It’s time for Doughnut Thinking. The old mindset of economics has run its course and needs refreshing. The planet demands it and our very survival as a species depends on it.
Continuing to believe that we will simply return to the old way of doing things when the latest crisis is over is deluded thinking. In just the last six months we have seen the planet rocked by extreme weather events from devastating fires in Australia to Atlantic storms and unprecedented flooding across parts of Europe. The melting of ice at our polar regions is increasing at an alarming rate, with the hottest ever temperature on record for Antarctica having been recorded in February 2020. As I write, the world economy has been brought to its knees by a virus that has spread around the world at lightening speed, a consequence of our economic globalization. Meanwhile, refugees, across all parts of the planet, continue to gravitate toward areas where they believe, rightly or wrongly, that the prospect of survival for their families will be vastly improved. They are moving away from famine and drought, from war and terrorism, from dictatorships and oppression. And, who could blame them?
Does it matter who has the best ideas? As long as we get to the best solution why should we care who thought of it? This seems starkly reasonable. If you were in a group, and unfortunate enough to find yourselves in a life or death situation, and someone (perhaps someone you don’t much care for) comes up with a plan that looks like it has a good chance of saving everyone, I presume you wouldn’t hold out for a better plan from someone else that you like better?
When people make observations on the state of politics around the world these days, one word that comes up over and over again is ‘polarised’. Our politics, our societies and our debates are becoming ever more polarised. Extreme stances are being taken around fixed positions and there appears to be little appetite for compromise, let alone collaboration.
All sound evidence suggests that breakthroughs in thinking come from people sharing ideas and building upon each other’s contributions. Just look at the progress of ideas within science, where painstaking research and gathering of data to refute, or confirm previously held theories is the life-blood of the discipline.
Retreating into smaller, like-minded, groupings does not serve advancement of ideas well. Fear and mistrust causes people to seek out their own tribe and be suspicious of ‘others’, and, while it may provide short-term safety and comfort, the security blanket of familiarity does not encourage exploration and discovery.
This blog has been copied from a blog written by Jack Merritt on The Exceptionals, an organisation that helps businesses employ ex-offenders by connecting them with relevant organisations who provide training, recruitment and ongoing support.
“Sometimes when we talk about prisoners and prison, we forget that we’re talking about people. These are parents, siblings, children.” – Baillie Aaron, Spark Inside Founder and CEO
Spark Inside Founder Baillie Aaron: ‘Why we need to rethink England’s prison system.”
“Spark Inside’s work is vital and unique. It is the global pioneer in offering life coaching to young people in prison, enabling those facing the most significant life obstacles to have more fulfilling, purpose-driven futures. Spark Inside provides that rare antidote in today’s complex criminal justice climate: hope.” – Rt. Hon. David Lammy MP, Member of Parliament for Tottenham
According to Spark Inside, prison doesn’t work, because it isn’t effective in reducing crime. Although 97% of prisoners say they want to leave crime behind, 49% will go on to reoffend within one year. This figure increases to 65% for 15-18 year olds. Spark Inside wants to see people leaving prison break this cycle of reoffending. Founded by Baillie Aaron in 2012, Spark Inside aims to bring about a criminal justice system which prioritises rehabilitation.
How do they plan on doing this? Through two innovative and effective coaching interventions.
I recently experienced my first Deep Democracy workshop as a participant and it was a real eye-opener. It is simple yet powerful, and has the potential to create real transformation, not just routine actions for improvement. It was born out of South Africa’s transformation from apartheid to democracy, and is used by leaders and facilitators from all walks of life. The process enables voices to be heard that are often left unheard, and mines the inherent wisdom hidden within the system by resolving tension and conflict. (see Deep Democracy).
The process invites people to step into different perspectives or roles, some of which they may not be in agreement with. The conversations that emerge from these different perspectives are illuminating. New information is surfaced, new possibilities emerge and collective wisdom that has been buried within the system is given an opportunity to reveal itself.
At a time when people all around the world are questioning what is real, what is true and what is fake news, the very meaning of democracy is under challenge. Who runs things? Is it the politicians? What is the role of the media? And what about the technology giants, such as Facebook, Google and Amazon? Where do we go to seek our answers and who can we rely on to reveal the truth about what is most important for us? Continue reading →
You are a manager. You are responsible for getting the best from your team. You will be held to account if deliveries don’t happen, if deadlines are missed and if budgets overrun. But of course, you are a good manager and those things rarely happen. You know how to engage, motivate and inspire your people. Don’t you?
We’ve all had those conversations with people where you’ve had to lay out what’s on the line. Why it’s so important this time – again! And, on the whole, those cosy chats work. People walk away from those sessions, and they get on with it. They pull out all the stops and you can all go down the pub and enjoy a few drinks to celebrate the team’s (and your!) success once again.
But, what if it just doesn’t matter to them that much? What if they don’t care? Or, they just don’t care enough? What’s the right conversation to be having with that person now?
As a professional coach, I regularly take coaching issues and dilemmas to supervision. These sessions are an essential part of every coach’s development, growth and emotional maintenance. I thought I’d share something important that came up for me in my most recent session with my coaching supervisor, in the hope that you may too get something from it.
courtesy: Maurizio Pesce, under Creative Commons, Flicker
The dilemma I expressed was around exploration of vision. Some of my clients move naturally towards vision. They are comfortable with the language and for them it is not a threatening or challenging conversation when we explore what it looks, feels or even smells like. Other clients struggle to talk in terms of vision. Even the concept of aspiration, dream or goal can be challenging. This is particularly true for some of my clients who find themselves in custody as young offenders. Many express the view that they do not like to think too much about dreams or visions as it only results in them becoming disappointed. They say that they do not want to build up their hopes only to be let down, and as a result they content themselves by living in a world of very low expectations.
