The Human Race in an AI era

When John Bell was challenged to transform Fletcher Building’s group technology function so the business could grow and differentiate in the market, he put the human element front and centre, with a ‘transform from within’ approach. (See Reference)

“You just can’t move faster than what people can absorb…
Ultimately work gets done through people.” John Bell

After consulting with staff across New Zealand, Australia, Europe, the United States and Asia, the three strategic themes were defined as:

  1. Transform the IT function
  2. Rationalize the underlying platforms
  3. Drive digital enablement

This meant a complete reconfiguration of the technology function and centralization of 20 IT teams across the globe, to achieve two goals: Delight customers and Make Group Technology a great place to work. Both are essentially human, as were:

  • ‘involving everyone’ – ‘heart and mind’ – beforehand
  • employees bringing their ‘best selves’ to work every day.

“We had to address the cultural changes required in moving to a function that is focused on supporting the whole business with a ‘customer first’ ethos. This has been the single biggest area of focus and change.” John Bell

Has it worked? The provider of Fletcher Buildings’ Engagement survey points to the unprecedented 100% response rate by the team at a time when long-term staff said they’d experienced more change in the last two years than the previous 20. In addition, the unit’s culture change put it in the organization’s top 25%, with significant improvements in all key metrics since 2016.

I read this article at the same time similar themes were being reported in diverse situations across the globe – commentary about leaders like Gareth Southgate, manager of England’s soccer team, and those involved in the heroic rescue of 13 youngsters in harrowing circumstances in Thailand.

When John Bell says: “It’s not about individual heroics but working together to get things done,”  he may well have been talking about the incredible rescue conducted by an international crack team that had to work seamlessly and selflessly for a cause greater than any one individual.

Bell compares ongoing personal development in the technology team to physical fitness: “It’s like focusing on one’s health, if you don’t take a disciplined approach, you get out of shape. It’s the same in your career.”

He says “We live in a world of change, and the only way we can both cope individually, and help lead our businesses through technology changes, is to embrace a growth mindset, to ensure we’re committed to a programme of continuous learning.”  With this, he echoes Southgate’s view of the England team as a ‘work in progress’, committed to ongoing learning and improvement.

Pundits refer to Southgate’s calm, considered approach and his insistence on players having decision-making power. Mark Bosnich, who played with Southgate in the early days, commented on Southgate’s emphasis on relationships, building trust and simply doing the right thing.

When John Bell says “Never lose sight of the true north, particularly when the going gets tough. We’ve tested on this a few times; it is so easy to compromise and violate for expediency”  he may well be giving advice to the frantic families gathered at the mouth of the cave in Thailand, who simply wanted the boys out as quickly as possible.

Talking of testing, many leaders will identify with long nights and dark days when you feel you are reaching for the impossible and you wonder how much more people have to give. While business leaders may not literally lose a life (like that of the 38-year old rescue diver in Thailand), there can surely be no doubt about the physical health toll organizations place on people – at significant personal cost.

“It is not about you, it’s about your team….. The job gets done when people work together……..the most important people are the ones on the front line, engaging every day with our customers…….I also have a role to play but stand in awe every day as I witness the dedication and commitment of our staff.  I’m committed to helping make their job easy and better,” says Bell.

The approach John Bell took to ensure success with a transformation programme contains global success principles applying across all types of human endeavor: whatever the situation, true success is from and for people.

No matter how sophisticated technology gets, it is essentially HUMAN to:

  • exceed all expectations of what is possible ‘on paper’ to come fourth in one of the most exacting global sporting competitions – the Football World Cup
  • keep going back, day after each oxygen-deprived day, into dark, murky, rapidly flowing water to save 13 youngsters, all the while knowing that a fit, 38 year-old fellow diver had died days earlier doing just that
  • have wisdom to seek and then follow advice, slowing the rescue down to tap into collective global intelligence – gathering a crack team and pacing the planning to ensure success for everyone involved

At a time of AI and robotics, many may question the future role of humans.  In a big data world, just because you can, doesn’t mean you should.

