I came across a discussion on twitter which alluded to the fact that the world was becoming more complex. This discussion was based on the ideas of General Stanley McChrystal, author of ‘Team of Teams, New Rules of Engagement for a Complex World’.
“Efficiency remains important, but the ability to adapt to complexity and continual change has become an imperative.”
I remember feeling irked about this statement and the reason for this response, (apart from having man-flu at the time) is that people are acting as if VUCA (the US military term to represent volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) is a new phenomenon. That’s not correct, the world has always been subject to volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity. Ask poor people.
“The biggest paradigm shifts happening right now are ironically the increasing awareness of the existence of paradigms…”
Paradigms are a worldview shared amongst a group of people so they can experience group identity
and achieve a common purpose. Our world is governed by them very much like seas influence the
life of a fish.
Examples of paradigms include the idea of countries, money, religion.
They are a set of beliefs, values and stories which enable collaboration with greater numbers of people and even with people living different locations. It is our ability to use paradigms that enabled us to climb to the top of the species hierarchy.
One monkey left on a deserted island might survive more ably than one person might (unless he’s Bear Grylls). But if you put one hundred people on the island, then they would organise themselves more effectively than the monkeys.
But there are a few problems with paradigms…. Read More
A favourite quote of mine is Buckminster Fuller’s, “You never change things by fighting against the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the old model obsolete.” I’ve been looking for a way to implement this philosophy into my work.
I spent some time with overseas intelligence officers last year, teaching leadership. For amusement I used the opportunity to subversively challenge their worldview under the guise of improving decision-making skills. By challenging them to argue for their enemies’ viewpoint, it soon became apparent that both sides had ideas worthy of consideration. People are complex beings. Ultimately though, the officers realised that after leaving the course, they would hit the paradigm inertia present within consolidated organisations and governments and have to continue working on the assumptions they held before.
So, upon my return I wrote a book called ‘From Mercenaries to Missionaries’. It’s a fusion of
experience, observations and research whose purpose is to help business owners evolve into leaders who can unleash more of the purpose, passion and potential of the teams in growing businesses. Within society entrepreneurial people are creating wealth by selling products and services. To be successful they have to compete for their place in the Universe and bringing a product to the marketplace often requires a Herculean effort. I realised by working with business owners, that once they achieve a certain measure of success, they can be persuaded to challenge the present paradigm, much like I did with the intelligence officers.
Businesses usually follow the ‘growth for growth sake’ mentality. This leads to growing teams of people who become less engaged, trading their time for money, constantly in need of a pay rise to maintain the levels of dopamine they get from opening their payslips. It’s the mercenary approach. It becomes soulless and frustrating working in mercenary organisations as people become widgetized to remove uncertainty. But I help leaders harness the complexity and creativity within the team, not hide from it.
To challenge this paradigm in larger, consolidated organisations, is possible but it meets more paradigm inertia. So, this book helps founders and entrepreneurs develop high performing, intra-dependent teams who can make ecological decision which don’t sink the ship. This then allows the entrepreneur the freedom to solve other more meaningful problems and they can be guided to help their communities thrive too. I would say:
‘Inspirational leadership is ordinary people doing extraordinary things in a constantly shifting world. Leading themselves and, by example, others into a better world for everyone. A world which is environmentally sustainable, socially just, and a personally fulfilling place to live and work’.
Until we change the way we operate in society, I’m on a mission to challenge the entrepreneurial lifecycle helping them become purpose focussed instead of purely profit driven. By unlocking more of the potential of the team’s collective intelligence, organisations can become platforms for developing a new world which makes the old world obsolete.
“Humans never communicate as effectively as they think they do” Christine Comaford
So, I am working with this group of team leaders and I notice that they are greatly biased towards a certain style of behaviour and communication. They’re very collaborative and inclusive when they are briefing their teams for a task to be carried out. The problem is that they continue to collaborate and communicate until they leave themselves little time for achieving their task.
This is because the group of leaders have grown up in a certain type of culture. Their culture drives their way of thinking and behaving. Just as an individual has a personality, an organisation or country can have its own culture. There is much to be said for being aware of such biases and overcoming them because neuroscience is finding that to have a diverse and inclusive culture creates better performance. But it’s one thing to be aware of them, that alone will not stop biased thinking and behaving. What we need is a process to overcome this when briefing teams. READ MORE
“Coming together is a beginning. Keeping together is progress. Working together is success.” Henry Ford
No matter how talented, passionate, and determined to succeed you are in your chosen business, your level of success will be determined by your ability to inspire and lead a team. The game of business or any endeavour is both simple and complex. The simple bit is to have a great idea which you turn into a set of business goals. You then have to attract support for your idea be that in the way of clients, a talented crew and if you’re lucky, a crowd. If you find yourself being one of the lucky ones, albeit combined with hard work and perseverance, whose idea takes off, it is then just a case of measuring and adjusting your way to success.
Of course, that’s not what usually happens. At some point, you’ll want to scale your business and this means adding more people to the equation which adds complexity. As the team become bigger, tasks become harder to complete for several reasons. One being that the channels of communication grow dramatically. Another phenomenon that arises the by-stander effect. The more people you add to a group, the more people will assume others will pick up the slack. Levels of management are brought into police everybody. This all comes down to the myth that people can’t manage themselves but they can if given the right conditions. READ MORE:
A challenge a lot of business leaders and entrepreneurs I work with face, is the ability to attract the calibre of people required for both peak performance and the successful growth of their business. In order to attract top talent, leaders must develop a culture which utilises what I define as: ELITE Magnetism. Read More:
So imagine these scenarios. A group of Bankers are sat in an office and they are wondering how to extract more money from the public so they can all claim bigger bonuses. So they come up with what they believe is an ingenious solution. They wrap up some dodgy debts into some triple ‘A’ packaging. The rest is history, the effects of which are still reverberating around the world today.
Let’s take another meeting. A group of corporate leaders thinly disguised as politicians say to themselves:
“Let’s start a war in the Middle East, using a recent terrorist attack to unite public opinion, because we’re bound to win quickly and we’ll get all the contracts to rebuild the place and make gazillions.”
Watching the Olympics, I’m reminded of the fact I should go out and do more exercise. At the moment I resemble the couch potato character ‘Denis’ played by Simon Pegg, in the movie ‘Run Fatboy Run’. In the movie Denis attempts to prove to the girl he jilted at the alter, that he can transform into somebody worthy of her attention again, by running in the London marathon.
There is a great scene in which, after many exhausting miles shuffling along the dark streets of London, Denis suddenly hits a brick wall. In his delirious state Denis can’t quite understand what the wall is. The wall symbolises the marathon runner’s wall or ‘the bonk’. It’s a stage when the glycogen stores in the liver and muscles are depleted and the runner literally runs out of energy. To continue the runner must rely on other types of physical and mental processes to continue because the mind and body unanimously want to quit.
I think this is a great metaphor for entrepreneurs who get to a certain stage in their business life cycle….. READ More