Cutting Edge Strategies for Change Leaders2022-02-06T10:41:52+10:00

Most Popular – Change Leadership

Bite Size Reflection

1705, 2022

Where Do We Draw The Line With Lying?

Where do we draw the line with lying? We accept it from both magicians and politicians. Yet we applaud it from the first, and despise it from the latter. What standard do you hold yourself to as a change leader?

205, 2022

Would You Prefer Gelato, Or A 10km Run?

If given the choice - would you prefer a cone of hipster gelato, or a 10km run? I suspect most of you would choose the cone. Yet, as Change leaders we expect to catalyse short term pain for long term gain. So, if you chose the cone, then you’re perfectly capable of empathising with those you’re looking to change. Do so.

2804, 2022

The Unexpected Is Scary Because It’s Unknown

The unexpected is scary because it’s unknown. But finding $100 on the road is ‘made my day’ unexpected. As a change leader, often your job is to plant that $100 there for someone else to find (and hence talk about…)

1204, 2022

Learning Requires Effort – And Effort Requires Desire.

Learning requires effort - and effort requires desire. So, why are you adding more pain for your staff by making them click around in mind-numbingly boring ‘interactive learning’ overlaid on corny stock photos? Surely your job here is to make it more rewarding, not more painful?

504, 2022

Value Lies In The Conversion Of The Two

There is an artificial dichotomy between macro and micro thinking. You’d be well placed to break that division. Value lies in the conversion of the two.

2903, 2022

The Antidote Here Is Curiosity

Assumptions and presumptions are only dangerous when they are unknown. The antidote here is curiosity. Which, frankly, takes time and effort.

2203, 2022

Strategic Management

Leadership isn’t always about strategic vision or inspiration. Sometimes leadership is effective management. And that’s ok.

1503, 2022

Meaningful Conversation

A conversation without mutual credibility is a favour. A conversation without understanding is frustrating. And a conversation without an open-mind is arrogance.

103, 2022

Sometimes decisions just need to be made.

Not everyone has something valuable to add to all decisions. Sometimes decisions just need to be made. But if you’re making the best decision possible based on limited data. Then others probably are too. That’s not stupid. That’s pragmatic.

1502, 2022

It’s Your People That Can Tell You

Data can tell us where we’ve been, Sometimes even where we’re forecast to go. However it’s your people that can tell you how things needs to change.

802, 2022

Being Exceptional Isn’t The Goal

Don’t get caught up in being the best. Being exceptional isn’t the goal. Getting people talking is. You can do that no matter where you are on the bell-curve.

102, 2022

Siloes Are OK

Siloes are as natural a formation in our organisations as mountains are on Earth. We don’t and shouldn’t all work together, all of the time. Effective organisations have siloes that are filled with considerate humans.

2401, 2022

There Is An ‘I’ In Community

Communities are made up of individuals. In other words - there is an ‘I’ in community. Paradoxically, communities are built, and sustained on individual-level value.

1601, 2022

On Limitations and Choice

You can’t do everything you want to. Life is short and you are limited. Those that are good at what they do, do so at the expense of something else. So pick.

Things To Ponder and Enact

Today we take a look at creating magic as change leaders. But, as you'd expect with magic - all is not as it seems...

A few weeks ago I met with the CEO of an international NGO (Non-Government Organisation). The organisation was a year old, achieving promising early results and was generally on track.

This week’s wild idea spawns partially from my book, and partially from the newsletter of a friend - Andrew Hollo (one of the cleverest people I know).

The unexpected is scary because it’s unknown. But finding $100 on the road is often ‘made my day’ unexpected. Rather than letting our changes become 'just another awful surprise' - here's how to flip the narrative.

Very often change leaders are looking to increase or shift capability throughout their organisations. After all, if things are to change - then people need to be doing different things. Easier said than done...

In his 1985 seminal classic Innovation and Entrepreneurship - the legendary Peter F Drucker wrote that entrepreneurship is not a personality trait. Nor are the ‘mom and pop’ small business owners down the road ‘entrepreneurs’.

If you’re in the business of leading change, then you’re in the business of planning. And if you’re in the business of planning - then you’re in the business of making assumptions.

The bar for anyone in a leadership position has been set so high that it has become ‘Instagram unattainable’. The way we view leadership needs a shakeup.

A large part of my work is ‘advisory’ - i.e. having deep, useful discussions with change leaders to help them drive more valuable change. So, as I’m prone to do, I sat back with a lovely wine late last week and reflected with my (even more lovely) wife on what exactly were the factors that created collective permission for honest vulnerability? 

