Today’s podcast is from the cognition sparkenation of my Remarkable Workplaces book. Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what’s normal.
We learn, grow and understand primarily through experience, what happens to our senses as a consequence, and what we intend, feel, think about, our behaviour and the actions we take. As a process this is called cognition.
Like most things a key to cognition is context.
Through working with more than 1000 leaders, women and men, in over 40 countries since 1991 I’ve learned that there are intentional/spiritual (the fertile ground), emotional (ploughing), mental (seeding), physical (nurturing) and universal (harvest) components to every solution to your challenges.
1) Complete the pulse check inside the download above yourself and with your team.
2) Create a performance improvement plan for yourself for the next 90 days. Then repeat this process or move to one of the other solutions in the Remarkable Workplaces book and integrate into your plan. There’s a performance improvement plan template at the companion resources web page under Sparkenation 13 Co-promises.
3) Create a performance improvement plan for your team for the next 90 days. Then repeat this process or move as recommended in 2) above.
Three recommended deep work actions:
If you’re not yet familiar with the concept of Deep Work I highly recommend Cal Newport’s book of that name
"Deep Work: Professional activities performed in a state of distraction free concentration that push your cognitive capabilities to their limit. These efforts create new value, improve your skill, and are hard to replicate."
"Shallow Work: Noncognitively demanding, logistical style tasks, often performed while distracted. These efforts tend to not create much new value in the world, and are easy to replicate."
1) Make deep work as a personal practice at least a once a week ritual.
2) Over the next 3 months eliminate shallow work. Keep a log of your time, energy and money savings. (You’ll be surprised!)
3) Set up a value-delivery deep dive conversation which each person your role has a relationship with. Ask them to tell you what they must have from you and their delivery preferences. Update your Role Clarity Statement (in the old out of date 20th century language that’s your ‘Position Description’). Ask people to describe how they feel about their relationship with you and for feedforward on how you could be and do better. Commit to a series of quantum leaps to improve your value delivery and check-in regularly with those your delivering to.
The Aggregation of Marginal Gains
I love this insight.
It’s a perfect fit with taking quantum leaps.
I first learned about the aggregation of marginal gains via the writings of James Clear which he has now included in his great October 2018 published book ‘Atomic Habits’
Sparkenation: a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what’s normal.
Convention is simply the agreed ways we make things happen and get things done.
My convention for you to adapt to best suit yourself is
Enlightened Language elevates conversations,
Conversations enrich relationships,
Relationships enable business.
Language is the fertile ground (starting place) for achieving your personal and business purpose and any outcome you desire. When language elevates conversations and conversations enrich relationships the work (transactions and interactions) is enhanced and results take care of themselves.
My objective is to make my language enlightened. I use the word enlightened as a reference to enlightened self-interest the philosophy in ethics that’s about ‘doing well by doing good’, or as Zig Ziglar so wonderfully put it “You will get all you want in life, if you help enough other people get what they want.”
Your language (intention, words, tone, timing, body language) must be exactly right for the right person/people at the right time for them. Your language package must be such that people are not left in any doubt that you are here for them.
Conversations are elevated when we use such language.
Language too is about eliminating words that do not serve other people.
In other parts of the Remarkable Workplaces book I explore conversations, presentations and communication, relationships and purpose in depth.
For now your work is to get your language enlightened.
3 recommended actions
1) Take a very careful note of language being used in your workplace (any place for that matter) that causes people to roll their eyes or visibly withdraw. Examples I’ve seen are bandwidth, engagement, empowerment, disruption, scale, pivot, leverage, synergy.
2) Eliminate slogans and sound bites from your business. We get annoyed when the media and politicians use them so why on earth would we make our people suffer?
3) Invest time and energy in bettering how you speak, your messaging, making eye contact, using tone variations and pausing.
Recommended deep work
Invest time in other cultures where different languages to your native tongue are used. Note observations about how the best communicators and conversationalists operate.
France, Germany and Italy and many parts of Asia have been favourites for me as an English speaking person.
Commit to reading more or listening or watching if reading is not your preference.
I was interested to note recently that more than a third of Seth Godin’s sales in his latest best seller ‘This Is Marketing’ have been audio books.
You have no excuse for not tapping into other people’s experience and wisdom through reading, listening or watching at least once a week.
