Category Archives: problem solving
You’ve got 8 seconds to get my attention!
“The average attention of a “millenial” is 8 seconds”.
Who said so? Well, a “millenial” of course! Not just any “millenial”. This attention-grabbing claim was made by an impressive young man who was a presenter at a conference I attended this week in London. Billed as a ‘disruptor’, (credit: Ilias Vartholomaios, Co-Founder of Owiwi) he spoke about the realities that those of us who identify with the 20th Century (I’m one) will have to come to terms with as we live out the remainder of our lives in the 21st.
Young people born after 1995 have not yet become part of the mainstream workforce. He informed us that, by the time they reach the age of 21 they will have spent (on average) 10,000 hours playing online games. As a comparator, that is pretty much the same amount of time an average US student will spend in high school between fifth grade and graduation, assuming a perfect attendance record.
So what? Continue reading
Talismanic coaching: where science meets superstition
This Article was published originally in Coaching Psychology International, Volume 8, Issue 1 (Summer 2015) – ISSN 1758-7719 – pages 16-19.
In Daniel Goleman’s (2013) Focus, he proposes that in a world of ever-increasing 24/7 distraction, we need to become better at focusing in the here and now. In this paper we propose the benefit of “superstitious conditioning” through the use of a Talisman to help
clients focus their attention in post-coaching situations.
Learning, at its most fundamental, is based upon the creation of neural connections which either strengthen or inhibit behaviour, facilitated by attending or not attending to stimuli. Learning can be said to happen when a new state (ie, a new connection) or a new association of existing connections occurs. The stronger the associations become, the more they become embedded, meaning the associated behaviour will be more readily enacted.
As coaches, we are in a highly privileged position, able to utilise this knowledge of how learning occurs for the benefit of our clients. We can share with them tools and techniques to create and strengthen associations. Once changes are fully embedded, then the tools may no longer be required, but, in the early days, having a proxy association to aid the formation of a neural association assists with sustenance of early progress.
However, all too often in coaching, after gaining insight, clients return to the everyday fray of work. Here, they lose conscious awareness of their coaching goal as it becomes displaced by more demanding pressures. Continue reading
Mining for Treasure
You could be excused for wondering whether leadership has gone out of fashion right now. Whether it be politics, business or sport, wherever you look, there appears to be a vacuum at the top, and much discrediting of those leaders who remain.
What could be going on? Well, I think one of the problems is that we are mixed up about
what we want from our leaders. Perhaps we expect too much of them. Should they have all the answers? Should they be all-seeing and all-hearing? Is it reasonable to expect them to set strategy, direction, plan, implement, review, report and make key decisions, as well as dispense wisdom to all who seek it? Of course not. But, despite recognising this as impractical, and even unhealthy, as a society we are still encouraged to demand unequivocal and unwavering surety from our leaders.
At this time, perhaps more than at any time in the past, we need a different set of skills from our leaders. We live in a VUCA (volatility, uncertainty, complexity and ambiguity) world where knowledge is distributed more widely than ever, where more information is instantly available than at any time in history, yet despite all that information, decision-making has never been more difficult. Those who come out of the charismatic ‘all-knowing’ school of leadership present us with dangers. Continue reading
The Dumbing Down of Knowledge
The world is faced with enormous challenges, and we need creativity and innovation more than ever. Whether today’s focus is on climate change, terrorism, economic collapse or disease, the ‘old-world’ thinking that got us here will not be good enough to lead us to where we need to get to.
No one can dispute that the growth of the internet and the explosion of personal device ownership has made available more data to more people in the space of just a few short years than was ever available in the history of humanity. The trouble is that knowledge search algorithms generally assume that volume is good. The more something is searched for, the more privileged it becomes. The information at the top of the list does not reflect quality, it reflects desirability. And, it fosters laziness. Personalisation ensures that we are presented with our ‘favourites’, the things we have ‘said we enjoy’ in the past. Despite the diversity of knowledge that is potentially available, the interfaces through which we access information, ironically, narrows our universe.
