Hidden Dynamics in School?

I heard a great piece of research reported on Radio 4 last week, that by taking off their shoes in school (or wearing plimsoles), children boosted their productivity exponentially (and saved the school money in equipment and facilities lasting longer).

What a predictably irrational result!  It got me thinking about the parallels in organisational life.  How resistant are we to small changes?  Imagine the assembled board with no shoes...!  We are potentially shutting down such simple possibilities (because we think we know how to do things) and as a result miss out on the benefits.

Time to learn from the 7 year olds...?

The Hidden Dynamics of Change

Find out how to identify, and work with the Hidden Dynamics of your organisation's culture. In this TEDtalk-style presentation from Alison Kilduff and Ben Dowman,  of Plum, you'll gain insight into those underlying elements of culture that can derail change programmes....and influence people at work far more than you realised.  Take a look at the teaser  https://vimeo.com/187811166.  This exclusive webinar will be aired on Wednesday 2nd November at 2.30pm.

Find out how to identify, and work with the Hidden Dynamics of your organisation's culture. In this TEDtalk-style presentation from Alison Kilduff and Ben Dowman,  of Plum, you'll gain insight into those underlying elements of culture that can derail change programmes....and influence people at work far more than you realised.  Take a look at the teaser  https://vimeo.com/187811166.  This exclusive webinar will be aired on Wednesday 2nd November at 2.30pm.

Brexit: Lessons in Uncertainty?

So now the dust has settled on the referendum result and the nation can comprehend the impact, recover from the shock, or the immediate jubilation;  what lessons can we learn from the process:

 

1) Don’t expect to move hearts by rolling out the experts – the Remain campaign played heavily on the financial arguments, put forward by numerous economists.  These were drowned out.  The one piece of ‘evidence’ that did seem to stick throughout the campaign was the claim of the weekly payment (and potential redirection) of £350m, which was factually incorrect.

 

2) Don’t bank on predictable rationality – the referendum was a vote about one thing, whether to remain, or cease being a member of the European Union.  However, as the voting patterns (and distinct splits) across the country were established, one could argue that people voted on the basis of a range of other things, rather than the specific question they were being asked.

 

3) The law of unintended consequences – the referendum was set up to address one area of our economic, political and social life – our allegiance with our wider European Union. Underpinning this, was a long running argument within the ruling Conservative party about Europe.  The vote was an attempt to settle this internal division once and for all.  It may have settled the internal disagreement, but it also launched a range of wider uncertainties.

 

4) Change is not linear – following the vote, we had a leader step down, another leader challenged, a political coup, a leadership contest which is ongoing, falling currency and property markets, drawn out uncertainty about the negotiating position for Brexit and time period.  The one decision detonated a range of wider shocks to the establishment and ways of working, which were more random than linear in pattern.

 

Such predictable irrationality and its management in change, brand identity and leadership requirements is the focus of the The Irrational Project, a strategic partnership between Plum Consulting, a cultural change practice and Brand Ethos, a brand consultancy.  Have a look at our site http://www.brandethoslondon.com/irrational2/ for more information about how our work and approach can help your business.

Brexit - The New and the Next: How to Manage a Culture of Uncertainty

As the EU Referendum gets closer, it seems that the UK is still in a state of high uncertainty about the outcome.  We increasingly live in uncertain times.  There is a surge in generational change, fuelled by new digital technology and communication modes.  Financial transactions are increasingly virtual.  Work is no longer uni-focused, but rather multi-focused.  Our lives are full of possibilities, but also full of uncertainties.  

As a rule we don't like uncertainty.  Psychological studies in the 90's showed that people would prefer to get an electrical shock that they were able to predict, than one that was unpredictable.  Their anxiety increased also in periods of unpredictability.   From an organisational perspective, uncertainty breeds doubt and a lack of engagement and empowerment amongst work colleagues.

But we can't fix uncertainty.  Indeed some would vigorously argue that it is at the root of our ability to wonder, create and innovate.  So as organisational leaders how do you support people through uncertainty?  

Here are a few of the lessons we have learnt from working with our clients: 

1) Don't pretend it's certain - Although people may crave certainty, if you don't know, don't say you do.  Give people what facts are available, but also what are the values and views of the leaders.

2) Keep information flowing - even no change in the facts, helps colleagues understand where things are up to.  It also combats conspiracy theories, or fantasies of the future.

3) Make a virtue of uncertainty - in some situations, a solution is not straightforward, or known by leaders, instead it needs the collective insight of many (and not the usual suspects)

4) Get people involved in problem-solving - in a highly uncertain scenario, leaders need multiple perspectives and a high degree of creativity and lateral thinking.  Get as many people on board with problem-solving

5) Make uncertainty an ok state - working in open, inclusive and creative ways with uncertainty, helps people use more of their brains and faculties.  Researchers on ageing have proven that it is in doing novel activities, that we keep our brains active.  So it is for organisational thinking and habits.  

Brexit or not, uncertainty does not need to case a black cloud over a team or organisation.  If managed well, it can conversely spark a conversation, an idea, or a movement that would never have been heard previously.  

Our Exciting Collaboration

Working with our partners, Brand Ethos, we have devised the 'The Irrational Project', as an inquiry into the essential elements of aligning brand and culture within organisations.  We are launching the project at the CIPD Exhibition in Manchester on the 4th and 5th November.  Can you change behaviours within an organisation if you work with its culture rather than against it?  Too many change initiatives fail because they do, or they ignore, the predictably irrational elements of organisational culture.  The Irrational Project shows another way.