Learn new words regularly and test and evaluate their value in your overall communication, conversations and presentations.
I've pre-ordered this book and very much looking forward to reading it when it arrives later this month.
Below is an extract:
“Which brings us to one of the most important things leaders and teams need to internalize: our way of working is completely made up. This isn’t the way it has to be, or even the way it always was. Our way of working was created, brick by brick, by gurus, industrialists, robber barons, unions, and universities — generations of managers and workers who came before us. We can thank them for what is still serving us, and we can change the rest.”
There's great power in being able to make things up. What's your next invention?
"People We are determined to end poverty and hunger, in all their forms and dimensions, and to ensure that all human beings can fulfil their potential in dignity and equality and in a healthy environment. Planet We are determined to protect the planet from degradation, including through sustainable consumption and production, sustainably managing its natural resources and taking urgent action on climate change, so that it can support the needs of the present and future generations. Prosperity We are determined to ensure that all human beings can enjoy prosperous and fulfilling lives and that economic, social and technological progress occurs in harmony with nature. Peace We are determined to foster peaceful, just and inclusive societies which are free from fear and violence. There can be no sustainable development without peace and no peace without sustainable development. Partnership We are determined to mobilize the means required to implement this Agenda through a revitalised Global Partnership for Sustainable Development, based on a spirit of strengthened global solidarity, focussed in particular on the needs of the poorest and most vulnerable and with the participation of all countries, all stakeholders and all people. The interlinkages and integrated nature of the Sustainable Development Goals are of crucial importance in ensuring that the purpose of the new Agenda is realised. If we realize our ambitions across the full extent of the Agenda, the lives of all will be profoundly improved and our world will be transformed for the better."
"6. The power of trust The last few years have seen Royal Commissions and other inquiries refocus and recalibrate Australians’ trust. Few sectors have been immune, from religious and political entities to corporations in the financial sector, to aged care providers to social media and tech companies, trust has been eroded. The year ahead will see consumers value trust, whether it be in a brand, person or entity above price, promise or experience. Those who can gain and keep trust, through transparency, and values-based offerings will thrive in the trust-as-premium environment.”
A consequence of client work and conversations with clients was the realisation that people need to feel genuinely valued before they will consistently live values and deliver remarkable value. Of course trusting people and being trustworthy are integral to this.
Forthwith I began to use the following words to describe the common-cause of remarkable workplaces: people feeling valued, living values and delivering value.
Imagine a 3 legged stool or as I picture them as a triangle.
It had become obvious to me that having the common-cause to increase the number of people feeling valued, living values and delivering value was the simplest yet most profound process to achieve what everyone deep down really wants - better business results at less human and business cost.
By 2014 my feelings and thoughts evolved to a working model.
By the time the second book in my remarkability trilogy ‘The Appreciative Leader’ was published in 2016 the model had grown further and had been through tried, tested and proven.
Through further work with clients it became obvious to me that leadership needs allies to thrive. In part this is because leadership has been degenerated by political, religious and business people over generations. Real leadership is important yet more is needed.
I’ve thought long and hard about this and took a detailed look back at the wonderful people I have been privileged to work with searching for commonalities. I concluded that the most inspiring and influential people making the greatest positive difference were all in their own best way living seven relationship roles remarkably.
As a collective I named this being a Sparkenator from the verb I created in Changing What’s Normal, the first book in the remarkability trilogy. Sparkenation (a spark that ignites passion that leads to action that changes what’s normal).
Sparkenator - person committed to the life-long process of mastering the 7 relationship enhancement roles (wise, witty and warm communicator, candid and convivial conversationalist, engaging and inspiring speaker, maestro mentor, compassionate coach, change champion and appreciative and value driven leader, and trusted adviser)
I also upgraded the other roles in the model: 21st century managers (people ensuring policies, procedures, practices, processes and systems are simple, real world and focused on value delivery), and culture champions (people who role model agreed behaviours and the who before do concept as well as what it means to be a human being fully alive.
Hence a further evolved model as pictured that I now use widely.
In the Remarkable workplaces book, the final in the remarkability trilogy, I recommend 3 actions and also some deep work. 3 recommended actions
1) Decide once and for all that no matter what, people and the planet are always before profit in your workplace.
2) Discuss with your team how well you’re going in ensuring people feel valued.
Below is a short list of actions you must be doing. What would you add to the list?