For success, in human terms, keep referring back to True North – what really matters – whether in a dark, damp, dangerous cave or during the turbulence of digital transformation. For the human race, do the right thing.

Reference:
“A Kiwi global CIO’s framework for building a change-ready, growth-minded ICT team” by Divina Paredes (CIO New Zealand) 23 April, 2018 06:30

https://www.cio.co.nz/article/640333/kiwi-global-cio-framework-building-change-ready-growth-minded-ict-team/

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The Productivity Budget

Budget commentary over the last few days has included the fact that NZers work some of the longest hours in the OECD and are among the lowest in productivity. Some explain this in terms of infrastructure investment (or lack thereof), yet, so many think tanks, commissions and reviews have been set up over the years to examine this anomaly that if we’d invested the money instead, we may have actually solved the issue by now. Or not.

They say true discovery is not seeking new landscapes but having new eyes. (Old landscapes – new eyes.) Why is it that the average organisation purchases 100 Billion brain cells per employee, pays their full entitlement each pay day and then effectively stops the average employee from using their brainpower to get stuff done. All too often, they are told what to do, how to do it, when to do it by, or actually stopped from doing what said employee knows will fix a problem (and that is currently driving productivity through the floor) because of some seemingly valid reason (or a range of invalid ones).

A key question is: given the complexity of work these days, you are bound to encounter numerous problems that stand between you and organisational goal achievement on any given day, in any given moment. Why is it that employees are given solutions to implement that all too often they know will only make things worse, instead of asking people what is getting in the way of productivity, giving them the time and space to fix the problems, agreeing the parameters of a successful solution, and letting them do what the brain does naturally – solve problems.

People are born problem solvers. It is the ultimate brain-high to sort things out and make things work better. Instead, we have created organisations that stifle contribution and suck people’s spirit out of them.

Back in the 90s, we had things called self-managed teams. Some organisations still operate that way, successfully, after decades, and wonder why they do not represent the majority.

Back in the 90s there was also this management-speak called “Empowerment” which I always disliked as it ignored the fact that not only do employees have more power than those ‘in power’ – exhibit A: low productivity – but the word implies I am bestowing some of my power on others. This is a sad case of self-delusion.

It is also sad because employees who really want to make things work for the best are eventually turned off by the waste of effort and energy they see around them. Eventually, they just show up to exchange hours at work for a paycheck, rather than keep trying to make things better. What a waste. (Then the manager complains that people lack initiative.)

Some leaders successfully operate according to a different paradigm and they and their employees have no idea this is not the norm. To name just two, David Marquette  https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=iiwUqnvY1l0 and a local leader http://www.institutefordigitaltransformation.org/digital-engagement/

To hear about a way of managing that optimises productivity, check out a talk to a Meet up group this Wednesday evening (23 May 2018) at AUT in central Auckland.
https://www.meetup.com/Agile-Auckland/events/250506225/?rv=ea1&_xtd=gatlbWFpbF9jbGlja9oAJDk4NGMzMmY1LTk3MmMtNDcyYS1hYTY3LTgyYTY2YzQwM2EyMA

Posted in Organisation success | 2 Comments

Negativity an issue in your business?

Do you have staff who:

  • hold you/your operation hostage?
  • suck the life out of everyone, including you?
  • drain your energy and leave you feeling exhausted?
  • complain about everything (and nothing)?
  • are simply ‘high maintenance’?

Who knows………it is possible that due to some early childhood experience they never learned to self soothe! Or delay gratification. Or stand on their own two feet. Or all of these. But that is not your concern. You are not their parent nor their minder. In my view, you are there to ensure they are the most sought after in their field and hereby secure continued employment. Yet they choose to stay where they are because they get a kick from adding so much value and this is what keeps them pushing through the daily (inevitable) challenges that would overwhelm those with less commitment.

It is a truism that the human condition is to see ourselves differently from the inside to what is seen from the outside. Without a constant reality check, delusion is only a thought away. Look at yourself in a video or listen to a phone call recording and you will see what I mean. (“Who is that person?!”)

