Customer Service

Tension vs. Stress and How to Eliminate One to Avoid the Other

Stress free zone 42646457_sI am reading Brian J Robertson's  book "Holacracy".  As I do it has dawned on me that the reason why command and control management has not been buried – despite longstanding claims that it is dead – is because we have not yet found a model that replaces our hierarchical structures. I know that is rather an embarrassing admission to have to make, but the truth is I had never consciously thought about it in such simple terms before, despite all my efforts to help inter it. I am therefore grateful for the opportunity to reflect on why that has been the case and to develop new ideas that will further the cause. 

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The Paradox of Change

“It takes a lot of learning to keep something stuck.” That was what Nora Bateson said at a recent development session I attended. Only a single sentence – one of literally thousands in a mind-stretching day. Yet it stood out and continues to haunt me days afterwards. Why?

Perhaps because it opens passages of possibilities. What is stuck? What is learning? Why would learning prevent release? It certainly hints at an unrecognised paradox. How can learning keep you stuck when we all know that learning is the solution: the way to move beyond most sticking points? Those were some of the avenues that my mind started to wonder down. The paradox path is particularly rewarding.

Etymologically the term “stuck” implies a stasis: a situation in which movement has ground to a halt or in which thinking has reached an impasse. Often, however, it is used more loosely to describe a lack of progress; where things continue in the same manner they always have. Either would be a state where Einstein would say you need to change your consciousness in order to change your experience.

This is particularly significant when it comes to organisational change, for to shift the thinking of the organisation you have to change the thinking of the people who work in it. It is possibly the failure to recognise this that leads to the failure of the large majority of change initiatives. Too often we see organisations as machines and the people in them as cogs and so consider change as a mechanical process: an attitude typified by the term ‘business process re-engineering’ to frame efforts to design change and “unstick” an organisation.  As a result we issue instructions and simply expect change to follow.

By definition, people are all that can change an organisation and the way it operates. And people are biological animals. Consequently you would accomplish organisational change far more readily if you look upon your organisation as an organism rather than a machine. After all, Mother Nature doesn’t have a whole army of change agents and business process engineers on call to project manage progress. Life is perpetuated by a permanent capability to adapt. It is called ‘evolution’.

Adaptability 10631670_sIn her formal talk, Nora showed a slide with two trees. The same species and apparently only a few feet apart, they had grown differently and had very different branches, heights and shapes. This illustrated how they had each interacted differently with their environment, adapting to their respective situations, and the different needs their relative positions had demanded. Organisations should be just as adaptable to their environments. After all, change is just as much of a constant in business as it is in life.

For me this example highlighted the paradox of our approach to change. We regard it is unnatural rather than natural. As a result, instead of letting organisational change just evolve, shaped only by life and our overarching purpose, we try to impose it.  And when we do that we significantly constrain our efforts and ultimately jeopardise our prospects of success.

As human beings we are distinguished by our superior intelligence and our ability to apply it. This places us above any other life-form. It means we have to be just as capable as a tree – if not more so – of adapting to our environment. So not putting this to ability to use in organisations is wilfully stupid and wasteful. We need to use every ounce of intelligence available to ensure an organisation responds to ever-changing conditions and adapts and thrives. This means every individual matters and we need to ensure that every individual is in that position.

Leonardo da Vinci said “All our knowledge has its origins in our perceptions.” If you accept the logical premise that knowledge is accumulated learning, then our learning has to be founded on our perceptions. This means:    

  • It is our learning to date that keeps us stuck.
  • We need to learn more to move beyond our current situation.
  • To learn more we have to change our perceptions.

For any organisation it is therefore axiomatic that the more people are involved, and the better they communicate, the more perceptions will change and the quicker the organisation will adapt. The following diagram, which I have used before illustrates this point and underpins the argument for a biological or organic approach.