Even in the corridors Continue reading
No Time to Think
Perhaps ‘the’ most tantalising allure of any advancement in engineering or technology through the ages has been the promise of saving us time. Cars, trains and planes certainly get us places faster than horses ever did. Bridges and tunnels allow us to take short-cuts over rivers and through mountains, saving us hours. Advances in IT and robotics mean that tasks previously handled manually have been automated with exponential levels of increased productivity.
Why, with so much technology and time-saving gadgetry at our fingertips, do people still present at coaching sessions with issues and concerns about their ability to manage their time? After all, our lives have never appeared to be more organised ~ or perhaps I should say digitised! More and more of us are hooked up to the Net from morning to night.
Our smartphones and tablets wake us up, we check our diary for appointments and read our messages before getting out of bed. We catch up on missed shows on iPlayer or Stitcher while we commute to work. We juggle collaborating on Sharepoint, with watching company Webcasts, while occasionally dipping into our personal Instagram, Twitter or WhatsApp accounts. We may even check in on Foursquare while grabbing lunch, and be just as likely to choose where to go by WiFi availability as the quality of the food. On the way home we might burn some carbs, having gained access with our fingerprint or iris, which are digitised on the gym’s customer database. We immediately wire ourselves up to the screens on the machines so as to catch up on news, or check Facebook activity. And when we get home, after a microwaved dinner, and a quick skype chat with your mum, our relaxation and wind down time may well include logging on remotely to your work’s email to ‘finish off’ a few things, and give yourself a fighting chance of making a clean start on things again in the morning (fat chance!).
We Need a New Breed of Leader
This article was originally published in The e.MILE People Development Magazine in Nov 2014.
The leadership mindset that led us into the global economic downturn is not fit for the purpose of leading us back out again.
Recessions encourage cautious mindsets, resulting in refrains such as, “Batten down the hatches, let the storm blow over, it’s not a time for taking risks, let’s just make sure we are still standing at the end of this – we’ll be in good shape to start again.” And, “Sorry, there’s no budget for people development. Not the right time to explore new means of production. Not possible to invest in innovation initiatives.” These leadership mantras have become engrained in the psyche of many a business culture during the last five or six years.
Leadership mindsets have themselves become victims of the downturn. The focus on cost reduction and the bottom line has stunted many leaders’ abilities. The question is, how easily will they be able to shift into a frame of mind that embraces growth, change and innovation. Some who once had visions of new and exciting futures have resorted to being excited by ‘making budget’.
This is not the role of leaders. Continue reading
The Power of being ‘Clueless’
“There is no such uncertainty as a sure thing.” ~ Robert Burns
When we believe we are right, we don’t go looking for data to check otherwise. We close down our curiosity antennae and remain blissfully unaware of alternative views of the world. It can be cosy and comfortable existing in this state of course. Sticking with what you know keeps life simple. You don’t have to experience the dis-orientation of constantly questioning and challenging your assumptions. It lets you go about your daily business with minimal fuss. Life’s complicated enough, after all, without setting out to make it more challenging.
But, think about it a little longer. What if we all adopted this approach, all of the time? Nothing would ever change. Where would innovation come from? What would happen to creativity? The problems that we face, big and small, would simply become ‘accepted’ and incorporated into our ‘reality’, our ‘truth’, and not open to question. I guess this approach is more prevalent than we care to imagine. How much of our world, and ‘your’ individual ‘reality’, is governed by assumptions and beliefs? Continue reading
‘Fly on the Wall’ consultancy
I thought I’d share with you this week one of the most effective, yet simplest, consultancy techniques I have seen used. It does not involve great expense, or even take a great deal of time. It does not involve reading lengthy consultancy reports or attending turgid feedback sessions. In fact, it uses the resources and brains you already have at your disposal in your teams today.
Gather together a good cross-section of people (but no more than about 8-10), from up and down the organisation, ideally with different perspectives of your business, from both an internal and external facing focus. Invite the ‘owner’ of the business problem or issue that requires ‘consultancy’ to spend 5-10mins (no more) outlining the issue. No prolonged explanations about why things won’t work, or haven’t worked. Just a simple, easy to understand, explanation of the facts, what is trying to be achieved, and what the business benefits will be once realised.
The collected group then have 5 mins to Continue reading