Everyone is guilty of this ‘split’ in realities due to a strong mental defense mechanism to stabilise self-perception so that it is not disturbing and unsettling. (Also, sensing rejection by the social group is very threatening and so the brain has an endless number of ways to delude the person that they are the ‘MVP’.)

For everyone to be the best version of themselves, they need continuous ‘grounding’ – access to how they are seen by others. I encourage people to canvass their ‘constituents’( i.e. host group) to ensure they are seen as adding value.

Unfortunately, most workplaces are what may be called sensory deprivation tanks. People simply do not know how and in what way they are having an impact – either positive or negative. Individuals are simply unaware when they are negative and depressing in their demeanour, facial expression, posture, word choice, chatter and casual remark. Like a virus, negativity can spread throughout a group and before you know it, everyone has lost their will to live.

These individuals displayed none of this during the recruitment interview (except possibly incessant chatter, which you thought was charming and bubbly but which then became a constant source of annoyance to people around them.)

But let’s not kid ourselves: the costs to you and your business can be huge when they:

  • mislead others with their own version of reality
  • complain incessantly
  • blame everyone and everything for non-performance
  • frown, sigh, tut-tut and roll their eyes
  • waste time while acting ‘busy’
  • get sick at the most inconvenient time
  • expect everyone else to do the heavy lifting

What message does it send when everyone is told it is critical that we achieve results and be at our best at all times and then they witness the exact opposite day in day out, and no trap door opens through which this person rapidly and permanently disappears? On the contrary, these individuals seem to outlive endless restructures, staff turnover, people coming and going, new managers, old managers, new policies and constant change. They seem to be immune (in their own little bubble) to the world moving on.

When I question this strange anomaly, people either mumble that you can’t get rid of anyone these days or the person is related to someone in high places (or said person appointed them and won’t face facts.)  Suddenly costs don’t seem to matter and that’s because no one puts a dollar value on the intangible costs of distractions, stress, wasted time and the sheer frustration of those working with this person.

High performing teams have a high degree of group honesty and personal integrity. The team always comes first and the individual with their heart and head in the right place will step aside if they are a threat to the team playing its best game. Without such a ‘team first’ commitment, no team can perform to its potential.

These teams are so committed to achieving success and fulfilling their obligations to fans, sponsors and team mates, that they will simply not have it if someone compromises their performance.

360° reviews do not bring the insights that a simple conversation will. Ongoing ‘nudges’ are what we all need to jiggle us into position so that we best serve the collective needs of the group.

Better still, make it a requirement that every member of the team canvass their ‘constituents’ – those they work with throughout an organisation – to find out what is of value to others and what may be costing others (their sanity, if nothing else.)

Without this continuous feedback, self-insight and self-correction, people can become self-referencing and feed off a constant stream of fake news, none the wiser that there is another reality out there. That serves no one well, least of all them.

Posted in Managing for business success | Leave a comment

Customer as King or pawn?

Before my father went into marketing, he was in sales management and took sales training seriously. This was the era of John Cleese training videos and my brothers and I always had the first viewing of the latest comedic masterpiece.

The age-old customer service messages weaved into the entertaining and memorable format were tenets of sound business:

  • The customer is king
  • Don’t make the customer a pawn in your organizational chess game
  • The customer isn’t there for your gratification or to make your life easier
  • Neglect your customer at your peril – the competition is ready to make a move

Fast forward about half a century and those messages are as relevant today; or are they? In a connected world, where customer experience, touch points and reputation are all the rage, how come positive customer experiences remain in the minority (at least in my experience)?