Catching people doing things right and doing the right thing.
Giving people genuine compliments.
Informally and formally celebrating with people what is going well for them.
Always saying please and thank you and meaning it.
Being courteous and kind.
Sharing stories about the successes of your people.
3) Systematically begin to review all your processes (includes policies, procedures, practices, and systems) and upgrade wherever appropriate to ensure that they mean it’s simple for people to be the best version of themselves and deliver value.
Recommended deep work
In most workplaces values are words. In remarkable workplaces values are behaviors.
Most organisations have stated values. Very few are lived. Rarely is there a shared- view around the behaviours that demonstrate values. Of course if you are the exception rather than the rule you have competitive advantage.
Should you not yet have agreed behaviours in place for each of your values begin to do this work.
There must be alignment between personal and organisational values. Any disconnect means trouble. So begin here. Often conversations around behaviours that are acceptable in families is a good starting place.
I suggest 3 to 5 behaviours that cover key aspects of human relationships as plenty.
Below are examples of behaviours from one workplace:
You need a common-cause for your workplace, a purpose beyond profit.
Profit is a result of being good at business, never a reason for being in business.
Make sure your cause embraces people feeling valued, living values and delivering value and you will not only achieve better business results at less human and business cost, you will also be future-proofing your workplace.
The real source of the rise of repressive authoritarianism, nativism, and xenophobia in the United States as well as Italy, Spain, Austria, Poland, Hungary, Denmark, Bulgaria, Greece, France, and Britain is a pervasive sense that elites are rigging the world economy for themselves. And, guess what? They are.
A big, looming question right now—as a new year gets going, as the US and the UK struggle to get going, as markets and climate fluctuate—is: are we on a path to renewal or collapse?
Chris goes on to provide some very interesting insights using the term currencies:
By “currencies” we mean not just monetary currencies, like dollars and euros, but all the things that parties to a bargain widely decide have value. Such things are more commonly called “virtues” or “norms”, but it can be helpful to think of these things as currencies instead, because—like money currencies—they only have value when we buy into them.
What have we bought into?
I am deeply mystified at how people like Donald Trump can be President of anything let alone the United States of America. My friend and colleague Colin James suggests Trump is the poster child for solipsism (the view or theory that the self is all that can be known to exist; the quality of being self-centred or selfish).
Colin is onto something I reckon.
1) We have bought into self-interest
There's displays of self-interest everywhere: selfies, likes, consumerism just to name three obvious examples.
We have made the choice to allow self-interest to rule.
2) We have bought into political systems
The Electoral College in America Unlike in other U.S. elections, the president and vice president are not elected directly by the people. Instead, they’re chosen by “electors” through a process called the Electoral College. The idea of using electors comes from the Constitution. The nation’s founders saw it as a compromise between electing the president by a popular vote among citizens and electing the president in Congress. https://www.usa.gov/election#item-36072
I personally fail to see how the above is good democracy.
The Westminster Political System e.g. Australia, United Kingdom
We don't get to elect our Prime Minister either. That privilege is left for party members, which here in Australia means Labor or Liberal. The winner of elections here never get a majority vote on their own, rather they rely on preferences where there are all sorts of dodgy deals deal done.
I personally fail to see how the above is good democracy either.
Other political systems
I tried researching how the Chinese people elect their politicians and admit absolute confusion. I couldn't find any evidence that the people have any say in who is their President. The only thing I got clear about is that bribery and corruption are rife.
Conclusion I'm not aware of any political system where the people have a direct say in who will lead their country. Leads me to ask Why are politicians our leaders? Something is wrong worldwide with politics and politicians. Reflecting on Robert Reich's comments above could it be that the elites are rigging everything for their own gain?
3) We have bought into the economy being the be all and end all
In my life time (65 years) we have stopped being a society and instead have become an economy where the people who create the various formulas don't know what they're creating will lead to.
And we still use GDP, the total of what we spend as a measure of well-being. Laughable.
Summary and possible solutions
Self-interest, our political systems, and modern economics are all pathways that are leading to the destruction of our planet (our home). And unless we do something very soon they will bring about our own demise.
1) Refuse to buy-into self-interest rather live a life of enlightened self-interest.
2) Peacefully push for third alternatives in politics e.g. elect Independents for local governments and eventually eliminate party politics.