What a devastating week for international peace. Like many this week, I’ve been very quickly giving myself a mini-masterclass in international relations, western warfare, and Russian/Ukrainian political history. Here's what's standing out.

This week across a couple of my client conversations, the need for risk-appropriate decision making arose. Situations where the time and effort spent making a decision was out of whack with the related risk of the decision. To put it simply: simple decisions were taking too long to make.

It’s my birthday this week. Yet another rotation around the sun on this amazing planet. I’m older, a little lighter (thankfully), a little wealthier (again thankfully), and a little greyer.

I’m seeing leaders in even the most conservative organisations start to embrace this one thing. And it’s serving them well - but usually only after substantial teething periods.

My current listen is Factfulness. It’s a refreshing look at the world - but is there a lesson in there for change leaders?

Most leaders in medium to large organisations experience the joy of leading siloed groups at one point or another. But how do you minimise the negative effects?

Later this year I’m collaborating with the fantastic Leanne Hughes on an event that I’m really excited about: Beyond Bureaucracy. Shameless plug aside - the culmination of the event is a story that’s quite interesting.

What do humans and squirrel monkeys have in common?

All going to plan, 2022 will mark the beginning of the next phase of human understanding. I’m so unbelievably excited.

Thinking back to just a month ago, one of the most common themes across my clients was one of burnout. The worry, of course, is that your staff may come straight back into that same monotony this year.

In discussion with friends and clients, when I mention my book for the first time, I get one of three responses...

I’m always amused by the beautiful coincidences that occur in life. So I want to share this week’s amusing coincidence with you.

As I was working through the many syllabus outcomes eldest daughter’s kindergarten education plan this week - I noticed something.

Chatting with my wife this week, we were reflecting on the dangerous nature of social media. Social media is often accused of being an ‘echo chamber’. But it’s not.

I’m always blown away by how little I see change leaders consciously consider excitement as a genuine driver of action in an organisational setting.

Let’s talk cultural messaging. In particular - what are you doing this month to set the tone for your next 6?

“There is no lull.” “We’re completely flat out.” I’ve heard both of these from people in my circles over the last week or so. And these are just two examples of a common theme I’m seeing fall out of this unusual and challenging year.

Successful organisations, and successful people, are ones that actively learn. But here’s my own ‘ah-ha’ moment for the week...

Well it’s December. The countdown to the Christmas break begins and work both simultaneously speeds up and slows down.

Let me share with you, word for word, a discussion from my house earlier this week...

95% of the change initiatives I’ve seen across my career define a WHY, create the solution and then get about delivering. Those leading these initiatives then act surprised when what was delivered doesn’t always meet the organisation’s or customer’s needs.

As a Change Leader - part of your job is to build and rally others behind a clear, shared change WHY. What you don’t want to do is fall into the vagueness trap.

I’ll keep this one short. After getting all the way to Mid-November, in our second year of this pandemic - if you’re finding that your own energy and enthusiasm is waning, I want you to ponder something for me.

Through many of my conversations with clients lately, I’m hearing a consistent theme: Burnout. It’s been a tough year.

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been making my way through the absolutely fantastic How to Be Animal: A New History of What it Means to Be Human by Melanie Challenger.

When I talk about momentum and empowerment with my clients, the conversation so often ends up at the fears that hold their staff back. I call them the ‘Deadly 7’.

This week, one my advisory clients received one the most bureaucratic decisions from ‘down the line’ that I’ve heard in a long time.

Bret Yount is a professional Stage Combat Teacher who has done work for many big name productions throughout the UK. He’s also worked with acting superstars, one of which is Benedict Cumberbatch on the 2019 London National Theatre production of Hamlet.

We all do it. Whether consciously, or not - we leave environmental traps for ourselves. Little excuses to break our flow and feign productivity or urgency.

Flexibility of working times and space is the huge catch-cry of the last couple of years. We all have stories about the benefit of this flexibility. Which is great. But here’s what better.

I’m often asked how I found the time and space to write Valuable Change. So here’s the secret.

This week’s action is a simple one. It's a little challenge.

I've personal found there are 3 types of reward-based motivation. And not all rewards are made equal... Some last a day, some last in perpetuity.

The Nobel Prize is probably the best known and most prestigious scientific award. But in recent years the Nobel has come under harsh criticism for two key flaws in its design.

Something I commonly see across clients is an obsession with the ‘What’ of your change efforts. Here's what you should be asking instead.

Most change tends to have a reason for its existence. Often we try to ‘Start with Why’, But what about when the change has already started?

A few weeks back, while recording an interview on a Podcast, I was asked about my career journey. Essentially - Why do I work in change?