‘Customer Experience’ is visceral before it is digital. Speaking for myself, service and product purchases impact every part of my life – almost all are experiences I would rather not have:

  • I live in an apartment block which over the last 20 years has increased service charges way in excess of inflation while consistently deteriorating the level and type of service and overall experience
  • I attend a gym that has, likewise, over the past 20 years consistently and determinedly destroyed the fitness experience
  • I purchase fresh juices from a well-reputed hygienic chain but got violently ill straight after I consumed the last purchase a few days ago
  • I buy food from a local reputable chain that I suspect is not as fresh and healthy as they claim. (What do you do if you can’t eat the food you buy?!)
  • I use an airline for international travel (the most direct route) that continues to frustrate and annoy
  • I set up an account with a CNN-featured financial transactions company purely on the assurance by the CEO that customers are his number one priority. All went smoothly for 4 months until the transfer fee jumped suddenly from $2.94 to $23.76 for the same amount to the same account.  (I joke not.) A quick cessation to my use of the service ensued, but what about the time I spent setting up the account in the first place…….? How do I recover that lost value?
  • Finally, I’m sure I am not alone in experiencing a spike in blood pressure when purchasing services online….and don’t get me started on Microsoft Office online ‘support’.

And, is it just me, or is there anyone else out there who resents having your computer controlled by an outside entity, stealing your time?

Customer service – all but a dream?

I do wonder: Am I particularly fussy or is it reasonable to assume that I won’t be annoyed, frustrated, poisoned, harmed, over-charged and/or denied the service I was led to believe I purchased? Has life become more complicated and is great customer service simply a thing of a nostalgic past?

Were the previously-described business tenets simply not true and they died a natural and irrelevant death? Or, are they still true, but simply too hard to achieve and therefore conveniently ignored?

There are exceptions which are a pure delight, including:

  • The local Automobile Association, who not only provide a superbly easy online experience but are also a phone call away from personalised – yes, human! – help
  • A local bank (BNZ) whose Digital leader ensures his team regularly spends time talking to people on the street (literally). He was surprised that I was surprised.
  • A local television programme called Fair Go that is celebrating 40 years of broadcast, in an era of rapidly shrinking traditional media. Customers’ rights continue to be publicly defended each week as examples of unfair treatment are investigated and broadcast. Companies respond to this in a number of ways, but for all, it a chance for resolution.
  • A small restaurant in South Africa (called Pasha’s) sells pumpkin-base pizza – a healthy slice of heaven. www.pashas.co.za

It can be done. Every organisation starts out with the best of intentions; no business I have heard of (possibly other than Fawlty Towers) prides itself on poor service.

One-to-one marketing in the digital era?

The digital era is surely one in which one-to-one marketing – what we were told was the competitive edge during the 90s– can at last be actualized. At a time of AI and stretchy sensors, brain implants to control prostheses and driver-less cars, has the time at last arrived for the Customer to ascend the throne?

It seems not. Recently my 90-year old mother was told her phone simply could not support an App she had lost access to. The millennials in the local telecom shop (where she purchases her service) did their best – they phoned colleagues in other branches, tapped into their knowledge database, tried this, that and the other, all to no avail.  Fortunately, mum doesn’t believe that things can’t be done and with her younger (80-year old) friend, simply downloaded it from the App store and her life continues in the manner to which she has become accustomed.(I suggested she offer her tech support services at said shop. I can vouch for her pleasant manner and good old-fashioned common sense.)

Pawn to Bishop

Is it a matter of voting with our feet? If being treated like royalty is a move too far, should we simply refuse to move in directions that suppliers insist we move.

I find myself longing for a time when the business I paid for a service simply did what it claimed, and what I paid for.

Considering markets like India and China, and emerging demographics, I do realise I am a mere speck of dust on the global market chess board and maybe the customer experiences that companies design simply aren’t targeted at me. But I still dream that I am important; that as a customer, I count. (I blame John Cleese for this delusion.)

Posted in Organisation success | 1 Comment

Leadership – leading from down under

It is Leadership Week in New Zealand. http://sirpeterblaketrust.org/leadershipweek

How apt. A week when we have welcomed back Emirates Team New Zealand with the oldest sporting trophy – the Auld Mug (a.k.a. The America’s Cup). It is time to consider what leadership is and to draw inspiration from that great New Zealander: Sir Peter Blake.

When asked (back in 1995 when we first won that elusive trophy) what on earth made him think New Zealand could compete for (and actually win) The America’s Cup, Blakie said: “When people say something is impossible, that is when I want to do it.”