3) Move to the people not parties or electoral colleges electing Presidents or Prime Ministers and asking them to govern with fellow Independents.
4) Be part of a movement that reinstates peaceful and productive society as our purpose and redesign economics to support this purpose.
5) Put a panel of judges* in charge of national and international decisions to do with climate change, health care, privacy, education and military matters, and whatever else we the people deem as our priorities.
6) Ensure 50% of these judges are women.
7) Make it illegal for any decisions made by the above to be discriminatory in any way.
*an alternative to a panel of judges could be a council of elders with no political or ideological attachment. Age of the council members would be irrelevant. The main criteria for election would be track record in doing the right thing by people and planet.
Who will you become? What will you do next? What are your solutions?
Today’s post/podcast is inspired by this beautiful book that I’m currently studying by Chip Conley, Strategic Advisor at Airbnb.
Go to my website and click on the complimentary resources tab.
From there you can download a PDF document that contains links to all my digital resources for humans co-creating/sustaining Remarkable Workplaces.
One such resource is my ebook Meaningful Work and The Meaning Of Life. The link to it is on page 20.
This ebook contains my best insights, inspiration, and ideas for our times from my first decade of blogging.
In the ebook I reference what I believe are 4 distinct ages in human history.
Firstly the Agricultural Age of 10-12000 years ago when key roles where Landowners and Labourers. Power was in the hands of a few.
Then the Industrial Age that commenced 300 years ago. Key roles were Industrialists and Factory workers. Power was still in the hands of a few.
The third distinct age in human history the Information Age began 50 years ago. The key roles technology guru’s/experts/entrepreneurs and knowledge workers, a term created by Peter Drucker in 1959 that found its place in this age. Power was still however in the hands of a few.
The current and 4th age I call The Purpose Age. It began perhaps 30 years ago. The fall of the Berlin wall was certainly a sign of significant change.
I believe that this purpose age is an age for the foreseeable future. The key roles are Differencemakers and Insightspreneurs (people able to turn information into useable insight/s).
The really big change in this purpose age is that power is now in the hands of many.
At the moment this power is only used wisely that I can see in small pockets.
A revolution is on our doorstep though as differencemakers and insightpreneurs become wisdom workers, a term I will credit to the writer and CEO of Age Wave, Ken Dychtwald, Ph.D. who from what I can tell coined the term in 1989. Wisdom workers will break the digital spell that we’re currently under. HT to Chip Conley.
For me wisdom workers are todays artisans and meaning makers. They are the role models of value delivery and of what it means to be a human being fully alive in the 21st century.
Fully alive human beings I describe in my writings as people who are universally aware, emotionally healthy, mentally alert, physically active and spiritually alive.
I recommend having a conversation with your team members about what it means to be wisdom workers in your team.
Choose one of your words this year to reflect wisdom as a theme for your team’s performance.
A second part of context I’d recommend is for you and your team mates to think and take action following the proven principles of quantum leaps and "the aggregation of marginal gains”.
"The aggregation of marginal gains” is a wonderful concept that I first learned about from the great writer and author of Atomic Habits James Clear.
James tells the success story of British Cycling Performance Director Dave Brailsford.
James Clear says:
Brailsford had been hired to put British Cycling on a new trajectory. What made him different from previous coaches was his relentless commitment to a strategy that he referred to as “the aggregation of marginal gains,” which was the philosophy of searching for a tiny margin of improvement in everything you do. Brailsford said, “The whole principle came from the idea that if you broke down everything you could think of that goes into riding a bike, and then improve it by 1 percent, you will get a significant increase when you put them all together.” "Just five years after Brailsford took over, the British Cycling team dominated the road and track cycling events at the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, where they won an astounding 60 percent of the gold medals available. Four years later, when the Olympic Games came to London, the Brits raised the bar as they set nine Olympic records and seven world records. That same year, Bradley Wiggins became the first British cyclist to win the Tour de France. The next year, his teammate Chris Froome won the race, and he would go on to win again in 2015, 2016, and 2017, giving the British team five Tour de France victories in six years."
True quantum leaps and the aggregation of marginal gains play a key role in all of my work with my clients. I wish you well as you tap into their magic. If I can help you please get in touch with me.
I wish you well in having a conversation with your team members about what it means to be wisdom workers in your team. Please call me or email should you wish to share your results.