starts to kick up, it looks like it might be. Or maybe we just want to cut it now and go you know what, too hard, let’s stop.

If, on the other hand, we see a value curve, that starts to look like this, well, for every dollar I put in, I’m getting more than a dollar’s worth of value out the other end?  I’m going to chuck every cent I’ve got at that, because clearly it’s working. That blue line is sky-rocketing, and so I’m going to make a bet that we can put a fair bit more chunk of cash towards that and if we can keep delivering value out of it? Great.  And remember at each point that we look at this graph, because we’ve broken our work down into small chunks, we’ve got something that’s actually working in production.

So this is not design, this is not a model, this is not us projecting out our cost savings, this is because we’ve delivered something that’s actually working for customers.  We’ve got a skeleton product that’s out there, and people are pre-sold off a landing page, we’ve got a piece of software that’s doing the bare minimum, it’s done, it’s been able to ping a server or potentially play a message down a phone line.  We’ve actually got working software, or we’ve actually got a working product, we’ve actually got some tangible measure that we can demonstrate that we are going to deliver value to customers, or that we are in fact delivering value to customers.  And the sky’s the limit, we’ve got another place to go, we’ve got more improvements to make that are going to make it a better experience.

So, in summary!  We wanna take, our traditional graph, whereby we do a whole bunch of analysis paralysis, we gather requirements, we do a big design, we try and get all of the answers before we start and then deliver all the value, right at the end after we’ve had that huge, huge carriage of financial risk in the project, the whole way through and hope we get something out the other side…


We can shift to, breaking work down into small chunks, bringing value earlier in the piece, to deliver more value more often.  And this has a huge benefit in terms of feeling like you’re really building some momentum. And it means that at any point, you could choose to stop that project, repoint those funds elsewhere, go and use them for something else that’s more valuable.

In some cases, we might get 80% of the way through that project and go “you know what, that’s enough”.  In other cases – for example we might have a compliance project – we know we need to get to 100%, and even though it’s going to cost us the last 20% of the cash, well, we’re just going to have to do it.  

But we’ve got options.  We’ve got flexibility. We’ve got the ability to respond to what’s going on in market around us.  And for my money, that’s a much much better position to be in.

So. Curves.  Have fun!

Now, one last hot tip.  Often when I’m doing this work with companies we’ll start with a really really big project and fixate on chunking it down into 10 or 15 little different pieces.  The super-super-pro tip? You don’t even have to do that. Don’t stress about chunking it down into tiny tiny pieces and the smallest possible. It’s really easy to fixate on that.  If you can take a piece of work, and break it in half, that’s a hundred percent improvement. And if you can take that piece of work, and break it in half again, that’s another, hundred percent improvement.

So don’t stress that you have to go the whole hog straight off.  Start simple, take one piece of work, break it in half, you’ve had a hundred percent improvement in delivering more value, more often.

Have a great rest of your day, we’ll see you next week.


Value. NOW!

Value.  Benefit.  Same same right?  WRONG.

Value is the things our customers want, what matters to them.  Benefits are all the stuff we get for doing a good job (profits, efficiencies) and generally don’t mean squat to a customer.

In this first video in a 2-part series I explain the difference between value and benefits, as well as why it’s important to distinguish clearly.​​

Next week we’ll be back to apply this thinking to reinvent some of our projects in-progress with a super simple productivity hack.



Video transcript and useful links

Hey it’s Danelle and today were talking about value and benefits, and the difference between those two terms 

Now it may sound like just a couple of words and a bit of language stuff but for me it’s one of those critical concepts that we’ve just got to get across if we want to start thinking differently about how we build and run our organizations and what it means to interact and organise ourselves at scale.

So these two words probably get used interchangeably in a lot of the organisations I work with.  We will talk about value to customers, we’ll talk about the benefits that customers are getting. I like to keep those two words very very separate they have very very different meaning whenever I walk into an organisation.

So first up value.  Value is defined, by customers in their words, it’s the things we do to make their lives better, to solve their problems and it’s about what customers want, when they want it, how they want it, what matters to them, what’s important to them.  Value is something that has to come from our customers.

On the other hand, benefits – well those are all of the things we get, all of the stuff we get for doing a good job.  So I’m talking profits I’m talking process efficiencies I’m talking capability Improvement. And those things are generally things that we’re pretty pleased about with ourselves for having achieved but actually customers don’t care squat about benefits, they’re really interested in value.

And just as a side note, if I hear one more executive tell me that our customers value us being a profitable company, so that we can continue to deliver to them… you’re gonna get a slap through the Internet

So what does that look like in practice?  Well, I always make sure that in any program of work or any initiative or any client that I’m working with we set up a really clear distinction between those two words, because that helps us to create a greater focus, in terms of being honest with ourselves about the reasons for why we’re doing work and why we might be prioritising one thing over another.

