The simple success formula

The simple success formula

4 months ago 0 0 230

In business, we are often looking for the perfect answer to our problems.  The answer to our complex problem should be ‘simple’ – but is it really? The idea of a simple answer to uncertainty and complexity drives so much of the coaching and consulting industries, because: People want simple answers to complex problems People buy certainty to escape uncertainty, and simple appears more certain than complex. A critical question arises, however: If the answer was simple, wouldn’t you have already discovered it and implemented it? When we consider the nature of business, it is impossible to think of every business as the same.  Each business has unique attributes and histories, including cultures, strategies and purposes.  There are different capabilities, skills and processes. There are different capacities to operate and to adapt. So how do we help such businesses? We can look at ‘models’ – frameworks that generally apply to

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Phil Owens Bio Photo

A Confession

4 months ago 0 0 176

I have a confession for you. I’m ordinary. Completely and utterly ordinary. Bog standard, in fact. This is not what you are probably used to seeing, in a world where everyone needs to ‘win’, be the best, and stand out from the crowd. Just go on social media. On LinkedIn, there is not one ordinary person. On Facebook, lives are curated in ways to highlight how extraordinary their owners are. When you are trying to be extraordinary – as we have all been indoctrinated to do – then this can create social envy, FOMO and comparison bias. Not for me, because I’m ordinary. Let them be as extraordinary as they want, let them work so hard to be more extraordinary than each other. I will just be plain old me. I’m not unhappy about realising that I am ordinary. In fact, it gives me joy. I know that no matter

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Entitled or earned?

10 months ago 0 0 420

I was reflecting on an innocuous situation that made me feel irritated.  This was curious, and on some reflection I asked myself the question – was I entitled to get what I wanted, or had I not yet earned it? This led me to reflecting on what is happening in the world, what I see in business, and what gets people stuck in their lives.  Are we feeling that we are entitled to something, and being frustrated because we are not getting it? Sometimes we  all fall into the trap of feeling entitled. We feel that – for whatever reason – we deserve something. We might feel we are entitled to certain customers. We might feel entitled to a response, a personal freedom, a promotion, an opportunity, a return on our efforts.  We might even feel we are entitled to likes on our posts, or the ability to say and

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2 points better: a lesson from the Dojang.

1 year ago 0 0 907

We all seek performance improvements – we all want to do better.  However so many people are looking the ‘wrong way’.  As I was teaching a class of teens Taekwondo this week, one exercise I did with the group really demonstrated how true this is. We were preparing for an upcoming grading, when students will have to perform what they have learned in front of the ninth Dan (Degree) black belt Grand Master.  The group were at varying belt levels, and we were focusing in on really honing some of the basics to help them perform at their best on the day. As a group, they performed the most basic ‘pattern’ (in Karate they call it a Kata, in Taekwondo it is known as a Poomsae) – essentially it is a formalised and sequenced set of attacks and defences done without opponents.  After their initial attempt at this pattern, I

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Is your Scrum Master playing the right role?

1 year ago 0 0 643

The Rugby World Cup was on in Japan recently. It was a fabulous tournament with the South African team triumphing in the end. Rugby is renowned for its teamwork and tough play, and the idea of the ‘scrum’ in the world of agile working was taken as an analogy from Rugby Union. As such, it is interesting to reflect on what we can learn from the real game of Rugby to make scrums in your business work better. Summary: The analogy that created ‘scrum’ can teach us much about the roles of those involved. Scrum master is a role that does not exist on the rugby pitch. Its closest analogy is the ‘referee’. Understanding how a referee controls and manages the scrum can inform best practice for ‘Scrum Masters’ in the agile workplace, and help Scrum masters help their teams play better games. As I was watching the matches of

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Stories sit at the heart of culture

2 years ago 0 0 621

The fundamental basis of any group is the culture that forms when two or more people come together. This culture can be described as “the unconscious agreement between members of the group as to which behaviours are acceptable, and what is valued, by the group”. The interesting thing is that culture forms unconsciously, and relies on each of the people in the group negotiating and testing the boundaries of the behaviours that define the group. Everyone brings their own ‘stuff’ to a group – norms, beliefs, behaviours, aspirations, etc. Even when you change only a single person in a group, the whole culture can shift as the new addition begins to bring their own beliefs, habits, patterns and external cultural cues on the group that are different from their predecessor, and forces the group to re-negotiate its cultural foundations. I heard at a presentation recently that ‘culture is what we

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What the Christchurch tragedy can teach us about inclusion and diversity

2 years ago 0 3 726

The terrible hate crime in New Zealand has sparked support for diversity and inclusion, and raises questions about the cost of divisiveness. So in our search for diversity and inclusion, how do we address the comments of a far-right senator , and how do we choose, as a society what is acceptable as free speech or unacceptable commentary? How can we be truly inclusive if we exclude comments such as these? Is there a better way? The media has been full of images and stories related to the tragic events in Christchurch, New Zealand. Whilst everyone was expressing shock and horror over the events, an Australian senator immediately claimed that it was the immigration policies and the nature of the people’s religion that was the cause of the event. I found myself responding to the senator’s comments with disgust, and a desire to see him sanctioned.  The position that he

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Multi-tasking: the myth that is costing you.

2 years ago 0 0 1219

How many times do you hear about ‘multitasking’? It seems to be a concept associated with modern times, with everyone under pressure to achieve so much, all at the same time. People are on their phones, sending mails, checking social media, and attempting to do other work tasks. Or you ask your partner to do this, and do that, at the same time. Lets test your multitasking abilities with a little exercise: Part A: As fast as you can, write the first ten letters of the alphabet (hint: a, b, …), then immediately write the first ten numbers (hint: 1, 2….). Time how long this took you. Part B: Now, as fast as you can, write every second letter (hint:a,c..) up to ten letters, then immediately write every third number (1,4…) up to ten numbers. Time how long this took. Part C. This time, write every second letter then every

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Bad incentives create bad behaviour

2 years ago 0 0 682

We use incentives all the time to shape behaviour.  From our kids at home, to employees, to people we have just met, it is almost human nature to offer incentives to encourage specific behaviours.  However, like most things we do without really thinking them through, there is a dark side to incentives that often gets people stuck. Consider what an incentive might be – it might be the supply of some positive reward such as financial, social or relational.  It might also be the removal of punishment.  Often if people know that some punishment comes unless they demonstrate the behaviour, this acts as an incentive for this behaviour to be displayed. We often simply deploy incentives without thinking – in fact, the culture of the group that we are in often dictates what will be incentivised and how.  For example, if the culture can be defined as all the behaviours

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Are your Social Media habits making you more extreme?

2 years ago 0 0 472

That slightly political post comes up in your feed and you click ‘like’. No harm done, right? Maybe not, but it is also the path to creating more and more extreme views. Without realising it, there are a whole series of thinking errors that can lock us in from this first like to be active promoters of strong political opinion. And you wonder why the Russians spend so much promoting seemingly innocent topics on Facebook? Social media is the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) online world of manipulation.  The proven case of Russian interference in the US election with seemingly innocuous posts points towards a deep understanding of human behaviour, which can be ‘nudged’ towards beliefs and outcomes in very specific ways.  Sometimes you are on the hook from the first time you ‘like’ or reshare even a simple, seemly harmless piece of content.  Here is why. Firstly, humans

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