There is more to it, of course. Not only have our teams got further on fewer resources than any other winning syndicate, but they have insisted on playing nicely, “sharing our toys” (actual quote from the ‘95 team’s playbook) and building a challenge that “New Zealand can be proud of – to  succeed in all aspects.”

What, then, is leadership? I like to think of it as two aspects – neither to do with a title, function or result:

  • Being the best (as in ‘top of the leader board’ in your field) in all aspects
  • Doing what a situation needs (i.e. what is appropriate in terms of team purpose, team identity, sponsor/fan expectations and future value/sustainability.)

It is simply not our way, nor is it leadership, to win at all costs. That is ‘management’: fixating on results at the expense of all else (even your soul.) That is not inspiring and it simply doesn’t get the best from people or situations.

From thousands of years ago, these words are as relevant today:
”Go to the people. Learn from them. Live with them. Start with what they know. Build with what they have. The best of leaders when the job is done, when the task is accomplished, the people will say we have done it ourselves.” Lao Tzu

The currency of this is reinforced by a CIO article from 1 June: “Innovation and change: When leaders are the problem” by Owen McCall.

“Lack of a ‘21st century leadership’ is hampering innovation across industries today,” he says. Explaining resistance by staff to innovation, he names two erroneous assumptions:

  • Change needs to be imposed on teams from management
  • The best way to create change is through fear

Domination, subjugation, violation – not leadership. Leadership is a state of mind – a way you choose to live. It is bigger than an individual and requires ‘the collective’ to realise it. Back in the 90s, Zinzan Brook said of the Auckland Rugby Team: “I want 15 captains on the field” – everyone ready and able to lead as situationally required.

Leadership is all these things:

  1. Lead thinking to come up with a breakthrough design – having a fraction of the budget of the large syndicates; out-thinking instead of out-spending the rest
  2. Knowing when to go public and when to keep cards close to chest – no one, not even the Team New Zealand cyclists’ families, knew the team had replaced traditional arm grinding with leg grinding
  3. Keeping calm when everything including the kitchen sink is thrown at you – the sense of cool-headedness in the face of ‘Pitbull’ Spithill’s barbs
  4. Aspiring to the very best of what is possible – and even what is not
  5. Seeing setbacks as just part of the extra mile landscape – coming back from a capsize a mere few weeks before the final win
  6. Never giving up – even after the capsize, one of the cyclists was still cycling while suspended sideways in the air!
  7. Paying attention to what seems insignificant – Sir Peter Blake said no matter what your role in the team (even if you are sweeping the floor) it is all part of winning the Cup
  8. Doggedly committed to improvement – chasing 1 second of speed each time they sailed (for years)
  9. Team first – a team-driven campaign; Sir Peter Blake insisted the team make decisions that directly affected them

This is useful as a leadership audit in your organisation:

  1. Does the team lead thinking in its field?
  2. Do you know/does the team know what to communicate, when and how (all things considered) with the wider organisation/host system?
  3. Does the team keep a cool head when others lose theirs?
  4. Are people better when they are together – able to achieve beyond their individual potential – due to their collective commitment, creativity, trust and drive?
  5. Is the team superbly resourceful (able to get things done more effectively and efficiently than others) no matter what obstacles they face?
  6. Is the team motivated by pressure and resistance, to excel?
  7. Does the team know what to pay attention to and what to block out?
  8. Is everyone constantly seeking improvements that will move the team forward?
  9. Does the team have autonomy – is performance really team-driven?

Some organisations (and departments) are manager-driven (he/she pushes things along); others are campaign-driven (a particular deliverable pushes things – and people – along); others are process-driven (precedent pushes things along). Only a few are truly team-driven.

For those of us who followed our America’s Cup team in 2013 – and witnessed them fall from an 8-1 lead to an 8-9 loss – and still kept the faith in the leadership of this team, it has been a particularly awe-inspiring couple of weeks.

When people strive against huge odds for so long, and nothing goes their way; when they struggle for funding and are an inch away from switching off the lights for the last time; when they are pulled day after day back out on the water by a sense of getting the job done ……..how can you not feel a huge sense of admiration and loyalty?

