Quit the tokenism, build congruence

How do you feel about a company that has a wellbeing program yet perpetuates a culture of over-work?

Most of us find this type of tokenism leaves us hollow, cynical, disappointed.​​  And worse, these gestures without the depth of change to back them up keep us distracted from the real cause of the toxicity in our corporate environments.

But what’s the alternative?  Have you seen it done well?

Well that’s what this week’s video is all about – and we have a cameo!

Video transcript and relevant links

Hey everyone!  Today we’re out in the paddock because I wanted to introduce you to this ol’ fella.  

This is Chief, we’ve been friends for a long, long time now and the reason I wanted to introduce you to him was because I got a question this week from Alex about… her question was, how do you feel about companies that have a wellbeing program in place, maybe there’s a yoga and mindfulness program and yet there is still this expectation, whether formalised or not – sometimes it’s just one of those informal things – that the culture expects that you’re there working 10 plus hours a day and pushing yourself and pushing yourself and that conversation about resilience being “how can you do more”.

That’s pretty much my feelings too.  So, horses are masters of non-verbal communication and to quote one of my good friends Andrew Froggatt, horses don’t care if you’re the CEO or the Janitor, they’re going to treat you the same way.  

And so a lot of people, when they first come into contact with horses, it can be pretty terrifying probably.  They’re big animals right? Chiefy here is probably 4-500 kilos worth of muscle and they’re unpredictable! So understandably, people are really nervous.

And if you’ve been fortunate enough to come on one of my retreats then you may have met this old fella.  One of the pieces that I love to do is teach people that first contact with horses as part of understanding your non-verbal communication.

Because the trick with horses is, they’re not worried if you’re scared.  What they’re worried about is when you don’t own your fear.

So all of this non-verbal communication that’s going on when you work with an animal like this, it is also a lot about how you show up and how you own your feelings and how you take ownership for what’s going on… within all of this.

And so then to get back to Alex’s question, you know, I struggle with companies who are putting in place well-being programs and yet at the same time perpetuating a culture of non-healthfulness.  Perpetuating a culture where there is an expectation to keep moving and keep working and… driving essentially a system that is not healthy.

To me workplaces should be healthy.  They should be healing places.

For those of you who’ve read Simon Sinek’s new book – and if you haven’t check it out, The Infinite Game – he talks about for as long as we keep perpetuating this idea that we can heal over things with a yoga session or a mindfulness course or a once a week well-being catch up.  For as long as we perpetuate the idea that we can do those things to solve the problems and the toxicity that we’re seeing in our corporate environments today… For as long as we continue to kid ourselves, then it just takes us longer to get to those things that are actually going to make a difference.

And for me, much as Simon says, it’s about the leadership change that needs to happen.  So it’s not about visibly seeing a couple of token gestures towards “we care about health”.  It’s about how YOU show up as an individual and as a leader and how much congruency you have demonstrating the behaviour yourself and opening up space to actually have a healthful environment for your employees, and that’s more than simply yoga and mindfulness.

That’s about building a culture and building an organisation that is responsive and adaptive and allows all of people’s unique talents to come in to play.

So, Chief and I are going to  go for a walk. It’s about 30 plus degrees today here in Queenstown, we’ve had a week of it.  I reckon we’re going to go for a swim, but if you’ve got any questions or comments I would love to hear from you so drop me a link below, thanks!


Are you simply on the take?

When we’re in the middle of making change, it can be easy to slip into this notion that the old ways are “bad” and the air of arrogance around being “better” starts to creep in.

But the old ways came about for good reason.  There was a valid problem at the core of why we work the way we do today.  If you don’t understand that then how can you be sure that your new way of working is any better than simply patching over something else?

This week’s video is all about how we make change, without throwing it all out, but instead maintaining respect for the old as we grow into the new…

Video transcript and relevant links

Hey so today I’m right in the middle of the launch of one of my new products which is going to be coming out, which I’m calling Transformation Templates.

I’m super excited about it so I’m about to share all of the templates that I use, whenever I go into a business transformation.  All of the tools, all of the spreadsheets, the way I collect information, we’re putting that all into one tool set and putting it into a spot where you’ll all have access to it!  So, really really exciting and I wanted to just pick up on something that one of the templates specifically addresses.

There’s this tendency when we get into change programs to say, right, I’ve been put in place here to make a change and it’s about getting from where I am today to something that significantly different to what we’re doing.  Often we come up against resistance, and you know people like the familiar, we talk about people not wanting to change you know getting through all that motivation stuff. Sometimes it can be quite easy to get caught up in our own journey, and our own story and so we start pushing through these changes and we can get to the point where we actually start to say no to a lot of things.  

