21 July 2017
I’ve been struck by the number of times ‘accountability’ comes up as a development theme when discussing Talent Programmes with clients - "push decision making down the tree and hold people to account” is often the aspired culture. What I hear about less frequently is a spirit of ‘learning’ when these decisions go wrong.
Matthew Syed in his excellent book ‘Black Box Thinking’ makes the point that 'holding people to account' and ‘blaming them’ when things go wrong are two quite different things. Where a culture of blame is allowed to exist, decision making is suffocated - people dare not decide and as a consequence the organisation becomes sluggish and inflexible (far from the ‘agile giant’ that most global corporates aspire to become).
Where holding people accountable translates as blame, mistakes are buried and no learning takes place, so the same mistake gets made over and over. Furthermore, if the organisation tries to control the problem by increasing ’the punishment’, deeper concealment and back-covering becomes the norm. The Health Service in the UK is sadly a good example - much quoted by Syed in his book.
Holding people to account (and encouraging decision making) has to go hand in hand with a spirit of ‘learning from mistakes’. In the same way that the airline industry record information in a ‘back box’ for examination without recrimination, so too must organisations seek to establish a culture where mistakes can be openly owned and discussed with the sole purpose of ensuring they don’t happen twice.
04 February 2016
We hear a great deal about the global economic crisis and in particular how China, as the engine-house for the world, is slowing down.
It was therefore fascinating to have the opportunity to work and travel in China late last year as part of the International Business Awareness Programme that we were delivering in Shanghai and Beijing for Rolls Royce.
No one visiting these cities could be left in any doubt that this country is still bursting with growth, and whilst I accept that China is not just a product of it's cities, and a surface inspection does not tell the whole story, it was nevertheless very encouraging to be amongst people who were still talking about strong growth and investment.
The same experience was reflected in our recent visit to Hong Kong, where we have been delivering a leadership development programme for Zurich Insurance.
We have a habit in this country of seeing only the bad news and it was refreshing to experience a very different perspective - and one which reflected our own view of the market.
05 June 2015
Changing mindsets rather than driving down the road of behavioural competencies has always been our mantra. Yet it's still sometimes difficult to position this as an acceptable approach for creating change.
Most organisations would have no difficulty in agreeing that our attitudes and beliefs (our mindset) drives our behaviour - and that challenging people at this level is likely to lead to a more long lasting shift in culture. However, at heart, many organisation are still driven by process - tangible instruments of strategy - and as a consequence we jump too quickly into process mode, sometimes to the detriment of the very strategy we are working to deliver.
How refreshing, therefore, to be working recently, with an organisation which agreed to a total focus on 'mindsets', using James Kerr's great book 'Legacy' as the touchstone for change. Well worth a read if you haven't already seen it!