The Learning Cycle

It has become fashionable to talk about the need for unlearning as the way to get unstuck and move ahead. And this is certainly one way to look at things. This, however, tends to diminish what people have already learned and the foundation on which they need to build. It may be better to simply recognise what is inhibiting movement. The “filters” can help here.  They graphically depict the barriers to learning that can keep people stuck.

Purpose, context and relationships push people to move beyond the constraints historic learning can impose. This enables them to progress and thrive. And our organisations should provide these essential ingredients. It is a reciprocal need, for our organisations need people who are sensitive enough to what is happening around them to change their perceptions in order to progress, develop and grow. Releasing control and letting people respond in the appropriate way to what they see is the only way to create a learning organisation, where evolutionary change prevails and ensures its ability to survive, adapt and grow.

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If you like what you have read contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model can provide the catalyst to help you create an organisational culture of ‘Love at Work’ : one where everyone cares and the business becomes our business, so embracing change and transforming – and sustaining – organisational performance.

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Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.


The Power of Purpose

It has been an extraordinary week. It is as though the whole world has aligned with my endeavours. New light has radiantly illuminated my inner convictions while the echoes of my expression have reverberated through everything I have heard. This powerful cornucopia of sight and sound has fired the furnace that has recharged my purpose, reinvigorated my hopes and re-energised my actions. Let me share the details in the hope that you will experience the same thing. 

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Why you should care!

It didn’t look special or anything out of the ordinary. Just another piece of internal mail. But it turned out to be very different.

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Love at Work: A Practical Recipe

“Work is love made visible.” What do those words of Kahlil Gibran’s say to you? I see them both as a constant source of inspiration - and a massive challenge!

They are an inspiration because, as Eric Gill so clearly put it, “That state is a state of slavery in which a man does what he likes to do in his spare time and in his working time that which is required of him.” When we don’t love what we are doing work is drudgery, and, because of the innate human desire to develop and grow and be useful, thus a form of slavery. Yet this is only a limited, single-faceted perspective. It addresses the personal side or what you might call our ‘love for work.’

Now look in the mirror and ask yourself “How much love do I have for my work?” If you are one of the majority of disengaged people the likelihood is that your answer is, “Not much!” And therein lies the challenge – turning that around.

That, however, is only the beginning. What about the workplace? You cannot love your work if you don’t love the environment and/or the people you are working with. And you cannot love them if you don’t feel loved yourself. That is what ‘love at work’ implies in its fullest sense and is where the real challenge comes in.

So let me give you an insight as to how you could meet, and beat, that challenge. The following diagram presents a practical recipe for creating an environment which will build, secure and sustain love at work.

Love at Work

It looks at things from both the individual and organisational perspective. Both need to have a sense of purpose in order to give meaning to their actions. When the purpose of both individual and organisation align you get greater engagement resulting in blue-chip people or, borrowing the term from the ratings industry, what I call a “Triple A Employee.” This creates a mutual satisfaction that enhances the individual’s sense of self-worth and their value to the organisation. In turn this inspires them to pursue their personal growth and development but as this is within the organisational context it maintains and sustains their personal fit within the organisation, enabling the organisation to better meet its changing environment whilst simultaneously helping them fulfill their own purpose. Thus you cement partnership between individual and organisation to create a mutually beneficial virtuous cycle.

The arrows, however, go both ways. This depicts the fact that each element not only leads to the next, but also flows back to the preceding one, acting as a reinforcement that strengthens both its power and the power of the whole cycle. For example personal growth also enhances the individual’s value which in turn makes them more of a ‘Triple A Employee.’

So there you have it; a recipe for creating ‘love at work’ that ensures the synergistic partnership of employer and employee and their sustainable mutual success.

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Contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model can help you create an organisational culture of ‘Love at Work’ that embraces change and transforms – and sustains – organisational performance.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.


Love at Work

You might see the unpunctuated phrase love at work as a simple statement. Or as a question.  Or you might perhaps see it as an exclamation or even a headline in a salacious newspaper or magazine. I cannot predict how you will interpret it, but I hope that, whatever your reaction, it intrigued you enough to keep reading.