It becomes what I would describe as disrespectful of the current way of working or the current operations because we can see through it, we can see a better path.  So why would you continue doing what you’re doing if you could see this Utopia in the future? And so it can be easy to slip into that space of I guess, playing down what we’ve got that’s existing.

And I wanted to pick up on that and highlight that in any change program, we must come at this from a place of respect for the old.

These ways of working came about, because we were trying to solve a problem.  Somebody probably put them in for a really good reason. That strange process, where we double-triple-quadruple check something was probably put in place for a good reason at some point.  

So when we then go to start unpicking and undoing this and we start impacting the lives of colleagues and our team members, it’s really important that we come to it from a place of respect.  So understanding that, these things may have been put in place for a very very good reason, but actually we’re going to move to something that’s going to be a whole heap better.

One of the tools I use over and over again is this idea of a “give and take planner”.  So whilst we’re taking away something we’re changing the current way of working, what’s the give back?

This became really apparent to me with an executive coming onto a floor of 200 engineers that were in the middle of a large agile program.  So this team built software, they’d moved from wanting to build big projects that lasted 3-4 years and we’d flipped it to fortnightly ways of working and trying to get software out the door much more quickly and this idea of feedback loops and responsiveness and in that process we had dropped a lot of the traditional project management tools including schedules.

And so this executive arrived on the floor, and we walked him around  and I remember him saying to me “But how the hell do I know what’s going on when I don’t have a schedule? How do I.. how do I get..  This is all great. I see people collaborating, I see a lot of energy, fantastic. But I’ve got no idea where we’re at?”.  

It was this moment for me where I realised that just because we didn’t produce a gantt chart anymore – and we as a team had got to this place of “gantt charts are bad, we don’t do them” –  that didn’t take away from the fact that somebody still needed to understand where we were up to. Help me understand progress. Am I heading in the right direction? Is it meaningful? When are we going to be done?

These questions didn’t go away and it was a real joy to be able to take this person to one of our big visual workboards, where we had a whole bunch of post-it notes and coloured cards and things up on the wall displaying I guess like a dashboard, a physical dashboard of where the team was at.  And I talked him through the tool we were using instead of a gantt chart, which was called a burnup chart.

I took him through and taught him how to read these particular tools and explained the trend line and where “finished” happened and those sorts of things.  By the end of it he was really comfortable that he could come back into that space and get the answers he was looking for.

But that example really crystallized for me.  Here’s someone who has a problem to solve, they’ve asked this team to go away and carry out some work, and then in  the process of changing our work method… all of a sudden he’s lost all of those tools that he was expecting to be able to understand whether to or not he was making meaningful progress.

And so turning around to him and saying “well that’s not the way we do things anymore” was actually the same behaviour we were trying to get away from.

So instead, having respect for the old, we understand that just because we don’t use that tool anymore, doesn’t take away from the fact that you still have a problem, or an insight that you’re looking for, and actually, here’s the give-back.

Here’s the way that you get that information in the new way of working.  Here’s how you understand what you’re looking for, and potentially in a much better way than the previous tool.  We hope. That’s why we’re changing right?

So I’ll leave that one with you.  I’m going to go back to some video recording and getting these templates up online, but I hope you have a wonderful day and we’ll see you again next week.


The top 3 reasons that change programs fail

None of us get it all right all the time.  But there’s three critical reasons I’ve noticed that change programs fail.  That’s what I’m talking about in this week’s video – and a couple of those reasons might surprise you!

So if you’re curious about building a learning organisation…. View on!​​

Video transcript and relevant links

Hey Danelle Jones here from tribe Leadership Retreats and today I wanted to talk to you about the three reasons that change programs fail.

First off, the beginning and the end.  Change programs, transformation… it’s not a project.  And I’ll have all the project manager jump up in a minute and say but we need to know where we’re starting from and where we’re getting too so that we can manage ourselves through the process.  Not so much in transformation.

What we’re aiming for in transformation is not to start at point A and end up at point B, and then once we reach B decide that we’re done and that’s it and it’s over, we’re transformed.  That’s not what it’s about. Transformation is this ongoing process about building a learning culture in an organisation, and it’s about continuing to push yourself into that space of change and reinvention and yeah it can be pretty uncomfortable.  So just when you think you’re getting settled, that’s when you know it’s time to keep moving and to do the next piece.

So that’s the first reason change programs fail, because we start out thinking we’ve got to get to a point and then we’ll be done.  That’s not the case at all.

