A second post for the post-truth era. There’s a minor edit regarding Trump though this was written for other reasons – mostly frustration. Shock and Awe may just be what Trump supporters wanted. The difficulty is we all know how it worked out last time.
It’s supposed to be a conversation however it doesn’t feel like it anymore. You’re being overwhelmed and it’s bullying. It becomes clear the person wants to appear tough-minded (the softer version), if not just tough (the harder version). They are so confident of their opinions they leave no handle for doubt. In the ‘soft version’ the person may suggest they are a ‘straight talker’ or perhaps claim they are speaking ‘common sense’. They can be populist and even charismatic. It’s like meeting a radio shock-jock in person. Regardless, they don’t want to hear what you think or know, they just want your approval, for you to recognise their dominance or authority. And in some cases your capitulation and compliance. They ask no questions unless rhetorical. They prefer your silence and surprise. While their confidence can be engaging, here the problem is that you are aware the person is so shatteringly, eye-watering uninformed, misrepresenting or wrong that you can barely make out where to begin. And Continue reading
The changing political discourse around the world and the election of a new “Leader of The Free World” made me go looking for some thought bubbles I had written on people who like to present a tough face to the world. Here’s one:
There are people who define themselves* as blunt, direct, telling it the way it is, etcetera. They have the ‘tough’ meme and just as often it’s associated memes that assist in shaping their behaviour. There are several possibilities to look for when explaining their behaviour. One is that they are a little sociopathic and really don’t care what you think. A second is that they are low on ‘Agreeability’, one of the big five personality factors. Or perhaps you consider they have low ‘Emotional Intelligence’ and just don’t get how discussion works and generally screw up Continue reading
The not so clean VW Diesel.
All of us lie and cheat … at least a bit (The Honest Truth About Dishonesty, Dan Ariely) and more than we care to admit. And it seems the things people learn about lying and cheating prepares them well for business and government. A part of the trick is determining just how far we will go. Regardless, it should be no surprise then that the reflex position of business is, ‘Ethics cost money and are therefore optional’. And despite the rhetoric, leadership training, policy and values statements and a few optional ethics classes in business schools, it would be reasonable to suggest that the business status quo is not about to change soon. That doesn’t mean we should give up but we do need to understand it better and explore new ways to deal with it.
Malcolm explains to Christopher what you can do with a disc.
Australia has a new Prime Minister, Malcolm Turnbull. Turnbull shows signs of being a political progressive and not at all technologically and science phobic. The later being defining platforms for the previous right wing, conservative Prime Minister, Tony Abbott. Under Abbott the University sector and relations with business remained in their kind of stagnant, patronising limbo. That is, we know we need an education system and some science, particularly if it serves business however, we really want you all to be compliant and not change things too much or challenge the values, status, power and wealth growth of those that already have it. This is not a formula for a happy, entrepreneurial and prosperous Australian future. Continue reading
You don’t have to look far to find high flying, hyper-successful, mega remunerated executives doing things they were warned not to do in Business School 101 – that is, acting stupidly. The VW or Glencore case studies come to mind immediately. A less public (not always) and less obvious act of stupidity occurs when it comes to sharing a businesses strategy. Despite years of experience senior executives very often miss opportunities to generate, communicate and implement strategy effectively (another way of saying they make rookie errors). Instead, they come off looking disengaged to the other employees of the enterprise, less intellectually competent than their resumé might suggest and less in control than they would like. Here are 4 reasons why: Continue reading
I have spent my whole professional career working in what could be called ‘change management’. In recent years the term has been more widely adopted and in some cases has been productised by consultancy providers (particularly in technology related fields). Here is just a few things I have learnt and had reinforced along the way: Continue reading
Ask people what is wrong in their workplace and you can get an avalanche of woes and with just a little push, as many ideas for fixing them. At least that’s what it sounds like when nobody up the management hierarchy is present. Professor Chris Argyris of Harvard wrote about this a long time ago and frankly the cleaner could have told us that (An Interview with Chris Argyris). What he added were his observations of behaviours that seemed to maintain this situation – behaviours that undermined the ability of the organisation to learn and make appropriate changes. Behaviours that reinforced the social, power structure (hierarchy) and just as often the beliefs and attitudes people held about others. He called these behaviours ‘Organisational Defensive Routines’. Argyris identified that it took a lot of skill to use and maintain these routines. (They can be used to resist change.)
It has struck me that Argyris’s observations has similarities to the observations of Dr. Eric Berne who developed Transactional Analysis (TA) – an approach management trainers flirted with about three to four decades ago. Berne documented interactions in people’s lives that he referred to as ‘Games’. See ‘Games People Play’. Some of the games are relevant to work life and I’m sure we could identify a few that Dr. Berne has missed. One of the fun and obvious games is ‘Harassed’. Here people spend time complaining about workloads and how stressed the situation is. Importantly the participants never take positive steps to rationalise the work and will even take on new tasks. There can be auxiliary games like ‘Lunchbox’ which revolves around eating at your desk, avoiding structured breaks and appearing very committed. The games have a number of benefits including ready-made explanations for any failures/delays/poor standards and evidence of irrational managerial indifference to staff and workloads etcetera. At some point everybody is unhappy with the situation, however in the way that they are supposed to be, leading to the paradoxical conclusion that everybody is happily unhappy. Continue reading