That is leadership. When you witness it, you want to empty the tank, go to the ends of the earth, leave nothing out on the field. You feel taller, capable of more and obstacles seem to shrink in your path.

Once you develop leadership as a state of being in your organisation, anything is possible.

Posted in Leadership | 1 Comment

Lucy in the sky….

I was struck by an interview with Lucy* a few days ago as she described her work (paying her dues to society) as part of the ground crew setting up for WOMAD (World of Music, Arts and Dance – 17-19 March 2017) https://www.womad.co.nz/

The interviewer said Lucy (who is working off a 100-hour community service sentence) described the WOMAD job as one of the best things she had ever done – full stop.
http://www.radionz.co.nz/news/national/326808/criminals-pay-their-dues-at-womad

“You feel like a volunteer just like the other workers. It’s really good……..heaps better than being a criminal. It’s all good, especially because they appreciate it. It makes you feel like you’re doing something, definitely.”

Another offender, Bruce*, said it beats the usual community work. “WOMAD’s fantastic. Yup, it’s a good place to work and you’re doing something so people can enjoy themselves at the weekend. It’s certainly a lot more rewarding than, say, cutting gorse that’s going to grow back anyway.”

There is a lot in common between us and them. Human beings have a bone-deep need to do something of value. Helping others emits ‘good feeling’ neurotransmitters. Having this sense of purpose and value – this ‘feel good’ – takes Lucy to a different place, where the sky really is the limit. Bruce and Lucy are optimistic that this experience will lead to permanent work when the time comes.

For people like Lucy and Bruce things have not exactly been easy, presumably for a variety of reasons. When they do work that has meaning, or simply when there are people who appreciate what they do, they respond with feelings that trigger intrinsic motivators. They feel valued, appreciated and worthwhile. People who feel valued by society tend to do things that are valued by society.

We know from research that workplaces that are positive and optimistic make up to 25% more brain power available. Most organisations would concede that they need all the available brainpower on the payroll to successfully resolve daily work challenges (never mind the increasingly complex challenges of tomorrow).

Managers often complain that people lack initiative and ‘common sense’ but maybe it is simply that they aren’t experiencing a meaningful calling.

For people on the wrong side of the law, work can help them feel ordinary and regular. For people in regular employment, leadership is the intervention that makes the ordinary compelling.

Leaders ensure that people understand the impact of their work, make the links between disconnected parts of the operation, tell stories that keep the ‘romance’ alive and create an environment where people can express their creativity and ingenuity in addressing everyday challenges. This environment is truly the dojo (training hall) for the human mind.

How are you doing as a leader? Use this checklist (inspired by Lucy’s work experience) as a self check. To what extent do you………?

  • Communicate work’s purpose – whom do they impact in what way for what effect?
  • Create an aspirational pull to be the best possible – so people are proud to sign their name to every task
  • Remain accessible and approachable – people want to be important enough to earn quality time with the leader
  • Listen – people want to be heard before they fully invest
  • Challenge people to find ways to get better so they are constantly stimulated and evolving
  • Involve people in co-creating success
  • Engage people in issues to be resolved – complex and dynamic challenges that test their ingenuity, giving them that essential boost of validation when they develop and implement their solutions

This list of what is important to people at work is remarkably consistent across a variety of cultures and sectors – after all, business and work have one thing in common: people. And people are not that different.

With the right leadership and work environment, the sky truly is the limit.

*Lucy and Bruce are names used in the article to protect their real identity.

Posted in People at work | Leave a comment

All you need is love………

Charles M. Schulz  wrote “All you need is love. But a little chocolate now and then doesn’t hurt.”

What’s this to do with business (even if one of the most commercial holidays – Valentine’s Day – is just around the corner)? A lot – all to do with the human brain.

Martin Lindstrom (in Brandwashed, 2011) writes about the typical human response to smart phones using the same associative neural pathways that make “other compulsive behaviours” like gambling so addictive.  Just as with drugs or any other addiction, a person’s conditioned focus on his or her smart phone is driven by the neurotransmitter Dopamine – a natural narcotic. You’re left craving the sight of another message. Experiments show subjects get visual, not just auditory, neural associations when the phone ‘pings’, releasing a flurry of activity in the brain’s insula which is connected to feelings of love and compassion. “It may not be addiction in a medical sense but it is true love.”