Over the last few weeks LinkedIn has been serving me up a Telstra Small Business NBN ad. (The jury is still out on whether LinkedIn is aware of the regular dropouts I’ve been experiencing in my rural home office... )

My 18 month old daughter has an uncanny ability to create wonder. …In particular, she often has my wife and I wondering how in the world she makes such large messes with so little input.

As a Change Leader, you make a multitude of decisions everyday. But how often do you consider the effectiveness of your decision making?

Welcome back to my imaginary reflection office. This is a safe place to sit down, relax and take a moment to delve into your mind. This week I want to issue you a reflection challenge.

Can you force trust? Overwhelmingly your answer to that is likely to be in the negative. “Trust must be earned” is the old adage. But is there more to the picture?

Throughout the early 20th century the boll weevil decimated the American cotton industry. So why in the world would a town in Alabama erect a monument in this pest’s honour?

When you think of failure, is it predominantly a definitive failure (i.e. a finale) or a continual one (i.e. a process)?

This week, I have a question for you. When was the last time you truly failed? By this I mean gut wrenching, plate smashing, sleep destroying failure.

While taking a moment to decompress this week I stumbled onto this clip of Lee Mack telling the story of his first attempt at stand-up. During which he sent one of the legends of comedy, John Cleese, into a giggle fit.

Ever put on a pair of pants for the first time in 6 months only to find a $50 note in the back pocket?

But what if your teams are stuck at the opposite end of the motivational spectrum?

Can you generate even greater momentum from a team that’s already motivated and high performing?

It’s funny - Formal Risk Management is notorious for being dry and boring.

There’s something I see a little too often that simultaneously drives people crazy, while bloating out too many projects and programs: A Change Leader’s Ego.

It’s funny how what we consider technology has changed so dramatically. Now when we think of cutting edge tech, we think of billionaires heading to space for the thrill of it, or the latest in data analytics and AI. But just a century ago, cutting edge technology was simpler.

Valuable Decision Making is one of the most important elements of driving Valuable Change. Courage (or cowardice) when making decisions will make or break your change success.

As change leaders we so often venture into an unknown future (and ask others to join us!) But it’s so easy to get caught up in the business and distraction...

I’m guessing you’ve heard the age-old question – what came first, the chicken or the egg? Well, there’s another version that’s perhaps even trickier: ‘What came first, the culture or the ritual?’

There's something so Human about a faceplant!

As I type this, most of the country is either in lockdown or has closed borders with those that are. Some of those in lockdown have now clocked over 200 days over the last 18 months, others are in their 9th week straight with no end in sight.

I’m sure I’m not the only one who instinctively yawns when invited to yet another lessons learned session - Let’s look at how to actually keep your team’s attention during a learning session.

Ever heard of the Great Book Scare? It's a timely example of the impact of misguided attention.

Working with a client this week I was shown an interesting document. Not because of its content - but rather the way it created confusion within their team.

When I was in High School, my teacher failed my efforts at Creative Writing. For years I thought that I wasn't 'creative'.

How do you prepare your teams for unintended consequences?

The 7th principle of influence is Unity. Unity represents being ‘one of us’. Unity is powerful.

Leading with simplicity front of mind requires incredible boldness because it’s so exposed.

95% of change initiatives require someone, somewhere, to do something different. Sometimes this someone does do the new thing. And sometimes they don’t. As Change Leaders we really only have 4 options when driving change.

For those of you that are Canberra locals - you might have see a man limping around town this week. That'd be me.

Happy Friday the 13th everybody. Are you the superstitious type?

What if I said that LEARNING was more powerful than any amount of new project funding or new organisational resources? Would you believe me?

Benefits Management as it stands today is terrible. It's unintuitive and confusing. We need to return to simple, useful language if we're to have any chance at Valuable Change.

You may be surprised at how many projects simply do not have enough clarity about what they are actually doing. What should be a no-brainer is often one of the thorns that ends up crippling projects down the line. To fight this, you must answer the ‘Delivery 6’.

One of the Most Common Mistakes I See Change Leaders Make: The Money Trap.

Too often we look for the latest, cutting edge thing to keep our (shortening) attention spans occupied. New theories, new tech, new science, new approaches. But how often did we have something very good that we just let slip and drop away?

'Tall Poppy Syndrome’ is a leveling derision of anyone that assumes to better. Unfortunately it’s often twisted, and it's holding your projects back.

Seasoned Cynics respond to every new proposed change with ‘it won’t work’ – What can we do?

Newly energised individuals with great ideas, often shrink into a general monotony in just a few weeks. What can we do?

Why do we create these monster projects? Typically Big Vision + Big Project = A sub-standard result or worse, failure. So what can we do?