Loving work 15388474_sIn actual fact it is an answer!  The answer not so much to a question as to a challenge. It arose from a catch-up conversation with Traci Fenton at Worldblu. After I had explained my ‘Every Individual Matters Model to her, she responded, “I get it but others might not. You need to find a way to explain it more simply: in only a few words that will give them something they can understand, remember and share with others.” I was stunned but it certainly gave me plenty to think about.

Afterwards, as I struggled, I thought about Traci’s own proposition “Freedom at Work,” and our mutual friend, Alex Kjerulf’s, “Happiness at Work” and came up with “Love at Work.” After some initial concerns that it might be ‘too abstract’ or ‘too much’ or ‘too unbusiness-like’ and a complete failure to come up with anything else, I remembered Kahlil Gibran’s inspired and inspiring statement “Work is love made visible” and I became far more comfortable with it. Even better, it fits perfectly with my vision.

As I realised this, I also recognised that the time had come for me to publish my vision and stop seeing it as a personal purpose statement for my own eyes only, to help me shape my own path. So here goes.

I have a vision!

I see a day when all people of all nations will rise up and live their life to their fullest potential.

I see a time when people will no longer allow work to be a four-letter word, something to balance with life, but instead will value it as a vital, integral part of their life.

I see a world where work is not a bind but an opportunity for every person to celebrate the uniqueness of their being and the means to express who they are.

I see each and every person recognising their work as their contribution to humankind; making it a focal point of their lives, striving to maximise what they give and, in the process, optimising who they are.

I see that, as they recognise work as part of life and not an adjunct to it, people will regard their work as their business and do everything in their power to make it a successful business that blesses all it serves, as well as themselves.

I see people treating work as part and parcel of what they have to do, not out of compulsion, but deep desire to be the best they can possibly be; in order that, when their time is up, they can look back with pride.

And I envisage workplaces that recognise people for who they are; that sustain, nurture, encourage and enable them to be their best.

I see workplaces that cease to manage people as a resource and instead improve efficiency by encouraging, enabling and endorsing self-management. I see workplaces that acknowledge people for the assets they are; that give people back their independence and pride; and that bask in the better results this brings.

I see workplaces where command is dead and control is a collective responsibility rather than an imposition: where organisations pursue purpose rather than profits at any price.

I see workplaces operating as teams, where people do not compete, but support one another for the common good; of individual, of organisation and of the wider world.  

I see this new outlook bringing a new enthusiasm and creating a zeal that makes all a joy. I see reduced conflict and greater co-operation that makes the world a better place and that enhances its chances of survival.

I see you helping to make it happen!

(© Bay Jordan with acknowledgement to Martin Luther King)

Heart and mind 15817143_sThere you have it. Perhaps not such an unbusiness-like proposition but rather an extremely business-like one. What do you think?  

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Contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ Model can help you create an organisational culture that embraces change and transforms – and sustains – organisational performance.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement” and, more recently, The Democracy Delusion: How to Restore True Democracy and Stop Being Duped.


Beware WIIFM: Avoid Its Present Dangers

WIIFM 1Virtually unheard of ten years ago, WIIFM – the acronym for What’s In It For Me – has become a surprisingly popular term in business. Originally coined to focus marketing efforts on customer needs, it has become a key concept in change management and HR. Here, however, it is a double-edged sword and needs to be invoked with care.

On the positive side, WIIFM recognises the individual and looks to address personal needs and expectations. A shift away from traditional command and control thinking, with its philosophy that the employee is simply a resource required to do what they are told, this is clearly progress.  

Unfortunately, it also has three inherent dangers that are not widely recognised.

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The Strange Dichotomy of Organisations and How to Bridge It

Dichotomy 12350504There is a strange dichotomy in organisations. Perhaps rooted in the Paradox of Management I described previously, it goes beyond that and lies in the fact that, although organisations depend on people to fulfill their purpose, generally they fail to take any account whatsoever of the intrinsic drivers of human behaviour.