Think of it this way.  If you were a bank and you wanted to sell more mortgages… if we were to construct a program of work where the outcome was sell more mortgages… clear benefit to the organisation improve sales revenues, yep got it understand why we would want to do that.  If we set the outcome as sell more mortgages you can imagine the types of projects that might fit under that outcome and the types of things that we might try and do to achieve that outcome. It could be things like a digital mortgage broker; improved home loan rate calculators; maybe there’s a sales push out to new home buyers because that’s the new target market; or conversely maybe it’s a push out to some of those people who already have an investment property and are looking to scale up because they’ve got the capital available.  You get a very clear sense of type work that comes through in that program.

Now if you flip your thinking over and say “well what is it that is really a value to customers?”  

Straight-up I don’t know anyone who’s ever actually said to me that they want a mortgage.  I have met a whole bunch of people that have said they wanted to move into a home. So if we were to construct a program where the outcome that we are looking for was to help customers into a home, you can imagine that the type of work, the type of projects that fall out of that would be entirely different.  We might start to look at things like understanding of the neighbourhood is the right fit for a customers; proximity to local schools, public transport. Starting to work out what are those things that are going to help our customers to feel at home and to fit into a home. And yeah as a result they are going to buy a mortgage with us because we’re able to talk to them about things that actually matter,  as opposed to getting into a really cold conversation about the hard sell around interest rates and those sorts of things.

So what we’re looking for in the distinction between those two terms is the shift in thinking that is going to help us to refocus on what’s really important.  When I say that what I mean is, focus on what’s important for our customers.

So, to recap… Value.  Something that is defined by our customers.  It’s what they want, when they want it, it’s how they want it, what matters to them as an end user, as an end customer as an individual.  There ain’t no such thing as internal customers so just put that to one side.

Benefits are those things that we get for doing a great job.  We get profits, we get efficiencies, we get capability development – all of incredible benefit to the organisation.  I’m not saying that money is not important, we must run a sustainable business to ensure that we can keep delivering on our purpose but let’s get really really clear about the distinction between: when we’re working on something that is for our customers, and adding value for our customers.  Versus. When we are working on something that’s going to give benefit to the organisation and then we can be honest about balancing out those priorities.

Next week I thought it would be really cool to talk about curves!  Now that you’ve got this concept of value and benefit, next week I reckon we dive into this idea of value curves and how that happens within regular projects that are run in the traditional sense, or what that looks like when we start to shift it up and to reprioritise, to refocus and I’ll teach you a quick couple of cool techniques that will make sure you’re delivering more value more quickly.

Have an awesome day wherever you are and I will see you next week.


How To Fix Flooding

In today’s fast-paced world, terms like “overwhelm” and “burnout” are not unfamiliar.
But did you know that when you reach your breaking point, when it all breaks down – the term is “flooding”.
As a leader, our job in exacting high performance from our team is to know exactly where that line is at all times, and to never ever ever cross it.
Check out our video this week for more!


Video transcript and useful links

Hey, wow.  What a big change since last week.  We’re sitting here in Glenorchy this morning and we are right in the middle of a once in twenty year flood event.  It’s probably one of those one in a hundred year events that is happening a little more frequently than most of us would like.  But I thought it would be a really great way to start the day thinking about overwhelm.

I thought that might be an appropriate topic this morning, given that in a couple of hours I’m probably going to be helping my neighbours move their houses out.
So when I first started out as a project manager I worked for a guy who called me into his office one day.  We were talking about performance and finishing off a particular project, getting the most out of the team and I remember the thing he said to me and it struck me and it stayed with me. 

He said: “You really need to make sure that you’re pushing people past their breaking point, so that you know where it is.”

And it hit me in the chest.  I remember thinking it’s horrific, that idea that we would push people beyond what they’re capable of to the point that we break them, just so we know where the line is for next time?

Since then I’ve worked with yoga teachers who brag about people breaking down and crying after their yoga classes or during their yoga classes like it’s this great thing that we’re letting out all of the emotion and that we’re working through something.

What I’ve learned in studying the brain, studying the mind-body connection is that this overwhelm is actually not good for the body at all.  So when you push yourself past that point and you actually start to physically and emotionally breakdown what’s happening is you are creating trauma within that person.  Whether it’s yourself, whether it’s a team member but what you’re doing is you are programming in some pretty deep, nasty sensations into the body. Those things – much like the lake level in Wakatipu at the moment – continue to rise over time and so little by little bit by bit we build up these emotions and this history and this baggage and if it’s not dealt with, then that can lead to a lot of mental and emotional and physical distress and disease at a later date.

So it’s a place that we just don’t want to go.  It’s not healthy for ourselves, it’s not healthy for others.  It certainly doesn’t get the best out of people.

What I would say to you today is that your role as a leader, your role in avoiding and fixing the flooding that’s going on, which is going to be so detrimental to your health and well-being of your employees, your performance of your team.
Once you go past that point you never get trust back. Never.  There will always be this nagging feeling even on a subconscious level with that person that you are not trustworthy with their wellbeing. 

So your role as a leader has to be to create a work environment which is safe for yourself and your team members and yourself to perform in.  To create an environment where you can get the best out of those people and therefore your job is to know where that line is for every single one of the people that you work with – and for your family members and friends at home – and to make sure that you can walk right up to that line, and never never never cross it.

Because once you cross that line, trust is broken.  And you’ll never get it back.