Second reason they fail is because we often set these programs, these pieces of work up to solve a problem that we see.

Maybe we see that the business isn’t as agile as you would like, we are unable to respond to market conditions and so we set up this just project to say “right” we’re going to improve business agility.  But the real trick is, are you solving the problems that your stakeholders see? And so the reason that large change programs fail is because all too often we are talking about problems that we see. We’re not solving the problems that they see.  

Now remember anyone who’s going to judge your competence will judge your competence based on your ability to solve the problems that THEY see.  We get this again and again and again in IT right, so we’ll get a large piece of IT work that’s going on and the IT team will be down in the weeds of this particular technology that we’re going to use because Google is using it and therefore if we’re using it that means that we’re a more competent IT team.  

But the reality is that often the business unit that has asked for a particular piece of work to be done, they’re not interested at all in what technology you’re using. They’re interested in whether or not you solve their problem.

So the second reason big change programs fail, is because we solve the problem we see, not the problem THEY see.

The third reason big change programs fail? This one’s a doozey.  It’s because we make it a program.

When you make it a program, when you make it a big thing, then people have something to push back against.  And they’ll push back on it and they’ll reject it, because it’s a big thing. And when we make big programs it also encourages this personality cult around leaders.  It encourages this hero mentality of somebody who’s able to lead from point A to point B and to deliver an outcome.  

The piece that you’re missing, which is absolutely critical,  is that when we’re in that mode of big personality, solve a particular problem, get to point B, delivery… you miss the thinking change that goes along the way.  And so the minute that person leaves the organisation the whole thing falls behind them, because it was always dependent on that person.

And so if we make change programs a thing…  They’re always bound to fail, because we’re putting somebody in a situation where they have to deliver, the minute that person who is super super passionate about it walks out the door… everybody goes back the way they used to do things.  You’re not focused on the right change, which is the change in thinking that’s required across everybody in the organisation to move to that culture of continuous improvement, continuous learning and ongoing change.

So that’s it.  That’s the top 3 reasons why big change programs fail.  Love to hear your comments. Let me know if you’ve fallen into one of those traps before.  Maybe you’re in the middle of one of those traps now and I’d love to hear how you think you’re going to get yourself out of it.

Have a wonderful day and we’ll see you next week!


What you should know about habits vs goals

It’s that time of the year again when we hear lots of conversation about goal-setting and new year’s resolutions.

But what if goals were actually hindering, rather than helping our progress?

Well that’s what this week’s video is all about!

(And trying something new)​​​​

Video transcript and relevant links

Hey so this morning we’re in Queenstown for a workshop with one of my dear friends Amanda Hanna, she’s also an alumni of tribe Leadership Retreats.  And today she’s going to be taking us through some goal setting for the new year, which will be interesting.

I haven’t set goals for the last… 5 years probably, if not longer.  And the reason I haven’t done that is because I came across an article a while ago, that talked about the difference between goals and habits.  

So whilst I don’t set goals, I’ve been very very conscious to work on forming habits, whether daily, weekly, monthly.  

So this article I read was actually, the example was this author was visiting the gym most days.  And he said he used to go to the gym and work through lifting 100lbs – I don’t lift weights, clearly, do you thing! – but he said he had these goals that he used to work towards, that he used to try and achieve and he was finding that he had injuries, he had all sorts of stuff going on.  

So what he did was he changed that up and he went towards habits.  And so what that looked like for him was that instead of having a goal of lifting a particular weight, or getting to a particular level, the focus on the habit meant that as long as he was in the gym everyday doing something, that was ok.

And he said he noticed this huge shift in his psyche.  So he went from pushing himself when he felt ill or past it, and over-stressing his body and overdoing it, to actually being more ok to let go and not push it so hard today, because he knew he was going to come straight back tomorrow.

And so for him it was a way of relaxing into… “this is a long game” rather than “this is a short-term thing that I need to fix”.

I found that fascinating. I’ve applied it in my life for the last, as I said, 5 or 6 years so Amanda might have her work cut out for her today but we’ll see!

It’s also one of those things that it’s really great to work with what you’ve got it right and every now again we’ve got to come back around and say ok so we used to do that thing and we didn’t do it for a while and maybe we give it a go again.

Or, we try that and it doesn’t work and we go back to the way that we were.  But I’m here to stretch myself today and to go back to something that I haven’t done for a long long time and I’m curious to hear from you: 

Goals or habits? 

Which are you working with today?  Which are your TEAMS working with today?

Leave us a comment below I’d love to hear from you.