When I put this issue on the table in my supervision session, the statement that my supervisor came back to me with was “It is not our job as coaches to breed optimism.”
I let this statement sink in, and my first instinct was to rail against it. Some of the clients I work with have very low levels of hope or positivity, and I believe that people do their best work when positive neural circuits are switched on. My coaching often focuses on work around beliefs, particularly limiting beliefs, and how those give rise to thoughts, words and actions that generate negativity. Surely the work of the coach starts from the basis that people want to seek improvement, do ‘better’ than they are currently doing (whatever that means), and fulfil their potential? Why wouldn’t we encourage them to look toward alternative futures and choices?
So, another year is about to begin. Who knows what it may hold? For some, they approach it with trepidation. Others can’t wait to get started and to grab the opportunities that the new year will generate. It is a time when many people make plans and resolve to make changes, yet so many of those dreams will be but memories before January is out.
Every call to adventure is acted upon by two opposing forces. In one direction we can choose to embark on the adventure, to take the journey into the unknown and face the uncomfortable challenges that will inevitably lie ahead. In order to make this choice, the force of reward must be sufficiently strong to overcome the opposing force of inertia, the appeal of the status quo or the comfort zone we have become used to.
I spend a lot of time in workshops and working one on one with people who know that they are in a bind. They know that their current world is less than satisfactory. They recognise that changes would be positive and could make life better in so many ways. And yet, there is no guarantee that people will make the necessary commitment to move away from the world they inhabit, to make the journey that is necessary to gain the reward, the change, the life that they would prefer.
People know they would be healthier if they gave up smoking, that they drink a bit too much alcohol, that they don’t exercise as much as perhaps they could, or that they are in a dead-end job and a change would breathe new life into their career. They may even make a resolution each New Year to do something about it. Some may even get as far as joining a gym, giving up smoking or drinking for a while, or actively seeking job vacancies on the internet. And that does demonstrate some level of recognition that change may be attractive. So, why are so many of these attempts aborted so early? What is missing when people embark on these annual failed excursions, which rarely mature into fully fledged adventures resulting in transformation? Continue reading →
I have long been a fan and admirer of Andy Murray, so naturally I was delighted for him when he recently reached the pinnacle of his sport by being crowned the world’s number one-ranked male tennis player. Amazing! Perhaps even more amazing when we reflect on the fact that he comes from a small town (Dunblane) in a country (Scotland) with practically no history to speak of in the game of tennis. His journey to get to the top has been far from easy. He has played in an era which has been dominated by three other great players, Federer, Nadal and Djokovic, an era that most tennis experts agree has been the most highly contested period of excellence in the men’s game – ever!
This is similar to how many CEOs, Business Owners and Leaders describe the feeling of being at the top, or out in front of their organisations and companies. It can be a lonely place. Continue reading →
Is this the age of Lazy Leadership? Well, before you answer, perhaps I should explain a little more about what I mean by that term.
No-one ever said that leaders need to be popular. In fact we probably need to be wary of leaders who appear to be universally liked. Those who are, in my view, are either at the head of a very slick and dangerous brain-washing machine, or are simply not tackling the tough stuff that people don’t like to hear. (See We get the Leaders we deserve).
Here in the UK we have experienced a number of major political episodes in the last couple of years, from a Scottish Referendum, to a General Election, and more recently, an EU Referendum, and both a Tory and Labour leadership battle. And we are currently in the final lap of the US Presidential marathon (or Trumpathon).
Perhaps it is because so many of these events have been reduced to simplistic binary choices that the quality of political debate has deteriorated. Complex issues, that do not necessarily have straightforward solutions, have been reduced to simple soundbites, creating polarised debates, resulting in divided electorates and divided nations.
High quality leaders navigate complexity and ambiguity, and do not allow themselves to be drawn into the downward spiral that is satisfied merely by securing a simple majority to fulfil a political end. Instead they are prepared to tackle thorny issues that may not be popular, they recognise that alienating half of the electorate (or workforce) is not a good foundation to build from, and they understand the danger of chasing populist opinion.
If, as is reported, as many as one third of U.S. companies have abandoned the traditional appraisal system (ref:The Performance Management Revolution), and the signs are that more and more are joining the revolution, what is the future of performance management? How will companies ensure that people do what is expected of them in the future? How will managers know who’s good and who’s not? How will they advise on development, or decide who to sack and replace?
Major players such as Dell, Microsoft and IBM, as well as previous champions of the
forced ranking system such as GE, are at the vanguard of new approaches to retaining and developing talent. These companies are responding to many issues and criticisms which have been levelled at traditional performance management systems. In some organisations they have become enormous consumers of people’s time. With the move to
flatter organisational structures and virtual or globally dispersed teams, supervisors have had to contend with larger and larger teams. The answer to this problem in some companies has been to turn the job of performance management over to ‘specialist’ people managers, who do little else other than manage the entire cycle, quarter after quarter. Ranking, levelling, forced distributions, identifying rising stars, identifying laggards, assessing delivery against stretch targets, calculating the distribution of the bonus pot, and starting the whole cycle again. This has become an industry in its own right, and one that delivers no core benefit to the customer or the shareholder.
A number of factors have played a part in driving the shift we are now seeing. Continue reading →