Is your Scrum Master playing the right role?

6 days ago 0 0 33

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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Should they be in charge? (Assessing leadership)

5 months ago 0 0 241

The Australian opposition just selected as new leader, and the UK Tories are currently starting the process of finding a leader to replace Ms. May and take them forward. It is likely that the people selected for these roles are not chosen on their ‘ability to lead’, but rather may other elements.  In a ‘perfect world’, how do we go about assessing leadership, both in current leaders and leadership aspirants?  In truth, people are routinely terrible at identifying and selecting great leaders. Whilst we are desperate to identify them, install them and even emulate them, knowing what will make a great leader is fraught with human error. In our desire to find and become great leaders, we often get sucked into the myth that is the cult of leadership. Why are we suckers for the cult of leadership? Humans seem to have a need to raise onto pedestals people who

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Is it time to fight your biggest enemies?

6 months ago 0 0 346

Sometimes they feel like your closest friends. They seem to want to keep you safe, keep you comfortable. But these two ‘false friends’ are your worst enemies if you want to succeed in business or in life. These old friends are fear and habit. They are insidious. They don’t walk around bold as brass. Most often they hide themselves away and ‘whisper’ into your ear. They sprinkle just enough of their magic on what you do to keep you stuck, keep you scared and keep you small. Have you ever sat in a meeting where someone says “yes, but we don’t do it that way!”. Or someone might find a way to get their point across with something like “But what if we don’t do it!” These are simply versions of your false friends speaking up to keep you stuck. There is some sort of comfort in not changing, not

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What the Christchurch tragedy can teach us about inclusion and diversity

8 months ago 0 3 370

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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Bad incentives create bad behaviour

8 months ago 0 0 240

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?

8 months ago 0 0 183

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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The leadership decision ‘speed trap’

3 years ago 1 0 954

Leaders need to know the difference between haste and speed, particularly when it comes to their thinking. In modern business, we seem to be in the habit of needing to be ‘fast’ to just keep up. However, going too fast can get leaders stuck in a ‘speed trap’ that can get you and your business into trouble. Feeling pressured to make fast decisions – and even feeling that you have to make decisions for others when they can make them for themselves – can be critical leadership errors that can impact upon your leadership (and whole organisation) performance. Decision making requires an appropriate amount of thinking. What we have learned through behavioural economics and psychology, is that there are common errors inherent in thinking. These errors, although well documented, are routinely made by almost everyone. Leaders, under pressure to take decisions, often fall foul of these errors, sometimes with catastrophic

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Managing in uncertainty for high performance

3 years ago 0 0 1033

What is uncertainty? If we listen to the famous Chinese proverb: “May you live in interesting times”, we can see it as both a blessing and a curse. We are certainly living in interesting – if not uncertain – times. With Brexit, the extended time for Australian election to be decided, the rise of Donald Trump, the disagreements in the South China Sea, we can feel that there is uncertainty all around us. These uncertain times drive very specific responses. Often, these responses are not the best possible responses for the individual or the society in which they exist. How do people respond to uncertainty? When people experience uncertainty, it can mean that the person is out of their comfort zone. When there is uncertainty, people struggle to decide on what to do moving forward. They get stuck, and often have a lack of skill or strategy in deciding how

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The stories that can ruin your business (part 1)

3 years ago 0 0 794

I was presenting on culture and leadership at a recent conference (#100millionimpacts, for B1G1), and whilst facilitating a panel discussion, a common theme that emerged was the importance of the stories in business. In response to many questions after the session, here are a few thoughts on stories in business to extend that discussion further: Stories are powerful means of communication. Often, people believe that storytelling ends when the kids grow up. However, there are stories being told within your business – and about your business – that can either take it to new heights of success or lead it to ruin. What stories are being told about your business? People communicate through stories. As people communicate, they engage each other through analogy (this is like that), metaphor (the army of sales reps) and stories. Humans are always using these processes to engage their listeners, develop shared meaning and convey

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snap out of it! – your workplace trance is stifling your performance

3 years ago 0 0 691

We can’t help it – we all get hypnotised by our circumstances. The quality of your performance and culture is often a direct result of the workplace ‘trance’ that you and your teams are in. So many people seem to get stuck in low quality ‘trances’, where poor performance is the only practical outcome. It doesn’t have to be this way, though. We can consciously choose a higher quality trance and then achieve so much more. Hypnosis works by placing people into trance. Whilst there are lots of scary ideas about hypnosis and trance, world experts in the field define trance quite pragmatically: Trance is a simply a state of focused attention. Consider when you are absorbed in a great book or TV show. People can walk in and out of the room, and you may not even notice them. You can be absorbed in the story, and instead of

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