An extreme case of this was a conversation with an executive who argued that putting people first was a complete waste of time. As he put it, “I employ people to do a job and I expect them to do it.  If they don’t appreciate how fortunate they are to have a job or they don’t want to do it as prescribed, there are plenty of other people who will!”

Wow! It seems hard to believe that such attitudes still exist. Yet, is it so surprising? Perhaps, despite claims about, and efforts to circumvent and “win”, the “War for Talent”, they reflect a fundamental, ingrained management belief.  Certainly there is plenty of evidence suggesting that, even if not explicitly expressed, they are pretty pervasive, and stem from a belief in the importance of jobs. But employment is about more than just jobs: it is about people.

Improving performance is seldom, if ever, as simple as substituting the person.  And why should it be? Even the exchange of machines can be complicated and their operation radically different. In every case you have to cater for the “needs” of the individual machine.  Those, however, are primarily physical/mechanical. But for people those needs are intrinsically physiological and psychological. Yet how often do you look at the physiological and psychological needs of your people?     

In his book “Leaders Eat Last”, Simon Sinek identifies the biological drivers of behaviour. Although these have their origins in ensuring humankind’s survival as a species, they are just as significant today. They therefore play as important a part in the modern workplace as they did in our hunter/gatherer history. In fact they determine our health and sense of wellbeing. Thus, failure to recognise them and shape them, inevitably impacts performance.

Similarly, Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi identifies the psychological drivers in his book “Flow”. He describes “flow” as a state when we become so totally absorbed in what we are doing that we become oblivious to the demands of everyday life and says that this is a state of happiness resulting from our need to optimise experience. Key here is the fact that we are all intrinsically goal driven and therefore motivated to continue developing and reaching for new goals. When we are not doing this, we become demotivated, disinterested and disengaged. Sinek explains this is due to the body’s production of dopamine, which makes us feel good when we reach our goals, and serotonin, which is produced by the sense of pride we get when we feel that others like and respect us. 

Daniel Pink identifies the essential ingredients of employee engagement as autonomy, mastery and purpose. The first two are again readily understandable when you understand that they derive from the production of dopamine and serotonin. On the other hand, he links purpose closely with a sense of belonging, which Sinek says stems from the body’s production of “chemical love”, oxytocin, which it creates when we are in the company of people we like, trust and respect, or when we do something nice for someone else or they do something nice for us.

Thus, although coming from three totally different perspectives, all three of these writers reinforce one another’s conclusions. This makes their findings more credible, and more significant for you as a business leader. To significantly transform performance and results you have to create an environment that makes the best of your people or – more accurately – that allows them to make the best of themselves.  For this you need to consider how you are going to create a system or systems that addresses the physical and psychological needs of your people. Both collectively and individually, because every individual matters.   

_____________________________________________________________________________  

Contact me today for a free 30 minute conversation about how my ‘Every Individual Matters’ model can help you create an organisational culture that embraces change and transforms – and sustains – organisational performance.

_____________________________________________________________________________

Bay Jordan

Bay is the founder and director of Zealise, and the creator of the ‘Every Individual Matters’ organisational culture model that helps transform organisational performance and bottom-line results. Bay is also the author of several books, including “Lean Organisations Need FAT People” and “The 7 Deadly Toxins of Employee Engagement.”


Why you, unwittingly, may be just going through the motions

Necessity 50123277_s

Have we got it wrong?  

“Necessity is the mother of invention.” That is the old adage that we all grew up with. (The picture shows just how old!) And like me you have probably never challenged it. But is it valid? Recently I have been compelled to question this.

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Meeting Management’s Greatest Challenges

13884598-concerned-businessmanApparently there are seven major challenges currently occupying the minds of business leaders and causing them concern. At least, that is what the conference speaker told us, feeding back the results of Metlife’s global research study.

Interestingly, there was no specific mention of the fear of disruptive ideas and the impact they might have on their business that, according to different research I reported last week, was the greatest fear of 64% of CEO’s! Even so, the points raised still warrant serious consideration.    

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