These are the same brains that ‘clock in’ to work. While each person is unique, the human brain is remarkably consistent across age and culture in reactions to workplace demands and ‘management’. (The brain structures for pleasure and those for fear and dread are too close for comfort.)  Human drive and achievement really is a matter of chemistry. Is it true love between worker and work…..organisation and employee?  Soul mates? Or just ‘living together’?

Addicted to love

As most drivers of human behaviour are subconscious, logical (rational) management approaches simply don’t work to harness human attachment and activate a complete and whole-hearted brain response – Engagement.

Experts agree that the emotional brain matters most when it comes to human behaviour; many point to neurotransmitters – the ‘chemistry’ of attachment and achievement. Significant too though is the midbrain’s role in super-performance. This core of the human brain is associated with long term memory, mobilising physical response to a threat, love reactions, rituals associated with addiction and a person’s sense of what is MOST important in life; what they pay MOST attention to above all else…..and what will literally activate the formation of SMART neural pathways in pursuit of priority ideals.

Most people would not put themselves at imminent risk of death for mere money but do so in a heartbeat, showing extraordinary strength and inventiveness, for a fundamental belief (or ‘attachment’). Beliefs are held in the heart of the brain and this midbrain system and the right side of the cortex (outer bark) work in remarkably similar ways. (Dr Luiz Machado in The Brain of the Brain. 1992)

The relevance for business owners and boards

Unless employees believe what they do matters (counts in some meaningful way i.e. not to make more money, achieve budget or reduce costs), a fraction of their intelligence and drive (smarts and ticker) is applied.

The corollary is also true: when a human being believes something is fundamentally significant – in a bone-deep way – then, brain reserves (normally unused) are activated. While this latent capacity is being bought with each pay run, it is largely unused….neural inventory getting dusty in the storeroom of the organisational collective brain.

Pick up lines

An organisation’s sense of its purpose ‘speaks’ to that core of the brain that has no words. This part of the brain, without language (words and numbers) responds to an awareness of ‘something’ that can’t quite be described: a concept, idea, sensation, hunch, inkling. It is an urge experienced as an inarticulate ‘knowing’. (Love at first sight?)

To tap into latent human reserves for super-intelligence and drive, communication must involve symbolism, metaphor, visual expression of ideas and other forms of multi-sensory expression with a particular use of semantics. This has the power to activate the organisational ‘mid brain’, and with this, currently unused reserves of intelligence and drive. (Dr Georgi Lozanov in Suggestology and Outlines of Suggetopedy. 1978).

Engaging people fully requires communication that involves:

  • Mid-brain and right brain for purpose (WHY this? WHY now? WHY you? WHY me? and WHAT strategy to achieve this purpose?)
  • Left brain for execution – WHAT now, specifically for me/us, and HOW?

When purpose is appropriately expressed and understood (as a collective effort – ‘decrees’ are viewed with suspicion), a powerful drive is evoked, mobilising latent capability to realise organisational purpose that goes beyond employment contracts, work hours and normal supplier-customer transactions.

When the chemistry’s not right

Costly and frustrating organisation deficiencies hurt for customers, staff, management and suppliers alike:

  • The right hand doesn’t know what the left hand is doing
  • Decisions make no sense and are poorly executed
  • Errors and miscommunication eat into profit
  • Legacy, outdated procedures are protected for apparently no reason
  • Staff feel they are forced to produce work outcomes perceived as impossible

When Love is in the air

Working in sync with the human brain – tapping into all the brains on the payroll – you score:

  • One cohesive team driven by purpose (not controlled by job descriptions)
  • People compelled to create the organisational response that’s needed to fulfil its purpose
  • A high-performance, aspirational, self-correcting culture
  • Smart, simple ways to coordinate effort across an organisation and beyond

That’s worth celebrating with or without chocolate. The gift that keeps on giving.

Posted in B2B (Brain to Brain) communication | 1 Comment